May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month

May 4th, 2016

Bread productsEveryone loves bread products: cake, pizza, pasta, who can resist those delicious treats? There are people who suffer from a syndrome called celiac disease, which can make them sick from eating these types of foods. May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. When the body's immune system overreacts to gluten in the food, the immune reaction damages the tiny hair-like projections that line the small intestine.

Celiac disease affects about one in 141 people in the United States. The precise cause of celiac disease is unknown.

Signs and Symptoms

Both adults and children can have celiac disease, but show different signs and symptoms.

Common symptoms for adults include:

  • Arthritis
  • Bone loss or osteoporosis
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Iron deficiency
  • Mouth sores
  • Seizures
  • Skin rash
  • Tingling numbness in hands and feet

Infants and children with celiac disease tend to have digestive problems. Common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal bloating and pain: These symptoms result from a failure of the small intestine to absorb nutrients from food.
  • Chronic diarrhea and constipation
  • Decreased appetite and failure to gain weight
  • Fatigue
  • Growth problems
  • Irritability
  • Vomiting

For teens with celiac disease, symptoms may not occur until they are triggered by something stressful, such as, leaving home for college or suffering an injury/illness.

Some patients will not have any symptoms of the disease because their intestine is still able to absorb a sufficient amount of nutrients to prevent their occurrence.

What IAA has to Say

Celiac disease can be a life-altering diagnosis as the patient has to rethink their entire diet. In honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month, Insurance Administrator of America encourages you to send this blog post along to friends and colleagues. 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.

Healthy Garden; Healthy Life

April 27th, 2016

Woman gardeningThe days are longer and the weather keeps getting warmer, which means it is a perfect time to start gardening. In addition to being a source of fresh healthy produce, gardening can ease stress, keep you limber and even improve your mood.

Make the Most of Your Garden

There are many benefits to having a garden. Gardening can offer:

  • Better mental health: Focusing your mind on gardening rather than other stressors in your life helps to eliminate stress. Rigorous chopping and pruning can help relieve pent up anger and frustration.    
  • Brain health: For people who are experiencing mental decline, even just walking in the garden may be therapeutic. The sights, smells and sounds of the garden are said to promote relaxation and reduce stress.
  • Enhanced self-esteem: Knowing that your hard work and dedication can create beautiful flowers, fruits and vegetables, gives you a sense of competence and accomplishment.
  • Exercise: Gardening gets you out in the fresh air and sunshine-- it also gets your blood moving. Digging, planting, weeding, and other repetitive tasks that require strength or stretching are excellent forms of low-impact exercise, especially for people who find more rigorous exercise a challenge.   
  • Nutrition: The food you grow yourself is the freshest food you can eat.
  • Stress relief: Gardening can fight stress even better than other relaxing leisure activities.

Gardening offers more than just a pretty view from your window!

Dress to Protect

Gardening is a great healthy activity, but you still need to be careful! Here are some tips to prevent any injuries:

  • Follow instructions and warning labels on chemicals and lawn and gardening equipment.
  • Stay outside for 30 to 60 minutes, then quit whether everything is planted or not.
  • Stretch first, just like you would for any other workout.
  • To lower your risk of sunburn, wear long -sleeves, wide-brimmed hats, sun shades, and sunscreen.
  • Use insect repellent to protect yourself from diseases caused by mosquitoes and ticks.  Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants tucked into your socks.
  • Wear gloves to lower the risk of skin irritations, cuts and certain contaminants.

Take a nice hot bath afterwards, you earned it!

 What IAA has to Say

Gardening is a great leisure activity, especially since it can help improve your health! Insurance Administrator of America hopes you will get started on your garden. Healthy food, exercise, what more could you ask for? Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

Reminder: This Saturday, 4/30/2016, is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day for unused prescriptions. Help this cause by going to your nearest drop off site to dispose of unused medications. Click here to find your local drop off site!

Interested in reading more on this topic? Click here and here!

The Death of Patty Duke Shines a Light on Sepsis

April 13th, 2016

Sepsis bannerPatty Duke's tragic passing has brought to light a silent killer, sepsis. Sepsis is the body's overwhelming and life-threatening  response to an infection, which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death.

Signs and Symptoms

There is no single sign or symptom of sepsis. It is a combination of symptoms:

  • S-Shivering, fever or very cold
  • E-Extreme pain or general discomfort (worst ever)
  • P-Pale or discolored skin
  • S-Sleepy, difficult to rouse, confused
  • I-I feel like I might die
  • S-Short of breath

Any type of infection can lead to sepsis, the most likely varieties include:

  • Abdominal infection
  • Blood stream infection
  • Kidney infection
  • Pneumonia

The symptoms of sepsis are not caused by the germs themselves. Instead, chemicals the body releases cause the response.

An Increase in Sepsis

The incidence of sepsis appears to be increasing in the United States. The cause of this increase may include:

  • Aging population: Americans are living longer, which is swelling the ranks of the highest risk age group--people older than 65.
  • Drug resistant bacteria: Many types of bacteria can resist the effects of antibiotics that once killed them.
  • Weakened immune system

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are over 1 million cases of sepsis  each year and it is the ninth leading cause of disease-related death.

Risk factors for developing sepsis are:

  • Are already very sick, often in a hospital's intensive care unit
  • Being very young or very old
  • Having a compromised immune system
  • Having invasive devices such as intravenous catheters or breathing tubes
  • Having wounds or injuries such as burns

Sepsis kills more than 258,000 Americans each year.

Preventing Sepsis

Take steps to prevent sepsis from happening to you:

  1. Get vaccinated against the flu, pneumonia and any other infections that could lead to sepsis.
  2. Prevent infections that could lead to sepsis by cleaning scrapes and wounds.
  3. Practice good hygiene
  4. If you have an infection, look for signs such as fever, chills, rapid breathing, rash, confusion, and disorientation.

Prevention is important in the fight against sepsis.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America is here to help bring health news to your attention. With the passing of Patty Duke people are now more aware of sepsis. IAA hopes this little bit of knowledge that has been shared, can help go a long way. 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!

April is Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month

April 6th, 2016

Parkinson's Awareness Month BannerApril is Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month. Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. Nearly one million people in the United States are living with the disease.

Signs and Symptoms

Parkinson's disease belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders. Symptoms often begin on one side of the body  and usually remain worse on that side.  Signs and symptoms of the disease may include:

  • Impaired posture and balance: Your posture may become stooped or you may have balance problems.
  • Loss of automatic movements: You may have decreased ability to perform unconscious movements, including blinking, smiling or swinging your arms when you walk.
  • Rigid muscles: Muscle stiffness may occur in any part of your body.
  • Slowed movement: Your steps may become shorter when you walk, or you may find it difficult to get out of a chair. Also, you may drag your feet as you try to walk, making it difficult  to move.  
  • Speech changes: You  may speak softly, quickly, slur, or hesitate before talking. Speech may be more of a monotone.
  • Tremor: A tremor or shaking usually begins in a limb, often your hands or fingers . One characteristic of the disease is a tremor of your hand when it is relaxing.  This is often the first symptom that people notice.
  • Writing changes: It may become hard to write and your writing may appear small.

Warning signs of the disease can include:

  • Dizziness or fainting: Low blood pressure, which can cause dizziness or fainting, is linked to Parkinson's disease.
  • Loss of smell: No longer able to smell certain foods very well.
  • Trouble sleeping: Sudden movements during sleep like falling out of bed or thrashing around.

In Parkinson's disease certain nerve cells (neurons) in the brain gradually break down or die. Many of the symptoms are due to a loss of neurons that produce a chemical messenger in the brain called dopamine. When dopamine levels decrease, it causes abnormal brain activity.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of Parkinson's disease remains unknown, but several factors appear to play a role:

  • Environmental triggers: Exposure to certain toxins or environmental factors may increase the risk.
  • Genes: Researchers have identified specific genetic mutations that can cause Parkinson's disease. 
  • The presence of Lewy bodies: Clumps of specific substances within brain cells are microscopic markers of Parkinson's disease. These are called Lewy bodies.

There are certain risk factors for Parkinson's disease which include:

  • Age: Young adults rarely experience Parkinson's disease. It ordinarily begins in middle or late life, and the risk increases with age. People usually develop the disease around age 60 or older.
  • Exposure to toxins: Ongoing exposure to herbicides and pesticides may put a person at a slightly increased risk. 
  • Gender: Men are more likely to develop Parkinson's disease.
  • Heredity: Having a close relative with the disease increases the chances you'll develop the disease.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to spread the word on Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month! You can help by sending this blog post on to friends and colleagues. A little bit of effort can go a long way. 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!

Combining Prescriptions and Diet Supplements Could be Dangerous

March 30th, 2016

Prescription bottleAccording to a new study, a growing number of older adults are combining multiple prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs, and supplements that could lead to serious side effects.

Adverse Reactions

From 2006-2011 the number of older adults (ages 62-85) in the United States taking five or more medications or supplements rose from 53.4 percent to 67.1 percent. The number of older adults taking at least one prescription medication  or dietary supplement rose between 2005 and 2011.

For the study, researchers used a data base of reported and predicted drug interactions to determine whether the 20 most common prescription drugs and supplements used by participants in the study were predicted to cause an adverse reaction when taken together. Researchers found  that 16 combinations of prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs and supplements, were predicted to increase the risk of adverse reactions, most commonly bleeding.

The study suggested that many patients do not tell their doctors about non-prescription drugs they're taking. The most common reasons for not disclosing this information were that the physician did not ask and the patient did not think it was important.  

One of the best ways to ensure patients are combining medications in a safe way would be to make sure the patient's entire healthcare team knows about all drugs being taken. Every time you visit a healthcare professional, bring a list of dietary supplements and medications you're currently taking.

Medication Mistakes

Besides taking medications that don't work well together, there are other things to look out for when taking any medication or supplement. Make sure to avoid these mistakes:

  • Leave the doctor's office without enough information: When leaving the doctor's office make sure you know the name of the medication and what it's for.
  • Mixing drugs and alcohol
  • Not taking medications as directed: Compliance is a major problem, especially in the elderly.
  • Wrong prescription from the pharmacy

Some dietary supplements may increase the effect of your medication and other supplements may decrease it. Make sure to get all the information you can before adding a new supplement or prescription to your regimen.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to check over those prescriptions! Make sure all your doctors are aware of the medications and supplements you are taking, your health could depend on it. 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!