Diabetes is on the Rise

November 19th, 2014

Diabetes devicesAccording to a recent study, diabetes is on the rise. There are 29.1 million Americans or 9.3 percent of the population with diabetes, up from 25.8 million in 2010. The prevalence of diabetes in children also shot up dramatically between 2000 and 2009. The rate of Type II diabetes in children rose more than 30% during this period.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease where there is too much sugar in the blood. The body normally converts the sugar/carbohydrates we eat into energy that cells can use to function. Insulin, a hormone that is secreted from the pancreas, is the hormone responsible for converting the sugars/carbohydrates into the energy that the cells need. A diabetic is someone who has too much sugar in the blood because the conversion of the sugar/carbohydrates into energy never happens.

There are two different forms of diabetes:

  • Type I: Usually diagnosed in children and young adults. Type I does not produce insulin, without insulin the body cannot convert the sugar/carbohydrates into energy. The sugars ingested remain in the blood.
  • Type II: In this type, the body does not make enough insulin or the cells in the body “ignore” the insulin that is produced.

There are 86 million Americans with pre-diabetes, up from 79 million in 2010.

Signs and Symptoms

It is important to try and diagnose diabetes as early as possible. Signs and symptoms of the disease are:

  • Blurred vision
  • Extreme fatigue or irritability
  • Extreme hunger
  • Frequent infections
  • Frequent urination
  • Sores that are slow to heal
  • Unusual thirst
  • Unusual weight loss

Uncontrolled diabetes or diabetics with blood sugar that is consistently too high can experience health issues such as:

  • Amputations
  • Blindness
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney failure
  • Neuropathy
  • Stroke

There are 8.1 million people who have diabetes, but have gone undiagnosed.

Diabetes and You

There are a number of ways that you can help treat and prevent diabetes:

  • Be active: Daily physical activity is important for weight control and blood sugar regulation.
  • Healthy eating: Promotes weight control. Try eating smaller portions, less fat, more fiber, and cutting down on sugary drinks.
  • Pat attention to your feet: High blood sugar can damage nerves in your feet and reduce blood flow to your feet. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can lead to serious infections.
  • Take care of your teeth: Diabetes may leave you prone to gum infections.
  • Take stress seriously: If you’re stressed it is easy to neglect your usual diabetes care routine. The hormones your body may produce in response to prolonged stress may prevent insulin from working properly, which only makes matters worse.
  • Weight loss: Research has shown it only takes a modest amount of weight loss (five to seven percent of your total body weight) to reduce your risk for the development of diabetes. Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for Type II diabetes. The reason weight is related to the development of diabetes is that weight inhibits the body’s ability to make or use insulin properly.

While diabetes may require changes to your lifestyle, it is important to make those changes part of your daily life.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to take the time to learn about preventing diabetes. With diabetes on the rise in both adults and children, IAA does not want you to become part of the statistic.

Insurance Administrator of America is excited to offer “My Wellness” a program that clients receive for free, which can help improve their personal health and wellness. My Wellness offers everything from coaching to health and fitness programs. Own a Fitbit? Clients can help track their success through the Fitbit.  A great aspect of My Wellness is the way employees can use whatever parts of the program that suits them. There are plenty of wellness tools to meet the needs of every employee.  Contact your IAA Client Advocate for more information. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.  

Interested in reading more blog posts about this issue? Click here and here.

Not Able to See at Night? It Could be Night Blindness

November 12th, 2014

Night sceneNow that it is becoming darker earlier in the evenings, some people may have trouble seeing when coming home from work. Those who have this issue may have a condition called night blindness.

What is Night Blindness?

Night blindness is a medical condition that affects a person’s ability to see things clearly at night or in an environment with dim or no light. Night blindness is due to a disorder of cells in the retina that are responsible for vision in dim light.

The causes of night blindness are:

  • Cataracts: One of the most common causes of night blindness, cataracts are a formation of cloudy areas that develops around one’s eyes as one grows older in age. A person’s vision deteriorates over time, eventually resulting in night blindness.
  • Glaucoma: This condition develops when there is too much fluid pressure inside the eye. It occurs when the normal flow of the watery fluid between the cornea and the lens of the eye is blocked.
  • Myopia: Another term for nearsightedness.
  • Poor nutrition: Though uncommon, vitamin A deficiency can cause night blindness.  Vitamin A keeps our skin and eyes healthy. An inadequate supply of vitamin A to the body can result in night blindness over a period of time.
  • Retinitis pigmentosa: A rare genetic disorder. 

Night blindness is not a disease, but rather a symptom of an underlying disorder or problem. The treatment of night blindness will depend on the cause.

How Your Vision Works

In a normal, healthy eye, light enters the pupil and passes through the lens, which focuses it and directs it to the retina on the back of the eye where images form. The retina contains two kinds of photoreceptors: cones and rods. Cones enable us to see when it is light. They give us color vision and allow us to see details, like words on a page. Rods, on the other hand, are very sensitive. They provide only black and white images, which is critically important for night vision.

In dim light or darkness, eyes adapt by widening the pupils to let in as much light as possible. The iris (the colored part of the eye surrounding the pupil) contains muscles that control the size of the pupil. As you get older, those muscles weaken and do not respond as well. The result is a small pupil when you try to see in poor light.

There is also evidence that we lose more rods as we age, partially explaining why night vision worsens over time.

Vision Changes

In the years after you turn 60, a number of eye diseases may develop that can change your vision permanently:

  • Age related macular degeneration: An eye disease affecting the macula, the center of the light sensitive retina at the back of the eye, causing the loss of central vision. The macula is the part of the retina that allows us to see fine details and colors. Activities like reading, driving, watching TV, and recognizing faces, all require good central vision provided by the macula.
  • Dry eye: A condition in which there is an insufficient amount of tears or a poor quality of tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision.
  • Retinal detachment: The tearing or separation of the retina from the underlying tissue.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America knows how important your eyes are. To make sure you are seeing clearly, it is important to get your eyes checked, especially if you have had issues in the past or are currently experiencing problems. IAA wants your eyes to be in the best shape they can be! Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

Interested in reading a similar blog post? Click here.

Are You Feeling Blue? It may be due to S.A.D

November 5th, 2014

Girl on rock in snowAs cold weather is quickly settling in, some people may be starting to feel the winter blues.  For some, it could be more than just the change in the weather. Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) is a type of depression that occurs at a certain time of year, usually in the winter.

Symptoms of S.A.D

Symptoms of S.A.D usually build up slowly in the late autumn and winter months. Symptoms of S.A.D are:

  • Heavy leaden feeling in the arms and legs
  • Hopelessness
  • Increased appetite (especially a craving for carbohydrates) with weight gain
  • Increased sleep
  • Less energy and ability to concentrate
  • Loss of interest in work or other activities
  • Sluggish movements
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unhappiness and irritability

As with other types of depression, antidepressant medicines and talk therapy can be effective. There is another form of therapy, called light therapy that may be able to reduce symptoms as well. Light therapy involves the use of light boxes. Light boxes use fluorescent lights that are brighter than indoor lights, but not as bright as sunlight.  There are two types of light therapy:

  • Bright light treatment: For this treatment you place a light box at a certain distance from you at a desk or table and sit.
  • Dawn simulation: For this treatment, a dim light goes on in the morning while you sleep and it gets brighter over time, like a sunrise.

Getting more sunlight may help too, so try to go outside to exercise when the sun is shining. Be active during the daytime, especially early in the day, as it may help you to have more energy.

Causes of S.A.D

The specific cause of S.A.D remains unknown. Some factors that may contribute to S.A.D are:

  • Melatonin levels: The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.
  • Serotonin levels:  Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin (a brain chemical that affects mood) that may trigger depression.
  • Your biological clock (circadian rhythm): The decrease in sunlight during the winter may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.

Some risk factors of S.A.D are:

  • Age: Young people have a higher risk of S.A.D.
  • Being female: S.A.D is diagnosed more often in women than in men.
  • Family history: People with S.A.D may be more likely to have blood relatives with S.A.D or another form of depression.
  • Living far from the equator: S.A.D appears to be more common among people who live far north or south of the equator. This may be due to decreased sunlight during the winter days and longer days during the summer months.

It can be hard to tell the difference between S.A.D and other types of depression, which is why it is important to check in with your doctor and get a proper diagnosis.

Summer S.A.D

A minority of people have disruptive seasonal mood swings that go beyond feeling uncomfortable on hot summer days.

Those with summer S.A.D (about 0.7 percent of the population) become depressed between May and September. Those with summer S.A.D experience symptoms of insomnia, decreased appetite, agitation, and weight loss.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America knows that sometimes winter can bring people down. Just make sure that it is not affecting your daily life. IAA wants you to remain your cheery self all year long, so don’t let winter get you down! Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

Like this blog post? Let IAA know by going to our Facebook page and clicking the Like button!

Get Fit With IAA’s Updated Wellness Portal

October 29th, 2014

Apple and weightsInsurance Administrator of America is excited to introduce “My Wellness” a program that can help you improve your personal health and wellness.

What My Wellness can Offer

The My Wellness portal offers a variety of resources for employers and employees alike. Some of the health and wellness tools offered are:

  • Health and fitness programs
  • Health coaching
  • Healthy recipes  
  • Fitness tracking tools
  • Personal health profile
  • Wellness competition portal
  • Wellness tips
  • Wellness to-do list
  • Wellness tutorials

A great aspect of My Wellness is the way employees can use whatever parts of the portal which suits them. There are plenty of wellness tools to meet the needs of every employee. Does one employee want to lose pounds by eating healthier, while another is all about tracking their steps? Both can find what they are looking for in this new portal.

Have a Friendly Competition

Are you looking for ways to get your employees moving? My Wellness has just the tool for you—employee wellness competitions.  There are a number of employee wellness competitions for employers and employees to choose from:

  • Choose to Lose
  • Choose to Move
  • Walk America

Find out which competition is right for your employees:

  • Choose to Lose:  A fun interactive weight loss challenge that will help employees track percentage of weight loss. In this competition, employees will learn to eat healthier, fit exercise into their daily routine and more. This is all done while eating the right foods, getting fitter and getting healthier. Here is how it works:
  1. Start losing: Eat healthier, exercise more, gain momentum, learn what works for you, and watch the number on the scale go down.
  2. Track your weight loss: Visit your competition website daily to track your progress. Aim to lose the largest percentage of weight.
  • Choose to Move: A fitness challenge that will help employees rack up minutes of exercise in the hopes of out-moving the competition. Here is how it works:
  1. Get moving: Burn calories, get fit and have fun
  2. Track your minutes: Visit the competition site to track your progress, work to meet or surpass weekly exercise goals and celebrate your victories.
  • Walk America: Virtually walk from New York City to San Francisco. Here is how it works:
  1. Get moving
  2. Check out eight cities: Virtually visit the world’s largest man made monument, stroll through America’s second most populous city and dip your toes in the largest salt lake in the world.
  3. Track your steps

Of course, you can always be creative and create your own competitionAll competitions can be done individually or in groups.

For those in charge of the competition, they can send out directions on how to register and other promotional materials.

How IAA can Help

IAA is proud to offer health and wellness tools to clients. When exercise and healthy food are turned into something fun, everyone benefits. IAA wants clients to go and try out My Wellness and find something that can help turn their exercise and eating habits around.  Not sure if you’ll be able to cross that competition finish line? Just think of IAA cheering you on to better health. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

Interested in learning more about what IAA can do for you? Click here and here.

Fact or Fiction: Can Chicken Soup Cure a Cold?

October 22nd, 2014

Bowl of chicken noodle soupThere’s a chill in the air and frost on the ground, which can only mean one thing: cold and flu season has arrived.  Along with cold and flu season comes many suggestions on how to cure cold and flu symptoms.  Many recommend a good dose of chicken soup—but can it really work?

The Science Behind Grandma’s Chicken Soup

A study published in the medical journal, Chest, found that chicken soup contains anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent a cold’s miserable side effects.

Researchers believe that colds are caused by viral infections in the upper respiratory tract. The body responds with inflammation, which triggers white blood cells (neutrophils) to the area. These cells are responsible for migrating to sites where the body has been invaded by germs. What draws them to sites are chemicals called “chemotactic factors.”  These bacteria-devouring cells however, have little ability to kill off a virus, and as a side-effect stimulates the production of mucus, which may cause symptoms of a stuffy head, coughing and sneezing.

During the experiment, scientists tested the ability of those neutrophils to migrate from one side of a chamber across a filter to the other side as they normally do. After mixing the soup with neutrophils, scientists checked to see whether it stopped the cell’s tendency to move toward the chemotactic factors. The overall conclusion: chicken soup inhibits neutrophil movement toward chemotactic factors. In other words, soup is good for a cold. 

The theory is that some ingredients in the soup blocks or slows down the amount of cells congregating in the lung area, possibly relieving the development of cold symptoms. Researchers could not identify the exact ingredients in the soup that made it effective against colds, but say it may be a combination of vegetables and chicken that work together.

Cold and Flu Remedies: Fact or Fiction?

Remedies and suggestions for warding off or beating a cold and the flu have been passed around for centuries.  The question is, are these tips and remedies fact or fiction?

  • Feed a cold and starve a fever: Fiction. You will not be hearing this advice from your doctor. You should be focused on drinking enough as it is important to stay hydrated.  Eating can help, but not when it’s forced.
  • Lingering in wet clothes or going outside in cold weather with wet hair can increase your chances of getting a cold: Fiction. While the viruses are most common during those times of the year, the consensus among physicians seems to be that colds are caused by people staying indoors to avoid the cold, not from the cold itself.
  • Stress increases your chances of getting a cold or the flu: Undetermined. While medicine may not be able to tell if stress increases the risk of catching a cold or the flu, stress can make either of those conditions worse once you have it.
  • Zinc or echinacea can help prevent or shorten the length of a cold: Undetermined. Both zinc and echinacea have had a number of studies done on them and neither has been shown conclusively to help battle colds.   

Of course, we all know remedies that can certainly help us beat a cold and the flu:

  • Antihistamines: Provides minor relief of several cold symptoms, including coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, and nasal discharge. 
  • Sleep: Studies show that adequate bed rest boosts immune function and reduces the risk of catching a cold. Extra sleep helps cold sufferers feel better.
  • Take a shower: A hot shower loosens clogged nasal passages and moistens your mucus membranes.
  • Washing your hands: Colds commonly spread when we touch someone or something that harbors cold causing viruses and then infect ourselves by touching our noses or eyes. Hand washing is great at eliminating viruses before they make us sick (and before we spread them to others). The key is to wash thoroughly and regularly.
  • Water and other fluids: Water, juice, clear broth, or warm lemon water with honey helps lessen congestion and prevents dehydration.

Both a cold and the flu are easily spread so try your best at keeping them at bay!

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to fight back this cold and flu season.  Maybe a cup of chicken soup is the answer! Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

Interested in reading similar blog posts? Click here and here.