Are You Going to Use It? Or Lose It?

It’s that time of year…the Flexible Spending Account is sitting there, waiting to be used! But you never got sick, or never got around to going to the doctor, or just didn’t feel that you needed to go… Unfortunately, that money is going to be lost forever, if you don’t use it soon. Some FSAs will allow you to use the funds until March of the following year, but not all of them allow for rollovers of the money. If you’re at a loss as to how to quickly use the money that you set aside for medical expenses this year, there are a few things that are allowable expenses that you could fit in before year end: If you haven’t had a complete physical in a while now is a great time to get one. Getting a baseline of your health is always a good idea and will let you know if there are other things that you should have checked out. Maybe you’ve been to the doctor or it’s been recent enough that you don’t need to go now. It might be a good idea to get some blood tests that will keep you updated on your health status like a VAP cholesterol test, a Hormone or Comprehensive Male or Female Profile, a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test or even an Allergy or Food Intolerance Test. All of these are valid medical expenses but may seem expensive without insurance or a specific reason to get them. If you want to know the status of some basic health systems, like lipids, allergies, or hormones, now is a good time to make...

What Does Diabetes Look Like?

Do you know someone who has diabetes? Most of us do, even if we aren’t aware of it. It may be your coworker, your cousin or your neighbor. The obesity epidemic has recently pointed a spotlight at type 2 diabetes which can be delayed or even prevented by diet and activity changes or losing weight. But type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, strikes those who haven’t had a chance to make poor food choices, like very young children, or those who are physically active and at normal weight. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the pancreas, ultimately disabling it. Because the pancreas can no longer produce insulin, these people have no alternative but to test their blood with finger pricks several times a day and inject insulin to control their blood glucose level. Diabetes Awareness Month aims to educate us about those who live with this disease every day, 24 hours a day. There is no vacation from diabetes. Since the discovery and the medical availability of insulin in 1921 lives have been prolonged and diabetics are able to lead more normal lives, but there is still no cure. The treatments have progressed to include continuous glucose monitors that alleviate finger pricks and allow diabetics to more closely monitor glucose levels. Insulin pumps are becoming more mainstream and more common so that diabetics can program the amount of insulin delivered at any given point in time and make adjustments more quickly. But, the ability for these two devices to communicate doesn’t exist yet so diabetics must still track information and program insulin...

Are Your Children Ready for School? Think Immunizations!

As the new school year creeps up on us, many parents are dedicating the month of August to their children and back to school. Aside from shopping for trendy clothes and school supplies, back to school serves as an important time to consider getting your children vaccinated, if you haven’t already done so. Although vaccinations are a very controversial subject to some, there are lots of good, and in some cases lifesaving, reasons to vaccinate your child. Immunizations are important because they prevent children from contracting serious illnesses such as measles, mumps, and rubella that may result in brain damage, loss of sight and/or limbs, or even death. Considering immunizations for your child, or even checking to see if everything is up to date, is important at the beginning of the school year as many school systems require children to be vaccinated in an effort to prevent the spread of diseases. Refusing to vaccinate could spark an outbreak, similar to the December 2014 measles outbreak that occurred in Southern California, in which 40 people contracted the virus while visiting Disneyland. Alarmingly, the outbreak spread to over half a dozen states before it was declared over in April, 2015. These highly contagious diseases spread like wildlife, and the results could be truly grueling for a young child- think high fever for a number of days followed by an incubation period in an effort to stop the spread of the disease. Aside from the recent measles outbreak, many parents believe that since outbreaks of many of the diseases requiring vaccinations have not been heard about in a long time, they do...

Should You Pause Before Applying Sunscreen?

Sunscreen has always been an essential part of summer, especially over the past 10 years as we have learned more about its benefits. It protects us from UV rays, painful sunburns, and helps prevent skin cancer. But debates have risen over whether or not sunscreen is actually detrimental to our health. While we have been taught that the sun emits powerful and dangerous UV rays, some physicians and scientists are arguing that UV rays provide vitamin D, which can assist in preventing certain cancers and bone diseases. So does this mean we should stop wearing sunscreen? You may want to hold off on throwing away your summer supply. According to vitamin D advocates, vitamin D is the new miracle worker, helping with everything from cancer to weight control to high blood pressure. One of the best ways to obtain this essential nutrient is to go outside and bask in the sun to catch some UV rays, all while leaving the skin protection behind. Some claim that Americans have been scared away from sun exposure, resulting in a greater number of people suffering from vitamin D deficiency. Other health issues that can contribute to low vitamin D include darker skin, obesity or gastrointestinal issues which can all reduce the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency in itself can be extremely painful, as it causes weak muscles, fatigue, skeletal deformities and soft bones. Although there is evidence that vitamin D is essential for bone health, it’s ability to prevent certain cancers and high blood pressure has yet to be proven. Still, some physicians are recommending that people decrease...

Hey Tough Guy! Are You Avoiding the Doctor? You May Want to Rethink That Plan!

There just aren’t enough hours in a day! You’ll make that doctor’s appointment another day, right? Especially because nothing hurts and you have no pain, aches, bumps, or bruises? Think again! It is all too common for men to skip their annual visits to their doctors, which could be a big step in the wrong direction. Although we all like to believe that since we feel fine there must be nothing wrong, there are far too many health risks and potential diseases for men to ignore their doctors, and their health altogether. June is Men’s Health Month and we encourage all men to take precautions and check up on your health! Preventative medical tests can detect diseases early, before they start to cause the aches and pains that would send someone to the doctor immediately. Here are some recommendations for screening tests and lifestyle adjustements to consider so that you can take control of your health now and prevent illness later: Check your cholesterol levels regularly, especially after the age of 20. Having high cholesterol puts men at a greater risk for heart disease and should be checked every five years, or more often if your cholesterol is high. Keep a close eye on your body weight, activity level and diet, as these lifestyle choices have a direct effect on cholesterol levels. Consider taking the Fasting Plasma Glucose Test to screen for type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. If you are experiencing increased thirst and frequent urination, as well as weight loss and increased hunger, you may be experiencing diabetes symptoms. As with many other diseases, warning signs are not...