Thursday, June 02, 2011
Use your phone to stay healthy

By Dr. Anthony Policastro It seems that nowadays there is an "app" for everything. Most apps are related to doing things easier. You do not often hear about an app for health but it doesn't mean that there are none. It just means that people tend to be less concerned about health than they do other things. With the advent of smart phones, there are opportunities to use it for health reasons. Many are related to basic phone features. One problem many people have is remembering to take their medication as prescribed. This is especially true when there is a dose in the middle of the day. You can put medication dose times in a calendar on the phone and the phone will alarm when it is time to take the medication. This is especially helpful if you have a complicated list of medications. Not only will the alarm sound but it can also list which medications are due. If you want to go one step further, you can take a picture of the medications which will allow you to actually see the pills that are due. The same kind of thing is true for scheduling medical appointments. Sometimes we make appointments months in advance and then misplace the reminder notice. If the appointment is in the phone, you will be less likely to forget the appointment. Some people are dieting. There are several things that a smart phone can do to help you with your diet. The first is keep a list of foods. People try to track what they eat, however, when they leave the house that is hard to do. It is easy to pull out your phone and keep a list. There are programs that can keep track of calories. You put in what you ate and it tells you how many calories were in that particular food. It can also calculate total daily calories. If you do that for a while, you will get a feel for what areas you can cut back. This is like keeping a calorie budget. A good website for counting calories is If you are going out to eat, it is easy to bring up nutritional information from the Internet. You can then page through the menu items at the selected restaurant and it will allow you to choose an alternative based upon your nutritional desires. One of the things I frequently do is ask people to keep a record of their symptoms because they cannot remember everything that happened when they come to the office. It makes more sense keeping track as it happens. Various types of pain are a good example. A headache diary is very useful in finding out the type of headache someone has. The same thing is true of abdominal pain. A smart phone allows that diary to be kept easily. It also allows it to include symptoms that occur when the individual is away from home. It also makes the list more accurate. These are but a few of the things that can be done on a smart phone to help you take care of your health. There are many others. All you need to do is figure out what you want to do and I am sure that you will find an "app" for it.

How to protect yourself against ticks and mosquitoes this year Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) reminds Delawareans to take simple precautions to reduce the risk of becoming seriously ill due to tick or mosquito bites. Ticks are active all year and are commonly found in moist shade in wooded or overgrown areas. When carried on pets, ticks can enter the home. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Ehrlichiosis when they bite humans. DPH recommends the following protective measures to avoid tick bites:
  • Wear light colored clothing (long pants and sleeves) to see ticks more clearly. Tuck pants into socks.
  • Using insect repellants according to label directions. Only repellent containing less than 30 percent DEET should be used on children. DEET should not be used on infants less than 2 months old.
  • Check your body every day for ticks, especially after being outdoors. Check children's hair and clothing for ticks. Pets may also carry ticks.
To prevent infection when bitten by a tick, remove the tick promptly by grasping it with tweezers and pulling it straight out. Using petroleum jelly or a hot match on ticks is not effective. After removal, cleanse the site with antiseptic or soap and water, and wash your hands. Tick-borne diseases may be treated with antibiotics. Anyone bitten by a tick should contact a physician if symptoms develop: Lyme disease: Symptoms include a bull's-eye rash (in nearly half of cases), fever, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint aches. Occasionally, arthritis is seen in one or more large joints. Rarely, heart irregularities and neurological problems occur. In 2010, Delaware reported 657 cases. Rocky Mountain spotted fever: Symptoms can include fever, nausea, vomiting, severe headache, muscle pains and appetite loss, followed by rash, abdominal pain, joint pain and diarrhea. Many patients require hospitalization, with a small percentage of cases resulting in death. In 2010, Delaware had 22 cases. Ehrlichiosis: Symptoms can include fever, headache, malaise, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, joint pain, confusion and occasionally rash. There were also 22 cases of Ehrlichiosis reported in Delaware in 2010. Mosquito-borne illnesses The majority of human West Nile virus infections do not cause symptoms. Nearly 20 percent of individuals infected with West Nile virus develop a mild illness which includes fever, body and muscle aches, headache, nausea, vomiting and rash. A very small percentage of patients, usually the elderly, develop severe neurological disease. The last human case of West Nile virus in Delaware was confirmed in 2008. Because of its high death rate, Eastern equine encephalitis is one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases in the United States. Symptoms range from mild flu-like illness to encephalitis, coma and death. Delaware has not had a confirmed human case of EEE since 1979. Follow these procedures for mosquito prevention:
  • Avoid outdoor activities at dusk when mosquitoes are more active.
  • Wear shoes, long-sleeved shirts, and pants. Use mosquito netting to protect the face and neck or to cover infant strollers and playpens. Apply repellents as for tick prevention.
  • Maintain window and door screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering the house.
  • Remove standing water to prevent mosquito breeding: Regularly drain tarps and pool covers. Store wading pools, wheelbarrows and buckets upside down. Change water in birdbaths, pet dishes and potted plant saucers.
  • Regularly clear gutters, drains, ditches and culverts.
  • For more information, go to: and

    Bereavement luncheons Delaware Hospice's "New Beginnings" bereavement luncheons are an informal way to meet and talk with others, who have had similar loss experiences. Lunch begins at noon and is followed by a brief program. The location rotates each week of the month according to this schedule:
    • 1st Thursday: Grottos Pizza, Rt. 26, Bethany Beach;
    • 2nd Thursday: Georgia House, 300 Delaware Ave., Laurel;
    • 3rd Thursday: Millsboro Pizza Palace, Rt. 113-southbound lane, Millsboro;
    • 4th Thursday: Blue Ocean Grill (formerly Milton House), 200 Broadkill Rd., Milton;
    • 5th Thursday (when applicable): Texas Grill (formerly Ocean Point Grill), 26089 Long Neck Rd., Millsboro. "New Beginnings" luncheons are open to the public. Registration is not required. There is no fee except the cost of your lunch.
    For more information, call Carol Dobson or Paul Ganster at 856-7717.

    Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. Of particular value to newly-diagnosed women is DBCC's Peer Mentor Program through which they are paired with a long-term survivor for one-on-one support. To learn more about Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

    Early Stage Alzheimer's seminar Julie Thomas, early stage and advocacy coordinator for the Alzheimer's Association, Delaware Valley Chapter, will speak on the topic of Early Stage Alzheimer's at Frankford United Methodist Church in Frankford, on Tuesday, June 28, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Thomas's presentation will include information on how the disease is diagnosed and best practices for people living with early stages of dementia. Thomas will also introduce the early stage services offered by the Delaware Valley Chapter, which include community education, dual support groups, art & culture programming and volunteer opportunities in the Sussex County area. This program is open to both caregivers and individuals within the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of memory related disorders. For information on the Early Stage program or to inquire about other programs and education, call the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter at 800-272-3900.

    NAR-ANON support group Take Heart, Be Strong is a support group available to family members and friends who are concerned about the drug/alcohol addiction of a loved one. People in NAR-ANON understand what we are going through and are ready to share their experience, strength and hope to help. This group meets every Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Youth Room at Crossroad Community Church, 20684 State Forest Rd., Georgetown. If you are interested or know someone who might be, call Beth at 745-0466. This is an anonymous program and there are no obligations. Attendance is welcome with no prior arrangements. For more information, visit

    Annual Cancer Survivors event National Cancer Survivors Day (NCSD) is Sunday, June 5. This 24th annual, worldwide celebration of life will be held in hundreds of communities throughout the United States, Canada and other participating countries. Cancer survivors, caregivers, family members, friends and healthcare professionals unite to show that life after a cancer diagnosis can be meaningful and productive. In honor of NCSD, the Nanticoke Cancer Care Center is hosting a luncheon from 1 to 3 p.m. on June 5, at the Seaford Moose Lodge. Guest speaker will be Lon Kieffer, also known as DOC the "Defender of Caregivers," and musical entertainment will be provided by Brittney Slavens. "Come learn how surviving cancer is an attitude about life and living each day to the fullest," says Terri Clifton, NCSD coordinator for the Nanticoke Cancer Care Center. "You will find our community's NCSD event filled with joy, camaraderie, hope, compassion, faith and love as we honor cancer survivors for their strength and courage. We will also recognize the contributions of their families, friends and healthcare providers and discuss the issues of cancer survivorship." Door prizes will be given throughout the afternoon and all survivors will receive a gift. Anyone living with a history of cancer, from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life, is a cancer survivor, according to the NCSD Foundation. Over 11 million Americans are now living with and beyond a diagnosis of cancer. In the United States, almost half of all men and one third of all women are expected to be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. Learning about this disease is crucial, because many forms of cancer can be prevented and most cured if detected early. "Despite the adversities, cancer survivors face each day with courage and dignity and serve as an inspiration to all of us," said Terri Clifton. To RSVP, call 629-6611, ext. 2378.