Health

Protect From Falls

Fear the Flu, Not Ebola Prostate Cancer Heart Health Disabled Veterans Health Insurance Steps to a Better Sleep Preventing Tooth Decay

Protect Yourself From Falls

(NAPSI)—Every day, more than 150 Americans are injured after falling from heights. Here’s how you can avoid becoming part of this painful statistic.

The Problem

Many falls from height result in injury or death because fall protection gear wasn’t used properly or at all.

What To Do

If you or someone you care about has a job, a hobby or a household chore that requires climbing, it’s wise to remember that fall protection is essential when working more than four feet above the ground (over six feet above the ground in the construction industry).

What To Ask

Here are four questions to consider:

1. When you climb, do you maintain 100 percent tie-off? That means climbers are always connected to a restraint or fall-arrest system and to the structure they’re climbing. One of the most common and most dangerous misuses in climbing among both industry veterans and new workers is disconnecting at height from their fall protection to transfer to another point or work area.

2. Do you believe the “six-foot rule”? There is a myth that people who stay six feet or more from an unprotected side or edge of a structure—such as a house under construction—don’t need fall protection. The apparent logic behind this misconception is that the berth between a person and the fall hazard is wide enough to eliminate the risk of falling. The fact is, physical space does not help prevent falls. Workers can unconsciously come too close to an unprotected edge in the course of their workday or slip and slide off an edge.

3. Do you wear the right-size harness? Fall-arrest harnesses are only effective if they fit well. The harness must also be properly adjusted, fitting snugly without causing discomfort.

4. Do you have an escape and rescue plan? According to a recent survey conducted by 3M Fall Protection, 20 percent of companies don’t have an escape and rescue plan. For those that do, it might involve calling 911. Unfortunately, emergency responders often lack the proper equipment or training to rescue a person suspended at height. The wait time for rescue can be highly dangerous because the average time until the onset of the initial symptoms of suspension trauma is between five and 20 minutes.

Expert Advice

“Falls are easily preventable by following a few basic safety precautions,” explained Ray Mann, Fall Protection Technical Service, 3M. “So gear up with the appropriate safety equipment.”

Learn More

To see why using fall protection equipment is just as important as other safety equipment such as seat belts, life jackets and bike helmets, visit www.3M.com/FallProtection and watch the video called “Make it Home.”

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Fear The Flu, Not Ebola

by Dr. Fred Pescatore

(NAPSI)—According to a poll conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, 40 percent of Americans feel that they or their immediate family is at risk of getting Ebola. Yet with only a few confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States, the actual risk of contracting the disease is extremely low. In fact, other infections that don’t hit the same emotional hot buttons as Ebola—such as MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection, and even the common flu—pose much more of a risk than Ebola to the average American. So what is a rational response to the Ebola virus?

Learn The Facts

Don’t panic! Instead, educate yourself on these Ebola facts, and share what you learn with others.

1. Ebola is only moderately contagious. It is extremely infectious, meaning a very small amount of the virus can cause an infection. However, it is NOT airborne, as highly contagious viruses are. Like HIV, Ebola is passed through the bodily fluids of an infected person.

2. Ebola is only transmissible when symptoms are active. In other words, you cannot contract Ebola from someone who has the virus but is asymptomatic, or who has recovered from the infection.

3. The risk of an Ebola outbreak in the United States is very low. Because Ebola is not spread through casual contact, it is extremely unlikely that an outbreak will occur in this country.

Fear The Flu!

Considering these facts, it makes more sense to worry about less-hyped but much more common infections, such as influenza. You might be surprised to find out that the flu, which IS airborne, and is therefore highly contagious, kills between 3,000 and 49,000 people per year. (The number of deaths is dependent on multiple factors, such as which strains of the virus are spreading, how many people get vaccinated, and how effective the flu vaccine is against the strain that is causing illness.) In addition, complications of flu—including bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions—are also a concern. For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone 6 months of age or older get a flu vaccine every season.

Another infection to fear more than Ebola is Staphylococcus aureus, particularly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA. Often contracted through hospital stays, but now showing up in the wider community, MRSA bacteria are resistant to a wide spectrum of antibiotics—including methicillin, penicillin, oxacillin, and amoxicillin—and infection can be fatal. According to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, MRSA was responsible for the deaths of 18,650 people in the United States in 2005--more than the 16,000 caused by AIDS.

Bolster Your Immune System

Aside from the obvious steps of washing your hands frequently and getting a flu shot, what’s the best way to protect yourself against highly contagious infections such as the flu and MRSA? Bolster your immune defenses, because a strong immune system will help you stave off whatever infection your body has to confront. Here are three quick tips to strengthen your immunity.

1. Reduce your sugar intake.

It may seem benign, but sugar depresses immune function. Research as far back as 1973 shows that when people are administered 100 grams (or 20 teaspoons) of sugar (either as glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey or orange juice), the ability of white blood cells called neutrophils to engulf bacteria declines by 50 percent. The effect is observable within 30 minutes and lasts as long as five hours. You’re not likely to ingest 100 grams of sugar in one sitting, but considering that a soda has 40 grams, it’s easy to see how a few servings can add up.

2. Get enough sleep.

Sleep is not a luxury. It is absolutely essential for various body functions, including immunity. A recent study drove this point home. Volunteers snorted nasal drops that contained a cold-causing virus. Then they were monitored to see how much they slept and who caught a cold. Amazingly, people who slept less than seven hours a night were nearly three times as likely to get sick as those who got eight hours or more. Likewise, another study found that folks who were restricted to getting four hours of sleep nightly for six nights before receiving a flu vaccine only made half the amount of antibodies as normal.

3. Restore your peak immunity with a unique natural mushroom extract called AHCC®.

You can also give your immune system a natural boost by taking AHCC (short for Active Hexose Correlated Compound), a natural extract from the roots of Japanese medicinal mushrooms that has been extensively studied for its ability to stimulate immune response and protect against viral, bacterial and fungal infections. One of the distinguishing features of AHCC is its low molecular weight of 5,000 daltons, which is 1,000 times lower than that of most medicinal mushroom extracts. This is one of the attributes that provides AHCC with superior absorption and clinical efficacy.

The subject of more than 20 human clinical studies, AHCC is a highly effective immunomodulator. It is not directly anti-viral, anti-bacterial or anti-fungal. Rather, it works by making your immune system work better. Research has shown that AHCC increases the number and activity of several components of the immune system, such as cytokines (immune messengers), as well as natural killer cells, macrophages, T cells and dendritic cells (all types of white blood cells that destroy pathogens and abnormal cells).

AHCC has also been shown in a 30-subject human clinical study to increase the antibody response to the common influenza virus when combined with the seasonal flu shot. Interestingly, the flu shot alone did not produce a statistically significant response.

Given the facts, there is no rational reason to fear the Ebola virus. More common and contagious infections, such as the flu and MRSA, should be of much greater concern. However, taking the proper preventative steps outlined above can give you some peace of mind knowing you’re giving your body the best chance of staving off any kind of infection.

Fred Pescatore, M.D., MPH, CCN, is an integrative clinician, best-selling author and president of the International Association of Clinical Nutritionists.

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A New Test
Aids In The Battle Against Prostate Cancer

(NAPSI)—A new type of test for prostate cancer is designed to improve on existing methods, and that’s good news for men about to undergo testing—and those who love them.

It is estimated that one in four men with an initial negative prostate biopsy actually have cancer. This is cancer that is hidden from existing forms of testing. This is further complicated by the fact that it can be difficult to identify prostate cancer through PSA testing alone.

The new test, called ConfirmMDx for Prostate Cancer, was created to address this dilemma. The test can help distinguish, at the genetic level, patients who have a true-negative biopsy from those who may have occult, or hidden, cancer.

This can help urologists rule out prostate cancer-free men from undergoing unnecessary repeat biopsies and help them to rule in high-risk patients who may require repeat biopsies and potential treatment. The ConfirmMDx report provides “mapping” of test results to help guide the urologist on a follow-up biopsy.

All of this was welcome news to Brian and Sabrina Wagner. Now in their mid-40s, they were married in 2012 and settled down to life in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Because Mr. Wagner’s father had been treated for prostate cancer in his mid-50s, his wife pushed him to get a PSA blood test—even though he was younger than the age at which most experts recommend regular PSA testing.

So it was cause for immediate concern when his first PSA test came back at 8.2, well above the usual result for a man his age. A follow-up test confirmed the result, and that prompted his urologist to recommend a prostate biopsy, in which tissue samples are collected from the prostate. The samples are then examined in a pathology lab for signs of cancer.

Despite Mr. Wagner’s higher-than-normal PSA count, the biopsy samples showed no signs of cancer. Suspecting that an infection had caused the high PSA, his urologist gave him two cycles of antibiotics. Still, his PSA count rose, and one year later, he had a PCA3 test. This urine test has some utility in helping to detect disease, but it, too, came back negative for cancer.

By the following spring, Mr. Wagner’s PSA had more than doubled to above 18. Concerned about that increase, Mrs. Wagner continued to do her research. She discovered information online about ConfirmMDx for Prostate Cancer.

Mr. Wagner’s ConfirmMDx test results came back, and unfortunately, they confirmed the Wagners’ fears: Mr. Wagner had prostate cancer. But at least now they knew the nature of his condition and what could be done to treat it. The ConfirmMDx test had given them the essential information that all the other, earlier tests had not.

One additional benefit of the ConfirmMDx test is that it provides “mapping” of the methylation hot spots to help guide the urologist on a follow-up biopsy. The test recommended the doctor focus on the top right side of Mr. Wagner’s prostate.

Another piece of good fortune came shortly afterward, when a friend recommended a urologist who specializes in robotic, nerve-sparing prostatectomies (removal of the prostate). Mr. Wagner had the procedure in July, and lab tests confirmed there was cancer in about one-third of the gland.

Mr. Wagner reports that he feels as healthy and strong after the surgery as he did beforehand. “I feel fine now,” he says, pointing out that he was able to return to work just two weeks after the operation. Shortly after surgery, Mr. Wagner was scheduled for radiation treatment and was considering chemotherapy as a precautionary measure.

In the meantime, the Wagners have high praise for the ConfirmMDx test and their caregivers. They have also become outspoken advocates for having men and their families do the kind of research that helped the Wagners find guidance from the ConfirmMDx test.

For more information about ConfirmMDx, talk to your urologist or visit www.mdxhealth.com.

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Be Smart About Your Heart:
Talk To Your Doctor About Heart Block

(NAPSI)—Taking care of your heart is an important part of living a healthy life, especially when you consider that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 600,000 people die of heart disease each year—that’s one in every four deaths.

Heart disease makes up a range of conditions, including one known as heart block (also known as atrioventricular block). Heart block occurs when the electrical signals between the upper and lower chambers of the heart are blocked, which reduces the heart’s ability to function properly. More than 1 million Americans have heart block, with symptoms including fainting, dizziness and shortness of breath.

The best way to learn more about heart block—and to see if you are at risk—is to talk with your doctor, especially if you experience any of these symptoms.

Five Questions to Ask

Your Doctor:

• Am I at risk of heart block based on my health and family history?

• What symptoms could indicate heart block?

• What tests are available to see if I have heart block?

• What treatment options are available?

• Should I see a heart rhythm specialist?

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with heart block, make sure you ask about the latest treatment options. Recently, a sophisticated type of pacemaker from Medtronic, called a cardiac resynchronization therapy device, was approved to treat more patients with heart block. It is implanted into the chest and uses electrical pulses to resynchronize heartbeats, allowing blood to be effectively pumped throughout the body.

Caring for your heart is an important step in taking charge of your health. Visit your doctor to learn about your risk of heart block.

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Women Veterans And Their Long Journey Home

(NAPSI)—Many Americans don’t realize it, but one out of every five new military recruits in the United States is a woman—and 2.5 million veterans are women.

Women in the military today are exposed to the same rigors of combat and the daily threat of wartime violence as their male counterparts, yet their transition from military to civilian life is often very different. A new report by DAV (Disabled American Veterans) reveals that the network of government and community groups that supports veterans is designed for and dominated by men and has serious gaps in health care, employment and housing services for women.

The report finds that women who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, for example, have higher rates of PTSD symptoms than men. PTSD can be different for women, who are more likely to be depressed. Women are much more likely to identify interpersonal issues—marriage and parenthood—as a major source of stress when they return home. Women veterans are at least twice as likely to become homeless as non-veteran women and they have higher rates of unemployment compared to male veterans. Yet women veterans don’t have access to the same kind of support networks as men do and many Department of Veterans Affairs health centers lack specialists in the physical and mental health needs of women.

“Women veterans deserve equal respect, consideration and care as the men who served,” says DAV’s deputy national legislative director Joy J. Ilem, a veteran herself. “Yet the support systems are ill-equipped to meet the unique needs of the brave women who have defended our country.”

Consider the case of Crystal Dunkin, a munitions specialist in the United States Air Force. She oversaw the entire process of building and disassembling bombs, making sure nobody made a deadly mistake. “It was explosives and it was the real deal,” she recalls.

She was good at her military job but struggled when she left the Air Force and transitioned back into civilian life. “I didn’t know a thing about being a civilian. It was really hard for me to find and keep jobs.”

She battled depression and alcoholism and became homeless.

Then there’s Alexis Courneen, who served aboard a Coast Guard cutter. She was struck by a several-ton buoy that was being lifted by a crane onto the ship, crushing the nerves in her right arm, fracturing her hip and slamming her head against the deck. She struggled with persistent eye problems, ringing in her ears, migraines, and trouble with balance. For two years, her doctors could not diagnose her condition correctly; one doctor even suggested that hormonal changes caused her symptoms.

The DAV report is clear: Too many women, like Dunkin and Courneen, face a long road to a productive civilian life. Fortunately, both women made it. Dunkin is working in a program that helps veterans and Courneen, diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and matched with a service dog, is happily married and raising two children.

Hundreds of thousands of servicewomen will return home in the next five years. It’s both the nation’s duty and to the advantage of all Americans to make sure they have access to the care and support they need to make the journey home as smooth as possible.

To learn more, visit www.dav.org/women-veterans-study.

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Understanding Your Health Insurance Options

by Nicole Duritz

(NAPSI)—If you or someone you care about is among the 7.3 million people enrolled in a marketplace health plan, now is the time to review the plan to see if you need to make any changes for next year.

Every year, health plans change. These can include changes in the network of doctors, in monthly premiums or in co-pays. Some marketplace plan premiums have increased, some have stayed the same and some have decreased.

The entire open enrollment period runs from November 15 through February 15. However, if you want to change your health plan, you need to do it before December 15 if you want your coverage to start on January 1, 2015. Otherwise, you’ll be automatically re-enrolled in your current plan. If you are signing up for the first time under ObamaCare and want coverage to begin January 1, you need to enroll and pay your first month’s premium by December 15.

It’s important for everyone to have health insurance for several reasons. One reason is that we never know when we’re going to get sick or have an accident.

Certain preventive health care is now covered at no cost, including diabetes and cholesterol screenings, mammograms, immunizations, and screenings for certain cancers. So having these and other regular health screenings is important to help keep you healthy.

You may have to pay a tax penalty if you don’t have health insurance.

Fortunately, there’s financial help to pay for health insurance, making coverage within reach for millions of Americans. Low-cost or even free health plans are available depending on your income.

The good news is that, regardless of your health history, you can’t be turned down for coverage. Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage if you have a preexisting condition.

While it can be confusing to figure out what the health care law means for you and your family, AARP can help with clear, simple facts and easy-to-use online resources to give you the confidence of knowing you’re in control of your health care. Visit www.healthlawanswers.org.

If you need help (in English or Spanish) finding the right health plan or completing the application, go to www.healthcare.gov or call (800) 318-2596.

• Ms. Duritz is AARP VP of Health Education & Outreach.

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Hints To Help You Get The Sleep You Need

(NAPSI)—Here’s an eye-opening statistic: According to the National Institutes of Health, adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night, but nearly 30 percent are getting six or less.

Five Steps To Better Sleep

If you’re ever among them, consider these five tips:

1. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.

2. Avoid large meals before bed.

3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.

4. Avoid nicotine.

5. Get a mattress with the right degree of firmness for you.

For example, a soft mattress is for sleepers who prefer to feel it hug them in a supportive embrace but not let them sink in too much.

Choose soft if you:

• Sleep on your side and sometimes your back

• Like to feel enveloped in your bed and linens

• Have trouble with your arms falling asleep before you do.

The standard comfort level used in the finest hotels is luxury firm. This balances cushioning and contouring support to ensure proper spinal alignment.

Choose luxury firm if you:

• Sleep on your side, back or stomach

• Switch sleeping positions often in the night.

Firm is for sleepers who prefer an initial plushness quickly followed by firm support.

Choose firm if you:

• Sleep on your back or stomach

• Prefer a mattress that you float on top of instead of sink into

• Have been told by your doctor to sleep on a firm mattress.

Finding A Quality Mattress

Whatever degree of firmness you like, you want your mattress to be top quality. Look for higher density of nontoxic foams and dual innerspring construction, which prevents sagging. In the case of memory foam mattresses, look for higher weight and density and nontoxic foams. Focus only on a memory foam mattress that allows for the most efficient air circulation within the mattress. Memory foam mattresses are a rising choice with consumers, as they offer the elimination of pressure points or discomfort that can contribute to the “tossing and turning at night” to find a comfortable sleep position. A well-handcrafted memory foam mattress also eliminates “motion transfer,” the annoying transfer of motion from one side of the bed to the other that can come from sleeping next to a restless sleeper.

Also look for coil-on-coil construction. The lower coil unit should offer a connected, hourglass-shaped, steel support base while the top coil unit features an individually wrapped, pocketed coil system that contours and responds to your body, eliminating most motion transfer.

As for where to get a good mattress, a study by the Research Triangle Institute may help. It found many people feel “rushed” by in-store salespeople. As a result, online mattress purchasing is on the rise.

If you go that route, look for a mattress that’s delivered and set up in your home. A boxed compressed mattress may not recover to full size and, while some manufacturers fold mattresses for home delivery, a high-quality mattress should not be able to be rolled up. Make sure the manufacturer uses top-quality foams and that the company is mandated to follow proper guidelines. Nonmandated foams from other countries can contain dangerous carcinogens, linked to a variety of health concerns.

Make sure the manufacturer offers no restocking fees and a true return policy where you can get a full and prompt refund of the purchase price.

The largest “online only” luxury mattress firm, Saatva (which means “truth”) develops, manufactures and distributes an impressive line of ultrapremium mattresses in America with what many consumers have called unparalleled price, performance and service—and it has a 15-year warranty.

The company’s unique online-only business model means it can offer highly reduced prices for luxury mattresses and help customers with true comparison shopping, providing easy-to-read, objective measures on a website designed for easy navigation: www.saatvamattress.com.

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Preventing Tooth Decay In Young Children

(NAPSI)—Dental caries, also known as tooth decay, is the most common chronic disease in children in the United States—and your child’s pediatrician, family doctor, or nurse can play an important role in prevention.

Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth uses the sugar in food and drinks to make acids. These acids wear away the outer layer of the tooth (also known as tooth enamel). Tooth decay can eventually lead to a hole, or cavity, in the tooth.

Any child whose teeth have erupted (are visible in the mouth) can develop tooth decay. In fact, almost half of children ages 2 to 11 in the United States today have signs of decay in their baby teeth—and these numbers are increasing. Baby teeth, the first set of teeth to come in, are particularly vulnerable because the tooth’s enamel has not yet had the chance to harden. Tooth decay can lead to cavities, infection, pain and loss of teeth, and can affect children’s growth, speech and appearance.

Simple Ways To Prevent Tooth Decay

The good news is that tooth decay is preventable and there are many things you can do to keep your child’s teeth healthy and strong. For example, make sure children visit a dentist or primary care clinician regularly, eat a healthy diet that limits sugars, and brush every day with toothpaste that includes fluoride.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that protects against tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel. Fluoride is added to most, but not all, types of toothpaste. In addition, fluoride is found naturally in some water sources, and many communities across the United States boost the level of fluoride in their water supply to improve the oral health of residents. Young children who live in communities without fluoride added to drinking water are at an increased risk for developing tooth decay.

How Primary Care Clinicians Can Help

Dentists are the main sources of oral health care but only one child in four under age 6 visits a dentist. Fortunately, most children visit a pediatrician, family doctor or other nondental health care professional. Recognizing this, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended two ways that doctors and nurses can help prevent cavities in babies and children up to age 5:

1. Clinicians should prescribe oral fluoride supplements (such as drops, tablets or lozenges) to children whose water supply doesn’t contain enough fluoride. This should start when the child is 6 months old.

2. All babies and children who do not regularly visit a dentist and whose teeth have come in should have fluoride varnish applied regularly by a nondental primary care professional. This can benefit all children—regardless of the level of fluoride in their water.

What does this mean for you and your child? Your child’s doctor or nurse will likely want to talk with you about oral health during an office visit. Use this time to discuss your child’s risk factors for tooth decay. If he or she is not yet seeing a dentist, be sure to mention this. Your child’s doctor can help you plan an appropriate timeline for scheduling a dentist visit.

The Importance Of A Healthy Smile

Preventing tooth decay improves children’s health and well-being. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to pain, infection and loss of the affected teeth and can negatively affect a child’s growth, speech, appearance, self-esteem and more. Dental-related concerns lead to the loss of over 54 million school hours (approximately 8 million school days) each year, emphasizing the need for early prevention. Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse about cavities and make sure your children are getting the care they need to have healthy smiles for life.

Protecting Your Family’s Health

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent group of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine that makes recommendations on primary care services. Recently, the Task Force reviewed the research on preventing tooth decay in the primary care setting for children ages 2 to 5.

Learn More

For further information on the Task Force and to read the full report on preventing tooth decay in young children, visit www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.

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