Tag Archives: flu

Healthy Holiday Tips

‘Tis the Season to Be Merry and Healthy with Healthy Holiday Tips!

If you’re not careful navigating the holidays, you can easily get sick and ruin your plans. Assist America, our emergency travel assistance partner, has healthy holiday tips to keep you healthy while traveling this holiday season.

From getting all of your last-minute holiday shopping done, to decorating the house, attending holiday events, and packing to visit family, the holidays can take a toll on your immune system. The changing weather and cold temperatures can also affect your health, and whether you travel by car, train, or plane, you may be in contact with germs that you’re not used to. Taking these easy steps can help protect you.

Before Travel

  1. First and foremost, get your flu shot.

    Getting your flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. While flu season begins in late October, it usually peaks from December to February. Crowded places where people are close to each other a stretch of time, like shopping malls, airplanes, or trains are prime spots to pick up the flu.

  2. Take a daily vitamin.

    While vitamins may not prevent you from getting sick, taking vitamins and supplements throughout the year can help boost your immune system. Talk to your doctor about which vitamins are best for you, and combine them with a healthy diet of fresh vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats to be your best.

  3. Prepare a travel kit.

    While packing for your trip, prepare a small travel kit. You can include individual disinfectant, alcohol, and antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, a pack of tissues, bandaids, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash. You can also use small plastic bags or a pill organizer to pack your usual vitamins, so you don’t stop taking them while traveling.

During Travel

  1. Watch what you touch.

    Be aware of what you’re touching when you travel. Door and suitcase handles, public bathroom faucets, and money are touched by people all day long. Make sure not to touch your face after touching things like these and wash your hands with soap and water regularly. If you can’t wash your hands, use your hand sanitizer.

  2. Clean your surroundings.

    Tray tables, plane touch-screen monitors and remotes, armrests, restaurant tables, and many other surfaces you touch during your trip are infamous for being covered with germs. Use cleaning or alcohol wipes to clean off these surfaces before you get settled. Then, wash your hands again after using them for extra safety.

  3. Avoid physical contact.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people with the flu can spread it to others up to roughly 6 feet away, so while it may be difficult to do in a crowded space, try to avoid close contact with the people around you.

    Once you’re with your loved ones for the holidays, avoid sharing glasses and silverware during meals, and use a strict single-dipping policy.

After Travel

  1. Take a shower as soon as you get to your destination.

    To wash off all the germs you might have been exposed to during your trip, take a well-deserved shower as soon as you get to your family’s or hotel. Change into a clean set of clothes after, and you’ll feel clean, refreshed, and ready to enjoy holiday celebrations!

  2. Eat healthy food.

    We all know too well that the holidays are no time to diet, however, you can be mindful of the types of food you eat. Make room for vegetables and fresh fruits at every meal. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, oranges, pears, and other exotic fruits are all in season in December, and they’re all a great source of healthy vitamins.

  3. Stay hydrated.

    When you’re in an plane, car, or train for a long time, your body can get dehydrated. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of liquids throughout your travel.

    During celebrations, you should also make sure you continue to drink plenty of water in addition to all the alcoholic and sugary drinks you may be tempted by!

 

By taking these few simple steps, you’ll give yourself and your family a better chance at enjoying a germ-free holiday season.

Still, if you do get sick while traveling during the holidays, remember to contact Assist America, our emergency travel assistance partner who is available 24/7 to help you find a qualified doctor near your location or secure prescriptions at a local pharmacy. To talk to an Assist America coordinator, download the Assist America Mobile App or call 1-800-872-1414 or +1-609-986-1234 (outside of the U.S.).

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Mold Awareness Month

Mold Awareness Month

It’s Mold Awareness Month, and long-term mold exposure can cause serious and life-threatening health issues, from respiratory problems to cancer.

Health Issues and Mold

 

Some common symptoms of mold exposure are skin irritation, allergy, cold, and flu-like symptoms, trouble breathing, nose bleeds, headaches, and nausea.

Symptoms of Mold Exposure

 

Check your home for mold. Look out for leaking pipes and plumbing issues that allow for too much moisture in small spaces.

Leaking Plumbing and Mold

 

Prevent future mold growth by drying out damp, small areas of your home with fans.

Prevent Future Mold

 

The longer mold is left to grow in your home and you’re exposed to it, the more likely you are to get sick from it. Clean up mold as soon as you spot it.

Cleaning Up Mold

 

While bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, small closets, and crawl spaces are the most common places for mold, also check around windows and air conditioners.

Locations Prone to Mold

 

If you discover a serious mold issue, seek help from a professional who can clean up the mold safely while protecting your family and home.

National Fresh Squeezed Juice Week

National Fresh Squeezed Juice Week

It’s National Fresh Squeezed Juice Week, and adding freshly squeezed juices to your diet can be a great way to get more vitamins and nutrients from fruits and veggies.

First up, Glowing Skin Green Juice sweetened by apple is great for staying hydrated.

Glowing Skin Green Juice

 

Make this Super Healthy Vegan Orange Julius at home for a healthy treat.

Super Healthy Vegan Orange Julius
Image and Recipe via Vegan Vigilante

 

This refreshing Anti-Inflammatory Juice will have you dreaming of warmer weather.

Fresh Anti-Inflammatory Juice

 

Beautiful pink Beet Ginger Detox Juice is perfect for sneaking more veggies into your kids’ diets.

http://www.theharvestkitchen.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/beet-juice-2-650x975.jpg
Image and Recipe via The Harvest Kitchen

 

Get your daily dose of Vitamin C with this green Fresh Kiwi-Grape Juice.

Fresh Kiwi-Grape Juice
Image and Recipe via Martha Stewart

 

Lighten up your lemon and feel like you’re at the spa with this Cleansing Cucumber Lemonade.

Cleansing Cucumber Lemonade

 

Help your immune system be prepared for winter colds with an extra dose of Vitamins A and C in Winter Vitamin-Boosting Juice.

Winter Vitamin Boosting Juice

Beat the Flu Before It Starts

The Importance of Getting That Flu Shot

Each year, you see reminders that you should get your flu shots everywhere you go. But only about 42.1 million people in the U.S. do, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Less than half of adults under the age of 65 got the shot during the 2014 to 2015 flu season.

But the flu is still dangerous, and people can and do die from it each year. And we don’t know how serious the flu will be each year. From 1976 to 2007, the number of people who’ve died each year has ranged from 3,000 to 49,000.

And in recent years, 80 to 90% of those deaths have been in the 65-or-older population.

So while you may not have thought the flu was a danger before, make sure you get the facts and get protected this year.

What is the Flu Season?

Flu season in the United States can start as early as October and last until as late as May. The most serious period of outbreaks usually peaks in January.

The flu makes its way through the American people during this time, and a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and those around you each year.

Who Needs to Get the Flu Shot?

Everyone over 6 months old should get the flu shot, but it’s especially important for kids, pregnant women, and those over 65. The flu can be more dangerous for these people and for others at high risk.

Even if you may not be in one of these groups, you should still get the shot. While you never want to get sick, it’s important to get your shot to help your community and those most at risk around you.

Like with all vaccines, the more people who get protected, the less likely the flu will appear in your community at all. The more people who aren’t protected, the more likely it is that lots of people will get sick, even those who did get protected, because it can get stronger passing between people.

Who Should Not Get the Shot?

Different flu vaccines work for different people, so your age, current or past health, and allergies can all affect if you should get the shot. Some people shouldn’t get the shot, and some people are at risk and should talk to their doctor first.

When Should I Get the the Shot?

You should get vaccinated as early as you can, usually before or in October. It takes about 2 weeks for your body to build antibodies to the flu from the vaccines, so it’s best to get it before the flu starts to spread in your community. However, it’s better to get it early or late rather than never.

How Does the Flu Shot Work?

To make vaccines, scientists and drug makers study what strains of the flu virus happen in the lower half of the world during its flu season, June, July, and August, and use this to build flu shots for our flu season.

Depending on how well that vaccine matches the flu virus in our flu season, it can reduce the overall risk of flu by 50 to 60%.

While it helps you build your resistance to the flu, flu shots can’t actually give you the flu because the virus is dead before it’s put in the shot.

For the next flu season, shots will include 3 or 4 strains, but the nasal vaccine shouldn’t be used this year, according the CDC. Recent studies have shown it wasn’t effective in the past few flu seasons.

You need a new shot every year because your protection fades over time, and because the shot could be made up of different strains from year to year.

Get your flu shot at covered pharmacies and protect your family and community this flu season.

In Case of Medical Emergency

Long View: What Is a Medical Emergency?

According to Medicare.gov, a medical emergency is a situation where “[Y]ou believe you have an injury or illness that requires immediate medical attention to prevent a disability or death.”

It seems pretty straightforward, so why are there so many questions around the decision to get treatment at your local emergency room?

An emergency room (ER) provides some of the most sophisticated diagnostic options in a hospital and the most immediate care to patients in crisis.

The list of possible emergencies is endless, so it’s important for you to recognize how serious your injury or illness is and to know the best way to get treatment for it.

Many of us have heard about folks with medical emergencies driving themselves to get treatment or catching a ride with a family member. Please don’t. Driving yourself puts you and others in jeopardy and delays the start of your treatment. Dialing 911 brings you the treatment quickly and gets you to an emergency room faster than a white-knuckle trip across town, dodging traffic lights.

Dr. Frank Friedman, one of our medical directors who specializes in emergency care, said, “A true emergency is one that can’t wait. It is something causing such severe pain or such a risk to life or limb, for oneself or a loved one, that it can’t wait hours, or a day or two, to be seen by one’s own doctor or healthcare provider.”

If it’s not an emergency but you need medical care to keep an illness or injury from getting worse, call your doctor. If your doctor can’t see you right away or the office is closed, urgent care (or convenient care) can help you get treatment quickly.

Over the years, I have heard some interesting and alarming questions from our members. This FAQ can help answer those questions.

Q. I just got one of your policies, and I’m having severe chest pain. Will you cover me for an ER visit?

A. This is one of the most unsettling questions we receive. If you’re experiencing severe chest pain, don’t call your plan, call 911. It’s as simple as that.

Q. Do I have to pay a copay when I get there?

A. No, they should be able to bill you, so there’s no reason to wave your credit card around as they wheel you through the front door. In fact, under federal law, an ER has to evaluate and stabilize you in an emergency medical situation, without regard for your ability to pay.

Q. What if I have special conditions they need to know about?

A. Keep a list of your medications with you. MedicAlert’s medical IDs or the Yellow Dot program can also help you share this information. And many smart phones have features that let you add emergency contacts and medical information. Plan ahead.

Q. What are some examples of when I should go to the ER and when I should go to my doctor or urgent care?

A. Visit the ER for emergencies like chest pain, broken bones, poisoning, shortness of breath, fainting, and seizures. For things like a constant fever, strep throat, sprains, the cold or flu, earaches, or minor infections like pink eye, call your doctor or visit urgent care.

Will you recognize a medical emergency? Probably yes, so trust your judgment, act quickly, and please be careful out there.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.

Vaccines for a Healthy Grandchild

Long View: 3 Things Grandparents Should Know About Vaccines

There are few things more exciting in this world than the arrival of a grandchild. The anticipation to see if the baby has your son’s eyes, the enjoyment of picking out all of those adorable baby clothes, and those precious weekends at grandmas!

New grandparents should also remember the importance of protecting their grandchild from preventable illnesses by understanding vaccines. Vaccines are not just important for the newborn, but also for you.

  1. Vaccines Are Safe and Effective

The medical community is in agreement that vaccines are safe, effective, and do not cause serious harm to children. Vaccines are the single most important method to prevent diseases like polio, whooping cough, and the measles. Vaccines go through rigorous testing, and children are far more likely to be harmed by illnesses, like whooping cough and the flu, than by the vaccine itself. The World Health Organization has a useful website debunking myths about vaccines.

  1. Whooping Cough’s On the Rise

Do you think whooping cough is an extinct illness from your childhood? Sadly, because people haven’t been vaccinating their kids, illnesses that were once very rare thanks to high vaccination rates are now reappearing. Whooping cough (pertussis) is one illness that is especially dangerous to newborns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2014, there were 32,971 reported cases of whooping cough, a 15% increase compared to 2013!

  1. Time for a Booster?

You may be thinking, “Wait! I was already vaccinated against whooping cough when I was a child.” But the CDC recommends you get a Tdap shot, the vaccine that protects against whooping cough, every 10 years or if you’re 65 or older and in close contact with infants. Don’t forget about your annual flu shot either.

Dr. John Beck, Health Alliance vice president and senior medical director, puts the importance of vaccines into perspective. “Most adults were vaccinated as children against pertussis, but protection wears off over time. Babies are able to catch pertussis from family members, including grandparents, who may not know they have it. Grandparents should consider getting a Tdap booster after discussion with their physician,” he said.

Don’t forget to take steps to protect the health of you and your grandbaby. Making precious memories with your new grandchild will be more enjoyable with that peace of mind.

Chris Maxeiner is a community liaison with Health Alliance. His background is in the fields of healthcare and government programs. His favorite superhero is Batman, and he is an avid Chicago sports fan (Bears, Bulls, and White Sox).

National Blood Donor Month 2016

National Blood Donor Month 2016

January is National Blood Donor Month, and there are reasons donations drop at this time of year, like:

Changing Weather

Winter Blues

Cold & Flu Symptoms

Busy Holiday Schedule

 

Do you know how important your blood donation is? Save a life today.

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3 Lives

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