Side Effects of Some Cholesterol Medications

Posted on the May 20th, 2013 under Health Guides by

Most prescription medications have certain side effects that are not completely pleasant. While some side effects can be so mild that patients may never notice them, others can be very severe. Cholesterol medication comes with side effects and the severity of those effects depends on a number of factors. Some patients experience very few side effects while others may consider stopping their medication altogether because of the severity of those effects. Cholesterol medication itself is used to treat high cholesterol which could lead to cardiovascular disease. Patients have to weigh the pros and cons of any side effects that they experience and determine, along with their doctor, if it is best to continue treatment or choose another avenue.

The two most popular classes of medications that are used to treat high cholesterol are Statins and Niacin. Niacin or nicotinic acid can be prescribed or taken as a regular dietary supplement. Statins are offered by prescription and the most common brands of statins are Crestor, Lipitor and Zocor. Both classes of medications used to treat high cholesterol have side effects and the severity of these depends on the patient.

The most commonly reported side effects of medications designed to lower cholesterol include nausea, constipation and loss of appetite. Some patients have reported flu type symptoms as well as chronic fatigue, hives, muscle tenderness, unusual bruising and difficulty breathing. If at any time you notice swelling in your body, yellowing of the skin, difficulty swallowing or breathing or hives you should contact an emergency room right away. These could be signs of a very serious allergic reaction and will require immediate medical attention. Some medications used to lower cholesterol levels can also be harmful to the liver. Many statins carry this stigma and most physicians will monitor patients regularly to ensure that they are not experiencing liver damage as a result of their medication.

Patients can help to lower their cholesterol by making certain lifestyle changes. In some cases, cholesterol levels may be lowered to the point that medication is no longer needed. Of course, you should never discontinue any medication without first speaking with your doctor. If you prefer to treat your cholesterol levels naturally and without prescription medication, you can begin eating a diet that is lower in cholesterol and saturated fat. Begin exercising and if you are overweight, lose weight. This is a good way to lower your cholesterol without having to take any prescription medication. Checking food labels will help you to eat a diet that is lower in cholesterol and as a general rule, you should avoid high levels of fried and otherwise fatty foods in your daily diet.

Certain changes in your lifestyle will help you to feel better and will likely lower cholesterol levels. Lifestyle changes work in most cases and those who lower cholesterol levels naturally will not have to worry about risking unhealthy side effects of certain cholesterol medications. You can speak with your doctor about what changes you can make that will help you to reach healthier cholesterol levels with or without the use of medication.

What Is the Lap-Band and How Does It Work?

Posted on the May 7th, 2013 under Health Guides by

Not everyone can lose weight easily. While there are a number of diet programs, prescription medications and healthier food choices, some find it more than difficult to lose weight using traditional methods. The lap-band is a medical procedure that is designed to help those who are obese to lose weight and can be very effective when traditional methods are not.

Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding is the medical term for the procedure that involves surgically placing a ring around the stomach. The ring narrows the upper section of the stomach so that food intake is restricted. Those who are considering this surgery will need approval by their physician. If you are considering this as an alternative to traditional weight loss, your doctor will need to examine you to determine if you are healthy enough for the surgery to be performed and if you are overweight enough to require it.

By narrowing the size of the stomach, patients tend to eat less. The lap band that is inserted is filled with solution which makes size adjustments possible. The entire process is relatively simply although it is still a surgical procedure so there are risks associated with it just as there are risks with any surgery. Not everyone who is overweight is going to be able to rely on this surgery to help them to lose weight. A medical consultation will need to be done to determine if you are eligible.

Having the lap band in place does not give the patient free access to eat whatever he or she wants. Losing weight takes hard work and even when the lap band surgery is used, patients will need to take care of their bodies in order for the procedure to be considered effective. The doctor performing the procedure will provide information about a healthy eating plan a well as exercise that needs to be done in order to assure that weight loss goals are met. Patients themselves are responsible for eating healthier foods and getting the appropriate amount of exercise every day. The surgery itself offers a bit of an appetite suppressant and can help by providing motivation for weight loss.

Those who are interested in lap band surgery will need to speak with their regular doctor about their eligibility. Again, this surgery is not for everyone and not everyone is going to benefit from it. There are guidelines in place to ensure that the surgery is only performed on patients who are healthy and overweight enough to need it. Those who are only about 20 or 30 pounds overweight will likely not be recommended for the procedure. Again, your doctor can help you to determine if this is a good choice for you and if so, he or she can refer to you to a surgeon who can perform the procedure.

Many patients have lost weight and become much healthier after having a lap band put in place. If you are severely overweight and traditional diet and exercise are not working, this may be a good option for you. Speak with your doctor to learn more and to find out if you qualify for the lap band procedure.

What Is Preemptive Healthcare?

Posted on the April 18th, 2013 under Healthcare by

Preemptive healthcare has been a major topic of discussion over the years. As more and more consumers are becoming more health conscious, this concept has gained in popularity. Preemptive healthcare simply means taking a more proactive approach to your general health. Making healthier choices and living a healthier lifestyle are considered preemptive as they allow you to avoid rising healthcare costs by simply avoiding many issues that are brought on by poor health.

Quitting smoking, eating healthier and avoiding other unhealthy habits are all forms of preemptive healthcare. This means allowing your body to become healthier by eliminating various activities that are not healthy. If you are currently a smoker, you will need to quit smoking now to enjoy a preemptive approach to your health. This could mean avoiding various illnesses later in life that are associated with smoking.

Many studies have shown obesity to be linked to a number of serious health concerns. Those who are currently overweight risk suffering from heart disease as well as diabetes, asthma, some forms of cancer and many other diseases and illnesses later in life. Losing weight now would be the best preemptive strike against these diseases and illnesses. Many feel that the burden of rising healthcare costs could be alleviated if consumers took their health more seriously and began a preemptive strike against bad health. The economic aspects of preemptive healthcare are certainly something to consider.

In general, consumers who are healthy tend to make greater economic contributions. They remain productive much longer in life and they tend to miss fewer work days. This in turn creates a much more prosperous economy for the nation in general. Healthy eating also allows consumers to better support their local economy by purchasing foods that are fresher and locally grown. Regional farmers will benefit from consumers who enlist healthy eating habits which in turn fosters a more sustainable economy on the local level.

Preemptive healthcare is not a new concept. It has been around for years but as more and more consumers make the decision to live healthier, it has once again been brought into the limelight. Today, more attention is being paid toward raising children that are healthier and who know how to live healthier lifestyles. As these changes are being made, the cause for preemptive healthcare is being realized on a more global level.

Most consumers know that in order to live healthier they have to eat healthier and avoid certain unhealthy actions and activities. Getting started is not always an easy thing to do. Quitting smoking may take time and losing weight could be difficult. Overall, preemptive approaches to healthcare can be very beneficial but it takes dedication in order to begin living a healthier life so that you can enjoy a healthier life in the future. Many consumers have chosen to enlist the assistance of a life coach to get them started. Life coaches can help to make the transition into healthier living easier and provide guidance to consumers on how they should begin this healthier stage of their lives.

Security Compliance and Ethics in Healthcare Organizations

Posted on the January 29th, 2013 under Healthcare by

Healthcare organizations, as well as consumers, should be aware of HIPPA. The Health and Insurance Portability and Accountability Act sets forth regulations that are designed to govern privacy related to medical records of patients. Organizations can face severe penalties if they are not in complete compliance with these regulations and employees are required to be trained and educated on the regulations to ensure complete adherence.

Many healthcare facilities have changed to paperless records which is a better way of protecting patient information. Electronic health records require encryptions and passwords in order to be accessed. This prevents anyone from gaining access to these records unless they are authorized to do so. Facilities can also establish checklists to ensure that all employees are complying with HIPPAA regulations and rules. Checks done regularly will ensure that security compliance is being adhered to and many major healthcare facilities perform internal audits regularly to see that rules are being followed.

Training is an essential aspect in ensuring that employees not only understand but are in compliance with HIPPAA guidelines. During training, employees should be made aware of these rules and the penalties regarding non-compliance. Once training has been completed, changes to the HIPPAA regulations should be provided as they become evident. Ongoing training is an essential part of ensuring that all employees remain compliant with these rules. Consumers can gain information about the regulations when they visit healthcare facilities and should always be aware of steps being taken to ensure that a specific facility is compliant.

HIPPAA offers a very strict set of rules and strict penalties regarding non-compliance. The facility or medical professional not complying with regulations can face a heavy fine or even imprisonment in severe cases. Healthcare organizations and professionals are also at risk of losing their licensing if it is determined that they have not adhered to HIPPAA rules. Facilities should take every step possible to ensure that they are protecting patient privacy.

Laws regarding who can access the medical records of patients are strict and they are put into place in order to protect patient privacy. Patients have the right to access their own medical records and any information included in those records. They can also refuse to allow a medical facility or medical professional access to those records for any reason that they deem fit. There are exceptions to this rule however. If the medical records are summoned in court or are required by law for any reason, the records can be accessed even without the patient providing consent.

It is critical that healthcare organizations and all medical professionals know and understand the rules and regulations of the HIPPAA Act. It is also important that consumers understand these regulations and how their patient records are being protected. Patients are considered to be the owners of their medical records and information and as the sole owner, they have the legal right to determine who will be allowed to view those records. Protecting those records lies with the healthcare organization that holds them.

When Do You Need a Patient Advocate?

Posted on the September 18th, 2012 under Health Guides by

If you have been diagnosed with cancer or another serious disease, you may find yourself scrambling to make sense of things. No matter what your age or your life experience, a diagnoses of cancer can be devastating and it is often a bit confusing trying to determine what course of treatment is right for you. Cancer treatment is designed to eradicate the disease, although this is not always possible. At the very least, treatment should help to manage the disease and provide a longer life expectancy for the patient.

Each patient and each case is different and sometimes having a patient advocate can be very helpful in finding and choosing the right treatment for each individual patient. A patient advocate is simply someone who acts as a go-between. The advocate will be a neutral third-party who works with both the patient and the physician in order to choose the right form of treatment. When diagnosed with cancer and other diseases, patients may be a bit confused as to what specific treatment may be best. They may feel as if their physician is urging them to take one form of treatment while they themselves feel that another route is best. The advocate simply helps both parties to find a mutually satisfying treatment route.

The advocate will ensure that the patient receives all of the information needed to make an informed decision about the best route of care. Advocates typically help other patients so they have experience in dealing with a number of issues. They can assist the patient in choosing the treatment that will offer the best outcome. Experience of the advocate is one of the main advantages of choosing one. Because they have likely helped other patients in dealing with similar issues, they can help to walk patients through the confusing mass of information and options and offer neutral advice on the best path of care.

While family and friends are often helpful during times of medical crisis, an advocate is going to have no personal attraction to the patient. This gives him or her a clear understanding of the situation without being clouded by emotion. Because of this, the advocate can offer sound advice on choosing the right treatment option. Many patients never even consider working with a patient advocate and simply attempt to choose the right form of treatment without really thinking it over. There are a number of treatments for cancer and other diseases and the treatment chosen most often by other patients is not necessarily the best for all patients.

A patient advocate can assist you or a loved one in learning more about the medical situation that you are facing and help you to better understand your diagnosis, prognosis and treatment options. He or she will be able to assist you in processing the diagnosis that you have received and ensure that you have access to vital information that can help you to battle your disease and receive the most satisfactory outcome for your future.

How High Is Your Risk of Breast Cancer?

Posted on the September 18th, 2012 under Health Guides by

Many women are at a higher risk than others for developing certain forms of breast cancer. Women in general are much more prone to developing breast cancer than men. While men can develop the disease, it is primarily women who are at the highest risk. Age is a strong risk factor. Almost 80 percent of all women who are diagnosed with this disease are age 50 or over and half of those are over 65.

It is important to understand these risk factors and how they affect your likelihood to be diagnosed with breast cancer. There are certain predetermining factors that could affect you or other women in your family. While some factors are controllable, knowing even those that are not controllable can help you to better understand the importance of early detection and self-exams that could potentially save your life.

Race is a major determining factor in whether or not you are at a higher risk for breast cancer. Caucasian women or those who are not of Asian, African-American, Hispanic or other descents are a bit more likely to develop the disease than African-American women although studies have shown that African-American women who are diagnosed with the disease are more likely to receive a terminal prognosis.

Women who began to menstruate at an early age are also at a higher risk. Those who began menstruation before the age of 12 and have heavier cycles than average are at a slightly higher risk. Early menstruation is connected to early menopause as well. Those who enter into menopause either naturally or surgically before the age of 55 have higher risks for developing the disease and many researchers believe that this is due to longer exposure to progesterone and estrogen.

Women who have their first child after they have reached 30 are at a higher risk as well. However, women who have higher numbers of live births and are younger in age are at a lower risk for developing the disease. Pregnancy tends to disrupt the amount of estrogen and progesterone that is produced during menstruation so this slows down the total levels of these hormones that are produced throughout the woman’s life which essentially lowers the risk for developing breast cancer.

Things that can be controlled include smoking and obesity. Being obese after menopause can seriously increase your risk of this disease. The ovaries produce estrogen and after menopause they stop estrogen production. Fat also produces estrogen however and this does not halt with menopause. Having a high body mass index is a serious risk factor for developing this and other diseases.

Your doctor can give you more insight into your risk for developing this disease. If you have a family history of breast cancer, smoke, are overweight and have any of the predetermining factors listed above, you may be at a higher risk than the average woman. Yearly mammograms after the age of 40, unless otherwise instructed by your physician, and performing self-exams every month can help to lower your risk of being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. Your doctor can give you more information about these risks and how you may be able to lower your chances of developing this disease.

How Do You Choose the Right Healthcare Plan?

Posted on the September 18th, 2012 under Healthcare by

Because there are so many healthcare plans available today, choosing just one can seem like an overwhelming task. Before you can select a plan, you have to determine your specific needs. Not everyone will benefit from the exact same healthcare plan and determining which plan type best fits your needs is essential in getting the right policy. Taking into consideration many different factors is essential when selecting healthcare coverage.

First, if you are young and not married, you may feel that you do not even need healthcare. The actual reality is that everyone needs some sort of insurance against medical expenses. Those who are not married, have no dependents and who are relatively young may not need a policy that offers extensive coverage like someone close to retirement age, but you still need coverage. The best policy for young single adults is often an HMO or Health Maintenance Organization plan. The policy will cover your typical doctor’s office visits as well as medical treatment and hospital stays. It will cover only those doctors and medical facilities in your network so your choices may be limited but this is often the least expensive option for those who do not need extensive coverage.

Those who are married and have one or more dependents may feel that a PPO or Preferred Provider Organization plan is a better option. These plans offer coverage for you as well as your spouse and children and because children tend to need more medical coverage in the first few years, a PPO plan is a better choice for those with families. The plan allows you to visit doctors as per your own preferences and covers all expenses related to diagnosis and treatment.

Those who are relatively close to retirement age or who have already retired may also find that a PPO is a better option. Elderly people tend to have more medical expenses than those who are young and single and a PPO will handle all of those medical costs. If you are old enough for Medicare coverage, you may also find that a supplemental plan is necessary in order to pay for all of your medical expenses. There are a number of supplement plans available and at a range of costs.

Doing a bit of research prior to purchasing a healthcare plan is essential. You want to be certain that you are receiving the coverage that you need for your own unique situation. If you are employed and your employer offers medical coverage, this may be your least expensive option. Understand that healthcare insurance in general is not cheap. Families can expect to pay upwards of $600 per month for coverage on their own. This is why many people tend to stick with employment that offers healthcare coverage at a discount.

Even at a higher cost however, healthcare coverage is essential. Not having health insurance can set you back tens of thousands of dollars for just one injury or illness. If you currently do not have health insurance, it is essential that you take the time to research your options and learn more about plans that may benefit you.

Symptoms and Treatment for Tennis Elbow

Posted on the August 20th, 2012 under Healthcare by

Tennis elbow is an often painful injury that can be caused by overuse. It is given the name tennis elbow although patients can experience this injury without actually having played the sport, although it is most common in those who play tennis for several years. This is not an injury that happens in one instance. In fact, tennis elbow typically happens over an extended length of time. Pain from the injury can be experienced when doing other tasks aside from playing tennis. Many suffer from extreme pain when doing something as simple as lifting a cup of coffee.

Symptoms for the injury include pain around the region of the elbow. Those who feel that they may be suffering from tennis elbow should consult a physician. There are a number of tests that can help to diagnose the condition so that treatment can be sought. Normally, a doctor will begin by taking x-rays and performing a routine examination to rule out other injuries and illnesses. If the pain does not resolve itself an MRI may be ordered. When left untreated, tennis elbow can progress into tendinosis which is a bit more severe and often more difficult to treat.

Tendinosis is caused when a structural change in the tendon occurs. Once tendinosis is developed, it is very difficult to treat so those who are suffering with any sort of pain around the elbow area should have it checked out by their physician as soon as possible. Early treatment for tennis elbow can lower the risk of developing tendinosis.

Treatment for tennis elbow normally includes wearing a brace on the elbow for several weeks. The elbow band should be worn daily and particularly when doing any activity that could put a strain on the injured area. Many patients require physical therapy that will stimulate the blood flow to the elbow. Deep friction massage is typically used for treatment and there are a number of stretches and other exercises that patients can perform at home to help strengthen the tendons.

Cortisone injections may also be necessary but this is often used as a last resort. If the condition persists or worsens, these injections may be ordered. Because of the risk factors involved, most physicians will begin with physical therapy and NSAIDs for pain and continue this treatment for several weeks. If traditional therapy does not work, cortisone injections may be ordered. There are certain risks associated with this type of treatment and many physicians prefer to forgo this for a safer treatment, at least at the onset of the injury.

Not everyone who plays tennis is going to get tennis elbow. There are many things that can be related to this injury including grip of the racket and the condition of the racket itself. Many who type several hours each day can also develop tennis elbow and other activities can lead to the injury as well. It is important for patients to schedule an appointment with their physician when they begin experiencing pain in the elbow area just to rule out any more serious conditions and begin treatment early so that the injury does not worsen.

Understanding Universal Healthcare

Posted on the December 20th, 2011 under Healthcare by

Many countries now offer what is called universal healthcare. This is simply healthcare that is offered as a free service to citizens. Those who have universal healthcare do not have to pay for doctor’s visits or hospital stays when medical care is needed. The actual healthcare services that are provided for citizens vary depending on the country of residence. The healthcare is part of a government program that is designed to ensure that all citizens of that country have access to medical services as needed.

Universal healthcare is not typically an issue in some countries although it has begun to see a bit of controversy over the years, particularly in countries where it has been in place for many years. The aging population of some countries has begun to place a burden on these systems. The United States does not have a universal healthcare system although there have been many talks of implementing on. Many politicians have begun to propose ways of funding such a system.

The funding that countries use for their universal healthcare varies. Some pay for the program through taxation while others have compulsory insurance that covers most of the cost of the program. Compulsory insurance is simply public insurance that is required by law to be purchased by all citizens. The payment for health insurance funds the health system and everyone is required to purchase the insurance so everyone is covered for medical care. Citizens who cannot afford to pay for insurance are granted the insurance for free. Taxation is simply taxing citizens with the monies collected through taxation going to pay for the healthcare system.

Even in countries that offer universal healthcare, there are often private healthcare options. Many countries that offer universal healthcare have private health industries and national health services. Citizens can purchase private healthcare insurance and receive different types of care depending on their insurance policy. There are certain medical treatments that are not covered under universal healthcare and these can be covered under privately purchased policies.

Universal healthcare systems vary greatly from country to country. In fact, no two countries have the exact same systems. There are a number of benefits to having universal healthcare. Citizens can all be covered for certain medical treatments no matter what their current financial circumstances. Those who cannot afford healthcare insurance would have access to the medical services that they need. Universal healthcare can also be a very expensive burden on governments and with the aging population requiring more and more care, this burden can quickly grow.

As with anything, there are both pros and cons to having a universal healthcare system in place and while many are happy with this system, others are not. The United States has been working toward such a plan for several years although a definite system has not yet been developed. Funding is a major consideration and many consumers feel that they have adequate healthcare insurance now and would simply not want to give up their insurance for a government insurance program.

How to Choose a Healthcare Proxy

Posted on the August 18th, 2011 under Healthcare by

A healthcare proxy is someone who can speak on your behalf when needed. If you are experiencing a medical crisis, a proxy may be needed in order to ensure that your wishes are carried out. Many patients for instance assign proxies to speak for them before they undergo certain medical procedures that could leave them incapacitated for long periods of time. When choosing a medical proxy, it is essential that you select someone who will ensure that your wishes are carried out. You should select someone who will make the decisions that you want made if and when the time comes that a proxy is needed.

You want to choose a proxy that you trust. During times of medical crisis, your healthcare proxy could literally hold your life in his or her hands. You have to know that this proxy has your best interests at heart. Someone who is available is also essential. Your proxy will need to be able to be with you when you are in a medical crisis so someone who lives thousands of miles away from you is obviously not a good choice. Also, choose someone who you trust to be in your life for quite a while. Friends are fine for proxies but those friends should be dependable.

You want a proxy with whom you can discuss very sensitive issues. It is important that you are able to communicate with this person about the most delicate of topics and that this person will work diligently to carry out your personal wishes. You may also want to consider someone who will be firm when needed. A healthcare proxy should not be someone who will cave when the going gets rough. When a doctor attempts to get your proxy to go against your wishes, he or she should be someone who will stand their ground and not budge on your personal wishes.

By law, all medical proxies must be at least 18 years of age or older and cannot be a healthcare provider of yours or an employer of any healthcare provider that treats or diagnoses you. Once you have chosen a proxy, it is essential that you sit down with him or her and discuss your future wishes. Make sure that they fully understand their responsibilities as your proxy and ensure that they will in fact see that all of your wishes are carried out.

The time may never come when you need a medical proxy. If you are completely healthy and are not experiencing serious medical issues, you may not think about choosing a proxy. Unfortunately, there are accidents that can cause even the healthiest of people to need the assistance of a proxy. Just as you would prepare a will and a living will, you should choose someone to speak on your behalf just in case you ever need one. Begin thinking of the people that you know and trust and determine which one of those would be most willing to represent you in the event of a medical crisis.