Monthly Hot Topic: December

Safe Toys and Celebrations Month

You should always consider the age of whomever you are giving a present. For instance, you should avoid toys with small parts when buying for a toddler, and ensure the subject matter of the gift is age-appropriate. However, some toys may still be harmful despite being marketed as appropriate for the recipient’s age.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology stresses that projectile toys, especially, have the potential for scraping eyes and even causing cataracts, despite typically being sold as gifts for children age 15 and younger. The organization acknowledges other dangers inherent with seasonal gift giving and recommends the following precautions:

–          Avoid toys with sharp or protruding parts.

–          Keep toys for older children away from younger siblings.

–          Check toy labels for age and play recommendations.

–          Make sure children are supervised when playing.

Monthly Hot Topic: November

COPD Awareness Month

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease that worsens over time, but is often preventable and treatable. COPD causes shortness of breath by damaging the lungs and can affect every physical aspect of life, including simple exercise and sleep. COPD can also put individuals at greater risk for heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer, according to the American Lung Association.

Sufferers of COPD can experience a host of symptoms before being diagnosed, like fatigue, wheezing, chronic coughing and frequent respiratory infections. Once diagnosed, patients are treated with medication, surgery or some form of rehabilitation. The American Lung Association says the best way to prevent COPD is by not smoking or quitting immediately. Smoking is the largest contributor to COPD, causing 85-90 percent of cases.

For more information on COPD, its associated risks and potential treatment options, visit lung.org.

Monthly Hot Topic: October

Health Literacy Month

Low health literacy is estimated to cost the United States between $106 billion and $238 billion annually. This cost comes from things like consumers not knowing which health care options are best for them, overspending on procedures and underspending on insurance. For instance, a health literate individual with a chronic condition might opt for pricier insurance with a lower deductible. Comparatively, someone in the same position who chooses a lower-value plan risks paying more in medical expenses.

A large part of the health literacy problem comes from unclear plan outlines. Consumers get confused by their benefits’ complicated explanations. Health Literacy Month promotes the importance of understandable health information. With more accessible health descriptions, written in plain language, consumers will ideally be able to make wiser health care decisions.

Monthly Hot Topic: March

National Kidney Month

Kidneys are the workhorses of the urinary tract, filtering waste from the bloodstream and keeping your body moving. These bean-shaped organs keep the composition, or makeup, of blood stable, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Think of them as regulating filters for your body. When these filters go bad, your body suffers. The most prominent risk comes in the form of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

CKD affects nearly 30 million Americans, making it more common than diabetes. If you have CKD, that means your kidneys are damaged and cannot filter blood properly. As a result, waste builds up in your body, which can lead to numerous health complications. Conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of kidney disease all increase your risk for CKD, according to NIDDK. The most alarming part of CKD is that there are no signs or symptoms until the disease is very advanced. The only way to check for CKD is through blood and urine tests.

Talk to your doctor about getting a blood and urine test for CKD. Your doctor will be able to assess your health status and will tell you if a test is necessary based on your lifestyle and current conditions.

Monthly Hot Topic: February

American Heart Month

Everyone knows how important the heart is to the body’s overall health. What some people don’t know is how factors like poor diet and limited exercise can lead to serious heart conditions, putting your whole body at risk. Diet and exercise are the best ways to reduce your risk for heart complications. Some of these complications include cardiac arrest, heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes and high cholesterol.

Cardiac arrest, heart attacks and strokes are some of the most serious heart conditions and their symptoms should be monitored closely. You should call 911 if you or someone you know starts experiencing the following signs:

  • Chest discomfort lasting more than a few minutes
  • Arm weakness or numbness
  • Slurred speech
  • Unresponsiveness when tapping on shoulders

For more information about heart health and early warning signs, visit heart.org.

Monthly Hot Topic: January

Thyroid Awareness Month

The thyroid is a small gland in the neck, but it influences your body’s most important organs, including the heart, brain and skin. In fact, the hormone created by the thyroid controls virtually every cell and tissue in the body. Thyroid disease results in too much or too little of the gland’s critical hormone being produced, causing your body’s systems to speed up or slow down. A dysfunctional thyroid can spur a variety of complications, like heart disease, osteoporosis and infertility.

If you have a family history of thyroid complications or if you are undergoing radiation therapy to the neck region, consider speaking to your doctor about a thyroid evaluation. A number of drugs exist to help treat thyroid disease, so identifying issues early can prevent more severe conditions later in life. Visit thyroidawareness.com for more information.