Yawning is a natural part of everyday life, yet this simple phenomenon has some rather curious and mysterious features. To help you learn more about yawning, Dr. Sujay Kansagra, a sleep health consultant for Mattress Firm and the director of Duke University’s Pediatric Neurology Sleep Medicine Program, offers answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
Spring is here and with it comes the task of spring cleaning. For people with allergies, spring cleaning does more than spruce up a home. When done correctly, it removes dust, mold, dander and other allergy triggers so you can feel your best. Learn how by reading the full Medium article here.
Even a mild case of the flu or a powerful cold can leave you feeling run down and out of sorts for days or even weeks. While many ailments must simply run their course, there are many steps you can take to fight your way back to good health. Learn how to beat back a cold or the flu by reading the full Medium article here.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss for people age 50 and older, and an estimated 16 million Americans are living with AMD. While an AMD diagnosis can be a scary thought, there are things people can do to help reduce the risk of progression of the disease. Here’s what you need to know.
(BPT) - The ability to see the people, places and things in front of you is one of life’s most precious gifts. Imagine a life without the ability to see these things clearly — what steps would you then take to protect your vision? Life with Age-related Macular Degeneration, or AMD, can potentially lead to vision loss or blindness. While an AMD diagnosis can be a scary thought, there are things people can do to help reduce the risk of progression of the disease. Here’s what you need to know.
What is AMD?
AMD is a leading cause of vision loss for people age 50 and older, and an estimated 16 million Americans are living with AMD. AMD affects the macula, the part of the eye that supports sharp, central vision needed for seeing objects clearly. The condition is progressive, which means that central vision can ultimately become impaired, which may cause difficulty keeping up with daily activities like driving, reading or recognizing the faces of loved ones. While there is no cure for AMD, there are steps patients can take to help reduce the risk of progression.
Tips for taking action
In addition, people diagnosed with AMD should talk to their doctor about taking a vitamin based on the AREDS2 study. PreserVision® AREDS 2 formula vitamins contain the exact nutrient formula recommended by the National Eye Institute to help reduce the risk of moderate to advanced AMD progression.
Get the facts and find support
Patients are often learning about AMD for the first time as they’re being diagnosed, which can be overwhelming. While the Internet is a great resource for patients, medical literature about AMD is often dense and difficult to follow. That’s why Bausch + Lomb developed SightMatters.com, an online resource to provide AMD patients with personalized tips and tools, along with a support system and network, to help each patient better navigate their life living with AMD no matter where they are on that journey.
SightMatters.com aims to help patients understand what AMD is, and how they can manage it. It also allows patients the opportunity to create a personalized action plan, which they can use to discuss with their doctor so they can start taking charge of their condition and continue to see what they love each day. Visit SightMatters.com to begin taking action today.
PreserVision is a trademark of Bausch & Lomb Incorporated or its affiliates.
AREDS2 is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
© 2020 Bausch & Lomb Incorporated or its affiliates.
After a heart attack, as many as 1 in 4 survivors will have another one. Lifestyle changes and working closely with your doctor to manage your health can help minimize the risk of a repeat event. Talk to your doctor about a secondary prevention plan, and consider other steps like these.
How to Reduce Your Risk for Another Heart Attack
(Family Features) After a heart attack, as many as 1 in 4 survivors will have another one. Lifestyle changes and working closely with your doctor to manage your health can help minimize the risk of a repeat event.
“A heart attack is a life-changing event,” said Nieca Goldberg, MD, American Heart Association volunteer and medical director of NYU Women’s Heart Program. “What many people don’t realize is the hidden risks that led to your first heart attack can be managed and, by doing this, you may reduce your risk of having another one.”
Because up to 80% of heart attacks are preventable, it’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations for reducing your risk. Talk to your doctor about a secondary prevention plan, and consider other steps like these from the American Heart Association’s secondary prevention program, nationally sponsored by Bayer:
Take your medications as prescribed. Certain medicines can lower your risk of another cardiac event. That’s why it’s important to understand your medications and take them correctly. Taking aspirin as recommended by a doctor is one way to help prevent another attack. No one should start, stop or modify an aspirin regimen without first speaking with their doctor. Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.
Manage your risk factors. After a heart attack, it’s important to manage risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes by taking medications as prescribed, quitting smoking, eating healthier and getting active.
Attend your follow-up appointments. Attending your follow-up appointments helps your doctors keep track of your condition and recovery. You can make the most of your time with your doctor by preparing a list of questions and concerns along with a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements. Bringing a trusted friend or family member may help as well.
Participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program. Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program designed to help you recover after a heart attack. You should have received a referral to cardiac rehab when you were discharged from the hospital; if you didn’t, ask your doctor if this program is right for you.
Get support. It’s normal to feel scared, overwhelmed or confused after a heart attack. Getting support from loved ones or people who have also experienced a heart attack can help you cope. Connect with other heart attack survivors and caregivers through local support groups or the American Heart Association’s free online Support Network.
Take Charge of Your Heart Health
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, but your lifestyle can be your best defense.
Stop smoking. If you smoke, quit. If someone in your household smokes, encourage him or her to quit. It may not be easy, but it’s even harder to live with chronic heart disease or recover from a heart attack.
Choose good nutrition. A healthy diet is one of the best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. Research shows eating 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day may lower blood pressure over time.
Lower cholesterol. Fat lodged in your arteries can trigger a heart attack or stroke. Reduce your intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, and get moving. If diet and physical activity alone don’t get those numbers down, then medication may be the key.
Lower blood pressure. Shake that salt habit, take your medications as recommended by your doctor and get moving. An optimal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury).
Be physically active. Research has shown that at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level.
Reduce stress. Some studies have noted a relationship between coronary heart disease risk and stress. This may affect the risk factors for heart disease and stroke. For example, people under stress may overeat, start smoking or smoke more than they otherwise would.
Learn more about ways you can thrive after a heart attack at heart.org/oneisenough.
Content courtesy of the American Heart Association’s secondary prevention initiative.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
American Heart Association
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a component of the cannabis plant lacking the “high” associated with marijuana, and right now products claiming to contain CBD are everywhere — from gummies to cocktails, ice cream to hand cream, and more. An estimated 64 million consumers, according to a January 2019 Consumer Reports survey, have tried products containing CBD in the past two years alone. But do you know what you are buying - and taking?
(BPT) - Before you reach into that jar of CBD gummies, or add some CBD oil to your bath, proceed carefully. Do you really know what’s in that “miracle cure” that you purchased online or at the health store for anxiety or your aching back?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a component of the cannabis plant lacking the “high” associated with marijuana, and right now products claiming to contain CBD are everywhere — from gummies to cocktails, ice cream to hand cream, and more. An estimated 64 million consumers, according to a January 2019 Consumer Reports survey, have tried products containing CBD in the past two years alone.
With widespread marketing that is largely unregulated, CBD purchased online or at stores is often promoted as a one-stop product for a range of potential health benefits, such as relieving stress, soothing aches and pains, reducing inflammation or improving sleep.
Interest in — and access to — CBD increased with the passage of the Farm Bill which removed CBD derived from hemp (a variety of cannabis that contains very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) from the list of controlled substances. Although CBD products are now available online or in many stores, health or medical claims made by the product manufacturers are still subject to regulation by the FDA to ensure consumer safety. Through all the current interest surrounding CBD one critical question remains: Are widely available CBD products safe and effective?
Separating fact from fiction
The contents and dosage of CBD products sold in retail stores or online are often unknown and not consistently, if at all, regulated. To navigate the current environment, consumers first need to understand that not all CBD products are equal:
So, what’s the bottom line for the millions of people currently using CBD products? As the saying goes, the smart consumer is the wise consumer. The FDA approval process is considered by many to be the gold standard in the medical field and was put in place to protect patients. Taking unregulated CBD products that lack scientific evidence can pose health risks, particularly for very sick patients who may be looking for hope in these products, in part, because of unproven health claims.
You deserve to know what you’re taking
It can be difficult to know if CBD products actually contain what they claim. A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that almost 70% of all CBD products sold online did not contain the amount of CBD stated on the label — 42% contained a higher concentration of CBD than the label claimed, and 26% of the products contained less. Twenty percent included enough unlabeled THC to cause intoxication, especially in children. The FDA also evaluated some of these products and found that they did not contain the levels of CBD that they claimed. More studies and regulations are needed to ensure these products are safe for consumer use.
An important moment in the evolution of CBD occurred in June 2018 when the FDA approved Epidiolex® (cannabidiol) oral solution CV, the first prescription CBD medicine. Because it is a prescription, available in pharmacies just like any other FDA-approved medicine, it is legal throughout the entire U.S. when prescribed by a licensed health care professional. It is the only FDA-approved CBD product currently available.
“The approval of Epidiolex is historic not only for the long-awaited relief it provides patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two very difficult-to-treat epilepsies, but also for the parameters it has put in place for how a CBD medicine should be studied to understand its safety profile and efficacy,” said Justin Gover, CEO of GW Pharmaceuticals, plc, the company responsible for Epidiolex. “We hope that this opens the door for further well-controlled clinical studies of CBD in other medical conditions to achieve FDA approval and ensure patients are getting the medicines they deserve.”
This sponsored article is presented by Brandpoint.
The stark reality is that more and more Americans each and every day find themselves taking on the role of caregiver for a family member. This can present immense physical and emotional challenges. The first steps suggested here can help you find some balance as you navigate your caregiver journey.
(BPT) - Caring for a loved one with a chronic illness is something millions of Americans do every day. Whether it is a parent, spouse, extended family member or friend, the stress of caring for another adult can take a toll.
"I have to do absolutely everything for her," explains Anthony Cowels, whose 71-year-old wife, Florence, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986. As he watched her disease progress, his caregiver responsibilities grew. What's more, for some of the years Cowels also cared for his elderly parents, compounding his responsibilities.
"It has been a long journey of caregiving," says Cowels, 70. "I try not to let it overwhelm me. I always look for ways to do better." Cowels learned to care for both himself and his wife better through useful tools, education and friendship and by joining a caregiver support group. He says he can "interact with others who identify with my situation.”
Family caregiving: A growing trend
Cowels represents a growing number of Americans who care for older or aging loved ones. About 41 million family caregivers in the United States provided an estimated 34 billion hours of care to an adult with limitations in daily activities in 2017, notes the AARP report Valuing the Invaluable: 2019 Update. What's more, as the population ages, caregiving demands are increasing while the pool of potential caregivers is decreasing.
As the Valuing report states, "Americans will have more older relatives or close friends to potentially care for than children in about 15 years. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that, by the year 2035, adults ages 65 and older will outnumber children under the age of 18 for the first time in U.S. history. This fundamental demographic shift is the result of the aging of the U.S. population, increasing longevity, and a declining birth rate. "
Caring for yourself
In addition to helping with self-care activities like bathing, dressing and going to the bathroom, family caregivers today often perform complex medical tasks, including wound care, giving injections and handling medical equipment. The tasks that were once provided in hospitals and health care clinics are increasingly the responsibility of family and friends, who are often given little training or support.
While many family caregivers often report positive feelings in their role such as a sense of purpose or connection with their loved one, it often comes with feelings of being overwhelmed. Exhaustion, worry, loneliness and financial stress are common challenges caregivers face. If you also work a full-time job, it can be even more difficult to balance your needs and responsibilities.
While you may not achieve perfect balance, it is important to prioritize your physical and mental wellbeing, so you can be there for the person you care for. These first steps can help you find some balance as you navigate your caregiver journey:
It is important for family caregivers to stay mentally and physically healthy so they can provide the best care possible to the growing number of people who need support. For helpful tips and caregiver resources, visit www.aarp.org/caregiving.
A diagnosis like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) means lifestyle changes throughout every aspect of life, including financially through direct costs of care as well as indirect costs like missed school or work. There are a number of resources like these that can help IBD patients manage the financial impact of the disease, many of which depend on the patient’s stage of life.
Managing the Cost of IBD
(Family Features) A diagnosis like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) means lifestyle changes throughout every aspect of life, including financially. IBD has many direct costs of care, like clinic visits, radiology studies, procedures and costly medications. There are also indirect costs such as missed work or school.
There are a number of resources that can help IBD patients manage the financial impact of the disease, many of which depend on the patient’s stage of life. For example, young adults transitioning into the workforce and off their parents’ insurance may find their needs quite different from older adults who are approaching Medicare eligibility.
Evaluate your IBD needs and select an affordable insurance plan. When you turn 26, you age out of your parents’ health insurance plan. Your options may include enrolling in a plan sponsored by your employer or your spouse’s employer; purchasing a plan in the health insurance marketplace (you can enroll 60 days before you turn 26 and the timeframe ends 60 days after your birthday); purchasing insurance on the individual market; purchasing COBRA (a temporary health insurance plan that is extended under your parents’ plan for up to 18 months); or going on Medicaid, if you’re eligible.
To decide what’s right for your situation, start by listing your current health care providers and health services. Review the insurance plan you are considering and check whether your current providers, medications and hospital are covered in the plan, and whether they are considered in-network (more cost-efficient) or out-of-network (higher out-of-pocket costs).
You’ll want to weigh potential expenses, including the monthly premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, copays and coinsurance, if applicable. Also be aware of the distinctions between medical and pharmacy coverage. This will give you a realistic picture of what you can expect to spend on a monthly and annual basis.
For assistance with your options, consider speaking with an insurance specialist or help center, such as the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s IBD Help Center, which can help you review available plans and find one best suited for your needs.
Participate in a savings program. If you have the option of participating in a Health Savings or Flexible Spending Account, these personal savings programs can help pay your out-of-pocket costs. You contribute a certain amount of untaxed money to the account each year, which can be used toward expenses like prescriptions, deductibles, copayments and coinsurance.
Each program has distinct guidelines on factors, like payment and carrying over unused funds, so it’s important to do thorough research before selecting a plan.
Enroll in manufacturer assistance programs. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may be eligible for assistance from your prescription manufacturers or lab testing companies. In addition to drug copay discount programs and pharmaceutical financial assistance programs, you might be able to access help to offset the cost of certain procedures.
Your health care provider or pharmacist may have information on available programs, or you can visit manufacturer websites and other resources like crohnscolitisfoundation.org/managingcosts.
Investigate grants, foundations, and other assistance programs. Other types of financial assistance are also available. Pharmaceutical companies, the Patient Advocate Foundation, and several other foundations offer college scholarships to IBD patients.
Purchase coordinated or supplemental Medicare insurance. As you approach the age of 65, you enter an enrollment period (3 months prior and 3 months after your birthday) when you are eligible to apply for Medicare, a federal health insurance program. In addition to original Medicare, you have the option of purchasing additional insurance for added health care coverage and benefits, such as a Medicare Advantage Plan (Medicare Part C) or Medigap plan.
Enroll in federal and state savings programs. If you have or are eligible for Medicare Part A, and if you have limited income and resources, your state Medicaid program can help determine whether you qualify for one of the Medicare Savings Programs.
State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (sometimes referred to as SHIP programs) have different names in different states but all provide free one-on-one telephone counseling and advice services, personal face-to-face counseling sessions, public education programs and media presentations for assistance with Medicare programs (including Part D) and Medicaid.
If you have limited income and resources, you may qualify for help paying for prescription drugs. The Medicare Extra Help Program is for Medicare Part D recipients and recipients of both Medicare and Medicaid who have limited income and resources to help pay for prescription drugs.
Apply for financial aid through pharmaceutical companies. Another option, if you are eligible, is to enroll in financial assistance through the drug manufacturers. Funds are available from several manufacturers and non-profits to help patients cover copays and pay their out-of-pocket costs.
Pharmaceutical patient assistance programs are separate foundations set up by the drug manufacturers to provide financial assistance to people who cannot afford their medications. You need to demonstrate financial need when you apply for these programs.
While on private insurance, you may be able to use drug copay cards. The drug company will pay for a portion of the drug and the out-of-pocket cost to the patient is considerably lower. However, drug copay discount cards are generally no longer available to patients when they transition off private insurance onto Medicare.
Investigate grants, foundations and other assistance programs. Additional assistance may be available through other foundations. Find these and other resources to assist in planning your IBD medical expenses at crohnscolitisfoundation.org/managingcosts.
Lower Your Medical Costs
1. Compare prices and select in-network providers. Always ask if your labs and support team members (all providers, not just your gastroenterologist) are in network.
2. Not all pharmacies charge the same, so shop around. Online pharmacies can often be less expensive (for example, a 90-day supply can often be the same cost as a 30-day supply).
3. Check your bill. According to the Medical Billing Advocates of America, billing advocates and other health professionals estimate up to 80% of medical bills contain errors.
4. If insurance refuses to pay, talk to your healthcare provider about appealing the insurance company’s denial.
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
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