Prepare the Perfect Turkey for Your Festive Season Meal

Festive Season

Think of the festive season and answer this question: The festive season is the only time of year I do … what?

Maybe it’s the only time of year you set up a Christmas tree, hang mistletoe or travel to a certain destination. For many, the festive season is also the only time of year that you prepare the traditional festive season meal.

And that can lead to trouble.

Each year in the U.S., one in six people will experience food poisoning. There are 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 patient deaths that can be traced back to foodborne pathogens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s especially dangerous for young children, the elderly, pregnant women and others with weakened immune systems.

Improper food preparation is one of the most common causes of food poisoning, and the risk increases during the festive season when people try to make lavish meals they would otherwise not prepare. To help keep you and your family safe this season, The Partnership for Food Safety Education — supported by Cargill, Costco Wholesale and the Frozen Food Foundation — is launching The Story of Your Dinner campaign and sharing safe preparation tips for a festive season staple: the turkey dinner.

Preparing the perfect turkey this festive season

* Plan for one pound of meat per person. If a frozen turkey works best for you, allow the bird to thaw for several days in the refrigerator. Generally, you will need to plan one day for every four pounds of turkey to ensure your bird completely thaws. While your turkey is thawing, keep it on the bottom shelf in a rimmed baking pan to prevent juices from spreading.

* Do not rinse your raw turkey. Rinsing the turkey is not a safety step and can increase the risk of spreading bacteria to the sink and other surfaces.

* For optimum safety, cook stuffing in a casserole. Because stuffing is an excellent medium for bacterial growth, it’s important to handle it safely and cook it to a safe minimum internal temperature (at least 165 F) as measured with a food thermometer.

* Cook your turkey to at least 165 F and always use a food thermometer to ensure your turkey reaches this safe internal temperature.

* When checking to see if your turkey is done, insert the food thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

* Put extra turkey, stuffing and other leftovers in the fridge within 2 hours. Consume, freeze or discard leftovers within 3 or 4 days.

The annual turkey dinner is a seasonal staple. A little extra preparation can make the meal as satisfying and enjoyable as the rest of the festive season. To learn more about safe food preparation and find a complete turkey roasting chart, visit StoryofYourDinner.org. (BPT)

How Well Do You Know Your Birth Control?

As the future of contraception remains uncertain, one point bears reminding: access to birth control has come a long way.

It was not until 1960 that the first oral contraceptives – coined “birth control pills” or “the Pill” –were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and hit the market.¹

Now, more than 50 years later, over 35 varieties of the Pill exist on the market.² Additional options have also been introduced: intrauterine devices (IUDs), vaginal rings, implants and more. Even with the availability of various birth control methods, the Pill remains the most popular form of contraception, used by over 10 million women of reproductive age in the U.S. annually.³

“When my patients express interest in prescription birth control for pregnancy prevention, while individual needs vary, I generally recommend they first try the Pill. If used appropriately, it can be an effective option for women,” OB/GYN Jessica Shepherd, M.D., said. “That said, because the Pill may not be right for everyone, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about your options and make the decision together.”

Whether you’re a woman considering prescription oral contraception or a parent whose daughter is exploring her options, Dr. Shepherd shares the following facts to help you get to know the birth control pill:

  • What are oral contraceptives? Oral contraceptives, also known as birth control pills or the Pill, are taken daily to prevent pregnancy. Oral contraceptives are the most popular form of birth control in the U.S.
  • How does the Pill work? There are several FDA-approved birth control pills on the market that contain various types and amounts of hormones, such as estrogen and progestin. They work to lower the risk of pregnancy primarily by suppressing ovulation, or the release of an egg from the ovary. Other possible ways that birth control pills work may include thickening the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the uterus, and by thinning the lining of the uterus (or endometrium) to make it less likely for an egg to attach there.
  • Is the Pill effective? Yes, the Pill is FDA-approved to prevent pregnancy and should be taken at the same time every day. Chances of becoming pregnant depend on how well directions for taking birth control pills are followed.
  • Does the Pill start working right away? When starting the Pill, use of back-up contraception is necessary, like condoms and spermicide, for the first seven days if a woman starts taking the Pill on any day other than the first day of her period.
  • What is an example of a prescription birth control pill? One option is Lo Loestrin® Fe (norethindrone acetate and ethinyl estradiol tablets, ethinyl estradiol tablets and ferrous fumarate tablets), the No.1-prescribed birth control pill by OB/GYNs.4 With just 10 micrograms of daily estrogen, it is a birth control pill for pregnancy prevention with the lowest dose of daily estrogen available on the market.5 Please see Important Risk Information, including Boxed Warning, below.

For additional facts about the birth control pill, visit KnowYourBirthControl.com, and speak to your healthcare provider to determine the method that is right for you.

What is Lo Loestrin Fe?

Lo Loestrin Fe is a prescription birth control pill used for the prevention of pregnancy. If you are moderately obese, discuss with your healthcare provider whether Lo Loestrin Fe is appropriate for you.

 

IMPORTANT RISK INFORMATION

WARNING TO WOMEN WHO SMOKE

Do not use Lo Loestrin Fe if you smoke cigarettes and are over 35 years old. Smoking increases your risk of serious cardiovascular side effects (heart and blood vessel problems) from birth control pills, including death from heart attack, blood clots, or stroke. This risk increases with age and the number of cigarettes you smoke.

 

Who should not take Lo Loestrin Fe?

Do not use Lo Loestrin Fe if you have or have had blood clots, history of heart attack or stroke, high blood pressure that medicine cannot control, breast cancer or any cancer that is sensitive to female hormones, liver disease or liver tumors, unexplained bleeding from the vagina, if you are or may be pregnant, or if you take Hepatitis C drugs containing ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir, with or without dasabuvir, as this may increase levels of liver enzymes in the blood.

Whatelse should I know about taking Lo Loestrin Fe?

Treatment with Lo Loestrin Fe should be stopped if you have a blood clot, and at least 4 weeks before and through 2 weeks after major surgery. You should not take Lo Loestrin Fe any earlier than 4 weeks after having a baby, or if you are breastfeeding. If you experience yellowing of the skin or eyes due to problems with your liver, you should stop taking Lo Loestrin Fe. If you are pre-diabetic or diabetic, your doctor should monitor you while using Lo Loestrin Fe. Your doctor should evaluate you if you have any significant change in headaches or irregular menstrual bleeding.

What are the most serious risks of taking Lo Loestrin Fe?

Lo Loestrin Fe increases the risk of serious conditions including blood clots, stroke, and heart attack. These can be life-threatening or lead to permanent disability.

What are the possible side effects of Lo Loestrin Fe?

The most common side effects reported by women taking Lo Loestrin Fe in a study were nausea/vomiting, headache, spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods, painful menstruation, weight change, breast tenderness, acne, abdominal pain, anxiety, and depression.

Birth control pills do not protect you against any sexually transmitted disease, including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Please see the full Prescribing Information, including Boxed Warning, and Patient Information which are also available at loloestrin.com.

© 2017 Allergan. All rights reserved.

Allergan® and its design are trademarks of Allergan, Inc.

Lo Loestrin® and its design are registered trademarks of Allergan Pharmaceuticals International Limited.

LOL111689 11/17

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

¹Selections From FDLI Update Series on FDA History – FDA’s Approval of the First Oral Contraceptive, Enovid. (n.d.). Retrieved Nov. 9, 2017, from https://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/whatwedo/history/productregulation/selectionsfromfdliupdateseriesonfdahistory/ucm092009.htm

² Oral Contraceptives. (2017, Oct. 5). Retrieved Nov. 9, 2017, from http://www.empr.com/oral-contraceptives/printarticle/123837/

³Jones, J., Ph.D, Mosher, W., Ph.D, & Daniels, K., Ph.D. (2012). Current Contraceptive Use in the United States, 2006–2010, and Changes in Patterns of Use Since 1995. National Health Statistics Reports, (60), 1-26. Retrieved Nov. 7, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr060.pdf.

4 IMS Health, Inc. Monthly New Rx by Specialty; December 2010-December 2016 (Claim derived from the use of information under license from IMS Health, Inc., which expressly reserves all rights, including rights of copying, distribution, and republication).

5 Lo Loestrin Fe prescribing information. Irvine, CA: Allergan USA, Inc.; 2017. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Allergan

Moms-to-Be: Forget Pickles and Reach for Pistachios

Results of a new study among pregnant women with impaired glucose intolerance during gestation (GIGT) or gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) — commonly known as gestational diabetes — show that eating pistachios may help manage blood sugar levels. The study is the first to evaluate the glucose response after consumption of pistachios in pregnant women with GDM or GIGT.

Diabetes is a chronic illness that affects more than 422 million people around the world. GDM develops in a pregnant woman who did not previously have diabetes. Like other types of diabetes, it affects how the body uses blood sugar. GIGT occurs when, during pregnancy, the body is unable to regulate blood glucose levels normally because of hormonal changes. The blood glucose levels rise beyond normal levels after a glucose challenge, but not high enough to warrant a diabetes diagnosis. While resolved after the baby is born, women with either GDM or GIGT have a greater risk of developing diabetes.

According to the latest diagnostic criteria established by the International Association of Diabetes and Pregnancy Study Groups (IADPSG) in 2010, GDM prevalence was estimated at 9.8 to 25.5 percent worldwide.

“Our study is the first to show that eating pistachios may help women with gestational diabetes control their blood sugar levels after eating,” said Sheng Ge, M.D., lead investigator, Chief Physician and Director of Clinical Nutrition at the Sixth People’s Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China, where the study was conducted. “The results highlight pistachios as a smart food choice for women with gestational diabetes as they aim to manage their illness.”

In the study, 30 women with gestational diabetes (all between 24 and 28 gestational weeks) were randomly assigned to eat a breakfast of either 42 grams of pistachios (about 1/3 of a cup, or 1.5 servings) or 100 grams of whole wheat bread (two slices) after an overnight fast. The pistachios and whole wheat bread were matched for calories. Blood sugar and GLP-1, a key insulin-producing hormone, were measured every 30 minutes after the meal, up to 120 minutes. After seven days, the groups switched.

Blood sugar levels were significantly lower after consuming pistachios than they were after consuming whole wheat bread after 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes and 120 minutes. In fact, blood sugar levels after eating pistachios were comparable to baseline levels. In addition, GLP-1 levels were significantly higher after consumption of pistachios compared to whole wheat bread after 60 minutes, 90 minutes and 120 minutes.

The effect on insulin levels was even more dramatic. Blood insulin levels did not increase during the two hours after eating the pistachios. Again, both groups of women had a significantly lower rise in blood insulin levels at every time point measured after eating the pistachios than they did after eating whole wheat bread.

“Elevated blood sugar during pregnancy not only impacts the mother’s health, but it may also increase the baby’s risk of developing diabetes,” said Zhaoping Li, M.D., another study investigator and Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition, University of California, Los Angeles. “This study shows pistachios can be a useful addition to the diet in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels while providing essential nutrients to the mother and baby during this critical time.”

Dr. Li added, “It’s exciting to see solutions from whole foods that are also palatable to patients. They’re much more likely to comply with a prescribed diet as a result of a diabetes diagnosis when the food is something they enjoy.”

Pistachios have a low Glycemic Index (GI), are relatively high in fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, all of which can benefit people with diabetes. Eating pistachios has a minimal effect on blood sugar levels after eating a meal and, when added to a carbohydrate-rich meal, they help minimize any spike in blood sugar. (BPT)

It Takes Two: Battling a Devastating Lung Disease

Theta Rone and her husband James have been together, side-by-side, through it all – from the grade school classroom to the birth of their two children. They’re the perfect example of “it takes two” even when the going gets tough.

In 2014, the couple was just settling down to enjoy their retirement in Tennessee, when they received some daunting news: Theta had leukemia. The prospects of recovery were pretty good, but Theta would have to undergo a series of sometimes difficult treatments. It wouldn’t be easy, but knowing James would be there by her side made it all seem doable.

The two teamed up, determined to beat Theta’s cancer. Just when they thought the worst was behind them, a routine chest x-ray showed an abnormality in James’ lungs.

“I couldn’t imagine James and I being faced with a more difficult challenge than fighting leukemia, but our strength was tested again,” said Theta.

After a follow-up CT scan, James was diagnosed with the rare and life-threatening lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF. James initially thought IPF was another “old age” problem. But after speaking to the doctor and doing their own research, he and Theta realized the seriousness of his diagnosis and knew they’d have to team up once again to take action.

“It was just like what we had faced before together with my illness, only this time the roles were reversed,” Theta said. “I was determined to be the loving, devoted caretaker to James that he had been to me.”

IPF causes permanent scarring of the lungs and, although it is considered a “rare” disease, approximately 50,000 new patients are diagnosed with the disease each year. That’s enough to fill a baseball stadium. Still, awareness of the disease is low. Worse still, the symptoms of IPF, which include breathlessness and a dry persistent cough, are similar to other more common and recognizable respiratory illnesses like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) or asthma – and, for that reason, the road to an accurate diagnosis and actionable answers can be long (1-2 years) and frustrating.

James was lucky to have a doctor who knew that there are two FDA-approved medications for the treatment of IPF that have been proven effective in helping to delay the progression of the disease. The twosome worked together with James’ doctor to develop a treatment plan that was right for him, and eventually he started taking the medication Ofev® (nintedanib).

Now the two devote their time to Boehringer Ingelheim’s OPEN DOORS™ program, a program that specializes in providing personalized support for those prescribed Ofev for the treatment of IPF and their loved ones. The couple is thankful to have received information, guidance and financial assistance through OPEN DOORS themselves and are determined to provide hope and support to others impacted by this rare lung disease in return.

James and Theta remain side-by-side, determined to make the most of what life has to offer. As Theta says, “Just like everything else in life, we’ll meet it together with faith and hope, always remembering to experience joy in every moment.”

To learn more about Ofev® or the OPEN DOORS™ patient support program, visit www.Ofev.com.

What is Ofev®?

Ofev® is a prescription medication used to treat people with a lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). It is not known if Ofev® is safe and effective in children.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

What is the most important information I should know about Ofev (nintedanib)?

Ofev can cause harm, birth defects or death to an unborn baby. Women should not become pregnant while taking Ofev. Women who are able to become pregnant should have a pregnancy test before starting treatment and should use birth control during and for at least 3 months after your last dose. If you become pregnant while taking Ofev, tell your doctor right away.

What should I tell my doctor before using Ofev?

Before you take Ofev, tell your doctor if you have:

  • liver problems
  • heart problems
  • a history of blood clots
  • a bleeding problem or a family history of a bleeding problem
  • had recent surgery in your stomach (abdominal) area
  • any other medical conditions.

Tell your doctor if you:

  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if Ofev passes into your breast milk. You should not breastfeed while taking Ofev.
  • are a smoker. You should stop smoking prior to taking Ofev and avoid smoking during treatment.

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbal supplements such as St. John’s wort.

What are the possible side effects of Ofev?

Ofev may cause serious side effects.

TELL YOUR DOCTOR RIGHT AWAY if you are experiencing any side effects, including:

  • Liver problems. Unexplained symptoms may include yellowing of your skin or the white part of your eyes (jaundice), dark or brown (tea colored) urine, pain on the upper right side of your stomach area (abdomen), bleeding or bruising more easily than normal or feeling tired. Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to check how well your liver is working during your treatment with Ofev.
  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Your doctor may recommend that you drink fluids or take medicine to treat these side effects. Tell your doctor if you have these symptoms, if they do not go away, or get worse and if you are taking over-the-counter laxatives, stool softeners, and other medicines or dietary supplements.
  • Heart attack. Symptoms of a heart problem may include chest pain or pressure, pain in your arms, back, neck or jaw, or shortness of breath.
  • Stroke. Symptoms of a stroke may include numbness or weakness on 1 side of your body, trouble talking, headache, or dizziness.
  • Bleeding problems. Ofev may increase your chances of having bleeding problems. Tell your doctor if you have unusual bleeding, bruising, or wounds that do not heal and/or if you are taking a blood thinner, including prescription blood thinners and over-the-counter aspirin.
  • Tear in your stomach or intestinal wall (perforation). Ofev may increase your chances of having a tear in your stomach or intestinal wall. Tell your doctor if you have pain or swelling in your stomach area.

The most common side effects of Ofev are diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, liver problems, decreased appetite, headache, weight loss, and high blood pressure.

These are not all the possible side effects of Ofev. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

For full Prescribing Information, including Patient Information, visit Ofev.com or contact Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals at (1-800-542-6257)

For more information:

To learn more about OPEN DOORS patient support program, visit www.OFEV.com or call 1-866-OPENDOORS.

Try This Protein-Packed Substitute to Make Lunchtime More Nutritious

Cottage cheese is having a moment.

Nutritionists and health-minded individuals have discovered that the dairy case staple can actually unlock a lot of mealtime solutions, especially when it comes to remaking recipes with a creamy base, such as tuna salad and veggie dip.

Simply swap the mayonnaise, cream cheese or sour cream with high-protein cottage cheese, and it’s pretty easy to pull off a higher-protein and lower-calorie version of your lunchtime favorites, says Amy Gorin, a registered dietitian nutritionist and writer in New York City.

“In many of these recipes, cottage cheese works beautifully, because it helps these delicious foods keep that creamy texture while decreasing the calories and saturated fat — and adding filling protein,” Gorin says. “It’s one of those foods that was hiding in plain sight all these years.”

For best results, start with a protein-packed brand of cottage cheese. Gorin always recommends Muuna Cottage Cheese to her clients, because its Lowfat Plain variety delivers a rich and creamy texture, plus it’s high in protein (14-19g per serving), is a good source of calcium and also contains potassium.

So look at your go-to breakfast, lunch and snack recipes with new eyes, grab your blender and get creative. To get you inspired, here are five easy ways you can make the cottage cheese swap and give yourself a protein boost without going hungry.

Lunch salad update

Many of us have said no to delicious and classic lunch salads we love, because mayo can add fat and calories. Turn to cottage cheese to make over your favorite lunches, and you can start enjoying things like tuna salad and potato salad, plus you’ll love that boost of protein.

On toast

Simplify your lunch hour and use cottage cheese as a creamy base for your favorite whole-grain toast, and then stack on yummy, vitamin-packed extras, like salad greens and sliced mangos, or even strawberries and avocado.

A Greek yogurt-cup alternative

For a quick on-the-go snack or lunch side, Muuna has reimagined cottage cheese into single-serve cups with real pieces of fruit on the bottom, packed with 15 grams of protein, including strawberry, blueberry, pineapple, peach and mango.

Smoothies reimagined

Swap out the yogurt and try using cottage cheese as a protein base for your favorite smoothie recipe. What you’ll have is a thick and creamy breakfast, likely with more protein than sugar.

Dip without the guilt

Kids and adults love how flavorful, creamy dips and dressings can liven up cut-up vegetables like carrots and broccoli. Sub in cottage cheese for mayo or sour cream to lower the calories and fat — and to amp up the protein and make the snack more filling and fueling. This super-simple, reimagined ranch dressing not only adds flavor to your crudites, it brings protein power to your lunchbox or your child’s.

For recipes and more inspiration, visit http://muuna.com/recipes/. (BPT)

7 Ways to Plan for Cold and Flu Season

Declining temperatures can bring fun, cool-weather activities, but they also mean cold and flu season is lurking. While everyone hopes to stay healthy, it can be difficult to completely avoid viruses and bugs.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a board-certified family physician and Braun spokesperson, offers some simple suggestions to help your family plan for cold and flu season.

Dispose of Expired Medicine

Spend some time checking the medications you already have at home. Review the expiration dates and if any need to be thrown out, research how to properly dispose of them according to local government guidelines.

Stock Up

Before cold and flu season, make sure to stockpile must-haves like ginger ale, ice pops and recommended cough suppressants. Thinking ahead means you won’t have to rush out when you or a family member comes down with something.

Practice Healthy Habits

Encourage the entire family to maintain healthy habits such as regular hand washing, following a nutritious diet, drinking plenty of water, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue to help minimize the spread of cold and flu viruses.

Use a Reliable Thermometer

Reading the temperature of a person who feels ill can help provide confidence and peace of mind. Make sure you have a reliable thermometer like the Braun ThermoScan 5 Ear thermometer, which takes professionally accurate temperature readings via the ear canal and, based on a survey, is the number 1 brand recommended by pediatricians who recommend a brand of thermometers.

“It’s important to carefully monitor potential illnesses to make sure children get and stay well, and taking an accurate temperature reading is a necessary part of this process, which is why I trust my Braun thermometer,” Gilboa said. “As a doctor and a mom to four boys, it gives me the confidence to know that I’m accurately taking my child’s temperature before I take any next steps, like administering medication.”

Have Important Information on Hand

To save time when your child is ill, keep a reference of your child’s allergies, prescribed medications, dosage amounts and current weight handy. Health care providers typically need this information to correctly prescribe and dose most medications. Other items to keep on-hand include school sick day policies, operating manuals for medical devices and a reference of temperature readings that classify a fever.

Manage Humidity Levels

Control your home’s humidity levels with a humidifier to help prevent the survival of flu viruses on surfaces and in the air.

Keep Contact Information Accessible

Keep a list of important phone numbers and addresses inside your medicine cabinet door or on the fridge so they’re easily accessible to family members, babysitters and caretakers. Include your family doctor or local clinic, schools, pharmacists and anyone else you may need to reach in an emergency.

If cold or flu reach your household this winter, it’s always important to consult a doctor if you have any questions regarding the health of your family members. For more information, visit braunthermometers.com. (Family Features)

SOURCE:

Braun

Flu Facts: Top 5 Things You Need to Know About the Flu Shot This Year

Flu

You hear about it on the news. You see the signs in the pharmacy windows. Even your friends and co-workers are talking about it. The flu shot is a highly discussed topic, and for good reason!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population — or up to 64.6 million people — gets the flu, and tens of thousands of people are hospitalized every year because of it. Further, the flu can strike anyone, and adults aged 18-64 years old are the most likely to get ill, accounting for 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations. This number goes up in certain areas, and some states — such as Texas, Florida and California — tend to be hit harder by the flu than others.

“Flu-related illnesses are already trending twice as high in 2017 as they were in 2016, and we are seeing an uptick in flu-related visits across the country,” said Dr. Jason Tibbels, MD, board-certified family physician and director for quality programs at Teladoc, the largest and most trusted telehealth provider in the world. “This year, officials want at least 70 percent of Americans to get a flu shot; however, fewer than 50 percent were vaccinated against the flu last season.”

How can you protect yourself and your loved ones from the annual flu outbreak? The first step is to understand the benefits and any potential risks of flu vaccination and then — if it’s right for you — go get the flu shot.

It’s also important to understand that while the vaccine is the best defense in protecting against flu, there’s still a chance that with it, you could get sick. If you do start to experience symptoms, telehealth is an on-demand, anytime, anywhere resource. This means you can access hassle-free medical care from your home during the middle of the night, from your college dorm room, while at the airport for an early morning business trip, and anywhere else you have access to a phone, a mobile app or the web. A telemedicine doctor can assess your symptoms before they worsen. Visit Teladoc.com/flu to learn more about the telehealth benefits that may be available to you to access care when and where you need it.

We asked Teladoc’s Dr. Tibbels why the flu shot is so important this year. Here are his top reasons:

1) It keeps you out of the emergency room. The flu shot reduces the risk of hospitalization due to flu by approximately 50 to 60 percent.

2) It reduces sick days. Missed time at work due to flu-related illnesses causes an additional $16.3 billion in lost earnings annually.

3) It promotes overall health. The flu vaccine is a helpful tool for people with chronic health conditions. Flu vaccination is associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, and is also proven to have reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease. Further, vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy, reducing the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection by about 50 percent. And getting vaccinated also protects the baby several months after birth.

4) If you do get sick, it may decrease the severity. The flu vaccination does not guarantee protection against the virus; people who get the shot are still at risk of getting sick. However, if you do get sick, the flu vaccination can make your illness milder. If you start to experience symptoms — whether or not you’ve had the flu vaccine — it’s important to see a doctor. Many people have 24-hour access to board-certified and licensed physicians seven days a week via telemedicine from home, work or on the road through a phone or tablet, making it easier than ever to get a diagnosis and start treatment.

5) It helps stop flu from spreading. Did you know that the flu virus can be spread to people within three feet of a sick patient when that patient coughs, sneezes or talks? Getting vaccinated doesn’t just help protect you from the flu; the flu shot is the responsible choice for protecting those around you. Vaccination is especially important for protecting more vulnerable populations, such as babies and young children, the elderly, and people with certain chronic health conditions, like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

“When it comes to the flu, it’s not wise to take a wait-and-see approach,” said Dr. Tibbels. “Talk to a doctor! We’re available all day, every day, all through flu season and beyond.”

To learn more about Teladoc and the level of flu risk where you live, visit Teladoc.com/flu.

Protect Your Health and Your Card

Making the most of Medicare Open Enrollment

Eating well and regular exercise are part of a healthy lifestyle, and so is making sure you have the right health care coverage. Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment period is a good time to review your current coverage and decide if there may be a better fit based on changes to current plans, your budget or health needs.

During Medicare Open Enrollment, which runs Oct. 15-Dec. 7, 2017, you can enroll in or make changes to your Medicare health or prescription drug plan for coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2018. If you miss the deadline, you will likely have to wait a full year before you are able to make changes to your plan.

To make Medicare Open Enrollment part of your healthy lifestyle, follow these five steps:

1. Review your current plan notice. Read any notices from your Medicare plan about changes for next year, especially your “Annual Notice of Change” letter. Look at your plan’s information to make sure your drugs are still covered and your doctors are still in network.

2. Think about what matters most to you. Medicare health and drug plans change each year and so can your health needs. Do you need a new primary care doctor? Does your network include the specialist you want for an upcoming surgery? Does your current plan cover your new medication? Does another plan offer the same coverage at a lower cost? Take stock of your health status and determine if you need to make a change.

3. Find out if you qualify for help paying for Medicare. Learn about programs in your state to help with the costs of Medicare premiums (through Medicare Savings Programs), your Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductibles, coinsurance and copayments, and Medicare prescription drug coverage costs (through Extra Help). Visit Medicare.gov or call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to learn more.

4. Shop for plans that meet your needs and fit your budget. Starting each October, you can use Medicare’s Plan Finder tool at Medicare.gov/find-a-plan to see what plans are offered in your area. A new plan may:

  • Cost less
  • Cover your drugs
  • Let you go to the providers you want, like your doctor or pharmacy.

If you find your current coverage still meets your needs, then you’re done. Remember, during Medicare Open Enrollment, you can decide to stay in Original Medicare or join a Medicare Advantage Plan. If you’re already in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch back to Original Medicare.

5. Check your plan’s Star Rating before you enroll. The Medicare Plan Finder is up-to-date with the Star Ratings for Medicare health and prescription drug plans. Plans are given an overall quality rating on a 1-5 star scale, with 1 being the lowest performing and 5 stars representing excellent performance. You can use Star Ratings to compare the quality of health and drug plans being offered.

For more information, visit medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and say “Agent.” TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048. Help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends. If you need help in a language other than English or Spanish, let the customer service representative know the language. You can also get personalized health insurance counseling at no cost to you from your local SHIP by visiting shiptacenter.org. More information about Medicare is available on the Medicare Facebook page and by following @MedicareGov on Twitter.

Protect Your Medicare Card

Protect your identity as well as your health by guarding your Medicare card like you would a credit card. Medicare is aiding in the fight against Medicare fraud by removing Social Security Numbers from Medicare cards and replacing them with a new, unique number for each person with Medicare. Medicare will mail the new cards with unique numbers between April 2018-April 2019. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft:

  • Don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by telephone, email or approaches you in person, unless you’ve given them permission in advance. Medicare will never contact you uninvited and ask for your Medicare number or other personal information.
  • Tell your friends and neighbors to guard their Medicare numbers.
  • Don’t ever let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number.
  • Review your Medicare Summary Notices to be sure you and Medicare are only being charged for services actually provided.
  • Be wary of salespeople who knock on your door or call you uninvited and try to sell you a product or service.
  • Don’t accept items received through the mail that you didn’t order. You should refuse the delivery and/or return it to the sender. Keep a record of the sender’s name and the date you returned the items.

If someone calls you and asks for your Medicare number or other personal information, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and learn more about how you can fight Medicare fraud at Medicare.gov/fraud.

Information provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

3 Steps to a Healthier, Happier Home

Healthy Home

Today, people are more focused on health and wellness than ever before. You know this because you are constantly flooded with advice on what to eat, how (and how much) to exercise, and what to ask your doctors.

All of these things are important but what about the vital role the home plays in your healthy lifestyle? As you prepare for another season of indoor living, it’s time to ask: how can I improve the functionality, efficiency and health of my home?

A healthy, safe and comfortable home is essential for those you love. When winter weather keeps you indoors, it’s even more important.

Tackle a few home-health tips now and your family and guests will be comfortable now and any time of year. Review and handle these must-do’s, happy home style, today!

* Adhere to a maintenance schedule. Your body requires continuous maintenance to be at its best; the same is true for your home. Simple tasks, done on schedule, can make your home a safer, more enjoyable place to live. Important items for your to-do list:

- Shut your exterior faucets off before the winter.

- Check the batteries in your smoke detectors each month.

- Clean your gutters.

- Test your sump pump each spring.

- Clean the coils under your refrigerator.

- Make sure your attic, bathroom and kitchen fans are in working order.

These maintenance tasks are easy to tackle. Once done, they will help reduce dirt on your floors and decrease any future mold risk.

* Clean up your air. Did you know indoor air can be five times dirtier than outdoor air? Did you know it can include respiratory irritants and common allergens like mold spores, fungus, pollen, mites and pet dander? Fortunately, these unappealing airborne invaders can be removed continuously by your home air filter. All you need to do is change the filter regularly, about every one to three months depending on your system. The problem — research shows up to 58 percent of us forget to do this regularly or simply don’t!

Canopy, a new subscription-based air filter service, addresses this clean air concern by providing its subscribers with the specific size and qualification air filter they need. These filters are provided on a specific schedule to save homeowners time, energy and money and to avoid a trip to a big box home care store. To learn more about how Canopy can help you improve the air quality in your home, visit canopyair.com.

* Make cleaning a family affair. A clean home is a happy, comfortable place everyone deserves but you don’t need to do it all by yourself. Encourage your entire family to work together instead. Children of all ages can help out with chores matched to their skill level. Set family rules that maximize home care and minimize cleaning chores. For example: no food outside of the kitchen, picking up towels and wiping down surfaces after a shower and removing shoes upon entering from outdoors. Your home is your sanctuary and it should feel that way all the time. Apply the tips above today, and your home will be a happier, healthier place in no time. (BPT)

Safe Sleep Awareness

10 tips to keep infants safe

October is Safe Sleep Awareness Month and the U.S. continues to have a higher infant mortality rate than any of the other 27 wealthy countries. The World Health Organization reports that a U.S.-born baby is almost three times more likely to die before the age of 1 versus babies born in Finland or Japan.

Of the many causes of infant mortality, one that is preventable is suffocation in an unsafe sleep environment. A majority of infant deaths related to sleep could be prevented if parents are empowered with the latest information and tools, such as those from The Baby Box Co., which aims to help new families by offering similar resources to those that have helped Finland reduce its infant mortality statistics over the past 80 years.

Ideal as a parent starter kit, Baby Boxes also serve as a safe sleep space for babies. While parents can use the products inside and the portable safe sleep space, it’s the parenting education they receive through the company’s online program, Baby Box University, that is key to keeping babies safe.

“Whether you are a first time parent or have many children, it’s important to continually update yourself on medical recommendations for safe sleep,” said Dr. Dyann Daley, a pediatric anethesiologist and founder of the nonprofit organization Predict, Align, Prevent Inc. “Sometimes, well-meaning medical professionals may not be aware of current best practices. These tips, based on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, can help give babies a safe start in life.”

  1. Babies should sleep alone. It’s understandable that parents like to be close to their little ones while they sleep, however, there is a significant risk of suffocation from bedding or parents rolling onto the baby if they co-sleep. The safest place for baby is in his or her own bed.
  2. Baby’s mattress should be firm and safety approved.
  3. Baby should sleep in the same room as his or her caregivers. Studies have shown a significant reduction in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) when baby sleeps in his or her own bed in the same room as caregivers.
  4. Keep soft items out of baby’s bed. This includes crib bumpers, loose bedding, pillows and plush toys.
  5. Put baby to sleep on his or her back. Face-up is the safest position for a newborn.
  6. Breastfeed safely at night. According to a study released by Temple University Hospital, 59 percent of mothers who exclusively breastfed their babies and used a Baby Box said it made breastfeeding easier, due to the proximity of baby’s bed at night.
  7. Give baby a pacifier. Use a dry pacifier that is not attached to a string, cord or stuffed animal, but don’t force your baby to use it if he or she resists. If the pacifier falls out during sleep, there’s no need to put it back in baby’s mouth.
  8. Give baby plenty of tummy time when awake. This will help strengthen the muscles in baby’s back and neck, and can help them grow strong.
  9. Don’t let baby get too hot during sleep. Dress your baby in no more than one layer and maintain a room temperature comfortable for adults.
  10. Don’t smoke or let others smoke around your baby. Infants exposed to smoke are three times more likely to suffer SIDS-related death.

There’s no greater start in life than with empowering information for parents. Find more information at BabyBoxUniversity.com. (Family Features)