Testing It Up » July 2009

Monthly Archives: July 2009

Health & Wellness

Obama’s Health Plan: What the Skeptics Aren’t Telling You

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You’ve probably heard a lot about Obama’s Health reform goals over the last several months from the campaign he ran for presidency to the more current debate over its effectiveness. There’s a lot of information to absorb going over these changes and it’s easy to rely on the news to tell us just what these changes will be, but the fact of the matter is that you’re hearing more flack than truth.

Changes Obama’s Plan Will Make:

  • No discrimination for patients with pre-existing health problems.
  • Extensions for coverage on young adults.
  • No huge out of pocket costs, co-pays or deductibles.
  • No cost sharing for preventative care.
  • Protection from being dropped when you get seriously ill.
  • Guaranteed renewable coverage while premium payments are met.
  • No caps on lifetime or annual coverage.
  • Allow you guaranteed Coverage at the doctor you want.
  • Preventing families from going bankrupt due to medical bills.
  • Make it easier to get health coverage at work even in small businesses.

These aren’t small steps. They’re clear goals that will help to improve the health of our nation. So why is Obama’s Health Plan getting flack? Why is it being represented as bad for business and bad for the people it hopes to help? Health care costs are anticipated to double over the next few years, more and more are losing their insurance coverage because they can’t afford it. The government has long been against changing programs in a direction that doesn’t benefit it financially. Insurance companies are a source of that income and don’t want to lose a chunk of their profit. What better way to kill a plan than to make it look like something it’s not?

Celebrity Substance Abuse

David Ortiz Also Tested Positive!

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Early this year, we shared with you The Big Papi’s Steroid Plan, which called for the testing of every baseball player for banned substances, effectively scrapping the random testing practice in Major League Baseball. The Big Papi also wanted players who test positive to be banned for the entire season. This was in February, and the “plan” was shared by David Ortiz at the Red Sox spring training facility. What a difference 5 months can make; now, The Big Papi himself is on the hot seat.

Big PapiAccording to several reports, Ortiz is among 104 pro baseball players who tested positive during testing performed by an independent laboratory in 2003, the results of which were reportedly turned over to the players’ union, destined to be destroyed. Hesitation on the part of the union in destroying the tests resulted in the seizure of the samples by federal agents as part of an investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs by pro athletes. These samples are currently sealed by the court.

Ortiz and teammate Manny Rodriguez, who was given with a 50-game suspension this year, were among the athletes on the list. And Ortiz himself is reportedly surprised that he is on the list. He did not know that he had tested positive six years ago, and a call to the players’ union confirmed to him that the reports were true.

In a statement and during an interview, Ortiz has declared that he intends to find out exactly what substance he tested positive for, and that he intends to share what he learns with everyone. This is certainly a shocker for someone who has been an outspoken critic of steroid use.

It can be recalled, however, that Ortiz did say that he did not know whether he unknowingly took steroids in the Dominican Republic during his younger days. He also said that he had stopped purchasing protein shakes because he did not now for sure what these contained.

Home Health Hazards

Planning a Day at the Beach? Put Safety First!

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A couple of days ago, we did a feature on ensuring that you and your family are safe before “taking the plunge” and heading off to the pool for a nice swim to cool off. This time, we take you to a more natural – but not necessarily more risk-free – way to fend off the summer heat: taking a dip at the beach.

beachDue to the fact that we have less control over the ocean, there are even more contaminants there that may potentially be harmful to us and our families. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a leading environmental group, for instance released its annual report called “Testing the Waters”. The study revealed that coastal contamination is “a serious problem” in the state of California; the good news, though, is that pollution-triggered beach closures and advisories decreased by nearly 25% between 2007 and 2008.

Water pollution, including the existence of environmental toxins and chemical toxicants, are definitely the risks that one should watch out for when swimming in open water. This is the result of, among others, storm-water runoff, which can fill waterways with pathogens, pesticides and heavy metals, and sewage spills. Unfortunately, due to the obvious vastness of the ocean, there is no way for anyone to control the quality of the water, unlike swimming pools which can be cleaned and treated. One good way to ensure that you are not compromising your family’s health is to keep yourself aware on the various environmental issues affecting your community.

Here are a  a few tips from the Environmental Protection Agency regarding ways to somehow ensure the safety of your family while enjoying a day at the beach. First is not to swim immediately after heavy downpour, as rains can cause waste water to seep into beaches and lakes. One should also stay away from areas where there are potential sources of pollutants, such as pipes or ditches. It is safer to ensure that your children do not swallow the water, and to keep the heads of smaller children above water.

Early Disease Detection

Weight Loss Surgery Safer Than Initially Thought

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Surgery of any kind – from the simplest of appendectomies to the most complicated of transplants – is never risk-free. Among the types of surgeries that is being associated with high fatality rates is weight-loss surgery, a belief that became the basis of a study, the results of which were published this week on the New England Journal of Medicine.

Among the researchers is Dr. Bruce Wolfe, a professor of surgery at the Oregon Health and Science University. For this study, Dr. Wolfe and his colleagues observed more than 4,700 patients in the first month following a bariatric procedure. Their general conclusion is that weight-loss surgery is not as dangerous as some people think it is, but not for everyone; there are some risk factors that may contribute to the appearance of problems after surgery.

waist circumferenceThis is certainly good news, considering the fact that due to an increase in the number of obese people who turn to procedures such as bariatric surgery to lose unwanted and unhealthy weight, more people are also worrying about the risks that such procedures may bring. The number of people undergoing weight loss surgery has reportedly increased tenfold since 1994.

Among the patients who were studied by Dr. Wolfe and his colleagues, 4.3% developed serious problems after surgery, including blood clots and the necessity of having to undergo another surgery. 0.3%, or 15 patients, died within the month following the surgery; this is not exactly a surprising fact, as this statistic holds true for other types of surgery as well.

There were four factors that stood out as having a tendency to increase the risk for developing complications after weight loss surgery: sleep apnea, severe obesity, a history of blood clots, and the inability to walk at least 200 feet before undergoing surgery.

That being said, weight-loss surgery is generally considered a safe procedure to undergo, especially when one takes into consideration the fact that it can potentially mean survival for those who are very obese. Obesity is a condition that may result in the development of other diseases such as heart ailments and type 2 diabetes.

Early Disease Detection

Agent Orange Still A Factor in Disease

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Agent Orange, a defoliant used during the Vietnam War, has been linked to two other health conditions according to research by an expert panel. It appears that those who were exposed to the chemical are more likely to develop Ischemic heart disease and Parkinson’s. The 14 member team that made the report, a group selected by the Institute of Medicine, was given the task of researching if those exposed to herbicides used to defoliate stretches of jungle were more likely to contract diseases later.

The report, although its findings aren’t irrefutable, is expected to help veteran groups that have been making just such claims for many years gain coverage for Parkinson’s and ischemic heart disease among others. The institute of Medicine has found at least 17 such conditions to be connected to use of Agent Orange since 1994 alone, 13 of these are covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The report makes it clear that while certain chemicals are linked to Parkinson’s Disease research has yet to begin on veterans suffering the condition. Its findings on isometric heart disease ( a condition that causes heart damage by slowing blood flow to the heart and causing irregular heart beat) could also be unclear due to the  effects smoking, age and weight could have on the results.

Health & Wellness

How Does Home Testing Work With Medical Care?

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HairConfirmMost home testing supplies are not meant to be used as a way for people to treat themselves medically. They should be used in conjunction with proper medical care as a way for people to either spot problems that they may be having or to help treat a chronic condition. They are ideal for those who have chronic problems and need regular testing as they can eliminate trips to the doctor’s office. However, they should still work in conjunction with a physician.

Diabetics should, for example, still see their doctor on a regular basis, even if they continue to get good results from their blood glucose meters. Most doctors will ask that patients who have chronic conditions and who are using home testing supplies keep a record of their results. This can help a doctor know if the prescriptions that they are writing are working or need to adjusted.

Some home testing kits are made to be used in place of going a doctor. An example would be for pregnancy tests. They can not only save a woman time and money in checking with her doctor when she thinks she is pregnant, but they can also be a signal to get to the doctor so she can begin to get care when she finds she is pregnant. Home testing for ovulation or drugs can be done privately with the person using the results as a basis for medical care if needed. If you decide to get medical care because of the results of a home testing kit, you should be sure to tell the doctor which test you took and the results of the test. Most doctors will then test you again using more specialized testing equipment.

Health & Wellness

What Type Of Home Drug Testing Is Available?

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icupEmployers are not the only ones who are testing for illegal drug use. Many parents are concerned about drug use with their kids and want to find a way to see if their teen is using drugs. One way to do this is to use home testing kits. There are several home testing kits that are on the market for different types of illegal drugs.

Parents who suspect that their child may be taking drugs can use the home testing kits as a way to see if there are drugs in the system. The length of time that drugs will stay in a person’s system depends upon the drug. The home testing kits test the drug through the urine, which eliminates the trace of the drug the quickest. When it comes to drug testing, blood testing and hair sampling are more effective ways to test for drugs as they pick up traces in the system for longer periods of time. However, at home drug tests can be used to test for drugs provided they are used soon after the drugs are taken.

Parents should also know that there are detoxification drinks that teens can take to disguise the color of their urine and pass the at home drug tests. Therefore, if a parent is thinking of giving an at home drug test to a teen, they need to do so on a random basis. In most cases, the home testing kit will pick up traces of the drug when present, especially if it has been in the system for less than three to four days. Parents who find that their children are taking drugs can then take the right measures to help prevent them from drug abuse in the future. As these tests are available to be used at home, it can eliminate a trip to the doctor for a worried parent.

Pregnancy & Fertility

Are Home Pregnancy Tests Always Accurate?

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1087_medOne question that women always ask themselves when using a home pregnancy test is if they are always accurate. You are more likely to get a false negative reading than a false positive reading when you are using a home test for pregnancy. A positive reading with a home test almost always means that you are pregnant.

Women who get a false negative reading often do not follow the directions for the test or take the test too soon. The PH levels have to get to a certain level where they will be picked up in the urine in order for a home pregnancy test to determine if you are pregnant. In some tests, it takes a week after you have missed your period before this can be determined through the test. In other tests, pregnancy can be determined a number of days after a missed period. Many women who get a false negative will take the test a few days after they have had intercourse to see if they are pregnant which can mean a false reading.

In some cases, a woman may be pregnant but may miscarry. This can lead to a positive reading, after which the woman gets her period. In cases where there is a positive reading, a woman should always see a doctor who can make the clinical diagnosis based upon an examination. In just about all cases when a woman finds that she is pregnant through a home pregnancy test, she will find that the doctor will concur with the results.

If you take a home pregnancy test and get a false reading and still do not get your period, you should take another test. There are some cases where stress can affect the cycle, especially in young women and this is generally not a cause for concern.

Early Disease Detection

Over The Counter HIV Testing

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1024_medMany people worry about contracting HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS. Even today, there is somewhat of a stigma with this disease that can be caught through blood or body fluid transmission. Many people are afraid to take a test to see if they have the disease. They do not want to go to the doctor for such a test because they are afraid of the doctor passing judgment against them. This can be especially true if the person lives in a small community and knows their family doctor very well.

There are home testing products that you can use to help clear your mind about getting the AIDS virus. These home testing kits are easy to use and very discreet. You can purchase a home testing kit for HIV and mail in your test in discreet packaging to a processing center. After your test has been processed, you will then receive your results in an equally discreet manner.

Many people who use the HIV home tests are very relieved to take the test and know that they do not have HIV. Those who do have HIV can see their doctor for medication. Thanks to the many advances that have taken place over the past decade when it comes to fighting AIDS, there are medications that can treat this condition. There have even been cases where those who were diagnosed with HIV managed to rid their body of the virus.

Instead of worrying about whether or not you have HIV and fearing the trip to the doctor, you can take a home testing kit that can give you the results that you want and, in most cases, rid your mind of worry.

Pregnancy & Fertility

Do You Have A Yeast Infection?

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Yeast-infectionMany women are bothered by what they think is a yeast infection. This can include a discharge from the vagina that is itchy and can have a foul odor. There are products on the market that can treat a yeast infection over the counter. The problem is that many women are misdiagnosing yeast infections when they really have a different type of infection, most often bacterial.

A bacterial infection can mimic a yeast infection in some women. There is both bacteria and yeast in the vagina and they are supposed to balance out one another. In some cases, the yeast or bacteria overgrows and causes an infection. There are home testing products on the market that can help a woman determine if she has a yeast infection or a bacterial infection. They work by testing the PH balance in the urine and are highly accurate.

Using a home testing product is a good idea to determine if you have a yeast infection, before you start to treat yourself for the condition. This way, you can be sure that this is what you have and do not treat yourself for a condition that is not present in your system. These home testing supplies can help you avoid making matters worse by treating yourself for a yeast infection if you are suffering from a bacterial infection.

Both of these type of infections are common in women. While yeast infections can be treated over the counter, bacterial infections need to be cleared up with antibiotics. Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics to clear up a bacterial infection, if this is the case, based upon the findings of your home test.