How is Your Mental Health?

By Betsy Crick

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Image from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

May is Mental Health Month, and according to NAMI, we all experience emotional ups and downs from time to time caused by events in our lives.  Mental health conditions go beyond these emotional reactions and become something longer lasting. They are medical conditions that cause changes in how we think and feel and in our mood. They are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing.

With proper treatment, people can realize their full potential, cope with the stresses of life, work productively and make meaningful contributions to the world. Without mental health, we cannot be fully healthy.

Each illness has its own set of symptoms, but some common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following, among others:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger

For more information, please talk to your doctor or visit the S.C. Department of Mental Health or the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

DHEC employees – be on the lookout for posters in our buildings throughout the state with more information about the Right Direction for Me resources!

Preventing Dog Bites

By Jim Beasley
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Each year in the U.S., about 885,000 people require immediate medical attention for dog bites. Half of them are children, with seniors following close behind. This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, as established by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dog bites can be costly and dangerous. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that in 2014, insurers across the country paid more than $530 million in dog bite claims. The trauma of a dog bite — or any animal bite, for that matter — can be compounded by the risk of exposure to the deadly rabies virus.

Dog bites occur regularly in South Carolina, too. Last year, more than 8,300 dog bites were reported across the state. Sometimes, those attacks require medical attention for possible exposure to rabies.

Vaccinating your pets serves as a strong buffer between humans and rabies. Dog, cat and ferret owners in this state are required to have their pets vaccinated. It’s the law.

But the law can’t prevent dog bites. It’s estimated there are 83 million dogs living in U.S. households. According to the AVMA, most of the dog bites affecting young children occur while the children are performing everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs. It’s not just the wandering stray that bites.

To learn more about the AVMA’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week, go to http://www.avma.org/Events/pethealth/Pages/Dog-Bite-Prevention-Week.aspx. And to learn more about preventing the spread of rabies in S.C., visit our page at http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies.

You Can Control Your Asthma

By Betsy Crick

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May is Asthma Awareness Month – one of the most common lifelong chronic diseases. One in 14 Americans lives with asthma, a disease affecting the lungs, causing repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing.  Asthma costs the United States about $56 billion each year.

Asthma in South Carolina

Children, young adults and older adults suffer from asthma.  South Carolina 2013 data shows that:

  • About 311,539 adults and 102,440 children suffer from asthma
  • 5,219 hospitalizations were for asthma – and children accounted for 28% of those hospitalizations
  • 61 South Carolinians died from asthma

Learn How to Control your Asthma

Although asthma cannot be cured, it is possible to manage asthma successfully to reduce and prevent asthma attacks. Successful asthma management includes knowing the warning signs of an attack, avoiding things that may trigger an attack, and following the advice of your healthcare provider.

Use your asthma medicine as prescribed and be aware of common triggers in the environment known to bring on asthma symptoms, including smoke (including second-hand and third-hand cigarette smoke), household pets, dust mites, and pollen. According to the Surgeon General, children with asthma exposed to tobacco smoke experience more frequent and severe asthma attacks.

For more information on asthma, please visit our website.

Helping S.C. Stay EMS “Strong!” Celebrating our First Responders

By Jamie Shuster

Members of our EMS and Trauma team joined officials at the state capitol on May 19, 2015 in recognition of National EMS Week.

Members of our EMS and Trauma team joined officials at the state capitol on May 19, 2015 in recognition of National EMS Week.

May 20, 2015 marks National Emergency Medical Service for Children (EMSC) Day. Celebrated each year in conjunction with National Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Week, today is an opportunity to recognize our dedicated EMS practitioners and raise awareness about the importance of specialized care for children in the prehospital and acute care settings.

In South Carolina and across the nation, EMS workers play a critical role in the protection and health of our residents and visitors. Often the first line of defense, EMS workers perform life-saving services each and every day. In support of EMS Week 2015’s theme, EMS Strong, I wanted to take a moment to share some of the things that our team is doing to help South Carolina stay EMS Strong.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our Division of EMS and Trauma, South Carolina continues to make great strides in the provision of EMS services to individuals across all ages– from our eldest to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. As part of these ongoing efforts we are working to:

  • Increase access to cardiac monitors and training for EMS providers throughout the state. Through a $1 Million grant from the Duke Endowment Foundation, we recently provided 20 EMS agencies across the state with 38 twelve lead cardiac monitors.
  • Improve response times in pediatric emergencies. Earlier this year we provided 12 ambulance agencies from across the state with pediatric response bags and training essential to quickly responding to critically injured infants and children — helping eliminate possible dosing errors and ensuring our paramedics our prepared to treat our state’s youngest patients. In addition we trained and certified, free of charge, 25 EMS providers in Pediatric Education for Prehospital Professionals (PEPP) so that they can provide further education and certification to our state’s first responders.  An additional class is being held, also free of charge, June 8th-9th to train and certify 25 more instructors in PEPP.

A big thanks to our EMS and Trauma team and our EMS practitioners for your continued work and efforts in protecting the health and safety of all South Carolinians.

Protect Your Skin!

By Betsy Crick

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May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, and DHEC wants you to be prepared before heading outdoors this summer.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, either from the sun or from artificial sources like tanning beds.

Lower Your Skin Cancer Risk

To lower your skin cancer risk, protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these easy options:

  • Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours
  • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs
  • Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher – and both UVA and            UVB protection
  • Avoid indoor tanning

Sunscreen Tips

  • Sunscreens are assigned an SPF number that rates their effectiveness in blocking UV rays. Higher numbers indicate more protection. You should use a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15.
  • Sunscreen wears off. Put it on again if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
  • Check the sunscreen’s expiration date. Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than three years, but its shelf life is shorter if it has been exposed to high temperatures.
  • Some makeup and lip balms contain some of the same chemicals used in sunscreens. If they do not have at least SPF 15, don’t use them by themselves.

Knowledge is power – with these tips and tricks, your skin is sure to have a healthy, happy summer!