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SUNDAY, DEC. 29, 2013

2 Health, Mind & Body Sunday, December 29, 2013 Vincennes Sun-Commercial

How to save on prescription drug costs METRO CREATIVE CONNECETION

may offer the same type of deal, and consumers can save a substantial amount of money by opting for mailorder service.


rescription drugs can be quite expensive, and even those who have health insurance often pay more than they need to. According to a 2012 Consumer Reports “Best Drugs” poll on prescription drugs, Americans routinely take an average of four medications per day, spending nearly $800 on drug costs each year. Those who do not have health insurance may have to pay much more out of pocket. As expensive as prescription medications can be, there are still ways to save money on prescription drug costs.

Consider big wholesalers for prescriptions

You may think of Costco or Sam’s Club as your go-to place to buy 30-packs of toilet tissue, but these retailers also offer discounts on prescription drugs. Even nonmembers are allowed to use these warehouses for their prescription drug needs. Big wholesalers could give you the best deal on your pills.

Skip the insurance sometimes

Consumer Reports says hundreds of commonly used generic medications can be purchased for around $10 for a three-month supply at various major chains. Program details var y, but consumers might be able to save a lot of money by using these programs and leaving their insurance cards in their wallets.

Comparison shop

Believe it or not, drug prices vary depending on the time of the year and even the pharmacy. A person can shop around for the most affordable medication just like they would when buying another product. Prescription drug apps enable you to search for discounts in your neighborhood.

Opt for OTC

Read your bill

Medical coding and billing is not always accurate. Employees entering codes may put in the wrong information, inadvertently charging a person for the wrong medication. Treat your medical bills as you would any other bill and verify that the charges are correct. If you have any doubts, check the drug name with your doctor and then consult with the pharmacy to see if an error was made.

Opt for generic medications

Generic versions of hundreds of

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brand name prescription drugs are available and typically cost a lot less money. With a generic medicine you are not paying for marketing and advertising costs. These drugs are routinely tested for efficacy and safety. There is really no reason to select a name-brand medicine over the generic alternative, even when it comes to over-the-counter drugs. Ask

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Use a preferred pharmacy mail-order service

Certain insurance companies have negotiated discounts with mail-order pharmacies and pass on the savings to their members. Medicare and other government-sponsored plans


In many cases, an over-thecounter medication may be just as effective as a prescription drug. Talk to your doctor about tr ying an OTC remedy before a prescription is written. Ibuprofen may relieve arthritis pain, and diphenhydramine could alleviate insomnia, all at a much lower cost than prescription drugs. Prescription drug costs can add up. But there are a number of strategies consumers can employ to reduce the out-of-pocket expenditures on medications.


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Health, Mind & Body 3

Eat healthy when dining out

has adequate time to let the brain know you have eaten enough. • Order the right sides. When choosing side dishes, opt for healthy, low-calorie and high-fiber vegetables instead of sides that are high in fat, sugar or sodium. Healthy sides will make you feel full without packing on the pounds.



r ying to lose weight or alter your diet? Many people are in the same boat. Though it’s easy to control your diet when eating at home, men and women hoping to shed a few extra pounds may need to take a more careful approach when dining out at a restaurant or enjoying a meal at the house of a friend or family member. The following tips can help men and women eat healthy even when they are enjoying meals away from home. • Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals, especially breakfast, in anticipation of eating larger meals later on is a recipe for disaster. Research has shown that people who eat a healthy breakfast tend to consume fewer calories over the course of a typical day than those who skip breakfast. • Have a pre-meal before dining out. Don’t attend gatherings on an empty stomach. Snack on fruits or vegetables before heading out the door to avoid overeating later on. • Drink lots of water. Sipping on a glass of cold water when dining out can keep you feeling full while preventing the dehydration that comes from eating too many high-sugar, high-salt goodies. In fact, symptoms of dehydration mimic those of hunger, meaning you might be eating more when your body really just needs more water. • Practice portion control. It’s nice to dig in to your favorite treats.

t$IFNJDBM1FFMT t#PUPY t3FTUZMBOF t'BDJBM t.JDSPEFSNBCSBTJPO However, indulging at the dinner table can lead to weight gain. Many people find that they can still enjoy their favorite foods without gaining weight as long as they eat smaller portions and resist the temptation to eat until they feel the need to unbuckle their belts. • Use smaller plates. The bigger the plate you are eating from, the more food you are likely to eat. Use smaller plates at the buffet line so you aren’t piling too much food on

your plate. An empty plate can instill a sense of fullness whether that plate is large or small. • Give your body time to realize how much you have eaten. The stomach needs about 20 minutes to tell the brain that it’s feeling full. But when food is eaten too fast, you may have already overindulged by the time the stomach sends its fullness signal to the brain. Fill up your plate, eat slowly and then put the brakes on for a while so that your stomach

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4 Health, Mind & Body Sunday, December 29, 2013 Vincennes Sun-Commercial

Get the facts on stomach bugs to feel better fast METRO CREATIVE CONNECETION


ew things can prove more painful or inconvenient than stomach bugs. Digestive tract illnesses can cause persons to spend many hours of the day running to restrooms while confining others to the house for extended periods of time. Though often temporary, stomach bugs can last several days to more than a week and they may lead to more dire situations if not properly treated.


Stomach bugs are known as gastroenteritis, a condition characterized by an inflamed and irritated stomach and intestines. The Mayo Clinic says people are most likely to contract gastroenteritis after eating contaminated foods or drinking contaminated water. Sharing items, like utensils, with someone who is infected is another way to contract gastroenteritis. Viral gastroenteritis is caused by a virus that enters the body. However, bacteria and parasites also are responsible for stomach bug outbreaks. Viruses that trigger gastroenteritis include adenoviruses, rotaviruses, calciviruses, astroviruses, and noroviruses. Bacteria that can cause gastroenteritis include E. coli, salmonella, campylobacter, and shingella.


Stomach bugs often strike suddenly. Sufferers may experience queasiness or nausea and a loss of appetite. Pain or bloating in the stomach also may occur. Vomiting and diarrhea often cause many peo-

ple to suspect something is wrong, and some stomach conditions are also accompanied by fever, achiness and lethargy.


Many people opt for a wait-and-see approach when struck with stomach bugs. Gastroenteritis often heals on its own. Some refer to it as a “24-hourbug” and find that once the stomach has been purged clean, the offender no longer wreaks havoc on the body. But stomach bugs can be more persistent as well. Sufferers should visit a doctor if vomiting or diarrhea last more than a few days. Doctors may take a stool sample to determine what’s behind the bug. In the event of a bacterial infection, an antibiotic may be needed to clear up the infection. Visiting a doctor when stomach problems persist is also beneficial because he or she may

be able to rule out certain conditions, such as colitis, ulcers or Crohn’s disease.

Helpful hints

When a stomach bug strikes, it is best to refrain from eating, especially when vomiting regularly. Stick to clear broths and liquids, which are easy on the digestive system, while the stomach is irritated. Once vomiting has subsided, sufferers should opt for a bland diet. When plagued by diarrhea, the BRAT diet is adviseable. This acronym stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. These foods can help bind a person and are relatively easy to digest. Because a stomach bug often leads to dehydration, drink plenty of fluids. To restore salt and electrolyte balances, sports drinks are adviseable for adults, while a beverage like Pedialyte

is best for children and the elderly. When symptoms begin to subside, sufferers can gradually add foods back into their diets. But men and women should avoid particularly spicy or heavy foods until they are convinced that they have fully recovered. Many people are tempted to turn to an anti-diarrheal medication at the first sign of a stomach bug. However, the side effects of gastroenteritis are the body’s method of ridding itself from whatever has brought on symptoms. Failure to let nature run its course could result in a rebound of symptoms or a longer-lasting sickness. To avoid suffering from stomach bugs, men and women should consider the following tips. • Frequently wash your hands when preparing food and thoroughly cook foods, particularly meats, poultry and eggs, to reduce potential exposure to bacteria. • E. coli may be present on some fresh produce, so wash produce carefully before consumption. • Consider taking a probiotic supplement to increase the amount of good bacteria in your digestive tract. Yogurt also contains live cultures that are good at maintaining digestive health. • Avoid contact with people who claim to have the stomach flu. • Promptly consult a doctor if symptoms do not go away or if you have a high fever or blood in your stool. This may indicate a different illness. Stomach bugs are never enjoyable, but there are ways to manage the symptoms and get back on the road to recovery.

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Health, Mind & Body 5

Sunday, December 29, 2013 Vincennes Sun-Commercial

The early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease METRO CREATIVE CONNECETION


lzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks neurons and essentially robs people of their memory and language skills. Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are therapies that can slow its neurological impact. Recognizing the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s can encourage people to begin treatments that can stave off some of the more debilitating symptoms of this disease. Though it’s most common among the elderly, Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. The Mayo Clinic says that the reasons behind the inception and progression of Alzheimer’s disease are largely unknown. It is believed damage starts a decade or more before problems become evident. Abnormal deposits of proteins begin to form the amyloid plaques and tau tangles throughout the brain, and these formations are the hallmarks of the disease. Once-healthy neurons gradually begin to lose their efficiency and ability to function and communicate with one another. As more neurons die, entire areas of the brain shrink. The hippocampus, which is the area of the brain essential in forming memories, may soon become compromised. Millions of people in North America are estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease and many others will be diagnosed. The following are the most common early signs and symptoms of the disease. * Memory loss: According to the Alzheimer’s Organization, early mem-

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ory loss can include forgetting important dates or repeatedly asking for the same information. Forgetting recently learned information and having to rely increasingly on memory aids is another potential indicator of Alzheimer’s. * Declining cognition: Impaired reasoning or judgment, trouble finding the right words and visual and spatial issues also may be early indicators of Alzheimer’s. * Difficulty completing familiar tasks: Those with Alzheimer’s sometimes have trouble driving to a familiar location or remembering the rules to a favorite game. People who were once good with numbers may now have difficulty balancing their checkbooks, while those who love to cook may have trouble following recipes. * Time confusion: Another indicator of Alzheimer’s disease is losing track of time. One may have trouble understanding something that isn’t happening in the present. Alzheimer’s sufferers often forget where they are and how they got there. * Misplacing items: Everyone loses something at a point in time, but those with Alzheimer’s may put items in unusual places. They may sometimes accuse others of stealing when they cannot retrace their steps and find items. * Decreased judgment: Decisionmaking abilities may be compromised. A person with Alzheimer’s may take unnecessary risks or give away sums of money. * Mood changes: People with Alzheimer’s may suffer from confusion, suspicious feelings, depression and anxiety. A person may upset easily or become anxious outside of his or her

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comfort zones. Age and family history of Alzheimer’s disease are the biggest risk factors. The liklihood of developing Alzheimer’s doubles about every five years after age 65, says the Alzheimer’s Organization. In addition, those with a parent, child or sibling who have developed Alzheimer’s

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6 Health, Mind & Body Sunday, December 29, 2013 Vincennes Sun-Commercial

Simple ways to secure a better night’s sleep



good night’s sleep can go a long way toward improving quality of life. According to the National Sleep Foundation, experts say most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Adequate sleep is essential to human health and safety, as it helps men, women and children alike function to their fullest capacity. Though the benefits of a good night’s sleep are widely known, 65 percent of respondents in a recent NSF survey admitted they have problems sleeping a few nights each week. That’s a significant cause for concern, as sleep deprivation has been linked to a host of health problems, including obesity and high blood pressure. Inadequate sleep has also been linked to decreased productivity, meaning professionals who are not prioritizing a good night’s sleep could ultimately see their careers suffer as a result. A variety of factors can impact how well individuals sleep at night. Though some people have preexisting medical conditions that affect the quality of their sleep, many more individuals who struggle with sleep can take some simple steps to alleviate such problems. • Establish and stick to a sleep schedule. Rou-

tine can make all the difference when it comes to falling asleep and maintaining that sleep through the night. That’s because the sleep-wake cycle is governed by the circadian clock in the brain. This circadian function is strengthened when the body regularly wakes up and goes to bed at the same time. Once a sleep schedule has been established, men, women and children should do their best to stick to their routines on weekends, when many people tend to sleep in later. Upsetting a sleeping schedule on the weekend can make it more difficult for the body to readjust to the routine come Sunday night and Monday morning. • Emphasize an environment that is conducive to sleep. The NSF recommends individuals establish sleep environments that are dark, quiet, comfortable and cool. If an environment is not dark enough, individuals can wear eye shades or hang blackout curtains on windows to prevent outside light from entering their homes. Noise and other distractions, including cell phones that ring or vibrate each time a message is incoming, should be addressed. If necessary, men and women can store their cell phones in the kitchen or another room in the house overnight, reducing the likelihood that sleep will be interrupted by incoming phone calls, emails or text messages. Noise distractions, such as a partner snoring, can be remedied with ear plugs.

• Replace mattresses and pillows if necessary. Some sleeping problems are a byproduct of mattresses and pillows that are old and don’t offer enough support. Quality mattresses can last a long time but should be replaced when they no longer provide a comfortable sleeping environment. Mattresses that make noise, feel lumpy or sag should be replaced. In addition, if sleeping partners routinely wake each other up when one person gets up to use the restroom or get a glass of water, then chances are that mattress is no longer capable of providing an optimal sleep environment. Pillows should be comfortable but still provide support. Pillows also should be cleaned regularly to ensure they are not covered in allergens, which can negatively affect an individual’s sleep. • Don’t eat dinner or drink alcohol too close to bedtime. The body needs adequate time to digest meals, so individuals who routinely eat shortly before going to bed might find it hard to fall asleep because the body is still working to digest foods. That can be uncomfortable. Alcohol should also be avoided before going to bed, as it can negatively affect the body’s ability to get a deep sleep. Though alcohol right before bed might help men and women fall asleep more quickly, the sleep they get won’t be as restorative as if they had abstained from alcohol in the hours before they went to bed.

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Sunday, December 29, 2013 Vincennes Sun-Commercial

Health, Mind & Body 7

The basics of boosting metabolism METRO CREATIVE CONNECETION


en and women looking to shed a few pounds and keep those pounds off often look for ways to boost their metabolisms. Some may not know just what metabolism means, and though it is a complicated combination of processes, metabolism is perhaps best explained as the sum of those processes, each of which is instituted to convert food into energy. So it’s no surprise that so many people, especially men and women whose metabolisms have begun to slow down, want to boost their metabolism and turn that food into energy more quickly. Though metabolism is a collection of complicated processes, boosting metabolism can be rather easy. The following are a handful of ways to do so, which can help men and women reach their fitness goals. • Eat the right foods and eat more often. Many adults have been turned on to the concept of grazing, an approach to diet wherein adherents eat small portions of food every two to three hours instead of the more traditional three square meals per day. But grazing is only effective when men and women eat the right foods. Each small meal should still have nutritional value just as if it were a large meal. When eating smaller meals, include healthy sources of pro-

tein and fiber. Vegetables tend to be especially beneficial because they are high in fiber, a nondigestible carbohydrate that is hard for the body to break down. As the body works hard to break down fiber, it’s burning energy and boosting its metabolism along the way. Fish is another potentially beneficial food for those looking to boost their metabolisms, as studies have shown that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils increase the levels of fat-burning enzymes in the body while decreasing the body’s level of fat-storage enzymes. Eating more often benefits the body because doing so stimulates metabolism, reassuring the body that food will be coming on a regular basis. When meals are skipped or there are long intervals between meals, the body reacts as if it might run out of food and begins to store fat. • Add some lean muscle. Lean muscle can boost metabolism, so a workout dominated by cardiovascular exercise won’t have as positive an impact on metabolism as one that includes a combination of weight training and aerobic exercise. When muscles are worked hard, the body needs to work hard to recover and rebuild those muscles, burning more calories and boosting metabolism as a result. • Don’t believe everything you read or hear. Suggestions abound as to ways to significantly

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improve metabolism. Unfortunately, many of these suggestions boost metabolism but not enough to help people lose weight, which is the ultimate goal of many people looking to boost their metabolisms. For example, green tea has its proponents who feel it can have a significant impact on metabolism thanks to EGCG, a compound found in the tea that has been proven to elevate metabolism. However, the impact of EGCG on boosting metabolism is negligible, and therefore won’t make much of an impact on a person’s weight. The same can be said about capsaicin, an active component found in chili peppers that some feel boosts metabolism enough to promote weight loss. Though capsaicin can boost metabolism slightly, studies have shown that influence is not significant enough to affect a person’s weight. • Don’t get too comfortable. Modern technology may be a reason why waist sizes are getting bigger. Heating and cooling systems may be must-have items, but when the body is too comfortable, it burns less energy to stay warm in the winter or comfortably cool in the summer. A study from the National Institute of Health Clinical Center found that people who slept in a room kept at 66 F burned 7 percent more calories than those who slept in a room at 75 F. Sleeping in a cooler room may just be the easiest way for men and women to boost their metabolisms.

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