DEALING WITH COLD SORES

Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are often a winter inevitability. They are caused by the oral form of the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). The virus is highly contagious. According to one source, about 67 percent of the world’s population younger than 50 years old has HSV-1. Most people contract it in early childhood; it is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Once you are infected with it, the virus never leaves your body. Fortunately for most people, the virus remains inactive throughout their lives.

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MEDICARE COVERS SCREENING FOR DEPRESSION

Have you made a resolution to take better care of yourself this year? Be sure to consider not only your physical health but your mental health as well.  According to a new federal report from the Centers for Disease Control, people in the United States have made great progress in some health areas — for example, they get more exercise and fewer teens smoke cigarettes — but they have lagged behind in many others, particularly in the area of mental health.

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CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE STARTING AN EXERCISE PROGRAM

You hear it all the time: “Before beginning any exercise program, see your doctor.”

It’s good advice, especially if you’ve been sedentary and are now determined to get back into shape. It is important to consult a physician about your current state of health so you can be aware of possible limitations or problems that could arise while you’re working out.

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Have you made a resolution to take better care of yourself this year? Be sure to consider not only your physical health but your mental health as well.


According to a new federal report from the Centers for Disease Control, people in the United States have made great progress in some health areas —for example, they get more exercise and fewer teens smoke cigarettes — but they have lagged behind in many others, particularly in the area of mental health.


If you need an incentive to take inventory of your mental health, be aware Medicare covers a yearly screening for depression. It is part of the Annual Wellness Visit, during which you would discuss and create with your doctor a plan of preventive care for the coming year. According to Medicare Interactive (www.medicareinteractive.org), these screenings are designed to be completed by a doctor or other primary care provider to ensure you are correctly diagnosed and treated and receive follow-up care. In order to get Medicare to cover it, the depression screening must take place in a primary care setting.


The screening includes a Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-2 and PHQ-9) that helps discern if you may be at risk for or have symptoms of depression. If the questionnaire results indicate you are at risk

for or have symptoms of depression, your doctor will do a more thorough evaluation and, if necessary, refer you to a mental health professional for further care.


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) (www.cms.gov) says screening for depression in adults is reasonable and necessary for the prevention or early detection of illness or disability. The CMS describes depression as a mental disorder characterized by alterations in mood. The symptoms of depression have been recognized as far back as ancient times. (Hippocrates called it melancholia.) Depression is not a single disease, says the CMS; it is a syndrome manifested by a variety of diseases with distinct causes. Its origin includes psychological, social and biological factors.


Depression affects people across the age spectrum. In older adults, depression is often linked with comorbidities such as cancer, arthritis, stroke, lung disease and cardiovascular disease. Grief is another important risk factor for depression, and older people generally experience an accelerated loss of friends and loved ones as they age. Diagnosis of depression is based on a highly variable set of

MEDICARE COVERS SCREENING FOR DEPRESSION

symptoms. These symptoms include depressed mood; diminished interest or pleasure in activities the person formerly enjoyed; significant weight loss or gain; fatigue or loss of energy; feelings of worthlessness; and insomnia or hypersomnia.


Depression screening is important because it can help improve mental health and general medical outcomes. Under-recognized and undertreated mental illness is a serious social problem. It creates significant impacts on public health and the economy. One study estimates the combined U.S. direct and indirect costs of depression to be $83.1 billion, including $31.5 billion in direct costs and the remainder in indirect, mostly workplace costs. Depression is projected to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide by 2020.

DR. JEFFREY FOXX

A Covington, Ky., native, Dr. Jeffrey Foxx founded Family Practice Associates of Lexington in 1983. Dr. Foxx holds the belief that “God is first, family is second and medicine is third.”

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