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7 Tips for Managing Diabetes

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To Your Health

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Family Features) Staying healthy can be a challenge, especially for those living with diabetes. Everyone can have conflicts finding the right balance of partaking in healthy habits, such as exercise, eating well and even keeping your teeth and gums clean. From stress to self-care, life can be up and down when you’re living with diabetes.

These seven tips from Dr. Natalie Strand, the winner of season 17 of “The Amazing Race” who lives with diabetes herself, can help you stay healthy and lead a balanced life while managing your diabetes.

Communicate with your care team. Make sure you connect with your nurse educator, endocrinologist and dietician. Reach out to them with your questions as they can often help you implement subtle changes to avoid completely overhauling your lifestyle and routine because of diabetes.

Get involved. Get a local group together to fundraise, vent or just understand each other. Groups such as Diabetes Sisters, JDRF, TuDiabetes and BeyondType1 offer ways to connect with others living with diabetes in person or on social media. Connecting with the diabetes community can be a powerful way to help ease the burden of living with diabetes.

Keep doing what you love. Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you have to give up doing what you love. Make efforts to continue sports, travel and other hobbies, even if there is a learning curve to adapting with diabetes at first.

Maintain good oral health. People living with diabetes are two times more likely to develop gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Colgate Total toothpaste is FDA-approved to help reverse and prevent gingivitis, an early form of gum disease.

Get into a routine. Find a routine that works and stick with it. This way you don’t have to make new decisions each day. Anything that can ease the mental burden of diabetes can help. For example, pick a time each year for your annual visits: eye doctor, endocrinologist, renew prescriptions, etc. Picking the same time of year every year can help ensure you don’t forget to take care of yourself.

Make self-care a priority. It can be hard to keep diabetes care in the forefront. It can be boring, exhausting and also fade into the background. Remind yourself that one of the best things you can do for yourself, and for your loved ones, is stay healthy. Use your family as motivation to exercise daily, eat better-for-you foods and maintain a healthy weight.

Manage stress. Diabetes can be a big stressor. Add jobs, kids, relationships and it can become overwhelming. Find an easy and effective tool for stress relief and do it often. Even 5-10 minutes of guided meditation daily can have a big impact on stress management.

For more information and ways to lead a balanced life with diabetes, visit OralHealthandDiabetes.com.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

 

December 13, 2017 |

7 Ways to Plan for Cold and Flu

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(Family Features) Declining temperatures can bring fun, cool-weather activities, but they also mean cold and flu season is lurking. While everyone hopes to stay healthy, it can be difficult to completely avoid viruses and bugs.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a board-certified family physician and Braun spokesperson, offers some simple suggestions to help your family plan for cold and flu season.

Dispose of Expired Medicine

Spend some time checking the medications you already have at home. Review the expiration dates and if any need to be thrown out, research how to properly dispose of them according to local government guidelines.

Stock Up

Before cold and flu season, make sure to stockpile must-haves like ginger ale, ice pops and recommended cough suppressants. Thinking ahead means you won’t have to rush out when you or a family member comes down with something.

Practice Healthy Habits

Encourage the entire family to maintain healthy habits such as regular hand washing, following a nutritious diet, drinking plenty of water, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue to help minimize the spread of cold and flu viruses.

Use a Reliable Thermometer

Reading the temperature of a person who feels ill can help provide confidence and peace of mind. Make sure you have a reliable thermometer like the Braun ThermoScan 5 Ear thermometer, which takes professionally accurate temperature readings via the ear canal and, based on a survey, is the number 1 brand recommended by pediatricians who recommend a brand of thermometers.

“It’s important to carefully monitor potential illnesses to make sure children get and stay well, and taking an accurate temperature reading is a necessary part of this process, which is why I trust my Braun thermometer,” Gilboa said. “As a doctor and a mom to four boys, it gives me the confidence to know that I’m accurately taking my child’s temperature before I take any next steps, like administering medication.”

Have Important Information on Hand

To save time when your child is ill, keep a reference of your child’s allergies, prescribed medications, dosage amounts and current weight handy. Health care providers typically need this information to correctly prescribe and dose most medications. Other items to keep on-hand include school sick day policies, operating manuals for medical devices and a reference of temperature readings that classify a fever.

Manage Humidity Levels

Control your home’s humidity levels with a humidifier to help prevent the survival of flu viruses on surfaces and in the air.

Keep Contact Information Accessible

Keep a list of important phone numbers and addresses inside your medicine cabinet door or on the fridge so they’re easily accessible to family members, babysitters and caretakers. Include your family doctor or local clinic, schools, pharmacists and anyone else you may need to reach in an emergency.

If cold or flu reach your household this winter, it’s always important to consult a doctor if you have any questions regarding the health of your family members. For more information, visit braunthermometers.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Mother and daughter)

December 6, 2017 |

5 Things to Know About Milk and Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives

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(Family Features) Adults and kids take in about 400 calories per day as beverages, according to the USDA’s Choose My Plate program. Beverages can be a key source of nutrients, and when it comes to nutrition, moms want to make informed choices for themselves and their kids.

With so many options available, it’s no surprise moms have questions. Some moms choose to serve alternatives to milk rather than real dairy milk, but it’s important to know that milk and non-dairy alternatives are not created equal. In fact, these beverages differ in five key areas: nutrition, ingredient list, added sugars, price and taste.

  1. Farm-fresh, real dairy milk is naturally nutrient-rich.

Unlike many non-dairy milk alternatives – farm fresh, real dairy milk is naturally nutrient rich. Milk naturally provides calcium, phosphorus, high-quality protein, potassium and B vitamins. It is also fortified with vitamins A and D, creating a nutrient powerhouse of nine essential nutrients. Non-dairy milk alternatives, on the other hand, vary in their nutritional profiles, some containing little to no naturally occurring nutrients, so most are fortified.

  1. Dairy milk is simple.

When you compare the ingredient list of milk to non-dairy alternatives, you may be surprised to find that many alternatives have 10 or more added ingredients, including salt, sugar or thickeners like gums. Dairy milk, a minimally processed and farm-fresh beverage, has just three ingredients: milk, vitamin A and vitamin D.

  1. There are no added sugars in regular dairy milk.

When you look at the nutrition label on a gallon of milk, you will find sugar listed. However, that sugar is not added – it’s naturally occurring lactose. But people may not realize when a food or beverage has added sugar. For instance, many types of non-dairy milk, like almond milk, contain added sugar. Ingredients like cane sugar or cane juice on the ingredients list indicate sugar has been added to non-dairy milk.

  1. Dairy milk can help stretch your grocery budget.

At just about a quarter per serving, milk delivers more nutritional value per penny than just about any other beverage. Compare that to almond milk, at about $0.45 per 8-ounce serving, and other non-dairy alternatives like rice milk that can cost as much as $0.79 per serving.[i] The average American household spends about 10 percent of their budget on food – nearly $80 a week for groceries. One year of dairy milk will cost the average family $628 vs. $1,222 per year for vanilla almond milk. That’s nearly $600 per year in savings.[ii]

  1. Dairy milk has the taste kids – and chefs – love

Milk is the foundation for many classic recipes and tastes from around the world. From creamy macaroni and cheese to classic alfredo sauce and delectable creme brulee, milk adds dimension, accentuate flavor and serve as a decadent base to many of your favorite dishes. If you want to swap real dairy milk for another ingredient, remember that each non-dairy milk alternative has a different flavor, which can change the flavor profile or the consistency of your dishes, even for pancakes, oatmeal and smoothies.

To learn more about the differences between milk and non-dairy milk alternatives, visit milklife.com/knowyourmilk.

 

1 Sales data from IRI, calendar year 2017, and average online grocery prices for top markets.

2 Based on the recommended 3 daily servings of milk and milk products and an average family size of 2.58 people per the 2010 US Census. Additional Reference: U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration. U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census Summary.

 

 

November 29, 2017 |

A Closer Look at Vision Health

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As the number of Americans with visual impairment is expected to double by 2050, vision health has an obvious role in the national health conversation. Uncorrected vision is highly noticeable among certain groups, like the elderly and workers who rely on vision for safe and effective job completion. According to the Vision Impact Institute, two other groups significantly impacted by poor vision are drivers and children.

 

Drivers

A study from the British Journal of Ophthalmology found that one of the major causes of visual impairment is uncorrected refractive error (URE), and that preventable URE causes nearly 80 percent of the global burden. The number of people impacted by URE is especially troubling when taking into account day-to-day activities such as driving. A report from the American Academy of Optometry revealed that even moderate visual field loss causes drivers to have significantly poorer capabilities in completing tasks such as matching speed when changing lanes and maintaining lane position.

When you consider how changing technology and business models like ride-sharing companies and delivery services are adding drivers to the road, this impact becomes all the more crucial. If eye exams were part of the standard for renewing driver’s licenses then these issues could be called out by an eye care provider in advance of potential accidents on the road.

Children

Today, vision impairments and eye disorders are the third-leading chronic conditions among children in the United States, with costs for direct medical care, vision aids, devices and caregivers amounting to $10 billion per year. In the U.S. alone, the total economic burden of eye disorders and vision loss was $139 billion in 2013.

Uncorrected vision problems in children can have serious negative impacts on their educations and future employment opportunities. In 2014, researchers studied the impact on academic performance after providing a vision screening and free eyeglasses to low-income and minority elementary school children in the U.S. The study found that among fifth-grade students both the screening and eyeglasses significantly improved student achievement in math and reading.

As 80 percent of all learning occurs through vision, a simple pair of eyeglasses could correct poor vision and drastically change the course of a child’s life.

There are many correlations between vision health and the financial, educational and safety implications it can have on society. To learn more about vision standards and giving vision a voice in the national healthcare dialogue, visit visionimpactinstitute.org.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

 

November 22, 2017 |

Managing High Blood Pressure During the Holidays

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(Family Features) Managing blood pressure can be difficult, especially during the holidays and winter months. A change in routine, family visits, traveling, illness, holiday menus and financial concerns can all conspire to derail your best efforts at keeping chronic conditions, like high blood pressure, under control.

If you are one of the millions of American adults with high blood pressure, it is vital to keep your blood pressure stable. Drastic changes can put you at risk for heart attack or stroke.

Here are three ways to control your blood pressure throughout the holiday season from the American Heart Association:

Be Wary of Decongestants

Decongestants are in many over-the-counter cold and flu medications but they have some harmful side effects. They can raise blood pressure and decrease the effectiveness of some prescribed blood pressure medications. It’s best to use them for the shortest duration possible and avoid in severe or uncontrolled hypertension. Consider alternative therapies, such as nasal saline, intranasal corticosteroids or antihistamines, as appropriate.

Keep Track of Medication

The winter months tend to bring an increase in both heart attacks and strokes. According to research from the Journal of the American Heart Association, a 4.2 percent increase in heart-related deaths occurs away from a hospital from Dec. 25-Jan. 7.

“Factors like cold weather, sudden increase in activity like shoveling snow, stress and dietary indiscretion can contribute to a chain of events leading to more stress on the heart during the winter months, potentially triggering a heart attack or other cardiac event,” said Jorge Plutzky, M.D., director of Preventive Cardiology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a volunteer with the American Heart Association.

It is vital to keep track of your medication and take it as prescribed by your doctor to decrease chances of heart attack and stroke. The American Heart Association’s Check Change Control Tracker is one way to monitor your health, as it allows you to set up text message reminders, text in blood pressure readings, connect with volunteers or providers, and receive messages from volunteers or providers.

Maintain Healthy Eating Habits

The holidays can be a bad influence on healthy eating habits. However, it is important to stay active during these times and continue eating healthy. While you are enjoying holiday feasts with family, be aware of sodium, often found in seasonal foods like bread, cheeses and prepared meats, which can increase blood pressure. Don’t feel like you can’t indulge a little, but make sure to incorporate healthy meals.

Staying active while traveling can be a challenge, as well. Try bringing simple exercise equipment like a jump rope or resistance band with you. Consider walking to sights or restaurants nearby, or finding a local park or indoor walking path.

For more information and tools about blood pressure management, visit heart.org/hbp.

Bayer’s Consumer Health Division, maker of Coricidin HBP, is a sponsor of the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure website.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

 

November 15, 2017 |

Medicare Takes Aim at Medical Identity Theft

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(Family Features) Criminals are increasingly targeting people age 65 or older for personal identity theft. In 2014 alone, there were 2.6 million such incidents among seniors, according to the Department of Justice.

A growing offshoot of identity theft is healthcare fraud, which can result when someone unlawfully uses another person’s Medicare number. Medical identity theft can lead to inaccuracies in medical records, which in turn can result in delayed care, denied services and costly false claims.

That’s why Medicare works with the Department of Justice, taking aim squarely at would-be thieves. In the largest law enforcement action against criminals fraudulently targeting the Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare programs, 412 people around the country, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, were charged in 2017 with bilking U.S. taxpayers out of $1.3 billion.

The next big fraud-fighting push is well underway — and its focus is protecting the personal information of senior citizens by removing their Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.

People with Medicare don’t need to take any action to get a new Medicare card. Beginning in April, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will mail out newly designed Medicare cards to the 58 million Americans with Medicare. The cards will have a new number that will be unique for each card recipient. This will help protect personal identity and prevent fraud because identity thieves can’t bill Medicare without a valid Medicare number. To help with a seamless transition to the new cards, providers will be able to use secure look up tools that will support quick access to the new card numbers when needed.

Healthcare fraud drives up costs for everyone, but healthcare consumers can be an effective first line of defense against fraud. Follow these tips to help protect yourself:

Do

  • Treat your Medicare number like a credit card.
  • When the new card comes in the mail next year, destroy your old card and make sure you bring your new one to your doctors’ appointments.
  • Be suspicious of anyone offering early bird discounts, limited time offers or encouraging you to act now for the best deal. That’s an indicator of potential fraud because Medicare plans are forbidden from offering incentives.
  • Be skeptical of free gifts, free medical services, discount packages or any offer that sounds too good to be true.
  • Only give your Medicare number to doctors, insurers acting on your behalf or trusted people in the community who work with Medicare, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
  • Report suspected instances of fraud.
  • Check your Medicare statements to make sure the charges are accurate.

Don’t

  • Don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by telephone, email or approaches you in person, unless you’ve given them permission in advance. Medicare will never contact you uninvited and request your Medicare number or other personal information.
  • Don’t let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number.
  • Don’t allow anyone, except your doctor or other Medicare providers, to review your medical records or recommend services.
  • Don’t let anyone persuade you to see a doctor for care or services you don’t need.
  • Don’t accept medical supplies from a door-to-door salesman.

Learn more about how you can fight Medicare fraud at Medicare.gov/fraud, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). You can also visit a local SHIP counselor, who can provide free, one-on-one, non-biased Medicare assistance.

With a common sense approach to protecting health information, senior citizens can be effective partners in fighting Medicare fraud.

 

By Seema Verna, CMS Administrator

 

November 8, 2017 |

Making the Most of Medicare Open Enrollment

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To Your Health

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Family Features) Eating well and regular exercise are part of a healthy lifestyle, and so is making sure you have the right health care coverage. Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment period is a good time to review your current coverage and decide if there may be a better fit based on changes to current plans, your budget or health needs.

During Medicare Open Enrollment, which runs Oct. 15-Dec. 7, 2017, you can enroll in or make changes to your Medicare health or prescription drug plan for coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2018. If you miss the deadline, you will likely have to wait a full year before you are able to make changes to your plan.

To make Medicare Open Enrollment part of your healthy lifestyle, follow these five steps:

  1. Review your current plan notice. Read any notices from your Medicare plan about changes for next year, especially your “Annual Notice of Change” letter. Look at your plan’s information to make sure your drugs are still covered and your doctors are still in network.
  2. Think about what matters most to you. Medicare health and drug plans change each year and so can your health needs. Do you need a new primary care doctor? Does your network include the specialist you want for an upcoming surgery? Does your current plan cover your new medication? Does another plan offer the same coverage at a lower cost? Take stock of your health status and determine if you need to make a change.
  3. Find out if you qualify for help paying for Medicare. Learn about programs in your state to help with the costs of Medicare premiums (through Medicare Savings Programs), your Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductibles, coinsurance and copayments, and Medicare prescription drug coverage costs (through Extra Help). Visit Medicare.gov or call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to learn more.
  4. Shop for plans that meet your needs and fit your budget. Starting each October, you can use Medicare’s Plan Finder tool at Medicare.gov/find-a-plan to see what plans are offered in your area. A new plan may:
  • Cost less
  • Cover your drugs
  • Let you go to the providers you want, like your doctor or pharmacy.

If you find your current coverage still meets your needs, then you’re done. Remember, during Medicare Open Enrollment, you can decide to stay in Original Medicare or join a Medicare Advantage Plan. If you’re already in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch back to Original Medicare.

  1. Check your plan’s Star Rating before you enroll. The Medicare Plan Finder is up-to-date with the Star Ratings for Medicare health and prescription drug plans. Plans are given an overall quality rating on a 1-5 star scale, with 1 being the lowest performing and 5 stars representing excellent performance. You can use Star Ratings to compare the quality of health and drug plans being offered.

For more information, visit medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and say “Agent.” TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048. Help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends. You can also get personalized health insurance counseling at no cost to you from your SHIP by visiting shiptacenter.org.

 

Information provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

 

 

 

November 1, 2017 |
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