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...

Lyme Disease Prevention: Do You Know What to Do?

Summer is coming to an end and in most places, cooler temperatures mean less bug bites. However, with fall approaching and camping trips being planned left and right, you may want to think twice before assuming that the days of creepy bugs and itchy bites are behind you. Ticks are still out in abundance regardless of the temperature drop, and the consequences of a tick bite have the potential to be treacherous. Ticks are pesky little members of the arachnid family that are commonly found in low vegetation areas and are hematophagous; in other words, they survive by feeding off of the blood of mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians. Blood plays a crucial role in tick development because blood is needed to reach each new stage of a tick’s life cycle. In fact, many ticks die due to failure to find a blood host. But how do ticks latch on to a feeding source? Ticks are not something we regularly see crawling around on your floor like a spider. Instead, ticks actually identify well used paths and remain on blades of grass or twigs. When a body part brushes against the grass or twig, ticks will quickly climb up the host and latch on to feed. But there are bigger, and scarier, reasons why it is important to avoid ticks at all costs. Ticks play a massive role in disease transmission, second only to mosquitos, and are responsible for vector-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease, Colorado tick fever, and Tularemia (although it is important to remember that not all tick bites result in disease). Although all forms of tickborne illnesses are serious, Lyme...

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...

Does Spring Bring Suffering Along With Blooms?

Spring is officially here and so are the warm temperatures! But, are you finding yourself with the onset of a sudden, never-ending cold? If so, you may be one of the estimated 40 to 60 million Americans suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), seasonal allergic rhinitis, more commonly referred to as “hay fever,” usually occurs in the spring, summer, and fall and is caused by “allergic sensitivity to airborne mold spores or top pollen from grass, trees, and weeds.” Hay fever symptoms consist of a runny nose and congestion, wheezing, and itchy eyes or skin. Think of it as a season-long cold that just won’t go away. For some, hay fever is an entirely new experience. You may have welcomed spring in the past, but now you feel like you’ve been hit by a nasty cold, and that the usual Dayquil or Sudafed is not doing the trick. If so, it may be time to get tested and visit an allergist to pinpoint exactly what you are experiencing. Skin tests, which consist of injecting or pricking the allergen into the skin and waiting for results, or newer blood tests that only require one blood draw, along with clues about your lifestyle can help to identify your specific allergens. If you do find yourself a victim of seasonal allergic rhinitis, here are some tips to avoid exposure to your trigger allergens and prevent allergic reactions: Avoid going outdoors between the hours of 5 am and 10 am. Pollen counts are the highest between these hours on dry, windy, and warm days....