We are a few short weeks away from the beginning of spring in the United States, when more than 50 million Americans may be affected by seasonal allergies. Allergies are one of the most common chronic illnesses. An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system sees a substance (referred to as an allergen) as harmful and overreacts to it. Allergies affect as many as 30% of adults and 40% of children in the U.S. The most common allergy symptoms make you uncomfortable, while others can be life-threatening

Allergens can be inhaled into your nose and lungs, ingested through the mouth, absorbed through the eyes and skin, or injected into the body. The severity of symptoms during an allergic reaction can vary widely based on the allergen, infection vector, and individual reaction. Some of the symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Itchy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Rashes
  • Hives
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Tongue swelling
  • Cough
  • Throat closing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness, loss of breath
  • Feeling faint, light-headed, or “blacking out”
  • A sense of “impending doom”

Asthma, affecting over 25 million Americans, may or may not be related to allergies and can cause similar symptoms. There are two types of asthma — allergic (or extrinsic) and

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NeedyMeds’ mission has been to educate and empower those seeking affordable care for over 20 years. In order to reach people who don’t have access to the internet, the NeedyMeds Helpline is available to help those in need find resources for their healthcare costs. Our helpline representatives can connect you to programs and services that can help you to afford your medications and other healthcare costs.

NeedyMeds Helpline counselors will search for Patient Assistance Programs that provide prescriptions at low or no cost, nonprofit and government programs that can provide a wide variety of services based on diagnosis, and free/low-cost/sliding-scale clinics in your area. All of the resources listed on the NeedyMeds website can be referred through the helpline, as well as ordering NeedyMeds Drug Discount Cards and checking the price of prescriptions at your local pharmacy when using the card.

Last year our call center answered over 41,000 calls including 12,711 patients with Medicare Part D, 2250 uninsured patients, 350 Spanish-speaking callers, and 328 advocates calling for other patients.

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Photo by Cody Pulliam

Social justice is the concept that all individuals deserve equal rights and opportunities — including the right to health. Inequities remain in healthcare that are avoidable, unnecessary, and unjust. These inequities are the result of established policies and practices that maintain an unequal concentration of money, power, resources, and perceived value within society among communities based on gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, country of origin, or disability. Racism, homophobia/transphobia, and misogyny are all insidious forms of bigotry that have long-reaching effects into healthcare.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the inequities in American healthcare. Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put many vulnerable people at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19. Patients of color are more likely to test positive and experience more severe health consequences from the novel coronavirus; more likely to be affected by conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer that increases their risk; and more likely to work jobs that risk exposure

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, affecting Americans of all backgrounds. In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds and someone dies from heart-disease related causes every minute. One out of every four deaths in the United States is from heart disease. Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States over $200 billion each year in healthcare costs, medications, and lost productivity.

There are a number of risk factors for heart disease. High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are major risk factors for one’s heart health. Almost half of Americans (47%) are affected by at least one of these risks. A diagnosis of diabetes also comes with increased risk of heart disease, as well as poor diet, obesity, and excessive alcohol use.

There are different types of heart disease. Coronary heart disease is the most common diagnosis, resulting from plaque buildup inside of arteries. Others are affected by arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeat; congenital

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Since our last update on the costs associated with COVID-19 in September the number of cases in the United States has quadrupled, the number of dead has more than doubled, and a new president has been inaugurated and taken control of the national response to the coronavirus. Four months ago, there hadn’t yet been an election or any approved vaccines. The nation reported more than 6.1 million new infections and over 74,140 deaths in December alone.

Over 1000-4000 Americans have died from COVID-19 every day since November. President Trump refused to meaningfully address the ongoing pandemic in their final weeks in office, even going so far as to needlessly delay signing relief legislation — jeopardizing benefits for millions of Americans in need. Following two vaccines being approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December, the Trump administration lagged far behind its target of 20 million Americans inoculated by the end of 2020 and left no plan for how to distribute the vaccine for the incoming administration

The anniversary of the first confirmed diagnosis

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