Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays

Wishing you a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Foodborne Illness: A common occurance

Foodborne illness is caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, heavy metals, natural toxins and may be ingredient driven. Once the cause of the food illness is identified, the individual is treated accordingly. Until the cause is known, the symptoms are treated. Symptoms may include runny stools, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. They can be self-limiting or severe enough to cause death.

Common risk factors for exposure of food borne illness are but not limited to, raw or undercooked meats, fish and poultry, dairy products, poor food preparation, cross-contamination, working around animals or traveling outside the country. Crowding and poor hygiene are risk factors for illness so the incidence of exposure in day care, hospital facilities and restaurants are high.

An outbreak is considered an incident where 2 or more people experience a similar illness resulting from the ingestion of common food. Incubation or onset of symptoms may take hours to several days with a duration of illness ranging from short to long. Bacterial infection is typically the longer duration. Food borne illness continues to be a public threat. It is essential to seek medical care as the health care professional plays a key role in prevention by educating and providing resources on food safety.

Good Health,
Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Insurance Changes for 2011

Due to healthcare reform, employers will be making changes that will directly affect you to help control rising health care cost. On average, expect your premium to increase approximately 8-9% for the same coverage.
You will have to take a careful look at your current coverage and modify benefits if you cannot afford to maintain existing coverage with your current benefit package. Your employer will provide choices for your review.

Changes that will passed on to you:  higher premiums and co-pays. If you choose a higher deductible in your plans, this will help offset the increase in premium. The deductible is the portion of medical care cost you are responsible before your co-insurance kicks in. If you do not visit the doctor often, perhaps a high deductible plan would be a better option for you. You also must consider the increase in co-pays. When deciding which plan to go with, you need to plan for out-of-pocket costs. The out-of-pocket costs has the real potential of eating up any savings you may have. Do you have at least 3 months of savings?  In this case, consider supplemental insurance policies i.e. AFLAC. You can purchase these plans on an individual basis. Finding the right supplemental policy will ease the financial burden of medically related out-of-pocket costs.

If you smoke or are overweight, keep in mind this will hike your premium as much as 25%.  The best decision in this scenario is to quit smoking and lose weight. Not only are you financially paying more for the same coverage as a non-smoker, of healthy weight, but there are well-known associated health risks with these behaviors. Additionally, in a group policy, you are contributing to an increase in everyone's premium as the risk is spread out. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, most likely so is your co-worker.
There are plenty of at-your-finger-tips educational resources, be pro-active and take accountability to your self. By doing so, you are part of positive solution.

Good Health,
Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cold and Flu Season

Use common sense to help prevent the spread of germs.

1. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
2. Wash your hands often. Especially after you cough or sneeze. 
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Limit touching public objects. Germs spread this way. Use alcohol based hand sanitizers. They are easy to carry.
4. Avoid close contact with people presenting with cough and runny nose. 
5. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, avoid contact with other people. Seek medical help.

Learn to recognize flu-like symptoms:
• stomache cramps, vomiting
• loose stools 
• fever >99.0
• headache
• general malaise
• cough
• runny nose
• muscle aches
• sore throat

Lastly, YOU CANNOT GET THE FLU FROM THE FLU VACCINE.  Those who believe this fallacy are completely misinformed. This fallacy prevents people from getting vaccinated. The virus in the vaccine is attenuated or killed. Your body will develop antibodies against these particular virus particles used in the vaccines.  The virus in the vaccine is not strong enough to cause illness. Educate yourself in the factual not "what your neighbor or friend of your second cousin who lives half way across the nation". Facts will never steer you wrong. If you receive your flu shot between September and December, you are protected from the current flu strain. Flu strains change their protein coats. This is why it is necessary to get the vaccine yearly. The current vaccine will provide protection against 2 flu strains.

Post-Vaccine Symptoms: 
Soreness at the vaccination site. Body aches and a low-grade fever. This is not the flu.  They are post-vaccine side effects. These mild symptoms are what some people may mistake as "getting sick with the flu after getting the flu shot."

Pneumonia is different from the flu. The flu is caused by a virus and pneumonia by bacteria, fungi and viruses. The vaccine targets bacterial pneumonia. Streptococcus pneumonia can be found in the upper respiratory tract and may cause a spectrum of infections including but not limited to, pneumonia i.e. lung infection, ear infections and meningitis. The vaccine provides protection for up to five years. However, if you are high risk you may need to be re-vaccinated every 2 years. Your physician will determine your vaccine schedule. 

Post-vaccine side effects are generally mild and short in duration. Redness at the injection site, drowsiness, decreased appetite and low grade temp.

Good Health,
Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN

source:  Center for Disease Control