Health in the News: Pneumonia

September 21st, 2016

Pnuemonia bannerDemocratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia on September 9th, 2016. When the nation heard the news on September 11th, it left a number of people scratching their heads as to how serious (or how minor) a diagnosis like this is?

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacks in one or both lungs. The air sacks may fill with fluid or pus, causing a cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing.

Many germs can cause pneumonia. The most common are bacteria and viruses in the air we breathe. The body usually prevents these germs from infecting the lungs. But sometimes these germs can overpower the immune system.

Pneumonia is classified according to the types of germs that caused it and where the person received the infection:

  1. Community-acquired pneumonia: The most common type of pneumonia, it occurs outside of hospitals or other healthcare facilities. It may be caused by:
  • Bacteria: The most common type of bacterial pneumonia in the United States is streptococcus pneumoniae.  This type of pneumonia can occur on its own or after you’ve had the flu or a cold. It may affect one part of the lung, a condition called lobar pneumonia.
  • Bacteria-like organisms: Mycoplasma pneumoniae also can cause pneumonia. It typically produces milder symptoms than other types of pneumonia. Walking pneumonia is the informal name it is given.
  • Fungi: This type of pneumonia is most common in people with chronic health problems or weakened immune systems.
  • Viruses: Some of the viruses that cause colds and the flu can cause pneumonia viruses.

2. Hospital-acquired pneumonia: Some people catch pneumonia during a hospital stay for another illness. Hospital-diagnosed pneumonia can be serious because the bacteria causing it may be more resistant to antibiotics and because the people who get it are already sick.
3. Healthcare-acquired pneumonia: A bacterial infection that occurs in people who live in long-term care facilities or who receive care in outpatient clinics.
4. Aspiration pneumonia: Occurs when you inhale food, drink or saliva into your lungs.
5.Atypical pneumonia: Several types of bacteria, legionella pneumophila, mycoplasma pneumonia, and chlamydophila pneumoniae, cause atypical pneumonia. Atypical pneumonia is passed from person to person.

In the U.S. about 50,000 people die from pneumonia each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of pneumonia vary from mild to severe, depending on factors such as the type of germs causing the infection, age and overall health. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain when breathing or coughing
  • Confusion or changes in mental awareness (in adults age 65 and older)
  • Cough which may produce phlegm
  • Fatigue
  • Fever, sweating and shaking chills
  • Lower than normal body temperature (in adults older than age 65 and people with weakened immune systems)
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath

Symptoms of pneumonia not caused by bacteria may come on gradually and are often not as bad or as obvious as symptoms of bacterial pneumonia.

After you have been infected with a pneumonia causing organism, it takes as little as one to three days or as long as seven to 10 days for symptoms to appear.

Pneumonia can be spread in multiple ways. The viruses and bacteria are typically contracted by people breathing them into their lungs and then spread through airborne droplets when people sneeze or cough. It can also spread through blood, according to the World Health Organization.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants to keep you in the loop about what is going on in the world of health! Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Avoid Back- to-School Germs

September 14th, 2016

Child sick in bed with a thermomter in mouthBack-to school can be a parent’s favorite time of the year. It can also be the worst time due to germs. Back-to-school could mean dealing with a sick household, but it doesn’t have to!

Fight Off Infection

On average, elementary school children get eight to 10 colds each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). For older children, it is about half that number. To help avoid infections, try these tips:

  • Diet: A child’s diet can play an important role in warding off illnesses. Foods rich in vitamin C don’t keep colds away altogether, but they can shorten the length of a cold.
  • Don’t share: Though kids like to sample each other’s lunches, remind yours not to share water bottles, food or other personal items.
  • Exercise: To help keep kids healthy, a daily dose of 40 minutes of exercise can help.
  • Get immunized: Make sure your child is up-to-date on scheduled immunizations.
  • Keep backpacks clean: School backpacks can get pretty gross from forgotten lunches and all of the other things children stuff into them.  Have your child clean out the backpack regularly.
  • Know how and when to wash hands: One of the most common ways children get colds is by rubbing their nose or eyes after cold virus germs have gotten on their hands. Make sure your child knows to use soap and warm water. Scrub all over—including the backs of hands, between fingers and around the nails, for about 20 seconds. Then rinse well in warm water, dry with a paper towel and use the towel to turn off the water.
  • Provide hand sanitizer: Arm your child with alcohol based hand sanitizer to keep in their desk or backpack. It’s smart to use before eating lunch or after using a shared communal object.
  • Sleep: School age children should get 10 to 11 hours of sleep every night, according to the CDC.

Children’s colds cause more doctor visits and missed school days than any other illness.

Back-to-school Contagions

Even the best of efforts sometimes cannot stop those viruses from entering your home. Common illnesses that children come home with are:

  • Colds: Colds can strike at any time during the year, and are caused by more than 20 different viruses.  Symptoms include runny nose, congestion, headache, cough, sore throat, and tiredness. The best medicine is lots of fluids and plenty of rest.
  • Hand, foot and mouth disease: The viral infection causes mouth ulcers and tiny blisters on the hands and feet. Although it is moderately contagious, it’s usually not serious. There’s no specific treatment, but practicing good hygiene, such as frequent and thorough hand washing, can keep your child safe.
  • Head lice: These tiny parasitic insects live among human hairs, feeding on blood drawn from the scalp.
  • Influenza: Flu season typically starts in October, peaks in January, February and March, and winds down by May. The federal government recommends everyone six months and older get the flu shot.
  • Respiratory viruses: These are very contagious.
  • Strep throat: Strep brings fever, stomach pain and red swollen tonsils. Since strep causing bacteria migrate to the nose and throat, sneezing, coughing and shaking hands can spread it from person to person.

Kids should stay home if they have a fever of 100 degrees or higher.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to watch out for back-to-school germs! A good step in having a great school year is to stay healthy. Have a great school year from IAA.

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September is Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month

September 7th, 2016

Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness MonthIn honor of Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month, Insurance Administrator of America is doing its part by educating readers on these blood cancers.

What is Leukemia?

Leukemia is cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system. Leukemia usually involves the white blood cells. In people with leukemia, the bone marrow produces abnormal while blood cells which don’t function properly.

Doctors classify leukemia based on its speed of progression and the types of cells involved.  The first type of classification is by how fast the leukemia progresses:

  • Acute leukemia: In acute leukemia, the abnormal blood cells are immature blood cells (blasts). They can’t carry out their normal functions and they multiply rapidly, so the disease worsens quickly.
  • Chronic leukemia: There are many types of chronic leukemia. Some produce too many cells and some cause too few cells to be produced. Chronic leukemia involves more mature blood cells. These blood cells replicate or accumulate more slowly and can function normally for a period of time. Some forms of chronic leukemia initially produce no early symptoms and can go unnoticed or undiagnosed for years.

The second type of classification is by type of white blood cell affected:

  • Lymphatic leukemia: This type of leukemia affects the lymphoid cells, which form lymphatic tissue. Lymphatic tissue makes up your immune system.
  • Myelogenous leukemia: This type of leukemia affects the myeloid cells. Myeloid cells give rise to red blood cells, white blood cells and platelet producing cells.

There are many different types of leukemia:

Common signs and symptoms of leukemia include:

  • Bone pain or tenderness
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Excessive sweating, especially at night
  • Fever or chills
  • Frequent or severe infections
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Persistent fatigue, weakness
  • Recurrent nosebleeds
  • Swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen
  • Tiny red spots on the skin

Leukemia is the most common cancer in children younger than 15 years old.

What is Lymphoma?

Lymphomas begin in cells of the lymph system, which is part of the immune system. It is a cancer that begins in infection fighting cells of the immune system called lymphocytes. These cells are in the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and other parts of the body.

When you have lymphoma, lymphocytes change and grow out of control. There are two basic categories of lymphomas:

  1. Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  2. Non-Hodgkin’s  lymphoma

Warning signs that you might have lymphoma include:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Itching
  • Night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomach pain
  • Swollen glands (lymph nodes) often in the neck, armpit or groin
  • Weight loss 

What IAA has to Say

IAA encourages you to help raise awareness for leukemia and lymphoma by sharing this blog post with friends and colleagues. Every little bit helps! 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 Your Child’s Sleep Schedule Ready for School!

August 31st, 2016

Child sleeping at desk on top of booksIt’s that most difficult time of year; time to get your kids back on their school sleep schedule.

Get Back to School Ready

The first week of getting your kids up for school is typically a struggle. This happens for a few reasons:

  • If you have a teenager, their body clock naturally wants to stay up later and sleep in later
  • If your child has a later bedtime over the summer than during the school year, their sleep pressure (like hunger, but for sleep) is less earlier in the evening, rather than later, and going to sleep at their “school year  bedtime” will be harder
  • There is always an adjustment period to any big change and it is often painful

Summer sleep schedules are not conducive to a rested family during the school year. Transitioning is an important part of being rested for the school year. Some tips for making the transition:

  • About two weeks before school begins, each day move your child’s summer bedtime earlier until you reach the newly prescribed bedtime. The same goes for waking your child up in the morning!
  • A good rule of thumb is to avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime.  Caffeine can interrupt your child’s natural sleep patterns, making it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Avoid big meals close to bedtime: A heavy meal may prevent your child from falling asleep.
  • Maintain a sleep schedule: Once your child’s sleep schedule is established, stick with it! Don’t use the weekend to catch up on sleep.
  • Reestablish a brief and consistent bedtime routine: For younger children, this routine should be no longer than 15 minutes. Bedtime routines lower the anxiety levels of both children and adults; as everyone knows what is going to come next and it creates a feeling of control over the environment.
  • Your household should start winding down after dinnertime and bath time: Lights in the house should be dimmed. All rough and tumble play should end. Older children should cease the use of electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime.  

Be a role model for your child by establishing your own regular sleep cycle. Maintain a home that promotes healthy sleep

The Need for Sleep

Each age group requires a different amount of sleep. How much sleep should your child get?

  • Toddlers (one to three years old): 12-14 hours of sleep, once they reach 18 months naps will decrease to once per day.
  • Preschooler (three to five years old): 11-13 hours of sleep, they usually lose their naps by the age of five.
  • School age children (five to 12 years old): 10-11 hours of sleep.
  • Teens (13 to 19 years old): nine to 10 hours of sleep.

Of course there is always some resistance from children when parents want to get a school sleep routine reestablished. Sit the kids down and explain the value of sleep. They need to understand that “sleep nutrition” is just as important as food nutrition and that a lack of sleep can have major consequences.

Many studies have shown that lack of sleep can hamper physical and mental health. Pre-teens and teenagers ages 11 through 17 who operate on too little sleep have shown an increase in anxiety, depression and physical pain. School performance declines as well.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants your family to be on track for a great new school year!  So dust off that alarm clock and start getting your kids ready to be up for school in the morning.  Here’s to a great school year from IAA!

Interested in reading more on this topic? Click here!

Be Better About Packing Your Lunch!

August 24th, 2016

School lunchA new school year looming on the horizon means the start of packing school lunches. It could also mean the start of being better about packing your lunch.

Make Packing Lunch Part of Your Routine

Getting take-out for lunch the majority of the work week can be a time-saver, but it isn’t the best for your health.  When you prepare your own meals, you can use healthier, more natural ingredients. It can also help to reduce your chances of overeating due to better portion control. According to a 2016 study published in the journal of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 92 percent of restaurant meals have too many calories.

Feeling a little overwhelmed by the thought of cooking both lunch and dinner every day? Here’s a tip: lunch isn’t really about cooking, but assembling. Lunch doesn’t have to entail all the slicing and dicing that dinner does.

When it comes to lunch prep, you have three choices:

  1. Prep and package your midday meal over the weekend so you can just grab and go during the week.
  2. Make your lunch every evening.
  3. Get up a little earlier and do it all in the morning.

What happens when you bring lunch is that you see it as primary, and the restaurants, fast food joints and company cafeterias as backups, rather than the other way around.

According to Forbes, the average American spends $936 annually on store bought lunches alone. Help improve your wallet and your health by bringing back those brown bag lunches.

Take That Lunch Break

Trying to pack lunch during the work week is important, but taking a lunch break is important too. Employees need to take a lunch break because it can be counterproductive to not take a break. How breaks are handled has a huge impact on how a person feels the rest of the day. Finding it hard to find time for lunch? Try:

  • Eating at a nearby park if the weather is nice
  • Eating in your car if you drive to work
  • Politely asking your managers and colleagues to respect the fact that you are on a break

Add a healthy little extra to your lunch break by trying some of the following:

  • Do some stretching exercises
  • Get out into the daylight
  • Play a quick mentally challenging game
  • Take a walk

 Take a lunch break without guilt. It could be exactly what you need to be a better employee.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to bring out your lunchbox! Packing your lunch on a regular basis can help improve your health (and it doesn’t hurt your wallet either). Just think of IAA as your third party kitchen helper. Bon appetite from IAA!

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