Ways Pets Can Make People Healthier

December 20, 2012

Whether it’s companionship or keeping you warm at night, most pet owners know Fido and Fluffy are good for your spirit.   Dogs and cats have long been touted for the joy they can bring to your life, but you may not realize just how good they are for your health, too.

From lowering your blood pressure to asthma prevention, pet owners enjoy many benefits from their trusted friends that we can celebrate.   WebMD put together a list of 27 ways pets can improve health.

Here are CWN’s top 5 picks for ways our pets can make us healthier:

  1. Studies show pet owners have lower blood pressure and heart rates.
  2. Dogs can alert diabetics of sudden drops in blood glucose level
  3. Kids with ADHD can benefit from having a pet
  4. Walking your dog helps to beat osteoporosis by strengthening your bones
  5. Children with autism are often calmed when working with animals

Click here to read more on WebMD and watch a slide show of some great pet moments.


How to Find the Right Doctor for You

October 21, 2012

It can be one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make, especially if you face a difficult diagnosis.  Finding the right doctor is key to getting the right care for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t feel bad if your doc doesn’t feel like the right fit. Just move on. That’s advice from someone who should know: ABC News Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser.  Dr. Besser took a look at how to navigate the doctor maze and make that all important decision for your health.  **Click on the video above to see his report.

One of Dr. Besser’s best tips is to find a doctor you know and feel comfortable with BEFORE you’re faced with a crisis.  A General Practitioner or Internist, who can help guide you to the right specialists, if needed.  It’s not always easy and it does take some work.  Here are a few points to consider when choosing a doctor:

  • Look at your health plan to see who’s covered
  • Get personal referrals from friends and family
  • Don’t be intimidated if the doctor you try isn’t a right fit– try another one
  • Ask your doctor who they to go – try to find the doctor’s doctor

Doctors Take a Shot at Making Needles Pain Free

October 11, 2012

Help could be on the way for those who cringe at the thought of getting an annual flu shot or, even worse, watching your little ones suffer through all those vaccine shots. Doctors at Florida Hospital in Tampa are testing new ways to make that painful needle prick painless. Click here to learn more and watch this report by FOX TV in New York.

Read more

Toyota Recalls 7.5 Million Cars

October 10, 2012

Some of the most popular vehicles on the road today are part of a major recall by Toyota.  Toyota is recalling 7.5 million cars worldwide and 2.5 million in the United States.  Among the cars affected are the Camry, Corolla, Tundra, Highlander  and Yaris.

The problem  has to do with a faulty door switch that could cause a car fire.  This is Toyota’s largest recall since it had to contend with the sudden acceleration complaints in 2009 and 2010.

The switch is on the driver’s side door panel. Consumers have reported smelling smoke and within seconds flames bursting from the driver’s side door.  More than 160 fires have been attributed to the switch issue, including eight injuries.  According to Toyota, the fires start in the driver’s side window button that controls whether other passengers can operate their windows.  The company reports that before problems occur the button can feel sticky.

The faulty door switch issue might not end with just Toyota. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also investigating Subaru and General Motors for similar complaints.

The Toyota vehicles involved in the recall include:

  • 2007 to 2008 Yaris
  • 2007 to 2009 RAV4
  • 2007 to 2009 Tundra
  • 2007 to 2009 Camry
  • 2007 to 2009 Camry Hybrid
  • 2008 to 2009 Scion xD
  • 2008 to 2009 Scion xA
  • 2008 to 2009 Sequoia
  • 2008 Highlander
  • 2008 Highlander Hybrid
  • 2009 Corolla
  • 2009 Matrix

Click here to read more on AOL Auto News.

Meningitis Outbreak: What You Need to Know

October 8, 2012

By Nicole Mayer:

As of October 10, 2012, 137 people have been affected by the fungal meningitis outbreak in ten states, and at least twelve have died.

Health officials estimate that 13,000 people have been exposed to lots of an epidural steroid, which must be injected.

Growing Concern

On October 6, 2012, Massachusetts-based pharmacy, The New England Compounding Center (NECC) expanded its recall of products potentially linked to the recent fungal meningitis outbreak.

On October 4, 2012,  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the FDA previously recommended that health care professionals cease use of any products produced by NECC.  Initially, only three lots of injected steroids were recalled.

Now, in what it is referring to as an abundance of caution, NECC is recalling  all of its other products as well.

A full list of the products recalled by NECC is now posted in a 71-page document titled “list of all products manufactured since January 2012.”   While most items on the list have complex pharmaceutical-sounding names, some items have much more common names, such as certain types of “Magic Mouthwash.”

Who’s Affected?

The CDC, reporting on the outbreak, updates its website daily to reflect new cases.  As of October 10, 2012, the 137 cases and 12 deaths reported were found in the following states:

Tennessee – 44 cases, including 6 deaths

Michigan – 29 cases, including 3 deaths

Virginia – 27 cases, including 1 death

Indiana -15 cases

Maryland – 9 cases, including 1 death

Florida – 6 cases, 1 death

Minnesota – 3 cases

North Carolina – 2 cases

New Jersey – 2 cases

Ohio – 1 case

Of the states with confirmed cases, the following are the locations of facilities known to be affected, as reported by each state’s health department:

The Tennessee Department of Health reports three facilities with cases associated with epidural steroid injections provided at three facilities: (1) PCA Pain Center in Oak Ridge, (2) Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center in Nashville, (3) Specialty Surgery Center in Crossville.  You may call the Tennessee Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 with questions about the outbreak.

The Michigan Department of Health  reports four affected facilities but the list of the facility names was not immediately located on its website. The Detroit Associated Free Press reports the affected facilities as: (1) Michigan Neurosurgical Institute in Grand Blanc; (2) Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton; (3) Neuromuscular & Rehabilitation in Traverse City; and (4) Southeast Michigan Surgical Hospital in Warren.

The Virginia Department of Health  reports two affected medical facilities: (1) Insight Imaging in Roanoke, which already contacted more than 600 of its patients and (2) New River Valley Surgery Center in Christiansburg, which contacted less than 30 patients.  Individuals with questions may call their local health department or 211.

The Indiana State Department of Health reports the following six health care facilities known to have received the infected lots: (1) Ambulatory Care Center, LLP, Evansville; (2) Ft. Wayne Physical Medicine, Ft. Wayne; (3) OSMC Outpatient Surgery Center, Elkhart; (4) South Bend Clinic, South Bend; (5) Union Hospital, Terre Haute; (6) Wellspring, Columbus. Patients who have received steroid injections at these facilities since July 1, 2012, and who are experiencing symptoms of meningitis may contact Ken Severson at (317) 233-7104 or via email at kseverson@isdh.in.gov.

The Florida Department of Health reports six facilities in Florida received products from the contaminated steroid lots which are leading to meningitis cases: (1) Florida Pain Clinic, Ocala; (2) Marion Pain Management Center, Ocala; (3) Orlando Center for Outpatient Surgery, Orlando; (4) Pain Consultants of West Florida, Pensacola; (5) Surgery Center of Ocala, Ocala; (6) Surgical Park Center, Miami. If you received back or joint injections there since May 21, 2012, it is advised that you watch for symptoms.

The Minnesota Department of Health reports usage of the implicated drugs at: (1) Medical Advance Pain Specialists (MAPS) in Edina, Fridley, Shakopee and Maple Grove; (2) Minnesota Surgery Center (MSC) in Edina and maple Grove.   It is estimated that approximately 950 patients were treated with the implicated steroid product and the facilities contacted those individuals over this past weekend.  For more information, residents may call Buddy Ferguson at (651) 201-4997.

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reports  receipt of the affected product at seven facilities: (1) Berlin Interventional Pain Management, Berlin; (2) Box Hill Surgery Center, Abingdon; (3) Greenspring Surgery Center, Baltimore; (4) Harford County Ambulatory Surgery Center, Edgewood; (5) Maryland Pain Specialists, Towson; (6) SurgCenter of Bel Air, Bel Air; (7) Zion Ambulatory Center, Baltimore.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports three clinics having received the recalled products. The first two used the lots for spinal injections: (1) High Point Surgery Center, High Point; (2) Surgical Center of Wilson, Wilson. All 94 patients who were exposed at these clinics have been notified. The third clinic (3) North Carolina Orthopaedic Clinic, Durham, used the product for joint injections to relieve pain. The clinic is working to contact all those potentially exposed.

The Ohio Department of Health reports that the tainted medication was sent to the following four Ohio healthcare facilities: (1) Marion Pain Clinic, Marion; (2) BKC Pain Specialists, Marion; (3) Cincinnati Pain Management, Dublin; (4) Ortho-Spine Rehab Center, Dublin.

The New Jersey Department of Health reports that the following six facilities have now removed the tainted medication from their inventory: (1) Central Jersey Orthopedics Specialists, PC in South Plainfield; (2) Edison Surgical Center, Edison; (3) IF Pain Associates/Isaiah Florence, Teaneck; (4) Premier Orthopaedic Associates, Vineland; (5) Comprehensive Pain Management, Sparta; (6) South Jersey Healthcare, Elmer and Vineland.

Other States Affected

Other states that received the implicated products, but that have no confirmed cases reported, include: California; Connecticut; Georgia, Idaho; Illinois; New Hampshire; Nevada; New York; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; Texas; and West Virginia.  If you live in any of these states and have questions, you may want to contact your state’s health department to see if it has a list of facilities that received the affected products.


The CDC reports that the potentially contaminated injections were given starting May 21, 2012.  Those who think they may have been affected are advised to look for symptoms such as: fever, new or worsening headache, neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, new weakness or numbness, increasing pain, redness or swelling of the injection site.

The type of meningitis caused by the affected products is fungal meningitis and is NOT contagious.

In just the past four days, the number of cases reported has increased 114% (from 64 cases to 137 cases) and the number of deaths reported went up by 41% (from 7 to 12).

Eye-opening Story on Why Glasses are So Expensive

October 8, 2012

If you’ve bought sun glasses or prescription eyeglasses recently, you probably experienced a bit of sticker shock. The price for consumer favorites like Ray Bans or designer frames like Chanel can rival a paycheck for some, these days.  What’s going on?  “60 Minutes” took an in depth look at one of the culprits for why we’re paying so much. It has to do with a huge Italian company buying up well known names like LensCrafters, Pearle Vision and Ray Ban and cornering the market.  Click here to watch Leslie Stahl’s eye-opening piece.

Are Food Stamps Part of the Obesity Problem in the U.S.?

September 14, 2012

It’s a controversial question, but some people are asking, whether being on Food Stamps is making people fatter.  With the tough economy the number of people using SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is at an all time high.  Nearly 47 million Americans, that’s one in seven, now use Food Stamps.  Some studies indicate that participants are more likely than non-participants to be overweight or obese.  This report by ABC News takes a look at the the debate over whether purchases using Food Stamps should ban things like chips and soda and be limited to healthier foods. Click here to watch and learn more.

Read more

Finally, a Life Raft to Homeowners Underwater

August 30, 2012

By Nicole Mayer:

If you have an FHA home loan, but don’t have the equity; credit; or income to refinance and save money, the FHA Streamline Refinance Program may be your new best friend.  It could save you hundreds of dollars each month on your mortgage payment.

And if your current FHA loan was endorsed on or before May 31, 2009, your savings could be greatly increased, thanks to a recent change in FHA mortgage insurance premiums.

FHA streamline refinancing has been available since the early 1980s but given the drop in interest rates over the past few years, and changes in FHA mortgage insurance rates, the savings for homeowners are potentially huge.

Read more

History of FHA Mortgage Insurance Rates for Non-Jumbo Loans

August 30, 2012

Data includes Loan Terms of More than 15 Years &  Impact of FHA Streamline Refinance Done after June 11, 2012

Created using letters released by HUD identifying program changes

*Payments based on $200,000 non-jumbo loan with term of over 15 years.

Numbers could vary depending on balance at time of refinance.


To Enlarge, Click the Table You Wish to View.

How to Deal with a Medical Bill Mistake

August 28, 2012

Navigating the ever-confusing medical system is enough to leave you frustrated and exhausted these days.  One of the biggest pains is getting an improper medical charge fixed. A recent study by the American Medical Association found that  one in 10 bills paid by private health insurance have mistakes. That’s means you need to be extra diligent when you receive a doctor’s bill or Explanation of Benefits from your health insurance company.  The Today Show took a look at how to handle a bad charge on a medical bill on its LifeInc.com website.

A few key tips:

1. Understand your insurance coverage. Knowing your deductibles and co-pays — things you should check before you receive treatment (if possible) — will help you spot when something might be amiss, according to the Healthcare Billing & Management Association.

2. Keep track of what services you have received and what you’ve paid and keep the records.

3. When you receive an “Explanation of Benefits” form from your insurer, don’t just file it or toss it in the trash.  Be sure to read it, and if something is not being paid for, find out why. Otherwise, you could be financially responsible.

4. Don’t just pay a bill if you think something should be covered by your insurance. Some medical offices send out statements that look like bills, before receiving an insurance payment.  Check any statements against your Explanation of Benefits.

Click here to read more in the full article on LifeInc.




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