If you’re among the millions of people in the United States who suffer from a chronic illness, you may use “sharps” to manage your medical condition at home or on the go. Consider this information about sharps and steps for safe and proper disposal. Read 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.
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.
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
If you’re among the millions of people in the United States who suffer from a chronic illness, you may use “sharps” to manage your medical condition at home or on the go. Consider this information about sharps and steps for safe and proper disposal.
Understanding Medical Sharps and Safe Disposal Options
(Family Features) If you’re among the millions of people in the United States who suffer from a chronic illness, you may use “sharps” to manage your medical condition at home or on the go. For example, many people with diabetes self-inject at least two insulin shots every day, and conditions including allergies, arthritis, cancer, infertility, migraines and psoriasis, among others, may also require the use of a sharp to administer medication.
A medical term for devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin, sharps may be used at home, at work and while traveling to manage medical conditions. Examples of sharps include:
However, disposing of those medical sharps safely may be a concern. In fact, in interviews conducted by SafeNeedleDisposal.org with sharps users, people who use needles and lancets to manage their medical conditions believe it is their responsibility to dispose of sharps safely, but lack clear, factual information on how to do so. Existing information does not always personalize disposal guidelines for people in every state or locality.
“SafeNeedleDisposal.org helps people in the United States make sense of safe sharps disposal options nearest to their home, work or wherever is convenient,” said Larry Ellingson, vice president of the National Diabetes Volunteer Leadership Council. “This resource is much needed for people who regularly use needles to manage health conditions like diabetes and want to do the right thing with their used sharps.”
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, sharps not disposed of properly may cause injury. Consider these three steps for safe and proper sharps disposal:
For more information on safe disposal of sharps, visit SafeNeedleDisposal.org.
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Although rare cancers don’t occur often, they can affect people of all ages and genders. Greater awareness of rare cancers may lead to earlier diagnosis and management, and potentially better survival rates. Consider these facts about soft tissue sarcomas, one type of rare cancer.
Understanding Rare Cancers
Four facts to know about one type of rare cancer, soft tissue sarcomas
(Family Features) Although rare cancers don’t occur often, they can affect people of all ages and genders.
A rare cancer is defined as fewer than 15 new diagnoses per 100,000 people per year, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Additionally, as noted by the American Cancer Society (ACS), the 5-year survival rate is lower for people diagnosed with a rare cancer than for people living with more common cancers. Greater awareness of rare cancers may lead to earlier diagnosis and management, and potentially better survival rates.
If you have recently been diagnosed with STS, it’s important to ask your doctor for more information about the specific sub-type you have. For example, if you received a diagnosis of undifferentiated sarcoma, ask your doctor for an integrase interactor-1 (INI1) test to see if you have a rare STS called epithelioid sarcoma (ES). (See sidebar for more on ES.)
Learning More About Epithelioid Sarcoma
A rare type of STS, epithelioid sarcoma (ES) accounts for less than 1% of all STS, which themselves account for approximately 1% of all cancers, according to research published in “Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine.” ES can present as a lump or sore on the skin.
Notably, more than 90% of ES tumors do not express the INI1 protein, which when present acts to suppress tumor growth. INI1 loss plays an important role in the diagnosis of ES, according to researchers with “The American Journal of Surgical Pathology.”
Data from the NCI indicates that approximately 150-200 people in the United States are diagnosed with ES each year. Research published in “The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology” found the disease often occurs in young adults in their 20s and 30s. Because most ES patients are adolescents and young adults, there is a gap in the unique psycho-social needs for this patient population, including resources for patients who miss school while undergoing treatments, as well as fertility considerations later in life.
If you or someone you love is living with ES, you can find resources, information and the real-life perspective of an ES survivor at ESsentialsforES.com.
Content courtesy of Epizyme, Inc.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Adults living with schizophrenia may experience a cyclical pattern with their schizophrenia treatment journey, consisting of beginning a new treatment which lessens their symptoms, followed by a lack of adherence with their treatment plan and missing doses and leading to worsening schizophrenia symptoms or a relapse. Finding the right treatment plan, often consisting of a combination of supportive therapies and medication, can help adults control their schizophrenia symptoms.
(BPT) - Schizophrenia is a complex and chronic brain disorder that can interrupt every aspect of an adult’s life. For adults living with serious mental illness, like Jason, the journey to finding the right treatment plan, including medication and supportive therapies, can take years. During that time, adults living with schizophrenia may experience multiple episodes, breakthrough symptoms or relapse. While it can be challenging for many individuals to remember to take their daily medication, it can be especially difficult for adults living with schizophrenia, who after missing doses of their treatment may increase their risk for breakthrough schizophrenia symptoms or relapse.
Jason was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was in his mid-twenties. Following his diagnosis, Jason struggled for ten years to consistently follow his schizophrenia treatment plan.
“At the time, my schizophrenia hallucinations and delusions were full blown. I thought I had special powers — that when I made eye contact with people, I could talk to them. I thought most people were out to get me, including my parents,” Jason says. “When I was having a lot of challenges, it strained my relationship with my parents.”
Unfortunately, Jason’s story is not uncommon. Adults living with schizophrenia may experience a cyclical pattern with their schizophrenia treatment journey, consisting of beginning a new treatment which lessens their symptoms, followed by a lack of adherence with their treatment plan and missing doses and leading to worsening schizophrenia symptoms or a relapse. As a matter of fact, research has found that adults living with schizophrenia experience on average 9 relapses in less than 6 years. There are multiple factors that can increase the risk of an episode (breakthrough symptoms or relapse), including missing doses or stopping medication.
After trying numerous treatment options and being hospitalized multiple times due to his schizophrenia symptoms, Jason’s doctor talked to him and his parents about switching his medication to a once-monthly injection to limit worrying about missing doses and to help Jason better manage his schizophrenia. Together, they reviewed the potential benefits and side effects of treatment options.
After being treated with a once-monthly injection and participating in supportive therapies, Jason’s symptoms were more controlled.
“For me, it was important to get healthy, which included working with a psychologist and attending group therapy sessions early in my treatment journey, as well as taking my medication and exercising,” Jason said.
By finding a comprehensive treatment plan that worked for him, Jason was able to focus on other things like friends, family, and activities he enjoys like writing, kickboxing, and spending time with his nieces and nephews. “Most importantly,” he said, “I started working with those who were trying to help me. I began to see my parents as allies in my fight. Now I am closer to them than ever.”
Reflecting on his past experiences, Jason now wants to share his personal story to help other adults with schizophrenia navigate their own treatment journey.
“I didn’t ask for this, but I am dealing with it. I want to help other people. Don’t give up!”
If you or a loved one are an adult living with schizophrenia, ask your doctor if a change in your treatment plan could make the difference for you. Learn more at https://www.oncemonthlydifference.com.
Jason is a volunteer with the SHARE Network, a Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., program made up of people who are dedicated to inspiring others through their personal health journeys and stories of caring.
NTM (nontuberculous mycobacterial lung disease) is still considered rare, but cases are growing 8 percent each year. In 2018, it is estimated that 75,000–105,000 patients were diagnosed with NTM lung disease in the U.S. Since awareness of NTM lung disease is limited and the symptoms of NTM lung disease, like chronic coughing, feeling tired often and shortness of breath, are similar to other lung conditions, many people who have it may not even know it for months or sometimes years.
(BPT) - Having a friend or loved one with a chronic and progressive condition teaches you many things: patience, understanding and adapting to lifestyle changes after diagnosis. But for Mary, supporting her friend, Barbara, living with a serious lung condition called nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung disease taught her the importance of listening.
While taking weekly walks together, Mary first noticed Barbara was experiencing respiratory symptoms, such as coughing fits and getting tired very easily. Barbara’s symptoms continued for two years, and Mary later found out that Barbara was living with NTM lung disease — a serious and progressive condition caused by bacteria that can lead to lung damage and respiratory symptoms.
From speaking with Barbara, she realized that while Barbara was relieved to have an explanation for her symptoms, she also felt overwhelmed and scared by her new diagnosis.
Mary recalls, “As her friend, I was upset that she had to face this health issue and wanted to know how I could help. I realized the best way I could show Barbara my support was to ‘walk with her’ and let her know she wasn’t alone.”
About NTM Lung Disease
NTM bacteria are common in the environment and can be found in tap water, showerheads, steam from hot tubs, and soil from parks and gardens. While everyone comes into contact with NTM bacteria during their daily lives, most people do not develop NTM lung disease because their lungs are healthy enough to clear the bacteria. However, people with a history of lung conditions, like bronchiectasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma, are more likely to develop NTM lung disease because the damage from these conditions can make it easier for NTM to infect their lungs.
NTM lung disease is considered rare, but cases are growing 8 percent each year. In 2018, it is estimated that 75,000–105,000 patients were diagnosed with NTM lung disease in the U.S. Since awareness of NTM lung disease is limited and the symptoms of NTM lung disease, like chronic coughing, feeling tired often and shortness of breath, are similar to other lung conditions, many people who have it may not even know it for months or sometimes years.
Providing Encouragement and Understanding
Following an NTM lung disease diagnosis, patients may have a hard time coping with the impact the disease can have on their lifestyle. Emotional support from family and friends is crucial to help patients navigate these new challenges.
After learning about Barbara’s diagnosis, Mary encouraged her to speak about the tests she was undergoing and treatment she was taking as well as how she was feeling. Mary was also there to support Barbara through some of the lifestyle changes that she was making to help manage her condition — whether it was hearing about the adjustments she made when traveling or ways to help limit her exposure to NTM bacteria at home.
Mary also understood that keeping up weekly walks helped Barbara physically and emotionally. She made sure that they stuck to their routine and made adjustments whenever necessary, such as walking for shorter distances or slowing down their pace based on how Barbara was feeling.
“Barbara’s diagnosis made our friendship stronger because she knew she could confide in me and receive the support and reassurance she needed — even if that just meant listening,” Mary shares. “While everyone’s experience with NTM lung disease is different, sometimes knowing there is someone willing to listen to what you’re going through can make a world of difference.”
Like many other loved ones of NTM lung disease patients, Mary had never heard about the condition before Barbara’s diagnosis. She let Barbara be her teacher and learned a lot about the condition through her experience. Today, she’s more informed about NTM lung disease and can be a better source of guidance and support for Barbara.
There are also several online patient resources available to learn more about NTM lung disease, such as the Voices of NTM Lung Disease eMagazine on AboutNTM.com, which provides information on living with and managing NTM lung disease through first-person stories from different members of the community, like Barbara and Mary. On AboutNTM.com, you can also access more information on how to join support groups to connect with others who have NTM lung disease, and how to sign up to receive helpful resources.
Sponsored by Insmed Incorporated.
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