Could Wisdom Teeth Removal be a Factor in Opioid Addiction?

December 12th, 2018

ToothTeens and young adults who get their first opioid prescription at the dentist, often from having their wisdom teeth out, are more likely to come back for more painkillers, researchers reported on December 3.

Connection Between Opioid Abuse and Dental Surgery

Researchers found that nearly seven percent of teens and young adults who got an opioid for the first time at the dentist’s office, went on to take more of the drugs, and more than five percent went on to abuse opioids. Many of these patients were having their wisdom teeth taken out.

Researchers went through medical records of more than 750,000 people with private health insurance in 2015. They looked for opioid prescriptions given to people aged 16 to 25. More than 97,000 of those 750,000 people got an opioid prescription in 2015. About 30 percent of those who received opioids got them from a dentist.

Of the teens and young adults who got an opioid prescription from a dentist for the first time in 2015, just under seven percent went on to get a second prescription within the next year. Almost none of those who had not received an opioid prescription ever got one later that year.

Almost seven percent of these patients had new, persistent use at least three months after the initial prescription and almost six percent had an opioid abuse diagnosis.

Researchers did not speak to patients, so it’s unclear why they got that second prescription.   

“The findings suggest that dental opioid prescriptions, which may be driven by third molar extractions in this age group, may be associated with subsequent opioid use and opioid abuse,” the researchers wrote.

The work raised two separate questions: 1) Do we need opioids? 2) Do we need the procedure?

The research was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s “JAMA Internal Medicine.”

Opioid Abuse

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 70,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2017.

Anyone who takes opioids is at risk of developing an addiction. Addiction is a condition in which something that started as recreational, now feels like something you can’t live without. Doctors define drug addiction as an irresistible craving for a drug, out-of-control and compulsive use of the drug and continued use of the drug despite repeated harmful consequences.

Opioids are highly addictive in large part because they activate powerful reward centers in your brain. Opioids trigger the release of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. Endorphins muffle your perception of pain and boost feelings of pleasure, creating a temporary, but powerful sense of well being. When an opioid wears off, you may find yourself wanting those good feelings back as soon as possible.

How IAA can Help

Unfortunately, Insurance Administrator of America sees claims relating to opioid abuse too often. When determining the best rehabilitation facility for your loved one, IAA advises you to:

  • Be cautious of out of state facilities
  • Be wary of people referring people
  • Consider in-network facilities
  • Make sure to check the explanation of benefits for fraudulent charges

Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Origin for Romaine Lettuce E.coli Outbreak Narrows to California

December 5th, 2018

LettuceThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is looking at California as the source of the romaine lettuce tainted with a potentially deadly strain of E.coli.

E.coli Outbreak

On November 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned the public not to eat any romaine lettuce.

Health officials said romaine lettuce should be removed from all supermarket shelves and restaurant menus until they can discover the source of the outbreak.

The potentially deadly strain of bacteria has sickened 43 people in 12 states since October.

The CDC said about 48 million people get sick from food borne illnesses every year—46 percent of them from eating leafy vegetables and other produce.

E.coli Bacteria Symptoms

E.coli bacteria normally live in the intestines of healthy people and animals. Most varieties of E.coli are harmless. There are, however, a few particularly nasty strains, such as E.coli 0157:H7, which can cause severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

Signs and symptoms of E.coli 0157:H7 infections typically begin three or four days after exposure to the bacteria, though you may become ill as soon as one day after, to more than a week later.  Signs and symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramping, pain or tenderness
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting

Healthy adults usually recover from infection with E.coli 0157:H7 within a week, but young children and older adults have a greater risk of developing a life-threatening form of kidney failure.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to check before eating those leafy greens! Make sure that the lettuce you are eating is not romaine. IAA knows that no one wants to spend the holiday season in the hospital.

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Potential New Treatment for Children With Peanut Allergies

November 28th, 2018

Bag of peanutsKids who are living with a peanut allergy may be able to lower their guard in the future, thanks to a new clinical trial.

A Clinical Trial to Reduce Peanut Sensitivity

A year-long trial of an oral immunotherapy regimen aimed to reduce children’s sensitivity to peanut allergens by gradually exposing them to peanut protein over the course of six months.  The trial started with minute amounts that were carefully measured and increased incrementally under medical supervision as tolerance developed.

After six months of treatment followed by six months of maintenance therapy, two-thirds of the 372 children who received the treatment were able to ingest 600 milligrams or more of peanut protein, the equivalent of two peanuts—without developing allergic symptoms. By contrast, only four percent of the 124 children who had been given the placebo were able to consume the same amount of peanut without reacting.   

The goal of the treatment is not to cure the allergy, but to reduce the risk that an accidental exposure to trace amounts will trigger a life-threatening reaction in someone with a severe allergy.

The treatment does not work for everyone. Twenty percent of the children in the active treatment group withdrew from the study, more than half of them because of adverse events.

The trial is said to be the largest of its kind. It included 551 people, the majority being four to 17 years old.

The results were announced on November 19 at a conference of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. The trial is to be published November 22 in “The New England Journal of Medicine.”

The drug is called AR101 and was developed by Aimmune Therapeutics.

Allergic Reaction

A peanut allergy occurs when your immune system mistakenly identifies peanut proteins as something harmful. Direct or indirect contact with peanuts causes the immune system to release symptom-causing chemicals into your bloodstream.

Peanut allergy is one of the most common causes of severe allergy attacks. An allergic response to peanuts usually occurs within minutes after exposure. Peanut allergy signs and symptoms include:

  • Digestive problems, such as stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting
  • Itching or tingling in or around the mouth and throat
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Skin reactions such as hives, redness or swelling
  • Tightening of the throat

 One in 50 American children is allergic to peanuts. According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) the prevalence of peanut or tree nut allergy appears to have more than tripled in children in the United States between 1997 and 2008.

What IAA has to Say

Having a peanut allergy can make life a little complicated. Insurance Administrator of America hopes that this drug trial will one day allow children to eat food without worrying about having an allergic reaction. IAA knows that small steps can make a huge difference.

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Federal Government Releases New Exercise Guidelines

November 21st, 2018

Apple sitting next to small weightsGuidelines released on November 12 by the federal government show that most Americans are not getting the exercise they need, costing the healthcare system over $100 billion each year.

New Standards

The new standards are similar to those released 10 years ago, but the government is scrapping a recommendation that physical activity occurs in 10 minute blocks, instead telling Americans to “move more and sit less” whenever possible. Any amount of exercise has some health benefits, officials say.

The guidelines recommend an hour of “moderate-to-vigorous” activity each day for children six to 17, along with muscle-strengthening activities two days a week. For the first time, the guidelines also recommend that preschool-age children have at least three hours of “active play” each day.

Adults should aim for two and a half hours each week of moderate to vigorous activity.

Just 26 percent of men, 19 percent of women and 20 percent of adolescents are meeting the standards officials said, costing the United States healthcare system $117 billion each year and leading to about 10 percent of premature deaths. These finding were published in the “Journal of the American Medical Association.”    

Exercise and You

Exercise can improve your life in a multitude of ways:

  • Exercise boosts energy: Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. 
  • Exercise can be fun and social: Exercise and physical activity can be enjoyable. It gives you a chance to unwind. It can also help connect you with friends or family in a social setting. 
  • Exercise combats health conditions and diseases: No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good” cholesterol and decreases triglycerides. This helps keep your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Regular exercise helps prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, a number of types of cancer, arthritis, and falls.  
  • Exercise controls weight: Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss.  When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories.
  • Exercise improves mood: Physical exercise stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.
  • Exercise promotes better sleep: Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster.

Based on new evidence, the updated guidelines say exercise can reduce symptoms of anxiety, slow the progression of hypertension and type 2 diabetes, and help prevent eight types of cancer in adults. Exercise can also improve cognition in those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or dementia, the guidelines say. Exercise can even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to get out there and move! Exercise is key to leading a healthy life. IAA knows even a little step can help you move in the right direction.

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NIH and FDA Disagree on Cell Phones and Cancer Risks

November 14th, 2018

Cell phoneWhile the National Institutes of Health (NIH) declared a link between cancer and cell phone radiation, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) disagrees with this conclusion.

Cell Phone Radiation and Cancer

The evidence is more clear that there is a link between cancer and cell phone radiation, the NIH said on November 1.

In a statement from the NIH, “the National Toxicology Program (NTP) concluded there is clear evidence that male rats exposed to high levels of radio frequency radiation (RFR) like that used in 2G and 3G cell phones developed cancerous heart tumors.”

The research included two large animal studies—one in rats and one in mice—that link high levels of cell phone radiation to some evidence of carcinogenic activity in male rats, including a rare type of tumor called a schwannoma in their hearts. There were no such significant findings in female rats. Similarly, no significant findings emerged in the mouse study, according to the reports

The animals were exposed to radio frequency radiation levels equal to and higher than the highest level currently allowed for mobile phone emissions. The researchers tracked the health of the animals from in utero to two years of age.

The researchers divided the rodents into two groups based on radiofrequency radiation levels, low or high, and exposed their entire bodies to radiofrequency radiation for 10-minute increments totaling about nine hours a day over the two-year period. 

While the FDA disagrees with the NIH, one thing the two agencies, which both fall under the Department of Health and Human Services, agree on is that the findings of these studies in rats and mice should not apply to human cell phone use.  

Concerns Over Cell Phones

There are three main reasons why people are concerned that cell phones might have the potential to cause certain types of cancer and health problems:

  1. Cell phones emit radiofrequency radiation (radio waves) a form of non-ionizing radiation, from their antennas. Parts of the body nearest to the antenna can absorb this energy.
  2. The number of cell phone users has increased rapidly. There were over 400 million cell phone subscribers in the United States in 2017, according to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association. Globally, there are more than 5 billion cell phone users.
  3. Over time, the number of cell phone calls per day, the length of each call and the amount of time people use cell phones has increased.

The only consistently recognized biological effect of radiofrequency radiation in humans is heating. Radiofrequency exposure from cell phone use does cause heating to the area of the body where a cell phone or other device is held (e.g., the ear and head).

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to be aware of what is going on in the world of health. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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