This May be Your Lowest Weight all Year

October 19th, 2016

Apple and weightsData suggests that for many Americans this time of year is when they are at their lowest weight.

Before the Holiday Weight Gain

According to a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Americans tend to be at their lowest weight in October and November, and then pack on the pounds around Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Compared with their minimal annual weight, the study showed people in the United States added 0.7 percent to their weight—about 1.32 pounds on average during the Christmas and New Year season.

Researchers noted about half of the weight Americans gained was lost again shortly after the holidays, but the other half remained into the summer months. According to researchers at the National Institute of Health, most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity.

Keep the Weight Off During the Holidays

The holidays may still be awhile off, but in order to maintain your current weight during the holidays, it is important to make good decisions:

  1. Eat before the party: Grab a 100 to 200 calorie snack containing carbohydrates, protein and a little bit of fat. This will take the edge off of your hunger.
  2. Have one truly sinful treat: You can indulge and maintain your weight if you stick with a small portion.
  3. Account for what you eat: Keeping a food diary is the single best way to keep the pounds off.
  4. Stop tasting the cake batter and cookie dough: Bake to your heart’s desire, but stop licking the spoon. Those little tastings can cost you 30 calories a pop.
  5. Stay active, but don’t use it as an excuse to eat double portions: Most of us overestimate how many calories we burn and underestimate how many we consume. Getting in your regular workout will help compensate for those small holiday nibbles you can’t pass up.
  6. Don’t skip meals: Eating every few hours throughout the day will keep your metabolism revved up. Skipping meals doesn’t save you calories over the long haul because by the time you sit down to eat you are ravenous, which makes binging hard to avoid. What’s worse, your body, in starvation mode, may more readily sock away the calories you consume as fat instead of burning them.  
  7. Trade holiday events for eating out: Americans eat out on average four times a week. If you dine out regularly and also hit the Christmas party circuit, you can easily overindulge. This holiday season trade one special meal for another by substituting your holiday parties for your restaurant routine.

It is also a good idea to try and incorporate fitness into the holidays:

  • Make a new holiday tradition: the family walk. Besides burning some extra calories, this will get everyone away from the food for awhile.
  • Sign up for a holiday fitness competition
  • Sign up for a holiday fitness event

 Diet and exercise are the two main factors to consider when it comes to avoiding holiday weight gain. However, stress and lack of sleep can also contribute to overeating, lethargy and weight gain. Be sure to take steps to reduce your stress level and to make sure you get enough sleep.

What IAA has to Say

The average American gains between one and two pounds between Halloween and New Year’s. Insurance Administrator of America wants you to maintain your weight and not gain those few extra pounds over the holidays. Once on, it is hard to take them off! Just think of IAA as your third-party scale, tipping you in the right direction.

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Polio-like Illness Hits Children

October 13th, 2016

StethoscopeThe week of October 3rd, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a spike in a mysterious polio-like illness, confirmed this year in nearly half of the states in the country. From January 1st, to August 31st, 50 people in 24 states were diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). Most of the cases were children.

What is AFM?

AFM is a condition that affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, which can result from a variety of causes, including viral infections. Like polio, AFM can cause paralysis, unlike polio there is no vaccine for AFM.

Most patients will have a sudden onset of limb weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes. Some patients, in addition to limb weakness, will experience:

  • Difficulty moving the eyes
  • Difficulty with swallowing  or slurred speech
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Facial droop/weakness
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Unable to pass urine

The most severe symptom of AFM is respiratory failure which can happen when the muscles involved with breathing become weak.

Causes of AFM

AFM can be caused by a variety of germs, including several viruses:

  • Adenoviruses
  • Enteroviruses (polio and non-polio): AFM has been linked to a strain of enterovirus that is now circulating again. Some doctors are warning this could be the same mysterious polio-like illness detected in 2014 that paralyzed 120 children. Enteroviruses are common and typically cause milder illnesses in children, such as respiratory infections and even summer colds. However, when enteroviruses get into the central nervous system they can cause more serious illnesses, like inflammation of the brain.
  • West Nile virus and viruses in the same family as West Nile

A condition where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys body tissue that it mistakes for foreign material may also cause AFM.

Prevention is a key component to helping stop AFM. You can protect yourself and your children by:

  • Avoiding contact with sick people
  • Being up to date on all recommended vaccinations, including polio
  • Cleaning surfaces with disinfectant, especially those that a sick person has touched
  • Using mosquito repellent:   You can protect yourself from mosquito born viruses that cause AFM, by using mosquito repellent and staying indoors at dusk and dawn. Removal of stagnant or standing water from nearby property to minimize the number of mosquitoes is recommended as well.
  • Washing hands often with soap and water

Take precautions to help keep your family healthy.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to be in the loop when it comes to health news. Just think of IAA as your third-party health news service. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

Like this blog post? Let IAA know by going to our Facebook page and clicking the Like button!

October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month

October 5th, 2016

Spina Bifida Awareness RibbonWalking, running, jumping are all things people take for granted. For many with spina bifida, they are unable to do these simple activities.

What is Spina Bifida?

Spina bifida is part of a group of birth defects called neural tube defectsThe neural tube is the embryonic structure that eventually develops into the baby’s brain and spinal cord and the tissues that enclose them.  Normally, the neural tube forms early in pregnancy and closes by the twenty-eighth day. In babies with spina bifida, a portion of the neural tube fails to develop or close properly, causing defects in the spinal cord and bones of the spine.

Spina bifida occurs in various forms of severity and has three common types:

  1. Spina bifida occulta: This mildest form results in a small separation or gap in one or more of the bones (vertebrae) of the spine. Because the spinal nerves usually aren’t involved, most children with this form of spina bifida have no signs or symptoms and experience no neurological problems. Visible indications of spina bifida occulta can sometimes be seen on the newborn’s skin above the spinal defect, including:
  • An abnormal tuft of hair
  • A collection of fat
  • A small dimple or birthmark

   2.Meningocele: In this form, the protective membranes around the spinal cord (meninges) push out through the opening in the vertebrae

3.Myelomeningocele: The most severe form and what people usually mean when they use the term spina bifida. In myelomeningocele, the baby’s spinal cord remains open along several vertebrae in the lower or middle back. Because of this opening, both the membranes and the spinal cord protrude at birth, forming a sac on the baby’s back. In some cases, skin covers the sac. Usually, tissues and nerves are exposed making the baby prone to life-threatening infections. Neurological impairments are common, including:

  • Bowel and bladder problems
  • Muscle weakness of the legs, sometimes involving paralysis
  • Orthopedic problems such as deformed feet, uneven hips and a curved spine (scoliosis)
  • Seizures

Spina bifida is the most common neural tube defect in the United States, affecting 1,500 to 2,000 of the more than 4 million babies born in the country each year.

Signs and Symptoms

Spina bifida may cause no symptoms or only minor physical disabilities. Factors that affect severity are:

  • The size and location of the neural tube defect
  • Whether skin covers the affected area
  • Which spinal nerves come out of the affected area of the spinal cord

Complications of spina bifida may include:

  • Accumulation of fluid in the brain: Babies born with myelomeningocele commonly experience accumulation of fluid on the brain.
  • Infection in the tissues surrounding the brain:  Some babies with myelomeningocele may develop meningitis, an infection in the tissues surrounding the brain.
  • Physical and neurological problems: This may include lack of normal bowel and bladder control and partial or complete paralysis of the legs.

Additional problems may arise as children with spina bifida get older. Children with myelomeningocele may develop learning disabilities, including difficulty paying attention, problems with language and reading comprehension, and trouble learning math.

Doctors are not sure what causes spina bifida. It appears to result from a combination of genetic and environmental risk factors. Risk factors are:

  • Diabetes: Women with diabetes who don’t control their blood sugar will have a higher risk of having a baby with spina bifida.
  • Family history of neural tube defects: Couples who have had one child with a neural tube defect have a slightly higher chance of having another baby with the same defect. In addition, a woman who was born with a neural tube defect, or who has a close relative with one, has a greater chance of giving birth to a child with spina bifida.
  • Folate deficiency: Folate (vitamin B-9) is important to the healthy development of a baby. A folate deficiency increases the risk of spina bifida, and other neural tube defects. 
  • Gender: Girls are affected more often.
  • Obesity: Pre-pregnancy obesity is associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects.

Every day about eight babies who are born in the United States have spina bifida or a similar birth defect of the brain and spine.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to help spread awareness by sending this blog post on to friends and colleagues. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Does Your House Have Toxic Dust?

September 29th, 2016

Broom sweeping dustA new study has shown that household dust can expose people to a wide range of potentially toxic chemicals.

Toxic Dust

Every house has a little dust and its own unique “dust load” based on a variety of factors like where you live, what you cook, if you smoke, the climate, and how many people and animals live there. Ordinary house dust is a complex mixture of pet dander, fungal spores, tiny particles, soil tracked in on your feet, carpet fibers, human hair, and skin.

A new study reported that 90 percent of dust samples taken from houses in 14 states contain harmful chemicals, including one that’s known to cause cancer. The chemicals studied come from all sorts of common consumer goods, including:

  • Baby products
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Fast food
  • Flooring
  • Food packaging
  • Furniture
  • Personal hygiene products

Chemicals are released into the air and then seep into the dust that settles on furniture and floors. People can inhale or ingest small particles of dust or even absorb them through the skin.

Ten harmful chemicals were found in 90 percent of the dust samples tested:

  1. Phthalates:  Used in toys and vinyl flooring, this chemical occurred in the highest concentration.
  2. Phenols:  Often used in cleaning products, this chemical had the next highest concentration.
  3. Flame retardants
  4. Fragrances
  5. Perflouroalkyl substances: Used in carpets, textiles and leather to make them water, oil and stain repellent and to create grease-proof and water-proof coatings for products such as paper plates and food packing.

The chemicals of top concern are:

  1. TCEP: A flame retardant added to couches, baby products, electronics, and other products.
  2. DEP, DEHP, BBzP, and DnBP: These chemicals, which are different varieties of phthalates, are found in an array of drugstore items, as well as some highly processed and fast foods. Phthalates are linked to IQ and respiratory problems in children.
  3. PFOA and PFOS: These chemicals are found in cell phones, pizza boxes and many non-stick, water-proof and stain-resistant products.  They have been linked to issues with the immune, digestive and endocrine system.

The authors of the study say small amounts can add up over time and potentially impact your health.      

Cut Down on Toxic Dust

To help improve dust in your home:

  • Caulk and seal cracks and crevices to prevent dust from accumulating in hard to reach places
  • Clean up quickly and thoroughly when you finish a home improvement project, since these can involve dust and toxic products
  • Day-to-day hand washing with plain soap and water can cut down on the amount of dust you come into contact with
  • Keep electronic equipment dust-free by damp dusting it frequently, this is a common source of chemical fire retardants in dust
  • Leave your shoes at the door: Shoes are a common way to bring outdoor pollutants inside.
  • Vacuuming with a HEPA-filter
  • Wet mop and dust with a damp cloth

Young children are of special concern because their developing bodies are more vulnerable to toxic exposures. They ingest or inhale more dust than adults since they, and their toys, spend lots of time on or very near the floor.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to get cleaning! Dusting is never a fun chore, but this new study shows how important it is to your health. Just think of IAA as your third party cleaner.

Interested in reading more on this topic? Click here!

Health in the News: Pneumonia

September 21st, 2016

Pnuemonia bannerDemocratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia on September 9th, 2016. When the nation heard the news on September 11th, it left a number of people scratching their heads as to how serious (or how minor) a diagnosis like this is?

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacks in one or both lungs. The air sacks may fill with fluid or pus, causing a cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing.

Many germs can cause pneumonia. The most common are bacteria and viruses in the air we breathe. The body usually prevents these germs from infecting the lungs. But sometimes these germs can overpower the immune system.

Pneumonia is classified according to the types of germs that caused it and where the person received the infection:

  1. Community-acquired pneumonia: The most common type of pneumonia, it occurs outside of hospitals or other healthcare facilities. It may be caused by:
  • Bacteria: The most common type of bacterial pneumonia in the United States is streptococcus pneumoniae.  This type of pneumonia can occur on its own or after you’ve had the flu or a cold. It may affect one part of the lung, a condition called lobar pneumonia.
  • Bacteria-like organisms: Mycoplasma pneumoniae also can cause pneumonia. It typically produces milder symptoms than other types of pneumonia. Walking pneumonia is the informal name it is given.
  • Fungi: This type of pneumonia is most common in people with chronic health problems or weakened immune systems.
  • Viruses: Some of the viruses that cause colds and the flu can cause pneumonia viruses.

2. Hospital-acquired pneumonia: Some people catch pneumonia during a hospital stay for another illness. Hospital-diagnosed pneumonia can be serious because the bacteria causing it may be more resistant to antibiotics and because the people who get it are already sick.
3. Healthcare-acquired pneumonia: A bacterial infection that occurs in people who live in long-term care facilities or who receive care in outpatient clinics.
4. Aspiration pneumonia: Occurs when you inhale food, drink or saliva into your lungs.
5.Atypical pneumonia: Several types of bacteria, legionella pneumophila, mycoplasma pneumonia, and chlamydophila pneumoniae, cause atypical pneumonia. Atypical pneumonia is passed from person to person.

In the U.S. about 50,000 people die from pneumonia each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of pneumonia vary from mild to severe, depending on factors such as the type of germs causing the infection, age and overall health. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain when breathing or coughing
  • Confusion or changes in mental awareness (in adults age 65 and older)
  • Cough which may produce phlegm
  • Fatigue
  • Fever, sweating and shaking chills
  • Lower than normal body temperature (in adults older than age 65 and people with weakened immune systems)
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath

Symptoms of pneumonia not caused by bacteria may come on gradually and are often not as bad or as obvious as symptoms of bacterial pneumonia.

After you have been infected with a pneumonia causing organism, it takes as little as one to three days or as long as seven to 10 days for symptoms to appear.

Pneumonia can be spread in multiple ways. The viruses and bacteria are typically contracted by people breathing them into their lungs and then spread through airborne droplets when people sneeze or cough. It can also spread through blood, according to the World Health Organization.

What IAA has to Say

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

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