ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Cranberries May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Bone Loss Stable on Restricted Calorie Diet
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
Tips to Ease an Aching Back
CANCER
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
CAREGIVING
MRSA Infections Spreading to Kids in Community
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
High Rate of Rehospitalizations Costing Billions
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
DIABETES
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
DIET, NUTRITION
Low Vitamin A, C Intake Tied to Asthma Risk
Is Your Refrigerator Getting Enough Attention For Your Raw Food Success?
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
EPA Alerts Seniors to Carbon Monoxide Dangers
Are Medical Meetings Environmentally Unfriendly?
Pollution Particles Impair Blood Vessel Function
EYE CARE, VISION
Music Can Help Restore Stroke Patients' Sight
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
FITNESS
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
Exercise 30 Minutes a Day? Who Knew!
MRSA Infections Can Bug Fitness Buffs
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Stressed and Exhausted: An Introduction to Adrenal Fatigue
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
Quick Orthopedic Repair Can Save Young Shoulders
Help Your Kids Stay Active
MEN'S HEALTH
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
SENIORS
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Air Pollution Slows Women's Marathon Times
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For All Their Plusses, Pets Pose a Risk for Falls, Too

THURSDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Dogs and cats may be favored companions of many Americans, but they're also apparently the cause of falls that results in thousands of injuries each year.

U.S. health officials report that 86,629 people annually are injured in dog- and cat-related falls. That's 240 people a day who wind up in hospital emergency rooms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I get asked a lot if pets are a fall hazard," said Judy Stevens, a senior epidemiologist at the CDC and first author of the report. "We found that of the 8 million falls from all causes, about 1 percent were related to cats and dogs."

Acknowledging that pets provide benefits, too, Stevens said that the CDC wanted to make people aware that they can be a fall hazard, and the benefits need to be balanced with these risks.

Pets have been linked in several studies to a variety of health benefits, including help in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety and increasing opportunities for socializing.

In 2006, an estimated 43 million U.S. households included dogs, and 37.5 million households had cats. In addition, almost 64 percent of households with pets had more than one pet, according to the report, published in the March 27 issue of the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

For the study, Stevens and her colleagues collected data on falls from 66 emergency departments across the country from 2001 to 2006. Dogs accounted for 88 percent of the injuries from falls and cats for nearly all of the rest.

Among people injured by dogs, 31 percent tripped over the dog, and 21 percent fell after being pushed or pulled by a dog. Among injuries involving cats, 66 percent were attributed to falling or tripping over the animal.

Women were twice as likely to be injured as men. Those most often injured were either younger than 14 years or between 35 and 54 years old, the researchers found. However, the highest rate of fractures occurred in people 75 to 85 years old. Of people who required hospitalization from a pet-related injury, about 80 percent had a broken bone.

Most falls involving dogs, 62 percent, occurred at home; 16 percent happened in a street or a park. Pet paraphernalia was cited as the cause of about 9 percent of the falls at home.

As for cats, 86 percent of falls involving felines happened in the home, 17 percent of them while chasing the cat.

One way to reduce the risk for dog-related falls, Stevens said, would be to enroll a dog in obedience training, which should be able to stop, or at least lessen, the animal's pushing, pulling and jumping.

"You can also prevent falls by removing tripping hazards like pet items," she said.

Colin Milner, chief executive of the International Council on Active Aging, said that keeping fit as you age should also help reduce the likelihood of falls.

People need to keep their homes clean and uncluttered, he said. And, when picking a pet, Milner suggested trying to match the pet to your personality and, perhaps, choosing a more mellow rather than a more excitable pet.

One reason people fall is that they become less coordinated as they age, Milner said. "Many of these fall could be preventable if you had better balance," he said. "The number of falls could be reduced with a very simple balance and strength-training program."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have more on preventing injury.



SOURCES: Judy Stevens, Ph.D., senior epidemiologist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Colin Milner, CEO, International Council on Active Aging, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; March 27, 2009, CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Last Updated: March 26, 2009

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