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National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month

National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month

It’s National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month, and in recent years, chronic fatigue syndrome has been recognized as a serious chronic disease.

Wondering what it’s like to live with chronic fatigue syndrome? This article dives into it.

Living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

 

Signs and symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome include fatigue and extreme exhaustion, loss of memory or concentration, headaches, restless sleep, unexplained joint or muscle pain, and enlarged lymph nodes.

Signs of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

 

People who have chronic fatigue syndrome can be hypersensitive to even normal exercise and activity and can experience extreme exhaustion more than 24 hours after activity.

Sensitivity to Exercise and Activity

 

Some people’s chronic fatigue syndrome may be triggered by things like viral infections, immune system problems, and hormonal imbalances.

Viral Infection Trigger

 

It is more likely to affect you if you are in your 40s or 50s, are a woman, of have difficulty managing stress. Learn more.

Your Risk of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

 

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can increase or contribute to depression, work absences, social isolation, or restrictions on your lifestyle.

Complications of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Pregnancy Health Problems

Pregnancy Health Problems

If you have a preexisiting health problem or develop a new one during your pregnancy, you may need more care. Pregnancy health problems that can occur include:

Blood Pressure Related Conditions

While your blood pressure is always an important part of your overall health, when you’re pregnant, it becomes even more important to monitor it. High blood pressure can constrict the blood vessels in your uterus that supply your baby with oxygen and nutrients.

Chronic Hypertension

This is high blood pressure before you become pregnant. If you have it, it won’t go away after you deliver.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

Your doctor may prescribe medication or liestyle changes. If you’re already on hypertension meds, talk to your doctor before trying to conceive. ACE inhibitors, a common kind of blood pressure meds, can be bad for your baby.

Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension (PIH)

Some women develop high blood pressure about 20 weeks into their pregnancy. PIH will usually go away after you deliver.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

PIH can be controlled with meds during pregnancy.

Preeclampsia

This is high blood pressure and protein in your urine that usually develops after 30 weeks. 25% of women who have PIH develop this too.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

Preeclampsia can be controlled with meds during pregnancy.

HELLP syndrome

This is a variation of preeclampsia that’s diagnosed by blood tests. It stands for the conditions you develop:

  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Low platelets

Most women with HELLP have high blood pressure, and other symptoms include fatigue, severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, and swelling.

The only treatment is to deliver your baby. HELLP is very serious and requires care from a doctor.

Gestational Diabetes

Even if you don’t have diabetes before you get pregnant, you can develop gestational diabetes. It will go away after you have your baby, but during your pregnancy, you may be required to follow a special diet, exercise, or take insulin.

Environmental Risk

Certain substances can be harmful to your baby, raising the risk of birth defects and miscarriage. Chemicals to avoid include:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Lead in water or paint
  • Some cleaners
  • Pesticides
  • Mercury in tuna and other fish
  • Cat litter boxes

Talk to your doctor about how to avoid these chemicals and what to do if you come in contact with any of them.

Chicken Pox

While most women are immune if they’ve had chicken pox or the vaccine before, it can be dangerous if you catch it while pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you come in contact with someone who has it or if you believe you have it.

HIV/AIDS

You can pass HIV/AIDS to your baby during pregnancy, labor, or delivery if you already have it. You can take meds to protect your baby during your pregnancy, just talk to your doctor about it.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

If you have an STI, it can cause your baby to be born blind, deaf, or even stillborn. Medication can usually help protect your baby during pregnancy and delivery. Tell your doctor right away if you have an STI or develop one while you are pregnant.

Well-Child Visits

Well-Child Visits – Ages 1 to 4

Getting your kids to their well-child visits helps them be their healthiest. These visits with your doctor are for a full checkup to make sure they’re healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

Your child needs to go to these visits at:

  • 12 months old
  • 15 months old (1 year and 3 months old)
  • 18 months old (1 year and 6 months old)
  • 2 years old
  • 2 years and 6 months old
  • 3 years old
  • 4 years old

What Happens at Well-Child Visits

Your child needs to have regular well-child visits with their doctor to focus on their development, health, and wellness. At the appointment, some of the basics your doctor will cover are:

  • Checking that your child is developing at a healthy rate and tracking their history
  • Getting a physical exam
  • Staying up to date with their preventive care
  • Getting education and counseling
  • If needed, setting health goals

Your Child’s Development

Your child’s doctor can help you keep track of your child’s key developmental milestones, which can include physical, mental, social, and language skills.

At each visit, your doctor will ask you questions to help make sure your child is reaching milestones on schedule. This can help them recognize signs of problems early on, and put your mind at ease.

Each child grows differently. Some kids take longer to start talking than others. Most of these aren’t a sign that something’s wrong. Your doctor can help you understand what differences could be because of something serious.

By 12 months, most kids:

  • Have started to get their teeth in
  • Stand up by pulling on furniture
  • Walk with help or on their own
  • Copy animal noises
  • Say mama and dad and maybe a few other words
  • Can follow simple directions

See more milestones for 12-month-olds.

By 15 months, most kids:

  • Bend to the floor without falling
  • Can put blocks in a container
  • Make scribbles
  • Bring and show toys to you
  • Listen to stories and look at pictures

By 18 months, most kids:

  • Walk up steps
  • Run or try to run
  • Climb onto low furniture or chairs without help
  • Build short block towers
  • Use spoons and cups
  • Take off socks and hats
  • Point towards things they want
  • Play simple pretend, like feeding a doll

See more milestones for 18-month-olds.

By 2 years, most kids:

  • Have 16 or more teeth
  • Stand on tiptoe
  • Kick a ball
  • Can tell you they’re hungry or thirsty
  • Understand instructions with 2 steps
  • Copy others
  • Name things in a picture book

See more milestones for 2-year-olds.

By 2 years and 6 months, most kids:

  • Can point to different body parts when asked
  • Play simple games with other kids
  • Brush their teeth with help
  • Jump up and down in place
  • Put on clothing, although they may still need help

By 3 years, most kids:

  • Have all 20 of their baby teeth
  • Use the toilet during the day
  • Can copy simple shapes while drawing
  • Put one foot on each step to walk up the stairs
  • Speak in short sentences
  • Ask questions
  • Know their name, age, and if they’re a boy or girl

See more milestones for 3-year-olds.

By 4 years, most kids:

  • Hop on one foot or balance for a short time
  • Can use child-safe scissors
  • Count to 4 or higher
  • Ask a lot of questions
  • Play with imaginary friends
  • Can name some colors
  • Play simple board and card games

See more milestones for 4-year-olds.

Health Information & History

At well-child visits, your doctor will ask you to answer some questions about your kid’s health, and maybe even your family history.

  • Health questions, like:

    • Do they ever complain of headaches, stomachaches, or other kinds of pain?
    • Do they have trouble breathing?

  • Eating habit questions, like:

    • What do they eat on a normal day?

  • Activity questions, like:

    • Do they play pretend and how?

  • Safety questions, like:

    • Do they ride in a car seat?

  • And family questions, like:

    • Have there been any changes in the family, like a new sibling?

Physical Exam

At your child’s appointments, you can expect their doctor to:

  • Measure their height, weight, and blood pressure
  • Check their body and limbs
  • Take their temperature
  • Check their vision
  • Give them any shots or screenings they need

Education, Counseling & Health Goals

Your child’s doctor can help you with important information about caring for your child, managing any conditions or diseases they might have, and preventing future problems.

Their doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, and advice to help or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help with specific issues further.

Their doctor can also help you set health goals to maintain or improve your child’s health, like maintaining a healthy weight.

Prepare for Well-Child Visits

Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of your well-child visits.

Know Your Family and Child’s History

Make sure you bring any medical records you have that the doctor might not, especially to a first appointment with a new doctor, like a record of shots and screening results.

You should also make a list of any important changes in your child’s life, like being sick or hurt, changing caregivers, or starting daycare.

Your family’s history of health and wellness is also an important part of your child’s health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctors look out for issues that run in families and more.

This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health, so that you’re always organized to talk to your child’s doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.

Talk to Your Doctor

Prepare for your well-child visits by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask about:

  • Worries about their development
  • Growth and normal development
  • Sleep schedule
  • Getting enough physical activity
  • Healthy weight
  • Getting them to try different foods
  • Getting siblings to get along
  • Disciplining them
  • Screen time
  • Preventive care they need
  • What to do if they get sick

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about what immunizations are covered for your children. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your or your child’s member number to see what children’s preventive care your family’s plan covers.

You can use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs to get an idea of what our plans cover.

If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Now that you’re ready for your children’s physicals, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) for your child or start searching for doctors in our network.

National Eye Exam Month

National Eye Exam Month

August is National Eye Exam Month, and 12.2 million Americans require some sort of vision correction but don’t use any, according to the Vision Council of America.

Almost 50% of children under 12 have never seen an eye care professional. Eye exams can help you fix issues early.

Eye Exams for Kids

 

1 in 4 kids have vision problems, and it’s a common reason for them to fall behind in school. Eye exams could help stop reading problems in their tracks.

Read Better with Glasses

 

Many eye diseases have no symptoms. Eye exams can help your doctor catch serious issues early.

 

Many eye conditions can be improved if they’re caught early, especially in children. Schedule an eye exam for your kids.

Fight Eye Problems Fast

 

Eye exams can also help spot other problems, like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

Window to Your Health

 

If you’re having unexplained headaches, your eye doctor might be able to help. It may be as simple as updating your prescription.

Fighting Headaches with Your Eyes

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Yoga for Stress

Yoga Poses to Relieve Stress

This past week on social media for Yoga Awareness Month, we connected you to some poses and workouts to help you relieve stress.

It’s a relaxing activity that’s also great for exercise. There are many poses that can help you relieve stress, and this slideshow features 10.

Relaxation Through Yoga

 

Studies show that yoga can relieve stress, boost immunity, and fight food cravings. Try these beginner moves today.

Beginner Yoga

 

These 10 easy poses can reduce stress, ease lower back pain, and rejuvenate your mind and body.

Rejuvenate Through Yoga

 

The focus on your breathing makes yoga good for stress and anxiety, the most common mental illness in the U.S. Try these 10 calming poses today.

Calming Lotus Position

 

Daily programs are a great way to prevent headaches. Remember to breathe deeply and relax the muscles in your face. Try these 13 poses to relieve tension.

Yoga to Relieve Tension

 

Meditation is a cornerstone of yoga that makes you focus on the moment and can calm your mind. Find poses for headaches.

Yoga for Headaches

 

These 9 easy moves can help erase your day of chaos and calm your nerves.

Yoga Pose for Stress

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Wedding Day

Kick Wedding Stress to the Curb

Wedding Stress

Stress (including wedding stress) can cause headaches, high blood pressure, and much more.

Planning a wedding is a happy, fun time, but it’s also very stressful. I’m getting married this August, and wedding planning has been one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done. I’ve been lucky, though, because my fiancé, Shane, has made planning a wedding a partnership, not a solo gig for me. If you feel like your fiancé isn’t helping enough, or might wrongly assume you want to call all the shots yourself, speak up right away to get everyone on the same page.

I hope these tips help you keep your sanity while planning your wedding.  They’ve definitely helped me keep mine!

Plan according to a timeline.

When I began my planning, I went to a chain bookstore and bought a planning book. It was nothing terribly fancy, just something that offered a timeline and helpful hints.

The planner helped reassure me that I wasn’t forgetting something or waiting too long to do it. You don’t need to spend money on a book or planner to stay organized, but I think it’s important to find or create some kind of timeline to keep you on track.

Knock out the big things first.

Once you tell people you’re engaged, the next words out of everyone’s mouth (after congratulating you) are, “When’s the big day?”

First things first, pick a date and create a guest list, even if it’s a rough one. You’ll need this info when you seek out ceremony and reception sites. The sooner you can find (and hopefully book) a ceremony site, reception site (if different from the ceremony site), photographer, bakery, and band or DJ, the better. The rest, like wedding colors and flowers, will begin to fall into place after that.

Shane and Kristy
(Photo Credit: Seth Carpenter) Shane and Kristy pose for an engagement photo at Lake of the Woods in Mahomet, Ill.

Another big thing to keep in mind is the honeymoon (if you’re taking one). If you’re traveling somewhere out of the country, you’ll want to make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get your passport if you don’t already have it and to shop for deals. Booking our honeymoon is where Shane excelled. He kept his eye on deals for the flight and hotel to make sure we got the most out of our money. He also laid out options he found as to when and where we would fly out and when we would return. I recommend shopping around a bit to get the best bang for your buck.

I’m also glad to have Assist America on my side to lessen the stress of being out of the country. Assist America can help me get medical referrals, replacement prescriptions, hospital admission,s and much more, no matter where I’m at in the world. Visit HealthAlliance.org to learn more about Assist America.

Take a break.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the details involved in wedding planning. Even if you have a small bridal party and guest list, there are still a lot of details. I don’t think I realized the scope of it until I started planning.

In my moments of immense wedding stress, when the planning ride was getting bumpy and I wanted to scream, I took a break. I told myself I wasn’t going to think about it for the next couple of days. After that time off, I jumped right back on the wedding planning horse for a calmer ride.

Ask for help.

Although this is true for most stress, it especially rings true in wedding planning. If you’re struggling with any part of the planning, for example, finding a band/DJ, let someone know. You shouldn’t suffer in silence! Your significant other, bridal party or parents are usually happy to help. That’s what they’re there for!

Delegate.

This tip goes along with asking for help. As hard as it can be to let go, you don’t need to do everything yourself. Surely you can find a few things to hand off to someone else, no matter how large or small the detail. Again, your bridal party, fiancé, parents, and future in-laws are usually more than happy to help out.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be less stressed about your wedding. Best wishes to all the soon-to-be brides and grooms out there!

In Case of Emergency

ER Care vs. Urgent Care

Your 2-year-old has an earache. You slip and sprain your ankle. You’re feeling chest pain. Do you know where you should be getting care in each of these cases?

It can be hard to know, but it’s important because if you go to the emergency room when it’s not actually an emergency, your insurance may not pay for your care.

A trip to the ER is usually the most expensive kind of care. The average ER visit costs more than the average American’s monthly rent.

If you don’t need help right away, you can save time and money by setting up a same-day appointment with your doctor or going to an urgent care or convenient care clinic. These usually have extended hours, you don’t need an appointment, and many clinics have them.

But when something happens and you need care right away, you should know which things you should go to an urgent care location for, and when you should go to the ER.

Emergency Room or Convenient Care?

Earache

Visit convenient care. This needs care to keep it from getting worse, but it won’t pose a serious health risk if not treated immediately.

Sprained Ankle

Visit convenient care. This injury isn’t life threatening, but you may need medical attention to treat it.

Chest Pain

Go to the ER. This could because of a serious problem and is normally considered a medical emergency.

A trip to the ER is usually the most expensive kind of care. If you don’t need help right away, you can save time and money by setting up a same-day appointment with your doctor or going to an urgent care or convenient care clinic. These usually have extended hours, you don’t need an appointment, and many clinics have them. Carle, for example, has a few convenient care options.

Let these examples be your guide to where you should go:

Emergencies

Urgent Care Situations

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Poisoning
  • Broken bones
  • Fainting, seizures, or unconsciousness
  • Sharp wounds
  • Serious bleeding
  • Constant high or rising fever
  • Migraine headaches that don’t improve
  • Uncontrolled vomiting or diarrhea
  • Bronchitis
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Cuts, even minor ones, that need closed
  • Constant high or rising fever
  • Migraine headaches that don’t improve
  • Uncontrolled vomiting or diarrhea
  • Bronchitis
  • Allergies and asthma
  • Cold and flu
  • Minor infections, like bladder, sinus, or pink eye
  • Rash or sunburns
  • Sprains and strains
  • Back and neck pain
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Earache
  • Strep throat
  • Minor cuts
  • Minor work illness or injuries

 

It’s not always easy to know if you should go to the emergency room, especially when you need to act fast. The key is to trust your judgment. If you believe your health is in serious danger, it’s an emergency.