How Kidney Disease Affects Lower-Income Households

Recent research has shown connections between kidney diseases and income, citing lower-income families as higher-risk for these ailments. Today we’ll examine why this is the case, and what can be done about it.

The Kidney Connection
A study published in BMC Nephrology involved about 23,000 adults age 45 and older. These subjects were examined to see whether geographical and racial differences influenced their likelihood of end-stage renal disease, or ESRD.

The incidence of ERSD was about 178.8 per 100,000 persons per year in high-poverty counties, whereas higher income counties had an incidence of only 76.3 per 100,000 persons per year. The study found many kidney disease victims live in southeast U.S. The incidence of ESRD was also almost four times higher among people with incomes of less than $20,000 a year.

Who is Likely to Get Kidney Disease?31812789_l
Many factors influence statistics like those found in the BMC Nephrology study, and in some cases economic struggle and kidney disease form a vicious cycle. People with kidney disease can’t work efficiently, and thus cannot hold jobs. They return home and may make lifestyle choices that aggravate existing kidney problems or lead to their onset.

Causes include dehydration and poor diets high in sugar, salt, and fat, which are common in southeast U.S. due to an emphasis on dishes prepared with butter, grease, and oil. Dehydration, or drinking too many sugary fluids and not enough water, can cause chronic kidney stones that may lead to more serious diseases such as renal failure. Other causes include family history, obesity, and a reliance on processed foods. Low income can influence all these factors to some degree.

What Can Be Done?
potatoeIf you are a low-income family, you may be eligible for a food assistance program through your local Food Bank, which provides nutritious meals. Try to replace unhealthy foods with healthy choices. For example, replace corn and potatoes with leafy greens. Farmer’s markets are a good place to shop for inexpensive healthy foods. Drink plenty of water; most doctors recommend 6-8 glasses per day. Look for foods and drinks containing antioxidants; for example, low-sugar cranberry or blackberry juice can help promote kidney health and help flush out kidneys regularly.

Remember, if you’re taking any medications for kidney disease, and need help affording them, click on the “Get Your Free Card” link or text CARD to 95577. The card is available to everyone at any time. For more information about how the free prescription discount card works, check out our video: wtree.us/video 

By WHBlogger
 

3/23/2015 

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.

Moving the Stone: How to Find Relief from Kidney Stones

Every day, doctors and other medical personnel see patients suffering from kidney stones. This ailment is extremely painful – it has been said that the only pain more intense comes with childbirth. People who suffer from chronic kidney stones may despair of ever finding relief. Today, we’ll discuss what kidney stones are and highlight tips that may help you find relief from kidney stones.

What are Kidney Stones and What Causes Them?kidney stone
Kidney stones are also known as renal calculus, which refers to hard masses of mineral deposits, usually calcium, that build up in the kidneys. They happen when your urine has too many crystal substances or deposits to dilute including uric acid, calcium, and oxalate. When the crystals cannot dilute, they form stones.

While calcium stones are common, you can also get uric acid stones from not drinking enough fluid or losing a large amount of fluid too quickly. Struvite stones usually occur as a result of infection such as a UTI, often with little warning. Cystine stones occur when the urine releases too much of particular amino acids and are usually the result of a hereditary disorder.

Kidney stones have no specific cause, but certain actions make them more likely or aggravate them. Risk factors include family history, obesity, and digestive diseases. Dehydrated people are more likely to have stones, as are people whose diets are high in salt, sugar, red meats, and saturated fats.

What Can I Do for Relief?
The best relief is passage of the kidney stone. Whether it can pass through the urinary tract on its own depends on several factors including the size of the stone, the size of the patient, whether the patient has a history of stones, and how hydrated the patient is. For example, a stone of four millimeters has an 80% chance of passing through the urinary tract. A five-millimeter stone has only a 20% chance. Overweight or obese persons may have a harder time passing a stone because their size puts more pressure on the urinary tract and other organs.

There are a few steps you can take at home to ease the pain and speed up the process of passing a stone. Most importantly, stay well-hydrated. Doctors recommend drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day. You can use a large water bottle with a straw to help increase intake. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin and other NSAIDs will help alleviate pain and make stones easier to pass. 

Remember, if you’re taking any medications for kidney stones, and need help affording them, click on the “Get Your Free Card” link or text CARD to 95577. The card is available to everyone at any time. For more information about how the free prescription discount card works, check out our video: wtree.us/video 

By WHBlogger
 

3/19/2015 

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.

The Unknown Benefits of Green Tea

Green tea is the oldest-known herbal tea. It was first discovered by the Chinese nearly 4,000 years ago; however, in its story of discovery, it is hard to separate fact from fiction. The more common legend is that the Chinese Emperor Shen Nong in 2,737 BC was boiling water to drink when the leaves of a tea green teaplant fell into his pot, and tea was born. Folklore or not, there are records of tea ceremonies in the Yunnan Province of China sometime before 1,000 BC.  

Green tea comes from the leaves of Camellia sinensis (an evergreen shrub) that have undergone minimal oxidation while being processed (or dried for brewing purposes).  The benefits of drinking green tea are seemingly endless. To begin, it’s a great alternative to your coffee, packing just as much (and sometimes even more) caffeine to help kick-start your day without the possible jittery side effects. Caffeine in general increases your metabolism, but green tea is reported to have an extra metabolism-boosting component known as polyphenol. This antioxidant may help speed up the rate your body turns food into energy, so you may burn calories more quickly. 

You may be surprised to learn that green tea may also be an effective method for fighting seasonal allergies because it contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is also an antioxidant that may help block the IgE receptor — the key receptor involved in an allergic response (Panarama AM). According to Panarama AM, green tea’s powerful antioxidant, EGCG, is also believed to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol from the large intestine. Some research suggests that drinking five cups of green tea per day will provide a significant reduction in cholesterol.

Among the many health benefits of this timeless beverage, green tea has also been known to improve oral health, aid your immune system, stop signs of aging in your skin and help prevent conditions like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, Esophageal Cancer and Type II Diabetes. Despite the known health benefits of green tea, everyone’s body reacts differently to stimulants so it is always important to consult a doctor before considering any changes to your diet.

Remember, if you need help affording medications, click on the “Get Your Free Card” link or text CARD to 95577. The card is available to everyone at any time. For more information about how the free prescription discount card works, check out our video:
wtree.us/video 

By WHBlogger 

3/17/2015 

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover on our blog.

Defining MS vs. MD

Our recent blog posts have been focused on defining multiple sclerosis (MS) and what might help relieve some of its symptoms. If you’ve been following along, you know that MS is an autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system, slowly destroying the nerve fiber’s protective coating (myelin). The damaged/scarred myelin causes a disruption in signals between the brain and the body. The results can be difficulty walking and controlling one’s muscles. 15926159_l

Another disease that affects the muscular system, albeit very different from multiple sclerosis, is muscular dystrophy (MD). 

So what is MD?
Muscular Dystrophy is a neuromuscular disease that affects a person’s muscle function. As described by Mayo Clinic.org, muscular dystrophy is a group of diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass. MD is often hereditary and caused by abnormal genes (mutations) that interfere with the production of proteins needed to form healthy muscle. This often leads to paralysis of one or more body parts and can be fatal if MD is present in the heart muscle.

What are the key differences?

Hereditary?Variations?Affects children?Gender specific?Pregression?
     MS                              Not a genetic disorder, although people who have a family history of MS have a higher risk.4 different types                                                    Less common for young
people
(8-10%). 
More common in women.Progresses at an irregular rate.
MDGenerally yes, although it can be developed with no family history.9 different typesSymptoms are typically seen at a young age, sometimes as early as 3-years-old.More common in men, although women are often carriers.  

 Generally progresses at a steady rate.    

While treatments are available to ease the symptoms of both conditions, there is currently no cure for either MS or MD. So now, especially during the month of March, be sure to do your part to get educated and raise awareness. For more information, please visit National MS Society and MDA.

If you have been diagnosed with MS or MD, be sure to take your medications as instructed by your doctor. If you need help affording your prescriptions, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card, request a card be mailed to you, or text CARD to 95577. All brand name and generic medications are eligible for savings with our card.

By WHBlogger 

3/15/2015 

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.
 

Nutrition Advice for People with MS

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a frightening disease. It is both progressive and degenerative. It damages muscles, cells, and structures such as myelin that the body needs to function properly. Therefore, a person with MS can experience a range of physical and cognitive symptoms. Brains of those with MS often shrink as the body degenerates, negatively impacting memory and cognitive function. People with MS usually lose their ability to walk and can lose the ability to control more muscles and fully see, hear, or speak.

There is no cure for MS, but there are steps you can take at home that may help alleviate its symptoms. One key step involves nutrition. Many doctors aren’t fully aware of MS patients’ nutritional needs, but online sources have exploded with information over the past several years. Today, we’ll highlight some of the best nutritional choices an MS patient could make.

Please consult your health care professional before making any drastic changes to your diet, especially if you suffer with any chronic ailments or have health concerns that involve diet restrictions. 

Increase B Vitamins36946825_l
People with MS typically need consistent high doses of B vitamins including B12, B9, and B6. Vitamin B6 is thought to help with energy, while vitamins B9 and B12 aid amino acid conversions into proteins and help regulate the nervous system and production of red blood cells. People who have low vitamin B12 levels may in fact experience symptoms that mimic MS. B12 and its counterparts may help restore function to the mitochondria in cells, thereby increasing energy. You can find B vitamins in lean meats, eggs, and dairy products. Because eggs and dairy are also fattening, ask your doctor whether you need egg substitutes and what forms of milk and cheese are best for you.

Avoid Processed Foods
Physicians and nutritionists know that as society becomes busier and more affluent, people eat more processed foods. MS patients should avoid these products because they typically drain energy and cause symptoms such as weight gain, headaches, stomachaches, and in some cases, depression. These foods include fast foods, any foods or drinks that use preservatives, processed meats and cheeses, white bread, and some sauces.

Go Light on Grains36870557_l
Some doctors recommend that MS patients avoid carbs and grains altogether. Ideally, you should eat foods from every group, but you do need to monitor the types of grains you eat. The white flour used in many processed breads will turn to sugar once it hits your bloodstream. Look for whole grains and brown breads such as rye and pumpernickel. Consider buying whole grain and supplement grains with protein. For example, for a healthy snack, spread low-fat peanut butter or almond butter on rye toast.

Read this amazing story of one woman who was able to cure MS with diet. TED Talk: Minding Your Mitochondria

If you have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, be sure to take your medications as instructed by your doctor. If you need help affording your medications, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card, request a card be mailed to you, or text CARD to 95577. All brand name and generic medications are eligible for savings with our card–including those for heart-disease.

By WHBlogger 

3/13/2015 

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.
 

How Nutritionists Help Americans Feel and Look Great

nutritionMarch 8th heralds Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Day. On this day, we recognize RDNs for the ways they guide us to develop good eating habits, maintain good lifestyles and change harmful ones, and keep us apprised of nutritional news. Becoming an RDN takes years of schooling but unfortunately, their advice often goes unheeded as people make excuses to continue eating unhealthy foods and indulging in sedentary lifestyles. Nutritionists know what they’re talking about, and today we’re going to highlight some of their best tips for a healthy lifestyle.

Please consult your health care professional before making any drastic changes to your diet and exercise, especially if you suffer with any chronic ailments or have health concerns that involve diet or exercise restrictions. 

Choose Your Food Carefully
Most people think the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the healthier you are. Fruits and vegetables are crucial and new data indicates we may need 7-9 servings per day. However, as with any food group though, too much may deprive your body of other necessary nutrients. It’s better to eat foods from each group every day rather than consuming too many of one group. Be aware of the nutrients your body needs most and look for foods containing them. Dark green and yellow vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and skim milk may all be good choices.

Listen to Cravings
If you’re craving something, it’s probably your body’s way of telling you it needs what’s in that food. However, this is not an excuse to eat junk. You may think you’re craving ice cream, but you’re probably low on calcium. Choose a glass of milk or some crackers with low-fat cream cheese instead. Consider satisfying a craving for salt with pickles or lean jerky. Beat a sugar craving with a small square of dark chocolate, a teaspoon of peanut or almond butter, or a cup of decaf mint tea.

Stay Active
Many people see exercise as a chore or a punishment, and this needs to change if America wants to be healthy. Find the exercise routine or activity that’s best for you. If you don’t like team sports, go to the gym, get on a bike or treadmill, and compete with yourself for better times or more calories burned. If you’re social, consider joining a cardio or kickboxing class. Exercise can get repetitive, especially if you’re doing it solo, so entertain yourself with a customized playlist or books on tape. Use a spotter during weight training or if you’re new to a certain machine or routine.

Consult the Experts
If you have a reasonably healthy diet and exercise frequently but are still unhappy with your body, health, or energy levels, it may be time to consult an RDN. He or she can help you determine if you’re eating enough, what types of foods you should be eating, and the exercises that may work for you.

And remember, if you need help affording your medications, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card, request a card be mailed to you, or text CARD to 95577. All brand name and generic medications are eligible for savings with our card–including those for heart-disease.

By WHBlogger 

Originally Posted: 3/11/2015 
Edited: 2/24/2017

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.
 

Watertree Health MVP Spotlight: Marianne King

Continuing series…

mvpMarianne King is a resident of Barnesville, Georgia, who along with her husband of 47 years, are quite active in their community. She and her husband Richard, a former policeman who found his true calling as a pastor, are working to help residents of Barnesville stay healthy. “As a pastor’s wife, I am close to the folks who are part of our church. I hear when things are tough, when someone’s sick and when they are unable to make ends meet,” says Marianne.

In 2012, Marianne found a new way to help her community by joining us at Watertree Health. “Watertree Health was a godsend. I am a self-motivated, good communicator with a passion for helping others,” says Marianne. This made her a perfect fit to help introduce the free prescription discount card to pharmacies and drugstores in her community and other areas around Georgia including Macon, Peachtree City, Riverdale and Fayetteville.

According to several surveys conducted at the start of 2014, Georgia was listed among the top states with the highest number of uninsured, as well as high rates of poverty, diabetes and obesity. For many people in Barnesville, the cost of prescription medicines, even generics, is often prohibitive. To be able to pay for prescriptions, many are forced to make hard choices – skip a meal, skip a bill, skip a dose. Marianne says that since she started working for Watertree Health, she has seen first hand how having the card can help. “I gave it to a friend whose brother was diagnosed with Leukemia. His medicines would have cost her more than $1200, but she got them for only $45.77 – now that’s a miracle!” WH_MVP_LOGO_web_large

Shane Power, President of Watertree Health, notes “Everyone at Watertree Health would agree – we are grateful that we have Marianne on our team. Last summer she became a member of our elite President’s Club alongside only 9 other reps. A big thank you to Marianne for her continued dedication to our mission!

By WHBlogger 

3/10/2015 

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.

How is Multiple Sclerosis Categorized?

As mentioned in our previous blog post, MS is often known as a “snowflake condition” because no two patients are alike. Listed below are the four distinct categories of MS that range from mild to severe cases. These categories are determined by how often the patient experiences relapses, or the development of new symptoms.

12045568_lRelapsing-remitting MS (RRMS)-
This is the most common form of MS, affecting nearly 60% of the MS community (Everyday Health). As written by Everyday Health, in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, patients experience a period of active symptoms, called relapsing, followed by periods that are symptom-free, called remitting. Nearly 85% of people who are first diagnosed with MS suffer from RRMS.

Secondary-progressive MS
Those diagnosed with RRMS often progress to this stage of the condition, typically 10-15 years after initially being diagnosed (Everyday Health). Recovery periods are less common and complete, and the symptoms become more acute.

Primary-progressive MS
Only 10% of the MS community is diagnosed as primary-progressive. Symptoms become more frequent and can gradually lead to disability.

Progressive-relapsing MS- As written by (Everyday Health), people with progressive-relapsing multiple sclerosis do not typically regain complete functioning after a symptom relapse. In progressive-relapsing MS, disability is caused by the combination of disease progression and incomplete recovery after an attack.

Remember, if you’re taking any medications for MS, and need help affording them, click on the “Get Your Free Card” link or text CARD to 95577. The card is available to everyone at any time. For more information about how the free prescription discount card works, check out our video: wtree.us/video 

By WHBlogger
 

3/6/2015 

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.
 

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

This March, it is important to recognize and raise awareness for a condition that affects over 400,000 people in the United States: Multiple sclerosis (often abbreviated MS).

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the body’s central nervous system (the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves). It is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as the level of vitamin D your body is able to absorb. It is classified as an autoimmune disease because people with MS suffer from their own body’s immune system attacking the nerve fiber’s protective coating, called myelin. Myelin allows neurons to send electrical signals throughout the body. When the myelin is damaged, its scar tissue interferes with how the brain communicates with the body. The name “multiple sclerosis” literally means “many scars” (National MS Society).

multiple sclerosis

MS is sometimes called a “snowflake disease” because no two MS patients are alike. There can be over 50 symptoms of varying severity. A person living with MS will typically experience a numbing or tingling sensation in various parts of the body, which can cause issues with balance, coordination, and muscle strength. Muscle spasms and stiffness are also symptoms and can be extremely uncomfortable for MS patients. The intense pain is often described as a burning or stabbing sensation in the face, legs, feet and hands. Because of this pain and discomfort, it can take a person with MS up to five times more energy to complete even the simplest task.

Other symptoms of MS include: impaired vision, bladder problems, constipation, sexual dysfunction, and speech difficulties. It is also important to acknowledge the mental stress this condition can create. Depression, anxiety and cognitive dysfunction are common and should be treated just as seriously as physicals symptoms.

ms

Among the MS community, you may be surprised to learn that several well-known celebrities are silently battling this condition: Jack Osbourne, Montel Williams and Ann Romney, just to name a few.

While disease-modifying therapies are available for the relapsing forms of MS (RRMS and SPMS), scientists are still struggling to develop an effective treatment for the progressive forms of MS. So now, especially during the month of March, be sure to do your part to get educated and raise awareness. For more information on MS, please visit the National MS Society.

Remember, if you’re taking any medications for MS, and need help affording them, click on the “Get Your Free Card” link or text CARD to 95577. The card is available to everyone at any time. For more information about how the free prescription discount card works, check out our video: wtree.us/video 

By WHBlogger 

Originally Posted: 3/4/2015 
Edited: 2/24/2017

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.
 

Scripting a New Health Care Solution

By Shane Power, President of Watertree Health

The 2014-2015 open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act has just ended. Millions of Americans have purchased health insurance, many for the very first time.35819601_l

While this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, the truth remains that there are a huge number of individuals and families who remain “underinsured” because they bought the least expensive plans on the ACA. By this I mean they have health plans that lack any sort of comprehensive prescription coverage, leaving them at the mercy of ever-escalating prescription drug prices. However, help is available.

Prescription discount cards, like the one Watertree Health offers, can provide individuals up to 75% off of their medications.  They can help eliminate some tough decisions people have to make, e.g., do I buy food for dinner or my prescriptions today?, Do I have to ration my medications this month?, etc.

Through our partnerships, we have millions of cardholders buying similar prescriptions, so we are able to negotiate the deepest possible discounts on prescriptions at thousands of pharmacies across the nation – including chains such as CVS and Walgreens. We fill those critical gaps in prescription coverage that exist in so many health plans. Extremely high deductibles that must be met before prescription coverage begins are the rule rather than the exemption. Lists of medications that are covered are shrinking. The cost of a drug when purchased with the Prescription Discount Card is often lower than the corresponding insurance copayments.

Help cannot come soon enough. According to a CDC report issued in January of 2015, one in twelve Americans “did not take medication as prescribed, to save money.” Too many people are not filling prescriptions due to rising costs, and are not receiving the potentially life-saving medications that they need. This is an unacceptable.

Equally unacceptable is the amount that Americans are spending on prescription drugs. The same CDC report states that the United States spent $263 billion on prescription drugs in 2012, and of that, approximately one-fifth came directly from the pockets of consumers. That is $66 billion in personal money being spent on medications ordered by physicians. That number would be dramatically reduced if even a fraction of the people in the United States started using the Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card.

In short, there are solutions to the health care crisis in this country. When faced with a massive price tag, there are resources like Watertree Health that help patients get access to the medicine that they need.