Family Health

The truth about spider bites

Halloween season brings out creatures that put fear in our hearts — monsters, zombies, ghosts, ghouls and those plastic black spiders — enlarged and wild-eyed to scare trick-or-treaters, with fangs out for full seasonal effect.

How can something so small scare us as much as werewolves, vampires and the Grim Reaper? And should we really get all arachnophobic when one of these eight-legged critters creeps into view?

CDC recommends two pneumonia vaccines for older adults

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidelines that recommend all adults age 65 and older receive a second pneumonia vaccine, Prevnar 13, because of limitations with the older shot, Pneumovax 23.

Prevnar 13 provides protection against the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, which is the most common cause of pneumonia in adults. S. pneumoniae also causes ear infections, sinus infections and meningitis, an infection of the membrane covering the brain.

How much do your teens know about pedestrian safety?

Every hour in the United States, a teen pedestrian is injured or killed after being hit by a car.

That’s a scary number for the parent of a teenager. Parents and teens are already dealing with evolving relationships and growing independence, and adding another level of traveling safety can seem daunting. Talking to your teen about walking safety can reduce your teen’s risk for serious injury by a motor vehicle.

Protect your family from foodborne illnesses

If you’ve ever eaten something that tasted a little funny and then felt sick a few hours later, you might have experienced food poisoning.

Food poisoning can happen when bacteria or other harmful organisms get into food or drinks. Symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea can start within a few hours after eating contaminated food. Two of the most publicized forms of food poisoning are caused by E. coli and salmonella bacteria, because they are typically linked to food manufacturers, which may lead to food recalls or widespread illness.

Thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer: What you need to know

Recently a friend was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. When I first heard about it, I was understandably concerned. However, in conducting a little online research I was relieved to learn that the vast majority of thyroid cancer cases are curable.

The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of the neck. It produces hormones that control metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Many adults develop solid or fluid-filled lumps called nodules that form on or within the thyroid gland. While most nodules are benign — fewer than 5 percent are cancerous — it’s a good idea to have them evaluated by a medical professional.

Faith and strength help teen through battle with cancer

2005 was a blessed year for 15-year-old Laurel Dortch as she received news from her doctors that she was cancer-free. After three surgeries, 14 chemotherapy treatments and 25 radiation treatments, Laurel and her family credit God for giving them faith and strength to get through those gray days.

Laurel was just 5 years old when she was diagnosed with a primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET) in her right abdomen. PNETs are malignant tumors of the central nervous system usually found in infants, children and young adults. Laurel’s tumor was made up of soft tissue and about the size of a small balloon. Before the tumor was discovered, doctors attributed her side pain to a pulled muscle from gymnastics classes she had been taking at the time. She had also been tested for appendicitis, which came back negative.