Health in the News: Legionnaires’ Disease

August 26th, 2015

BannerAn outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease has been reported in the Bronx section of New York City. By the first week of August the outbreak had risen to 86 cases, claiming 12 lives. While the city of New York is handling the situation, most people are unsure of what the disease is and how it is spread.

What is Legionnaires’ Disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by a type of bacteria called legionella. People get Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in a mist or vapor containing the bacteria. This might be the spray from the shower, faucet or water dispersed through the ventilation system in a large building.

Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment, usually in water. The bacteria grow best in warm water, like the kind found in:

  • Cooling towers
  • Decorative fountains
  • Hot tubs
  • Hot water tanks
  • Large plumbing systems

The key to preventing Legionnaires’ disease is maintenance of water systems in which legionella grow

The bacteria is named after a 1976 outbreak when many people who went to a Philadelphia convention of the American Legion, contracted this disease.

Signs and Symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease can have symptoms similar to pneumonia, so it can be hard to diagnose at first. Signs of Legionnaires’ disease can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Confusion or other mental changes
  • Cough
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Headaches
  • High fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Shortness of breath

These symptoms usually begin two to 10 days after being exposed to the bacteria, but people should watch for symptoms for about two weeks after exposure.

Not everyone exposed to the bacteria becomes sick. Certain types of people are at a higher risk of developing symptoms:

  • Current or former smokers
  • Older people (usually 50 years of age or older)
  • People who take medications that weaken the immune system
  • Those with a chronic lung disease
  • Those with a weak immune system from diseases like cancer, diabetes or kidney failure

You can get Legionnaires’ disease anytime of the year, but more cases are usually found in the summer and early fall.  An estimated 8,000 to 18,000 hospitalized cases of Legionnaires’ disease occur each year in the United States.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to be aware of health situations happening throughout the country. The more you know, the more you can help prevent these situations where you live! IAA wants you to remain in good health. 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!

Sitting is the New Smoking

August 19th, 2015

RemoteRecent research has deemed sitting as the new smoking, even if you go to the gym on a regular basis. It’s time to start moving!

The ‘Sitting Disease”

“Sitting disease” is a catchy phrase for a sedentary lifestyle that might be putting your health at risk. A new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that sedentary behavior increases our chances of getting a disease or a condition that will kill us prematurely even if we exercise.  A long period of physical inactivity raises your risk of:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Metabolic syndrome  (a cluster of conditions that include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels)
  • Obesity

Prolonged sitting means sitting for eight to 12 hours or more a day. The solution to preventing “sitting disease” seems to be sitting less and more moving overall.

Get Up

The impact of movement, even leisurely movement, can be profound. The muscle activity needed for standing and other movement seems to trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body. When you sit, these processes stall---and your health risks increase. When you’re standing or actively moving, you kick the process back into action.

It is important to sneak some time on your feet, whether at the office or at home:

  1. Get NEAT: NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis, and includes stretching, turning and bending. Try to aim for 10 minutes each hour.
  2. Think beyond the lunchtime workout: Have a whole day approach to physical activity. Go for a walk at lunch, use the stairs instead of the elevator, try parking further away at work—you get the picture!
  3. Pretend its 1985: Have a question for your co-worker down the hall? Don’t shoot him an email, walk over and ask him face to face.
  4. Take a stand: Standing uses more muscles and burns more calories than sitting. So train yourself to stand whenever you can, like when answering the phone.
  5. Rearrange the office: Help your company encourage its employees to be more physically active. Start having walk and talk meetings with your co-workers, and get out of the conference room. Move trashcans away from desks to make people walk to throw away their garbage.
  6. End your workday with a bang: Typically, you lose stream as five o’clock approaches. But if you take a brisk 15 minute walk in the afternoon, you’ll be far more productive in your last two hours.
  7. Rethink your commute: If you take a bus or train to work, you can stand up while riding; or do exercises like clenching and relaxing your muscles; or you can get off a stop early and walk a few extra blocks. If mass transit isn’t an option, find a distant parking spot so that you walk for a few minutes before and after work.
  8. Multitask while watching TV: Place your exercise equipment in front of your TV and only allow yourself to watch when you’re using the equipment. No exercise equipment? March in place or tidy the room. Just don’t be a couch potato.

Find the time to get yourself up and moving!

How IAA can Help

Insurance Administrator of America is proud to offer wellness tools for our clients. Keep track of your personal health and wellness information and have fun while doing it! There are plenty of tools to meet everyone’s needs. Try it out today! Just think of IAA cheering you on to better health.

Interested in more blog posts about physcial activity? Click here and here.

August is Psoriasis Awareness Month

August 12th, 2015

Psoriasis BannerEveryone gets dry patches of skin from time to time. People with psoriasis, however, have scaly, thick red patches of skin, frequently.  Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes scaling and inflammation. Take the time to learn more about this disorder in honor of Psoriasis Awareness Month.

What is Psoriasis?

Skin cells grow deep in the skin and slowly rise to the surface. This process is called cell turnover, and it takes about a month. With psoriasis, however, it can happen in just a few days because the cells rise too fast and pile up to the surface.

Psoriasis begins in the immune system, mainly with a type of white blood cell called a T-cell. T-cells help protect the body against infection and disease. With psoriasis, T-cells are put into action by mistake. They become so active they set off other immune responses. This leads to swelling and fast turnover of skin cells, which causes psoriasis.

There are multiple places on the body where psoriasis can be found:

  1. Face: Facial psoriasis most often affects the eyebrows, the skin between the nose and the upper lip, the upper forehead, and the hairline.
  2. Hands, feet and nails: Treat sudden flares of psoriasis on the hands and feet promptly and carefully. In some cases, cracking, blisters and swelling, accompany flares.
  3. Scalp: Scalp psoriasis can be very mild with slight, fine scaling. It can also be very severe with thick, crusted plaques covering the entire scalp. Psoriasis can extend beyond the hairline onto the forehead, the back of the neck and around the ears.

Psoriasis is associated with other serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and depression

Types of Psoriasis

There are five types of psoriasis:

  1. Plaque psoriasis: The most common form of the disease, it appears as raised, red patches covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells. These patches or plaques most often show up on the scalp, knees, elbows, and lower back.
  2. Guttate: This is a form of psoriasis that appears as small, dot-like lesions. This is the second most common type of psoriasis.
  3. Inverse: Inverse psoriasis shows up as very red lesions in body folds, such as behind the knee, under the arm or in the groin. It may appear smooth and shiny.
  4. Pustular:  This is characterized by white pustules (blisters of non-infectious pus) surrounded by dead skin. Pustular psoriasis can occur on any part of the body, but occurs most often on the hands or feet.
  5. Erythrodermic: This is a particularly severe form of psoriasis that leads to widespread, fiery redness over most of the body. It can cause severe itching and pain, and make the skin come off in sheets.

To avoid psoriasis flare ups, try to avoid:

  1. Infections: Infections such as strep throat causes psoriasis to appear suddenly, especially in children.
  2. Over exposure to sunlight: Sunburns can trigger flares of psoriasis.
  3. Skin injury: An injury to the skin can cause psoriasis patches to form anywhere on the body, including the site of the injury.
  4. Stress and anxiety: Stress can cause psoriasis to appear suddenly or make symptoms worse.

In some people, psoriasis causes joints to become swollen, tender and painful. This is called psoriatic arthritis.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to take the time this month to help make others aware of psoriasis. By sending this blog post on to friends and colleagues, you can help support Psoriasis Awareness Month. 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!

Is Your Child Acting Out? It Might be Sleep Apnea

August 5th, 2015

Sleepy KidWhile children can certainly be irritable in the morning, sometimes it is more than just not being a morning person. Like adults, children can suffer from sleep apnea, which can affect their behavior. According to the National Sleep Foundation, two to three percent of children of all ages have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), including newborn children. 

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

When we sleep our muscles relax. This includes the muscles in the back of your throat that help keep the airway open. With OSA, these muscles relax too much and collapse the airway making it hard to breatheBreathing temporarily pauses during sleep for more than two breathes cycles, which can happen up to 70 times an hour. Oxygen levels in the blood plummet, which then triggers the brain to briefly wake us up so that the airway reopens. Most of the time this process happens quickly and children go right back to sleep without knowing they woke up. But this pattern repeats itself all night, so those who have it do not reach a deeper, more restful level of sleep.

Signs that your child might have OSA are:

  • Daytime sleepiness or behavioral problems
  • Excessive sweating at night because of the strain of trying to breathe
  • Heavy breathing while sleeping
  • Long pauses in breathing while sleeping (longer than two breathe cycles)
  • Loud snoring often with gasping, choking and snorts
  • Very restless sleep and sleeping in unusual positions
  • Waking up with headaches  and irritability, hyperactivity, and difficulty concentrating

Because OSA makes it hard to get a good night’s sleep, kids might have a hard time waking up in the morning, be tired throughout the day, and have attention or behavioral problems. As a result, sleep apnea can hurt school performance. Teachers may think a child has attention deficit hyper activity disorder or learning difficulties. Studies have suggested that as many as 25 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD  may actually have symptoms of OSA and that much of their difficulty and behavior problems can be the consequence of chronic fragmented sleep

Risk Factors

One to four percent of children have OSA, but many go undiagnosed and untreated because people do not recognize the symptoms. Risk factors for OSA are:

  • Being obese: Several recent studies show a strong association between pediatric sleep disorders and childhood obesity
  • Enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids (lymph nodes in the throat, behind the nose)
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke
  • Having a small jaw
  • Larger  than usual tongue, which can fall back and block the airway

Surgical removal of the adenoids and tonsils is the most common treatment for pediatric OSA. The operation can result in complete elimination of OSA symptoms 70 to 90 percent of the time. Weight management, including nutritional, exercise, and behavioral elements, should be strongly encouraged for all children with OSA who are overweight or obese.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants your children to have a healthy good night’s sleep. A good night of sleep is important to for everyone, especially young children. Just think of IAA as you third party sandman, wishing your children a night of restful sleep. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

Interested in reading more on this topic? Click here!

Good Oral Health Means Good Overall Health

July 30th, 2015

TeethAn analysis of recent federal data by the American Dental Association shows dental emergency room visits doubled from 1.1 million in 2000 to 2.2 million in 2012Oral health and overall body health are intertwined, making it important to take care of your mouth.

Poor Dental Health

While health reform has made medical coverage available to more people than before, the lack of proper dental coverage still persists. The Affordable Care Act requires health plans to cover dental services for children, but not for adults.  All but 15 percent of dental ER visits are by the uninsured or people with government insurance.

By law ERs have to see patients even if they cannot pay. Although they often provide little more than pain killers and antibiotics to dental patients, they cost more than three times as much as a routine dental visit, averaging $749 a visit (if the patient isn’t hospitalized) and costing the United States health care system $1.6 billion a year.

The Need for Good Dental Health

To date, scientists have found links between periodontal disease and a number of other problems including:

  • Cardiovascular disease: Heart disease, clogged arteries and stokes, might be linked to the inflammation and infection that oral bacteria can cause.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection—putting the gums at risk. Research shows that people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels.
  • Endocarditis: Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of the heart. Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.
  • Premature birth: In a recent study, researchers found that pregnant women with periodontal disease, who completed periodontal treatment before the thirty-fifth week, were less likely to deliver their babies before term than those with periodontal disease who did not get treatment.

Though it is not certain, experts believe that oral bacteria can escape into the bloodstream and injure major organs. Inflammation is probably a common denominator experts say.

The signs of an unhealthy mouth are:

  • Changes in the way your top and bottom teeth align with each other
  • Gums that begin pulling away from your teeth
  • Gums that bleed when brushing or flossing
  • Loose permanent teeth
  • Persistent bad breath or an unusual taste in your mouth
  • Red, tender or swollen gums
  • Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold

Keep your teeth healthy and clean!

Keep Your Mouth Clean

There a few oral care musts for a healthy mouth:

  1. Pay a visit: If you’re prone to ditching the dentist, you’re among the roughly 50 percent of adults in the U.S. who don’t see a dentist yearly because of dental phobia, finances, or just plain neglect. But spend some quality time with your dentist (twice a year the American Dental Association advices) and you’ll catch problems such as decay, gum disease, trauma, or cancer at an early stage.
  2. Count the years: Toddlers and older adults tend to fly under the dental radar, but they need mouth maintenance. Children should see a dentist by the time they’re one. Older folks have their own oral issues. Arthritis can make brushing and flossing challenging. As people age, the amount of saliva they produces decreases, which means more tooth decay.
  3. Use the right toothbrush: You want a brush with soft bristles. It should last two to three months and be replaced when the bristles become bent.
  4. Practice proper technique: If you’re like most people, you don’t give much thought as to how you brush. Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle, pointed toward the gum line, and use gentle, short, circular motions. Brush each tooth 10 to 15 times, but don’t overdo it. Overly aggressive brushing can damage teeth and erode your gum line.
  5. Flossing: Like brushing, there’s a right and a wrong way to floss because flaws in your flossing can cause friction and damage the gum line. Wrap about a foot of floss between your fingers to work with. Unroll a fresh section of floss for each tooth, and keep the floss tight against the tooth to break up plaque while leaving your gums in good shape.

Make sure to keep your equipment clean! Always rinse your toothbrush with water after brushing.  

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants your smile to be bright and healthy! Taking care of your oral health also helps you to take care of your overall health. 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!