Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Health Care and Dental Savings

Americans love to save money, especially in a tight economy. And everyone loves a good deal when a great product or service can be purchased at little to no money. Plus, when you profit from using what you bought, you are ahead financially and have a great feeling that you saved money and got a great bargain. On top of those benefits of being fiscally conservative and being a savvy shopper, when you can come out with being healthier as a result you have won the Trifecta of Consumerism. That is really something to smile about.

Saving money is a great goal, especially with your dental health. Oral hygiene is no laughing matter, but you'll be laughing all the way to the bank when you score a deal with a dental plan that saves you a lot. Discount dental plans are a really good way to keep your costs down and receive significant value. They are typically sold as a non-insurance membership that provides consumers access to participating dental offices in a network. Most often, there is no out of network privilege, but if the dental network is sizeable, most members should not have too much difficulty finding a location near their home or office. The downside is that if you are already seeing someone who is not in the dental network, then you would need to change dentists. But when considering the fact that you may save an average of 50% on your dental work, that's a pretty good incentive to find someone else who can help you with your teeth and gums. Imagine the smile on your face when you realize that you stopped paying for another Mercedes or country club golf membership, and you can keep the savings in your pocket instead.

Keeping your teeth and gums in good shape is important. According to Consumer Guide for Dentistry, dental hygiene, also known as oral hygiene, is the process by which preventative dental care is provided to avoid dental emergencies. At the core of dental hygiene is the in-home dental care regimen you perform. Your at-home regimen is supplemented with professional preventative dental care provided by dentists and licensed dental hygienists. While you are responsible for day-to-day dental maintenance, dental hygienists, along with general dentists, family dentists and cosmetic dentists, play an integral role in preventative oral care. Tooth brushing is fundamentally important, though it alone will not remove the calculus (also called tartar or dental plaque) that builds up over time. Calculus must be removed to lower your risk of toothaches, cavities, periodontal disease or even the loss of all your teeth. By removing calculus, you can reduce your chances of needing root canals, tooth extractions, dental bridges, crowns, and more.

The Guide, found at YourDentistryGuide.com, reports that over time calculus builds up on the teeth. If calculus forms below the gum line, bacteria can invade and create a host of other dental problems. Furthermore, the surfaces and areas between the teeth and under the gum line must be maintained and treated on a regular basis in order to ensure proper dental hygiene. These areas are impossible for you to examine yourself; they require a professional touch. Regular dental visits are critical at any age for the maintenance of dental hygiene. The American Dental Association recommends that patients visit with their dentist and dental hygienist a minimum of two times each year to maintain proper dental hygiene.

According to Colgate.com, maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the most important things you can do for your teeth and gums. Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly. Good oral health is important to your overall well-being. Daily preventive care, including proper brushing and flossing, will help stop problems before they develop and is much less painful, expensive, and worrisome than treating conditions that have been allowed to progress. In between regular visits to the dentist, there are simple steps that each of us can take to greatly decrease the risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental problems. These include:

--Brushing thoroughly twice a day and flossing daily.

--Eating a balanced diet and limiting snacks between meals.

--Using dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste.

--Rinsing with a fluoride mouth, and rinse if your dentist tells you to.

--Making sure that your children under 12 drink fluoridated water or take a fluoride supplement if they live in a non-fluoridated area.

There are dental insurances, payment plans at dental offices and dental schools offering low cost dentistry, and discount plans. Yet statistics indicate many people are still not making the routine six month visits to their dentist. Whether it's due to lack of insurance, fear or other reasons, many individuals wait until there is pain, before making a dental appointment. Prevention is not a hard concept to understand and carry out, once you know the consequences of disease. Preventing disease in the mouth follows the same path as preventing disease in any other organ in the body. With the mouth it’s even simpler since you can see inside the mouth. It is much simpler to detect and treat illness at the early stages than waiting until it has advanced. Poor dental hygiene has been proven to lead to many more serious health problems, such as cancer, low birth weight in newborns, heart disease, diabetes, and more.

Discount plans with Careington or other companies allow you to visit a dentist and receive significant savings at the time of service with participating dentists including specialists for oral surgery, periodontal work, orthodontia, and more. Payments as low as $10-$15 a month for a family can be found that provide huge savings between 20% and 60% for most all procedures. A family can save as much as $1200 a year or more using a discount dental plan. You pay a discounted rate to the dentist at the time of service, and may end up with a cleaning for a cleaning, a set of X-rays, and an exam for under $100 on your first visit. And, you have a fee schedule that tells you in advance what you pay the dentist. How about that--no surprises, and you know how much it costs before you go. There are several advantages for consumers:

1.) Nationwide access to providers with no penalty for changing dentists.

2.) No waiting. You can use your plan immediately with any participating provider.

3.) No limit on the amount of work to be done. You can use your plan as often as you need, and the membership rates will typically never increase for your plan.

4.) The entire household is often automatically included in your membership.

5.) There are no contracts, and no forms to fill out at the dentist when you use your plan.

6.) You receive immediate savings at the time of service.

7.) Low monthly membership fees.

8.) Discount plans can be used in conjunction with some insurance plans.

9.) You can use your pre-tax flex dollars (FSA/HRA/HSA) to pay for procedures.

10.) You can cancel your plan at any time with no penalties.

The company is currently offering a real deal with a new membership for only an initial payment of $.99 for the first month to get started. You and your family can see a dentist right away and have a real smile worth showing off--your teeth are better, and so is your wallet! Through a membership in a plan called Healthy Discounts North America, the company offers you significant savings on dental and vision care. With Healthy Discounts, you can reduce your out-of-pocket expenses and receive care from qualified dentists and optometrists. For only $.99 for your first month, anyone can join this plan. Your spouse and children are eligible too. This is not an insurance plan, but a dental discount savings plan designed to fit your needs and budget. Your first month is only $.99 if you do not cancel the plan; then you will be billed monthly at $6.95 for member only, $11.95 for member plus one other family member, or $15.95 for the entire family. Now that's a deal--look good, feel good, and save money! You can find more about it at their website: http://www.healthydiscountsusa.com/co/99/.
An economic recession requires consumers to tighten their fiscal belts, but don't skimp on your health care and your dental needs. Spending money to save money to keep your teeth and gums, and your physical health, in good shape is a good idea. When you have an opportunity to find a good deal in the current financial environment, act on it to take advantage of the savings and value. After all, it's not every day that you can get access to a new smile for less than a dollar!

Until next time.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Health Care and Holiday Blues

Have you ever heard Elvis Presley's recording of "Blue Christmas", or any of the countless other songs during the Holiday Season that refer to being blue for one reason or another? Many people suffer depression and dark times during November and December, and this time frame has the highest suicide rate than any other during the year. There is something about these months that make people sad or cause them to be depressed.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), the holidays are a time for festive partying with friends and family, sharing gifts and laughter -- and getting depressed. That's right. For many people, the holidays bring on feelings of sadness and anxiety that can be hard to shake. According to the National Mental Health Association, reasons for feeling blue around the holidays are numerous. They range from fatigue -- a result of all of the increased holiday activity -- to financial limitations and family tensions.

Experts say one of the fastest routes to holiday depression is unrealistic expectations. People often hold on to what they remember as an ideal holiday from years gone by, and are unable to reproduce it. There are also expectations around the holidays that 'everything must be perfect', and perfection is, of course, rarely obtainable. Other factors that can contribute to feelings of sadness around the holidays are memories of deceased loved ones and strained family dynamics. The holidays are associated with family and togetherness. In today's world of high divorce rates and fragmented family units, stress is commonly experienced as family members attempt to find some compromise in defining shared time.

According to MedicineNet.com, sadness is a truly personal feeling. What makes one person feel sad may not affect another person. Here are some examples of what may cause you to experience sadness, stress, or depression during the Holidays, and how to deal with it:

1.) A number of factors, including unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, and too many commitments can cause stress at holiday time.

2.) Certain people may feel depressed around the winter holidays due to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), sometimes referred to as seasonal depression.

3.) Headaches, excessive drinking, overeating, and insomnia are some of the possible consequences of poorly managed holiday stress.

4.) Those suffering from any type of holiday depression or stress can benefit from increased social support during this time of year. Counseling or support groups can also be beneficial.

5.) In addition to being an important step in preventing the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, regular exposure to light that is bright, particularly fluorescent lights, significantly improves depression in people with SAD during the fall and winter.

6.) Setting realistic goals and expectations, reaching out to friends, sharing tasks with family members, finding inexpensive ways to enjoy yourself, and helping others are all ways to help beat holiday stress.

The holidays cause many people to feel anxious and depressed in a general sense; but for some, holiday tensions can lead to full-blown clinical depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 19 million American adults suffer from depressive illnesses every year. Unfortunately, many people with clinical depression don't seek help, even though depression is a treatable condition. Some people still look at mental illness as a character flaw, but the truth is that it is no different from any other kind of illness. If your body couldn't produce enough insulin, no one would tell you to 'get over it'. You'd need to go to the doctor and get treated for your insulin deficiency. It is the same with mental illness.

Below are a list of depressive symptoms compiled by the National Institute of Mental Health. NIMH experts suggest that you seek professional help if you experience five or more of these symptoms every day for two weeks. If you have recurring thoughts of death or suicide, you should get help immediately from professional sources. Depression may exhibit itself in the following ways:

•Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood.
•Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism.
•Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness.
•Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex.
•Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down".
•Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions.
•Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping.
•Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain.
•Restlessness, or irritability.
•Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.

According to MedicineNet, a simple history and physical exam may be all that is needed to diagnose a case of the holiday blues. Your health-care professional may perform lab tests or other tests to rule out any medical conditions that may be causing your symptoms. Likewise, a full history of your symptoms is likely to provide clues that can help distinguish a mild case of the holiday blues from SAD or a more serious and chronic depressive disorder. Those suffering from any type of holiday depression or stress may benefit from increased social support during this time of year. For uncomplicated holiday blues, improvement may be found by finding ways to reduce the stresses associated with the holiday, either by limiting commitments and outside activities, making arrangements to share family responsibilities such as gift shopping and meal preparation, agreeing upon financial limits for purchases, or taking extra time to rest and rejuvenate.

Counseling or support groups are another way to relieve some of the burdens of holiday stress or sadness. Knowing that others feel the same way and sharing your thoughts and experiences can help you manage your troubling feelings. Support groups also provide a further layer of social support during this vulnerable time period.

In addition to being an important step in preventing the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, regular exposure to light that is bright, particularly fluorescent lights, significantly improves depression in people with SAD during the fall and winter. Phototherapy is commercially available in the form of light boxes, which are used for approximately 30 minutes daily. The light required must be of sufficient brightness, approximately 25 times as bright as a normal living room light. The light treatment is used daily in the morning and evening for best results. Visiting other areas of the world that are characterized by more bright light (such as the Caribbean) can also improve the symptoms of SAD.

For extreme conditions, Antidepressant medications, particularly serotonin selective reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications, can be an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder. Examples of SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), and citalopram (Celexa).

In addition to relationship problems, according to CBN, another source of sadness at at the holidays is the belief that happiness depends on how much money you spend. And with unemployment in double digits, there may be lots of people who feel inadequate. Here are 9 great ways to help beat the holiday blues:

--Plan ahead. Make a budget for gifts, travel, food and donations. Schedule tasks such as holiday shopping, baking, decorating so they are less stressful.

--Reach Out. Focusing on someone else tends to lift your spirit and theirs. Churches, hospitals and nursing homes all need volunteers this time of year.

--Let Go of Grievances. In other words, bury the hatchet.

--Be With People. Schedule get-togethers well in advance, attend meetings, parties, church services, etc. Don't get caught alone. Isolation can lead to depression.

--Get Creative. If you can't be with your loved ones find new ways to celebrate together such as sharing pictures, e-mails or videos.

--Exercise. It's a powerful mood booster because during exercise the body releases endorphins, neurotransmitters that have euphoric and pain-relieving properties similar to morphine.

--Eat Healthy. Overindulgence leads to feelings of guilt and lethargy.

--Get Plenty of Rest. You'll need a good night's sleep to tackle the emotional demands of the holidays and to prevent getting sick when you can least afford to be side-lined.

--Pray Daily. Prayer helps to center  you--it's important to make time to get your life in focus.

By taking spiritual and practical steps, you can enjoy good emotional health throughout the holidays. Find help professionally and with family and friends you trust to help you through any challenging issues relative to depression and sadness. There are plenty of resources to help you if you are dealing with problems around the Holidays. Seek help, and then work on your mood to get back to where you belong--happy and healthy.

Until next time.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Health Care and a Day of Thanks

Thanksgiving serves as a singular American holiday, and is celebrated annually during the fourth Thursday in November. This event was set aside as a day to give thanks for the blessings of life.

The first American Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, to commemorate the harvest reaped by the Plymouth Colony after a harsh winter. In that year Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. The colonists celebrated it as a traditional English harvest feast, to which they invited the local Wampanoag Indians. Days of thanksgiving were celebrated throughout the colonies after fall harvests. All thirteen colonies did not, however, celebrate Thanksgiving at the same time until October 1777. George Washington was the first president to declare the holiday, in 1789.

Thanksgiving is a holiday, special and well-commemorated to express gratitude and appreciation, and as well as a sincere thanksgiving, offered to God for all His blessings, and as well as to the family, loved ones and friends for all their support. Traditionally, it has been the day to give thanks for a harvest that is bountiful and rich. Unfortunately, modern time Thanksgiving celebration is primarily identified as a secular holiday, with Thanksgiving dinner consisting of baked or roasted turkey is usually the main highlight of the holiday. Current society treats it often as the official start of the Christmas holiday season, with football games on TV, shopping til you drop, and endless relatives who don't know when to leave your house. Instead of considering the day in quiet contemplation and joyous celebration of life, Thanksgiving is considered a great day to catch up on your sleep and spend money.

The Mayflower's voyage to the new world was a "survival test" on a huge scale, according to BillyGraham.org. The passengers had sold their possessions and had to work for years to pay for their passage. The ship had no heat or plumbing. Storms raged, and a main beam cracked in mid-ocean. But after more than two months on the Atlantic Ocean, this band of 102 people arrived before Christmas, 1620. William Bradford wrote in his journal, "Being thus arrived at a good harbor, and brought safely to land, they fell on their knees and blessed the God of heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof." But just after Christmas a serious sickness broke out, and in the next three months nearly half the Pilgrims died. Hunger and illness stalked them, but they never wavered in their purpose.

Today, Americans can learn these six lessons from the Pilgrims:

(1.) Be Strong in Your Faith--First, the Pilgrims have left us an example of their deep, unwavering religious convictions. What were these convictions? They believed in Christ and in His Kingdom. They found fulfillment in Him. They had purpose in their lives. They had encountered the living Christ and they knew it. They feared neither monarch nor people, only God. Because they belonged to God, they had a deep faith and confidence in themselves. They believed in their own dignity, were confident that their cause was just, and walked with an uprightness that only fearless and free people can display. Agnosticism, anxiety, emptiness, meaninglessness, have gripped much of the world—and even the Church. People are broad but shallow. Today's youth are desperately searching for purpose and meaning and fulfillment in their lives. By contrast, these Pilgrim forebears stand as shining examples of people who were narrow but deep, certain of what they believed, unswerving in their loyalty, and passionately dedicated to God whom they trusted and for whom they willingly would have died. A return to biblical faith and conviction would have a great impact at this hour.

(2.) Practice Discipline--Second, the Pilgrims left an example of disciplined living. They were Puritans who were ready to order everything—personal life, worship, the church, business affairs, political views, and even recreation—according to the commandments of God. The word "Puritan" itself in the contemporary mind identifies those who followed a strict and closely regulated life. The ethic of self-mastery and spiritual discipline falls strangely on the ears of today's generation.
(3.) Enjoy Freedom Under the Law--Third, the Pilgrims have left the example of freedom under law. The Mayflower Compact forged before the Pilgrims left the ship was the wedge that opened the door to a government controlled by the people, a government that has endured in the United States for centuries. Most historians agree that the Mayflower Compact was the forerunner of the Constitution of the United States. This little band of people searched for an equitable manner of earning a living and for a way of survival. They tried living a communal lifestyle, but, according to Governor Bradford: "This communal system conceived by Plato was found to breed much confusion." When communal living failed, they assigned a parcel of land to every family; with individual enterprise, prosperity came to the colony. Many rebellious young people live, enjoying what they call "absolute freedom." They are free to take narcotics, free to experiment with sex, free to go unwashed, free to dress as they please and do what they like. The freedom exercised by the Pilgrims didn't degenerate into license. Theirs was a liberty under law. The lawbreakers, malcontents, dissidents and criminals of our day would have been rejected by the Pilgrims. To them freedom under the law meant judgment for the lawless.

(4.) Care about Others--Fourth, the Pilgrims left an example of a people who had keen social concern. They believed that every person was made in the image of God, that each one was of infinite value and worth in the sight of God. They lived with Native Americans who had a different religion, a different skin color and a different culture. In March of 1621, Chief Samoset visited the Pilgrims' village and signed a peace treaty that lasted for many years. It was a treaty with high social and ethical content, showing a deep concern for the social, political and spiritual needs of neighbors. Though the Pilgrims knew that they were citizens of another world, they sought to improve the world they were passing through. The Pilgrims made their new world better, not by tearing down the old, but by constructive toil and fair dealings with their neighbors.

(5.) Share Your Faith--Fifth, the Pilgrims were evangelists who set an example in sharing their spiritual and material blessings with others. In the Mayflower Compact the Pilgrims committed themselves to the "advancement of the Christian faith." The Pilgrims at Plymouth were followed by the Puritans at Massachusetts Bay. Together they built churches and schools. In 1636 Harvard College was founded to train men for the ministry. By 1663 the first Bible was printed (the Algonquin Bible) for the Native Americans in their own tongue. These settlers came to the new world not only to find freedom for themselves but also to tell others of their faith.

(6.) Dream Great Dreams--For "where there is no vision, the people perish," says the Bible. The Pilgrims dreamed great dreams. They dreamed of a haven for themselves and for their children. They dreamed of religious freedom. They dreamed of a world where God would rule the hearts of men. They lived and died with these hopes. The Pilgrims' strength of spirit was forged by a personal faith in Christ, by tough discipline and by regular habits of devotion. Today it seems that many people have neither vision nor hope. But if you chose, you too could become like the Pilgrims. You could regain hope. You could recover the spiritual and the moral strength that you may have lost. But you would have to be willing to take up the same cross of Christ that they bore. You would have to put our faith in the same Christ that they did. Youwould have to make the same kind of lifetime commitments that they made. You would have to discipline ourselves as they did. And, like the Pilgrims, you need to dream great dreams, embrace great principles, renew your hope, and above all, believe in the Christ who alone can give total meaning and an ultimate goal to your life: "For in him we live, and move, and have our being."

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect, to love, to share, to hope, to believe, and to give thanks. You likely have received many blessings in your life over time. And, even when enduring difficult days, you can have the hope that life can be better, and eternity is only awaiting for your best. Celebrating the Season of Harvest is a time to spend with family and friends, and Thanksgiving is a great time of year to show your love and thanks to all those who have been close to you. Remember that the gift of life is your first reason to be thankful, and that all the material reasons you have been given follow far after that. To be thankful can be summed up in a single phrase: "Thanks be unto God for His indescribable gift." (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Happy Thanksgiving!  Until next time.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Health Care and Financial Stress

Going through tough economic times can cause stress, not only financially but also emotionally and physically. The physical stress on your body may even cause serious health issues and medical problems if not handled in an effective manner. When you are short on financial resources, and you have bills that are due or expenses that must be met, the toll on your physical well-being can be enormous, and painful at times.

According to Symptoms Of Stress.com, what you don’t always realize is that daily stress, including money stress, can cause a seriously negative effect on the way your body functions. Diseases including cancer, heart disease, and stroke are frequently brought on earlier and more seriously because of frequent or chronic stress. And, stress causes several physiological effects in the body. It can increase your heart rate and your blood pressure. This, of course, leads to stress on your heart – the body’s hardest working muscle. Stress can also alter hormone levels in your body.

Financial stress is linked to health problems like depression and sleep problems, according to this website: http://stress.about.com/od/financialstress/a/financialstress.htm. With the rising cost of gas and food, the mortgage crisis, and the new bank troubles we're seeing, many Americans are feeling the crunch of financial stress. Anxiety over money can negatively affect health in several ways:

• Unhealthy Coping Behaviors: People experiencing financial stress can be more likely to numb their anxiety by drinking, smoking, overeating and practicing other unhealthy coping behaviors. This in turn leads to more stress.

• Less Money For Self-Care: With less money in the budget, people who are already under financial stress tend to cut corners in areas like health care to pay for basic necessities like food. Small problems can go unchecked and turn into larger problems. This also leads to more stress.

• Lost Sleep: When under financial stress, people often experience trouble sleeping, which can add up to a sleep defecit, impairing immune functioning and cognitive abilities, causing additional moodiness, and more.

• Unhealthy Emotions: Credit card debt can cause unhealthy emotions that can take a toll on health. People can experience anxiety, frustration and a sense of hopelessness as the debt piles up and increasing amounts of money are needed just to pay the interest. This causes additional stress, which compounds with the stress from poor coping and self-neglect, to become a menacing amount of stress.

The hormone cortisol (our stress hormone) is increased when you are under stress, according to Symptoms of Stress, org. Increased levels of cortisol typically cause such problems as adrenal fatigue, increased weight gain, most often, around the midsection of the body–which puts physical stress on your heart and may cause uncomfortable joint pain. Stress can also lead to sleep deprivation. Even those who have never experienced any sort of difficulty sleeping may find themselves tossing and turning all night long due to anxiety and stress. To make matters worse, when you finally do fall asleep, you may have difficulty staying asleep. When your body is sleep deprived, you’re more like to gain weight, have difficulty concentrating, and hamper your ability to successfully complete daily tasks such as driving and performing duties at work.

And while the physical symptoms of frequent stress troubling, stress is even more noticeable when it comes to your mental and social health. Unresolved stress will almost always eventually lead to problems such as anxiety and depression which, in turn, makes it very difficult to manage the stress at hand. As you can see, unresolved stress can snowball and affect every area of our lives quite quickly.

Money stress may also interfere with your friendships and family relationships. This is usually a result of irritability that causes discord in your relationships. Unfortunately, most of us tend to take things out on those closest to us—probably because we know (or hope) they will love us through it. But stress may also cause you to withdraw to yourself and become isolated—which usually leads to anxiety and depression.

According to InsuranceQuotes.org, the state of the economy has left many people and families worried about money. From paying bills to finding a job to coping with high medical costs, it can be hard to think of anything else when financial woes come your way. It's no secret that stress from finances can play a big role in changing your mental state, causing mood swings or even depression, but many may not realize what a marked effect it can also have on your physical well-being. Stress, whether from finances or other conflicts in your life, can do a number on your overall health, often in ways that you may not even realize are related to stress. If you're going through a stressful financial situation, make sure you take good care of your body, take time to relax, and get help to make sure these harmful physical effects don't take a toll on you.

Wellness takes place when you are physically, mentally, and socially healthy. And, according to Symptoms of Stress.org, when any one of those areas is affected, your overall health decreases. Money stress is one of those problems that can affect all three types of health and really put you at risk for major problems. If money stress is affecting your health, don’t ignore it. The longer you let it go, the bigger your health problems will become.

It’s no wonder financial stress is one of the leading causes of stress in Americans, according to About.com/Stress management. Here are some resources to help you handle your financial situation and feel more in control of your life, reducing stress and helping you build toward a more secure future:

--Find Out Where You Stand: Do you have a major money problem, or is your situation relatively under control? Ask yourself these questions and find out how much help you need to get on the right track.

--Learn About Implementing Systems That Can Help: Find out why budgets are important to your financial success, and learn how to create one that will fit well with your lifestyle.

--Work Toward Getting Out of Debt: Getting out from under credit card debt is much easier with a plan. Here’s a three-step approach that can help you.

--Learn How to Save Money and Cut Costs: Keeping a budget and working toward reducing what you owe is easier if you have more money. Here are some ways to hold onto more of yours!

As you work on improving your financial situation, you can reduce stress by practicing stress-reducing techniques and making other changes to create a low-stress lifestyle. By following the advice provided in the above links and making these lifestyle changes, the burden of financial stress can soon be a thing of the past!

Finally, consider being a better steward of your resources. Spending money you don't have is a serious problem. Not managing your financial accountability well definitely gets you into hot water--not only with your creditors, but also with your family and friends. Use wisdom when you consider a purchase. If you can live without that object of desire, then don't buy it. If you are able to function financially in your current lifestyle, then don't live like you'll never run out of funds. Establish a "rainy day fund", and keep your greed in check. Remember, you can lose it often faster than you can make it.

Until next time.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Health Care and Concussions

A blow to the head can be a serious injury. With the advent of football season and other school sports, concussions occur with frequency during the fall season. A concussion, according to WebMD, is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. And, although there may be cuts or bruises on the head or face, there may be no other visible signs of a brain injury.

According to the Mayo Clinic, concussions are common, particularly if you play a contact sport, such as football. But every concussion injures your brain to some extent. This injury needs time and rest to heal properly. Luckily, most concussive traumatic brain injuries are mild, and people usually recover fully. The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms can last for days, weeks or even longer. The most common symptoms after a concussive traumatic brain injury are headache, amnesia and confusion. The amnesia, which may or may not be preceded by a loss of consciousness, almost always involves the loss of memory of the impact that caused the concussion.

The brain is made of soft tissue and is cushioned by spinal fluid. It is encased in the hard, protective skull. When a person gets a head injury, the brain can move around inside the skull and even bang against it. This can lead to bruising of the brain, tearing of blood vessels, and injury to the nerves. When this happens, a person can get a concussion — a temporary loss of normal brain function, according to KidsHealth.org. Concussions and other brain injuries are fairly common. About every 21 seconds, someone in the United States has a serious brain injury. One of the most common reasons people get concussions is through a sports injury. High-contact sports such as football, boxing, and hockey pose a higher risk of head injury, even with the use of protective headgear. People can also get concussions from falls, car accidents, bike and blading mishaps, and physical violence, such as fighting. Interestingly, boys are more likely to get concussions than girls. However, in certain sports, like soccer, girls have a higher potential for concussion.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion, according to the Mayo Clinic, may include:
--Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head.
--Temporary loss of consciousness.
--Confusion or feeling as if in a fog.
--Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event.
--Dizziness or "seeing stars".
--Ringing in the ears.
--Nausea or vomiting.
--Slurred speech.

Some symptoms of concussions may be immediate or delayed in onset by hours or days after injury:
--Concentration and memory complaints.
--Irritability and other personality changes.
--Sensitivity to light and noise.
--Sleep disturbances.
--Psychological adjustment problems and depression.
--Disorders of taste and smell.
--Symptoms in children.

Head trauma is very common in young children, according to the Mayo Clinic. But concussions can be difficult to recognize in infants and toddlers because they can't readily communicate how they feel. Nonverbal clues of a concussion may include:
--Listlessness, tiring easily.
--Irritability, crankiness.
--Change in eating or sleeping patterns.
--Lack of interest in favorite toys.
--Loss of balance, unsteady walking.

You should see a doctor within one to two days if you or your child experiences a head injury, even if emergency care isn't required. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you call your child's doctor for advice if your child receives anything more than a light bump on the head. If your child remains alert, moves normally and responds to you, the injury is probably mild and usually doesn't need further testing. In this case, if your child wants to nap, it's OK to let them sleep. If worrisome signs develop later, seek emergency care. Seek emergency care for a child who experiences a head injury and:

--A headache that gets worse over time.
--Changes in his or her behavior, including irritability or fussiness.
--Changes in physical coordination, including stumbling or clumsiness.
--Confusion or disorientation.
--Slurred speech or other changes in speech.
--Vision or eye disturbances, including pupils that are bigger than normal (dilated pupils) or pupils of unequal sizes.
--Changes in breathing pattern.
--Lasting or recurrent dizziness.
--Blood or fluid discharge from the nose or ears.
--Large head bumps or bruises on areas other than the forehead, especially in infants under 12 months of age.

Seek emergency care for anyone who experiences a head injury and are suffering the following:
--A loss of consciousness lasting more than a minute.
--Repeated vomiting.
--Obvious difficulty with mental function or physical coordination.
--Symptoms that worsen over time.

No one should return to play or vigorous activity while signs or symptoms of a concussion are present. Experts recommend that an athlete with a suspected concussion not return to play until he or she has been medically evaluated. Experts also recommend that child and adolescent athletes with a concussion not return to play on the same day as the injury.

The severity of concussion is determined after all of the symptoms have resolved, the neurologic exam is normal, and brain function has returned to normal, according to Kids Health. There are different types of concussion:

1.) Simple concussion. Someone with a simple concussion experiences symptoms that get better in 7-10 days.

2.) Complex concussion. Someone with a complex concussion experiences persistent symptoms that last longer than 7-10 days. Doctors also consider it a complex concussion if a person loses consciousness (passes out) for more than 1 minute or has a seizure at the time of the injury. It's also a complex concussion if someone has had a concussion before, no matter how long ago. It's important for anyone who sustains a complex concussion to see a concussion or brain injury specialist.

A player should not return to sports practice or a game on the day that they are injured and they should not return to sports activities until they are no longer experiencing symptoms. In many teens the physical symptoms get better before the symptoms related to thinking, according to Kids Health. During the first few days following a concussion, a player should rest. Both physical and cognitive rest are important. Activities that require concentration and attention may make the symptoms worse and delay recovery. After a player's symptoms have resolved, he or she may begin a supervised gradual return to play. The player should advance from one step to the next only if there are no symptoms. The steps to return to play are:

--no activity.
--light aerobic exercise, such as walking or stationary cycling (no resistance training).
--sports-specific exercise (for example, running in soccer, skating in hockey).
--non-contact training drills.
--full contact training after medical clearance.

A concussion is a serious brain injury, and if left untreated can cause more health problems or worse. It is critical that trained athletic personnel or a medical professional treat someone who has suffered a concussion as soon as possible. Concussions are not to be taken lightly, and anyone who has one should be careful on how quickly they try to recover. If you suspect you or someone in your care has had a concussion, go to your family doctor or an emergency room as soon as possible. Don't delay medical treatment as the repercussions from ignoring a concussion are significant.

Until next time.