The last week of April was World Immunization Week, but August is National Immunization Awareness Month for the US. This is the time of year when children and teenagers are heading back to school, infants are entering preschools or day care programs, and many adults are heading into college or continuing their careers in the work force. Regardless of the situation, the need for getting vaccinated is important to be aware of year round.

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.”

Even if a person is vaccinated as a child the ability to fend off vaccine-preventable diseases may begin to lessen. Vaccines boosters are used to build immunity against illnesses and

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We are in the midst of summer, and in these months it is important to protect ourselves from the health risks posed by the sun and its heat.  Regardless of skin color, exposure to the sun carries many dangers to one’s skin—from freckles and wrinkles often associated with aging, to sunburns, benign tumors or cancerous skin lesions. Prolonged heat exposure can also have many negative impacts on one’s health ranging from a rash, exhaustion, fainting, or even death.

Although everyone should take precautions to protect their skin, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages those with pale skin; blond, red, or light brown hair; or who has a personal or family history of skin cancer to be especially careful while in the sun.  The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage one’s skin in as little as 15 minutes, and the best tool in combatting that skin damage is sunscreen.  The

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July is National Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness & Prevention Month. Cleft palate or craniofacial defects affect thousands of infants, children, teens, and adults in the United States each year—4400 infants are born with a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate and 2700 are born with a cleft palate alone. While some people are born with congenital anomalies, others are burned or otherwise injured in accidents or diagnosed with various diseases that affect the mouth, head, neck, or skin.

Craniofacial defects are conditions present at birth that affect the structure and function of a baby’s head and face. Treatments and services for children with craniofacial defects can vary depending on the severity of the defect, the presence of associated syndromes or other birth defects, as well as the child’s age and other medical or developmental needs. Children with certain craniofacial defects are at a greater risk for physical, learning, developmental, or social challenges.  Recent studies suggest that the health care use and average medical cost for children with craniofacial conditions are much higher than children without

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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.

In a previous blog post we featured the

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June is National Scleroderma Awareness Month, meant to raise understanding of the chronic autoimmune disease. Scleroderma attacks a patient’s connective tissue with one’s own immune system.  First diagnosed in 1754, scleroderma affects women, men, and children. An estimated 300,000 people in the United States have scleroderma. For many, it can be a life-threatening disease. There is no known cause or cure.

Symptoms of scleroderma include the tightening, swelling, stiffness, or pain in fingers, toes, hands, feet, or face; puffy or discolored skin; and fatigue or feeling tired. Fingers and toes may react strongly to cold, appearing white and hurt, as well as red spots or ulcers on affected joints and areas. Scleroderma can also affect internal organs—occurring in roughly a one-third of cases—causing shortness of breath or problems digesting food, including heartburn, trouble swallowing, or food moving slower than usual through your system.  The symptoms vary greatly for each person, and can all range from mild to severe. If you exhibit any of these symptoms, be sure to consult a doctor.

Though life-threatening, the five-year

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