A new report delivers a troubling statistic: Seven in 10 consumer product-related deaths occur among those over 65, even though these people only account for 16 percent of the U.S. population. Each year, consumer products are linked to roughly 3,800 deaths and nearly 3 million emergency department visits among older Americans, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report found. "It's a fact that older adults are far more likely to experience a significant injury, or fatality, from the hidden hazards associated with consumer products in their homes than other age groups," said CPSC chair Alex Hoehn-Saric. "This new report is an important reminder that preventing consumer product-related injuries and deaths to older adults often begins by following basic steps to improve safety in all areas of the home," he added in a CPSC news release. Falls are the most common product-related cause of injuries and deaths among older Americans. Each year, there are an average of 1,800 deaths from falls and 1.5 million ER-treated injuries among older adults. Falls typically occur on floors, stairs, steps and from beds. Older adults are six times more likely to be treated in the emergency department as a result of a fall on flooring than younger people. They are also 3.5 times more likely to die in fires than the general population, with about 930 deaths annually. Smoking and cooking are two major causes of fire. The report also discovered that the clothing fire death rate among older adults is 14 times higher than among people younger than 65. The dangers don't end there: About 300 older adults die due to drownings, mostly associated with swimming pools, bathtubs and spas; about 200 die in incidents involving bicycles, e-scooters and off-road vehicles; and about 45 die due to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from sources like heating devices, generators and other engine-driven equipment. Adult portable bed rails are involved in about 16 deaths a year among people aged 65 and older. These bed rails are generally used to protect people who are at risk of falling out of bed, but many do not meet safety standards and create an entrapment risk, resulting in suffocation. Victims can get caught, stuck, wedged, or trapped between the mattress or bed and the bed rail, between bed rail bars, or between a dresser and the bed rail, according to the report.
Resistance exercise may be better than aerobic exercise for improving the duration and quality of sleep among individuals with a high risk for cardiovascular disease, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2022 Scientific Sessions, held from March 1 to 4 in Chicago. A group of researchers randomly assigned 406 inactive adults (53 percent women; ages 35 to 70 years) with overweight/obesity and elevated/stage 1 hypertension with a high risk for cardiovascular disease to aerobic exercise only (101 participants), resistance exercise only (102 participants), combined aerobic exercise and resistance exercise (Combined Exercise; 101 participants), or a no-exercise control group (102 participants) for one year. The rate of exercise adherence was 83 percent. The researchers found that all groups showed significant improvements in the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index total score and decreases in sleep disturbances. Among participants getting less than seven hours of sleep at baseline, sleep duration increased significantly by 17 minutes in the resistance group, but not in the Aerobics, combined, or control groups. Sleep efficiency increased in the resistance and combined groups, but not in aerobics or control groups. There was a decrease noted in sleep latency in the resistance group, although the overall between-within groups interaction effect was not significant.
Spring allergies are a perennial annoyance, but if you're focusing on the pandemic, they still could catch you by surprise, an expert says. "People still have COVID on their minds," said a report from the president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. "They might not be thinking about spring allergies, so symptoms could sneak up on them," a news release said. "One of the most important tools for battling spring allergies is to get ahead of symptoms," the report said. "Begin taking your allergy medications two to three weeks before your itching and sneezing normally start to occur. And be aware that, thanks to climate change, symptoms may appear even earlier than normal." Both COVID-19 and spring allergies can cause symptoms such as cough, fatigue and headache. But COVID -- especially the Omicron variant -- can cause more nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, postnasal drainage and symptoms of a sinus infection, while allergies rarely cause a fever. If you think you might have COVID-19, get tested as soon as possible. If it's not COVID-19 and your symptoms have been dragging on for a while, get tested for seasonal allergies, reports said. It's important to know your allergy triggers so you can treat them properly. You may be tempted to open your windows to bring fresh spring air into your home or car, but that's a bad idea if you're allergic to pollen, reports said. Instead, you should use air conditioning in both your home and car to keep pollen out. See your allergist early in the season. A doctor can offer a number of ways to treat your allergy symptoms. Corbett said one of the best treatments is immunotherapy, which uses injections or pills to target your specific allergy triggers and can greatly reduce the severity of your symptoms. Allergy shots and pills can also prevent the development of asthma in some children with seasonal allergies, reports said.
Never mind what the calendar says -- your plants will tell you when spring is here. And even in Northern regions, they're leafing out earlier than ever in recent decades due to climate change. In a new study, researchers attribute the early greening to two key factors: warmer temperatures and fewer rainy days. "This contrasting effect earlier in the year makes the plants think it is spring and start leaf onset earlier and earlier," a news release from Ohio State University said. Scientists already knew that warmer temperatures due to climate change had caused plants to leaf out sooner in the year in recent decades, but these new findings show that fewer rainy days are also a big reason why. Previous models suggested that by 2100, spring will arrive five to 10 days earlier than today, the news release said. But this new estimate, which factors in a decline in rainy days, suggests the season will begin another day or two earlier each decade. For the study, the researchers analyzed data from the United States, Europe and China, along with satellite images showing when vegetation started turning green from 1982 to 2018. As rainy days declined over the years, spring arrived earlier for most areas in the Northern Hemisphere. One exception was grasslands in semi-arid regions, where the season was delayed slightly. The researchers offered two key reasons why fewer rainy days bring spring to an earlier start for plants. Rainy days are cloudy days, so fewer of them in late winter and early spring mean plants get more sunshine earlier in the year, which stimulates leaf growth. Fewer cloudy days also mean daytime temperatures are higher and nighttime temperatures cool faster without clouds to trap the heat.
You may only worry about losing an hour of sleep when the clocks spring forward this Sunday, but the time change can also be dangerous for your health, an expert says. Research shows that the risk of stroke, heart attack and traffic accidents all increase in the days following the switch to daylight saving time, according to a report from a clinical sleep disorder specialist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. "Among the sleep science community, there is no controversy: The consensus is that we should eliminate daylight saving time and stick with standard time permanently," a news release said. Time changes affect your body's natural circadian rhythms, which help your brain signal that it's time to go to sleep and also control many other organ systems. "We have clocks throughout the body," reports said. "A special region in the hypothalamus regulates our circadian rhythms and acts as the master pacemaker, telling us, 'Here's daytime, so do this, now it's nighttime, do that.' Our organ systems have to change their function, depending on what time of day it is." Interruption of those rhythms by events such as time changes, traveling across time zones and working rotating shifts triggers a stress response in the body. "Many people plan to go to bed an hour early when the clocks change, but they rarely do," reports said. "That means you've just lost an hour of sleep and your circadian rhythms are misaligned, which explains why we see an increase in accidents after daylight saving time begins." You can reduce the impact of the spring time change by planning a few days in advance. "The simplest way to manage the springtime shift is to go to bed and get up 30 minutes early on the Friday immediately before the time change,” reports said. "Then, shift it 30 minutes earlier for the following night. By Sunday's time shift, you'll be back onto your regular schedule without suddenly losing an hour of sleep." Breaking up the one-hour time shift into two 30-minute shifts helps your body adjust to the new time schedule while reducing strain on your circadian clock.