Category: Health

Resources for Autism

           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

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Another Way to Save on Medication Costs

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.

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Finding Help with Allergies and Asthma

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,

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7 Tips to Get the Most from Your Doctor Visit

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 stress of being a patient, can better remember what occurs and help you better follow the doctor’s instructions. Remember – this person may hear very personal and potentially embarrassing things about you.
  3. Bring a list of questions – Actually writing down what you want to ask the doctor serves many purposes and helps to make the visit more productive. First, it forces you to really think about what you want to learn and state it succinctly. Second, it helps your doctor know what you want to learn. Bring an extra copy of the questions and give it to your doctor. Third, the list provides a place for you (or your companion) to write down answers. This will help you better remember what transpired.
  4. Have a good history – Doctors depend heavily on the history of a problem to make the diagnosis. This has to come from you. Keeping a symptom diary is a great way to quantify problems. For example, if you are being seen for headaches, keep a diary for a few weeks. Enter the dates and times you have headaches, how long each headache lasts, what the headaches are like, what you are doing when the headache occurs, what helps lessen the pain and what doesn’t, etc. You get the idea. This information will help your doctor better understand what you are experiencing.
  5. Ask about tests – It’s easy to order tests and doctors tend to do it a lot. Many patients expect to have them. Before having any tests performed, you should ask, “How will the test results affect my treatment?” You’d be surprised how often the answer is it won’t. If the results won’t change anything, then a good question is why do the test?
  6. Get your test results – It’s important for you to receive a copy of every test result. Never accept the “no news is good news” response. No news may mean all is fine, but it can also mean many other things. Perhaps the doctor never received the results and didn’t know it. Perhaps the results came back and were filed without the doctor reviewing the results. Perhaps the doctor misread the results. Or perhaps the doctor saw an abnormal result, but the office staff forgot to call you. You have a legal right to demand the lab send you results, and you have a right to all results in your medical file.
  7. Ask for a copy of the doctor’s notes – You have a right to the contents of your medical record. The doctor may “own the paper”, but the information is yours. You want to make sure the doctor got it right and, perhaps more important, recording what happened correctly. Depending on your state, the doctor may be able to impose a reasonable charge, but it’s well worth it.You should understand what is recorded. If you don’t understand something, either give the doctor a call or ask at your next visit.Once something is recorded, it’s next to impossible to change or correct it. Doctors are told to never go back and change what’s in a patient’s record. It looks back if there’s ever a legal issue. However, doctors can and do include an addendum if something in the record is entered incorrectly. If you find a mistake or disagree with a statement, you should send your complaint in writing to your doctor. Ask that your statement become part of the official record.

I know some physicians will not agree with some of the above – or even all of it. When I was in practice, I followed many of these steps and encouraged my patients to bring lists, get copies of results, and become active participants in their healthcare. I encourage you to do the same.

Rich Sagall, MD, a retired family physician, is the president and founder of NeedyMeds, a national non-profit that has information on programs that help people in medical need. He is aslso the

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All About the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program

Healthcare related costs are a major problem for many Americans who are uninsured and underinsured, even if they are relatively healthy. For people with a serious medical condition these financial problems can be even worse. One diagnosis that finds many patients in an expensive position is HIV/AIDS. A diagnosis of HIV or AIDS comes with a hefty price tag, according to study on NBC news, “An American diagnosed with the AIDS virus can expect to live for about 24 years on average, and the cost of health care over those two-plus decades is more than $600,000, new research indicates… The researchers estimated the monthly cost of care at $2,100, with about two-thirds of that spent on medications.” For patients without insurance these costs are extremely daunting. Luckily, there is a program to help uninsured and underinsured AIDS patients – the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, formerly known as the Ryan White CARE (Comprehensive AIDS Resource Emergency) Act.

Who was Ryan White?

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About Us

Welcome to the NeedyMeds Voice! We look forward to presenting you with timely, provocative pieces on healthcare reform, patient advocacy, medication and healthcare access, and other health-related news. Our goals are to educate, enlighten, and elucidate; together, we will try to make sense of the myriad and ongoing healthcare-related changes in the U.S. today.