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Every Breath You Take — November 2018

Every Breath You Take — November 2018


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Keeping Your Lungs Healthy

Most of the time, we don’t think about our lungs. They are part of the body’s respiratory system, the organs and tissues that work together to help us breathe. Their main job? To move fresh air into the body when we inhale air and remove a “waste” gas called carbon dioxide when we exhale.

The lungs mature at around age 25. They are capable of holding four to six liters of air. Think of three large soda bottles. On average, adults take 20,000 to 25,000 breaths a day, children take more like 30,000.

Our lungs have a natural defense system. For example, the small hairs in the nose help stop tiny dust particles from being breathed into the lungs. The bronchial tubes deep in our lungs have small hairs called cilia that move like waves to send mucus out of the lungs and into the throat where it can be coughed up.

Tips for Lung Health

Around age 35, our lung function begins to very s-l-o-w-l-y decline. There are steps to take that can keep the lungs humming along in the best possible shape, even though our lung capacity gradually reduces as we get older.

The first step is, yes, you guessed it: don’t smoke! Cigarette smoke narrows the airways, making it harder to move clean air in and waste air out. Smoking damages the airways and lung tissue; it is the leading cause of lung cancer (95% of lung cancers are caused by smoking). It’s never too late to benefit from quitting! The American Lung Association, your provider and KnovaSolutions can help if you are ready to quit.

Avoiding inside and outside air pollution go a long way towards keeping the lungs healthy. Breathing second-hand smoke and harsh cleaning chemicals in your home or office can make you sick. Ask any smokers (who you can’t convince to quit) to smoke outdoors. Keep your home and work space as clean as you can; mold, dust and pet dander can irritate the lungs. Consider using vinegar water or other mild cleaning products. Open windows when using products that have fumes. Avoid air fresheners and candles that contain chemicals like formaldehyde or benzene. Essential oils used with a diffuser is a safer way to freshen the air. When outdoor air quality is bad, stay indoors as much as possible. If you think something in the air at home or work is making you sick, start a list of what makes your symptoms worse. You may be able to avoid or reduce your exposure to what causes sneezing or coughing.

It’s about this time of year that respiratory problems tend to increase. Cold and flu season is associated with stuffy noses and chest coughs. To avoid getting sick, wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand-sanitizers when you can’t wash. Get the flu shot. It may not be perfect, but it can significantly reduce your chances of getting the flu, which can last two to four weeks. Ask your provider if you should have the pneumonia vaccine. Avoid being in close quarters with crowds since germs are spread by breathing, touching and coughing. If your work mates or family members are sick, be careful to keep your distance and wash shared surfaces. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day can remove germs from your mouth before they have a chance to take hold.

Having regular check-ups with your provider can help prevent all kinds of health conditions, including breathing problems. Generally healthy people may not need to see a provider more than every two years, but if you notice anything out of the ordinary, it may be worth a visit. Providers do routine tests like taking blood pressure and listening to your heart and lungs. These preventive steps can help stop health problems from starting in the first place or from worsening into more serious conditions.

Exercise gives your lungs a workout. Regular aerobic exercise (activities that make your heart beat fast and cause you to breathe rapidly) strengthens your lungs so they can do their job more efficiently. This can slow down the aging process and reduce the chances of developing lung conditions. Of course, exercise has many more benefits too, like improving mood, reducing blood pressure and managing weight.

Recognizing Signs of Disease

Since breathing is something we often take for granted, it’s good to know the symptoms of lung disease. Here are some warning signs:

  • A chronic cough, one that has been hanging on for a month or longer. Ask your provider if any of your medications could be causing the cough.
  • Shortness of breath when you’ve been at rest/doing little or that doesn’t go away after exercising.
  • Difficulty breathing in and out.
  • Chronic mucus production. Producing mucus, or phlegm, is the way your airways defend against infection or irritants.
  • Wheezing. A whistle or other noisy breathing may mean the airways have narrowed or that something is blocking them.
  • Coughing up blood signals that something is bleeding internally.
  • Chest pain. May be a sign of a heart condition but if it gets worse when breathing or coughing, it may be a lung condition.

Common Lung Conditions

The flu (influenza) is an infection caused by a virus that affects your nose, throat and lungs. For most people, the flu clears up on its own but for those at higher risk or who develop complications, it can be very serious, even fatal. Pneumonia can be a complication of the flu, though there are many other causes. It is a lung infection caused by bacteria, a virus or a fungus. Depending upon the type of infection, antibiotics or other medications may be prescribed. Higher risk people include young children, the elderly, those with weakened immune systems and those with chronic illnesses like asthma and heart disease. Another common lung condition is bronchitis, a swelling of the bronchial tubes that carry air to and from the lungs. It’s like a chest cold that includes coughing up thick mucus. Read about two other common lung conditions in the boxes.

Managing Asthma

Asthma can make breathing difficult, the airways narrow and swell, and extra mucus is made. Asthma, a common lung condition, can’t be cured but the symptoms can be controlled by making an asthma action plan with your provider.

It’s important to understand the triggers that cause or worsen symptoms; they can range from pollen and cold air to exercise and the common cold.

Taking medication as prescribed, even when symptoms are improving, is important. Notice when the need for your rescue inhaler increases or other signs of an asthma episode. Treating attacks early, reduces the likelihood of having a severe attack and needing more medication.

Treating COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common lung disease that causes increasing breathlessness. COPD includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD damages the airways and makes breathing very difficult. It is caused by long-term exposure to harmful gases, primarily cigarette smoking. While there isn’t yet a cure, there are many things that can be done to manage COPD.

If you have increasing shortness of breath or breathlessness, frequent coughing, wheezing or tightness in the chest, be sure to see your provider. Depending upon the type of COPD, different treatments will be recommended. Other conditions like heartburn, high blood pressure, depression or diabetes can affect how COPD is managed.

The COPD Foundation is a good source of information. KnovaSolutions can also help. We can provide information about the condition, treatment options and support you as you learn to manage it.

Taking care of your lungs is as important as taking care of the rest of your body. If you have questions or concerns about your health, call KnovaSolutions. We are ready to help! Call us 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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Complementing Your Medical Care — October 2018

Complementing Your Medical Care — October 2018


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With Approaches That Benefit Your Health

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 30 percent of adults use healthcare approaches developed outside of mainstream western medicine. These approaches are called complementary and alternative —terms that are often used interchangeably. However, it is important to note that they are different.

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Calcium and Vitamin D — September 2018

Calcium and Vitamin D — September 2018


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Essential Nutrients that Work Hand-in-Hand

No matter our age, our bodies need calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth, as well as other important functions. However, without enough vitamin D, calcium can’t be absorbed by the body. What happens then? The body draws from calcium stored in the bones, which weakens them and can lead to osteoporosis, a condition where bones become fragile, brittle and prone to breaks. Maintaining calcium and vitamin D levels in a healthy range over your lifetime can help prevent the risks of weak bones, teeth and other potential issues.

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Common Medical Conditions — August 2018

Common Medical Conditions — August 2018


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Can They Be Prevented or Reversed?

Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. One in two adults has a chronic disease and one in four has two or more, according to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

When it comes to our health, there are things we can’t control and those that we can try to influence. We can’t change our genetic makeup, gender, race or age—some of the factors that can make us more likely to develop a chronic medical condition. However, many health conditions are caused by lifestyle factors that we do have some ability to manage—our diet, exercise, stress management, weight and smoking habits.

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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.

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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 $960 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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