Save on your Durable Medical Equipment & Diabetic Supplies

The NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card is adding a new benefit for patients! The NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card can now be used to save 40% on durable medical equipment and diabetic supplies. Our new partnership with My Virtual Doctor allows patients to buy hundreds of items online at a discount when you enter a NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card ID at checkout. You can now use your NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card to save on:

  • Diabetic supplies — needles, syringes, meters, test strips, lancets and more;
  • Splints and braces for ankle, knee, wrist, back;
  • Catheters and incontinence supplies;
  • Bathroom safety supplies — commodes, grab bars, bath benches and more;
  • Compression stockings;
  • Mobility devices such as canes, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs;
  • Footwear — inserts, socks, slippers;
  • Bladder control pads;
  • and more!

For over 10 years, the NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card has been helping patients afford their prescriptions. To date, we have saved patients over $280 million on the price of their medications. The free NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card can be used anywhere in the country at over 65,000 participating pharmacies including all of the major chains, to save up to 80% on the cash price of your prescriptions. There are no income or age restrictions. There is no activation or registration needed and no personal information is taken when using our card.

The only rule is that you can’t combine insurance with the NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card. So if you’re uninsured, you can use it any time you are purchasing a medication. If you have health insurance, the card can fill in the gaps in your coverage. For example, if you have any medications not covered under your insurance or if you have a high co-pay or deductible, you could try using the card instead of your insurance. You can also use the card on any over-the-counter or medical supplies your doctor writes as a prescription, as well as human-equivalent pet prescriptions you can pick up at a pharmacy.

 

There are many ways that you can make use of the NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card. You can order a plastic card on our website, download a printable PDF, or as a smartphone app. If you’re an individual, you can use the card yourself and share it with your family and friends! One family could use the same card and it never expires. For more help finding information, check our website or call our toll-free helpline Monday-Friday 9am-5pm Eastern Time at 1-800-503-6897.

The Sun – America’s Leading Cause of Cancer

by Mark A. Kelley, MD

This blog that we are sharing for National Stay Out of the Sun Day originally appeared on HealthWebNavigator.

 

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Here are some facts:

    • Over 3 million Americans are treated for skin cancer every year.
    • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. 
    • Skin cancer is preventable and easy to detect.  
    • When caught early, this cancer is usually curable. 
    • Some types of skin cancer can be fatal.  

 

Skin cancer is caused by sunlight damage to the skin. The only way to prevent it is to stay out of the sun, or block the sun’s rays.

People with fair skin are more vulnerable to skin cancer. Those with dark complexions have some natural protection since their skin filters out some of the sun’s rays. Nonetheless, people of color can still get skin cancer. 

The sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage the DNA of skin cells. These cells may grow abnormally and eventually become cancerous. This transformation may evolve slowly over many years or may occur earlier in life, particularly if sunlight exposure has been intense.  

 

Sunlight can also lead to another problem premature wrinkling of the skin. Sun worshippers believe that a tan is healthy. In reality, a suntan is a sign of the skin injury. If it continues, the damage can destroy the foundations of the skin, and make it look like leather. Tanning also triples the likelihood of developing the most dangerous form of skin cancer, melanoma. 

A melanoma starts as a pigmented skin lesion. Early detection and removal can cure this malignancy. However, if untreated, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body and cause death.

The other types of skin cancer are less aggressive and spread slowly to the surrounding tissue. The most common are basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma. These cancers are rarely fatal and in early stages, are easy to remove. If ignored, they can invade deeply and widely, making surgical removal challenging. 

 

To prevent skin cancer, protect your skin from sunlight: 

  1. Limit your exposure to the sun. The sun’s rays are most intense between 10 am and 4 pm.
  2. If you must go out in the sun, block the sun’s rays with “cover-up” garments and/or with sunblock.
  3. Use sunblock that has sun protection factor ratings (SPF) of 15 or more. An SPF of 15 means that it would take you 15 times longer to get sunburn with the sunblock, compared to none at all
  4. Follow the directions for applying and reapplying the sunblock product. Sunblock can lose its effectiveness after a few hours. It can also be removed by perspiration or swimming.
  5. Avoid indoor tanning salons. Research has shown that those using tanning beds have an alarming increase in skin cancer including the most deadly form, melanoma. Click here for more information.

 

Screening for Skin Cancer

The benefits of routine skin cancer screening are controversial. However, most experts agree that anyone with a suspicious skin lesion or with a history of skin cancer should seek medical advice. Click here for details.

 

More information on skin cancer can be found at the National Institutes of Health and the Skin Cancer Foundation.

 

It is important to know the dangers of sun and heat exposure, and that there are resources available for those in need. NeedyMeds has information on national Diagnosis-Based Assistance programs (DBAs) offering testing for those at risk for skin cancer as well as financial assistance for those already diagnosed.

Gun Violence Awareness Month

June is Gun Violence Awareness Month. In 2017, there were 39,773 deaths in the United States involving guns; 23,854 were suicides. This is almost 3,000 more people killed with guns than the previous year ⁠— it is an increase of 10,000 from 1999 and the highest it has been since gun mortality data was first recorded in 1979. Nearly 109 people died every single day from gun violence in 2017. For Gun Violence Awareness Month we are highlighting the public health crisis and the barriers that are keeping effective prevention from being implemented.

 

Before 1996 the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) was charged with researching gun violence, much in the way that the CDC researched deaths from car crashes and the life-saving effects of seatbelts and child car seats. Following a 1993 study that connected gun ownership with a higher risk of being the victim of a homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance, the National Rifle Association (NRA) responded by lobbying for the elimination for the CDC’s Center for Injury Prevention. While the Center for Injury Prevention remained, the 1996 federal budget included an amendment proposed by Rep. Jay Dickey forbidding the CDC from “advocating or promoting gun control” as well as cutting their budget by the exact amount the CDC had spent on firearm injury research the year prior. While not explicitly barring the research of gun violence, the language of the Dickey amendment and budget cuts created an environment where few within the CDC were willing to risk their careers by pushing for research that could be misinterpreted as advocating for gun control laws as opposed to advocating for public health. Last year, the CDC has called its information about gun injuries “unstable or potentially incorrect” by its own standards.

Independent researchers have found Americans are more likely to die by an assault with a firearm than riding inside an automobile, and only marginally more likely to die from an accidental gunshot as opposed to being the victim of a mass shooting. Any death by firearm is more likely in the U.S. than the combined risks of drowning, fire and smoke, stabbing, choking on food, airplane crashes, animal attacks, and natural disasters including hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, or lightning strikes. Children in the U.S. are twice as likely to be killed with a gun than to die from cancer.

 

Gun violence appears to be a unique problem to the United States among countries not in open warfare or deeply corrupted by criminal organizations. There are those that blame gun violence on depictions in movies or video games despite these same forms of entertainment being available throughout the developed worldThe United States consists of less than 5% of the world’s population, though has more than 42% of the civilian-owned guns on Earth. When comparing crime on a whole, the United States has an average amount compared to similar countries; the only outlier in U.S. crime is gun violence.

Gun violence is a public health crisis in the United States. The price of lives lost and the consequences for the victims’ families, friends, and communities is truly immeasurable. The economic cost, however, can be measured: $229 billion every year; $12.8 million every day. These costs include medical treatment, long-term medical and disability expenses, mental health care, emergency services, legal fees, long-term prison costs, police investigations, and security enhancements. Even students and teachers who participate in active shooter drills can experience profound mental or emotional distress.

 

Gun violence is preventable, but requires a comprehensive public health approach to keep families and communities safe. Research can garner insight into the causes of gun violence and assess the impact of interventions; identify risk factors associated with gun violence and protective factors that protect against it; develop, implement, and evaluate interventions to reduce risk factors; and institutionalize successful prevention strategies. Doctors are advocating for the use of hard nonpartisan data to ground policy instead of rhetoric.

The debate on gun rights in the United States is fraught with complexities and strong emotions from all points of view. As a nonprofit healthcare information resource, it is not appropriate for us to comment on all aspects of the debate. We at NeedyMeds prefer to remain apolitical — we work in a diverse office with people of varying backgrounds and views — however, NeedyMeds does support the open and effective research into gun violence and for recommendations to be made in the interest of public health. Without research, any governmental proposals to fix or prevent the gun violence issue in the United States could be formed by baseless conjecture or discouraged altogether. Jay Dickey, the author of the 1996 amendment barring the CDC from “advocating” gun control, later worked with Mark Rosenberg, the author of the 1993 study that incited the NRA lobbying against studies into gun violence, regretting his addition to the legislation and intimated that “We won’t know the cause of gun violence until we look for it.”

NeedyMeds encourages Americans to be active in the legislative process: If you have an opinion on important public health issues in the United States, call 202-224-3121 to reach the U.S. Capitol switchboard; from there you can be connected to your elected House Representative or Senator’s office.

 

For those who have been the victim of a violent crime in the United States, there are victim compensation programs in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. These programs help victims of rape, assault, child sexual abuse, drunk driving, domestic abuse, as well as families of homicide victims. Compensation programs can cover medical bills, mental health treatment, and often includes crime-scene cleanup, travel costs to receive treatment, moving expenses, or even the cost of housekeeping or child care if the victim is unable to do so. The programs are often flexible with their eligibility, though most require reporting the crime to police within a specified time frame and cooperating with the investigation. You can find NeedyMeds’ listings for the crime victim compensation programs in our Diagnosis-Based Assistance Database under Violent Crimes. For more help finding information, call our toll-free helpline Monday-Friday 9am-5pm Eastern Time at 1-800-503-6897.

Men’s Health Week 2019

Last month, we had National Women’s Health Week. For the month of June there is Men’s Health Week, designed to encourage men to make their health a priority. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has many tips for men to improve their health, and we at NeedyMeds have resources for a number of conditions that predominantly affect men.

The CDC offers many ways to observe National Men’s Health Week, such as taking a bike ride, aim to eat healthier, or quit unhealthy habits. Men can improve their health by getting a good night’s sleep, quitting tobacco and avoiding second-hand smoke, being more active in daily life, eating healthier, and managing stress. Being aware of your own health is important as well. Be sure to see your doctor for regular check-ups and get tested for diseases and conditions that may not have symptoms until there is an imminent health risk. Testicular and prostate cancers are easily detected with regular checks. Men are encouraged to begin yearly screenings at 40-50 years of age, especially if you have a family history.

 

For men over 45 years of age, the most common causes of death are heart disease and cancer. Heart health is important for men and women of all ages and cancer can affect different parts of the body, including those that may appear atypical — 1% of breast cancer diagnoses are found in men, and transgender men are at risk for ovarian or cervical cancer.

For men younger than 45, the most common causes of death are accidental injuries and suicide. As with heart health, mental health is important to people of all ages and gender. Men are affected by a cultural/traditional portrayal of masculinity that can be detrimental. Toxic masculinity is often associated with a culture that negatively affects women, but men also suffer while traditional thinking discourages them from displaying any emotion other than anger. Even as children, young boys are told to “man up” and “not cry like a girl.” When feelings are dismissed and gender-defining thinking is promoted, a young person learns to avoid expressing themselves in a healthy way. Over time such behavior can lead to a dysfunctional emotional expression, which can be isolating especially for young people. Coupled with the traditional idea of men as the dominant sex can lead to unnecessary violence when they become emotional. Toxic masculinity can dissuade a man with serious mental illness from seeking help. Men should be shown empathy and encouraged to be sincere with their feelings and mental health. The idea that showing emotion is weak is false and unhealthy, but there is only so much that can be done short of a societal shift in how men think about mental health. If you or someone you know are experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidal feelings, call or text Samaritans at 877-870-HOPE (4673) any time if you need help.

 

NeedyMeds has information for many programs and clinics that offer assistance to men in need. There are several organizations offering varying kinds of assistance to men with prostate cancer and other diagnoses in our Diagnosis-Based Assistance area of our website. There are also free or low-cost clinics that offer men’s health services. Search your local area on our website and look for “Men’s Health” listed with Services. We also have listings for mental health clinics. For more help finding information, call our toll-free helpline Monday-Friday 9am-5pm Eastern Time at 1-800-503-6897.

Migraine and Headache Awareness Month

June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. A vital part of awareness is knowing that migraines are much more than just a bad headache. Migraine is a neurological disease with incapacitating neurological symptoms that affects over 39 million men, women, and children in the United States. Most people who experience migraines get them once or twice a month, but more than 4 million are affected by daily chronic migraine with at least 15 days of debilitating symptoms every month.

Everyone has headaches, but not everyone has migraines. Migraine involves nerve pathways, brain chemicals, and often runs in families but also has environmental factors. There are four stages of migraine: prodrome, aura, headache, and postdrome. It is possible to cycle through all the phases in an episode, or only experience one, two, or three of them. Each attack can vary from the ones before it.

 

The prodrome is also known as “preheadache” and can last several hours or even days. Most people with migraine experience this phase but may not be aware at the time. The symptoms include irritability, depression, increased urination, food cravings, sensitivity to light or sound, difficulty concentrating or sleeping, yawning, fatigue and muscle weakness, and nausea. It is possible to take steps to lessen the severity or prevent altogether the oncoming headache by taking medication, minimizing/avoiding triggers, or biobehavioral techniques such as meditation or relaxation therapy.

Up to one-third of people with migraine experience an aura which presents with blurry vision, the appearance of geometric patterns, flashing or shimmering lights, blind spots in one or both eyes, or tunnel vision. Aura symptoms usually gradually appear over five minutes to an hour, and may serve as another warning of an impending headache. About 20% of migraine sufferers can have an aura last longer than 60 minutes, or occur with the headache instead of before.

The headache phase of a migraine attack is usually characterized by severe throbbing recurring pain on one side, though a third of attacks affect both sides of the head. A migraine headache can last from a few hours to several days. The severity of the headache can vary from person to person and episode to episode, with some causing only mild pain while others are truly incapacitating. Besides the pain, symptoms of the headache phase include nausea, inability to sleep, anxiety, and sensitivity to sound, light and smell. Any amount of physical activity can exacerbate the symptoms in this phase, making everyday activities difficult if not impossible.

The postdrome is also known as the “migraine hangover.” This final stage affects most people after the headache phase, though it may not follow every migraine attack and the length may vary. Symptoms of this phase include fatigue, body aches, trouble concentrating, dizziness, and sensitivity to light. Even though the headache is over, the postdrome can be equally as debilitating. People in the postdrome phase are still experiencing a migraine attack and can benefit from avoiding triggers and find some relief in relaxing activities, drinking water, and avoiding stress.

 

Every 10 seconds someone in the U.S. goes to the emergency room complaining of head pain, with acute migraine attacks being the cause of 1.2 million ER visits every year. Migraines affect 18% of women, 6% of men, and 10% of children. Before puberty, boys are affected more than girls, but during adolescence the risk of migraine and its severity rises in girls. Half of all migraine sufferers have their first attack before the age of 12. Migraine has even been reported in children as young as 18 months. Infant colic has even been found to be associated with childhood migraine and may even be an early form of migraine.

Healthcare and lost productivity costs associated with migraine are estimated to be as high as $36 billion annually in the United States. Healthcare costs are 70% higher for a family with a migraine sufferer than a non-migraine affected family; nearly 25% of U.S. households includes someone affected by migraine. Migraine sufferers, like those who suffer from other chronic illnesses, experience the high costs of medical services, too little support, and limited access to quality care. In 2018, there were about 500 certified headache specialists in the U.S. and 39 million sufferers. The vast majority of migraine sufferers do not seek medical care for their pain.

 

NeedyMeds has a database of over 17,000 free, low cost, or sliding scale clinics. Search your ZIP code for clinics in your area. Assistance for sufferers of chronic migraine and pain can be found in our Diagnosis-Based Assistance Database database. We also have a database of Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) that provide prescription medications at low- or no cost. Search your medication (brand name or generic) and see if there are any programs available. Check our website at Needymeds.org for more resources or call our toll-free helpline at 1-800-503-6897, 9am to 5pm Eastern Time Monday through Friday.