Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the Immune System may be Linked

December 26th, 2018

CFS BannerResearchers in the United Kingdom found that an exaggerated immune response can trigger long-lasting fatigue, suggesting this is how chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) begins.

CFS and the Immune System

The study published on December 17, is the first to shed light into the immune system’s role in the development of the condition.

The team modeled a possible route to the condition based on a treatment for chronic hepatitis C infections called interferon alpha, because the treatment is known to induce fatigue in some people. Interferon alpha affects the immune system in a similar way a strong infection does, the study explains.

Researchers measured fatigue and immune activity in 55 patients receiving hepatitis C treatments with interferon alpha. Patients were followed up with before, during and after the therapy. Of the participants, 18 patients developed lasting fatigue.

The group with the lasting fatigue also experienced a greater immune response, shown by a doubling in the levels of immune system messenger molecules interleukin-10 and interleukin-6.

Immune markers were measured with a blood test during the study.

The team also saw higher levels of these molecules in these patients before treatment had even begun.

What the data suggests is that people who develop CFS in response to an infection also do so because their immune system is primed to hyper react.

An estimated 836,000 to 25 million Americans suffer from CFS, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Patients are often diagnosed with CFS five, six or even up to 10 years later.

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that can’t be explained by an underlying medical condition. The fatigue may worsen with physical or mental activity, but doesn’t improve with rest.

The cause of CFS is unknown, although there are many theories ranging from viral infections to psychological stress.

Symptoms of CFS are:

  • Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
  • Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Loss of memory or concentration
  • Sore throat 
  • Unexplained muscle or joint pain
  • Unrefreshing sleep

People who have CFS appear to be hypersensitive to even normal amounts of exercise and activity. Why this occurs in some people and not others is unknown. Potential triggers include:

  • Hormonal imbalances: People who have CFS also sometimes experience abnormal blood levels of hormones produced in the hypothalamus, pituitary glands or adrenal glands. 
  • Immune system problems: The immune systems of people who have CFS appear to be impaired slightly.
  • Viral infections: Because some people develop CFS after having a viral infection, researchers question whether some viruses might trigger the disorder.

Seventeen million people worldwide are affected by CFS.

What IAA has to Say

Any new research on CFS is something Insurance Administrator of America likes to hear about. Researchers are finding new information every day, and IAA wants to make sure you are in the know.

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The CDC Wants You to Say No to Raw Dough

December 19th, 2018

Plate of cookiesIs licking the beater after making cookies your favorite part of the holidays? You might want to rethink that step in the baking process. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put out a warning stating “say no to raw dough.”

Cookie Making Health Hazards

Raw flour and uncooked eggs can make people sick. Both are key ingredients to your favorite holiday treats.

Raw eggs that are used to make dough or batter can contain a germ called salmonella that can make you sick if the eggs are eaten raw or not cooked enough.

Flour is typically a raw agricultural product, according to the CDC’s website. This means it hasn’t been treated to kill germs like E.coli. Harmful germs can contaminate grain while it’s still in the field or at other steps as flour is produced. The bacteria are killed when food with flour is cooked.

Food poisoning symptoms may range from mild to severe and may differ depending on the germ you swallowed:

  • E.coli: People usually get sick three to four days after swallowing the germ. Most people recover within a week.
  • Salmonella: The symptoms of salmonella infections typically appear six to 48 hours after eating contaminated food, though this period is sometimes longer. The illness usually lasts four to seven days.

As fun as it may be to eat the gooey leftovers, just wait until the cookies are done!

The Safe Way to Bake

To ensure your health, try safe food handling practices when you are baking and cooking with flour and other raw ingredients:

  • Bake or cook raw dough and batter before eating
  • Clean up thoroughly after handling flour, eggs or raw dough
  • Do not let children play with or eat raw dough
  • Do not taste or eat any raw dough or batter
  • Follow label directions to refrigerate products containing raw dough or eggs until they are cooked
  • Follow the recipe or package directions for cooking or baking at the proper temperature and for the specified time
  • Keep raw foods separate from ready to eat foods

Following safe food practices may not be as fun as licking the beater, but it does help prevent you from getting sick.

What IAA has to Say

Don’t let those holiday treats land you in the emergency room! Insurance Administrator of America wants you to wait until those cookies come out of the oven. IAA is here to help spread the holiday cheer and a message for good health.

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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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