Insomnia, Snoring, Sleep Apnea

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Archive for December, 2009

New Years Gives You a New Chance for Better Health

Posted by amykr on December 31, 2009

As the year ends we know that some very notable people have had health issues the last couple of weeks. Britney Murphy died after a short unidentified illness, Rush Limbaugh was rushed to the hospital after experiencing chest pain and Urban Meyer has taken an indefinite leave from coaching after two health emergencies. This time of year reminds us that our health is our most important asset and should be treated as such. Here are a few things you can do that might help.

Have your yearly physical. Many people feel they should only see the doctor if they are feeling sick. If you value your health and your pocketbook then spending a little wellness time with your doctor is worth it. Your physician will know what tests you need yearly. They may also see something you may miss such as mole that might look a little strange or a change in your skin tone. If you do not have insurance consider taking advantage of the Seminole and Orange County Health Department or Apopka Family Medicine, these facilities can help you find affordable health care and inoculations for your children.

Invest in exercise. You do not need to join a gym. If you are looking for information about exercise there are some great places for free to learn more about it. Sparkpeople.com and Transformations.com are both free and have experts who give information on work outs. If you are looking for people to walk or exercise with try Meetup.com. They have many different groups and if you can not find one you want you can always start one.

Educate yourself. There are many great websites our there. WebMD.com, Livestrong.com and Lifescript.com are great sources for information from many different professionals. If you have questions it is always good to ask your healthcare professional, if they are unavailable a website where professionals are sharing information are great places to find generic information about medications, tests or conditions. Your local hospital also has educational classes throughout the year. Just give a call and ask for the community education department.

Create a healthy eating plan. This is one place where the internet excels and where it fails. There are more sites about eating, diet and food then just about anything else. The trick is to find the healthy information that does not cost you anything. Discovery.com has their yearly National Body Challenge that is free and has several perks including 14 day pass to Bally’s Health Club. Sparkpeople.com has a custom food plan that is free as well. Ivillage.com also has a food planner and program. All of these plans are based on a health balance food plan of 1200 to 1800 calories depending on the site.

This is just a starting point for the New Year. Each person has their own ideas about what they need to create a healthy and successful life. Just remember that the time spent being healthy will pay you back in ways you would not suspect.

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Light Therapy as an Option for Depression and SAD

Posted by amykr on December 30, 2009

Many people are looking toward ways of treating health issues without taking medication. One of more interesting alternatives to people with depression or rhythm disorders is light therapy. This therapy is not for everyone, but it gives an option to people with seasonal affective disorder, shift workers and those who might need to try different therapies in addition to traditional therapy.

Recently studies on the effects of Light Therapy have gotten a little more support. It is showing that light may have an effect on melatonin production, serotonin production and circadian rhythms. The idea is that you mimic sunlight and keep your body on the same rhythm all year long.

The first therapy is a dawn simulator that allows a person to wake up as the light gets more intense. It is a much gentler form of waking and the simulation is similar to summer light. This might help those who have a issues with the winter’s weaker light and shorter days. The idea of a gentler way to wake up also may help start the day in a calmer manner. There is very little in the way of studies for this type of therapy, however since the lights are inexpensive and there is no evidence that they are have any adverse effects.

The other source is a light box. There are several types of these including white light boxes, blue light boxes and green light boxes. The most popular currently are white and blue light. They are used in the morning based on your body’s Melatonin cycle to help to regulate your body’s Circadian rhythm. The most recent studies have found that the blue light works as well as the white light but is much smaller and portable. These lights should be up above your head for your eyes to process it properly. It should be used for 30-60 minutes depending on what is recommended for you.

There are some potential side effects to this type of therapy. You should not look into the light and it has been associated with Macular Degeneration. You can also have too much exposure which can cause mania in some people, especially those with Manic Depression.

The idea of using light to treat depression has not been pursued by many researchers currently. There are some small studies that have been shown that this can be a very effective treatment for depression. It is also a good choice for those who wish to try other therapies before trying medication. There are small, inexpensive boxes available online. Like all therapies you should discuss this with your physician or therapist before trying it.

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Chest Pain; Why It Should Not Be Ignored

Posted by amykr on December 30, 2009

Urban Meyer has taken a leave from coaching the Florida Gators due to chest pains he had experienced earlier this month. He was wise and went to the hospital, where test were performed and it was determined that no permanent muscle damage was done. This is an example of why it is important that immediate care is so important in this situation.

Although the reason for Coach Meyer’s chest pain were not disclosed, his reaction to it is very important. Immediate care is essential as it can help minimize damage if a person is having a heart attack. The problem is many people, especially during the holiday season put off care until it is too late. They either believe that it will go away or they do not want to disturb the holiday and wait.

The question then becomes when you should seek help and when you should wait. The symptoms of a heart attack are not just chest pain but including many other symptoms including, abdominal pain, upper body pain including jaw pain and arm pain, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, shortness of breath, lightheadedness and sweating. If you experience these symptoms for longer then a few minutes then you should seek help. Waiting for the symptoms to go away will only lead to a more severe outcome.

Treatment and testing at the hospital will help to get a correct diagnosis. Even if it is not a heart attack, these symptoms can be telling you that there is something wrong and you need to take care of it. Stress and other issues can lead to more serious conditions over the long term. Ultimately it is timely care that will allow for a long and healthy life.

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The 5 Most Important Things You Should Know About Health Insurance

Posted by amykr on December 24, 2009

It is the time of year where new insurance policies will be taking effect. Many companies have made changes to these policies and it is important that you as the user of that insurance policy understand what it covers.

The fact is that even if you call the customer line anything you are told can be incorrect and they will always refer you back to the written policy, which was provided when you signed up. That written policy will give you all the information about the policy, however it very long and sometimes quite confusing. This is the list of the 5 things you should know going into the New Year.

1. Is the Plan and HMO, PPO, POS or Co-insurance? Depending on the company or your choice of policies there can be a great many issues that different policies effect. What doctor you can see, if you can see a specialist prior to visiting your primary care doctor and how much you pay for each visit is controlled by the plan you sign up for. There may also be a requirement for prior authorization by the insurance company for testing, procedures or medication depending on the plan.
2. Do you have a deductible? A deductible is basically the amount of money you need to spend out of your own pocket prior to the insurance company paying for your care. This can be anywhere from $100-$5000 depending on the plan. Now there may be exceptions to the deductible. In some plan your visit to a physician will be a set amount and will not be used toward your deductible. So if you visit the doctor and have to $25 to see him that amount of money will not necessarily be applied to your deductible.
3. Do you have a Co-payment? This amount of money is the amount you pay for anything after you have met your deductible. So if your plan pays 80% of the cost for a procedure you would be responsible for 20% of the cost. This cost would be the price the insurance company has previously negotiated with the doctor’s office, and will not be the same as the cash price. It could be more or it could be less.
4. Do you have any riders to the plan? A rider is an extension to the plan that may limit or add extra care for the individual. Some plans have a rider that eliminates payment for any medical activity that involves weight loss. Others have durable medical equipment riders or nursing home riders, which limit this or exclude this type of care from being paid.
5. Do you have a separate prescription plan? Some plans use a different company to care for prescriptions. You can have a separate deductible or co-payment with this plan. It can also limit what medications they will pay for based on a specific formulary, or list of medications. The plans can also require that long term medication be handled through the mail rather then the local pharmacy.

If you do call the customer care line to get information make sure you ask for the representative’s name and the call ID. This way you can track where you got the information if you need to argue about coverage. But if you listen carefully they will always tell you that they are not responsible for the information they gave you and that you need to consult the policy itself.

It is always important for you to understand what your insurance will and will not cover. When the final bill comes you will ultimately be responsible for any money that was not covered by the insurance company. The more informed you are the less likely you will be surprised by your final payment.

Posted in health care, healthcare reform | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

5 Resolutions for a Better Night Sleep

Posted by amykr on December 22, 2009

We all make resolutions for the New Year. And some of them are large and ambitious and some are small and practical. These are five easy changes that will help you to improve your sleep and wake up with more energy every day.

1.Turn off the television: Too many people are watching television in bed or falling asleep with it on. They think it helps them to fall asleep, but it does not. It disrupts your sleep. Not just the noise but the light. This flashing light keeps you from going into the deeper slow wave sleep that your body needs to recover and heal itself. There have also been recent research that shows a relationship between poor initial sleep and depression. That is why there should not be a television in the bedroom.
2.Turn off the lights: Don’t just turn off the lights but invest in a good pair of curtains that keeps the light from entering the room. Your body needs to dark to work properly. It was designed to enter a cycle called your circadian rhythm that allows you to function optimally during the day and to sleep at night. If you do not expose your body to the dark how will it know when it is supposed to be asleep? New research is also associating the relationship between not sleeping in the dark and depression.
3.Get rid of the clutter: Clutter in the room clutters the mind. It is very hard to relax and get comfortable in a room that is full of things. The New Year is a great time to purge some of the stuff that has been hanging around your bedroom. Use the rule that if you have not used it in 6 months you probably won’t use it in the next 6 months. A bedroom should be a peaceful place to relax and go to sleep. It should not be a place where you enter it and think I have a 100 things to do in the next 10 minutes.
4.Invest in a New Pillow: There are many new pillows out there. Pillows usually last 6 to 8 months. Many people keep them much longer. If you think about it, you use this every day. Eventually the pressure from sleeping on it will wear it out. The cost of a good pillow based on your sleep position usually costs $40-$80. This is a small investment for a better night sleep. Make sure you find one you like. Try it out. Make sure you like it. If you need to invest in a cover for it. In some areas bed bugs are an issue. A hypoallergenic cover will help reduce the risk of this issue.
5.Create a night time routine: This one is free and easy to do and will make a world of difference to you and to your children. It should not be a long routine, but it should be something that you could recreate if you are on vacation. It should involve decreasing light exposure. A sample routine we use is 10 minutes of reading, followed by brushing teeth, washing face and brushing our hair. We then go into the bedroom turn off all electronics, and talking quietly about our day. Then we are off to sleep. While you are creating the routine you might find you do not go to sleep right away. If this happens wait 20 minutes, get up our of bed, do something quietly like read for 10-15 minutes then trying to go to sleep again. Staying in bed and staring at the ceiling will only create stress. Do not turn on the television or computer because they can be too stimulating and the light will give your brain the wrong signals. If you keep this up every day at approximately the same time you will find falling asleep will become much easier.
A good night sleep is so important for good health. It contributes to weight loss, pain management, and blood pressure management to just name three things. The small investment in changing behavior can lead to big results for you and your family.

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