Archive for January, 2014

Ask the pharmacist: How to avoid medication misfortune during a natural disaster

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

(BPT) – Whether it’s plywood, bottled water or generators, Americans gather the necessary supplies and seek the appropriate shelter if confronted by the wrath of Mother Nature. Regardless of the disaster – hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires – lives can be turned upside-down in an instant. Some of the most commonly overlooked items, as people stock up for emergencies, are prescription medications. In some cases, not having access to necessary medication can itself be a life-threatening situation.

“People with health conditions such as diabetes, asthma or heart problems need to be particularly vigilant about making sure they have access to their medications when preparing for the aftermath of a natural disaster,” says Paul Reyes, Express Scripts pharmacist and host of the Ask the Pharmacist radio series. “It’s very important that you have your medications with you if you have to leave your home or at least have the appropriate information so that you can quickly get a supply of medication if necessary. There is plenty of stress and worry in an emergency situation and you want to avoid having your drug treatments add to your problems.”

Reyes provides the following tips to help avoid medication mistakes when facing a weather-related emergency.

* Pack and prepare your pills: Keep an updated list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications (including the name of the drug, the dosage and the condition being treated) with you in a waterproof container or bag. Include phone numbers for all of your doctors and pharmacies in case you or an emergency worker needs to contact them. If you are concerned about potential evacuations, consider storing your medications in one spot for quicker access.

* Carry your prescription card: It’s important to always carry your prescription drug membership card. Your pharmacy benefit provider or health plan can help you obtain an emergency supply of any lost or damaged medication.

* Develop a plan: Consider discussing your medication disaster plan with your doctor, especially if the medication you take has special handling instructions or requires electronic equipment (such as a nebulizer) or refrigeration. Make sure you have at least three days’ worth of medication and supplies with you (more if local authorities advise). Ordering a 90-day supply of medication through your plan’s mail-order pharmacy is a simple way to ensure a full stock.

If you do experience an emergency situation, it’s important to consider the following:

* Medication safety: Medications that are exposed to moisture, excessive heat or simply left at room temperature when they should be refrigerated may become contaminated. Inspect medications to see if the look or smell of it has changed. Contact a local pharmacist or health care provider to help determine if a drug is safe to use.

* Skipping doses: If you haven’t been able to take your medication, contact a pharmacist or doctor as soon as possible, even if you’re not experiencing any negative health effects. If you’ve skipped doses of your medication, never take additional doses to make up for those you’ve missed before talking to a health care practitioner.

For more resources and information, visit Express Scripts’ Healthcare Insights blog at lab.express-scripts.com.

Courtesy of BPT

Are your food and cooking choices accelerating the aging process?

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

(BPT) – When it comes to health, many people are aware of the major do’s and don’ts of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet. However, people often focus on their cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass index (BMI), and overlook another key medical marker: Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGEs). AGEs are harmful compounds in the body that accelerate the aging process and are linked to many of the top health concerns people face today.

AGEs develop in the body or are ingested through certain foods, including browned, sugary and processed foods. When people consume too many of these foods, higher than normal levels of AGEs build up in their tissues. This accumulation accelerates the aging process from the inside out. Slowing the progression of AGEs is vital to living a long, healthy life.

In an effort to educate the public about AGEs, the A.G.E. Foundation, a global not-for-profit organization, is unveiling the findings of its U.S. survey on the effect of eating habits and cooking methods on aging. The A.G.E. Foundation is dedicated to educating consumers about AGEs and how they can protect themselves.

The impact of eating habits and cooking methods on aging

Seventy-six percent of Americans know that eating and preparing processed food can accelerate aging, according to the survey. Thirty-two percent cited the manner in which they prepare food as having an impact on aging, while just 11 percent indicated cooking food at high temperatures affected aging.

As temperatures warm up and outdoor cooking season begins, people will be heating up the grill with limited awareness of the way to reduce AGEs. The survey showed that six in 10 people prefer grilling their meat over oven-roasting (23 percent), stir-frying (9 percent), steaming (3 percent) and poaching (1 percent).

“It is important for people to limit the amount of barbecued, sauteed or even toasted food,” says Dr. Michelle Davenport, a board member with the A.G.E. Foundation. “We’ve found that the higher the temperature you cook something, the higher the AGE level – and excessive AGEs cause our bodies to age prematurely.”

The survey also showed that when people are eating processed, fried or sugary foods, 81 percent are more concerned with the impact on their weight compared with 58 percent who are more concerned about the effect on their internal organs.

Controlling your AGEs

The key to lowering AGEs is to reduce heat, extend cooking time and incorporate more water and acid into your food preparation, according to the A.G.E. Foundation. Water-based cooking methods (i.e., steaming, poaching) dramatically reduce AGEs. When queried about healthy ways to prepare meats for grilling, herb and oil ranked the highest (34 percent), followed by “straight to the grill” at 21 percent. Only 17 percent of respondents knew that adding an acid-based marinade was the best cooking method to reduce AGEs. “Adding a marinade in the form of lemon, lime or vinegar can cut AGEs by 50 percent,” says Dr. Davenport.

Avoiding foods high in AGEs and opting for brightly colored fruits and vegetables and whole grains, which are low in AGEs, is also recommended. Opt for foods that include iridoids, which are healthy elements produced in plants and found in certain fruits and vegetables like noni, blueberries, olive leaves and Cornelian cherries, as well as the supplemental beverage TruAge Max.

In addition to eating a healthy, fresh diet and preparing low-AGE level foods, it’s important to quit smoking, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and control stress levels to achieve an AGE-less lifestyle.

To learn more, visit www.TruAge.com.

Courtesy of BPT

Throw a perfect party – without costs and clutter

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

(BPT) – Whether it’s your child’s birthday or your relatives are flying in from overseas to take part in a family reunion, your life is filled with special events worth celebrating. Of course, you’d love to salute every one of them with a once-in-a-lifetime party, but how do you do that without winding up with a garage filled with party clutter that you’ll never use again and an empty wallet?

It’s easier than you think.

Celebrating that special event doesn’t have to break the bank or leave you the not-so-proud owner of items you’ll have no use for once the party is over. There is another solution: rent what you need. You’ll wow your guests and save money in the process.

Not sure what can be rented? Here are some ideas to create a party beyond your guests’ wildest expectations.

Create the perfect environment

Many party planners feel constrained by the materials they already own when hosting a party, but the truth is renting opportunities allow you to create an atmosphere limited only by your imagination. If you’re looking to hold your party outside, rent a tent. Your area rental business will have tents available in all shapes, sizes and styles, allowing you to pick the perfect one for your event. Heating and cooling units are also available so your guests will always be comfortable, regardless of weather conditions.

You’ll also be able to rent tables and chairs, saving you from having to try and borrow these items or, worse yet, buying more for this one occasion. It creates a more relaxing atmosphere for your guests and they’ll be able to sit and rest rather than having to stand up throughout the event.

For a more formal affair, your local rental store can also provide linens, table service and stemware to complete your look. This will keep you from having to use disposables or from washing dishes when the event is finished, allowing you to relax and enjoy your company.

Wow them with food

If you’re in charge of planning the party, you’ve probably been nervously pondering what you will do about the food. No other party aspect requires so much work, and often you still find yourself eating leftovers for weeks. But rental stores offer several options that will help you wow your guests and indulge them at the same time.

Keeping foods the perfect temperature is always a challenge when hosting an event, but there are some great options available for rent. An ice table is a great way to keep things chilled in the summer heat, preventing undesirable illness. For hot foods, chafers will keep main dishes hot for hours so guests can eat at their leisure.

When it comes to that main course, grilling allows you to feed a lot of people with minimal prep work. But what if you don’t have a grill? You can always rent one. Many rental facilities offer grills of varying sizes, allowing you the chance to pick the right grill for your event.

Consider renting a popcorn machine for your party. People get hungry at different times and a popcorn machine allows your guests to serve themselves and munch on this delicious snack while they wait for the main course.

Activities for kids of any age

Whether it’s a birthday party, a family reunion or some other gathering, odds are children will be at your party. If your venue lacks the appropriate activities to entertain kids for the long haul, consult your area rental facility for options.

An inflatable bounce house will keep your youngest guests entertained for hours while obstacle courses or laser tag are great options for your teenage guests. And the biggest kids at your event will enjoy a casino night with the games you rented.

If you’re expecting a large number of children at that family reunion, you may also consider renting a helium tank and providing balloons for your younger guests. The kids will be entertained, and you’ll save yourself from being out of breath all afternoon.

Chances are you know what that next once-in-a-lifetime event in your family is. The only question is, how will you celebrate it? Consult your local rental facility or visit RentalHQ.com for more ideas. You’ll quickly learn that the only limit to planning your next party is your imagination.

Courtesy of BPT

U.S. failing to meet minimal dental access standards for older adults

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

(BPT) – When it comes to caring for those who are aging, older Americans are not receiving the recommended standards of oral health care. This is a cause for concern, as maintaining a healthy mouth is essential for overall health and well-being at every age.

The oral health of older Americans is in a state of decay, according to a new national report released by Oral Health America (OHA). A State of Decay, a state-by-state analysis of oral health care delivery and public health factors impacting the oral health of older adults, reveals more than half of the country received a “fair” or “poor” assessment when it comes to minimal standards affecting dental care access for older adults.

One reason for the decline in oral health care is that many older Americans do not have dental insurance. In fact, only 2 percent of Americans who retire do so with a dental benefit plan. In addition, transportation issues, mobility limitations, fear of dentists, and lack of awareness of available oral health services are other factors which impact dental care.

According to the report, the factors negatively affecting the oral health care of older Americans include:

* Persistent lack of oral health coverage – 21 states do not offer dental benefits for low-income Americans or only provide emergency coverage through Medicaid dental benefits.

* Strained dental health providers – 31 states have a shortage of dental health providers, meaning they only have enough providers to cover 40 percent of the population.

* High rates of tooth loss – Eight states had extremely high rates of edentulism – the loss of all natural permanent teeth. Loss of teeth often results in a person forgoing nutritious food choices due to the inability to chew properly.

* Deficiencies in preventive programs – 13 states have about 60 percent of residents living in communities where fluoride is not added to drinking water, despite the fact that it’s been recognized for 68 years to markedly reduce dental decay.

“While we are seeing improvements in certain areas of older adult dental care, there is still a lack of progress in advancing the oral health of such a vulnerable population,” says Dr. Ira Lamster, professor, Department of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “Older adults face significant health challenges if their oral health is poor, and there is no coordinated program to help fund necessary services.”

In response to the need for reliable, readily available, cost-effective, and digestible oral health resources for older adults, Oral Health America has created www.toothwisdom.org, a user-friendly website that connects older adults and their caregivers with local oral health resources. With funding from the DentaQuest Foundation and support from the American Dental Hygienists’ Association and the Special Care Dentistry Association, toothwisdom.org offers dependable oral care information from oral health experts across the country, so older Americans can learn why it’s so important to care for their mouths as they age. Visitors to the site can also utilize an interactive map to find resources where they live for affordable dental care, transportation, social services, financing care and support for caregivers.

Courtesy of BPT

Checking for bed bugs: A new back-to-school routine?

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

(BPT) – As parents and students prepare to begin another school year, one back-to-school routine they may have to add to their duties is checking backpacks, school items and clothing for bed bugs.

Communities across the country have seen an increased number of bed bug infestations in recent years. As these pests infiltrate more homes, they’re hitching rides on backpacks, clothing, books and other items to make their way into schools.

Bed bugs that travel into a school in one student’s backpack can be carried home in the clothes of another, making the school a nucleus for the spread of bed bugs to households.

Several precautions can be taken to keep bed bugs out of your home should your child’s school become infested but you must first be able to identify these pests. Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown with small, flat, oval and wingless bodies about the size of an apple seed. They crawl at a steady rate and can be seen with the naked eye. Bed bug nymphs look much the same but are smaller and lighter in color than the adults.

Upon return from school each day, children’s school items and clothing should be thoroughly inspected. If bed bugs or their fecal staining – which is light brown to black and looks like tiny drops of dried blood – is discovered, it doesn’t mean your home has a bed bug infestation. Preventative measures can be taken to stop an introduction from developing into an infestation.

Any evidence of bed bugs can be eliminated by washing and drying items on the highest heat setting. Items that cannot be washed may be stored in large plastic zipper bags or in tightly-lidded plastic bins to stop bugs from moving into living areas.

If you suspect bed bugs have made their way into the rooms of your home, carefully examine all the mattresses, bed linens, headboards, upholstered furniture and draperies for these tiny pests.

Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Signs of an infestation include the presence of:

* Bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets

* Exoskeletons after molting

* Rusty colored spots from blood-filled fecal matter

* Sweet, musty odor.

Treatment options are available to rid your home of bed bugs and keep them from traveling back to school with your children.

“More than 300 products are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency to control bed bugs and many can be used by consumers,” says Aaron Hobbs, president of RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) – a national organization representing the manufacturers, formulators and distributors of pesticide products.

Bed bugs are most successfully treated with a combination of insecticide liquids, aerosols and dusts. “Just remember to select the right product and always read and follow all label directions,” Hobbs adds.

With more schools reporting bed bug outbreaks, it’s important for parents to stay aware of these pests, their ability to spread from schools into homes and ways to prevent and treat infestations. For more information, visit www.DebugtheMyths.com.

Courtesy of BPT

Secrets to an enjoyable and fuss-free sundae bar for fun entertaining

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

(BPT) – Yummy flavors, delectable toppings and the freedom to mix them together however you choose – who doesn’t love a sundae bar? With all the options available, a sundae bar may seem like too much work to pull off, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether it’s for a birthday party, fall barbecue, or a just-because party, you can serve guests a sundae bar that is fun and delicious – and easier for you to clean up afterward if you follow a few simple tips:

* Build the bar. A colorful, organized sundae bar will not only look great, but it will make it easier for guests to find exactly what they want and for you to clean up when the party is over. Start with a brightly colored disposable table cloth. Fill a galvanized tub with ice and put the ice cream in the tub, to keep it cold. Put your bowls, spoons and napkins next to the ice cream tub, followed by your toppings.

* Designate a scooper. Assigning someone to scoop the ice cream will make it easier for guests to pick their toppings and create their sundaes. This will keep people moving through the sundae bar and hands clean at the same time.

* Top it off right. The best part about a sundae bar is the variety of toppings offered. For a unique touch, try putting some of your sundae toppings in old-fashioned glass mason jars. From chocolate sprinkles, cookie crumbles, cherries and strawberry fruit topping, it’s an appealing way to showcase toppings and a simple way for guests to pick their favorite combinations.

* Hot fudge without the mess. Your sundae bar doesn’t have to suffer from spills, reheating jars, messy hands and disappointing flavors. Choose easier topping options, like Breyers Toppings, that are available in squeezable pouches and are made with real fruit. These toppings deliver all the flavor, freshness and quality associated with the leading ice cream brand, and all the fun of traditional sundae toppings without the mess. Log on to www.breyerstoppings.com to learn more.

* Party themes. To add an extra touch to your get-together, add ingredients to your sundae bar to match the party occasion. For a fall bonfire get-together create a s’mores sundae with vanilla ice cream, marshmallows, hot fudge and graham cracker crumbs.

A sundae bar is a fun and creative idea for great entertaining. With some advanced planning and the right products, you can pull off a unique dessert experience that all your guests will enjoy.

Courtesy of BPT