Monthly Archives: May 2017


Mental Health Awareness Week

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Trigger warning: suicide, OCD, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction
cube public domainEverybody has a brain, which means everybody can get mental illness. Mental illness is an umbrella term for variations in how the brain functions—anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and addiction, are all forms of mental illness. Mental health is essentially, by definition, the absence of mental illness – but that does not mean that, with treatment, a person can not have a mental illness and also have good mental health—though it may take more work.
For instance, my friend Mark had obsessive compulsive disorder, a form of mental illness. With a lot of work, he has overcome the challenges of having OCD. Mark maintains that no specific changes will work for every person: a combination including or excluding any of therapy, medication, diet, exercise, journaling, medication, behavioural strategies, and more [1], will work different for each person. Each person’s experience will be different, and it is important to not draw conclusions, make assumptions, and to make unsolicited recommendations to a friend or family member with mental illness.
Mental illness may be unpredictable, both for the person living with it and those around them. Some mental illnesses increase the risk a person will engage in risky, life-threatening, or suicidal behaviour. This is why medical ID jewelry for mental illness is important. If you are in crisis, it is important to seek medical care immediately, but also to be aware that you may not be in the right place emotionally or psychologically to communicate your needs. A medical ID bracelet for mental illness, including eating disorders medical ID, anxiety disorder or depression medical jewelry, or schizophrenia or bipolar medical alert products can help to ensure the people who most need to are aware of your diagnosis, and can help keep you safe.

Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME) Awareness Week

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bedMay 11 to 17 is Myalgic Encephalopathy/Encephalomyelitis (ME) Awareness Week. ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), or ME/CFS, post viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS) or CFIDS – Chronic Fatigue immune Dysfunction Syndrome. These terms all refer to the same condition, but if just naming a condition is that complicated, clearly the illness itself must be complicated too. And indeed, it is.
ME/CFS is often onset by a virus—after the virus should be completely gone, unrelenting fatigue, pain, sleep issues, memory issues, and often, gastrointestinal issues, remain. It can also be linked to surgery or an accident—many ME/CFS patients can pinpoint the exact day their symptoms started, as my friend Ryan states in his documentary Forgotten Plague, while others may have a slower, more gradual onset [1. 2]. ME/CFS can be “mild” to severe—some people recover or go through relapsing/remitting periods of exhaustion and near normal energy, while others remain bed-bound for most or all of the day for years. 
Treatment is individualized for each patient, and there is no standard treatment. Treatments that may work well for one person with ME/CFS may be ineffective or even harmful to others. [1] Adequate rest is the core treatment. [1] Graded exercise therapy may gradually help people with ME/CFS be able to carry out increasing amounts of physical activity, cognitive behaviour therapy may assist in adjusting to the changes related to a ME/CFS diagnosis. [3] Activity adjustment, some medicines including antidepressants if needed, decreasing caffeine and alcohol intake, even vitamin therapy may also help. [3, 2]
While ME/CFS is not all that common, 250,000 people in the UK (less than a third of a percent) have the syndrome. [3.1] If you know someone with ME/CFS, ask them how you can help support them, and how you can help advocate for more research to be done for ME/CFS. If you have ME/CFS, wearing a medical ID bracelet or necklace for chronic fatigue may help in an emergency. 

Food Allergy Awareness Month

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Peanut allergyOne of the most common reasons people will wear a medical ID bracelet is for a severe food allergy. Especially for kids, who may have trouble communicating their needs, a food allergy medical bracelet or anaphylaxis alert bracelet can put those around them, especially their parents, at a bit more ease. In the case of the food allergy medical bracelet, the jewelry does not just cause people to react if an emergency takes place, but serves as a visual reminder that a child needs special care—that is, avoidance of their allergen.
In the UK, the most common food allergens are: milk, egg, soy/soya, fish/seafood, peanut/legume and tree nut, sesame (and other seeds), mustard, and wheat. [1] People may be allergic to more than one item on the list, and those who have asthma may experience more severe reactions. Severe allergic reactions may also develop to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction to a substance. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include breathing problems, rash, throat swelling, hives, gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting), and swelling. Treatment of anaphylaxis must be rapid, given as an injection of epinephrine, typically in an autoinjector. Epinephrine will halt and begin to reverse the reaction, but dosing may need to be repeated. Once epinephrine is given for a suspected reaction—one should ALWAYS err to administer as it will do little harm to give epinephrine without need, but could do great harm to delay dosing—999 should be called immediately and the person should always seek emergency care from the hospital. Some people will have a second dose of epinephrine with them, to be given 10 to 15 minutes following the first dose, in the event the reaction begins to come back.
Because of the rapid need for treatment of allergic reactions, severe allergy medical ID or anaphylaxis ID bracelets should be engraved with ALLERGIC TO [food item], GIVE EPINEPHRINE – CALL 999, then followed by an emergency contact number to ensure that the person is promptly administered epinephrine if they are unable to administer themselves. It may also be helpful to engrave where epinephrine is stored (such as a backpack or purse)—most schools recommend or require children self-carry epinephrine, even if they cannot self-adminiser, and that the epinephrine is worn on the child’s belt in a waist pack for quick access. For your food allergy medical ID needs, please check out our shop!

World Asthma Day: Asthma Facts

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2563157fdbdfb6a1d9a9f9d39715157e03b61dAsthma is a common lung condition that affects 11 million people in the UK. [1] 1.1 million, or 10% of those living with asthma are children, according to Asthma UK. [1] While asthma is treatable, there is no cure—ongoing research strives to find better treatments and, one day, a cure for asthma.
Asthma causes inflammation in the lungs, which along with muscle constriction around the airways, can cause people to exxperience problems breathing (known as an asthma attack, flare up, or exacerbation). It can develop at any age, and ranges from mild to severe—though even people with mild asthma can have a severe, life-threatening, or fatal asthma attack. While people do die from asthma, proper treatment and ensuring you carry a rescue inhaler (blue puffer) if you have asthma, can help to decrease the risk of having a fatal asthma attack.
People with asthma are able to do anything they like (with the notable exception of SCUBA diving, which may not be as far off the mark as some used to think [2]). Exercise may trigger asthma, but is encouraged so long as asthma is well controlled (and can help manage asthma!)—taking a rescue inhaler as prescribed your doctor beforehand can help. Allergens (dust, animals, foods), chemicals, weather, illnesses, and more can cause asthma to flare up—people with asthma need to learn their triggers and figure out how to avoid them where possible (though, as someone with asthma, it is much easier said than done!)
If you have asthma, Asthma UK offers many programs for people living with asthma. Visit Asthma UK to learn more about what you can get involved with to support those living with asthma. May 2 is World Asthma Day, and there is no better time to get involved in changing asthma than during Asthma Awareness Month, which runs through the month of May.
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