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...

Worried About Your Health? It Might Be Your Thyroid!

Did you know that thyroid disease is more common than heart disease or diabetes? Nearly 30 million Americans are aware of their thyroid issues, but another 15 million are not. January is Thyroid Awareness Month; a time intended to make more of us knowledgeable about the importance of the thyroid gland to our overall health.  The thyroid gland is small, located below the Adam’s apple, and it plays a vital role in our bodies, greatly influencing a body’s well being. There are two main thyroid issues that can affect your health, but which are often attributed to other health concerns, including aging, heart disease or anxiety.   The slowing down of thyroid processes is known as hypothyroidism, while the process acting in overdrive is known as hyperthyroidism. Both can be traumatic for the body, and can dramatically affect one’s mood and overall health. Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid is unable to produce enough thyroid hormone. Although there are several possible causes for hypothyroidism, the result can make one feel fatigued and cause hair loss and weight gain. Hyperthyroidism is the exact opposite. Here, the thyroid produces too much of the thyroid hormone, causing one’s pulse to race and may cause overheating, weight loss and anxiety. Are You At Risk? Are you at risk for thyroid disease? Take a look at your family health history. A close relative with a history of thyroid disease may put you at a greater risk, as the disease often runs in families. There are also more cases seen in women than men.  Many cases of thyroid disease are caused by autoimmune diseases...

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month! Are You Moving Yet?

Why should you care?  Again? Warnings about getting exercise?  Yes, again.  Less than 20% of adults meet the minimum requirement of 30 minutes of physical activity per day.  Are you one of them? Obesity in US adults has doubled since the 1970s and it is linked to multiple health conditions and disorders that are preventable.  Health conditions like diabetes, stroke and heart disease can leave you disabled. But, physical activity reduces your risk of serious health events and death significantly. Not a fan of physical activity?  There are many ways to squeeze in some movement during the day without going to a gym, sweating profusely or purchasing a lot of expensive gear.  Walking your dog, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking at the other end of the parking lot…all of these burn calories and get your heart moving a little more.  If you sit at a desk all day, get up every 30 minutes and get some water and stretch out. If you don’t know your risks for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, find out.  It’s never too late to work on improving your health.  Put one foot in front of the other and start moving towards better...

Going Red? Remove Sugar and You’re On the Way!

Have you seen advertisements and publicity for National Wear Red Day and the Go Red for Women campaign?  Maybe you’ve heard that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the US?  More bad news has been found for those trying to prevent heart disease: A new study released in the JAMA Internal Medicine has found that there is another cause of heart disease: added sugar in your diet!  Many Americans consume 15% of their calories from added sugar.  This is a recipe for disaster and can increase your risk of heart disease.  The study showed that people who consumed between 17 and 21% of their calories from sugar have a 38% higher risk of death from heart disease than people who consume less than 10% of their calories from added sugar.  21% of a 2,000 calorie per day diet is the equivalent of 420 calories or 3 cans of regular soda per day. We’ve all known that too much sugar causes obesity and can lead to diabetes, but the news that it is linked with cardiovascular disease is surprising.  Although the American Beverage Association claims that the study is is an observational study and doesn’t indicate that added sugar causes heart disease, it’s worth reducing sugar in your diet and looking more closely at the level of sugar added to the food you consume.  Most women still believe that heart disease is a “man’s” disease and that they are immune.  Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and women need to pay attention to their health, get tested for heart disease risk factors and make exercise a habit.  The American Heart...

Are You Trying to Prevent Diabetes?

Did you know that the total cost of all diagnosed diabetes the United States is $245 billion a year?  If you don’t have diabetes, you probably know at least one person who does.  And if you are the typical American who is overweight and has high cholesterol and blood pressure, you are headed down the path of pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes.  You can do a lot to prevent it, even if it is just preventing yourself from developing it.  November is Diabetes Awareness Month sponsered by the American Diabetes Association (ADA).  The ADA estimates that 26 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes, both juvenile or type 1 diabetes and adult onset or type 2 diabetes.  In addition, another 79 million have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.  If you aren’t sure whether this is you or how high your risk is, the ADA provides an online tool to calculate your risk of developing diabetes so you can see where you stand. If you know you are at high risk for type 2 diabetes, either because you have had a high blood glucose (blood sugar) test result, because your doctor has already told you, or you just took the risk calculator and the results came out a bit too high for your comfort, what do you do next?  Here are some steps you should take immediately to get off the type 2 diabetes track and onto the long, healthy life path: Change your diet to include more fruits and vegetables and fewer salty, sugary processed foods. Increase your activity level by walking, biking and moving...