Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tylenol: the friendly neighborhood drug. A common painkiller may put you at risk for acute liver toxicity

Tylenol is easy to take for simple aches, pains, fever and headaches. It is safer on the stomach versus aspirin and ibuprofen. It doesn’t cause water retention like Advil can. Ibuprofen is the main ingredient in Advil. Acetaminophen (ACET) is the main ingredient in Tylenol.

ACET is combined with allergy and cold medication and a few prescription pain meds. When taking over the counter Tylenol, be careful not to mix it with other meds that contain ACET. If you take Tylenol and later on take a med that is mixed with ACET, you have inadvertently overdosed.

Why liver damage? ACET is absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract after which it enters the bloodstream. Later, the blood filters through the liver where the drug is metabolized resulting in a small amount of a harmful by-product which is excreted in urine.

When Tylenol is taken in recommended doses, the liver can safely break down the components and remove the by-product. However, when the liver needs to metabolize high levels of ACET, too much of the toxic by-product is made therefore harming the liver cells. Very high levels can cause cellular death.

If you don’t get relief of symptoms after taking the recommend dose of Tylenol and you take more before the allotted time, you have overdosed. People think of OD causing imminent death. Not always the case. ACET related liver toxicity can take time before noticing symptoms.

The risks of ACET related liver damage are very serious and unfortunately, the public is unaware of these dangers. Pay attention and read the labels. If you take prescription meds, find out from your provider if ACET is a component.

Few more important items: high fat diet, poor diet, alcohol intake, lack of exercise all hasten liver health. Be kind to your liver. You need it to live.

Good health,
Trisha M. Pacenti RN, BSN

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Options Available for Health Insurance

What is COBRA?

If you worked for a company that had 20+ employees you can stay with your company insurance plan for up to 18 months under the federal law COBRA:  Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. If you choose to continue with your employers' health insurance plan, you cannot make any changes. This is a package plan. If your previous employer had less than 20 employees, then you may be able to fall under Mini-COBRA if you live in a state that offers that program.

Individual Policies. Individual policies are available and costs are based on the applicant's medical history and in some states are zip-code driven. Pre-existing medical conditions may either deny your chances of policy issuance, an exclusion rider may be attached or issue as such with increased annual premium. There are short-term policies and indemnity policies also available.

Health Savings Accounts. Health savings accounts are good for those who are healthy, don't spend much on medical insurance and can afford to take out a high deductible low premium plan. HSA's are tax-sheltered savings accounts similar to IRAs. You can withdrawal as needed tax-free to pay for medical expenses. Money left over at year end rolls over without penalty. Once you reach 65, you can remove the money at that current times tax rate and use the money as you see fit. Contributions vary for individuals and families. Please visit http://www.treasury.gov/ to  learn more.

Good health,
Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Women and Health Care Reform

Women make most of the health decisions in the household. They buy the groceries and decide what their family will be eating for meals and snacks. They get the children off to Dr. appointments. They make sure their husbands are taking care of. Women take care of ailing parents and get involved in health care decisions. Women use health insurance more.

Without our pro-active approach of health care, the medical community would be less busy.

The National Women's Law Project in Washington, D.C., states that insurance companies in a few states can charge women more than men for the same coverage. Additionally, some insurance companies can deny women coverage because of domestic violence or having any C-sections.

Disease prevention is important to women as they want their families to be as healthy as possible.

Women have a voice. Please us it. Your concerns need to be heard. Health care reform affects all Americans. Women can be the driving force in health care reform.

Call, email, send letters to your local politicians voicing your concerns.

Good health,
Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN