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It’s Not Just Flu Shot Season — October 2017

It’s Not Just Flu Shot Season — October 2017


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Time to Review Your Vaccination Status

Vaccines are among the most cost-effective prevention services around. They do more than protect you from getting preventable diseases; they also reduce the spread of disease. If you’ve been vaccinated for an infectious disease (measles, chickenpox, hepatitis, influenza, etc.), you greatly reduce the risk of getting that disease and the chance of spreading it to others who are not immune.

HealthPeople.gov reports that childhood vaccinations prevent 14 million cases of disease, save 33,000 lives, reduce direct healthcare costs by $9.9 billion, and save $33.4 billion in indirect costs, such as lost time and productivity for parents when their children are sick.

Not Just for Children

Many adults do not realize that vaccines are recommended for them too. Some adults were never vaccinated as children and newer vaccines were not available when many adults were children. Plus, immunity can fade over time, and as we age, our risk for serious illness caused by common infections increases. Adults can take advantage of protection from several serious diseases that can make you feel lousy, be expensive to treat and require time away from work and family responsibilities.

People with diabetes, heart disease or other chronic conditions are more likely to develop complications from vaccine-preventable diseases, which can lead to long-term illness, hospitalization and even death. Keeping up to date with vaccinations can also help protect those who, because of their health conditions, can’t safely be vaccinated. If you are vaccinated, you help prevent the spread of disease to those who are vulnerable to illness.

Japan: A Case In Point

In 1974, the majority of Japanese children received the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine. This resulted in less than 400 cases of the disease and no deaths. By 1979, only 10% of children got the vaccine and more than 13,000 people got whooping cough and 41 died from it. When the vaccines became routine again, the disease numbers dropped.

No One Likes to Get Sick!

What can you do to stay healthy? Discuss the following common adult vaccinations with your doctor.

An annual influenza or flu vaccine is the best way to protect you and your family from getting the flu virus and its associated problems (doctor’s visits, missed work/school, hospitalization). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that there have been as many as 700,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 56,000 flu-related deaths in the U.S. since 2010. The CDC recommends the use of the flu shot (not the nasal spray flu vaccine) for the 2017-18 flu season. Children from 6 months of age and all adults, including pregnant women, can receive the vaccine. Since it takes 2 weeks for the vaccination to become fully effective, it’s best to get the vaccine early in the fall before flu season begins. The CDC recommends having it by the end of October. While earlier is best, getting it later can still provide protection from the flu.

  • TdaP is a combination vaccine that protects against 3 bacterial infections: tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). TdaP is typically given at age 11 or 12 but anyone who did not receive it at that age should get it as soon as possible, especially healthcare professionals and people who have close contact with children younger than 12 months. Pregnant women are advised to receive the vaccine during their third trimester (of every pregnancy) to protect their newborn from pertussis. A tetanus (Td) booster is given every 10 years or following a severe cut or burn.
  • HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is the major cause of cervical cancer in women, as well as anal cancer and genital warts in men and women. The CDC recommends 2 doses (recently changed from 3 doses) of the HPV vaccine given 6-12 months apart for girls and boys at age 11 or 12. Teens that did not start or finish the HPV vaccine series should get it as soon as possible. It is recommended for young women through age 26; young men through age 21; young men who have sex with men and transgender adults through age 26; and young adults with compromised immune systems (such as HIV) through age 26.
  • Shingles is a painful skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus, the virus that causes chickenpox. The shingles vaccine is a one-time shot recommended for adults 60 years or older. It reduces the risk of developing shingles by 51% and decreases long-lasting pain (post-herpetic neuralgia) by 67%. One in 3 adults over 60 gets shingles. Older patients are more likely to develop long-term pain as a complication of shingles. Even if the vaccine doesn’t prevent you from getting shingles, it can reduce the chance of having long-term pain.
  • Pneumonia is caused by bacteria that has spread from the nose and throat to the lungs, blood or spinal cord. Pneumonia can be very serious and can result in long-term problems or death. For protection, adults 65 years or older need a single dose of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13), followed a year or so later by a single dose of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23). The vaccines are also recommended for smokers and younger adults with heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and weakened immune systems.

Antiviral Medications

Antiviral medications are not a substitute for getting the flu vaccine but they can be helpful for treating the flu. When prescribed early, antivirals can lessen symptoms and shorten the length of sickness. They are most commonly used for those who become very ill with the flu (such as people requiring hospitalization) and people at high-risk for serious complications because of their age or medical conditions. They are not usually necessary for people who get the flu but are otherwise healthy.

The flu vaccine is the first and best way to prevent getting the seasonal flu!

Are you up-to-date on your vaccinations? If you are not sure, ask your provider. Still not sure? Discuss your options with your provider, and keep records of any vaccines and other treatments you receive. Be sure to discuss any concerns you have about vaccines, including fear of needles or potential side effects. Your provider can help you feel more comfortable and explain the long-term benefits.

Your KnovaSolutions nurse can also discuss any vaccine concerns you have and offer information about vaccinations recommended for you. Let us help you weigh the risks and benefits of vaccinations. Call KnovaSolutions at 800/355-0885, M-F, 8 am – 5 pm, Mountain Time.

Click here to view/download the full newsletter. We encourage you to leave a comment or question below and a KnovaSolutions nurse or pharmacist will reply.

The information contained in this newsletter is for general, educational purposes. It should not be considered a replacement for consultation with your healthcare provider.  If you have concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider.

 


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Suffer From Low Back Pain? — September 2017

Suffer From Low Back Pain? — September 2017


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A Look at Alternative/Complementary Therapies

The U.S. spends $90 billion a year on back pain! That’s more than the combined cost of care for high blood pressure, pregnancy AND depression. Back pain is one of the top reasons people see their doctor and the leading reason people miss work. Lost time and productivity is estimated to cost another $10-20 billion.

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Deprescribing: A Growing Trend — August 2017

Deprescribing: A Growing Trend — August 2017


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What Was Good Then May Not Be Now

It is becoming more and more common for people to take five or more medications. The more medications a person takes, the greater their risk for negative health outcomes, such as reduced quality of life, increased side effects, drug interactions, physical or mental impairment, falls, addiction, hospitalization or even, death. The use of some medications, especially as people age or become sicker, can do more harm than good. There is also greater risk of taking them incorrectly—the more medications, the more confusion.

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Preventing Surprise Medical Bills — July 2017

Preventing Surprise Medical Bills — July 2017


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What to Do If You Get One

An unexpected medical bill can be a very unpleasant surprise. It is a bill for a medical service that you did not expect to receive because you thought your insurance would cover it. Surprise bills are becoming more common as our healthcare system becomes more complex and insurance companies reduce the number of providers in their network or exclude coverage for out-of-network services.

The best way to avoid surprise medical bills is to prevent them. It’s not always possible, but there are ways to minimize the risk.

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The Opioid Epidemic — May 2017

The Opioid Epidemic — May 2017


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Taking Ownership and Being Part of the Solution

You’ve heard the news reports about the dangers of opioid medications such as codeine, morphine, methadone, fentanyl, hydrocodone and oxycodone. While opioids can be an appropriate and effective treatment for pain, the U.S. has the highest rates of opioid use in the world. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 80% of the world’s prescribed opioids are used in the U.S. Great risk comes with such widespread use. From 2010 to 2015, more than 500,000 people died from opioid overdoses.

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Shared Healthcare Decision-Making — April 2017

Shared Healthcare Decision-Making — April 2017


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How to Improve Outcomes and Decrease Costs

Numerous studies performed in the last 10 years suggest that patients who actively participate in making healthcare decisions with their doctors report greater satisfaction with their care, better outcomes and lower costs. For example, a study reported in Health Affairs of 33,163 patients at a large healthcare facility in Minnesota showed that better informed patients cost less to treat. In the first year of the study, knowledgeable patients had 8% lower treatment costs, and, in the first half of the following year, 21% lower costs, than less involved patients.

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How Short Are Your Doctor Visits? — March 2017

How Short Are Your Doctor Visits? — March 2017


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Getting the Most Out of Your Appointments

Depending upon which source you read, the average length of time a doctor spends with each patient ranges from 5 minutes to 23 minutes. That’s not a lot of time to discuss your health history, medications, symptoms and concerns — much less talk about complicated information or a new serious condition. So how can you get what you need — and deserve —during each doctor visit? All arrows point first to having a primary care provider (PCP) with whom you develop a trusting relationship.

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Medication Errors at Home  — February 2017

Medication Errors at Home — February 2017


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How to Reduce Risk and Prevent Mistakes

Prescription and over-the-counter medications provide major health improvements for people, but they also pose potential risks. Adverse drug events — harm as a result of exposure to a medication — are associated with hundreds of thousands of emergency room visits and hospitalizations each year.

Home medication errors happen all too often. In a study at the New York University School of Medicine-Bellevue Hospital, it was found that one out of five parents who measured liquid medication for their children gave them twice the directed dose. Also, nearly all the parents measured the dose incorrectly to some degree.

Confusing ear drops and eye drops, chewing non-chewable pills, and splitting pills not designed to be split are other types of errors that happen at home.

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Wasteful Medical Spending — January 2017

Wasteful Medical Spending — January 2017


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Is There Anything You Can Do?

It is widely documented that the U.S. spends more on healthcare per person than any other country, yet much research shows that Americans are not healthier as a result. Wasteful spending accounts for 30 percent of the $3.2 trillion spent on healthcare each year. That’s $9.6 billion of waste per year! While this may seem like a challenge too large, there are ways to do your part to reduce wasteful spending.

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All in a Night’s Sleep — December 2016


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Recognizing and Treating Insomnia

Does it take more than 30 minutes to fall asleep? Do you wake more than 3 times a night? Do you get less than 6 hours of sleep? If you answered yes to these questions, you may suffer from insomnia.

Having trouble sleeping can happen to anyone but it is more common among women, middle-aged or older adults, shift workers, and those with medical conditions.

Insomnia can be acute or chronic. Lasting up to a month, acute insomnia is usually related to a stressful situation, such as an upcoming presentation or the start of a new job. Once the presentation has been given and the new job becomes more familiar, the insomnia often resolves. Chronic insomnia, occurring more than 3 nights a week for at least 3 months, can be caused by:

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Prediabetes Diagnosis is a ‘Gift’ — November 2016


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Taking Measures to Reduce Risk for Diabetes

More than 29 million Americans live with diabetes — a serious condition in which blood glucose (sugar in the blood) builds to dangerously high levels. What’s more, another 86 million live with prediabetes, that is, have strong risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. The Center for Disease Control states that 90% of people with prediabetes don’t know they have it!

“A diagnosis of prediabetes is a gift and a wake-up call,” says Marilyn Novosel, MPH, RN, CDE, the Certified Diabetes Educator for KnovaSolutions. “Learning that you have risk factors for developing diabetes is an opportunity to do something about it sooner rather than later.” She adds that making lifestyle changes can slow the progress, reduce the possibility of long-term complications, and for some, return blood sugar levels to normal.
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Flu Season Starts Now — October 2016


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Who Should Have Flu and Pneumonia Shots?

Getting the flu can leave you feeling lousy and unable to attend school or work for as long as 2 weeks, and longer if complications develop. Further, having the flu can put you at higher risk for developing pneumonia and other serious conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), getting the flu shot is “the first and best way to protect yourself and your family.”

The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from the flu. In 2010, the CDC recommended that everyone over the age of 6 months get a flu shot every year unless they have a severe, life-threatening allergy to the flu vaccine or its ingredients. People who should talk with their provider before getting the flu shot include those:
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Proton Pump Inhibitors — September 2016


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Understand the Potential Risk of Long-Term Use

Stomach acids work miracles to digest the foods we eat. But when there is too much acid, and in the wrong place, it can cause heartburn and reflux (when acid moves from the stomach back up the esophagus). It can also contribute to the development of ulcers (holes in the protective lining of the stomach, small intestine or esophagus). These conditions can cause very uncomfortable burning sensations in the chest, stomach, and even, throat. Fortunately, a variety of treatment options — over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications and lifestyle changes — can offer relief.

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Does Alcohol Trigger AFib? — August 2016


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Atrial Fibrillation: A Growing Concern

Atrial fibrillation (AFib or AF) is sometimes called the quivering heart. It is the most common type of irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. Fibrillation refers to the heart contracting very fast and irregularly.

To understand AF, it helps to think of the heart as the body’s electrical system. Each time our heart beats, an electrical signal is sent from the top of the heart to the bottom, causing it to contract and pump blood to the lungs and the rest of the body.

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Activity and Fitness Trackers: Studies Show They Get People Moving — July 2016

Activity and Fitness Trackers: Studies Show They Get People Moving — July 2016


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Have you noticed people wearing stylish wrist ware or other devices, and talking about how many steps they’ve taken? Activity and fitness trackers like FitBit, Garmin, Mi Band, Jawbones and pedometers represent a burgeoning business projected to reach $19 billion by 2018. These devices are used to monitor and measure physical activity, heart rate, sleep patterns and more. A review of studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that use of a pedometer — a device that records steps taken and distance —is associated with significant increases in physical activity and decreases in body mass index and blood pressure.

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Avoiding the Bulge After 50 — June 2016


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How to Maintain a Healthy Weight

As we age, it becomes harder to drop pounds and maintain a healthy weight. That’s because our metabolism slows down, we burn fewer calories and we lose lean muscle mass. It can be discouraging and for some, dangerous. But there are ways to maintain a healthy weight after 50, and it’s never too soon — or too late — to start.

Our metabolism slows as we age due to falling hormone levels. As testosterone levels drop, men tend to add body fat to their abdominal area. As estrogen levels fall, women often see a shifting of weight from their hips and buttocks to their mid-section. Our bodies also begin losing lean muscle mass starting around age 30, which may be a result of less active lifestyles. Being less active usually leads to burning fewer calories, and that often increases weight and fat mass, and decreases muscle mass.

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New CDC Guidelines for Opioid Use — May 2016

New CDC Guidelines for Opioid Use — May 2016


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Safe Use Saves Lives and Reduces Complications

Opioids, or narcotic medications, are powerful pain killers. They can be an appropriate and effective part of managing pain, but the overuse and misuse of these prescription drugs has become a public health crisis. Since 1999, the use of opioids has quadrupled and more than 165,000 people have died from their use. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 40 Americans die from opioid overdoses every day. To improve the safety of opioids, the CDC released new guidelines in March for how these medications should be prescribed.

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Telehealth: Remote Healthcare — April 2016

Telehealth: Remote Healthcare — April 2016


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Transforming Modern Medical Care

While healthcare has traditionally been delivered in a doctor’s office, hospital or outpatient clinic, technology continues to transform modern medical care. Telehealth is a broad term to describe remote healthcare services using video-conferencing equipment, mobile devices, internet access, remote monitoring devices and other tools. Telehealth promises to increase the contact between a patient and his or her providers, especially for those who live in rural areas or for whom travel to a medical facility is difficult (or even for busy working parents).

Because it can save travel time and expense for providers and patients, telehealth can improve the chances that people will receive preventive care and better management of chronic conditions. Telehealth can facilitate specialist consultations, whether the provider is across the state or across the world.

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The Shingles Vaccine: Your Risk for Shingles As You Age — March 2016

The Shingles Vaccine: Your Risk for Shingles As You Age — March 2016


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Shingles is a viral infection caused by varicella zoster, the same virus that causes chicken pox. Anyone who has had chicken pox can get shingles since the virus stays inactive in the body’s nerve tissue and can re-emerge later. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about 1 million Americans get shingles each year, and that half of all shingles cases occur in people 60 years or older.

While anyone with a history of chickenpox can get shingles (even children), it is most common among people over 50 and those with weakened immune systems due to cancer, HIV/AIDS and other conditions. Taking certain medications, such as chemotherapy for cancer, steroids, and those drugs used to prevent rejection of transplanted organs, can increase the risk of developing shingles. Asthma is under study as a potential risk factor for developing shingles.

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Screening for Cancer. Breast and Colorectal Cancer Screening — February 2016

Screening for Cancer. Breast and Colorectal Cancer Screening — February 2016


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Breast and Colorectal Cancer Screening

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates there will be nearly 1.7 million new cancer diagnoses, and nearly 600,000 cancer deaths, in 2016. While there are several risk factors for cancer you can’t control (gender, race, age, family history), there are lifestyle actions that have been associated with the prevention of cancer. Experts recommend living a healthy lifestyle, including not smoking, eating a well-balanced diet (more vegetables, fruits and whole grains/less processed food and red meat), protecting against sunburn, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy work/family balance, and having preventive screening tests that are right for you. Identifying cancer at its earlier stages increases the possibility of successful treatment.

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Know Your Out-of-Pocket Costs — January 2016

Know Your Out-of-Pocket Costs — January 2016


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Know Your Out-of-Pocket Costs
With Your High-Deductible Health Plan.

A growing number of people are covered by high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). As the name implies, these plans have higher deductibles than traditional insurance plans in exchange for lower monthly premiums. HDHPs are designed to make health insurance more affordable and to provide for coverage for catastrophic illness. The deductible amount specified by the insurance plan is the amount that the insured person must pay out-of-pocket until eligible healthcare expenses are covered in a given year.

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The Problem With Antibiotics — December 2015

The Problem With Antibiotics — December 2015


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Too Much of a Good Thing Puts Us at Risk

When penicillin, the first antibiotic, was introduced in the 1940s, it began an important era of treating bacterial infections, preventing the spread of illness and reducing serious complications. Penicillin and the many other antibiotics that have been developed since have played a very important public health role throughout the world. They have successfully treated all kinds of infections caused by bacteria, such as urinary tract infections, strep throat, pneumonia, some types of ear infections, scarlet fever, Lyme disease, and skin infections.
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Special Edition: All About Health Scores — November 2015

Special Edition: All About Health Scores — November 2015


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Your KnovaSolutions Health Score

What it is and how you can use it.

We’re all defined by numbers. Social Security number, age, height, weight, bank account, credit score. As a KnovaSolutions member, you also have a health score.

What’s that good for? Well, just as you can clean up your credit score to improve your finances, you can also work on the things that go into your health score and blaze a trail to better health.

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