Children going back to school and a cold wind starting to blow are signifiers of the impending cold and flu season. This year’s may seem particularly daunting due to exotic diseases appearing in the news and the spread of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) affecting hundreds of families throughout the United States. With all of this in mind, NeedyMeds wanted to give our readers some helpful tips to keep themselves and their children healthy, along with resources available for those in need. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow. This will reduce the spread of germs through touching objects or one’s face. Wash hands often, especially after blowing your nose or

coughing. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) suggests washing using warm water and soap, and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds and drying with a single-use towel. Tell your children to sing "Happy Birthday" twice while washing—that takes about 20 seconds. Regularly disinfect common surfaces in your home that your family touches every day, including countertops, telephones, computers, faucets, and doorknobs. Ensure your family eats a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, gets plenty of rest, and exercises regularly. These steps will keep your immune system in prime shape to help fight off illness. Know the difference between a cold and the flu. The flu generally comes on strong with severe symptoms, including fever, sore throat, chills, body aches, cough, runny/stuffy…

           Autism is a common disorder, with 1 in 68 American children born somewhere on the autism spectrum.  From AutismSpeaks.org, “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development.”  The signs of autism are usually apparent when a child is between 2 and 3 years old.  Symptoms are different for everyone, according to autism-society.org. “Some of the behaviors associated with autism include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills and sensory sensitivities.”  The cause of autism is still being researched and debated, although doctors generally agree that “There is no known single cause for autism spectrum disorder,

but it is generally accepted that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function.”.  There are lots of programs available for children with autism and their families, ranging from summer camps to supplies and medications.   What Help is Available? We have a number of resources listed on the NeedyMeds website for autism.  Our Autism Information Page should be the first place to look for assistance.  On this page we list all of the patient assistance programs  (PAPs) available for drugs commonly prescribed for autism.  These programs offer medications at low-or-no-cost to low-income families.  Simply click on the drug name to get information on the program (we list contact information and also have the application form…

Past blogs have discussed various ways to save on medication costs - pharmaceutical patient assistance programs, drug discount coupons, drug discount card, etc. Let me tell you about another way you may be able to cut your medication costs. At NeedyMeds we receive calls from people who can't afford their medications. Most are taking just a few drugs, but a significant number are taking 10 or more drugs - sometimes 20 or more drugs. According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 82% of American adults take at least one medication and 29% take five or more medications. Why are so many people taking so many medicines? In some cases the person has multiple diseases, all requiring their own medications.

But sometimes not all the medicines are no longer needed. Here are a few reasons why this may occur: Step Therapy This is an approach used to treat many diseases. Let's say your doctor discovers you have high blood pressure - hypertension. Your doctor would take a stepped approach to treatment. First, she would address lifestyle issues such as weight control, tobacco use, exercise, etc. If those steps didn't work, next she would add medicine. There are many different drugs used to treat hypertension. She would most likely start with a diuretic because these drugs are safe, inexpensive and have been used for decades. If the dose is maxed out and optimal control is not obtained, she may then add a drug from a different class. She…

With spring beginning to bloom we here at NeedyMeds would like to highlight some of the many resources out there for asthma and allergy sufferers. What is the Difference between Allergies and Asthma? While some of the symptoms are the same, allergies and asthma are two entirely different diseases, but there can be overlap. The primary difference is that allergies are a disease of the immune system whereas asthma is a disease of the lungs. Over 20 million Americans are affected by asthma. There are two types of asthma, allergic and non-allergic, with similar symptoms caused by airway obstruction and inflammation. The most common symptoms are shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing and wheezing. The difference between the two is that non-allergic asthma is

triggered by a variety of causes (such as cold air, exercise, smoke, or stress and anxiety) while allergic asthma is triggered by pollen, mold, pet dander, or other inhaled allergens. Allergies are much more common than asthma, affecting an estimated 50 million Americans. Allergies are broken down into seven types: indoor, outdoor, food, latex, insect, skin and eye. If the spring air is causing you to experience symptoms, you more than likely have outdoor allergies. Where to Find Help There are a number of different resources for asthma and allergies available on the NeedyMeds site. The first place to check is the Asthma and Allergies Disease Information Page – which ties together all of the assistance listings we have in one place. This page includes a…

by Rich Sagall, MD You have an appointment to see your doctor about a health issue. It may be a new problem, a chronic issue, or an acute illness. No matter the reason, you are ready for a 10-minute visit filled with quick questions, a prescription or two, and some instructions. If you are lucky, some of your questions will be answered and you may remember a portion of what your doctor tells you. It doesn't have to be this way. There are steps you can take to have a more satisfying and productive visit. You may not be able to do all of these at every visit and some may make you feel a little uncomfortable, but they are worth trying.   Expectations -

Before scheduling an appointment, think about why you want to see the doctor and what you hope to get from the visit. For example, if you are seeing the doctor for new back pain, are you looking for an x-ray, do you want strong pain medicine or do you want reassurance it's nothing serious? At some point you need to tell the doctor what you want. That's not to say you will get it, but being forthright makes it easier for everyone. Take a friend or family member - Many studies have shown that patients remember little of what doctors tell them during a visit, and doctors generally overestimate how much patients remember. A second person in the room, someone who is not experiencing the…