First Aid

First Aid

Migraine – more than just a headache

Elvis Presley, Stephen King, Serena Williams, and Princess Margaret are just some of the famous people who have suffered from migraines.

Migraines are headaches that typicallyimages-14 last from 4-72 hours and you may experience nausea and vomiting as well as sensitivity to light or sound.

There are more than three million migraine sufferers in Australia, meaning that more people suffer from migraine in Australia than diabetes, asthma, or coronary heart disease. It is thought that more women suffer migraine than men due to hormonal factors. Onset of migraine is from childhood onwards but most commonly in the 20s and 30s.

Symptoms of migraine

A migraine headache has different symptoms from other types of headache. Migraine symptoms can include:

  • headache: one sided, throbbing moderate to severe
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sensitivity to light
  • sensitivity to sound
  • affected vision, such as an aura (bright zigzag lines, flashing lights)
  • difficulty in concentrating, confusion, co-ordination
  • stiffness of the neck and shoulders
  • sensitivity to smell and touch
  • numbness of the face or extremities

What causes migraine?

Susceptibility to migraine is normally inherited.  Certain parts of the brain employing monoamines, such as serotonin and noradrenaline, appear to be in a hypersensitive state, reacting promptly and excessively to stimuli such as emotion, bombardment with sensory impulses, or any sudden change in the internal or external environment.  If the brainstem systems controlling the cerebral cortex become active, the brain starts to shut down, a process starting at the back of the brain in the visual cortex and working slowly forward.  The pain nucleus of the trigeminal nerve becomes spontaneously active; pain is felt in the head or upper neck and blood flow in the face and scalp increases reflexly.  Noradrenaline is released from the adrenal gland and causes the platelets to release serotonin.

Want more information about the pathophysiology of migraines? Click here..

Triggers for migraine

No one really knows what causes migraine, however attacks are almost certainly triggered by a combination of factors, such as:

  • diet –images-16 cheese, chocolate, citrus fruits, alcohol (especially red wine)
  • sleep – too little or too much
  • menstrual cycle
  • physiochemical – excessive heat, light, noise or certain chemicals
  • emotional causes – stress, excitement or fatigue
  • relaxation (weekend migraines) – often triggered by a period of stress and overwork followed by relaxation.

 

Nearly all people who suffer from migraines report a reduction in social activities and work capacity.

Treatment of migraine

images-15There is no cure for migraine and prevention is difficult, but treatments can help reduce the number of attacks. Migraines vary greatly from person to person and so does the treatment. If you feel you suffer from migraines it is important to consult your health care professional to discuss treatment options.

The four treatment options available to migraine sufferers include:

  • prevention – avoiding trigger factors – this can be difficult, if not impossible since migraines are often triggered by a combination of factors
  • pain-relieving medication and medication to alter pressure on blood vessels
  • preventative treatment medication
  • non-medication therapies – including acupuncture, biofeedback, goggles, hypnotherapy, exclusion diets, relaxation, yoga, meditation, herbal or homeopathic remedies.
Information Sources: headacheaustralia.org.aubetterhealth.vic.gov.au

Outback First Aid – Our Story

20160723_144631sNewcastle’s Robert Watson had done his Medilife First Aid Training over many years when he was employed in the steel industry. Now retired, he and his wife Coralie continue to do the refresher training, “just in case” they are ever called on to help in an emergency situation.  Their spiral bound  First Aid for Life course books are kept with a first aid kit in the boot of their car.

 

P1290923xsIn July, during a 6,000 km road trip through inland Queensland, Coralie developed some chest pains one afternoon on the road. It was a few hours after lunch, and she assumed it was indigestion. However the pain became worse, and worse. They were 1 hour out from Emerald, and it was a further 2 hours to their overnight stop… in a tiny town which almost certainly didn’t have a hospital. The pain was severe enough that Coralie thought it might have been a heart attack, but – from memory – Robert asked, “Do you have a crushing feeling on your chest, and are you sweating a lot?” The answer was, “No”, and Coralie added, “and I don’t have pain radiating to my left arm!” But they pulled off the road and dug out their first aid book.

The signs and symptoms  listed included the three they remembered, plus Anxiety, Nausea, Shortness of breath and Pale/grey skin colour.

On that basis, they agreed that there was no immediate need to panic or get upset, and they continued on to Emerald Hospital Emergency Department. Coralie was wired up to their machines and it was quickly determined that she was not having a heart attack, so that was good news. Further tests suggested that she had had a particularly severe bout of reflux, coupled with dehydration. Over the course of 3 hours she was attended to by the doctors and nurses, who all reinforced that going to see them was the sensible thing to do, and they were always happier to release people than to have to admit them with something serious.

The travel plans were changed, and they stayed in Emerald for the night … in a motel directly opposite the hospital. “Just in case!” added Robert.

Thank you Robert and Coralie for sharing your experience.

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5 Tips to creating a better culture of workplace health and safety

 How can you improve the current workplace culture toward Work Health and Saftey?

1. Frequent and informal communication.

imagesCommunication between workers and management on safety management raises workers’ awareness of and can potentially contribute to a positive preventative safety culture. People work more safely when they are involved in the decision making process.

 

 

images (1)2. Set the example.

Managers that model behaviour by making a personal contribution to WHS consultation can significantly change the way their team thinks about health and safety in the workplace.

 

 

 

3. Reward positive contributions. download (1)

This has lasting effects to culture change. An organisation is formed to achieve certain goals and objectives by bringing individuals together on a common platform and motivating them to deliver their best. It is essential for the employees to enjoy the workplace for them to develop a sense of loyalty towards it. The organisation must offer a positive atmosphere to the employees.

 

 

download4. Promote team building activities.

Conduct training programs, workshops, seminars and presentations to upgrade the existing skills of the employees and to bind the employees together. Team building improves communication, boosts morale, increases motivation, improves productivity and a fun way to learning effective health and safety strategies.

 

 

 

personal responsibility5. Make it personal.

Personal safety responsibility, control and rational judgment are essential to a good health and safety culture. An organisation is said to have a strong work culture when the employees follow the organisation’s rules and regulations and adhere to the existing guidelines.

Allowing personal responsibility within organisational guidelines gives employees ownership of their responsibilities and personal satisfaction.

 

 

Information source: comcare

Delirium

Although delirium is primarily found within aged care facilities and hospital patients, the symptoms of delirium may be the first signs of an untreated medical or mental condition or medication reaction. Causes also include trauma, drug toxicity, bleeding and dehydration. All causes we may come across as first aiders. These may include:

  • Medications or drug toxicity
  • Alcohol or drug abuse or withdrawal
  • A medical condition
  • Metabolic imbalances, such as low sodium or low calcium
  • Severe, chronic or terminal illness
  • Fever and acute infection, particularly in children
  • Exposure to a toxin
  • Malnutrition or dehydration
  • Sleep deprivation or severe emotional distress
  • Pain
  • Surgery or other medical procedures that include anesthesia

Delirium involves a quick change between mental states. For example, from lethargy to agitation and back to lethargy. Other symptoms may include:

Delirium syndrome mental health icon design. Hallucinations symbol concept

  • Changes in alertness
  • Changes in sensation and perception
  • Changes in level of consciousness
  • Changes in movement. For example: may be slow moving or hyperactive
  • Changes in sleep patterns, drowsiness
  • Confusion about time or place
  • Decrease in short-term memory
  • Disorganized thinking, such as talking in a way that doesn’t make sense
  • Emotional or personality changes, such as anger, agitation, depression, irritability
  • Movements triggered by changes in the nervous system – seizures, tremors

Delirium or Dementia?

Dementia and delirium may be particularly difficult to distinguish, and a person may have both. In fact, frequently delirium occurs in people with dementia. Dementia is the progressive decline of memory and other thinking skills due to the gradual dysfunction and loss of brain cells.

Delirium is a  sudden onset of symptoms, often lasting about 1 week. It may take several weeks for mental function to return to normal . Full recovery is common, but depends on the underlying cause of the delirium.

First Aid for the Delirious or Demented

What ever the cause of delerium,  how do we render first aid treatment effectively to a severely confused person?

Our primary concern is our own safety and the safety of the ones we are treating. If a person seems delirious it is important to reassure our casualty to enable us to treat them effectively and safely. Which we would try to do anyway, but these specific types of reassurances will help your casualty deal with their situation.

Perform the initial steps to providing first aid, ensuring all dangers have been identified and dealt with and that medical help is on its way. If the person is not requiring immediate resuscitation or action, bear in mind these tips to help reassure your patient as you perform assessment for/of injuries.

  • Reassure the person by speaking slowly in a clear voice, identifying yourself and them (if known).
  • Knowing the time of day can reduce confusion. Let them know where they are, what day it is and the time of day.
  • Visual and hearing impairment can make confusion worse. If you can see they have glasses or hearing aids help them to put on (if safe to do so).
  • If aggressive or agitated do not try to restrain. Try to make sure the area is free from hazards.

Agitated or aggressive patients may be dangerous to themselves and others or may not be able to cooperate with necessary procedures.

information sources: nlm.nih.gov, carersaustralia.com.au, mayoclinic.org
Image: kondyukandrey/iStockphoto.com

Holiday safety – alcohol, driving and empty homes

Leaving Home for the holidays

  • house-insurance-419058_640Ensure the house is securely locked, including windows usually left open
  • Cancel newspapers and redirect your mail or have it collected by a friend
  • Put pets into a boarding kennel or have friends visit them often
  • Tell neighbours or friends who can check on the house, you are away and whom will be at the house legitimately – e.g. gardeners, pet minders
  • Secure your garage or, if unable – move items such as bikes inside the house
  • Consider security devices, including light timers etc.
  • Do not leave cash in the house and locate jewellery in a safe place
  • Ensure your lawn is cut, the property tidy and stop all deliveries
  • Avoid leaving the answering machine on and turn the phone volume down

Young people and alcohol

Young people and particularly those under the age of 18 are vulnerable to the damaging effects of alcohol.cocktail-594173__180

  • In Australia alcohol is a key factor in the three leading causes of death among adolescents; unintentional injury, homicide and suicide.
  • Over one in five (22%) of all hospitalisations of young people aged 15-24 years old are alcohol related.
  • Of all those hospitalised, 30% of young men and 23% of young women are hospitalised because of an alcohol related assault.

As well as the serious and obvious health consequences of underage drinking, alcohol places the drinker and those around them at considerable risk of harm. Alcohol use, particularly excessive use can increase young people’s risk of becoming a victim and / or an offender of alcohol related crime, often violent crime such as sexual assault, physical assault, robbery, driving accidents, violence and antisocial behaviour offences.

Driving distractions and crash risk

Distractions that divert attention from driving increase your risk of crashing.

automobile-160339__180Recent research suggests that at least 14 per cent of all crashes involve the driver being distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle. As many as one in ten fatalities have been directly attributed to driver distraction. Yet even though surveys have indicated that 98 per cent of people believe that using a mobile phone while driving, for example, is very dangerous, 28 per cent of people admit to doing it themselves.

Typically, the two biggest distractions inside the vehicle are other passengers and adjusting the sound system. Research has also shown that drivers using mobile phones and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) while driving are also much more likely to be involved in crashes. Text entry into a GPS unit while driving can be extremely dangerous. Sending and receiving text messages on a mobile phone while driving is also extremely dangerous, and is also illegal.

What is a ‘stitch”?

Dr Darren Morton, a senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education and Science at Avondale College of Higher Education in NSW, went on to do his PhD on stitches. These are his findings:

A fraction too much friction

running-573762_640The membrane lining the abdominal cavity is known as the peritoneum. It is a double-layered membrane, with the outer layer lying tight against the front abdominal wall and folding around under the diaphragm, the dome-shaped sheet of muscle that separates your chest from your abdomen. The inner layer of the membrane wraps around the contours of the abdominal organs. Between the two layers is a small amount of fluid, which helps reduce friction when your organs shift as your body moves.

Morton’s theory is that this protective system sometimes goes wrong, and there is friction between the layers, resulting in irritation and the pain we call a stitch. The lining under the diaphragm is attached to the phrenic nerve, which refers pain to the shoulder tip region, which may explain why some people get shoulder tip pain with a stitch.

The link with sugary drinks

drink-19202__180The irritation can be triggered by pressure from the inside when organs, such as your stomach, are very full and swollen.

But it can also happen when the amount of fluid in the space between the two layers drops. One thing we know can cause this is drinking concentrated fluids such as sugary drinks.

“What we know is that things like really sugary drinks draw fluid out of that space and are very provocative of stitches,” Morton says.

In experiments where people are given such drinks, like fruit juice or soft drink, and then asked to exercise “everyone sort of keels over left, right and centre with a stitch”, he explains.

Sports drinks, which are around 6 per cent sugar (compared to around 11 per cent for fruit juice), don’t have this effect. In fact, they are no worse than water at bringing on a stitch.

Sugary drinks have a “double whammy” effect – reducing the rate at which the stomach empties its contents into the intestines, which may lead to bloating and further friction through direct pressure.

While high fat foods also slow the emptying of the stomach, and hence help to bring on stitches, they’re less frequently eaten before exercise than high sugar food and drinks.

Tips to avoid a stitch

So what are Morton’s top tips to reduce the odds of a stitch next time you get active?

There’s most evidence for these three:

  • Make sure you’re well hydrated by drinking lots of water in the 12 hours before you exercise. In the two hours immediately before, drink only small amounts so you stay hydrated, but your stomach’s not bloated (and therefore less likely to press on the lining of your abdominal cavity).
  • Don’t eat large volumes of food for at least two hours before exercise (perhaps even three to four hours before if you’re especially prone to stitches).
  • Avoid very sugary drinks, such as fruit juice or soft drinks, before or during your exercise. Sugary foods like lollies may also be a problem.

There’s less evidence for these, but they’re still worth a try:

  • Get fitter: Some evidence suggests the fitter you are, the less frequently you get stitches. Exactly why isn’t understood. But plenty of very fit athletes are still plagued by them.
  • Strengthen your core: Strong trunk muscles, especially the deeper abdominal muscles, the transverse abdominus, may help ward stitches off, probably by offering more support to abdominal organs. Pilates and exercises using a stability ball may help.
  • Improve your posture: “We haven’t yet done intervention studies to see if changing people’s posture makes a difference but we have anecdotal reports of people who’ve done that and it’s been helpful.” A physiotherapist may be able to help.

If you do get a stitch, you might find the following techniques can bring relief:

  • deep breathing
  • pushing or stretching the affected area
  • bending over forward.

In lab experiments, stitches generally disappeared 45 seconds to two minutes after stopping activity. Some people can still feel sore a couple of days later though.

source: ABC health and wellbeing