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Ah, Summertime! — July 2018

Ah, Summertime! — July 2018


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How to Enjoy It While Staying Safe

Picnics, roasting marshmallows, swimming, camping, fishing—you name it—these are the treasures of summer. With longer days and schools closed, summer often means vacation time. But even if your summer doesn’t include a vacation, you’ve likely shed some layers and are spending more time outdoors. Being outside is a great way to reboot and revive the mind. To make the most of this more relaxed season, remember to take a few precautions to keep you and your family safe.

Though Benjamin Franklin was referring to fire safety when he coined the adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” it applies to all health and safety concerns. Speaking of fire safety, summer equals fireworks, right? Well, you may want to leave the fireworks to the professionals. In 2016, more than 11,000 people required medical treatment after fireworks-related accidents. A few deaths were reported too, according to the National Safety Council. The organization warns that thousands of these incidents were caused by less powerful devices like small firecrackers and sparklers.

Outdoor Time

Enjoy your outdoor time, and in the spirit of prevention:

  • Locate grills and fire pits away from your house and other flammable materials, preferably on concrete or stone. Keep marshmallow roasting sticks pointed down and warn others when they are hot.
  • Use plastic or metal cups and dishes outdoors to avoid the risk of broken glass that can injure bare feet.
  • Wear close-toed shoes and protective eyewear when mowing grass or using other machinery.
  • Wear helmets that fit snuggly when riding bikes, even around the neighborhood. Head trauma is the leading injury associated with bike accidents.
  • Keep a close eye on swimmers (drownings can happen fast). Encourage the use of flotation devices for those uncomfortable around water. Wear life vests that fit well while boating.
  • Apply (and re-apply) sunscreen daily to prevent premature aging and skin cancer. Wear a hat to cover ears and neck, and sunglasses to protect eyes from the harmful rays of the sun. Dermatologists recommend wearing light-weight pants and long-sleeved shirts to provide the best protection, especially for those sensitive to sunscreen ingredients.

Traveling to Far Away Places?

If you’ll be traveling outside the U.S., you may need certain vaccines. You can check the CDC travel vaccine site here. Since vaccines and medicines are not always immediately available and/or take time to become fully effective, check requirements and visit your provider 4-6 weeks before departure.

Don’t Forget Medications!

You may have your guidebooks and suitcase packed, but have you thought through carrying medications when leaving for vacation? If traveling by plane, carry medications in your carry-on bag. That way you will have them if your luggage gets lost. If you are traveling by car, remember that closed cars can get hot so keep all medications, not just the ones that require refrigeration, in a cooler or with you in air-conditioned spaces.

If you are traveling outside the U.S., it helps to carry your medications in their original containers so they are clearly marked. Bring a copy of your prescription and a letter from your doctor explaining your condition, especially when you use controlled substances (such as painkillers) or medications that are injected (like insulin for diabetes). You’ll need to tell Transportations Security Administration (TSA) agents if you are carrying liquids and syringes.

Bring extra of each of your medications in case they get lost (or damaged) or your trip gets extended.

If you are crossing time zones, be sure to carefully calculate when to take your next dose. Smart phone apps can help remind you when to take medications.

Keep Your Cool

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that extreme heat caused nearly 7,500 heat-related deaths between 1999 and 2010. Age, obesity, poor health and alcohol use can play a role in managing body temperature. High humidity prevents sweat from evaporating, which keeps your body hotter longer. So, whether you are on the go or not, be sure to drink plenty of water (don’t wait until you are thirsty) and take breaks from the sun and exertion. For some, hot days may dictate the need to stay close to a fan or air conditioning. To avoid heat-related discomforts, avoid the midday heat (do outdoor activities in the morning or evening) and wear lightweight and light-colored clothing.

Don’t rely on fresh water from lakes or streams (bacteria, germs, viruses and microorganisms may thrive in remote waters). If you can’t bring enough water with you, plan to boil what’s available, or use a portable purification system.

Food Safety in the Heat

Food safety principles are generally the same whether you are in the kitchen or outdoors. The U.S. Department of Agriculture states that bacteria does not grow rapidly on food below 40 or above 140° F. In between those temperatures though, bacteria can grow fast and reach dangerous levels after 2 hours, or 1 hour if it’s 90°F or warmer. That means keeping perishable foods like raw meat and salads containing mayonnaise cold. Coolers with ice or frozen gel packs do the job well.

Bacteria on raw meat can easily be spread to other items when juices escape packaging. You can avoid cross-contamination by keeping things clean. If there isn’t running water where you’ll be, bring it and soap along, or use disposable wipes. When grilling meats, be sure to keep them warm on the upper rack until they are ready to be eaten.

When traveling to developing countries, it is a good idea to exercise safe drinking and eating habits. Generally, food that is cooked and served hot, and dry or packaged food, is safe to eat. To avoid the risk of travelers’ diarrhea, avoid tap water, drinks with ice, raw foods, street foods, and unwashed/unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables.

Insects and Wildlife

Ticks, mosquitos and flies are a nuisance of summer. Since they can carry diseases like the Zika virus and Lyme disease, take precautions. Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, boots and a hat can reduce your exposure to pests, as can wearing insect repellant containing DEET. Some natural products like lavender oil and citronella are believed to repel pests too.

Wildlife is fun to enjoy, but better left untouched. A common sighting in nature are snakes. Even though some snakes are harmless, it is best to observe respectfully and back away slowly. Be aware that snakes can swim in water and hide in dark places. If you are bitten by a snake, try to notice its color and size (to help determine treatment). If you didn’t see what bit you but suspect a snake (it will have a pair of puncture marks and be very painful), stay calm and still to reduce the spread of venom (if poisonous) and get emergency assistance. Do not try to suck out the venom, apply ice or use a tourniquet.

We Love to Help

If you are planning a trip, let us help you prepare. We can discuss those summer safety issues specific to you. Give us a call at 800/355-0885.

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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Working Smart — June 2018

Working Smart — June 2018


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Finding Your Way to Workplace Wellness

Fulltime workers spend, on average, more than one-third of their day, five days per week at their place of work. We rely heavily on the fruits of our labor: skills, confidence, camaraderie, and most importantly, an income. Since our work life is so important to our livelihood, it makes sense to work smart. Workplace health and wellness includes activities and policies designed to promote the well-being of employees, support health behavior in the workplace, and decrease the risks of injuries. Employees can experience greater job satisfaction by making some key adjustments in the workplace.

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The Path to Emotional Wellness — May 2018

The Path to Emotional Wellness — May 2018


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How to Improve Your Resiliency

Your mental health and wellness affects practically every aspect of your life—how you think, feel and act at home and work, with family, friends, colleagues and the general public. People who are emotionally healthy tend to go about their day with a sense of purpose. They engage in enjoyable activities and balance them with their work and family life. They have fulfilling relationships and have a positive outlook.

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Why It’s Important to Have a PCP — April 2018

Why It’s Important to Have a PCP — April 2018


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And What to Do When Your PCP Isn’t Available

Your primary care provider (PCP) is that professional you see every year or so for preventive screening or more often if you are managing ongoing health concerns. S/he’s also the one you call when you get sick or develop concerning new symptoms. But, what if your PCP isn’t available? Your options depend upon the circumstances.

Wait, Back Up!

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Is Personalized Medicine for You? — January 2018

Is Personalized Medicine for You? — January 2018


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Evolving Field of Medicine Offers Promise

Healthcare providers have always sought to individualize care for their patients. But now, advances in medical research allow providers to study a person’s genes, offering another tool to guide decisions about preventing, diagnosing and treating disease. Personalized medicine, also called precision or individualized medicine, is an evolving field where providers use genetic testing to understand how a person’s disease risks are unique. Used alongside information about family history, symptoms and environmental factors, genetic testing can help providers prevent illness and/or determine which treatments will work best.

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How Walking Can Extend Life — December 2017

How Walking Can Extend Life — December 2017


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Even Minimal Walking Offers Health Benefits

You don’t have to run or bike intensively to get the health advantages of regular exercise. A new study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM) showed that 120 minutes or less of moderate-intensity walking each week can add longevity to your life. 120 minutes? That’s less than 18 minutes a day!

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Confusing Cancer Terminology — November 2017

Confusing Cancer Terminology — November 2017


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Making Sense During Difficult Times

Almost 13 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer every year. People may experience unexplained pain, weight loss, fatigue and other symptoms followed by screening tests, imaging, and maybe biopsies before getting the dreaded diagnosis. Learning that you or a loved one has cancer is overwhelming and stressful.

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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.

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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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