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July 2017

Keep Children Hydrated During Outdoor Play

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Triple digit temperatures and heat advisories plague Texas summers.

It’s especially critical for children to stay well-hydrated. They’re more susceptible to dehydration due to smaller skin surface areas and sweat glands that are not fully developed, making it more difficult for their bodies to cool themselves down. Also, children don’t always recognize the early stages of thirst, which can make them particularly vulnerable to becoming dehydrated when losing more bodily fluids while being active.

If your children participate in sports or often play outside, here are some simple tips to follow to keep them hydrated and safe:

1. Drink up! For every 15 minutes of outdoor activity, children should drink about four ounces of water (approximately four gulps).

2. Consume thirst-quenching snacks. After 30 to 45 minutes of outdoor play, children should ingest some salt and potassium to help protect against electrolyte loss and promote hydration. Some examples of refueling snacks include pretzels, goldfish, oranges, bananas and strawberries. Using food to supply the glucose and electrolytes versus sugary sports drinks actually helps with the fluid absorption and prevents sloshing or an upset stomach from drinking too much fluid too quickly.

3. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. When playing outside, children should wear clothes made with moisture wicking fabric. This modern material pulls moisture from the body to the exterior of the shirt where it can evaporate more easily.

4. Make smoothies and homemade popsicles. Children should drink half of their fluids from water and the other half should come from milk, 100 percent fruit juice, smoothies or homemade popsicles using real fruit.

5. Wear sun protective gear. Sporting a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher will help protect children from harsh UV rays.

6. Avoid soda. Carbonated water mixed with fruit juice is a great alternative to soda.

It’s important to note that heat stroke typically happens during shorter intense activities, such as playing soccer or tag. If your child experiences dizziness, nausea or confusion, they should stop exercising immediately and seek medical attention.

Protect Your Health, Safety and Financial Well-Being While on Vacation

For many Texans, summer means trips to destinations both domestic and abroad. In fact, an all-time record 234.1 million passengers are expected to fly U.S. airlines between June 1 and Aug. 31, up from 224.8 million a year ago, according to Airlines for America.

Unfortunately, about 20 percent of people suffer from an illness or injury while on vacation, the most common of which include food poisoning and car accidents. Before you travel, consider these tips to make sure your health, safety and wallet are covered while you’re away.

1. Know Before You Go: Before traveling out of your home state or internationally, take time to review your health plan and understand what it covers. People traveling domestically should check if your health plan offers a national or local network of hospitals and health care providers, and confirm what level of coverage is available at out-of-network facilities. For people planning to travel overseas, it is important to contact your primary care doctor or travel medicine clinic to determine what pre-screenings or immunizations might be recommended or required, based on your health history and the countries you’ll visit. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) enables people to search a list of countries and determine what vaccines they should consider.

2. Find Care Anywhere: Many health plans now offer telemedicine and mobile apps to support customers’ health needs, including the ability to access a digital ID card; connect with a registered nurse 24/7; and identify nearby care providers, hospitals, pharmacies and urgent care facilities. Public websites, such as www.uhc.com/transparency and www.guroo.com, compare cost information for hundreds of common medical services, helping evaluate options for care. For international trips, contact your global insurance carrier to find out about the availability of approved medical facilities at planned travel destinations.

3. Protection Abroad: Most domestic health plans provide limited coverage overseas, so consider international medical coverage to help alleviate concerns about quality of care and financial anxiety. Look for global policies that can provide foreign-language translation, direct you to appropriate facilities or support evacuation to alternative facilities, and work with local health care providers to coordinate and monitor care. Most domestic insurance won’t cover prescriptions abroad, so for long vacations ask your care provider for enough medication to cover the duration of the trip (as well as check that specific medications are legal in the countries you are visiting). Some international health plans may include prescription drug coverage that enables you to fill prescriptions at local retail pharmacies.

4. Get Your Credit: Even with international coverage, consider carrying an extra credit card with a large limit to use for unanticipated medical expenses. Foreign hospitals will typically want upfront payment, rather than billing the health plan. Get clear and complete copies of all bills, medical records and discharge notes for reimbursement from your health plan. Some global health plans do provide direct payments to foreign hospitals and care providers, eliminating a potential inconvenience and providing peace of mind.

5. Be A Savvy Medicare Traveler: Original Medicare in nearly all cases applies to the U.S. only and does not extend overseas or across the border (other than in cases in the Northern U.S. where the nearest hospital is in Canada). Some Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplement plans offer worldwide emergency coverage for foreign travel, although some have restrictions and lifetime limits. Finally, it’s important to account for the working condition of durable medical equipment needed for the trip, such as glucose monitors and insulin pumps, before departure.

For more information, visit www.uhcsafetrip.com.

Manage Summer Stress with These Tips

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Managing your family’s play, travel and work schedules during the summer can be stressful.

According to United Health Foundation’s 2016 America’s Health Rankings report, Texas ranks 5th in the U.S. when it comes to poor mental health days — days that people unfavorably assess their mental health, which can affect their well-being and quality of life.

A modest amount of stress, offset by periods of relative calm and security, is normal. It’s the high levels of stress that can be dangerous to your health and lead to headaches, back pain, fatigue, upset stomach, anxiety, depression and heart problems.

The good news is that stress can be managed. Here are five tips to help you take control of your health this summer:

  1. Take care of yourself. Eat healthier, engage in moderate exercise and get enough sleep – all of which can improve your health.
  2. Figure out the source. Monitor your mental state throughout the day and keep a list of the things that create stress. Then develop a plan for dealing with these common stressors.
  3. Do things you enjoy. Go to a movie, meet a friend for dinner or participate in an activity that provides relief. Give yourself a break and take time to care about yourself.
  4. Learn relaxation techniques. Deep breathing is helpful. Meditation and “mindfulness techniques” are becoming increasingly popular at home and in the workplace. You can practice mindfulness while sitting in a quiet place or walking. The key is to focus on your breathing or your steps.
  5. Welcome support. Let close friends or relatives know you’re dealing with stress, and they may be able to offer help or support.

For more health and wellness tips, visit UHC.com.