Eye physicians stress importance of annual eye exams during Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing serious eye diseases, yet most do not have sight-saving, annual eye exams, according to a large study. This is especially timely as the Kentucky Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons (KAEPS) joins the Academy in reiterating the importance of eye exams during the month of November, which is observed as Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month. Researchers...

EKU environmental health science students honored by National Environmental Health Association

Three Eastern Kentucky University students from the Department of Environmental Health Science were recognized at the 81st National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) Annual Education Conference and Exposition. Only five students receive student research award honors at the national conference. Amos Kosgey (master’s of public health student) and Ambrose Maritim (undergraduate), both of whom...

State teens lagging behind nation average in getting vaccines to prevent cervical cancer

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Fewer than half of Kentucky’s teenagers are getting the human papillomavirus vaccine, which is known to prevent several cancers, including cervical cancer — a disease for which Kentucky leads the nation. A federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, using data from the 2016 National Immunization Survey for teenagers, found that 48 percent...

Swimmer’s ear often a part of the summer season, but there are ways it can be prevented

One of the best parts of summer is swimming, but it can cause a condition called swimmer’s ear that can be extremely painful. Acute otitis externa, or swimmer’s ear, happens when water stays in the ear too long, which creates a perfect environment for bacteria to grow. “Swimming is a significant risk factor, especially in fresh water,” Kara Jones-Schubart, a clinical assistant...

Water Safety Tips: Drowning is top cause of accidental death among young children

Summer fun often includes heading to the swimming pool or lake, but it’s important to remember that all water activities come with a risk of drowning. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that every day, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children under 15 and most are between 1 and 4. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy...

Tick season is expected to be more dangerous this year; here are some tips to keep you protected

Warm weather and outdoor activities go hand in hand, but it also mean tick season is upon us — and it’s expected to be a bad one this year because the winter was so mild. Tick season in Kentucky runs through August. The lone star tick and the American dog tick are the most common ticks in Kentucky, and are commonly found in wooded or grassy areas. The dog tick can transmit Rocky Mountain...

Kentucky leads nation in percentage of residents who smoke, leading to highest cancer rate in U.S.

Smoking rates have fallen dramatically in the United States, with reports by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) finding that 17.9 percent of the population smoke. However, more recent research has put that number even lower at 15.1 percent. This rate is slightly less than that of the United Kingdom at 16.9 percent , and significantly less than Germany (24.5) and France (25). Of...

Study says only way to protect children from nicotine exposure is to not smoke in house — or quit

Children carry significant levels of nicotine on their hands even if their parents don’t smoke around them, according to a recent study by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and San Diego State University. “Parents may think that not smoking around their child is enough, but this is not the case. These findings emphasize that the only safe way to protect children from smoke...

Study shows diabetes’ deaths may be four times higher than reported; state has 12th highest rate

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Diabetes may be responsible for nearly four times as many American deaths as reported on death certificates, which would move diabetes from the seventh-leading cause of death to the third, according to a recent study. Kentucky has the 12th highest diabetes death rate in the nation. “We argue diabetes is responsible for 12 percent of deaths in the U.S., rather...

Nonprofit evaluation shows Kentucky improved slightly in national ranking for hospital patient safety

By Traci Thomas Kentucky Health News A nonprofit group that rates hospitals has released its latest patient-safety grades, giving most Kentucky hospitals a B or C. The scores are similar to grades released in October, but the overall score for Kentucky hospitals rose from 35th to 32nd among the states. The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., evaluated 2,639 hospitals nationwide,...

Seat-belt use in Kentucky about the same as national average, but death rate is significantly higher

Only two Kentucky counties, Boone and Kenton, used seat belts at the national average or above in 2012, according to the latest local data available from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an ongoing poll by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A county-level map from The Washington Post using data from 2012 shows Boone and Kenton counties in yellow, meaning their seat-belt...

With encouragement from the feds, Kentucky schools focused more on healthy foods, less junk

Sugary drinks, fatty snacks and chocolate candy are becoming harder to buy in Kentucky schools, which are paying more attention to health issues, according to the latest survey by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC’s latest biennial School Health Profiles for 2014 found big declines in the availability of junk food since 2014. Here are the specifics: — Chocolate...

Repealing ACA could hinder treatment for opioid addiction, epidemic in Appalachia, rural areas

From Rural Blog President Trump’s pledge to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could have dire effects on drug-treatment programs, especially in Appalachia and other rural areas plagued by the opioid epidemic, Christine Vestal reports for Stateline. An estimated 1.6 million previously uninsured addicts in the 31 states that expanded Medicaid gained coverage since 2014, including...

As national consumption increases, new book claims sugar is our nutritional enemy

For about decade as the century started, more and more Americans appeared to obey the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s advice to eat less sugar. But that trend of improvement has leveled off, according to statistics released last week by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data show that about half of American adults drink at least one sugar-sweetened beverage daily and...

Substance use treatment services covered by Medicaid expansion up by 740 percent since 2014

Treatment services for substance use increased by 740 percent for Medicaid expansion beneficiaries over the 30 months from the beginning of 2014 through mid-2016, according to a report released Wednesday by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. The expanded Medicaid program in the Commonwealth under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) covered approximately 11,000 substance use treatment services in the...

The Rural Blog: Opioid epidemic persists because drug does too good a job of eliminating pain

One of the biggest barriers to beating the nation’s opioid epidemic, which is disproportionately rural, could be that the painkillers do as intended: make the pain go away, says a report by The Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation. Also, users see opioids as far less addictive and dangerous than do their household members who are not using painkillers. “The Centers for Disease...

Rural Blog: CDC report shows black-lung disease on the rise for miners in Eastern Kentucky

Black-lung disease is surging among Appalachian coal miners, according to a report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and an investigation by Howard Berkes of NPR. In June, Eastern Kentucky radiologist Brandon Crum contacted the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to report a surge in black-lung disease in the coal-mining area. The radiologist, who was not named,...

Teen birth rates are declining faster in urban counties than rural ones, nationally and in Kentucky

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky’s teen birth rates are dropping faster in its urban counties than in its rural counties, a trend that has also been found across the nation, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A CDC report looked at the differences between teen birth rates in rural and urban areas from 2007 to 2015 and found that among teens ages...

Time to Quit: Annual observance of Great American Smokeout set for Thursday

If you’re one of the approximately 1 million Kentucky adults who smoke, and are in the majority who say they’d like to quit, the Great American Smokeout may be for you. It is Thursday, Nov. 17. The annual event, promoted by the American Cancer Society, doesn’t necessarily ask smokers to quit on that day. It encourages them to make a plan to quit, and quit smoking on a certain day....

Most Kentucky hospitals showed slight improvement in safety, but state still ranks relatively low

By Traci Thomas Kentucky Health News A nonprofit group that rates hospitals released its patient-safety scores this week, giving most Kentucky hospitals a ‘B’ or ‘C’. The scores are similar to grades released in June, but the state improved its national rating from 40th to 35th. The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C., evaluated 2,633 hospitals nationwide,...