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Understanding and Addressing Childhood Obesity

Tuesday, 19 September, 2017
childhood obesity

Childhood obesity is on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the percentage of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s. Today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6–19) is obese.

Why This Matters
As you know, excess weight can cause many health problems, especially in children, who can suffer from asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, type 2 diabetes, and risk factors for heart disease, hypertension, early puberty, and orthopedic problems.

Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to suffer bullying, which can lead to social isolation, depression, and a lower self-esteem, along with eating disorders and behavior and learning problems. Finally, children who are obese are apt to remain so into adulthood, which further risks their health, leading to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Defining Childhood Obesity
Children grow at different rates and in different ways, so a child who looks larger than his peers may not be overweight or obese.

You probably have heard of Body Mass Index or BMI. To calculate BMI, divide weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters. A child is considered overweight if his/her BMI is at or above the 85th percentile, but below the 95th percentile for children and teens of the same age and sex. A child is obese if his/her BMI is at or above the 95th percentile. (This is different than how we categorize overweight and obesity in adults, who are no longer growing.)

There have been some changes in obesity rates due to more awareness of the issue. Despite those declines in the early 2000s, from 2011-2014, the prevalence of obesity remained about the same. About 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese — which is 12.7 million people.

Risk Factors
Poor diet and lack of exercise can cause childhood obesity. Genetics can also play a role. Some children overeat for psychological reasons, to cope with emotions or to fight boredom. Sleep also plays a role; children who lack a bedtime routine and do not get enough sleep are often heavier than their peers.

Socioeconomic status may lead to childhood obesity in households where less-healthy food is cheaper, quicker to prepare, and won’t spoil easily. According to statistics, children in low-income households are far more likely to be overweight or obese.

childhood obesity complications

 

Prevention and Cures
September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Managing childhood obesity starts at home but extends to the community. One of the best approaches is to improve the eating and exercise habits of your entire family. Parents can encourage their children to eat healthy and get physical activity in many ways:

As a community, we can work to reduce the rate of childhood obesity. Here are some of the ways communities are addressing the problem:

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP) help low-income families buy more nutritious foods.
  • Schools can help by creating policies and practices that support healthy eating, regular physical activity, and by providing opportunities for students to learn about and practice these behaviors.
  • Childcare providers can encourage regular physical activity and healthful eating.

If you have concerns about your child’s weight, contact our pediatric providers to discuss your child’s weight and whether it’s cause for concern.
 

It's Flu Shot Time

Tuesday, 19 September, 2017
flu shots available

Influenza season is just around the corner! Time to protect yourself and your loved ones by getting your flu shot.

This year, Generations Family Practice will be offering vaccines for all patients ages 6-months and older. For our youngest patients (6-25 months) Fluzone will once again replace the Flumist for increased effectiveness. Flucelvax quad is available for those patients age 4-years and older. This is the first FDA approved flu vaccine made from cells instead of chicken eggs, antibiotic free, preservative free and latex free and offers the same protection as traditional egg-based flu vaccine. We will also have the high-dose flu vaccine for patients age 65-years and older.

All vaccines are available NOW. Call our office to schedule your flu vaccine today! Established patient walk-ins are also welcome as a nurse visit, Monday through Saturday during regular office hours.

Want to know more about the flu shot and what’s new this year? Here is a great piece by Live Science outlining what you need to know!

Flu Shot Facts & Side Effects

The seasonal flu shot is a yearly vaccine administered to protect against the flu, or influenza.

In the United States, flu shots are recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The flu can be a very serious illness, especially in young children, adults ages 65 and over, those with underlying health conditions, and pregnant women.

The flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and family from the flu, the CDC says.

Strains of the flu virus are constantly changing, so a new flu vaccine is made each year. Scientists make the vaccine before the flu season starts by predicting which flu strains are likely to be the most common during the upcoming season.

"Since the flu virus frequently drifts in its genetic composition, you have to reformulate the vaccine, and this is one of the reasons that people have to [get a flu shot] on an annual basis," said Dr. William Schaffner, a preventive medicine and infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

What kinds of flu shots are there?
Flu shots protect against three or four strains of flu virus. Trivalent flu vaccines protect against two influenza A strains -- H1N1 and H3N2 -- and one influenza B strain. Quadrivalent flu vaccines — offered for the first time in the 2013-2014 flu season — protect against the same strains as the trivalent vaccine, as well as an extra influenza B strain.

In addition to the standard-dose flu vaccine given through a needle, flu shots are available in several different forms, including a high-dose version for those ages 65 and older, a small-needle version (intradermal flu vaccine) for people ages 18 to 64, an egg-free version that's grown in animal cells rather than hen's eggs and is approved for people ages 4 and older, and a nasal spray, which is approved for healthy people ages 2 to 49.

There is also a needle-free flu shot, delivered by a so-called jet injector, which uses a high-pressure stream of fluid to inject the vaccine, the CDC says. It is approved for adults ages 18 to 64.

Flu vaccines for the 2017 to 2018 season
The composition of the 2017-2018 flu shot will be slightly different from last season's flu shot. Specifically, there will be a different strain of the H1N1 virus in this season's flu shot, compared with last season's shot. According to the CDC, the 2017-2018 trivalent flu shot will contain the following strains of the flu virus:

• A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus – This is the H1N1 component that is different from last year's flu shot.
• A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus – This is the H3N2 component that is the same as last year's flu shot.
• B/Brisbane/60/2008-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus – This is the influenza B strain component that is the same as last year's shot.

The 2017-2018 quadrivalent vaccine will also contain a second influenza B strain called "B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus," which was also included in last season's quadrivalent vaccine.

Just like the last flu season, the flu nasal spray is not recommended for anyone during the 2017-2018 flu season. This is the second year in a row that the CDC has omitted the nasal spray from the list of recommended flu shot types. This decision was based on data showing that the nasal spray was not very effective at preventing flu from 2013 to 2016, the CDC says. In addition, omitting the nasal spray during the 2016-2017 flu season did not affect the overall percentage of Americans who received a flu shot that season, according to American Academy of Family Physicians. It's not clear whether this recommendation will change in future seasons.

In addition, the CDC clarified that pregnant women may receive any of the flu vaccines recommended for their age group, except the nasal spray (also called the live attenuated influenza vaccine, or LAIV.) This means pregnant women can receive either "inactivated" (killed) flu vaccine, or the "recombinant" flu vaccine, which is produced without the use of chicken eggs and can be given to people with egg allergies. Previously, the CDC had said pregnant women should receive the "inactivated," but did not mention use of recombinant vaccines.

When should you get a flu shot?
Exactly when the flu season starts and ends is unpredictable, so health officials recommend that people get their flu shot in early fall, preferably by the end of October, the CDC says. Flu activity typically peaks in January or February.

"We'd like to get as many people protected against influenza before influenza becomes active in communities across the country," Schaffner said.

Most flu vaccines are given before Thanksgiving, Schaffner said, but people can still get their shot throughout the winter months. Each season's flu shot expires in June of that year, but Schaffner said that he would consider it "too late" to get a flu vaccine after March, unless a person is traveling to the Southern Hemisphere (where the flu season will be starting).

After vaccination, it takes a person about two weeks to build up immunity against the flu.

People can visit the CDC's HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find flu shot locations, although they should call the location ahead of time to see if they have the vaccine in stock.

How effective is the flu vaccine?
The effectiveness of the seasonal flu vaccine depends upon several factors, including how well the flu strains in the vaccine match the strains in circulation. Some studies show that when strains in the vaccine are a good match with the ones that are circulating, vaccinated individuals are 60 percent less likely to catch the flu than people who aren't vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Flu vaccine effectiveness can also vary depending on the person being vaccinated — the vaccine tends to work best in healthy adults and older children, and less well in older adults.

For instance, a 2013 study from the CDC found that the year's flu vaccine was not very effective in adults ages 65 and over: Older people who got the vaccine were just as likely to visit the doctor for flu symptoms as those who did not get the vaccine. But other studies suggest that individuals who do get sick develop less serve symptoms if they are vaccinated. A 2013 study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that people who got the flu shot were less likely to be hospitalized with the flu.

There are some studies that suggest the high-dose flu vaccine provides better protection for older adults. The high-dose flu vaccine contains four times the dose of the standard vaccine, Schaffner said. A 2014 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the high-dose vaccine provides 24 percent more protection against the flu than the standard dose, Schaffner said.

Are flu vaccines safe for pregnant women?
Yes. Studies show flu vaccines are safe for women in any stage of pregnancy, the CDC says.

There are several reasons why it's important for pregnant women to get a flu shot, Schaffner said.

"Pregnant women, when they get influenza, have a tendency to get a more severe disease," and are at increased risk for complications and hospitalization from the disease, Schaffner said.

In addition, flu vaccination in pregnancy helps to protect the baby against flu during the first six months of life, when the baby is too young to receive a flu shot, Schaffner said. The mother "passes that protection on to her newborn baby," Schaffner said.

What are the side effects?
According to the CDC, mild side effects from the flu shot include soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, low-grade fever and aches. Only about 1 percent to 2 percent of people who get a flu shot will have fever as a side effect, Schaffner said. Rare but serious side effects can occur, including allergic reactions. Symptoms of serious side effects include difficulty breathing, swelling around the eyes or lips, hives, racing heart, dizziness and high fever. If you experience serious side effects, you should seek medical care immediately, the CDC says.

For children, side effects from the flu nasal spray can include runny nose, wheezing, headache, vomiting, muscle aches and fever. For adults, side effects include runny nose, headache, sore throat and cough. These side effects last a short time compared to the actual flu illness, the CDC says.

Can you get the flu from the flu shot?
"It's a myth that you can get flu from the flu vaccine," Schaffner said.

The viruses in the flu shot are killed, so people cannot get the flu from a flu vaccine. However, because it takes about two weeks for people to build up immunity after they get the flu vaccine, some people may catch the flu shortly after their vaccinated, if they are exposed to the flu during this time period.

Some people may also mistakenly attribute symptoms of a cold to the vaccine, Schaffner said.

The nasal spray vaccine contains a "live attenuated" flu virus, but the virus is weakened so that it cannot cause the flu. The viruses in the nasal spray can't replicate in the warm temperatures of the lungs and other parts in the body.

However, because temperatures in the nose are colder, the virus causes a small infection in the nose. This infection does not cause symptoms in most people, but in some people, it causes symptoms such as runny nose and sore throat, Schaffner said.

This local infection will prompt the body to make antibodies against the flu virus, Schaffner said. "That provides better protection against the real flu, which is of course, is a virus that can make you seriously ill," Schaffner said.

Who should not get a flu vaccine?
Children younger than 6 months cannot get a flu shot. Those who've had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past should generally not be vaccinated, the CDC says.

You should not get the flu vaccine if you have a high fever. (You should wait until the fever is gone.)

However, if you have minor illness, like a mild cold or a headache, you can still get a flu shot, Schaffner said. "The vaccine does perfectly well in those folks."

By Rachael Rettner, Senior Writer, Live Science

7 Tips for Beach Safety

Tuesday, 19 September, 2017
beach safety
In the Triangle, summer means trips to the beach! Nothing ruins a vacation like a trip to the emergency department. Stay safe with these 7 beach safety tips:

Beach Safety Tips

  • Beware of rip currents. A rip current is water flowing away from the shore. The water flow can be up to 8 feet per second, faster than an Olympic swimmer! Avoid them. But if you get stuck, relax, then swim parallel to shore. Here is more information about rip currents and here is a handy chart.
  • Understand beach warning flags. Lifeguards watch most of our area beaches during peak season, and they will post warning flags. A red flag means the water is hazardous and only strong swimmers should go in. Two red flags indicate swimming is prohibited. A yellow flag means use caution; there are dangerous currents and undertows. A green flag means all clear. Some beaches use blue and purple flags to warn of sharks or jellyfish.
  • Part of beach safety includes keeping an eye out for sharks. Sharks aren’t always a problem in North Carolina, but we do see them off the coast sometimes. National Shark Week is in July, and it’s not just time to binge watch the Discovery channel. Keep safe by monitoring the beach warning flags. If all is clear, try to swim in a group, don’t stray too far from shore. You can also lower your risk by not swimming at night, dawn, or dusk. Don’t enter the water if you are bleeding and don’t wear shiny jewelry.
  • Seek shelter during storms. Summer storms can be exciting but may come with damaging winds, hail, and lightning. According to the National Weather Service, most lightning deaths occur during leisure activities such as boating, camping, fishing, and bicycle riding. While it’s inconvenient to stop what you are doing and seek shelter, especially if you are out on a lake, it’s important to do so. 

     

  • Protect your skin from the sun. Sunburn isn’t just uncomfortable; on average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns. Wear hats and sunscreen of at least SPF 30 when you are out. Reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating and every hour. At the beach, plant an umbrella or tent so you can take breaks in the shade. Keep in mind tents will not block all the sun’s rays though, so you’ll still need to reapply sunscreen.
  • Avoid food poisoning. Food on the beach will get warm quickly. Temperatures between 40 degrees and 140 degrees is known as the “danger zone” for cooked food. At those temperatures, food can only be left out for two hours. But if it’s a hot day, say 90 degrees, you only get one hour. Prevent bacteria from forming by putting things back in the cooler when you are done.
  • Stay hydrated. While many people enjoy alcohol at the beach, the combined heat and sun will dehydrate your body faster. Plus, alcohol can make your skin more sensitive to light, which means a higher risk of sunburn. Experts recommend drinking 8 ounces of water after every alcoholic beverage. 
 
Our team at Generations Family Practice hopes you have a happy, safe summer and practice these beach safety tips on your next vacation!

Keep an eye on your child's eye health

Tuesday, 19 September, 2017
child's eye health

Your child’s eye health is just as important as every other part of him. Some eye conditions are treatable while young, but irreversible once a child reaches his teen years.

Only 2 percent of parents would wait for symptoms before taking their child to the pediatrician or dentist for the first time. Yet 24% of parents expect their child to have symptoms before visiting an eye doctor.1

One in four children has an eye problem that can interfere with learning and behavior. Sixty percent of students identified as “problem learners” have undetected vision problems. That’s why it’s important to get regular eye exams for your children even if they don’t complain about things looking fuzzy. If your child plays sports, you have even more reason to get regular checkups.

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. Let’s take a look at all things eyes.

The First Eye Examchild eye health
Your child’s first eye exam will take place at the pediatrician’s office, unless your doctor refers your child to an ophthalmologist. The first exam will take place as an infant, with a recheck sometime between six months and 1 year old. Your pediatrician will again check your child’s eyes around age 3, examining vision and eye alignment.

Later Exams
Once your child is old enough to read an eye chart, he should be tested to make sure he can focus at far, middle and near distances. Most of the time, children are slightly farsighted, but will not require glasses. Once a child starts school, he should be screened every two years by a pediatrician, school nurse, or ophthalmologist. A screening is a basic check, and many schools perform these tests each year. If your child shows any eye trouble, he will be referred to an ophthalmologist for a full vision exam. If your child requires vision correction, he will need an annual eye exam.

Signs Your Child Has Vision Problems
Watch your child’s eyes as she focuses to make sure they align normally. If they turn inward or if your child appears to have a lazy eye (amblyopia), make an appointment with an eye doctor. Such problems are more easily corrected if they are addressed early.

Some children don’t realize they are having eye trouble. Watch for squinting, headaches, or complaints. Some less obvious signs include:

  • A short attention span for activities
  • Losing his/her place while reading
  • Avoiding reading, drawing, or other activities that require up close sight
  • Turning his/her head to the side to see better. (In cases of astigmatism, this makes it easier for them to focus.)

If you wear glasses or contacts, your child has a greater chance of requiring vision correction.

Common Childhood Eye Conditions and Diseases
While vision is an important part of how a child learns, the eyes have other problems that may appear during childhood. Here are some of the more common conditions that require an ophthalmologist exam:

  • Amblyopia - As mentioned above, this is more commonly known as “lazy eye.” This refers to an eye that has not developed normal sight and affects two or three out of every 100 people in the U.S. In cases of amblyopia, the eye may always appear misaligned, or may just drift off sometimes. In this cases, the brain shuts down signals to that eye, so the child only uses the better-seeing eye.
  • Ptosis - If you notice a drooping upper eyelid that covers the eye, your child might have ptosis. This can block her vision.
  • "Cloudy" eyes - Children can get cataracts, too, as well as other conditions that may cause an eye to appear cloudy.

There are also diseases that may affect the eye. If you notice any of these, contact your pediatrician first and he or she will decide whether further eye care is needed.

  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye) - You’ve probably experience this at some point. Pink eye is caused by a viral or bacterial infection, but either way, it’s quite contagious. Allergies might also cause pink eye, and that is not contagious. Watch for the red or pink color, extra discharge or tears, and itchy or uncomfortable eyes. In cases of a viral infection, you may see other symptoms such as fever, runny nose, or sore throat. (Help stop the spread of conjunctivitis.)
  • Chalazion - This occurs when a gland in the eyelid becomes clogged. It looks like a small lump on the eyelid. While not caused by infection, seek a doctor’s care to correct it.
  • Stye - Infected eyelash follicles cause red, sore bumps near the edge of the eye known as styes.
  • Cellulitis - This is an infection that requires urgent medical care. Sometimes it’s local to the eyelid, but cellulitis might also be caused by an upper respiratory infection or a general infection related to trauma. In cases of cellulitis, the eye appears red and painfully swollen; it may even swell shut. The eye may appear to be pushed forward or have trouble seeing. Your child may also have a fever.
  • Blocked Tear Duct - If the eye cannot drain tears normally, the blockage may cause an infection. Symptoms include watery eyes or tears running out of the eyes. Some babies are born with this, but the cases usually resolve themselves. Your doctor might also recommend a massage technique to help.

Sports Protection
Different sports require different types of eye protection. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has set standards for each of these, and the equipment you need will be labeled ASTM followed by a combination of numbers and letters such as F803. Here is the list, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology:

  • ASTM F803: Eye protectors for selected sports (racket sports, women's lacrosse [see the U.S. Lacrosse website for more details], field hockey, baseball, basketball);
  • ASTM F513: Eye and face protective equipment for hockey players;
  • ASTM F1776: Eye protectors for use by players of paintball sports;
  • ASTM F1587: Head and face protective equipment for ice hockey goaltenders;
  • ASTM F910: Face guards for youth baseball; and
  • ASTM F659: High-impact resistant eye protective devices for Alpine skiing.

Other Eye Notes
You can prevent many other eye problems and injuries. Here are a few final tips for keeping your child’s eyes safe.

  • Have your child wear sunglasses while outside. The sunglasses should be labeled 100% UV protection to cover both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Be sure your child gets some outdoor play regularly while young, which helps develop his/her eyes.
  • Keep all fireworks away from your children. Bottle rockets, especially, which have been banned in many states, have caused a lot of eye injuries.
  • Teach your children to protect their eyes by wearing safety glasses or goggles for activities such as lawn mowing and household repairs.
  • Only use age-appropriate toys and avoid projectile toys, BB guns, and pellet rifles.

If you have questions about your child’s eyes or vision, contact your Generations Family Practice pediatrician today.

New Generations Office Announcement

Tuesday, 19 September, 2017
new office

We are thrilled to announce plans for a new Generations office! On July 12, 2017, the Generations Family Practice providers converged to sign one of the steel beams to be used in the construction of our new building! The 'Preston Walk Medical Office Building,' in Cary NC, is set to open early 2018. The new space, less than a mile from our current office, will include the following:

  • Three times the space
  • Imaging (X-Ray) on-site       
  • Space specifically designed to maximize patient/provider interaction and maximize personal, individualized care
  • New Skin Centre
  • Increased staff
  • Easier check-in
  • More comfortable waiting spaces
  • New medical devices to improve care and seamlessly integrate with electronic medical record system and other resource in the healthcare continuum

Keep an eye out for continued coverage of construction and updates on both our website and Facebook page as we grow!

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Know about Group B Strep to Protect Your Infant

Tuesday, 19 September, 2017
Group Strep B

You’ve heard of strep throat and have probably had it at least once. But have you heard of Group B Strep? Did you know that it can threaten the lives of unborn or just born babies?

July is International Group B Strep Throat Awareness Month. Whether you’re pregnant or know someone who is, here is what you need to know.

What is Group B Strep?

Group B Strep (GBS) “is a type of bacteria that is naturally found in the digestive and lower reproductive tracts of both men and women,” according to Group B Strep International. About 1 in 4 pregnant women carry this bacteria. It is not related to strep throat.

Not every baby born to a mother with GBS will become ill; the rates are 1 in 200. However, the bacteria can infect your baby during pregnancy, during birth, or set in later. GBS can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, preterm labor, or cause your water to break prematurely. Some babies get meningitis, pneumonia, or sepsis, all of which can be fatal. Some babies survive but end up blind, deaf, have mental challenges, or cerebral palsy. GBS affects about 1 in every 2,000 babies in the United States.

What You Can DoGroup B Strep

Most women do not experience any symptoms, but some show signs similar to a yeast infection. Women are now tested for Group B Strep during each pregnancy. If you test positive, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

Visit your doctor if you have any symptoms of a bladder or urinary tract infection or vaginitis/yeast infection. Call your doctor if you experience less movement in your 20th week or have an unexplained fever.

Know that you have GBS and remind all your medical team members, especially during labor. You will be put on IV antibiotics, which often include penicillin, so alert your doctor about any allergies. 

Watch for GBS symptoms in your baby, including:

  • High-pitched, shrill crying, moaning, whimpering, or grunting as if constipated
  • Feeding poorly, refusing to eat, not waking for feedings
  • Irritability, vomiting, listless, stiff, uncontrollable jerking
  • Blue, gray, or pale skin, blotchy or red skin
  • Fever or low temperature

Although GSB is scary and can have terrible results, knowing what to do can make all the difference in your baby’s life. You can learn more from the American Pregnancy Association and March of Dimes.
 

Scoliosis and Your Child

Tuesday, 19 September, 2017
Scoliosis, a condition you don’t often hear about. is the reason behind your child's pediatrician checking their back. 

Scoliosis and What You Need to Know

  • Scoliosis is a spinal deformity, a sideways curvature that can occur in both males and females. The curve may be an S curve or a C curve.
  • This curvature may be mild, but in severe cases can be disabling and can reduce the amount of space in the chest, making it difficult to breathe.
  • It typically begins to appear between ages 10 and 15, during the growth spurt just before puberty. However, it can appear in people younger and older.
  • In most cases, there is no known cause.
  • Some schools perform tests, but many do not, which is why your pediatrician should examine your child’s back during regular visits.
  • What to watch for: uneven shoulders, one shoulder blade that appears more prominent than the other, an uneven waist, or one hip higher than the other.
  • Treatments include braces or surgery, but depend on the severity and type. Treatments are more effective the sooner they begin.
scoliosis
 
If you believe your child may have this curvature, contact us right away for a checkup.

GFP Talks to Congress about Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Tuesday, 19 September, 2017
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Visits Capital Hill

GFP team member Carinne McKeever Woodworth, PA-C, went before Congress in May to advocate for people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Carinne, who previously shared her story of Crohn’s Disease on our blog, traveled with her husband to speak during “IBD Day On The Hill” organized by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

“Our goal was to be a voice for the 5 million suffering from Crohn’s and Colitis,” she said.

Advocating for Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients

Carinne and other North Carolina residents spoke in person with Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and with Sen. Richard Burr’s (R-NC) legislative assistants. Their goal: to encourage legislators to include 'inflammatory bowel diseases' in the Department of Defense Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program. To obtain the funding, IBD must be listed by Congress under this program.

“This money does not only help find a cure, but to also fund research of other treatment options,” Carinne said. “There are many Crohn’s and Colitis patients like myself who have ‘failed’ all medications currently on the market. Luckily, we learned there are now two drugs in Phase Three of clinical trials. These drugs will be available to the public in 1.5 years. Without funding for research these drugs would have never came into fruition and many would continue to suffer without a viable treatment option.”

Carinne also spoke with legislative staffers for North Carolina House of Representatives, including the teams from the offices of Rep. Alma S. Adams (D-12), Rep. David Price (D-4), and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-1). There, she lobbied against step therapy.

“Step therapy is when your provider prescribes a certain medication but your insurance companies makes you try older, cheaper medications before paying for the drug that was originally prescribed,” Carinne explained. “This process could take months before the insurance companies approve the medication. For an Inflammatory Bowel Disease, patient this may be the difference between saving your colon and having it surgically removed. Currently Step Therapy gives all the power to insurance companies -- we lobbied to put the decision back into the provider-patient hands.”

Finally, Carinne also argued against a potential law that would discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, which would affect not just those with Crohn’s, but people with diabetes, cancer, and other health problems. According to an analysis by the Department of Health and Human Services, 50 to 129 million (19 to 50 percent of) non-elderly Americans have some type of pre-existing health condition.

Carinne said she doesn’t know for sure if her efforts made a difference, but she is glad she went.

“At the end of the day I always hope that I have made this world a better place,” Carinne said. “Most days I am not sure if I did any good, but on May 18 I was able to go to bed knowing that I was an advocate for the 5 million suffering from this incurable disease. The experiences I had and the people I met with will always have a special place in my heart.”
 

7 Ways to Improve Men’s Health This Month

Tuesday, 19 September, 2017
Improve Mens Health

What should you know about men's health? Men live sicker and die younger than women. Yet that doesn’t have to be true. June is National Men’s Health Month. It’s time for men to step up and take care of their health. Consider this:

  • Men die at higher rates than women from the top 10 causes of death.
  • In 1920, women lived, on average, one year longer than men. Now, men, on average, die almost five years earlier than women.

One reason for these statistics is that men engage in more dangerous occupations, such as coal mining. Also, a higher percentage of men have no health insurance. Research shows men’s attitudes about health plays a role as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control, women are 100 percent more likely visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men.

Seven Steps for Improving Men's Health:

  1. Make an appointment for a checkup and physical. Regular visits to the doctor each year can save your life. During those visits, your physician will run tests and look for signs of serious diseases. A regular checkup ensures a better chance of addressing health concerns before it’s too late.
  2. men's healthKeep track of extra tests needed and get them done. Beginning at age 50, men should receive a prostate exam every one to two years. Men often feel uncomfortable about this exam, but it is critical to catching prostate cancer early. At age 50 men should also get a colonoscopy every 10 years. While this exam is also uncomfortable, these two tests can save your life.
  3. Make healthy lifestyle choices. Society, as a norm, discourages healthy behaviors in men and boys. Start a trend by choosing to exercise, eat well, quit smoking, drink less alcohol, and more.
  4. Have conversations with male friends. While society may make your healthy choices seem less appealing, you can help this change by mentioning your doctor checkups to other men. Men are often less comfortable sharing such details, and we’re not suggesting you give the moment-by-moment account of your prostate exam. However, mentioning your appointment is a good reminder to others to schedule theirs.
  5. Educate yourself about heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States. In 2013, 321,000 men died from it — that’s one in four. You know some of the main contributors: high blood pressure and/or cholesterol, obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet, and excessive alcohol use. Learn more about heart disease and take steps to prevent it.
  6. Take charge of your health. Men are more reluctant to go to the doctor when they experience symptoms. “Oh it’s probably nothing” is something you might have thought. While that might be true, it might not. Take charge of your health by investigating odd symptoms.
  7. Take part in Men’s Health Month activities. Wear blue on June 16 and share your photos on social media with the hashtags #ShowUsYourBlue and #MensHealthMonth. Doing this will help spread word.

Do you have questions about men's health? Contact us to set up your annual physical or to come in and chat with a doctor about any concerns.
 

Anti-Pollution Skincare: Prevent Pollution from Aging Your Skin

Tuesday, 19 September, 2017
anti-pollution skincare
Why is anti-pollution skincare important? Emerging scientific studies are showing that air pollution can prematurely age our skin. Studies show that residents of cities, especially large cities, have more wrinkles and age spots at younger ages. They are also more prone to hives and eczema. City dwellers tend to have drier skin, too.
 
Most of the urban pollution comes from traffic, and tiny particles, called PMs, seem to cause the most problems. Combine that with smoke, soot, acid, and all the other junk out there, and none of it is good for your skin. Plus, pollution doesn’t just sit on top of your skin; the particles are often so small they can penetrate the outer layer.

Anti-Pollution Recommendations for Protecting Your Skin:

  • Hydrate. Skin that is properly moisturized stands a better chance of protecting itself. Moisturizer should always be part of your daily routine.
  • Cleanse gently. Use a mild cleanser in the morning to prepare your skin and again at night to remove particles, makeup, oil, and pollution.
  • Avoid harsh scrubs. Facial scrubs can irritate the skin and ruin its efforts to protect against pollutants and repair damage. If you must use a scrub, do so sparingly.
  • Look for products that talk about pollution. Cosmetic companies are aware of the problem and are working to find solutions. You should start to see this mentioned on labels soon. 
  • Stay healthy. One cosmetic company study shows Vitamin B3 (niacin) to be helpful and is increasing the amount in its products. But the overall health of your body affects everything, including your skin. Be sure to eat a healthy mix of nutrients each day.
  • Glycolic acid can affect the skin’s protective barrier. Unfortunately, so can retinoids, which are often used in anti-wrinkle products. Research on this is still new, but it’s best to avoid these if possible.
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen. While protecting your skin from pollution is the next focus of many skincare products, we cannot forget the sun’s UV rays. Keep up with the sunscreen.

Not surewhat to do with your skin care routine? Contact us for guidance on the best approach for your skin type and specific problems.Anti-Pollution Skincare

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