Sunday, November 30, 2008

Protect Your Kids' Hearing

(NAPSI)-Kids' ears contend with a lot. Loud music from personal stereos, power mowers, workshop tools, motorcycles, ambulance sirens, concerts, sporting events-and have you been to a school cafeteria recently? Let's face it, it's a noisy planet we live on.

Sounds that are too loud and that last for too long can cause noise-induced hearing loss. People with noise-induced hearing loss have trouble detecting high-pitched sounds-such as certain speech sounds or the voices of women and children. Many also have tinnitus, a disorder that causes a continuous ringing, roaring or clicking in the ears. Once hearing is damaged, it doesn't recover.

Studies show that people who live in rural areas are especially at risk for hearing loss. That's probably because of their exposure to farm machinery and other loud noises.

Even a small loss of hearing can diminish a child's quality of life forever. It can affect school, sports and other activities, as well as relationships. As adults, hearing loss may affect their job opportunities. That's why it's so important to protect hearing at a young age.

"The good news is that there are simple steps that everyone can take to protect their hearing from potentially damaging sounds," says Dr. James F. Battey, Jr., director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) at the National Institutes of Health.

Children need to learn about the causes and prevention of noise-induced hearing loss early on. That way, healthy hearing habits become a natural choice. These habits are simple. They include turning down the volume on a portable media player or wearing earplugs at a concert.

To help, NIDCD has launched a new educational campaign called It's a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing. It's focused on "tweens"-kids ages 8 to 12. Reaching kids at this age, while they're forming attitudes and habits related to their health, will help them prevent hearing problems later in life.

So teach them to turn down the volume, to walk away from loud sounds and to wear hearing protection such as earplugs when they're near loud sounds for a long time. For more information, visit the Noisy Planet Web site at www.noisyplanet.nidcd.nih.gov. Or contact the NIDCD Information Clearinghouse at (800) 241-1044 or nidcdinfo@nidcd.nih.gov.

You can also learn more from NIH News in Health, a publication of the National Institutes of Health, available at newsinhealth.nih.gov.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Tips For Safely Cooking Up Family Meals

(NAPSI)-Whether you're cooking for a party or simply a family dinner, it's important to keep food safety on the menu throughout the year.

That's the advice from experts who say consistency in maintaining clean surfaces and handling food safely can prevent the growth and spread of germs and keep your family safe.

To help, the Alliance for Consumer Education and the Partnership for Food Safety Education offer these tips for safely prepping food:

• Wash Your Hands--Washing seems like an obvious step but is often overlooked. Wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap. Try singing the "Happy Birthday" song through two times and rinse well for effective hand washing.

• Clean and Disinfect, Before and After--Clean and disinfect kitchen surfaces and utensils. Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food. Not all cleaning products disinfect, but those with the word "disinfect" or "disinfectant" on the label have been tested and shown to kill household germs. Read the product label carefully to make sure that you are using a product that does disinfect and always follow usage directions.

• Use a Food Thermometer--Use it whenever you cook hamburger and other ground meats, poultry, roasts and casseroles. The only way to know that food is cooked to a safe internal temperature is to use a thermometer. Download a safe-cooking temperature table from www.fightbac.org.

• Chill-Make a habit of refrigerating leftover foods right away to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Keeping a constant refrigerator temperature of 40° F or below as measured by an appliance thermometer is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

For more information on keeping you and your family healthy, please visit www.StopGerms.org and www.fightbac.org.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

When The Going Gets Tough, Could It Be Interstitial Cystitis?

(NAPSI)-Interstitial cystitis, also known as IC, is a painful, and often debilitating, chronic condition in which the bladder lining becomes irritated and inflamed. The symptoms of IC include pain in the pelvic area, an urgent and frequent need to use the bathroom, and pain during or after sex.

"Imagine you have a deep paper cut that you pour acid into every day. That is only a fraction of what many IC patients feel in their bladder on a regular basis," says Susan Wysocki, President and CEO, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health. "Some IC patients describe throbbing, stabbing pains and muscle spasms that take their breath away."

Despite these painful symptoms, IC can be difficult to diagnose, causing many people to suffer in silence for years. Research indicates that most IC patients consult at least five physicians, including psychiatrists, sometimes over a period of more than four years, before interstitial cystitis is diagnosed. One of the reasons for this is that IC symptoms can be easily confused with the symptoms of other health conditions like recurrent urinary tract infections, overactive bladder or endometriosis.

As IC sufferer Kristine Caruso recalls: "I first started having IC symptoms when I was around 19 years old. I constantly felt like I had a urinary tract infection, but I always tested negative when I went to the doctor's office. It was very frustrating; so much so that I started questioning myself. I felt as if nobody was listening."

To help raise awareness of IC, the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health and the Interstitial Cystitis Network have partnered with Ortho Women's Health & Urology™, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., to launch a downloadable podcast series covering different aspects of living with and managing IC. The three-part series, called "When the Going Gets Tough, Could it be 123 IC?" is available for free at www.AllAboutIC.com.

"Living with IC is tough. By recognizing the three symptoms most commonly associated with IC-Pain, Urgency, Frequency, which we refer to as the '123 of IC'-we can help the thousands of people out there who are suffering without knowing why. When the going gets tough, they need to ask 'could it be IC?' sooner," states Wysocki.

There is no cure for IC, but once diagnosed, patients do have treatment options to help manage the condition. When treating IC, a multimodal approach, including dietary restrictions and other pain management options, is often recommended.

For more information about the IC podcast series, the condition, its symptoms, and coping options, please visit: www.AllAboutIC.com.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Eat Your Way To A Healthier Heart

(NAPSI)-Here's some news that many Americans may find easy to digest: It's possible for people to eat their way to a healthier heart.

As more individuals become educated about the importance of a heart healthy diet and daily exercise, they are learning that some cardiac risk factors, including high cholesterol, can be influenced by dietary changes and healthy lifestyle choices.

"Oatmeal is an example of a cardioprotective food that can help lower your cholesterol in conjunction with a heart healthy lifestyle," says preventative cardiologist Dr. Annabelle Volgman, associate professor of medicine and medical director of the Rush Heart Center for Women at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. "Approximately 80 percent of heart attacks and strokes are preventable if you help monitor the major risk factors--including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, family history and obesity--with your doctor."

Heart Disease S.O.S.

Volgman advocates the importance of a food-first approach to heart health, and recommends people put a greater emphasis on monitoring their diet and lifestyle. She suggests three easy tips for eating a more heart healthy diet that include incorporating salmon, oatmeal and sterols--or S.O.S.--before heart disease distress signs arise.

• Salmon: Rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which have been shown to help reduce the risk of heart attack and sudden death from heart arrhythmias, omega-3s can also help to reduce triglycerides and lower blood pressure.

• Oatmeal: The soluble fiber in oatmeal soaks up some of the cholesterol like a sponge and removes it from the body. Whether old fashioned, quick, instant or steel cut, oatmeal is always a whole grain and all forms provide cholesterol-lowering benefits.

In fact, Quaker Oatmeal has more than 25 years of clinical proof that the soluble fiber in oatmeal can help lower cholesterol as part of a heart healthy diet. Along with clinical proof, Quaker is celebrating the fact that everyday, real people are committing to becoming living proof--and eating Quaker Oatmeal as part of a heart healthy lifestyle to help lower cholesterol.

• Sterols: Plant phytosterols may help lower LDL cholesterol levels by blocking its absorption. Sterols are present naturally in small quantities in some vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and legumes. Foods and beverages fortified with sterols are also available.

For additional nutrition tips and heart healthy recipes, visit www.QuakerLivingProof.com.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Low-Carb Diet Shown To Boost Weight Loss

(NAPSI)-Cutting carbs could help you achieve a healthier lifestyle, says a recent study comparing three different kinds of diets.

The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, shows that a low-carb diet helps people lose more weight than a Mediterranean-style diet and the common low-fat diet.

In addition, researchers have discovered that a low-carb diet can help improve healthy cholesterol ratios.

"This is a landmark study in that it shows a low-carb diet should be part of a healthy lifestyle and not just a fad," says Mitch Skop, director of new product development for Pharmachem Laboratories, Inc., the manufacturer of Phase 2 Carb Controller, an ingredient extracted from the white bean. This extract, widely available as Natrol's Carb Intercept, has been proven to assist in healthy weight loss and help balance metabolic factors. "Phase 2 is a perfect addition to any product or lifestyle geared toward restricting carbohydrate intake."

The average weight loss for those in the low-carb group was 10.3 pounds, followed by the Mediterranean diet with a loss of 10 pounds and the low-fat diet with 6.5 pounds lost on average.

Researchers were pleasantly surprised to likewise discover that the low-carb approach showed the most improvement in several cholesterol measures, including the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL.

The ratio is often used to determine a patient's risk of hardening of the arteries.

The lower the ratio, the better for the patient. In the study, the low-carb sector experienced a cholesterol ratio decrease of 20 percent, compared to 16 percent for those on the Mediterranean and 12 percent in the low-fat group.

In 2007, Pharmachem's Phase 2 Carb Controller, became the first weight control ingredient with two structure/function claims as follows: "May assist in weight control when used in conjunction with a sensible diet and exercise program" and "May reduce the enzymatic digestion of dietary starches."

For more information, call (800) 526-0609 or log on to www.phase2info.com and www.natrol.com.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Weight-Control Tips For Better Health

(NAPSI)-There's good news for those who would like to enjoy health and fitness all year round. Any time of year, including the winter months, can be the right time to eat well and stay fit and healthy.

Here are some tips:

• Use smaller plates during meals. Bigger plates fit more food--food you're more likely to eat.

• Choose foods with fewer calories. Foods with fewer calories will tend to make you feel full sooner.

• Exercise. Try to remain physically active over the winter or start an exercise program during the cold months. Start by going for a walk two to three times a week and eventually build your walk up to at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Invite your family and friends along since exercise is good for them, too.

• Limit how much alcohol you drink this holiday season and throughout the winter. Alcohol can be a major source of hidden calories.

• Watch out for soda and other artificially sweetened beverages. Don't overdo natural fruit juices, either, since they are also high in calories. It is best to go with calorie-free bottled water--plain or sparkling.

• Experts at the Weight-control Information Network suggest cutting the fat and sodium but keeping the flavor. You can reduce fat without reducing taste by seasoning your winter dishes with colorful fruits and vegetables, as well as fresh herbs of the season.

• If you eat a healthy snack before any special event or celebration, chances are you'll be less likely to binge on fattening foods.

The Weight-control Information Network is an information service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases--part of the National Institutes of Health. It offers up-to-date, science-based information on obesity, weight control and related nutritional issues for health professionals and the general public.

It also offers culturally relevant brochures designed to speak to the specific health needs of different communities.

To learn more, call toll free at 1-877-946-4627 or visit the Web site www.win.niddk.nih.gov.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tips For College Students Managing A Chronic Disease

(NAPSI)-College is an entirely new world for recent high school graduates. But for young people with a chronic disease, college presents even more unique challenges. Fortunately, there are ways they can manage their condition and enjoy their college experience. It's a lesson learned by Tiffany, a sophomore at Central State University in Ohio. Tiffany is a full-time, working student living with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS). She attributes her ability to juggle it all and still have fun in the process to her positive spirit and ability to take charge of her health.

"It's not always easy, but if you're willing to make the necessary adjustments, living the life of a typical college student is completely doable. For me, taking my MS treatment is key, combined with getting plenty of rest and managing stress as much as possible," said Tiffany. "In my experience, it helps to have a 'go-to' person who can give you a hand if you aren't feeling up to attending class and need to get your assignments from your professors."

This sentiment is echoed by Vickie, who also has relapsing MS and is a master's student at Albertus Magnus College in Connecticut. To help manage their MS and stay focused on getting the most out of their college experiences, Vickie and Tiffany joined MS LifeLines®, a hands-on support network and educational community for people with MS and their families. This dynamic program, which features online, in-person and telephone services, includes resources such as:

• Ambassadors-Individuals living with relapsing MS who serve as resources to the MS community by providing guidance, support and empowerment about living well with MS;

• Registered, MS-certified nurses who are available to help people living with MS with education, training and support;

• Peer Connection program that matches people living with relapsing MS with program ambassadors to discuss issues facing them with someone who understands;

• Magazine featuring strategies for living well with MS; and

• Financial information and reimbursement services for those who qualify.

Vickie and Tiffany credit the program with helping them to get through many difficult times; now they both serve as student ambassadors for the program.

"Before joining this program, I didn't know anyone else with MS. I'm now involved with a peer chat program and have learned so much from people who have been living with this disease for a long time," said Vickie.

According to Sarah Batchelder, a nurse supervisor, "When you call MS LifeLines, you can take comfort in knowing that the person at the other end of the line is a good listener who is qualified to give you support to help navigate common challenges faced by people with MS."

Batchelder, along with Tiffany and Vickie, offer the following tips to other students trying to manage a chronic condition in college:

Be Proactive

• Meet with the campus health center in advance of the school year to inform them of your condition and find out what help is available.

• Get a referral from your hometown physician and interview campus doctors at orientation.

• Ask the school health center to keep a copy of your most recent medical records on file.

• If you feel comfortable, let select professors know about your condition so they will understand if you need to take breaks during class or reschedule a test.

Seek Support

• Seek out campus or community support groups to meet others who share your experiences.

• Consider reaching out to a local nonprofit organization such as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to learn about available services.

Join Online Communities

• Find an online community to speak to others who identify with what you're going through and to access the latest research and information about your condition.

Learn More

For more information about relapsing MS and joining a network of support, visit www.MSLifeLines.com/college or call (877) 447-3243.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Jingle Bell Trail Ready to Ring in Holidays December 6 in Peachtree City

Get ready to put on your jingle bells in support of students at Peachtree City Elementary.

The school is hosting its annual Jingle Bell Trail 5-K run and one mile walk on December 6. The event is designed to boost community spirit, promote wellness and raise money to support the school’s improvement focus for students.

“Students participate in our running club to get ready for the Jingle Bell Trail and look forward to this fun holiday event each year,” says Beverly Kiel, the schools physical education teacher.

Race organizers promise a festive atmosphere along with the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Claus. The race will begin in front of the school at 9 a.m. with the walk starting 10 minutes later.

Applications for the race are available at the school’s front office, online at www.pces.org and will be distributed to locations throughout the county. Applications will be accepted until the morning of the race although t-shirts are not guaranteed for race day entries.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Protect Yourself-Get A Flu Shot

(NAPSI)-The big question of how to avoid the flu has an answer as tiny as the point of a needle-the one that provides your flu vaccination.

It's necessary because more people die of the flu in the U.S. than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined, according to a study by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).

As the experts explain, 200,000 people end up in the hospital every year because of the flu, and 36,000 of them die. These deaths might have been prevented.

Flu season, which lasts from about October through May, is when most people are at high risk of getting the flu.

You are at increased risk of getting the flu if you:

• are 50 or older;

• live or work in a nursing home or facilities where people are chronically ill;

• have a chronic health problem like diabetes, kidney, lung or heart disease, anemia, a blood disorder or asthma;

• have an illness like HIV/AIDS or get medical treatment, like chemotherapy, that weakens your immunity and keeps you from fighting infections;

• are a health care worker; or

• are taking care of or living with someone in a high-risk group mentioned above.

While people 50 and older are more likely to get the flu, many older people are still not getting the vaccinations against both the flu and pneumonia. Just 36 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds received a flu shot last year, according to NFID.

"Many myths exist about influenza vaccination but the evidence is clear-vaccines, regardless of age, offer the best method to prevent disease," said Dr. Cora L. Christian, a board member of AARP.

In addition to getting a flu shot annually, experts encourage all Americans 65 and older to get vaccinated against pneumonia each year. Pneumonia can cause serious illness, such as sepsis and meningitis, which can lead to death.

Medicare, the primary insurer for people 65 and older, will pay for both the flu and pneumonia vaccinations.

For information on where to find a flu clinic nearby, visit http://www.aarp.org/flu or call 1-888-OUR-AARP (1-888-687-2277).

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Seven Tips To Help You Quit Smoking

(NAPSI)-Of the more than 1 billion people who smoke worldwide, half say they intend to quit smoking in the next six months. They have good reason. Quitting smoking makes a difference right away-you can taste and smell food better. Your breath smells better. Your cough goes away.

Quitting smoking cuts the risk of lung cancer, many other cancers, heart disease, stroke and respiratory illnesses.

Ex-smokers have better health than current smokers, fewer days of illness and less bronchitis and pneumonia than current smokers.

Quitting smoking also saves money. If you're a pack-a-day smoker who pays between four and five dollars a pack, you can save more than $1,500 a year.

To help you succeed, here are some tips:

1. First, set a date for quitting. If possible, have a friend quit smoking with you.

2. When you want a cigarette, wait a few minutes. Try to think of something to do instead of smoking, such as chewing gum or drinking a glass of water.

3. On the day you quit, get rid of all your cigarettes and put away your ashtrays.

4. To help, you might try a stop-smoking coach. "My Stop Smoking Coach with Allen Carr" is an interactive approach that helps you break your nicotine addiction and quit smoking more easily. The game, developed for Nintendo DS, gives you instant access to an expert you can put in your pocket. The game offers 15 innovative minigames to help you dispel the illusions about nicotine addiction. It also has a reward system that helps you track your progress as you move from dependence to freedom.

5. Don't worry if you are sleepier or more short-tempered than usual. These feelings will pass. Try to exercise-take walks or ride a bike.

6. Remember to eat regular meals. Feeling hungry is sometimes mistaken for the desire to smoke.

7. Finally, consider the positive things about quitting, such as how you like yourself as a nonsmoker and the health benefits for you and your family.

If you need more help, see your doctor. For more information on "My Stop Smoking Coach with Allen Carr," visit www.mycoachgames.com .

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Modern Approach To Managing Diabetes

(NAPSI)-Many men with diabetes could help their health if they learn more about their disease. Too often, many are not aware of many of the numerous health issues associated with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends men manage their diabetes by monitoring blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol and also eating right, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking (or quitting smoking) and getting regular checkups.

"Men with diabetes are at increased risk for complications such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and blindness. Many may not be aware that they are also at increased risk for other conditions that can affect their physical, emotional and sexual health," said Richard M. Bergenstal, M.D., Vice President, Medicine & Science, American Diabetes Association.

What Are The Risks?

• Of the nearly 24 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes, 12 million of them are men.

• Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include men who are over 45 years old, are overweight, have an ethnic background that is African American, Latino/Hispanic American, Native American, Asian American or Pacific Islander and have a previous family history of diabetes.

• Men with diabetes are more likely to have other health conditions such as heart disease, sleep apnea and depression and problems with sexual health, including erectile dysfunction (ED) and low testosterone.

• According to a recent survey, only 30 percent of men surveyed claimed to know "a lot" about their diabetes. Nearly half the men and their spouses reported feeling less connected, and more than 30 percent of men and their wives reported more arguments.

What Resources Are Available?

The American Diabetes Association's enhanced men's health Web site (www.diabetes.org/menshealth) offers a variety of resources specifically for men to help them better appreciate the importance of adopting a more comprehensive, or modern, approach to managing diabetes.

Men who would like to learn more can call 1-800-DIABETES or visit diabetes.org/menshealth for a free copy of The Modern Man's Guide To Living Well With Diabetes, which addresses:

• The "modern man" approach to managing diabetes;

• Complications associated with diabetes;

• The impact of diabetes on men's physical, sexual and emotional health.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine Brings FreeMD.com Symptom Checker to Health Consumers

(BUSINESS WIRE)--DSHI Systems, which uses new technology to give people likely diagnoses for their medical conditions online, has partnered with MedlinePlus, the leading authority for online health information. DSHI calls the revolutionary site FreeMD.com: a virtual doctor conducts an interview, analyzes symptoms, and provides expert advice.

FreeMD uses artificial intelligence to control a video doctor that asks questions and shows pictures. The virtual doctor analyzes over 3,000 symptoms and injuries in infants, children, and adults.

"Consumers are on their own when making the decision to see a doctor," says Dr. Stephen J. Schueler, founder of DSHI Systems. "Do they go to the emergency room, urgent care center, doctor's office, or the nurse retail clinic? How does the average person know what to do?"

FreeMD's advice includes answers to:

* What might be causing my symptoms?
* Do I need to see a doctor?
* Where should I go for care?
* How do I care for myself?

Every FreeMD interview creates a web page that contains care instructions and a personal health record. Consumers may e-mail the record to their doctor or print a copy and take it with them. This helps consumers to be better prepared for a doctor visit. FreeMD has created more than 130,000 personal health records in the past 3 months.

"We have created a life-like experience that provides personalized recommendations," says Dr. Schueler. "Other symptom checkers on the web today fail to satisfy these needs. We are pleased to provide MedlinePlus users with access to the FreeMD Symptom Checker."

"FreeMD provides our users with the opportunity to evaluate symptoms or injuries," says Naomi Miller, Manager of Consumer Health Information at the NLM. "After we determined that FreeMD.com met our quality guidelines, DSHI Systems worked with MedlinePlus to create custom links to the FreeMD Symptom Checker."

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Protect Yourself and Your Children from Diabetes

If you had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, you and your child have a greater risk for developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy. It’s a sign that you might not use insulin as well as other women. Insulin helps your cells get energy from the blood sugar made when you digest food. If your insulin does not work well or you don’t have enough of it, your blood sugar will increase and you might get Type 2 diabetes.

Children of women with gestational diabetes are more likely to have a problem with insulin, too. However, lifestyle changes can reduce the risk to you and your child. Research has shown that if a person can control his or her weight and be active, the chance of getting Type 2 diabetes is reduced by 60 percent.

So what can you do?

First, get checked for diabetes after your baby is born and again every one to two years. Finding Type 2 diabetes early and controlling it will help prevent or delay diabetic complications like vaginal or urinary tract infections, loss of sight, foot or leg infections that can lead to amputation, heart disease or kidney failure.

Be sure to tell all your healthcare providers that you had gestational diabetes. They will keep an eye on your blood glucose values. Tell your child’s doctor, too, that you had gestational diabetes. Also, tell your child about his or her risk for diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes affects almost 30 million Americans. It is a major problem in Georgia. To reduce risks for you and your child, do the following:

•Breastfeed your baby.

•Return to your pre-pregnancy weight. If you still weigh too much, work to lose 5 percent to 7 percent more. It’s best to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. You are more likely to gain weight back if you lose it too quickly.

•Make healthy food choices. Eat at least two vegetables at lunch and supper. Have fruit for desserts and snacks. Eat smaller amounts of lean meat, poultry and fish. Eat whole wheat breads. Avoid white bread and refined grains. Eat low-fat or non-fat dairy foods. Use only one to two teaspoons of oil or soft margarine at each meal instead of butter, salad dressings, mayonnaise or stick margarines.

•Eat smaller portions. A portion as wide and as thick as your palm is about a half of a cup or four ounces of vegetables, starches or protein foods. A tight fist is the right size for pieces of fruit and baked potatoes.

•Drink water instead of sweetened drinks.

•Be active for at least 30 minutes five or more days a week.

•Ask your doctor or a dietitian for a proper eating plan for your child. Help your whole family make healthy choices. Advocate for healthy foods to be served at your child’s school.

•Limit TV, video and computer game time to an hour or two a day.

•Encourage your child to be active every day for at least an hour.

By Connie Crawley
University of Georgia

Connie Crawley is a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension nutritionist with the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Diabetes And Hypertension

(NAPSI)-Here are two medical facts where connecting the dots should not be hard. Fact one: 21 million Americans over age 65 have diabetes or prediabetes. Fact two: 60 percent of people with diabetes also have hypertension.

In fact, seniors with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have hypertension, a potentially fatal combination. And while all people over 60 are at an increased risk for diabetes, it is even more common among African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

To help people cope with and prevent these two conditions, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) is leading a community by community effort to educate people about them. With support from Novartis Pharmaceuticals, NCOA's Connect the Dots: Diabetes and Your Heart campaign helps older adults understand the risk factors for both, the links between them and Medicare prevention benefits that can help.

For a checklist of risk factors and symptoms, visit www.ncoa.org/connectthedots. For more information on Medicare Preventive Benefits, visit www.medicare.gov.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Top Serious Health Concerns for African Americans

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The top serious health concerns for African Americans are:

* Cardiovascular Disease—The #1 killer of African Americans.
* Diabetes—3.2 million African Americans have diabetes, yet more than 33% do not know it.
* Vitamin D Deficiency—Low Vitamin D has been associated with several types of cancer as well as certain autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus.
* HIV/AIDS—Nearly half of the people who get HIV/AIDS are African American, suffering more deaths than any other race.
* Cancer—Lung, Breast, Colon, Prostate—African American men are 35% more likely to die from prostate or colon cancer than Caucasian men and African American women are 18% more likely to die from breast cancer because of a genetic predisposition to aggressive forms of cancer.

“This is a national tragedy,” says Dr. Reginald S. Fowler, a member of the MDVIP nationwide network of doctors specializing in preventive and personalized healthcare. “The good news is that the risk of early death among African Americans can be reduced with a comprehensive annual physical examination, nutritional counseling, as well as talking and listening to patients.”

Dr. Fowler’s recommendations for these diseases are:

* Cardiovascular Disease—The number one killer of all Americans but several studies show it is far worse for African Americans who are at greater risk for coronary disease or stroke. Poor nutrition, lack of exercise, cigarette smoking and family history coupled with high blood pressure and cholesterol concerns are the significant contributors to the development of these diseases. Dr. Fowler says that proper nutrition and exercise is the key to reversing the downward spiral. He adds that eating fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel which contain omega 3 fatty acids can help significantly. Also, cholesterol and blood pressure lowering drugs can be beneficial.
* Diabetes—African Americans have more complications. Dr. Fowler recommends that regular consultations with a doctor are necessary and when nutrition alone does not help, closely monitored medication is a necessity.
* Vitamin D Deficiency—African Americans have larger amounts of melanin which filters sunlight and decreases the absorption of the sun’s rays necessary for Vitamin D production. Dr. Fowler says there are few sources of Vitamin D other than sunlight and milk. Cheese and other dairy products are less effective. In addition, many African Americans are lactose intolerant, so the most common food sources are not options. Vitamin D supplements are the answer.
* HIV/AIDS—In addition to HIV/AIDS, there are other issues facing African Americans including sexually transmitted diseases, lack of education and problems with using appropriate measures to eliminate the risk. Dr. Fowler says that the sometimes uncomfortable discussions about sex are crucial to the safety of sexually active individuals. A blood test can detect the disease and education can help stem the spread of the disease.
* Lung, Breast, Colon and Prostate Cancer—Dr. Fowler says that the medical and family history of patients is crucial. In addition, screenings such as a mammogram, colonoscopy, chest x-ray and blood tests for these diseases on a regular basis is essential. Dr. Fowler strongly recommends that everyone should begin getting colonoscopies at age 50; however, he and other experts say African Americans can reasonably begin having them at 45. Early screening can improve a person’s ten year survival rate by 80-90%. Exercise is also important in maintaining one’s health but patients should always consult with their doctor initially.

Dr. Fowler says, “One major aspect to preventing as well as controlling most diseases is nutrition. Eating more fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts such as walnuts and almonds, and less red meat can help to decrease the incidence of many diseases. And don’t forget exercise.” He also believes that many diseases can be diagnosed earlier or avoided altogether by a complete annual physical and carefully listening to patients. A sign hangs in his exam rooms for patients to see that says, Talk To Me. “It is critical to have an open relationship with your doctor in addition to a comprehensive annual physical examination,” he advises. “To create the perfect wellness plan for a patient, it is important to talk about everything, and I mean everything. The information that is garnered through conversation is crucial to maintaining your health.”

Unfortunately, the aforementioned diseases are not the only diseases that have high incidences in the African American community. These are others to be concerned about:

* Sickle Cell Anemia—African Americans have a 1 in 12 chance of suffering from this genetic disorder which is incurable with a life expectancy in the 50s for those with this disorder. However, the side effects and complications can be relieved with medicines and most importantly proper diet, nutrition and exercise. Each patient has different symptoms and a simple blood test can detect this blood disorder where the red cells are sickle or c-shaped and don’t move through the blood efficiently.
* Asthma—African Americans are more frequently hospitalized for asthma attacks than any other race. More than 33% of those hospitalized are children. African American children whose parents smoke are at the highest risk pool of all demographic groups for contracting asthma and early death. Dr. Fowler strongly recommends implementation of smoke-free environments, and careful screening of household products and furnishings for offending air toxins and dust.
* Hepatitis C—More prevalent in the African American population and can lead to chronic liver disease and liver cancer which is a killer. The danger is that an infected person may not have symptoms and, frequently, liver protein tests are normal. One preventive measure Dr Fowler recommends is that people who frequent nail salons bring their own manicure tools with them and that the salon follows strict health and safety guidelines.
* Depression—African Americans have a high incidence of depression which can lead to suicide. Many people never discuss mental health with their physicians. Dr. Fowler recommends talking with your doctor about everything that is ailing you — both physically and mentally. Depression is treatable with medications such as anti-depressants as well as psychoanalysis.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Infertility Is More Common Than You Think

(NAPSI)-You may not realize it, but chances are you know someone who's had difficulty getting pregnant. In fact, one in eight couples experiences difficulties conceiving.

What Exactly Is Infertility?

Infertility is a medical condition that impairs the body's ability to perform the basic function of reproduction: becoming pregnant. While some couples may take longer than others to get pregnant, infertility is often diagnosed after a couple has not conceived after one year of unprotected intercourse. Women over the age of 35 are encouraged to talk with their doctor if they've had six months of unprotected intercourse without getting pregnant.

Infertility can affect both men and women. Approximately 40 percent of fertility problems are due to a female factor and 40 percent are due to a male factor. In some cases, infertility can result from problems in both partners or the cause cannot be explained.

The biggest factor that contributes to difficulties conceiving is age. A woman's fertility peaks in her mid-20s and drops off dramatically after age 35. A man's fertility also starts to decline after the age of 35.

Likewise, lifestyle choices can affect a couple's chances of getting pregnant. Smoking, excessive alcohol use, poor nutrition (either undernutrition or obesity), extreme levels of exercise and excessive stress can all contribute to infertility. But even those who avoid these risks and are considered "healthy" could still have issues with fertility.

In addition, a person's medical history, including a history of sexually transmitted diseases, endometriosis or diabetes, could affect their fertility. Infertility can also result from treatments that affect the reproductive organs, such as chemotherapy.

If Infertility Is So Common, Why Don't We Hear About It More Often?

Many couples are reluctant to discuss their personal struggles with family and friends. While they know their loved ones support them, some couples may find it hard to acknowledge and talk about their difficulty becoming pregnant. But couples may find their friends and family can provide much needed support throughout their fertility journey, especially as they consider seeking professional help.

Why Should We Talk About Infertility?

Many are unaware of how common infertility is, and more important, what they can do about it. The facts about infertility, risk factors and treatments can be hard to distinguish among the many myths.

Talking to a health care professional about concerns and options is the best step to take. There are treatments for infertility, and the sooner a couple receives treatment, the better chance they'll have at a successful pregnancy.

What Can I Do? Ask Your Doctor

Whether you or someone you know is having problems conceiving, it's important to arm yourself with the facts about potential risk factors and treatment options. Your primary care physician or ob-gyn can also provide you with information about treatment options. If you're experiencing difficulties becoming pregnant, your primary care physician or ob-gyn may refer you to a fertility specialist, known as a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). REs have special training and expertise in helping couples to conceive.

Get the Facts

Visiting your local library or checking out trusted online resources can provide you with accurate information. Check out FertilityJourney.com for educational fact sheets, podcasts featuring fertility experts and a quiz that can assess your risk factors for infertility.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Health Care Costs And Your Retirement Plan

(NAPSI)-For many, Medicare plays an important role in helping with health care expenses after age 65, but it won't pay for everything. That's why experts say your retirement plans aren't complete until you've considered how you'll pay your medical expenses.

Medicare benefits are available today through the Original Medicare Plan (Parts A and B) and Medicare Advantage Plans. Medicare Advantage Plans, offered through private insurers, include coverage that is at least as good as Original Medicare and can offer extra benefits such as vision care, annual physicals and prescription drug coverage.

Those who enroll in Original Medicare can consider obtaining a Medicare supplement (or Medigap) policy from a private insurer. Medigap policies help with some expenses not covered by Medicare, such as deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance.

If you choose Original Medicare, or a Medicare Advantage Plan without prescription drug coverage, consider a Prescription Drug Plan (PDP). These plans help pay for outpatient prescription drugs, while Medicare Part A helps cover inpatient medicines.

"Anyone planning for retirement needs to understand what Medicare is-and more importantly, what it isn't-and how it can be used with other insurance products to protect their savings," explains Scott Perry, president of Bankers Life and Casualty Company, a national health and life insurer that serves the retirement needs of the middle market.

The federal government's Web site at www.medicare.gov has tools to compare all available Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement and Prescription Drug Plans and premiums, so you can select the plan that's best for you.

While you most likely won't use Medicare until you're 65, your chances of needing long-term care insurance can occur at any age.

Medigap policies generally do not cover long-term care. Medicare pays for skilled care in a nursing home only for short periods during which you recuperate after a hospital stay. It stops paying benefits once your care needs stabilize.

Most long-term care insurance policies, on the other hand, cover skilled, intermediate and custodial care in state-licensed nursing homes. They also offer options covering home health care services-typically preferred over nursing home care-provided by state-licensed and/or Medicare-certified home health agencies.

For more topics of interest, visit www.bankers.com and click on "Senior Resources."

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Coping With Grief During The Holidays

(NAPSI)-Although the holiday season characteristically fosters feelings of happiness and joy among family and friends, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can feel overwhelming for those coping with the death of a loved one.

While it might seem that everyone else around you is in the festive spirit, it is normal to feel increased anguish during the holidays, even if your loss is not recent. However, there are things that you can do to ease your grief during this time of year. The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) offers the following suggestions to help you cope with the holiday season:

Nourish Your Mind and Body

It's easy to overlook the physically draining effect the holidays can have on individuals, an impact magnified for those who have experienced the death of a loved one. To boost your energy level: Stay well hydrated and do not overindulge in alcohol; eat balanced, nutritious meals; stay active and find an exercise program you enjoy; and get enough sleep. Most importantly, listen to what your body is telling you. If you don't feel well, take time to rest. If your fatigue persists, see your physician.

Pay Tribute to Your Loved One

There are many ways to honor and remember your loved one and even the simplest of acts can represent his or her importance in your life. Consider making a donation to a charity in your loved one's name, volunteering at an organization that was significant to your loved one, or attending a holiday memorial service sponsored by a funeral home or faith community.

Maintain Balance

While it might feel tempting to avoid celebrating the holidays altogether, it is difficult to escape the season entirely. Family celebrations will still go on, even if they will not be the same as they once were. It's important to acknowledge that things will be different. Don't feel as if you need to attend every gathering you're invited to; however, even a small amount of time spent with family and friends can prove therapeutic. Just make sure to balance your social activities with solitude.

Express Your Grief; Maintain a Positive Perspective

It's okay to let the tears flow. Crying will offer a release and is often quite healing. However, be sure to complement these feelings of sadness with positive thoughts. Acknowledge the support you have received from family and friends in your time of grief. Remember the many happy holidays you spent with your loved one.

Finally, remember that while the upcoming days and weeks might seem daunting, you will get through them. For additional grief resources or to find an NFDA-member funeral home, visit www.nfda.org or call (800) 228-6332.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

A Checklist Can Increase Understanding Of Medicare Prescription Drug Plans

(NAPSI)-For Americans 65 and older, November and December mark Medicare's Annual Enrollment Period for stand-alone Medicare Part D plans. In an effort to make educated health care choices when enrolling, many Medicare-eligible Americans are trying to learn more about Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and how the benefit works.

Medicare Part D is a federal program that subsidizes the costs of prescription drugs for Medicare-enrolled beneficiaries. The program has been in effect since January of 2006. Now three years in, the Medicare Part D program offers beneficiaries a myriad of plan options. Understanding what's available is paramount to making a good plan decision.

To help in the selection process, one of the best resources a Medicare-eligible individual or caregiver can tap into is a local pharmacist. As a prescription drug expert, pharmacists can help make sense of and personalize Medicare Part D information, allowing individuals and their caregivers to make better choices during Medicare enrollment. Most pharmacists make it their business to understand the Medicare Part D process and have access to the plans offered in their specific market. For people whose pharmacists know them, know their health conditions and are aware of their prescription drug regimens, this can be helpful when reviewing the covered drugs and co-pay of the various plans.

"Choosing an appropriate Medicare Part D plan requires an evaluation of an individual's health, the medicines they take, the number and types of drugs they've been prescribed and of course, the overall cost," says Sam Rajan, R.Ph., a registered pharmacist and vice president of clinical operations for Universal American--the company that administers the Community CCRxSM Part D plan. "The better informed one is, the easier it is to compare Part D plan coverage and understand the products and services they're purchasing."

When the time comes to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan and a plan choice has been made, individuals can make the process easier if they gather the necessary personal information ahead of time including:

• First, middle and last name

• Date of birth

• Home phone number, including area code

• Permanent street address

• Mailing address where correspondence will be sent (caregiver's or beneficiary's)

• Emergency contact information

• Medicare card

• Any additional prescription plan information, if applicable

• Social Security or checking account information, if premiums will be deducted directly from a personal account.

Finally, it's important to remember the Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare Part D plans is a short one, lasting only from November 15 to December 31 for coverage that takes effect beginning January 1, 2009. For more information on the Medicare Part D enrollment process, call (866) 594-0565, or visit www.seniordrugcoverageawarenessmonth.com.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Holidays and ADHD-A Survival Guide

(NAPSI)-Buy presents. Check. Prepare the big family meal. Check. Keep the kids occupied during winter break. Check.

In a perfect world, planning for the holidays would be that easy. The reality is holidays, while generally delightful, can require juggling family and friends, lots of lists and unsuspected surprises along the way.

For the nearly 9 million adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), holiday time creates the perfect storm. It's a never-ending cycle of to-do lists, juggling acts that falter and expectations that fall short.

"The holidays can be so stressful," said 36-year-old Laura Willingham. "The kids have all sorts of plans and we have parties to attend. I've struggled to manage it all and find time to enjoy the holidays."

For years Willingham suffered from ADHD without knowing it, while at the same time balancing her life and career without any tools to do it.

"That's common for adults with ADHD," said Dr. Edward Hallowell, a psychiatrist, ADHD expert and author of several best-selling books including "Delivered from Distraction." "The holidays often compound problems for typical Americans, but they are overwhelming for adults with ADHD."

He offers these tips to help ease the holiday headache for adults with ADHD:

• Shop smart and shop early.

• Make a list of people you need to buy for and don't buy too many gifts for each person.

• Create a schedule of events and don't overschedule.

• Get enough rest.

• Carve out time to exercise or have some quiet time to yourself.

Willingham said she sought help six years ago after realizing the day-to-day roller coaster she was riding might be more than stress.

"The ADHD diagnosis validated the fact that my feelings were real," she said.

According to a nationwide survey by Harris Interactive for McNeil Pediatrics™, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc, of more than 1,000 adults with ADHD, 46 percent of respondents reported being relieved once they were finally diagnosed.

"The silent burden adults with ADHD have is awful. Imagine always having this feeling of unexplained underachievement because you didn't know your struggle to focus, stay organized or sit still was actually something that could be treated," Hallowell said. "The good news is that there is a diagnosis, and there are effective ways to manage ADHD."

According to the survey, 90 percent of respondents reported using visual reminders like post-it notes to manage their symptoms, 78 percent said taking prescription medication is effective and 81 percent said they use a planner. Other management techniques include listening to music and exercising.

"Above all, get into a positive frame of mind for the holidays," Hallowell said. "Your goal this year ought to be to have fun, not slug it out and get everything done. If you have fun, the people you're with will have fun, and it won't matter if every ornament is on the tree, every pie is baked and every present is beautifully wrapped. The holidays themselves ought to be the true present, and the love they represent."

"While the holidays can be particularly stressful, I now have the tools I need to manage my condition," Willingham said. "I take a daily medication, which helps me focus so that I can organize and stay on top of things. The bottom line is I don't want ADHD to get the best of me."

For additional insights from Laura Willingham and other mothers of children with ADHD, visit www.facebook.com/adhdmoms, or visit www.mcneilpediatrics.net for more information about ADHD in adults.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Health Insurance Open Enrollment Tips

PRNewswire/ -- Many Georgians have more than just candidates to choose from at this time of year. For employees in companies that offer a health insurance benefit, November is usually the time of the year when they have to choose among a variety of health insurance plan options to go into effect in 2009.

Many Georgia companies offer between two and eight choices of health insurance plans. The options will usually have different costs to the employee both in the amount deducted from their paycheck and the total cost of the coverage for deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance during the course of the year.

Studies have shown that consumers typically do more research when buying a car or a major appliance then they do in selecting a health insurance plan. These studies also indicate that most people spend an hour or less reviewing their insurance plan options and often just default to the plan they have had the previous year.

"It's a mistake not to look carefully at health plan options each year and carefully weigh what plan is the best fit for you and your family," said Monye Connolly, president, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia. Connolly noted that often consumers will choose the plan that has the least impact on their paycheck when that option may not be the best choice overall.

Plans with higher monthly premiums and lower co-pays and deductibles might be best for those who anticipate using a lot of health care services throughout the course of the year. On the other hand, young and healthy people without kids might save with a plan that features low premiums and a high deductible.

Here are some general consumer tips for choosing a health insurance plan:

1. Do your homework and take advantage of the tools offered to you. Companies may offer benefit plan meetings where you can ask questions and compare plan options. A little time invested in this meeting can help you choose the best plan for your family's needs.

2. Understand and learn what basic health insurance terms mean. Some important items to know include:

-- What is the difference between copayment and coinsurance?
-- What does deductible mean and how could it impact your
out-of-pocket costs?
-- What does it mean to seek "out of network" services?


3. Examine your family's past health care spending. The best way to determine a good plan fit for 2009 is to understand what health care services your family used this year and take into consideration what expenses may occur in the next year-like having a child or if you will have to deal with a chronic condition like diabetes.

4. Before continuing on your current plan, read the detail. Many employees will carry over their plan choice from year-to-year without examining the details - have the co-pays and deductibles increased? Often employers will change these levels as a result of the increasing cost of health care services. It pays to read the detail.

5. Verify in advance that your physician and hospital are part of the network for the plan you are choosing. This is especially important if you are switching your insurance company or are switching to a different health plan.

6. Take advantage of your health care flexible spending account (FSA), if appropriate. Health care flexible spending accounts use pre-tax dollars to help pay health care expenses like co-pays and deductibles but you must carefully estimate and use all the money in these accounts during the course of the year.

"In the past, consumers may have quickly looked over their benefit options and chosen the same plan for next year or not done anything and defaulted into the previous year's selection," said Connolly. "But this year, with all the economic pressures consumers are facing, it makes sense to really study the plan options that are available to best meet their family's needs."

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Tips: Caring for the Adult Caregiver

24-7-- Caring for an older adult can be rewarding and fulfilling but can also place great physical, emotional and financial demands on those who take care of them. In fact, a recent issue of the Journal of Immunology compared Alzheimer's caregivers to non-caregivers, finding that caregivers aged between four and eight years faster than non-caregivers. In light of these statistics, and in recognition of November as both National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is offering tips for caring for the adult caregiver.

Research recently published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry tested an occupational therapy home intervention, the Tailored Activity Program (TAP), that systematically evaluates and tailors activities to individual capabilities and trains families in setting up and using activities in daily care. TAP reduced behaviors that trigger nursing home placement and the amount of time families spent supervising and providing care.

"Our research shows that occupational therapists play a critical role in the care of individuals with dementia and their family caregivers," said Laura N. Gitlin, Ph.D., director of the Jefferson Center for Applied Research on Aging and Health and professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Thomas Jefferson University. "Occupational therapy practitioners are uniquely qualified to evaluate individual capabilities, engage individuals with dementia in activities, help families learn specific communication, task and environmental simplification strategies and to take care of themselves."

Laurel Cargill Radley, MS, OTR, associate director of professional affairs at AOTA, adds, "Occupational therapists can help individuals and their families promote or maximize independence, safety and function."

Occupational therapy practitioners recommend adult caregivers:

1. Join a therapy or discussion group for caregivers of older adults.
2. Share the responsibility of caring for an older adult.
3. Ask others for help.
4. Develop a schedule that distributes caregiving responsibility.
5. Consider adult daycare or home health aides to provide occasional breaks to full-time caregivers.
6. Create moments of joy throughout the day by participating in pleasurable activities.

Additional caregiver resources can be found on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) new Web site, http://www.medicare.gov/caregivers.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Healthy Bones Program Reduces Hip Fractures by 37 Percent, Kaiser Permanente Study Finds

PRNewswire/ -- Proactive measures can reduce hip fracture rates by an average of 37.2 percent -- and as much as 50 percent -- among those at risk, according to a study conducted by Kaiser Permanente Southern California. The study was published online on November 3 by The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, a peer-reviewed journal.

The largest study of its kind, the five-year study tracked more than 625,000 male and female patients over the age of 50 in Southern California who had specific risk factors for osteoporosis and/or hip fractures. The implementation of a number of initiatives in the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Healthy Bones Program reduced the hip fracture rates beyond the goal rate of 25 percent.

"One-half of all women and one-third of all men will sustain a fragility fracture in their lifetime. The mortality rate due to osteoporosis-related fractures is greater than the rates for breast cancer and cervical cancer combined," said study lead author Richard M. Dell, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center. "Yet it's a misconception that nothing can be done to prevent or treat osteoporosis. It is possible to achieve at least a 25 percent reduction in the hip fracture rate in the United States if a more active role is taken by all orthopedic surgeons in osteoporosis disease management."

The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that although osteoporosis can affect people of all ages, the problem of osteoporosis has reached epidemic proportions with the rapidly aging population. Of the 10 million Americans who have osteoporosis, 80 percent are women. More than 300,000 hip fractures are reported annually in the United States. Twenty-four percent end up in a nursing home, 50 percent never reach their functional capacity, and 25 percent of patients with a hip fracture die in the first year after the incident.

Participating physicians in the study implemented a number of initiatives including increasing the use of bone density test (DXA scans) and anti-osteoporosis medications; adding osteoporosis education and home health programs; and standardizing the practice guidelines for osteoporosis management. The full article is found at http://www.ejbjs.org/cgi/content/abstract/90/Supplement_4/188.

"Significant improvements in hip fracture rates are achievable wherever orthopedic surgeons and treatment teams are willing to take a more active role in osteoporosis disease management," Dell said.

Study authors include: Richard M. Dell, MD and Denise Greene, RNP, MS, Department of Orthopedics, Kaiser Permanente Bellflower; Steven R. Schelkun, MD, Department of Orthopedics, Kaiser Permanente San Diego; and Kathyrn W. Williams, MSG, Department of Orthopedics, Kaiser Permanente Fontana.

Recommendations for Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis

(Based on the ten steps outlined by Laura Tosi, MD, and the American Orthopaedic Association's Own the Bone initiative.)

1. Be a champion. Remember that addressing the problem of fragility
fractures is multifaceted and will require a multidisciplinary
solution. Identify potential partners in your community.
2. Be proactive. Identify high-risk patients and don't wait until your
patient has a fragility fracture.
3. Teach your patients about osteoporosis and falls.
4. Develop pre-printed admission sheets and orders.
5. Develop a discharge checklist for fragility fracture patients, and
improve your discharge documentation.
6. Set realistic goals and measure what you've done.
7. Use the new fracture risk assessment tool called FRAX.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Beating Holiday Indigestion

(StatePoint) Everyone wants to be home for the holidays -- but not on account of embarrassing digestive upsets.

Hollywood nutritionist and registered dietitian Ashley Koff offers advice for avoiding digestive pitfalls and helping you overcome these unwanted holiday episodes that can result from stress, overeating and overindulgence.

* Don't Be a Last Minute Shopper -- Nobody wants to be shopping at the last minute, and the same holds true for preventing holiday digestive distress. Begin addressing your digestive woes as early as possible with a clinically-proven probiotic, such as Align, to help establish the right balance of good and bad bacteria. Also, become aware of known gastric irritants and begin to make appropriate replacements.

* Gift-Wrap a Healthy Dish -- Volunteer to bring a tasty, healthy dish that works for your digestive system to a holiday meal and turn worry about a potential embarrassing upset into delicious enjoyment. You'll be less stressed for the get together and your host will undoubtedly appreciate the gift.

* Great Things DO Come in Small Packages -- Allow yourself to enjoy a treat during the holidays, but treat yourself to a taste or bite. The smaller portion will be better for your digestive system and keep you from feeling deprived.

* It's a Holi-DAY Not a Holi-MONTH -- While certain foods can trigger digestive distress when consumed even once, avoid ongoing irritation and the resulting more intense (chronic) distress by limiting your celebration to one day each month.

* Holiday Healers -- Did you know that some well known holiday treats such as peppermint and ginger are natural digestive healers?

* 'Tis the Season -- Because life happens despite the best laid plans. Keep yourself hydrated (i.e., water, coconut water), get a day of liquids to rest the digestive system and avoid known gastric irritants. What's the best way to deal with a bad day? End it ... Go to bed as early as possible.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Chef LaLa "Dishes" On Diabetes And Healthy Latino Recipes

(NAPSI)-Chef, nutritionist and cookbook author Chef LaLa is encouraging people with type 2 diabetes to recognize that small changes, including food choices, can have a positive effect on managing diabetes. Chef LaLa is passionate about healthy cooking, and a family history of type 2 diabetes motivated her to become involved in the Journey for Control campaign, supported by Merck & Co., Inc., to help people with diabetes to better manage their condition.

"Diabetes is a subject that is very close to my heart. Having seen three of my grandparents and my father struggle with type 2 diabetes, I am personally dedicated to sharing my recipes and cooking tips," said Chef LaLa. "As a chef and a nutritionist, I have dedicated a big part of my life to showing people that it is possible to enjoy healthy Latino food without sacrificing traditional family flavor. That's what this campaign is all about: small changes having a big effect."

Diabetes is a rapidly growing health problem in the United States; in fact, nearly 21 million people (7 percent of the population) have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a condition diagnosed by elevated blood sugar or glucose. With type 2 diabetes, the body may not make enough insulin, the insulin that the body produces may not work as well as it should and/or the liver may release too much glucose. When insulin is not used appropriately, the body cannot convert sugar, starches and other food into energy for daily life.

Living with diabetes can be a challenge. A healthy diet is a key component of diabetes management. The Journey for Control campaign encourages people with type 2 diabetes to recognize that small changes can add up to a big difference. Visit www.JourneyForControl.com for nutritional advice, exercise tips and flavorful recipes, like the spiced tropical fruit salad recipe provided below.

Food is an important part of our culture and everyday life, and there is a widely held misconception that if you try to make Latino food healthy, it lacks flavor. That's not true, according to Chef LaLa.

"Living with diabetes can be a challenge, but I want people to know that it is within their control to enjoy eating while still following a healthy diet," said Chef LaLa.

TROPICAL FRUIT SALAD WITH SPICED

ORANGE SAUCE

Yields 4 servings

⅛ teaspoon allspice*

⅛ teaspoon ground ginger

2 whole star anise

¼ teaspoon real vanilla extract

1 medium orange, juiced

2 tablespoon orange marmalade†

1 mango, peeled, thinly sliced (4 oz.)

½ papaya, peeled, thinly sliced (4 oz.)

2 kiwis, peeled, thinly sliced (4 oz.)

¼ pineapple, peeled, thinly sliced (4 oz.)

In a small pot combine allspice, ground ginger, star anise, vanilla, orange, and marmalade. Warm for 1-2 minutes. Transfer to bowl, then to refrigerator to chill for 15 minutes. In the meantime, cut chilled fruit as instructed above. Arrange chilled fruit on chilled plate. Drizzle with spiced orange sauce and enjoy.

*Usually used in ground form, allspice has a flavor like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

†Select a marmalade that has all natural ingredients: 100 percent fruit; no cane sugar added; and no artificial sweeteners.

Making the right food choices can have a positive effect on managing diabetes.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Supporting Loved Ones in Nursing Homes Enhances Daily Living

(ARA) - According to the National Center for Health statistics, 1.6 million people currently reside in 18,000 long-term care facilities across America. Types of facilities range from assisted living to round-the-clock custodial care, with staff workers providing the level of assistance required.

The experience of living in a long-term care facility can vary greatly for residents, depending on the level of support provided by their families. Dewan E. Williams, clinical coordinator for the Practical Nursing program at Brown Mackie College -- Akron, Ohio, offers insights into how family members can enhance the quality of life for loved ones in long-term care.

“Many people think of nursing homes as a place for the elderly; however, because of our world and how rapidly it’s changing, the age of the extended care population is getting younger,” Williams says. Young people might require skilled nursing care due to developmental disabilities, the debilitating effects associated with diseases such as multiple sclerosis, or drug or alcohol recovery. Other common reasons for younger people to reside in a care facility include rehabilitation after a car accident or sports injury, and patients with brain damage. “There is a great need for the family to support those they can no longer care for at home," Williams says.

Williams’ role includes coordinating placement of nursing students in clinical settings, working one-on-one with Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) students as they progress through required training prior to graduation. As she works with students in nursing homes, Williams sees first hand that no matter what their ages, residents who receive no outside visitors can feel isolated and alone. “Of course the facility staff cares for them, but for some, my students and I are the only sunshine that comes in from the outside world,” Williams says. “We can’t fix everyone. We simply make a point to take extra time to talk with them and allow them to gradually eat their meals slowly. The students provide time and care that the staff doesn’t always have time for.”

Many people find it difficult to enter a nursing home, saying that the unfamiliar smells and the number of elderly and infirm people who live there make them feel uncomfortable. “It’s important to remember,” Williams says, “that the residents themselves have made huge transitions in moving from a home to a nursing facility. Despite their health conditions, they are still people who appreciate contact with others, especially family and friends.” Williams outlined these simple tips to help make the most of every visit to a nursing home:

Call in advance of your visit. This allows the resident the same courtesy and control of a home visit. Many facilities schedule special speakers and activities throughout the week. With advance notice, you will be sure not to interfere with another event that the resident plans to attend.

Offer news of family, friends and the world. Providing information on those who are dear to the resident will help him or her feel that they are still involved. If cousin Joe just landed a new job, the news will be welcomed. National and world news events also make good topics of conversation. Just like the rest of us, residents watch television and welcome the chance to voice an opinion.

Be realistic about when your next visit will take place. Promises to return to visit at a specific day and time should not be made unless you realistically intend to follow through. A “no show” after a promise can be a bitter disappointment.

“We encourage every family to stay involved,” Williams says, “I found that many residents live in nursing homes because there’s no one to take care of them at home. Many people cannot afford to take a leave of absence from their jobs to care for a parent. People are busy, and demands of professional and family life can prohibit frequent visits by family members. That’s why in nursing homes, unlike hospitals, you’ll see the staff giving hugs and holding hands with patients as they talk. In fact, many people become nurses because they like to touch lives and make a difference for others. If there isn’t family support, it is wonderful to have schools and local programs visit nursing homes."

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Are Food Allergies Genetic?

(ARA) - As the number of people with food allergies continues to rise, many are asking: “Are food allergies genetic?”

While a specific “food allergy gene,” has not been identified yet, research shows that if one or both parents have a history of any type of food allergy the allergy risk is greater for their children.

A child’s chance of developing an allergy is 40 percent if one parent has an allergy, according to a University of Michigan study. If both parents have allergies, the chance of a food allergy rises to about 75 percent for each child, the study indicates.

“Knowing food allergies might run in the family is extremely important for new and expecting parents,” explains Dr. Steven Yannicelli, a registered dietician and director of science and education for Nutricia North America. “Cow’s milk allergy (CMA) is the most common food allergy in infants, affecting approximately 200,000 infants. However, because the symptoms are so similar to other common childhood ailments, it is often misdiagnosed by general pediatricians.”

Babies with a milk protein allergy have difficulty processing the complex protein chains found in milk-based baby formula. The child often experiences one or more of the following symptoms: diarrhea, vomiting, gas, skin rash, wheezing, low or no weight gain, extreme irritability (often mistaken for colic) and an overall failure to thrive.

Babies with milk protein allergy need to have all milk protein removed from their diets. In many cases the infant cannot tolerate other infant formulas, like soy and milk-based hydrolysates. If the infant is breastfed, the nursing mom may need to eliminate all dairy products and other sources of milk protein and other offending food proteins from her diet. If the baby is on formula, parents should switch her from the typical milk-based formula to an “elemental” amino acid-based formula. An elemental infant formula is made up of amino acids, the building blocks of protein, instead of the partial or complete protein chains found in other formulas that milk allergic infants cannot digest.

“If switching formulas, it is important that parents select an amino acid-based formula such as Neocate, which is hypoallergenic and manufactured in a 100 percent milk-free environment,” says Yannicelli. “The peace of mind that comes with knowing that a product is made in an entirely milk- and protein-free environment is invaluable.”

While all new or expecting parents should be aware of the signs of cow’s milk allergy, it is especially important for parents who suffer from food allergies themselves to be on the lookout.

If you suspect your child might have a food allergy, visit www.testforallergy.com for a free test and information you can download and discuss with your baby’s pediatrician.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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