Tag Archives: Internal Revenue Service

Get Set for a Healthy Winter Season


While contagious viruses are active year-round, fall and winter are when we’re most vulnerable to them. This is due in large part to people spending more time indoors with others when the weather gets cold.

Most respiratory bugs come and go within a few days, with no lasting effects. However, some cause serious health problems. People who use tobacco or who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more prone to respiratory illnesses and more severe complications than nonsmokers.

Colds usually cause stuffy or runny nose and sneezing. Other symptoms include coughing, a scratchy throat, and watery eyes. There is no vaccine against colds, which come on gradually and often spread through contact with infected mucus.

Flu comes on suddenly, and lasts longer than colds. Flu symptoms include fever, headache, chills, dry cough, body aches, fatigue, and general misery. Like colds, flu can cause a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes. Young children may also experience nausea and vomiting with flu. Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. A person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it.

Flu season in the United States may begin as early as October and can last as late as May, and generally peaks between December and February. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • More than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized from flu-related complications each year, including 20,000 children younger than age 5.
  • Between 1976 and 2006, the estimated number of flu-related deaths every year ranged from about 3,000 to about 49,000.
  • In the 2013 – 2014 season, there were in the U.S. 35.4 million influenza-associated illnesses, 14.6 medically attended flu illnesses, and 314,000 flu hospitalizations.

 

Prevention Tips

Get vaccinated against flu.

With rare exceptions, everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against flu. Flu vaccination, available as a shot or a nasal spray, can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, missed work and school, and prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.

It’s ideal to be vaccinated by October, although vaccination into January and beyond can still offer protection. Annual vaccination is needed because flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines may need to be updated, and because a person’s immune protection from the vaccine declines over time. Annual vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for developing serious complications from flu. These people include:

  • young children under 5 years, but especially those younger than 2.
  • pregnant women
  • people with certain chronic health conditions (like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease)
  • people age 65 years and older

Vaccination also is especially important for health care workers, and others who live with or care for people at high risk for serious flu-related complications. Since babies under 6 months of age are too young to get a flu vaccine, their mother should get a flu shot during her pregnancy to protect them throughout pregnancy and up to 6 months after birth. Additionally, all of the baby’s caregivers and close contacts should be vaccinated as well.

Wash your hands often. Teach children to do the same. Both colds and flu can be passed through contaminated surfaces, including the hands. FDA says that while soap and water are best for hand hygiene, alcohol-based hand rubs may also be used. However, dirt or blood on hands can render the hand rubs unable to kill bacteria.

Try to limit exposure to infected people. Keep infants away from crowds for the first few months of life.

Practice healthy habits.

  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise.
  • Do your best to keep stress in check.

 

Already Sick?

Usually, colds have to run their course. Gargling with salt water may relieve a sore throat. And a cool-mist humidifier may help relieve stuffy noses.

Here are other steps to consider:

  • Call your health care professional. Start the treatment early.
  • Limit your exposure to other people. Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Stay hydrated and rested. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated products which may dehydrate you.
  • Talk to your health care professional to find out what will work best for you.

In addition to over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, there are FDA-approved prescription medications for treating flu. Cold and flu complications may include bacterial infections (e.g., bronchitis, sinusitis, ear infections, and pneumonia) that could require antibiotics.

Taking OTC Products

Read medicine labels carefully and follow the directions. People with certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure, should check with a health care professional or pharmacist before taking a new cough and cold medicine.

Choose OTC medicines appropriate for your symptoms. To unclog a stuffy nose, use nasal decongestants. Cough suppressants quiet coughs; expectorants loosen mucus; antihistamines help stop a runny nose and sneezing; and pain relievers can ease fever, headaches, and minor aches.

Check the medicine’s side effects. Medications can cause drowsiness and interact with food, alcohol, dietary supplements, and each other. It’s best to tell your health care professional and pharmacist about every medical product and supplement you are taking.

Check with a health care professional before giving medicine to children.

See a health care professional if you aren’t getting any better. With children, be alert for high fevers and for abnormal behavior such as unusual drowsiness, refusal to eat, crying a lot, holding the ears or stomach, and wheezing.

Signs of trouble for all people can include

  • a cough that disrupts sleep
  • a fever that won’t respond to treatment
  • increased shortness of breath
  • face pain caused by a sinus infection
  • high fever, chest pain, or a difference in the mucus you’re producing, after feeling better for a short time.

This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

Updated December 23, 2014

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a Letter From Virginia ~In Memory~ (Free Before Emancipation) ~~ July/August edition


Letter From Virginia
Excavations are providing a new look at some of the Civil War’s earliest fugitive slaves—considered war goods or contraband—and their first taste of liberty

 click on the graphic below to get the complete story, it’s six pages of American History

(Library of Congress)

Following an 1861 decision by a Union general, escaped slaves were declared contraband, or illegal war goods, and freed. Thousands of fugitive slaves, including this group in Pamunkey Run, Virginia, provided the Union army with labor and established independent communities.


Annie Leonard, Greenpeace and bits of plastic in our oceans


Bits of plastic called microbeads are polluting our oceans.

Take Action

Take action today to ban the use of microbeads in the US.

Take Action

greenpeaceEvery time you brush your teeth, you might be unknowingly adding tiny bits of plastic to our oceans.

These bits of plastic are called microbeads and you can find them in everything from face soaps to body washes to toothpastes. And while they’re almost invisible to the naked eye, they’re causing serious problems for our waterways and oceans (and us!).

Most wastewater treatment can’t filter out the tiny microbeads — meaning they journey from your bathroom drains into waterways. Once there, they end up in the bellies of fish or other marine life and are passed along the food chain.

National legislation has been introduced in Congress to ban the sale of personal care products that contain plastic microbeads. It’s part of an ever-growing movement that needs your voice.

Tell your federal Representative and Senators today to support the Microbead Free Waters Act and to solve the problem of these polluting plastics.

This doesn’t end in the water. Today’s plastic face wash is in tomorrow’s sushi.

Many fish species that humans eat are known to consume these microbeads at an alarming rate, and the toxins absorbed in those plastics transfer to the fish tissue.

The toxins absorbed by plastic microbeads include pesticides, flame retardants, motor oil and more. And all that ends up in the oceans — and on our plates. We have to act.

A single microbead can be up to a million times more toxic than the water around it! Take action today to ban plastic microbeads from everyday personal care products.

The Story of Stuff Project, an organization I founded, is leading a coalition of over 100 groups to get these tiny plastic beads out of everyday products. Greenpeace is proud to be a part of this coalition.

This is a perfect example of the underlying problem with our current economic system and the culture it helps create. Natural alternatives to microbeads exist. But plastic microbeads are smoother than natural alternatives like apricot shells, jojoba beans and pumice.

Smoother is better for the companies making these products because smoother means these cleansers will be less effective at exfoliating… which means you can use them everyday… which means you buy more of the product! 

Sadly, it also means poisoned oceans and a poisoned food supply. Plastic pollution in our waterways has become one of the great perils facing our environment. We can do something about it.

Take a minute right now and tell your elected federal representatives to support the Microbead Free Waters Act.

Thanks for all you do.

Annie Leonard
Executive Director, Greenpeace USA
P.S. Tiny pieces of plastic called microbeads are polluting our waterways and oceans. Tell your elected federal representatives to ban microbeads by supporting the Microbead Free Waters Act today!

Arrested for fighting slavery? 35.8 million people are trapped in modern slavery around the world


WALK FREE.ORG Modern slavery couldn’t be closer to home for Biram Dah Abeid. The twelfth of thirteen children born to an enslaved mother, Biram was released from a life of servitude while still in the womb.1 His release was the dying act of his mother’s master in Mauritania, a country where the children of slaves become the property of their owners.

Biram grew up a member of the Haratina, the class of people known to be the descendants of slaves, many of whom remain trapped in situations of slavery and exploitation by Mauritania’s slave-owning elites. Biram and others have made it their life’s mission to end this abuse in Mauritania.2

However they face regular harassment and harsh treatment in this fight for freedom. As you read this Biram and his fellow activists are sitting in a prison cell for their work to end slavery in Mauritania — and we need your help to secure justice

Call on the Mauritanian government to free Biram Dah Abeid and his fellow anti-slavery activists.

The 2014 Global Slavery Index revealed that   — and Mauritania is one of the worst offenders, with the highest prevalence of modern slavery in the world.3That’s why the work of anti-slavery activists such as Biram is so important; but instead of addressing the root causes of slavery, the Mauritanian government is working to intimidate those that speak out

Sources close to the activists have made serious allegations that some of the group have been tortured, including being stripped, beaten and trampled by police since their arrest last year.

The activists were arrested during a peaceful anti-slavery protest and were convicted in January for inciting hatred under Mauritania’s terrorism laws.

A huge wave of international pressure now could force the Mauritanian government to prioritize ending slavery and stop the harassment of anti-slavery activists.

Send a message to Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, calling on him to release these activists and get serious about tackling modern slavery.

It has now been weeks since Biram and his fellow activists’ imprisonment: let’s not wait any longer to get them out of prison and back to fighting against slavery.

In hope,

Victoria, Mika, Jayde, Joanna and the Walk Free team

1 http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/09/08/freedom-fighter
2 http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/09/08/freedom-fighter
3 http://www.globalslaveryindex.org/

The Supreme Court’s decision on voting access … a repost


First posted 8/6/2015

The Supreme Court announced a major decision about voting access in the United States. You can start a petition now to address these issues and make your voice heard.

The Supreme Court announced a landmark voting access decision in the case of Evenwel v. Abbott, upholding the current standard for creating congressional districts – the geographical lines that determine where you vote and who represents you in Congress – around the country.

This is the first Supreme Court decision regarding voting access and congressional districts in 50 years, and it has reignited debates about these issues around the country.

Over the past few years, hundreds of thousands of Change.org users like you have taken action to protect voting rights, expand voting access, and ensure that the United States maintains a free and open democracy. From the Voting Rights Act to expanding early voting around the country, users have started petitions to voice their opinions. Now you can add your voice to the conversation.

You can start your own petition about voting rights, voting access, or issues concerning America’s voting process by clicking here. It only takes about five minutes.

Change.org users are using these tools to ask their states to create nonpartisan committees to draw up the new congressional districts, to ask Congress to address issues of voter access, to call on governors to create early voting in in their home states, and much more.

Want to do the same? All you have to do is go to the dedicated start a petition page for voting rights and access and follow a few easy steps:
https://www.change.org/start-a-petition/protecting-democracy.

In just a few moments, you can make your voice a part of the conversation.

Thanks for being a change-maker,

The Staff at Change.org