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Avoiding Wild Animal Attacks

Photo of a brown bear (grizzly) in the wild.By now, most everyone is familiar with the tragic circumstances in which a visitor on a trail in Yellowstone National Park on July 6, 2011 surprised a brown (grizzly) bear with cubs, provoking a fatal attack. Fortunately, events like this are rare. At the same time, they are also predictable by virtue of our understanding of bear behavior, particularly in the wildland-urban interface. It was not the victim’s fault, and our hearts go out to his family and friends. For the benefit of others who will backpack and explore in bear country here is an excerpt about avoidance of hazardous animals, in particular bears, adapted from the book Medicine for the Outdoors:

Avoidance of Hazardous Animals

Most wild animal encounters can be avoided with caution and a little common sense. Follow these rules: Read more »

This post, Avoiding Wild Animal Attacks, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Traveler’s Diarrhea: The Basics

This is a guest post by Dr. Erik McLaughlin.

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Traveler’s Diarrhea: The Basics

Known around the world by many names including “Montezuma’s revenge,” “Delhi belly” and “mummy tummy,” traveler’s diarrhea (TD) is the most common illness faced by travelers. Nothing can slow down a fun trip as easily as TD — and it can also have serious health implications. TD typically lasts four to six days, and 90 percent of cases occur within the first two weeks of travel.

Anatomy You Need to Know

The gastrointestinal tract starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. After food enters the mouth, it passes through the esophagus to the stomach, where it sits for approximately 45 minutes. After being broken down by gastric secretions, food matter enters the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, and ileum in order). The small intestine is the site where most nutrients are absorbed by the body. From the small intestine, food matter begins to look more like feces as it progresses to the large intestine or colon. The colon absorbs water from the food material before the material passes through the anus and exits the body as feces.

Symptoms

Recognizing the warning signs of TD, such as blood in the stool, fever, or abdominal cramping, can help a savvy traveler know when to seek medical help.

TD has many definitions; the presence of three or more loose-formed stools in one day is a good one. Abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting and fever may also occur. The presence of blood in the stool can indicate that infection has directly damaged the intestinal wall and should be taken seriously. Read more »

This post, Traveler’s Diarrhea: The Basics, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Drug Safety In Preventing Acute Mountain Sickness

This is a guest post by Dr. Jeremy Windsor.

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Steroids and Acute Mountain Sickness

In recent years, many attempts have been made to identify safe and effective medications to prevent acute mountain sickness (AMS). Acetazolamide (Diamox), currently the “drug of choice” for this purpose, is not perfect and occasionally causes objectionable side effects. Dexamethasone (Decadron), a powerful steroid medication, has become increasingly popular for prevention and treatment in certain circles. While there is ample evidence to suggest that dexamethasone is effective, a recent case report highlights that this drug is not without risk.

In the latest issue of the journal Wilderness & Environmental Medicine [WEM 21(4):345-348, 2010] in an article entitled ”Complications of steroid use on Mt. Everest,” Bishnu Subedi and colleagues working for the Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) described the case of a 27 year-old man who was prescribed a course of three drugs, including dexamethasone, intended to support him during his attempt to climb Mt. Everest. After more than three weeks of taking the medications, the mountaineer noticed the appearance of a rash and decided to stop taking them. Rather than wait for the rash to subside, he chose to continue his acclimatization program and ascend to Camp 3 at 7010m altitude. The patient arrived exhausted and confused; onlookers quickly recognized that something was seriously wrong and so a rescue party was organized to help him back to safety. Read more »

This post, Drug Safety In Preventing Acute Mountain Sickness, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Book Review: Heading Outdoors Eventually Leads Within

Heading Outdoors Eventually Leads Within” is a small book written by Kathy and Craig Copeland and published through their company, HikingCamping.com. Here’s a summary from the website:

Everyone walks. What distinguishes hikers is that walking does more than transport us, it transforms us. But nowhere is the thoughtful undercurrent of hiking celebrated. The wisdom we glean from the wilds is a match lit in the rain. That’s why we created this book: to cup our hands around the flame. These journal entries are the mental waypoints we recorded while hiking 30,000 miles / 48,280 km (more than the circumference of the Earth) through wildlands worldwide. Accompanying them are photos of the places (primarily the Canadian Rockies, Utah canyon country, and New Zealand) where we conceived and noted the initial ideas. We hope our words and images compel you to recognize, voice, own and honour the thoughts arising from within while heading outdoors. Doing so will deepen your fulfillment. A truly adventurous life is contemplative as well as vigourous.

It is important for me to state at the outset that my opinions, like those expressed in most book reviews, are highly personal. What I write about “Heading Outdoors Eventually Leads Within” are my impressions, and you may not agree with them. I am beginning with this comment because I truly had mixed feelings about the book. There were parts that seemed right on target, for me personally, and parts that seemed to miss the mark. I am certain that the authors have great pride in their work, and they are to be congratulated for their efforts. Read more »

This post, Book Review: Heading Outdoors Eventually Leads Within, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

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Latest Book Reviews

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