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1-in-5 People with Diabetes Don’t Know They Have It

From ALLtech medical provider Regence BlueShield

November is National Diabetes Month, a time to raise awareness of a chronic condition that’s far more common than many people realize.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 34 million people in the U.S. — 10 percent of the population — have diabetes. Another 88 million people — more than a third of adults in the U.S. — have prediabetes, where their blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed.

People with diabetes are unable to manage how much glucose exists in their bloodstream. Glucose, a type of sugar, is the main source of energy for the cells in our bodies. A hormone called insulin controls glucose levels, and people who have diabetes often require insulin injections to help maintain healthy glucose levels.

The different types of diabetes

There are three types of diabetes — type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is, by far, the most common, representing about 90 percent of people with diabetes. It’s usually diagnosed in adults, and type 2 diabetes is both preventable and sometimes reversible through weight loss, exercise and a healthy diet.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition where a person’s pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, usually diagnosed in children. The third type is gestational diabetes, which develops for some pregnant women who have never had diabetes.

Over the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled. It’s the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., and people with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke, and more likely to have serious complications from COVID-19.

How to prevent developing diabetes

Type 2 diabetes sneaks up on us. It develops over many years, and the symptoms are often not noticeable. Eighty-four percent of people who have prediabetes don’t know they have it, and one in five people with diabetes don’t know they have it.

The known risk factors for prediabetes and developing type 2 diabetes include:

  • Being overweight
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Age (45 or older)
  • Genetics — e.g. having a close relative with type 2 diabetes

If you have risk factors, talk to your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested. ALLtech members also have access to health plan resources for managing and preventing diabetes — more information is available on the Regence site.

Regence’s Dr. Drew Oliveira shares helpful diabetes information

Watch the short video above for helpful tips, including the importance of staying current with your screenings, ways to reverse prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes, and what you can do if you are diagnosed.

Prepare Your Workforce for Cold and Flu Season with Regence Webinar on Nov. 4

ALLtech medical provider Regence BlueShield* is sharing some of its own unique strategies with a member webinar at 9 a.m. November 4 on Solutions you can implement today to prepare your workforce for an unusual cold and flu season:

The kids are going back to school. Some of us are going back to onsite work (or never left it). And the holidays are on the horizon. How can you ethically encourage your employees to proactively manage their health heading into the fall? In this session, Dr. Jim Polo will share his tips, tricks and tools to mitigate absenteeism during a cold and flu season in the midst of a COVID resurgence.

In the second half of this session, we’re pulling back the curtain in today’s changed world. You’ll hear from Chief Human Resources Officer Elizabeth Cole on how our HR team is meeting the needs of our organization’s 5,000 employees and their families.

This webinar is a can’t-miss for those who want to benchmark their own strategies against best practices and insights from medical experts and fellow employers. Have questions now? Please submit them when you register, and we’ll have our guest speakers address them live.

Session participants are eligible for 1.0 Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM Certification Program (SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®). For more information about SHRM certification or recertification, please visit www.shrmcertification.org.

*Asuris Northwest Health services ALLtech members in Asotin, Adams, Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens and Whitman counties.

Now is the Time to Catch Up on Immunizations

From ALLtech medical provider Regence BlueShield

Thousands of people in the U.S. become severely ill and are hospitalized or even die each year because of vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines have saved lives from polio, measles, mumps, rubella, flu and now COVID-19. At times, vaccines have helped to remove disease from areas that have high vaccination rates.

In 2000, measles was declared eliminated in the United States. However, in December 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 1,276 cases in 31 states. So how did measles make a comeback?

Most cases where vaccine-preventable disease re-emerges involve unvaccinated people. It’s also important to remember that measles and other diseases are still common in other countries. This makes it easy for unvaccinated travelers to become infected with preventable disease and bring it back to the U.S. And as the number of unvaccinated people increases, the virus is more likely to spread to others and cause infections.

“Immunizations play such an important role in protecting our health as well as the health of our loved ones and communities,” says Dr. Drew Oliveira, senior executive medical director at Regence. “National Immunization Awareness Month is a great time to highlight the value of getting recommended vaccines. You have the power to protect yourself and your family against serious vaccine preventable diseases like measles, the fluwhooping coughhepatitis, and cancers caused by HPV.”

Vaccines aren’t just for young children. Adults also need vaccines to protect against different types of pneumonia and shingles. And adults with certain health conditions like diabetes are more susceptible to severe complications from certain vaccine-preventable diseases. By getting recommended vaccines during pregnancy, women can give their babies and themselves the best protection against whooping cough and the flu.

Specific immunizations are recommended for young adults and teens entering middle school and college, anyone who may be traveling abroad, and those with underlying health conditions. The CDC provides immunization schedules for all age groups on their website.

If you have school-age children, Oliveira recommends scheduling an appointment for their vaccinations as soon as possible to ensure they get all their recommended doses before school starts. “This is the month where we see the biggest delay in being able to schedule an appointment,” says Oliveira. “We encourage everyone, including adults that may not be aware they need vaccines, to have a conversation with their health care provider now to ensure they’re up to date on all routine vaccines”

Regence health plans cover most immunizations at 100% when members use an in-network provider. ALLtech members enrolled in Regence BlueShield can use the online Find a Doctor tool at regence.com to find a doctor or clinic. Be sure to sign in to your account so results are based on your benefits.

Person using laptop and mobile phone.

National Survey Reveals Our Eyes are in Overdrive

From ALLtech vision care provider VSP Vision Care Inc.

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives in unexpected ways, including increasing our amount of screen time due to us being at home more often. VSP® Vision Care recently sponsored a national survey that revealed how the pandemic has influenced Americans’ attitudes about screen time, its effect on our eyes and the importance of vision care.

Prioritizing Eye Health and Wellness

According to the survey, nine in 10 Americans think it’s important to take care of their eyes coming out of the pandemic. With a renewed sense of appreciation for health and wellness, the survey also found that nearly 60% of Americans report prioritizing a visit to their eye doctor out of a greater interest for their overall health.

Eyes in Overdrive Due to Increased Screen Time

More than half of respondents shared that they look at a computer screen most of the day. Because of working from home, catching up over video calls or supporting kids through distance learning, the survey findings show that many of us are ready for a break from digital devices. In fact, more than half would consider a “digital detox,” defined as a break from screen time.

While we’ve found new ways to stay connected, people are experiencing more than just fatigue from video calls. The survey found that nearly a quarter of Americans say that their eyes feel worse than they did a year ago. And nearly two in three report experiencing some degree of eye discomfort on a daily basis.

All the long hours logged in front of computers and smartphones can contribute to a condition called digital eye strain. When blue light is emitted from digital devices and enters your eyes, it scatters, putting your eyes in overdrive working harder to focus. With prolonged exposure, this can cause symptoms like watery, dry eyes, blurred vision and headaches. These symptoms may be on the rise, as 13% of Americans report that they first learned of the condition in the last year.

Protecting Your Eye Health

Between the visual discomfort, and heightened awareness about the importance of taking care of our overall health, four in five say that they are concerned about protecting their eyes coming out of the pandemic. Parents are also concerned about the effects of screen time on their children’s eyes. The survey found that men are even more likely than women to be worried about their children’s eyes, and when it comes to millennial dads, six in 10 are concerned about their child’s vision due to increased screen time.

Your eye doctor is your ally not only in defense against digital eye strain, but also an advocate for your overall health. During an annual comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will assess the health of your eyes and can catch early warning signs of eye diseases and chronic conditions like diabetes that may otherwise have no noticeable symptoms. Get your eyes in gear and your wellness in check by scheduling your annual eye exam with your local VSP network eye doctor.

Young people holding spark.ers

Protect Your Eyes this Fourth of July

From ALLtech vision care provider VSP Vision Care Inc.

There are plenty of ways to celebrate the Fourth of July, from parades and barbecues to fireworks. If you plan on spending the day outdoors, don’t forget to protect your eyes from the sun with a pair of quality sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection, because even your eyes can get sunburnt.

After the sun goes down, it’s still important to be vigilant about eye safety, especially if you are handling fireworks. Each year, the month surrounding the Fourth of July has a spike in the number of injuries caused by fireworks. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, last year 19% of those injuries were to the eyes. Yikes!

To learn more about the risks associated with fireworks and how to protect you and your loved ones, please click this link to view the entire post from our partners at VSP Vision Care Inc.

 

Woman blowing nose with flowers in background.

Relieve Your Teary, Allergy Eyes

From ALLtech vision provider VSP Vision Care Inc.

High levels of pollen, mold, dust and other irritants can make for miserable eyes! These airborne allergens may be the primary culprit of watery, itchy eyes, but relief may be closer than you think.

If allergens are making you weepy, your eyes are telling you something. “Pay attention to your eyes,” explains Amy Treski, OD, a VSP network doctor at Optique Boutique in Lawrenceville, N.J. “Itching, redness, and swelling of the eyes and eyelids, are common allergy symptoms — itching being the most uncomfortable and swelling the most persistent symptom.” For some immediate relief on days when your allergies are mild, try some do-it-yourself remedies.

DIY Remedies for Mild Cases 

  • Keep the windows shut in your car and home — especially in the early morning hours when pollination tends to occur.
  • Wear wrap-around glasses or sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes.
  • Place a cold compress over your eyes to soothe discomfort.
  • Use artificial tears or lubricating eye drops to flush out any irritants.
  • Try an over-the-counter remedy like allergy eye drops, oral antihistamines, or other medication for mild allergies.

Did You Know? 

Contact lens wearers should wait at least 15 minutes after using any allergy eye drops before putting in lenses.

It’s important to note that allergy eye drops can offer immediate relief, but with long-term use, they can weaken blood vessels in your eyes and make your eyes redder.

What to Do for Severe Allergies 

Prescription drops may be the answer if you suffer from allergies with persistent, moderate to severe symptoms. “There are prescription medications that have a dual action of a mast cell stabilizer and an antihistamine — this blocks the effect of allergens and quickly relieves itching to offer long-lasting relief,” says Dr. Treski.

Dr. Treski suggests visiting your VSP network doctor if allergy symptoms are prolonged or get worse. Your doctor will be able to determine if what you’re experiencing is caused by seasonal allergies or other irritants.

Information received through VSP Vision Care channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your eye doctor, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. 

Recharge and Refresh with Access to Web-Based Tools from ALLtech

Emotional health and well-being support is just a click away for members of ALLtech enrolled in medical from Regence BlueShield/Asuris Northwest Health.

Through the myStrength by Livongo self-service and web-based app, members have access at no additional cost to easily recharge, refresh and improve their mood with resources such as:

  • Strategies to manage heightened stress
  • Tips for parenting during challenging times
  • Ideas to manage social isolation
  • Other tools and information for emotional support

The safe and secure app offers personalized web and mobile tools to help members overcome the challenges they face and stay mentally strong.

To learn more or sign up, download the myStrength Flyer for ALLtech members enrolled in Regence (or the myStrength Flyer for ALLtech members enrolled in Asuris).

Tips for Teaching Kids Good Oral Hygiene

From ALLtech dental provider Delta Dental of Washington.

Teaching a kid good oral hygiene is probably the last battle you want to take on at the end of a long day, especially when just getting them to bed can be a struggle. However, brushing and flossing is an extremely important part of children’s oral and overall health.

Start good habits at an early age and clean your baby’s teeth by wiping them with a soft cloth or brushing with a small soft toothbrush and water. This gets them used to establishing a tooth brushing routine. When children are around 18 months of age, they can be introduced to daily brushing by using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, and encouraged to spit, but not rinse. By age 2, or when teeth start touching, kids should be introduced to flossing. Tip: Some parents find flossing sticks much easier to start with than traditional floss.

Here are three more tips for teaching a child good brushing and flossing habits:

Tip #1: Use Visuals

Flossing and brushing doesn’t automatically make sense to kids. To demonstrate the importance of flossing and good oral health, have your child watch as you dig your teeth into some chocolate. Next, brush and floss your teeth to demonstrate how well both activities remove leftover food particles. Once they’re thoroughly intrigued, break out a toothbrush with their favorite TV character on it or a dental flosser pick (little kids find these easier to handle) and try it out on their teeth.

Tip #2: Give Rewards

As a parent, you know how well positive reinforcement works on kids. They love when something fun waits for them at the end of a task. Why not use this same idea for your children’s oral health? Create a chart and give your child a gold star each day they brush or floss. At the end of the week, reward them with a fun activity or a small toy (not candy). They’ll consider it a fun game, but you’ll know that, secretly, they’re building solid habits and learning how to take care of their smile.

Tip #3: Create Activities

Activities are a great oral health motivator for kids of all ages! All you need is play dough, a large Duplo block, and some yarn. The block represents the teeth, the play dough represents food and gunk caught between teeth, and the yarn is the floss. Use the yarn just like dental floss to show your kids how easily it removes food from teeth. This is a great visual, and kids love jamming the dough in the blocks. Plus, not only do you teach your child how to floss, but you’ve found a way to occupy her for a solid ten minutes — win, win.

If you need help finding a pediatric or family dentist visit our find a dentist tool and use the drop-down tool to select the type of dentist you’re looking for.

Sign up for MySmile to access your dental benefits, get reminders, find your ID card and access the cost estimator for treatment planning.

Your Video Guide on the COVID-19 Vaccine from MDLIVE

ALLtech is thankful to our partners at MDLIVE for sharing Your Guide to the COVID-19 Vaccine: A Video FAQ.

Through its medical providers at Regence BlueShield and Asuris Northwest Health, ALLtech is able to offer 24/7 virtual care at $0 copay on most plans through MDLIVE.

MDLIVE is a valuable option whether you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and want to avoid exposing others, or you’re seeking non-emergency medical care but want to limit your own potential exposure.

Available by phone, secure video or mobile app, MDLIVE offers virtual primary care, psychiatry and counseling therapy, and can be used to treat a range of non-emergency conditions including cold/flu, allergies and headaches. For a list of common ailments, view our MDLIVE pdf.

To learn more about ALLtech or to get a free quote to become a member, fill out our Request a Quote form or call (206) 602-3558.

Next Steps to Access the COVID-19 Vaccine

Now that the COVID-19 vaccine has been approved, what are the next steps to learn more or to get the vaccine?

Washington state offers a comprehensive Coronavirus Response page at coronavirus.wa.gov, where you can determine your eligibility, find vaccine locations, get the latest COVID-19 news and more.

Checking in with your doctor about when you where you should be vaccinated is the first step you should take, according to ALLtech’s medical partner at Regence BlueShield in its article The FDA has OK’d the COVID-19 Vaccine. Now what?

And in the meantime, the article reiterates that the best way to continue to protect yourself and others – including after you’ve been vaccinated – is to:

  • Wear a mask
  • Maintain physical distance
  • Wash your hands