Category: Safety

Healthy and Safe Travels this Holiday Season

We are in the beginning of the holiday season in the United States and throughout the world. Many people travel to visit family during these months, including some who may be traveling with a chronic illness — all of which have added complications due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We at NeedyMeds have some tips for healthy travel over the holidays along with suggestions for staying safe and mitigating the spread of coronavirus.

  • Getting fully vaccinated and/or receiving boosters of available COVID-19 vaccines is the best way to protect yourself from infection while travelling. Be sure to bring your vaccination record card or other form of proof of vaccination for venues/services that require it.
  • Wear a mask in public spaces — even if fully vaccinated​.
  • Consider any special health needs for children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, chronic illness, or weakened immune systems. It may be best to get tested for COVID-19 before visiting anyone at risk of severe complications — even if fully vaccinated.
  • Learn the health implications of your destination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the information you may need. If you are traveling abroad, the CDC has a resource to see what inoculations are required and other things to keep in mind about different destinations.
  • Bring all your medications. Keep your medications in the original, labelled bottles. Keep the medicine in your carry-on luggage and never pack your pills in a suitcase you plan to check.
  • If you are flying, give yourself enough time to make it through parking, security, and other lines. Be prepared and patient when encountering delays in travel.
  • If you are driving, plan your route ahead of time and pack a GPS, smart phone, or up-to-date road maps as a backup. Remember to get out of the car to stretch and get fresh air periodically.
  • Wash/sanitize your hands often, no matter how you are travelling. Keeping your hands clean is an important step to avoiding sickness and spreading illnesses, especially while travelling or preparing food.
  • Sleep well the night before travel. While anticipation and excitement can make restful sleep difficult, being prepared for changing time zones and alert for the journey are essential.
  • Eat well before hitting the road. A wholesome diet not only keeps one’s immune system in fighting shape and gives ample energy for the trip ahead, but it will help travelers avoid expensive and unhealthy junk food.
  • If you have a chronic illness, doctors recommend taking a health history information sheet (HHIS) that includes diagnosis, physician and emergency contact information, medications and dosages info. Travelers should bring a copy of all prescriptions along with their medication in its original packaging. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has guidelines for passengers with disabilities and other health conditions to avoid delays or complications if traveling by air. A medic alert bracelet or first aid kit may also ease the mind of those worried about managing their illness abroad.

The holidays are a great opportunity to enjoy being with loved ones, but they are not without their demands. Physical, emotional, and mental stress can accompany the holiday joy and can make everything a little harder for those already experiencing difficulties with their health. We at NeedyMeds have a few more tips for staying healthy during the holiday season:

  • Stay warm. The holiday season brings winter to much of the United States and cold temperatures can cause health problems, especially the very young and elderly adults. Stay dry and dress warmly in several layers.
  • Eat healthy & stay active. Holidays are often times of hearty meals followed by sweet desserts, but it is important to keep a balanced diet. Don’t skip out on fruits and vegetables at family dinners, and try not to be weighed down by the “food coma” — get out and be active.

The holidays can be stressful; familial obligations, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and even less sunlight can contribute to the deterioration of mental health. It is important to balance commitments,

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COVID-19 and Cold/Flu Season 2021

The change of the seasons is in full swing throughout the country, and the United States is heading towards another cold and flu season in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. Children returning to school amid the dangerous politicization of public health attempts to increase vaccination and promote mitigation measures such as masks and social distancing has created a risk-filled environment for many across the country.

We’ve previously covered the differences between asthma, allergies, and COVID infection. It is even more vital to know the difference between symptoms for viral conditions such as a cold, the flu, and COVID-19. All three are spread in similar ways and share symptoms, but have varied incubation time and severity.

  • COVID-19 (coronavirus SARS-CoV-2) most common symptoms are a fever, cough and tiredness; other symptoms include muscle aches, sneezing, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, nausea, diarrhea, and loss of smell/taste. Symptoms can appear anywhere between 2-14 days after exposure, during which time an infected individual can spread the coronavirus even if asymptomatic (not presenting symptoms). Complications can include blood clots and multisystem inflammatory syndrome. Most hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 can be prevented with a vaccine. Many symptoms of COVID-19 can be lessened with antiviral medications.
  • Colds (rhinoviruses) have similar symptoms to the novel coronavirus, but do not include diarrhea or nausea. Symptoms of a common cold usually appear one to three days after exposure. Colds are only transmissible while a person is symptomatic. There is no vaccine or cure for the common cold. Treatment may include pain relievers and over-the-counter cold remedies such as decongestants. Unlike COVID-19, a cold is usually harmless; most people recover from a common cold in 3-10 days.
  • The flu (influenza) has the same symptoms as COVID-19, but rarely causes loss of smell/taste. Flu symptoms usually appear about one to four days after exposure to an influenza virus. The flu is generally only transmissible while symptomatic and does not pose the same risk of severe illness as COVID-19. There are several antiviral treatments available to treat the flu, and an annual vaccine reduces the risk of infection and/or severe illness. The flu vaccine can be given as an injection or as a nasal spray.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or a confirmed exposure, it’s important that you contact a healthcare provider right away for medical advice. Tests are available to confirm diagnosis of COVID-19 and/or the flu. Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Even if you have been fully vaccinated, wearing a mask and practicing social distancing reduces the

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Health Benefits of Organized Labor

Labor Day is a national holiday to recognize and honor the American labor movement and the contributions of organizers and laborers to the development and achievements of the United States. Today, one out of every ten workers in the U.S. is a member of a labor union. Labor unions not only advocate for healthy and safe work environments; they improve the lives and promote the health of workers, their families, the community, and public health.

The labor movement has led the charge to protect working people from workplace injury, illness, and death since the Industrial Revolution. Unions in the United States have historically promoted and fought for healthy working conditions, safety and wellness programs, medical insurance, and democratic participation with support from organizations such as the American Public Health Association. Both labor unions and public health organizations intervene in the conditions that make people healthy through socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental conditions as well as individual choices, social and community networks.

Union workers are

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Staying Healthy Going Back to School Amid Ongoing Pandemic

It is the time of year when parents and students of all ages begin preparing to go back to school.  They will be exposed to new experiences and ideas, but also higher stress and risk of exposure to viruses — including the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and the proliferating variants. 

The ongoing pandemic has added challenges to every facet of life, including navigating classrooms. Returning to school has taken on new meaning and a new set of worries for students, parents, caregivers, and teachers. The decision on what classes and learning looks like is usually made on the local level by school boards and government officials. Overall, schools choose from one of three models:

  • Distance learning. All instruction is done remotely using technology and other tools.
  • In-person schooling. Similar to traditional schooling with enhanced health and safety precautions and procedures, but risks infection for students/teachers/their families.
  • Hybrid schooling. This model includes elements of both distance and in-person schooling.

Schools may adopt one or more models over the course of the school year and still-evolving pandemic. Being prepared for a variety of learning environments can empower you and/or your child/student and reduce any additional anxiety. In each case, there are steps you can take to reduce the risks of COVID-19, help your student feel safe, and make informed decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Get vaccinated. All adults and children over 12 years old currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccines should get fully immunized by the start of school year. People are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson’s.
  • Wear face masks. Everyone over 2 years old should wear face masks that cover the nose and mouth. This is a simple, proven tool to protect students and teachers indoors — even if they’ve been vaccinated.
  • Monitor health. Be aware of any symptoms you may have, stay home if you are sick, get tested, and notify the school if you are at risk of exposure/infection.

Regardless

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Stay Healthy In the Summer Sun, Heat, and Crowds

Summer has arrived in the United States. Over the following months, it will be important to protect ourselves from the health risks posed by the sun and heat. Regardless of skin color, exposure to the sun carries many dangers to one’s skin — from wrinkles often associated with aging to freckles, sunburns, benign tumors, or cancerous skin lesions. Exposure to heat can also have many negative impacts on one’s health ranging from a rash, exhaustion, fainting, or even death. During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, being in crowded areas with unvaccinated people — even outside — without appropriate protection measures can pose health risks to those around them.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages everyone — especially those with pale skin; blond, red, or light brown hair; or who has a personal or family history of skin cancer — to practice care while in the sun. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage skin in as little as 15 minutes, and

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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.