Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Welcome to Allergy Season!

It’s finally springtime in St. Louis! That means baseball season (Go Cards!) and an influx of runny noses
and red, itchy eyes. Yes, it’s allergy season once again! Everywhere you turn, there are lovely (and sneeze-worthy) flowers, storms causing sinus pressure, and a sudden outbreak of mold spores. In short, it’s a haven for seasonal allergies.

So what can you do to alleviate some of that seasonal discomfort? The National Library of Medicine can get the ball rolling, with a couple of general articles on allergies, allergic reactions, and hay fever, as well as how to handle allergies and asthma in relation to pollen, mold, and general care. For information on ALL kinds of allergies, check out the website for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, which has plenty of info on research, treatments, and types of allergens.

For additional info on treatment, check out this article from the Mayo Clinic and this one from the Food and Drug Administration, both of which discuss allergy medications. And if you determine that you need an allergist to see you through the season, check out this doctor finder from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. The AAAAI also has a “virtual allergist” to help address some general questions, though keep in mind that you should talk to your doctor about anything you want to treated or tested for. Here’s an article discussing how when you may or may not need allergy testing.

If you’d like to brave the nice spring weather, check the AAAAI's page for local pollen counts and then stop by the St. Louis Public Library and pick up one of our books on allergies, a few of which are listed here:
  • The Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Disease by Moises Velasquez-Manoff
  • 100 Questions and Answers About Allergies by Jonathan Corren
  • Allergies and Asthma: What Every Parent Needs to Know edited by Michael J. Welch
  • The Vitamin Cure for Allergies by Damien Downing
  • No More Allergies, Asthma or Sinus Infections: The Revolutionary Diet Approach to Eliminating Upper Respiratory Problems--Including Children's Middle Ear Infections by Lon Jones
  • The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick--And What We Can Do About It by Robyn O'Brien with Rachel Kranz
One final thought before we go: no matter how much we may hate seasonal allergies, we’re not alone. According to this study from the National Institute of Health, the prevalence of allergies is the same, no matter where in the U.S. you live.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Health Insurance Deadline is March 31! Are You Enrolled?

UPDATE: While the deadline is still March 31, there is a little wiggle room. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that those who have already started the enrollment process before March 31 can finish after the deadline.

"Just like Election Day, if you are in line when the polls close, you get to vote. We won’t close the door on those who tried to get covered and were unable to do so through no fault of their own. So, those who were in line or had technical problems with the website can quickly come back and sign up as soon as possible," writes Julie Bataille, Director of Communications at Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, in a blog post dated March 26.


Just a few days remain to sign up for health insurance at Healthcare.gov! Open enrollment for insurance this year ends on March 31.

Healthcare.gov has some excellent information for those who still need to enroll. For a quick refresher of what exactly the Health Insurance Marketplace provides, as well as who it's for, check out this guide. Another great source of information is this page, which gives you an idea of what to expect as you enroll. For answers to other questions, check out the FAQ page.

St. Louis Public Library still has a few opportunities left for you to get help signing up. Appointments are not necessary.

  • From 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, March 26 (that's tonight), Central Library will host certified application counselors from the Betty Jean Kerr People's Health Centers. Counselors will be available just inside the Locust Street entrance on the north side of the building.
  • Certified application counselors from the People's Community Action Corporation will be at the Barr Branch from 3-6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 27.
  • The certified application counselors from Betty Jean Kerr People's Health Centers will be back at Central one last time from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, March 29, again just inside the Locust Street entrance.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Learn About Cancer at the Library on March 25

In just eight days, the St. Louis Public Library and our partners will present the first of our panel discussions in "Can I Catch That? The 2014 Consumer Health Information Speaker Series." Join us at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 25 in the auditorium at Central Library for "Cancer: Risks, Prevention, and Intervention." The event will feature local health experts Dr. Bettina Drake, Janelle Mann, Pharm.D., and Monique Norfolk discussing the risk factors and treatments of cancer, as well as preventative measures you can take to decrease your risk of cancer. For more information about our speakers, read on:

Dr. Bettina Drake is an Assistant Professor at Washington University School of Medicine and Siteman Cancer Center. Her research has focused on identifying preventive strategies to reduce cancer disparities. The objectives of her research program are: to identify the modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors for cancer as well as the at-risk groups for these factors; to utilize community-based approaches to design, implement and disseminate research information; to promote education and awareness of research and research participation in minority communities. Currently she is conducting community-based research through the Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities (PECaD) on minority recruitment into biorepository studies. In addition, she co-leads the Prostate Cancer Community Partnership, a community partnership of PECaD, which seeks to reduce prostate cancer disparities in the region.

Janelle Mann, Pharm.D., BCOP, is an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at St. Louis College of Pharmacy. In addition to her teaching duties, she is a clinical oncology pharmacist at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. Mann is a 2009 graduate of St. Louis College of Pharmacy. She completed a PGY-1 pharmacy residency and PGY-2 oncology specialty residency at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, Wis.

Monique A. Norfolk, MPH is a Program Coordinator/Community Health Educator at Washington University School of Medicine. She coordinates outreach efforts for The Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities (PECaD) of the Siteman Cancer Center of Barnes-Jewish Hospital. In her role, she ensures collaboration between the university and community stakeholders. Her background is in public health education and health behavior. She received her master’s degree in public health from Saint Louis University School of Public Health. Mrs. Norfolk is a St. Louis native and has worked with the community since finishing her degree. Currently, Mrs. Norfolk coordinates PECaD community partnerships and expansion of PECaD education and outreach, disseminates findings and locally/regionally developed resources, identifies new community partners, and seeks ways to better integrate research partners.

The "Can I Catch That? 2014 Consumer Health Information Speaker Series" is held in partnership with HealthStreet, St. Louis College of Pharmacy, Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, and Washington University's Bernard Becker Medical Library.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Time is Running Out to Enroll Through the Health Insurance Marketplace!

If you don't have health insurance already, you have until March 31 to enroll through the Health Insurance Marketplace at www.healthcare.gov.

Through our community partnerships, St. Louis Public Library is offering several opportunities before then to get enrolled at various branches. Throughout March, representatives from the Betty Jean Kerr People's Health Centers will be available at Central Library each Wednesday night from 6-8 p.m., and the People's Community Action Corporation will be at Barr Branch every Tuesday and Thursday from 3-6:30 p.m. For a full list of events, visit our Upcoming Events page.

Remember, you don't have to worry about enrolling for health insurance if you already have insurance through work or another means, or if you are already covered by Medicare or Medicaid. But if you aren't enrolled in some sort of health insurance by the end of March, there is a penalty. According to Healthcare.gov's FAQ page, the 2014 penalty is 1% of your income, or $95 per person ($47.50 for minors) per household, whichever is higher. The penalty increases each year. For more information on the penalties, go here.

Check out our page on the Affordable Care Act for more general information.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Let's Think About What We Eat!

In preparation for March’s Culinary Month here at St. Louis Public Library, we thought it would be a good idea to take a moment to look at what we eat. While we have all kinds of fun events planned, focusing on everything from candy sushi to beer to cupcakes, we’ve also got several programs coming up that are devoted to nutrition. For a full schedule of nutritious events, check out our Upcoming Events page.

On Saturday, March 29, Operation Food Search Nutrition Outreach and Cooking Matters Coordinator Mariella Funk will present a seminar on nutritional cooking. The seminar will focus on healthy eating on a budget, and will feature a cooking demonstration and recipe tasting. All attendees will go home with recipe cards and informational handouts. The seminar takes place at 4 p.m. March 29 at the Julia Davis Branch.

Also on March 29, Local Harvest co-owner Maddie Earnest will present a program about the benefits of eating locally grown food, which is generally more nutritious than food that’s been shipped across the country before it reaches the grocery store. “Local Harvest and Eating with the Seasons” will focus on harvesting local produce and the path it takes from farm to market. The event takes place at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 29 in the Central Library’s Carnegie Room.

There are also lots of opportunities for kids to learn about proper nutrition. On Saturdays in March, several branches will offer “Kids in the Library,” in which dietetic interns from St. Louis University will explain the importance of nutrition and exercise. Each child who participates will plant vegetable seeds in an egg carton to take home (and don’t worry, the plantings will come with instructions for grownups!). The program is aimed at elementary school-aged children and families. Click here for a list of times, dates, and locations.

And if you don’t have time to attend a program, next time you come by the Central Library for storytime, check out "You Are What You Eat," a month-long display in the children’s area. Using kids’ meals purchased from fast-food restaurants, as well as some more nutritious alternatives, this exhibit illustrates the nutritional value (or lack thereof) in these meals, as well as how many preservatives and additives are in them.

If all this talk of nutrition has you curious for more information, swing by any of the branches for books on healthy cooking. Look in the non-fiction section under the Dewey Decimal number 641.563 or search “healthy cooking” in our online catalog. You can also check out ChooseMyPlate.gov, Nutrition.gov, and, for teens, BAM! Body and Mind’s nutrition section for more information. Happy eating!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cool News From One of Our Partners

According to a recent report, our partners at the Washington University School of Medicine have created a new technology that allows surgeons to "see" cancer cells. The new technology, used for the first time earlier this month during a surgery at the Siteman Cancer Center, combines video technology, special glasses, and an FDA-approved dye that makes tumors glow blue when seen through the glasses. The technology has yet to be named, but has been featured in a study published by the Journal of Biomedical Optics. For the full report from the Washington University School of Medicine, go here.

For more cancer information, stop by Central Library on Tuesday, March 25 for "Can I Catch That? Cancer: Risks, Intervention, and Prevention." This panel discussion, featuring local health experts including some from the Siteman Cancer Center, takes place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Central Library Auditorium. This is the first program in the 2014 Consumer Health Information Speaker Series. Check back later for more details on this event!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Kids Can (and Should) Still Be Active, Even If the Weather's Nasty

According to the American Heart Association, kids need at least an hour of exercise every day. But with all
of the cold, snowy days we’ve had recently — and the slushy muddy ones that are sure to come — getting outside to play is not easy. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to make sure the kids get their exercise inside, without driving you mad or wrecking your house.

The American Heart Association has several suggestions, from a healthy scavenger hunt to getting kids involved with chores around the house. Check out PBS.org for this list of ways to keep kids active, even while watching TV. Ultimately, however, TV and other screen time should be limited too, according to KidsHealth.org; check out this list of ideas to help keep your toddler moving without the television on.

Another option is to try out yoga with your kids, which is recommended by several sources, including this article on Parents.com and this one from PBS. While it doesn’t have the aerobic activity that, say, playing tag offers, it does increase flexibility, balance, and concentration. St. Louis Public Library has lots of books about doing yoga with your kids, whether they’re toddlers, teens, or anything in between. Here are just a few:

  • Yoga Exercises for Teens: Developing a Calmer Mind and a Stronger Body by Helen Purperhart
  • Yoga for Kids by Liz Lark
  • The Yoga Zoo Adventure: Animal Poses and Games for Little Kids by Helen Purperhart
  • Little Flower Yoga for Kids: A Yoga and Mindfulness Program to Help Your Child Improve Attention and Emotional Balance by Jennifer Cohen Harper
  • Itsy Bitsy Yoga for Toddlers and Preschoolers: 8-minute Routines to Help Your Child Grow Smarter, Be Happier, and Behave Better by Helen Garabedian
  • Storytime Yoga: Teaching Yoga to Children Through Story by Sydney Solis
  • Babar's Yoga for Elephants by Laurent de Brunhoff

We also have plenty of resources related to general fitness for kids, both for kids and their caregivers. Again, this is just a sample of what we have available:

  • 35 Things to Know to Raise Active Kids by Adam Shafran and Lee Kantor
  • Fitness for Young People: Step-by-Step by Antony Atha and Simon Frost
  • The Fitness Fun Busy Book by Trish Kuffner
  • Get Up and Go: Being Active by Amanda Doering 
  • Dr. Rob's Guide to Raising Fit Kids: A Family-Centered Approach to Achieving Optimal Health by Robert S. Gotlin

For some online information about kids fitness, check out this page on general fitness info and this one on keeping your kids motivated from KidsHealth.org, as well as Let’s Move, an initiative started by First Lady Michelle Obama to help eliminate obesity.