The ABCs of Health Literacy
Most people think of “x-rays” as the pictures that doctors take when trying to “see” something inside their bodies. This common usage is correct, but x-rays (or x-radiation) are actually a type of electromagnetic energy. They act a lot like the rays of light we are accustomed to seeing except their energy waves are much, much shorter.
X-rays – the pictures – have been helping doctors see inside the human body for over a hundred years. They have helped find broken bones and strange objects hidden inside people. They’ve helped diagnose pneumonia and asthma and heart problems. They uncovered strange growths and cancers. They’ve helped us understand the inside of the human body in ways we had never been able to before their discovery.
X-radiation has been used to treat medical conditions for almost as long as they’ve been used to take pictures. At first, they were thought to cause no damage to human tissue in small doses and in large doses the harmful effects were thought to be only temporary. (more…)
Patients must think doctors and nurses have water on the brain; we’re always talking about water!
Seriously, I wonder how many thousands of times I’ve mentioned to patients (or their parents) the need to increase their fluid intake? I tell them when they have a cold to drink up. I tell them when they have a sore throat to drink more. I tell them when they have a stomach bug to forego the food, but to stay hydrated. I tell them when they have headaches that dehydration can make a headache worse, or even cause one. I tell them when they have a urinary tract problem how important it is to “keep the pipes running.” I tell them to drink up winter, spring, summer, or fall, though usually more so in the hot summer, of course. I tell them to drink water so often…well…maybe I do have water on the brain!
Assuming I don’t have a water fixation – and, really, I don’t – why do I, and so many other healthcare providers, focus so much on water and good hydration? (more…)
Hal’s mom walked up behind him as he sat at the kitchen table, thumbing through some old photos on her iPad. She noticed he was looking at all the “Water Baby” photos, as she called them, from when he was an infant. “Don’t think I gave you permission to swipe my iPad from my bedroom, mister,” she said with her obviously phony stern mom voice.
Hal didn’t even turn around as he knew she was just teasing. “Yeah, ‘Swiper, no swiping,’ I know, Dora,” Hal joked.
“I’ve told you a million times, my hairstyle is not copied from Dora the Explorer!” Hal’s mom quipped. “Joseph at the salon says it is super chic and highlights my sensuous features.” She struck a profile view pose with her nose just slightly tipped up.
Hal chuckled, “Yeah, you’re the ‘chic-est’ mom in the South Side, Dora.” (more…)
Think back. Not much. Less than a hundred years ago…maybe 60 or so years.
Back in the 1950s, everybody knew somebody who had been devastated by TB (tuberculosis). Everybody also knew somebody who had polio and who was either in a wheelchair or who wore braces because of the disease. Everybody’s grandmother could diagnose mumps and chicken pox pretty durn accurately. Everybody knew what an entire block of quarantine signs looked like when mini-epidemics of measles broke out.
Now, come back to today and you’ll find doctors who have a hard time recognizing measles. You’ll see nurses who’ve never seen an active mumps case or heard the “whoop” of whooping cough. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anybody who has suffered from polio, since it has almost been wiped from the face of the earth. You definitely won’t find anyone who’s ever had a case of small pox because it has been wiped, completely, from the face of the earth. (Well, except for a few hidden vials in research labs.)
All of these once-called “scourges” have been driven down or out for one simple reason: (more…)
“Come on, baby…poppa needs a new pair of Nikes!” yelled Hal as he rolled the dice in a grudge match against his old pal, Frank.
No, it wasn’t a game of craps they were playing; it was the final in a long series of matches of old school Yahtzee, the kind with real dice, paper scoring pads, and pencils for scoring. Hal and Frank had long ago deemed the digital version as a mere shadow of the boxed set version.
Hal rolled the five dice onto the kitchen table and crossed his fingers. This was his final set of dice rolls and he knew he needed to make a full Yahtzee in order to beat Frank. Frank knew it, too, and he held his breath in anticipation.
Four threes and a two. Hal whooped with delight, sensing at least a real chance at besting Frank…finally! Frank had won every series they had every played, going back nearly three full years. Oh, sure, Hal had won plenty of games during that time, but he had never been able to gain the top total score when they played their “Dead Man’s Matches,” as they called them. (These were weekend-long matches that typically involved several sittings and usually twenty rounds.) Hal grouped the dice with threes showing and pulled the remaining die into the cup to roll again.
Frank said, “Dude, there’s no way you’ll roll this last three. No way! You have about as much chance of getting it as I have of catching polio.”
“Strange comparison, Frankie,” (more…)
Nucleus Medical Media, a health literacy company, announces the use of their ultrasound animation in the Health Nuts Media ABCs of Health Literacy animation series aimed toward educating children.