What Is Binge Drinking?
Binging means men drinking 5 or more alcoholic drinks or women drinking 4 or more alcoholic drinks within a 2-hour time period. A “drink” is considered to be 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, or 1 ounce of 80-proof liquor.
Most peolple who binge drink are not alcohol dependent.
Prevalence of Binging
Binge drinking is more comon among young adults aged 18-34.
1 in 5 high school girls binge drink.
About 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.
Consequences of Binging
The most obvious consequences of binging are injuries resulting from impaired judgment or impaired reflexes and reaction time. Impact injuries result from car crashes and falls. Exposure injuries include burns, drowning, and cold exposure.
Binge drinking is especially dangerous in combination with cold exposure. First, it impairs judgment so that the dangers of hypothermia are not readily appreciated. Second, alcohol dilates the peripheral blood vessels so that heat is lost from the body at an accelerated rate. This unfortunate combination has resulted in three recent regional fatalities.
Additionally, incapacitation produced by alcohol renders bingers prone to victimization. Bingers may find themselves the targets of sexual assault, robbery, and other violent crime.
Further dangers to the binge drinker include alcohol poisoning, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted disease.
A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health compared frequent bingers with non-bingers and found the following behavior differences:
Missed Classes: 62% vs. 9%
Unplanned Sexual Activity: 42% vs. 8%
Unprotected Sex: 22% vs. 4%
Forgot Past Actions: 55% vs. 9%
Actions Later Regretted: 62% vs. 16%
Police Involvement: 13% vs. 2%
Injury: 26% vs. 3%
Drove after Drinking: 69% vs. 22%
Rode with Drunk Driver: 53% vs. 10%
Binge Drinking Precautions
Binge drinking does not have to be part of the socialization culture. The culture can change if individuals behave responsibly and follow a few suggestions:
Every life lost or irretrievably changed by binge drinking is a tragedy that no family has to endure. The Erie County Medical Society strongly supports individual and community efforts to change the behavior and culture of binge drinking on college campuses and elsewhere in our society.
Thomas Falasca, DO
The cold weather is here and so is the danger of frostbite.
What Is It?
Frostbite is tissue injury resulting from the freezing and crystallization of the body fluids within and between the cells. The ice crystals then damage the cell membranes. Further damage results from obstruction within the smallest blood vessels and inflammation when blood flow is reestablished.
How Will I Know It?
Frostbite can develop insidiously. It may begin with coldness that progresses to burning or throbbing. This can eventuate in numbness and then loss of sensation. The skin may subsequently become pale or bluish. Finally, frostbite causes finger clumsiness, difficulty walking, and severe joint pain.
The areas most often affected are fingers, toes, ears, and nose.
What Are the Consequences?
A case of frostbite can leave permanent reminders of the event. Some consequences are minor, such as cold sensitivity. Others are substantial, such as squamous cell carcinoma, arthritis, limb growth deformities in children, and gangrene. Frostbite can result in limb amputations or require nose and ear reconstruction surgery.
Who Is at Risk?
Both the very young and very old are at greater risk for frostbite. They have greater difficulty producing and regulating heat as well as a proportionately greater body surface area from which to lose heat.
Groups especially at risk for frostbite are those of African, Middle Eastern, and Pacific Island descent.
Women are usually more sensitive to frostbite than men.
People whose hands tend to become white in the cold are especially at risk for frostbite.
What to Avoid?
What To Do?
So be sure to protect yourself from frostbite and enjoy the many pleasant outdoor activities of winter.
Thomas Falasca, DO
Holiday Food Safety
No one wants a holiday dinner spoiled by a trip to the emergency room for a burn or food poisoning. That is why the Erie County Medical Society is eager to offer the following holiday food health tips in the hope that they help you enjoy your holidays to the fullest.
Holiday turkeys present an unusual hazard because their great size vastly increases the length of time needed for thawing. The bacteria within the fowl were safely arrested in their multiplication while the turkey was frozen. But the bacteria begin to multiply when any part of the bird reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The longer it takes the rest of the turkey to thaw, the more time these bacteria have to multiply to dangerous levels. Dangerous bacterial multiplication occurs when the turkey thaws on the counter or in warm water. The bacteria continue to multiply until the turkey reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven.
So, for safe thawing begin four or five days early and thaw the turkey in the refrigerator so that it thaws without any part of the turkey reaching 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The other choices are thawing the turkey in COLD water or in the microwave, provided that microwave oven size and absence of metal allow.
Bacteria on and in the turkey cease multiplying and die when the turkey reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven, but not the bacteria transferred from the turkey to the chef’s hands, the work surface, or to the kitchen utensils. These continue to multiply and are transferred to subsequent foods, some of which may not require cooking.
Safe food preparation requires thorough washing of hands, work surfaces, and kitchen utensils immediately after working with raw poultry.
Because of the large turkey size, the interior may have difficulty reaching a bacterial kill temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, it is far better to cook stuffing outside the turkey.
If stuffing is cooked inside the turkey, it is imperative not to insert the stuffing until immediately before cooking and to use a properly calibrated food thermometer inserted to the center of the stuffing and consistently reading at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
A food thermometer’s calibration can be readily checked by placing the end of the thermometer in the center of a pot of slowly and evenly boiling distilled water. If the temperature reads between 210 and 214 degrees Fahrenheit, the thermometer is properly calibrated.
The turkey should be completely thawed and then placed in an oven set to at least 325 degrees Fahrenheit. The fowl should be breast-side up on a wire rack in a shallow roasting pan. The inside temperature at the center of the stuffing (if present), breast, thigh, and wing should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit as determined by a food thermometer. A food thermometer is essential as color and texture are not reliable indicators of thorough cooking.
A disposable aluminum baking pan is too weak to support a heavy holiday turkey. It is prone to bend in the middle, spilling hot grease on the server. Grease can attain high temperatures and cause severe burns. A disposable aluminum baking pan is best supported by placing it in a conventional heavy gauge metal baking pan to prevent unfortunate bending and spillage.
The Erie County Medical Society encourages you to incorporate these tips into your holiday planning and sincerely wishes you happy holidays with safe and delicious holiday meals.
Thomas Falasca, DO
Chuck Joy, MD on WJET-TV Addressing Toy Safety
The Erie County Medical Society wants you to enjoy winter without falling victim to snow shoveling perils.So here are some helpful tips.
First and foremost
Choose an appropriate snow shovel.
Be mindful of your shoveling actions.The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends
In addition, remember that
So follow these tips and avoid becoming a snow-shoveling casualty.
Thomas Falasca, DO
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