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May 2009



  • Kid’s Corner -

    National Bike Month-Ride Safely!

  • Mom’s Corner -

    Allergy Awareness

  • Dad’s Corner -

    Ride Your Bike to Work

  • Planet Earth -

    Clean Air Month

  • News -                                                                                                        

    The Swine Flu Pandemic

Welcome to the Doc Grubb newsletter for May 2009

     Mother’s Day is the big holiday for this month. The ancient Greeks and Romans honored the mothers of their gods with celebrations. The Greeks dedicated their celebration to Rhea, the mother of many gods, and the Romans to their Great Mother of Gods, Cybele. Christians celebrate “Mothering Sunday” on the fourth Sunday in Lent in honor of Mary, mother of Christ and in the 1600s parishioners returned to their mother church to worship. Later it became a day when servants were sent from their duties to spend the day with their mothers and families. In the United States, Mother's Day started nearly 150 years ago, when Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian homemaker, organized a day to raise awareness of poor health conditions in her community, a cause she believed would be best advocated by mothers. She called it "Mother's Work Day."  In 1905 when Anna Jarvis died, her daughter, also named Anna, began a campaign to memorialize the life work of her mother. In 1914 Anna's hard work paid off when Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother's Day as a national holiday. Mother's Day has flourished in the United States and the second Sunday of May has become the most popular day of the year to dine out, and telephone lines record their highest traffic, as sons and daughters everywhere take advantage of this day to honor and to express appreciation of their mothers.

As I’m writing this newsletter, the front page news and on television is the “swine flu” outbreak which has affected the entire country in multiple areas to include schools, public gatherings and economic activity. I’ve put together an information section so that you can learn more about this disease. Just looking at this outbreak economically, the impact on Mexico's tourism industry has been enormous, with many countries issuing travel advisories that trips to Mexico should be canceled or delayed.  Mexico City alone is losing $57 million a day on event cancellations and closed businesses.

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National Bike Month-Ride Safely!

May is National Bike Month. The weather is getting warmer but before you and your dad pull your bikes out of the garage, let's be sure you know about Bike Safety. Bike riding is a lot of fun, but accidents happen. Every year, about 300,000 kids go to the emergency department because of bike injuries. Some of these injuries are so serious that children die, usually from head injuries.

Safe Riding Tips

  • ALWAYS Wear a Properly Fitted Bicycle Helmet. Bike helmets today are lightweight and come in cool colors. Personalize your helmet with some of your favorite stickers. Reflective stickers are a great choice because they look cool and make you more visible to people driving cars. You don't want your helmet to be too small or too big and never wear a hat under your bike helmet. Wear your helmet level covering your forehead. Don't tip it back so your forehead is showing. Always fasten your straps! If the straps are flying, it's likely to fall off your head when you need it most. Don't throw your helmet down. That could damage the helmet and it won't protect you as well when you really need it. If you do fall down hard be sure to get a new helmet because they don't work as well after a major crash.
  • Adjust Your Bicycle to Fit. Stand over your bicycle. There should be 1 to 2 inches between you and the top tube (bar) of a road bike and 3 to 4 inches if a mountain bicycle. The seat height should be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended, and the seat should be level from front to back. The handlebar height should be at the same level with the seat.
  • Check Your Equipment. Before riding, inflate tires properly and check that your brakes work.
  • Be Bright. Whether daytime, dawn, dusk, foul weather, or at night, you need to be seen by others. Always wear something that reflects light, such as reflective tape or markings, or flashing lights, neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors when riding day or night.
  • Stay In Control of Your Bike. Always ride with at least one hand on the handlebars. Carry books and other items in a backpack, bicycle basket or carrier. If a backpack is too heavy it will make it harder to balance riding your bicycle.
  • Avoid Road Hazards. Be on the lookout for things that can make you crash such as potholes, broken glass that might blow out a tire, gravel, puddles, leaves, and dogs. Yell out and point to the hazard to alert the riders behind you if you are riding with friends and you are in the lead.
  • Don’t Ride Your Bike at Night. It is far more dangerous to ride at night than during the day because you are harder for others to see. If you have to ride at night, wear something that makes you more easily seen by others. Wear a reflective vest and/or a bright white, yellow or orange jacket and have reflectors on the front and rear of your bicycle and on your tires.
  • Obey All Traffic Laws. The rules for a bicycle are the same as the ones your parents follow when they drive a car. When you ride in the street, obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. Ride in the same direction as cars, stop at lights and stop signs an always be aware of the cars around you.
  • Be Predictable. Ride in a straight line, not in and out of cars. Signal your moves to others.  Learn your hand signals and use them!
  • Stay Alert at All Times. Use your eyes AND ears. Watch out for road hazards that could make you lose control of your bike. Don’t wear a headset when you ride. You need your ears to hear traffic and avoid dangerous situations;
  • Look Before Turning. When turning left or right, always look behind you for a break in traffic, then signal before making the turn. Watch for left- or right-turning traffic.
  • Watch for Parked Cars. Ride far enough out from the curb to avoid the unexpected from parked cars (like doors opening, or cars pulling out).

Bicycle riding is fun, healthy, and a great way to be independent.
But it is important to remember that a bicycle is not a toy; it’s a vehicle!
Be cool
be safe when you ride!

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Allergy and Asthma Awareness

Childhood asthma in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. Asthma affects 1 out of 13 kids under 15 (5.5 million children). Asthma is one of the leading causes of missing school, about 10 million days of school a year. Asthma also causes 2 million emergency room visits every year and approximately 5,000 children die from acute attacks of asthma every year.

Childhood asthma can be very harmful to your child.  Asthma disrupts your child's life by bothering them when they play, go to school, and while they sleep.  Symptoms of childhood asthma should be taken very seriously and it’s important that you identify childhood asthma symptoms early.  If untreated, childhood asthma can lead to very serious and sometimes life-threatening asthma attacks.

The most common symptoms of asthma in children include:

  • wheezing when your child breathes in and especially out
  • if you put your ear on your child’s chest, they sound congested
  • coughing
  • your child seems short of breath when they breathe even if they haven’t exercised

Other signs and symptoms of childhood asthma include:

  • trouble sleeping - your child can’t breathe properly while sleeping if their breath is short or wheezy and they wake up gasping for air.
  • Struggling to recover from flu or a respiratory infection.
  • A hard time breathing when they perform physical activities such as playing or running may mean they have exercise-induced asthma.
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Unusual paleness with dark circles under their eyes
  • Sweating or anxiety
  • Irritability

If any of these symptoms are severe and your child starts gasping for breath, don’t hesitate to contact the doctor immediately or head straight to the emergency room.

Don’t forget. You and your child probably had a lot of questions when your doctor first told you that your child had asthma. Talking with your child in a positive and open way to explain what asthma is and how it can affect him or her. Your child doesn’t have to be frightened about having asthma or feel that he or she can’t do things that children without asthma can do. It’s important for your child to understand you can prevent asthma symptoms and attacks by taking medicines. The more comfortable and knowledgeable your child is in talking about how he or she feels, the easier it will be for you to keep track of their symptoms and condition.

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                                   Ride Your Bike to Work

I talked in the kid’s section about bike safety and it might be time for you to consider riding your bike to work. It’s a great way to save money on gas and get some extra exercise. You can save about $50 a month in gas, plus additional wear and tear on your car and lose a little weight from this routine.  

Many cities and counties are reporting a surge in people riding bicycles to work.  For example, in Chicago, 3,500 people rode in a spring Bike to Work day, up from 2,800 last year. First, decide if it's practical to ride a bike to work, or to run errands. You'll need to come up with a route suitable for a bike. Do a dry run. Try the commute on a weekend to see how it goes and get a sense of time. That time should stay fairly constant. Don't do a long bike ride too soon. Your bottom will hurt more than you think until you get use to sitting on a bicycle seat and your legs will really ache from pedaling up hills. Start with short trips then build up as your confidence builds. You might think that if you bike to work, you must bike home too. Not true. You can also look into a split trip—using a bus with a bike rack (or the subway) part way then get off and pedal. Or ride your bike to work and take the bus home.

Easy things you can do on your bike include:

  • Pick up small items at the store
  • Go to the post office or library
  • Drop off and pickup prescriptions at the pharmacy

There are times when we do need to run out to the store for just one item. These are the times when a bike ride is ideal. It does take a little longer, but you’re supposed to be fitting exercise into your day, right? Why not do both tasks during the same trip?


  • Wear a helmet
  • DO NOT listen to music with headphones while cycling. Your ears are like another set of eyes and can keep you safe in traffic.
  • Have a headlight for the front and a light on the back if you ride your bike in the early morning or afternoon/evening.
  • Wear light colored clothing such as reflective vest and safety blinker.
  • Do not let items hang from the handlebars. If you are doing your grocery shopping on bike have a cargo rack or basket. It’s too easy for a bag to get caught in your bike spokes and cause you to crash.

Ensure your bicycle is in good working order by inspecting it before each ride.

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Clean Air Month

May is Clean Air Month and everyone can do a few simple things to help improve air quality to protect our health. Air contains many pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ozone, lead, and other hazardous substances. Poor air quality can lead to health problems such as breathing problems, cancer, birth defects, nervous system issues, and more.
             One of the worst contributors to air pollution is exhaust from your car. So one of the simple things you can do is to ride your bike to work. (Ahhh…now you see why I wrote this in the Dad’s Section). Estimates say that if everyone biked to work or the store just once every two weeks it would save one billion gallons of gasoline and reduce the amount of pollution your car puts into the air. Riding your bicycle also lowers traffic congestion and is good for your health. If biking to work is not feasible, try riding your bike to other places, like the park, that you would normally drive to.

             Another way to promote clean air is to conserve as much energy as you can. Power plants can reduce their output and decrease harmful air emissions if we decrease our demand for power.

Here are a few more, simple tips for Clean Air Month:

  • Plan your trips whenever you drive. Don’t just go to one store, go to several.
  • Carpool, take the bus or use mass transit
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated and your car is running well
  • Run the dishwasher and washing machine only when full and at night if possible.
  • Use fluorescent bulbs because they save more energy and last longer. They sell the new energy efficient bulbs everywhere.
  • Use recycled products and take your own paper, plastic or cloth bags to the grocery store.
  • Buy local. It costs more money and causes a lot of pollution to transport groceries and clothing around the world.
  • Consider a renewable energy source such as wind or solar power for your home or office.
  • Use Plants To Clean the Air In Your Home or Office!

Plants and trees may be the best means of improving indoor and outdoor air quality. They remove gas and particulate pollutants from the air, reduce energy expenditures, lower air temperatures, and make our communities more attractive places to live. Studies have shown that plants remove pollutants from the air in offices or a tightly wrapped new house. In cities, trees and other plants directly absorb carbon in photosynthesis. Trees remove carbon dioxide from the air and convert it to oxygen during photosynthesis and also remove other chemicals, such as nitrogen oxides, airborne ammonia, some sulfur dioxide, and ozone. (The big floods and hurricanes in the Southern United States knocked down many trees which released all the gases they had pulled out of the air back into the atmosphere).

 Trees also affect air quality by acting as collection sites for dust and other air particles. Leaf surfaces collect dust particulates on their leaf surfaces until washed to the ground during a rainstorm.

Lastly, trees also affect air quality through by saving energy. A home that has trees shading it from the hot summer sun can save 10 to 50 percent in cooling expenses and 4 to 22 percent savings of heating costs (as wind breaks). This will lower the amount of carbon-based fuels used to create energy and reduce pollution.

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The Swine Flu Pandemic

At the time I wrote this newsletter in early May, 2009, Health officials learned over the weekend that more than 1,600 people in Mexico are possibly infected with the swine flu virus. And the tally of confirmed swine flu cases in the United States is now over 100 and the disease has reached Europe. Health officials have warned that this number is likely to rise.

DID YOU KNOW THAT-swine flu is a zoonosis disease, a disease that spreads from animals to humans? Other zoonotic diseases include bubonic plague, HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, rabies, yellow fever and typhoid fever.

What is Swine Influenza?

Studies have shown that the swine flu H1N1 is common throughout pig populations worldwide. In the U.S. studies have shown that 30 percent of the pig population in the U.S. has antibody evidence of having had H1N1 infection. Outbreaks among pigs normally occur in colder weather months (late fall and winter) and sometimes with the introduction of new pigs into susceptible herds. Infected pigs have a runny nose, are tired, cough, sneeze and have a decreased appetite. The virus likely spreads from pig to pig through contact with infected mucous secretions.


Can humans catch swine flu?

Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. But because a pig’s anatomy is so similar to humans (we routinely use pigs in medical studies and for heart valve replacement) the receptors for the virus in the lungs of humans and pigs are so similar that the virus can jump from pigs to humans. Sometime people who are in direct contact with pigs may contract the disease and then spread the swine flu to others.


How does swine flu spread?

Infected people can cough or sneeze on you, shake your hand or touch you. You might unknowingly touch surfaces and objects that sick people have touched. This is why if you get sick, you should stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

What are the symptoms of swine flu?

A fever of 100.5 degrees or more;

Muscle aches;


Sore throat;

Diarrhea or vomiting or both.

Can I get the swine flu from eating pork?

No. There are no signs that people can get the swine flu from eating pork especially as the cooking process kills the virus.

Can the swine flu be treated?

Yes. Swine flu can be treated with antiviral medications such as Tamiflu and Relenza, but treatment must be started within the first 48 hours after symptoms appear.

How to Protect Yourself From Swine Flu

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

Avoid Sick People

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also another important way to safeguard your health.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

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