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.
Heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease and stroke. These top five causes of death in the United States all have a higher incidence of death among rural residents and research points to lack of access to health care as a culprit. Consider these challenges and solutions facing rural Americans.
Health Care Solutions for Rural Americans
(Family Features) Heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease and stroke. These top five causes of death in the United States all have a higher incidence of death among rural residents and research points to lack of access to health care as a culprit.
According to the University of North Carolina’s Rural Health Research Program, since 2010, more than 105 of America’s 1,700 rural hospitals have closed. Additionally, a Navigant report found that 21% of rural hospitals are at high risk of closing unless their financial situations improve.
Every day, rural Americans find themselves farther from medical care.
Practical challenges facing patients
Fatal injuries and illnesses aside, rural residents face other practical concerns related to the health care in their communities.
One solution to fill the gap in rural health care is air medical services, which transport patients to critical care facilities in minutes. With nearly 90% of patients transported living in rural areas, air ambulance services are an essential part of health care access in these communities.
However, just like rural hospitals, air ambulances are threatened as well. Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates have remained steady for decades, while operational costs required for air medical services have increased, creating a financially unsustainable situation. Some private insurers also refuse to cover air medical services or pay minimal costs, requiring patients to assume the balance.
How to take action
The challenges facing rural health care access may be significant, but rural residents can take individual actions to make a difference for themselves, their families and even their communities.
Protecting Patients Against the Unexpected
With increasing frequency, insurance companies are not covering the full cost of medical emergencies, leaving families with out-of-pocket expenses they didn’t expect.
If you need medical transport and a physician or first responder determines air evacuation is the best – or only – option to get you to care, you shouldn’t have to worry about the bill you’ll receive afterward. Many emergency service providers have support efforts in place to help you focus on recovery, not finances.
For example, many air medical companies provide patients access to their patient advocates, who work with the patient’s insurance provider to properly cover air medical transport, taking the patient out of the middle. This process can result in significantly lower costs for the patient, often amounting to just the usual copay and deductible.
Visit globalmedicalresponse.com/protect-patients to learn more about these services in your area.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images (doctor and man, woman speaking with doctor on computer)SOURCE:
Global Medical Response
When you are touring an assisted living facility for a loved one, you should ask questions, explore the property with a critical eye and talk with the staff. You want to ensure that your loved one will be well taken care of and that they will be happy during the duration of their stay. If you have browsed through brochures, you have to check that the reality does indeed look like the pictures in the marketing materials. Here are three red flags to watch out for when you're picking out an assisted living facility.
Avoided or Unanswered Questions
As you view the property in person, ask questions. You want to know how many staff members are on per shift, the kind of credentials they have and if they can handle your loved one's condition. You want to know the steps involved in the admission process, the kind of patients already at the facility and a breakdown of the fees, too. According to After 50 Living, if you notice some or all of these kinds of questions are avoided or unanswered by the staff, it should raise a red flag. While you might come across a new staff member who does not have all the answers, there should be someone who can help when you are in the process of making such an important decision.
History of Violations
According to Assisted Living Center, information regarding a facility having outstanding compliance violations or complaints can be found by checking with the agencies responsible for overseeing these reports. Disciplinary action is a red flag because it means the facility is not in compliance with industry standards. Seeing repeated offenses is a good reason for you to cross that facility off your list simply because you do not know if your loved one will be properly cared for or safe. Whether it is lack of staff, medical equipment or cleanup, these things pose a risk.
You Have a Bad Feeling
While you are checking out the assisted living facility, according to Boomer Bloomer, it’s a good idea to do a gut-check. If you are not sure if this is the facility for your loved one, it is OK. You can seek reassurance before making up your mind. If you don't feel good about a place, keep searching for an assisted-living facility that you feel 100% confident about.
Picking an assisted living facility is a task that should not be taken lightly. Most facilities are well-staffed and genuinely care for their patients. It is OK to ask questions, tour the property and speak with staff members before you make a decision.
If you enjoyed this article, check out this other article with tips on how you can help aging parents!
When faced with a medical condition, it’s important to sort the myths from facts to determine a course of action to restore your health. If you’ve been diagnosed with or think you might have benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), understanding your options and the potential impact on your health and quality of life is the first step in treatment. Arm yourself with these facts before scheduling time to consult with your doctor.
Understanding Common Myths About Prostate Health
(Family Features) When it comes to your health, misconceptions about treatment options and their potential side effects can have a negative impact on your overall wellbeing. One common condition that is shrouded by misinformation is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Also known as enlarged prostate, BPH is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate that typically occurs as men age causing bothersome urinary symptoms such as a frequent need to urinate day and night, weak flow, difficulty starting urination, an urgent need to go, and other symptoms. The condition affects more than 40 million men in the United States alone with more than 40 percent of men over 50 and 80 percent of men over 70 suffering from BPH.1,2,3
However, some men and women are not entirely familiar with available BPH treatment options beyond medication, according to surveys conducted by NeoTract, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Teleflex Incorporated and manufacturer of the UroLift® System. Survey results show that half of men diagnosed with BPH reported their doctors informed them of medication as a treatment for BPH, while only 8 percent said their doctors spoke with them about minimally invasive outpatient treatment options.
“Medication is often the first-line therapy for enlarged prostate, but relief can be inadequate and temporary,” said Gregg R. Eure, M.D., F.A.C.S. of Urology of Virginia and Eastern Virginia Medical School, a paid consultant of NeoTract, Inc. “Patients can experience headaches or dizziness when taking BPH medication, as well as other negative side effects such as sexual dysfunction, often causing them to quit taking BPH medication altogether. Fortunately, there are alternative treatments, like the UroLift System, to medication for men with BPH that can break the cycle of side effects caused by medications, enhancing a man’s quality of life without the risk of more invasive surgery.”
The symptoms of BPH can cause loss of productivity, depression and decreased quality of life. In addition, if left untreated, the condition can worsen over time and lead to permanent bladder damage.4
If you’ve been diagnosed with, or think you might have BPH, understanding your options and the potential impact on your health and quality of life is the first step in treatment. Arm yourself with these facts before scheduling time to consult with your doctor:
Myth: BPH is linked to prostate cancer.
Myth: Medication is the only first-line treatment for BPH.
Myth: Delaying treatment of BPH doesn’t cause bladder damage.
Myth: There are no minimally invasive procedures available to treat BPH.
For more information about BPH treatment options, or to find a physician near you that treats this common condition, visit UroLift.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
1 Berry, J Urol 1984 and 2017 U.S. Census population estimates.
Flu vaccination helps protect more than just the people who receive them – they help prevent the spread of influenza to their family, friends, colleagues and communities, and especially those more vulnerable to the flu such as infants and young children and those with weakened immune systems.
(BPT) - “I’m not the same person. The person before just kind of took life for granted. And now I cherish every moment I have because I know it can be taken away very quickly.”
Lisa Pellerin, a mother and a nurse, shared these words as she recounted an experience so devastating to her health that it changed her entire perspective on life. It wasn’t cancer. It wasn’t a heart attack.
It was the flu.
Surprisingly, the flu is a source of worry for only 8 percent of adults 50 years of age and older, according to a recent survey. And, even if they were to get the flu, the majority (80 percent) only saw themselves as being at average or below average risk for flu-related complications. For some, these misperceptions could be dangerous.
Adults 50 years of age and older are more likely than younger age groups to have a chronic illness, such as asthma or other lung disease, heart disease or diabetes. Flu can exacerbate symptoms of these conditions and lead to serious complications, like pneumonia – or sometimes even death.
Flu and chronic health conditions
According to the CDC, about 70 percent of adults ages 50 to 64 have at least one chronic illness. Lisa is among this group, living with both asthma and diabetes. All it took was one day for the flu to land her in the hospital. “I just kept getting worse. I was in the hospital for three weeks. Everyone thought I was going to die,” she said. Lisa continues to struggle with shortness of breath and a persistent cough, but she’s grateful to be alive.
After receiving a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) diagnosis, Jim Piette still enjoyed fishing, hunting and woodworking – until he got the flu. “Now, I’m on oxygen 24/7,” he said. “I can’t do much without running out of air.” After a year and a half, Jim still hasn’t been able to resume all his usual activities.
Take the precaution: Get the shot
Vaccination is the best way to help protect people, including older adults, from the flu and help reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalization and death. That’s why the American Lung Association created the MyShot campaign in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur. The campaign helps educate adults 50 years of age and older about the potential dangers of flu and the critical importance of getting a flu shot every year.
The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October each year. However, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial and vaccination continues to be offered throughout flu season.
For adults, it’s important to know that there are multiple options depending on your age and whether you have one or more chronic health conditions. A doctor can advise which option may be right for each individual, taking into consideration age and other factors such as chronic health conditions.
It’s not about one person – it’s about everyone in your life
Flu vaccination helps protect more than just the people who receive them – they help prevent the spread of influenza to their family, friends, colleagues and communities, and especially those more vulnerable to the flu such as infants and young children and those with weakened immune systems. JoJo O’Neal’s bout with the flu turned into a family issue, infecting not only JoJo, but her sister who has COPD, and her niece. “I started to realize my health decisions can impact others,” she said. Now, she does everything she can to help protect herself and others from the flu, which always includes getting her annual flu vaccination.
If you or someone you love is 50 years of age or older, go to GetMyShot.org to learn more and speak with your healthcare provider about flu vaccine options that may be right for you.
A study funded by the National Institutes of Health is testing whether the nicotine patch can improve memory and functioning in people who have mild memory loss or Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).
Nicotine to Help Treat Memory Loss?
(Family Features) A study funded by the National Institutes of Health is testing whether the nicotine patch can improve memory and functioning in people who have mild memory loss or Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).
The largest and longest running study of its kind, the MIND (Memory Improvement through Nicotine Dosing) Study is looking for 300 volunteers at sites across the United States who have mild memory loss but are otherwise healthy, non-smokers over the age of 55.
“The MIND Study will provide valuable information for researchers with regard to early memory loss that is associated with normal aging and early Alzheimer’s disease, but we need volunteers if we are going to succeed,” said Dr. Paul Newhouse, MD, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Cognitive Medicine and lead investigator for the MIND Study.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately one in five people age 65 or older have mild memory loss or MCI and are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Currently, there is no FDA-approved medication indicated to treat this condition; however, nicotine stimulates an area in the brain known to be important for thinking and memory, and scientists believe it could be an effective treatment for adults with MCI.
“People often think nicotine is addictive and harmful because it is in tobacco products, but it’s safe when used in patch form,” Newhouse said. “Nicotine is an inexpensive, readily available treatment that could have significant benefits for people experiencing mild memory impairment.”
The MIND Study needs 300 people to enroll in sites across the United States. Researchers are looking for healthy, non-smoking adults over the age of 55 who are in the earliest stages of memory loss to participate in the MIND Study.
Potential study volunteers can learn more by visiting MINDStudy.org or calling 1-866-MIND-150.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Memory Improvement through Nicotine Dosing (MIND)
If you’re a male over the age of 45, chances are you may be suffering from a condition more common than prostate cancer – benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It can cause bothersome urinary symptoms that can worsen with age. Consider these steps for alleviating enlarged prostate symptoms.
Treatment Options for Men with Enlarged Prostate
(Family Features) If you’re a male over the age of 45, chances are you may be suffering from a condition more common than prostate cancer – benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). More commonly known as enlarged prostate, BPH can cause bothersome urinary symptoms that can worsen with age. In fact, nearly 40 million men in the United States are affected by enlarged prostate, according to research published in the “Journal of Urology.”
During Men’s Health Month, consider these steps from the experts at NeoTract, Inc., manufacturer of the UroLift System, for alleviating enlarged prostate symptoms:
Signs You Should See a Urologist
An enlarged prostate obstructs the bladder opening and can lead to a myriad of bothersome urinary symptoms. Symptoms of BPH include frequent urination, a weak or slow urine stream, incomplete bladder emptying, difficulty or delay in starting urination and a urine stream that stops and starts. It’s important to see a physician if any of these problems arise or persist.
Enlarged prostate can also cause loss of productivity and sleep and, in some cases, can lead to depression. According to a survey sponsored by NeoTract, one of the most common symptoms of BPH – interrupted sleep – is also impacting men’s partners. Sixty-four percent of women surveyed who were affected by their partners' BPH symptoms said it impacts their sleep, too.
Traditional Treatment Options
Medication is often the first-line therapy for enlarged prostate, but relief can be inadequate and temporary. Some patients may suffer uncomfortable side effects from the medications, including dizziness, headaches and sexual dysfunction, which can prompt them to quit using the drugs.
“Medical and surgical treatments for BPH ranging from medications to surgery have been used for decades with varying degrees of success and side effects,” said Dr. David O. Sussman, DO, FACOS. “Medications can be helpful in relieving symptoms for some men, but patients must continue taking them long-term to maintain the effects.”
The classic alternative for patients who opt against medication is surgery that cuts, heats or removes prostate tissue to open the blocked urethra. Sussman said surgical options such as transurethral resection of the prostate or photovaporization of the prostate are usually effective. However, these options typically require general anesthesia, overnight hospitalization and post-operative catheterization. Surgery can also increase the risk of erectile dysfunction or loss of ejaculation.
An Alternative Treatment Method
Another option for men looking to relieve their BPH symptoms without undergoing major surgery or taking long-term BPH medications is the UroLift System treatment, a minimally invasive procedure that takes less than an hour and doesn’t require any cutting, heating or removal of prostate tissue.
A urologist uses the device to lift and move the enlarged prostate tissue out of the way so it no longer blocks the urethra (the passageway that urine flows through). Tiny implants are then used to hold the tissue in place, leaving an unobstructed pathway for urine to flow through normally.
Most common side effects are mild-to-moderate and include pain or burning with urination, blood in urine, pelvic pain, urgent need to urinate or the inability to control the urge. The procedure has a low catheter rate and most symptoms resolve within 2-4 weeks after the procedure.
To learn more, visit UroLift.com .
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Man at the doctors)SOURCE:
(BPT) - Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementias is exceptionally demanding, and especially challenging.
A recent survey by the Alzheimer’s Association indicates many caregivers are not getting the help and support they need — 84 percent of caregivers say they would like more support in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, especially from family members.
“Too many people are shouldering the caregiving burden alone,” says Ruth Drew, director of information and support services at the Alzheimer’s Association. “Many people want or would welcome help, but they are reluctant or just too overwhelmed to ask.”
Tips for supporting a caregiver
Providing help and support to caregivers can be easier than most people think. Even little acts can make a significant difference, Drew says. The Alzheimer’s Association offers these suggestions:
Learn: Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease — its symptoms, its progression and challenges facing caregivers. The more you know, the easier it will be to find ways to help.
Build a team: Organize family and friends who want to help. The Alzheimer's Association Care Team Calendar is a free, personalized online tool that allows helpers to sign up for specific tasks, such as preparing meals, providing rides or running errands.
Give a break: Spend time with the person with dementia, allowing the caregiver a chance to run errands, go to their own doctor’s appointment or engage in an activity that helps them recharge. Even one hour can provide the caregiver some relief.
Check in: Many caregivers report feeling isolated or alone; make a phone call to check in, send a note or stop by for a visit.
Tackle the to-do list: Ask for a list of errands that need to be done. Pick up groceries or dry cleaning, or even offer to shuttle kids to and from activities.
Be specific and be flexible: Open-ended offers of support (“Call me if you need anything,” or “Let me know if I can help.”) may be well-intended, but are often dismissed. Be specific in your offer (“I’m going to the store, what do you need?”). Continue to let the caregiver know that you are there and ready to help.
Join the fight: Honor a person living with the disease and their caregiver by supporting the Alzheimer’s cause. Volunteer at your local Alzheimer’s Association office or participate in fundraising events.
“It’s a mistake to assume caregivers have everything under control,” Drew says. “Most caregivers can use and would appreciate help. No one can do everything, but each of us can do something.”
To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and ways you can support families and people living with the disease, visit www.alz.org, the website of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Interested in Publishing on The Health IDEA?
Send your query to the Publisher today!