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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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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October has been observed as Talk About Your Medicines Month (TAYMM) for 35 years. Started by the BeMedWise Program at NeedyMeds (formerly known as the National Council on Patient Information [NCPIE]), the awareness month is an annual opportunity to spotlight safe medicine use with the goal of improved health outcomes. This year’s theme is Medication Adherence – On Track With Your Meds and Your Health. Medication adherence is a vital part of maintaining your health. Our goal is to empower patients to maximize the benefits while minimizing the risks of the medications they are taking, and provide the tools they need to talk about their medicines.

Medication adherence has been called America’s “other drug problem.” Nonadherence can lead to illness progression, severe complications, and preventable deaths. Nonadherence includes anything from delaying or not filling a prescription, skipping doses, splitting pills, to stopping a medication early. Not taking medication as directed can lead to poor health outcomes which then increases healthcare service utilization and overall healthcare costs.

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The effects COVID-19 has had on healthcare have been a significant part of nearly every article written here since March. The last time we looked into the costs associated with coronavirus infections, things were very different. We didn’t know what the summer would look like or how schools would reopen. Daily briefings from the White House were still happening.

The first U.S. case of COVID-19 was discovered in late January. By the end of February, there were 24 cases and one American death. In the first few weeks of the outbreak testing was very limited, sometimes as few as 300 for an entire state. It then took time for health officials to realize that the tests they received were flawed, lacking critical components, and delivering faulty results

In late February, a Seattle team researching the flu found they could test for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19, but were running into bureaucratic red tape. When the doctors

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Photo by Katherine Hanlon

This past Mother’s Day launched the 21st annual National Women’s Health Week. Led by the U.S. 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 .

The 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 tobacco-free, washing your hands, not texting while driving, and wearing a seatbelt, a bicycle helmet, and sunscreen when appropriate. The Office on Women’s Health website has specific suggestions for women through their 20s to their 90s.

Women can face difficulty accessing healthcare depending on where in the country they are, being believed or taken

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