National Osteoporosis Month

National Osteoporosis Month is observed every May and promoted by the National Osteoporosis Foundation.  Also known as National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, people are encouraged to understand the risk factors and preventative measures that affect bone health.  An estimated 10 million Americans are diagnosed with osteoporosis and another 44 million have low bone density, placing them at increased risk.

 

Comparing structure of bones with osteoperosis (right) to healthy bones (left)

Comparing structure of bones with osteoperosis (left) to healthy bones (right)

Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle so that they may break from mild stresses or falls, and occurs when the creation of new bone tissue doesn’t keep pace with the degradation of the existing bone. Osteoporosis affects both men and women, but is more common in women.

 

 

Approximately 80% of osteoporosis cases are found in women. Low body weight, low estrogen levels, an irregular menstrual cycle, inadequate nutrition, lack of exercise, smoking, and drinking alcohol are all risk factors of osteoporosis.  Teenage girls are encouraged to build strong bones while developing by eating foods high in calcium and vitamin D, fruits and vegetables, and regular exercise.  Women are encouraged to learn about preventing osteoporosis during early- to mid-adult life.  Men and women alike are at increased risk of osteoporosis after age 50.

 

NeedyMeds has partnered with the National Osteoporosis Foundation to bring you the Osteoporosis Diagnosis Information Page.  Our Diagnosis Information Pages are intended to be a one-stop-shop for information, featuring a list of commonly prescribed medications for the condition as well as linking to any Patient Assistance Program (PAP) we may have listed for those prescriptions.  Additionally, NeedyMeds presented a webinar with National Osteoporosis Foundation’s Clinical Director earlier this week with information on medicines in development to treat osteoporosis.  For more help accessing information, call our toll-free helpline at 1-800-503-6897.

Less than 10% of Americans Uninsured

Over 7 million previously uninsured Americans gained health coverage in 2015 as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka ObamaCare). In a previous blog post, we showed the impact the ACA had since its full expansion in 2014.   Since then, the uninsured rate has dropped to single-digits with 9.1% Americans remaining uncovered by insurance, a decline of 2.4% since last year.

 

The Affordable Care Act has been criticized by Republicans and has led to multiple attempts to repeal the health care law or states refusing to expand Medicaid to help the poorest uninsured Americans.  States that have expanded Medicaid are seeing uninsured rates for adults 18-64 years of age around 9.8% compared to 17.5% for non-expansion states. Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 16.2 million fewer Americans are uninsured since the end of 2013.

Uninsured rates 2013-15

NeedyMeds’ mission is to help those facing the high costs of health care, no matter what comes of the ACA. For those unable to afford their medications, NeedyMeds has an extensive database of Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs). NeedyMeds also has information on Coupons and Rebates that can help lower the cost of necessary medications. For those without any prescription coverage, the NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card saves 0-80% on any prescribed medication. A plastic card can be ordered online or requested by calling our toll-free helpline at 800-503-6897, or a printable version can be found on our website as well as a smartphone app on Apple and Android device.  NeedyMeds also has information on over 14,000 free, low-cost, sliding scale clinics around the country. Search your zip code for locations in your area.

National Women’s Health Week

This past Mother’s Day launched the 17th annual National Women’s Health Week.  Led by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, the goal is to empower women to make their health a priority and raise awareness of the steps one can take to improve their health.

 

nwhw-logo-webThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends many common measures, such as proper health screenings, staying physically active, eating healthy, and promoting other healthy behaviors. Healthy behaviors include getting enough sleep, being smoke-free, washing your hands, not texting while driving, or wearing a seatbelt, a bicycle helmet, or sunscreen when appropriate. Furthermore, the National Women’s Health Week website has suggestions for women in their 20s to their 90s.

 

There are also many resources for women in need. In a previous blog post, we detailed the National Breast Cancer and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. Information for the local offerings from the program can be found in the NeedyMeds State Sponsored Programs section.  There are other government programs for women’s health to be found on our site, including WISEWOMAN, a program that provides low-income, uninsured/under-insured women with blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes screenings.

 

NeedyMeds has a database of over 14,000 free, low cost, or sliding scale clinics, over 4000 of which offer women’s health services. Search your zip code for clinics in your area, and find Women’s Health in Services under the Details heading to find free or low-cost medical attention.  Assistance for women’s health can also be found in our Diagnosis-Based Assistance database by searching for conditions that affect the women in our lives. HealthWeb Navigator, a new project by NeedyMeds, has reviews for websites featuring healthcare information including the subject of Women’s Health. For more resources, check our website at Needymeds.org or call our toll-free helpline at 1-800-503-6897.

Mental Health Month

May has been observed as Mental Health Month since 1949.  One in five Americans are affected by a mental health condition in their lifetime—as many as 43.8 million—and everyone is impacted through family or loved ones.  A main objective of mental health awareness is to fight the stigma surrounding those living with sometimes serious conditions through education and support and to improve the chance of recovery for those in need.

mhm2016-logo-horiz-green

Everyone has stress and difficult emotions on occasion, and this is completely normal. Mental illness, however, is any condition that makes it difficult to function in daily life. It can affect relationships or job performance, and is caused by any number of complex interactions within the human brain.  Mental illness can range from anxiety or mood disorders like depression, psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, eating disorders, or addictive behaviors.

 

Mental illness is prevalent in homeless populations, with approximately 26% of adults staying in shelters living with serious mental health conditions and an estimated 46% with co-occurring severe mental illness and/or chronic substance abuse. One in five state prisoners have a recent history of mental illness.  Mental health is a major concern for LGBT individuals often dealing with physical or emotional abuse, body dysmorphia, or feeling unsafe at school or work.  Mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder are the third most common cause of hospitalizations in the US across ages 18-44. Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.

 

In a previous blog post, we outlined the resources available for major depression, including our Diagnosis Information Page.  NeedyMeds also has Diagnosis Information Pages for obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia.  We also have information for over 3000 free, low-cost, or sliding-scale clinics throughout the country that offer counseling or mental health services. Search your zip code for clinics that may offer Counseling/Mental Health Services near you, or call our toll-free helpline for information.

We encourage everyone to educate themselves, strive to understand the difficulties people around us live with, and to replace stigma with hope and support. If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health condition, it is important to know that no one is alone in their struggle. Call for assistance, whether help is needed immediately or long-term.

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

NeedyMeds Toll-Free Helpline: 1-800-503-6897

World Immunization Week

Since 2012, the last week of April has been World Immunization Week. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 5 children are missing routine immunizations. With nearly 20% of the world’s population at risk for diseases such as measles, whooping cough, and other preventable diseases, there are close to 1.5 million deaths annually that could be averted. As part of World Immunization Week, we at NeedyMeds want to spread awareness on the importance of vaccinations and the resources available for those in need.

 

In a previous blog post, we shared a graph that compared the morbidity of illnesses from the years before the vaccine was developed to the year 2000. All the applicable diseases—smallpox, diphtheria, measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio, rubella, tetanus, and influenza type b—decreased in morbidity in the United States by 95-100%.

 

file6251297827697Vaccinations help keep diseases such as polio and measles in check. Fifteen years ago, measles was declared eradicated in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since that time there have more than 120 cases of measles, including an outbreak last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that with vaccines they will save 732,000 American lives and prevent 21 million hospital visits for Americans born in the last 20 years.

 

According to Marvin M. Lipman, MD, Consumer Reports’ chief medical advisor, “Each year, at least 30,000 people die from complications related to vaccine-preventable diseases.” The onset of immunity and its duration varies from vaccine to vaccine. There are vaccines that are good for ten years, five years, and even vaccines that need to be renewed yearly. Dr. Lipman states, “Getting the right shots doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get sick, but it will significantly improve your odds.”

 

It is worth noting that hardly any medicine can be considered 100% effective; for example, the measles vaccine is 93-97% effective with one or two doses, respectively. This means that three to seven out of 100 vaccinated people will still get measles if exposed to the virus. Measles is so highly infectious that 90% of unvaccinated people who come close to an infected person will contract the virus. With this knowledge, being unvaccinated for infectious diseases is not only putting oneself in danger of serious illness, but also the community at large.

 

For those in need of assistance, our database of free, low-cost, and sliding-scale clinics has information on nearly 3000 clinics that offer immunization services. Search your zip code to find medical clinics near you that may offer free or low-cost immunizations. Pharmaceutical companies also offer Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) such as Vaccine Patient Assistance Program and the GSK Vaccine Access Program for uninsured adults.

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