Lyme Disease and Tick Bites

It is spring and the flowers, black flies and ticks are blooming! Flowers and black flies rarely cause significant health problems, but deer ticks can. They can transmit Lyme disease by transmitting Lyme bacteria when they attach to their victim. They can also transmit the rarer diseases called ehrlichiosis, babesiosis and, even more rarely, tularemia and Lyme variants, recently reported to cause a dementing illness especially in the elderly. Our region used to be on the edge of the deer tick/Lyme disease infestation area, which was the southern New England states and southern Maine.

How to break a smoking addiction

Everybody knows that smoking is bad in all kinds of ways, but most smokers have found that it is extremely hard to stop! That’s because one’s body becomes both habituated and usually addicted to smoking and the nicotine it delivers. And smoking has become financially very expensive as well. In this article, I want to offer suggestions, based on decades of trying to help 100s if not 1000s of smokers, about what strategies seem to help people kick the habit.

Distracted Driving

Let’s face it; we are all distracted drivers some of the time. I tie my tie or floss my teeth sometimes when I’m driving to work and I’ve seen others even reading newspapers! But the explosion in cell phone use has markedly increased the frequency and consequences of distracted driving.

Senior Driving

Nearly everybody over 45 has probably worried about a elderly parent or other loved one’s safety when driving. Crashes caused by older drivers are a significant public health issue, especially in Maine with its oldest median age of all the states, and its predominantly rural environment that lacks much public transportation.

Renovation and Other Environmental Risks in Our Homes

Renovation and Other Environmental Risks in Our Homes

Last winter I wrote about home water contamination risks and how to avoid them. Several other home environmental risks, especially for young children, may be worsened when we re-do a room in our houses or bring out old furniture, like heirloom cribs and chairs. I’ll review several of the most important ones in this column.

Lead is not good for any of us, but infants in their first year or two are particularly susceptible to lead, which can cause permanent brain damage. Lead used to be in most paints, helping with gloss and durability. Amounts began to decline in the 1950s, as people began to appreciate the risks; and lead was fully banned from paints by 1978 (although not in some imported toys even now). So the primary risks are with paints older than that. Lead also is found in solder fumes and importantly, in many home pottery glazes, from which it can leach.

Senior Driving

Vienna Newsletter

Health Officer Column

August, 2012

Senior Driving

Nearly everybody over 45 has probably worried about a elderly parent or other loved one’s safety when driving. Crashes caused by older drivers are a significant public health issue, especially in Maine with its oldest median age of all the states, and its predominantly rural environment that lacks much public transportation. In those rural areas, like Vienna, nearly 20% of the population is already over 65, which the rest of the country is not predicted to achieve until 2030. So seniors who live here must have a car and be able to drive to get most things done they need to do, from shopping, to medical care, to entertainment, despite recent local improvements in those and other services. And we hear reports of crashes involving elderly drivers constantly in the news recently. So what are the issues and what can be done to diminish the risks without isolating our seniors?

Cell phone, cell towers and other Electromagnetic waves in our lives

Cell phone, cell towers and other Electromagnetic waves in our lives

What are the risks of living next to a new cell tower, or of using your cell phone a lot? Many in the area are asking these questions as new cell towers go up. In response to questions like these from Bob Weingarten, Marti Gross and others, let me give a mini lesson on what is and isn’t known about the interactions between electromagnetic waves and our body’s physiology, and how you might measure your exposure if you wish. And I’ll close with a bit about radon, the greatest radiation risk in our lives and homes.  But first I must review a little physics with you.

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