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Article: FAQ: Health

Health FAQ

Table of Contents
  1. Health FAQ

What do I need to do to prevent older adults from falling?
What do I need to know and prepare for if I am a wheelchair user?
What should I know about home fire safety?
Why do older adults need immunization?
What do I need to do in order to prevent HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases?
What is a healthy diet? What should I eat to get the proper nutrition?
What is long term care? Do I need it?
What kind of long term care insurance will I need?
What do I need to do if I am diagnosed with a chronic condition?
Why did the doctor order hospice care for my parent?
What is Palliative Care? Who needs palliative care?
How can I take care of myself while I am giving care to another family member?
What is alternative medicine? How effective is it for my health problem?
Do I have arthritis? What do I need to do if I have arthritis?
Do I need back surgery?
How do I manage my diabetes?
What kind of diabetes does my child have?
I was diagnosed with heart disease. What do I need to do in order to relieve my symptoms?
My parent has Alzheimer's disease. Am I going to have Alzheimer's disease?
My parent with Alzheimer's disease is wandering around every day. How can I make sure she stays at home, and is not found wandering around?
My friend has epilepsy. What do I need to do if he is having a seizure?
I was diagnosed with neuromuscular disorder. What is a neuromuscular disorder and what options do I have?
What is Parkinson's disease? What do I need to know and what should I do if I have Parkinson's disease or someone I know has this disorder?
I was just diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. What is multiple sclerosis and what are the treatment options?
I know cerebral palsy is a birth trauma. How does it happen?
What causes stroke? What do I expect from a stroke patient? How do I manage a stroke patient?
Am I going through depression? What do I need to know? How can I help someone close to me who has depression?
What is congenital or genetic disorder?
What is developmental disability?
My child has congenital heart defect. What is the consequence? What are the treatment options?
What is birth defect? What are the consequences of birth defects?
How can I recognize child abuse? What do I need to do if child abuse is suspected?
What are the signs of elder abuse? Where can I get help if elder abuse is suspected?

 

What do I need to do to prevent older adults from falling?

 

Falls can happen to persons of all age groups. Older adults are more at risk than others. One out of every three persons age 65 and older falls each year. Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths among older adults. Half of all older people are hospitalized due to a fall and cannot return home or live independently after their injury. Many of these falls can be prevented by:

  • Treating underlying medical conditions.
  • Physical conditioning.
  • Reviewing prescribed medications to assess their potential risks.
  • Providing older adults with hip pads.
  • Other assistive technology

There are simple clinical screening tests that can accurately identify seniors who are more at risk of falling. Ask your physician for more details. For more information about preventing falls, go to www.cdc.gov/ncipc/falls/.

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What do I need to know and prepare for if I am a wheelchair user?

It is important to select the right wheelchair for your lifestyle and needs. There are many different factors to consider. What is the frame made of? Do you want power or manual operation? If it is a power wheelchair what is the battery life. You will also want to know about how to maintain your wheelchair and something about wheelchair safety. To learn more about selecting a wheelchair, wheelchair maintenance, and wheelchair safety go to members.cruzio.com/~yogi/whchair.htm#safety.

For more information about transporting wheelchair users safely, go to the Guide to Health: Personal Safety.

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What should I know about home fire safety?

Home fire safety is very important for individuals with disabilities and the elderly. Limited mobility and reduced reaction time make it important that individuals with disabilities and the elderly prepare in advance for potential emergencies such as fires. One way that an individual can prepare is by checking their home for fire safety. A home safety checklist is available at the web page of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. You can visit the site directly at: www.cpsc.gov/safety-education/safety-education-centers/fire-safety-information-center, or see the Guide to Health: Personal Safety.

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Why do older adults need immunization?

Pneumonia is one of the most serious infections in older adults especially among women. Pneumonia and influenza also remain among the top ten causes of death for older adults. In 2000, pneumonia and influenza were responsible for 3.3 percent or 58,557 deaths among people 65 years of age and older.

Vaccination for influenza and pneumonia can reduce a person's risk of infection. It also reduces health-care costs treatment associated with because fewer physician visits and less antibiotic use are required 65 percent patients who resulted in death. For more information about immunizations, refer to the Guide to Health: Preventing Diseases.

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What do I need to do in order to prevent HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases?

 

In the United States an estimated 15.3 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are reported each year. They affect men and women of all backgrounds and economic levels. Nearly 20 million cases of adverse health conditions and 30,000 deaths occur because of sexually transmitted diseases due to unsafe sexual contact.

The only ways to completely avoid sexually transmitted disease is by abstinence (not having sexual relations). You are also safer by practicing monogamy (having only one partner with whom you have sexual relations). Also, using a condom can protect you from some (but not all) STDs.

To learn more about Sexually Transmitted Diseases, refer to Guide to Health: Preventing Diseases.

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What is a healthy diet? What should I eat to get the proper nutrition?

 

 

A healthy diet is made up of a wide variety of foods. Environment, time pressures, and easy access to fast foods can make it hard to eat healthy foods. The U.S. Department of Health recommends one eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day to maintain good health. Select a variety of colorful vegetables each day because different colored vegetables provide different nutrients. For more information, go to www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/.

 

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What is long term care? Do I need it?

 

Long term care refers to a broad range of services that help people who are unable to perform their basic living activities for an extended period of time. These services can include: medical, personal, and social assistance. Long term care is when a healthy person is providing support and services for a person who is disabled. Long term care can be given at home or in an assisted living facility like a nursing home.

Long term care is necessary when a person cannot carry out normal daily living activities such as dressing, bathing, or eating. Other services that fall under long term care are household cleaning, preparing meals, shopping, paying bills, visiting the doctor, answering the phone, and assistance taking medications.

Different types of Long Term Care include:

  • Community services
  • Home care
  • Accessory dwelling units
  • Subsidized senior housing
  • Board and care homes
  • Assisted living
  • Continuing care retirement communities
  • Nursing homes

When you search for long term care, it is important to remember that quality varies from one place or caregiver to another. It is also important to think about long term care options before a crisis occurs.

Approximately half of all Americans will need long term care during their lifetime. Almost 20 percent of those individuals over the age of 50 will also need long term care. Therefore, it is wise to plan and discuss long term care options early. Let family, friends, or relatives know of your decision. Making the right choice for you can be very difficult if family members do not have your advance consent. The ideal way to plan for long term care is to review and evaluate your choices with family members.

To learn more about different long term care options, go to Guide to Health: Long Term Care.

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What kind of long term care insurance will I need?

 

Long term care can be expensive. However, there are ways to pay for long term care. There are also options that can ease your financial burden. Many Americans incorrectly assume that Medicare, Medicaid, and standard health insurance policies will cover the expenses of long term care. Many Americans are also surprised when they learn how much long term care costs. Services provided by a nursing facility can exceed $50,000 per year or more than $5,000 a month (depending on what services you have and where you live).

Purchasing long term care insurance is one way to finance long term care. It is insurance that can:

  • Protect your personal assets
  • Protect your inheritance for your family
  • Provide greater choice in the selection of long term care settings
  • Provide general financial security

There are many insurance companies that offer long term care insurance. To research your long term care financial options, discuss your situation with a financial planner. You can also learn more about other long term care financing options, by going to Guide to Health: Long Term Care.

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What do I need to do if I am diagnosed with a chronic condition?

 

There are numerous treatments for chronic disease depending on the severity of the condition and the individual. Refer to the Guide to Health: Health Conditions to learn more about specific conditions. There are many options for long term care for individuals with chronic illnesses. To learn more about these options, go to Guide to Health: Long Term Care.

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Why did the doctor order hospice care for my parent?

 

Hospice care is a special type of care for individuals who have life-threatening diseases and are no longer responding to treatment. The goal of hospice is to improve the quality of a patient's last days, by providing comfort and pain relief. It neither prolongs life, nor hastens death. Many times hospice care and palliative care are thought to be the same thing. However, palliative care does not always refer to end-of-life care. It can sometimes mean the management of pain until a procedure can be done that will cure the problem. Hospice care can be provided in hospice centers, hospitals, nursing homes, and other long term care facilities. However, most patients receive hospice care at home.

To learn more about hospice care refer to the Guide to Health: Long Term Care.

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What is Palliative Care? Who needs palliative care?

 

Palliative care is a type of hospice care, but it does not necessarily refer to end-of-life care. It can sometimes mean the management of pain until a procedure can be done that will cure the problem. To learn more about palliative care, see the Guide to Health: Long Term Care.

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How can I take care of myself while I am giving care to another family member?

 

Caring for a loved one with a chronic condition can be physically and emotionally exhausting, especially if you are the primary caregiver. The majority of caregivers are spouses, partners, children, parents, or friends. The duties of a caregiver include a wide range of activities. These may include interacting with medical professionals, assisting with daily living activities, and managing daily treatments and medications. To learn about ways to take care of yourself if you are a caregiver, go to http://www.nationalmssociety.org/NationalMSSociety/media/MSNationalFiles/Brochures/Brochure-A-Guide-for-Caregivers.pdf

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What is alternative medicine? How effective is it for my health problem?

 

Complementary and alternative medicine is made up of different medical and health care treatments that are not presently considered a part of conventional medicine. For example, an individual might choose acupuncture (which is an alternative therapy) instead of allergy medication to treat seasonal allergies.

Complementary and alternative treatments are different in that:

  • Complementary medicine is used along with conventional medicine. An example of complementary therapy would be the use of aromatherapy to lessen a patient's discomfort after surgery.
  • Alternative medicine is used instead of conventional medicine. An example of alternative therapy is using a special diet to treat cancer instead of having surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.

Alternative medicine is controversial. Many people claim it is effective in treating illness, while others question its validity. To learn more about the different types of alternative medicine go to the Guide to Health: Alternative Health Care.

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Do I have arthritis? What do I need to do if I have arthritis?

 

Arthritis is a disease that usually affects the joints of an individual. Arthritis is commonly characterized by pain and swelling in the joints. Other symptoms sometimes include: fever, weight loss, breathing difficulty, rash, and pain. Although arthritis mostly affects the joints, it can also cause problems in other organs such as your eyes, chest, and skin. If you think you have arthritis, consult your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.

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Do I need back surgery?

 

Back pain is a very common problem. It can be caused by overuse, muscle strain, or injury to the muscles that support the spine. Surgery may or may not be the best option to address your back pain. There are many options to treat the pain, so contact your doctor to determine if your condition is severe enough to need surgery.

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How do I manage my diabetes?

 

Diabetes is a chronic illness that requires life long management. Your doctor is the best source of information on how to manage your diabetes. Another resource is the National Diabetes Education Program. On their website you will find information on prevention and management of diabetes. To connect with their site, go to ndep.nih.gov/.

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What kind of diabetes does my child have?

 

Juvenile Diabetes starts during childhood. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF) has more detailed information on children with diabetes. To learn more, visit http://jdrf.org/, or refer to the Guide to Health: Health Conditions.

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I was diagnosed with heart disease. What do I need to do in order to relieve my symptoms?

 

Treatments for heart disease vary depending on the severity of the condition. Some treatments as well as preventive measures include:

  • Lifestyle changes (i.e., quitting smoking, eating well, and regular exercise)
  • Medications
  • Surgery (i.e., angioplasty, stent placement, coronary artery bypass surgery)

For more information about options to treat heart disease, go to the American Heart Association's website at americanheart.org.

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My parent has Alzheimer's disease. Am I going to have Alzheimer's disease?

 

There are many theories about Alzheimer's, but little known about its passing within families. To learn more about it, see the Alzheimer's disease section of Guide to Health: Health Conditions.

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My parent with Alzheimer's disease is wandering around every day. How can I make sure she stays at home, and is not found wandering around?

 

The Administration on Aging provides a list of tips for caregivers, which may help answer your questions. You can access it at www.nia.nih.gov/health/caregiving or read information from the Alzheimer's section of the Guide to Health: Health Conditions.

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My friend has epilepsy. What do I need to do if he is having a seizure?

 

During the seizure:

  • Try to stay calm.
  • Check the time to see how long the seizure lasts; seizures that last too long may require emergency medical help.
  • Prevent others from crowding around.
  • Put something soft under the person's head, such as a jacket or cushion to prevent injury.
  • Move the person only if they are in a dangerous place, for example at the top of a flight of stairs or in the middle of the road. Move things away from them if there is a risk of injury.
  • Do not attempt to restrict or restrain the convulsive movements as this may cause injury to the person or yourself.
  • Do not put anything in the person's mouth. There is no danger of them swallowing their tongue during a seizure and you might damage their teeth.
  • Loosen tight clothing around the neck, including necklaces.

Once the convulsions have stopped:

  • Roll the person onto their side.
  • Wipe away any excess saliva.
  • Check that nothing is blocking the throat such as dentures or food.
  • Try to minimize any embarrassment for the person.
  • Stay with the person and give reassurance until they have fully recovered.
  • Do not give the person anything to eat or drink until they are fully recovered.

Convulsive seizures can be frightening to watch, but a seizure is usually not painful. It is also not unusual that the person having the seizure will have little or no memory of what has happened.

At the start of the seizure, the person may cry out as the air from the lungs is expelled through the voice box. During the early part of a seizure, breathing may stop and the person may go slightly blue. This looks alarming, but is to be expected until normal breathing resumes later on. The person may also bite their tongue.

Medical help should be called if:

  • Someone has injured themselves badly in a seizure.
  • They have trouble breathing after a seizure.
  • One seizure immediately follows another without recovery in between.
  • The seizure continues for longer than usual (they may be carrying a card which says how long their seizures usually last).
  • The seizure lasts more than five minutes and you do not know how long they usually last (from The National Society of Epilepsy).

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I was diagnosed with neuromuscular disorder. What is a neuromuscular disorder and what options do I have?

 

The brain controls the movement of skeletal (voluntary) muscles via specialized nerves. The combination of the nervous system and muscles working together to allow movement is known as the neuromuscular system. A neuromuscular disorder results when there is damage in the communication between the muscles and the brain. There are a variety of neuromuscular disorders including: Lou Gehrig's disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and polio. Each disorder is unique in how it is treated. To explore your treatment options, talk to your doctor. Learning more about the disease may help you make some decisions regarding your treatment. To learn more about neuromuscular disorders, go to the Guide on Health: Health Conditions.

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What is Parkinson's disease? What do I need to know and what should I do if I have Parkinson's disease or someone I know has this disorder?

 

Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common "neurodegenerative" disorder next to Alzheimer's disease. It is a movement disorder that occurs when a group of cells in the brain (called substantia nigra) begin to malfunction and die. These cells are important because they produce a chemical called dopamine that transports signals to the parts of the brain that control movement and coordination.

Symptoms of Parkinson disease include:

  • Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face
  • Rigidity or stiffness
  • Slowness of movement
  • Balance and coordination difficulties

There are many theories about what causes Parkinson disease. However none of the theories have been proven. Scientists think the cause could be genetic. It is thought that environmental factors could also cause Parkinson's. Researchers are still working toward more definite answers about the causes of Parkinson's disease.

Treatments for Parkinson's include medication, surgery, and physical therapy. To learn more about Parkinson disease, its treatment, and how to cope with its symptoms, go to the National Parkinson Foundation at www.parkinson.org/.

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I was just diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. What is multiple sclerosis and what are the treatment options?

 

Multiple sclerosis is thought to be an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Autoimmune means that your immune system attacks part of your body as if it is a foreign substance. In the case of multiple sclerosis, the fatty substance (myelin) that surrounds nerve fibers is attacked by white blood cells causing the tissue to become inflamed and damaged. Once damaged, the nerve fibers can no longer conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain. Because of this, the brain cannot send correct messages to parts of the body. Complications that can occur in the body include:

  • Bladder dysfunction
  • Bowel dysfunction
  • Problems with memory, attention, and problem solving
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Emotional problems (depression)
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty walking
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Spasticity
  • Vision problems

These symptoms could be a sign of multiple sclerosis. They are unpredictable and can vary from person to person.

To learn about possible treatment options for multiple sclerosis, visit the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Multiple-Sclerosis-Information-Page.

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I know cerebral palsy is a birth trauma. How does it happen?

 

In most cases the causes of cerebral palsy are not known. However, some known causes that happen during pregnancy include:

  • The mother being infected with rubella or the German measles
  • Rh disease which is a blood problem that occurs when the mother's blood and the baby's blood are a different type
  • Premature birth

Babies can be born perfectly healthy and then acquire cerebral palsy within the first few years of life. Ten to twenty percent of all children with Cerebral Palsy acquired the disease after birth. Some causes of acquired cerebral palsy include:

  • Brain infections like bacterial meningitis or viral encephalitis
  • Head injuries that result in brain damage in the first few years of life

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What causes stroke? What do I expect from a stroke patient? How do I manage a stroke patient?

 

A stroke is a cardiovascular disease that affects the brain. A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks or bursts the blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain. When this happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die. When a portion of the brain dies, the part of the body that was controlled by that portion is affected. Many times this can cause paralysis, vision problems, memory loss, or speech and language problems.

The American Stroke Association has information on their site about caring for an individual who has had a stroke. To connect with their site, go to www.strokeassociation.org.

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Am I going through depression? What do I need to know? How can I help someone close to me who has depression?

 

Depression is an illness that affects the way one eats, sleeps, and feels. Depression is usually described as extreme sadness in which one feels hopelessness. Different factors can cause depression. Depression can be genetic in origin, but it can also be affected by environmental factors such as medication, life events, family and social environment, diet, and substance abuse.

Depression affects females more often than males, mostly because hormone levels change during menstruation and pregnancy.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Depressed mood or sadness most of the time (for no apparent reason)
  • Lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
  • Inability to enjoy things that used to bring pleasure
  • Withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Irritability, anger, or anxiety
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Significant change in sleep patterns
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Pessimism and indifference
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Individuals who have had five or more of these symptoms that have lasted for more than two weeks might be considered depressed.

Treatments for depression vary and can include medication, therapy, and alternative medical approaches like acupuncture and herbal medicine.

To learn about ways you can help someone who may be depressed, refer to the National Institute of Mental Health at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

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What is congenital or genetic disorder?

 

A congenital disorder is a medical condition that is present at birth. It can be diagnosed before birth, at birth, or many years later. Congenital disorders can be a result of genetic abnormalities, disturbances in the womb of the mother, or other unknown factors. A congenital condition can arise from the genetic make-up of the egg or be acquired at any time during the development of the egg into an embryo. The causes of many congenital disorders are not known.

Congenital disorders include something as minor as a birthmark to something as severe as heart disease. Defects in metabolism are also considered congenital disorders.

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What is developmental disability?

 

A developmental disability is a congenital or genetic disorder. The Federal definition of a developmental disability (according to public law 106-402) is as follows:

IN GENERAL- The term 'developmental disability' means a severe, chronic disability of an individual that:

  1. Is attributable to a mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments;
  2. Is manifested before the individual attains age 22;
  3. Is likely to continue indefinitely;
  4. Reflects the individual's need for a combination and sequence of special, interdisciplinary, or generic services, individualized supports, or other forms of assistance that are of lifelong or extended duration and are individually planned and coordinated.
  5. Results in substantial functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of major life activity:
  • Self-care
  • Receptive and expressive language
  • Learning
  • Mobility
  • Self-direction
  • Capacity for independent living
  • Economic self-sufficiency

 

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What is birth defect? What are the consequences of birth defects?

 

A birth defect is a difference in structure, function, or metabolism that is present in an infant at birth. Birth defects can result in a physical or mental disability and at times can cause death. Birth defects are the number one cause of all infant deaths in the United States. In addition, birth defects can contribute to long term disability.

Both genetics and the environment play a role in the cause of birth defects. If a couple has a history of birth defects in their family, they may want to consider consulting with a genetics counselor before or during pregnancy. Environmental factors that can cause birth defects include:

  • Sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Alcohol/drug use.
  • Certain medications taken by the mother.

Even though there are steps an individual can take to decrease their chances of having a child with a birth defect, it can still happen even if neither partner has no history of sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol/drug use, or birth defects in the family.

Numerous studies have shown that women who take a daily vitamin containing folic acid before becoming pregnant have a lower risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect. Some of the more common birth defects that can cause disability include: neural tube defects (spina bifida & anencephaly), cerebral palsy, and heart defects.

To learn more about specific birth defects refer to the Guide to Health: Health Conditions.

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My child has congenital heart defect. What is the consequence? What are the treatment options?

 

Some children with heart defects experience no symptoms. However, others may experience:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Blue appearance
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Feeding problems
  • Poor weight gain

Different treatments for individuals with congenital heart defects include surgical and heart catheterization procedures. To learn more about your treatment options, refer to the American Heart Association's website at www.americanheart.org/.

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How can I recognize child abuse? What do I need to do if child abuse is suspected?

 

A few signs of child abuse include unexplained injuries, abdominal pain in the child, bedwetting, acting out sexually, self-destructive behavior or thoughts of suicide, anxiety or fears, flashbacks and nightmares, and drug and alcohol abuse.

Most abused children are afraid to tell anyone. Many parents do not want to face the issue and they tend to overlook symptoms or signs. As a result, many children go without help. Treatments and preventions are available through community programs, counseling, and public schools.

Refer to the Guide to Health: Social Issues for more information about child abuse, how to prevent it, recognize it, and report it.

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Last Updated on 12/26/2017