June 2018
Issue No. 93
In this issue
 

About Us  
Insurance logo 
  A not-for-profit ministry of
Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust Inc.

Church of the Brethren Insurance Services provides the following products: dental, vision, basic life and accidental death & dismemberment, supplemental life and AD&D, dependent life and AD&D, long-term disability, short-term disability, voluntary accident insurance, and Medicare supplement for eligible Church of the Brethren employees .
 
Dental, vision, and Medicare supplement coverage may also be available for eligible retired Church of the Brethren employees.
 
For eligibility information, call Connie Sandman at 800-746-1505, ext. 3366, or contact your human resources representative.
 
Medical and ancillary plans (named above) may be available to Brethren-affiliated employer groups.
 
Long-Term Care Insurance is available for all members of the Church of the Brethren, their family and friends, and employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities. 

Contact Us 
1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120
800-746-1505
  www.bbtinsurance.org 
  

 
As you read this, summer weather is upon us, and some of us are smack in the middle of hay fever season, or will be soon. So it is entirely appropriate to devote this issue to allergies. Research seems to indicate that allergies and the related condition of asthma are on the increase across the world.
 
We will look at what causes allergies, and some of the reasons for their upsurge. There is also a section of suggestions for what you can do to help yourself if you suffer from allergies. 
 
Accident insurance is our featured product this month. Take a moment to consider this useful way to give yourself and your family some added protection against the possibility of the unforeseen happening to you.
 
Finally, we have a few jokes, though as you might guess, it is difficult to find humor in allergy suffering. For the most part allergies are no laughing matter, but we found a few one-liners that offer gentle humor about the condition..
 
This newsletter originates in the Midwest, where spring came late this year. We seemed to leap directly into summer. We hope that, wherever you are, you have had a good spring, that you have enjoyed "May flowers," that their pollen did not trigger hay fever, and that you may be looking forward to a beautiful, allergy-free summer.
 
The case for accident insurance
-- uncovered costs can swamp you --

This could happen to you

Have you ever been in a car accident, slipped and fallen, had a bike or ski accident, or hurt yourself playing a sport? Have you suddenly found yourself with extra costs not covered by your insurance policies?
 

You will find accident insurance a great benefit
  • It pays what medical and other insurances do not.
  • It covers out-of-pocket costs you were not prepared for.
  • It is paid directly to you, to use however you wish.
  • There are specific flat-rate amounts for specific events or procedures.
  • Payments are made regardless of how much your other policies have paid out.

Think about this

You buy life insurance in the event you die. You buy disability insurance in the event you can't work because of an illness. But you buy medical insurance because you're pretty sure you're going to need it! Accident insurance is like that: the odds are good you or someone in your family is going to be injured in an accident at some point. This is a way to protect yourself and your family.

Why buy voluntary accident insurance 
from  Brethren Insurance Services?
  • Employer-sponsored insurance is less expensive than individual coverage.
  • The plan pays pre-defined benefits for hospitalizations, ER treatments, surgery, major diagnostic tests, physical therapy, and more.
  • The benefit can be used to pay for any expense including doctor visits, hospital co-pays, medical insurance deductibles, child care, medications, hotel and travel costs, even flowers and candy.

This insurance is available through Church of the Brethren-affiliated employers, including churches, retirement communities, agencies, camps, and districts. Contact  Jeremiah Thompson , Director of Insurance Operations , at  800-746-1505, ext. 3368 or jthompson@cobbt.org .

Allergies on the rise

An allergy results when one of your body's natural processes runs amok. Most other diseases or disorders have causes such as the invasion of bacteria or viruses, the runaway growth of cells, the deterioration and failure of an organ, the blockage of a duct or vessel, or any one of a number of other things that can go wrong. An allergy occurs when the body's immune system, which is designed to fight disease, works too well and attacks an otherwise harmless substance.
 

How it works

The immune system produces immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody that circulates through the bloodstream. Certain otherwise harmless substances - let's say a food like strawberries - can trigger the creation of large amounts of IgE. When this is released, it attaches itself to mast cells, which occur in all body tissues, but especially in areas typical of allergic reactions, such as the nose, throat, lungs, skin and gastrointestinal tract. These mast cells release chemicals called histamines, which cause the symptoms such as itching in the mouth, formation of mucous in the nose and throat, trouble breathing or swallowing, itching and/or hives on the skin, and even abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea.
 
For some people who have severe allergies - for example, to peanuts or bee stings - the reaction can be immediate, catastrophic, and life-threatening. This is called "anaphylaxis." These people go into bronchospasm and begin to wheeze. The air passages in their lungs narrow, and they gasp for breath. Their blood pressure drops precipitously, and their pulse becomes rapid and weak. If they do not not receive immediate care, they can die.
 

Treating anaphylaxis - the extreme reaction

The treatment for anaphylaxis is epinephrine, which is another name for adrenaline. This is a hormone found naturally in the body, secreted by the adrenal glands. It increases cardiac output and raises glucose levels. It can be synthesized and is administered with an auto-injector, often called an EpiPen. The sufferer or the caregiver jabs the pen into the outer thigh, and a spring pushes the epinephrine out of a syringe and into the muscle where it enters the bloodstream, bringing almost immediate relief by opening the airways and raising blood pressure. People with severe allergies should always have an auto-injector EpiPen with them.

 


Types of allergies

But not every allergic reaction is serious and severe. Many are just chronic and annoying. People can have an allergic reaction to many different things, such as pollen, dust, insect stings, pet dander, drugs, latex, mold, even cockroaches. Food allergies are among the most prevalent. Though more than 170 foods have been reported to cause allergies, eight food allergens are responsible for most reactions: eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy. Milk protein is a common source of allergies, but thorough testing can determine whether you actually have an allergy to the milk protein, or if you have an intolerance to the natural sugar in milk called lactose. Lactose intolerance can be managed with lactose-free milk, milk with added digestive enzymes, or consuming products such as hard cheeses which are naturally low in milk sugar. The most common allergy, however, is hay fever (its technical name is allergic rhinitis); in its seasonal form it is caused by mold spores or pollen from grass, trees, and weeds. In its perennial form it is generally caused by dust mites, pet dander, cockroaches, or mold.
 

How many people have allergies?

It is estimated by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology that 40 - 60 million people in the U.S. suffer from allergic rhinitis (hay fever). It is estimated that $26 billion is the annual cost of the diagnosis and treatment of allergies. There are approximately 200,000 visits each year to the ER because of food allergies alone. Almost 10 million adults and 3.8 million children have a food allergy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the prevalence of food allergies in children increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011, and between 1997 and 2008 the prevalence of peanut or tree nut allergies appears to have more than tripled in the U.S.
 

 

Asthma and allergy

Allergies seem to be closely allied to asthma, a chronic disease in which the airways become inflamed and narrowed, causing coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. When severe, it causes decreased activity and even the inability to talk. At its worst it can cause death. An allergic reaction can trigger an asthma attack. When the attack is extreme, the same EpiPen that helps those with severe allergies brings relief to the asthmatic. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology estimates that asthma affects more than 24 million people, including more than 6 million children.
 

Why the increasing rates of allergy and asthma?

A number of theories have been proposed to explain why more and more people across the world suffer from allergies and asthma. The hygiene hypothesis suggests that living conditions in the developed world have become too clean. Children are not being exposed to germs that train their immune system to tell the difference between harmless and harmful irritants. Some studies indicate that the increased use of antibiotics changes the bacterial mix in the body, making allergies and asthma more possible. There is research to suggest that the rise of obesity across the world may be a contributing factor, and some experts think that vitamin D deficiency may also be a cause.

 

Others cite environmental changes. We live in a world of synthetics, from the clothes we wear, to the furniture we sit on, to the highly processed foods we eat. There is evidence to suggest that some people react to these "unnatural" substances. In the end, the increase in allergies and asthma may come down to a complex combination of factors, including genetics. Children of parents with allergies and asthma have a higher probability of developing either condition. There is one more cause to consider: climate change. As the average temperature in the U.S. is expected to rise in coming decades, longer growing seasons could further increase pollen and other allergen counts.
 

An evolving world

We live in a world that may be evolving in directions that are harmful to us, our children, and the generations to come. There are some simple things each of us can do to lower our exposure to allergens and keep ourselves healthy (see the article that follows), but it is also important that we be aware of the larger trends in society and the environment, and be ready to take action.
Allaying allergies
- Things you can do to cope -



Close your windows and doors.

When the pollen count is high, protect your indoor air. Install a HEPA filter in your air-conditioning system. Make sure you have a fresh filter on your furnace. (HEPA means "high efficiency particulate arrestance," and refers to filters that meet a high standard of effectiveness.)


Eat healthy

Researchers don't quite know why,  but children who eat a lot of  fresh vegetables, fruits, and nuts --  especially  grapes, apples, oranges, and tomatoes -- have fewer allergy symptoms. This, of course, might not be true for someone with food allergies, but generally it appears that a good diet is beneficial  if you are fighting allergies.


Irrigate your nasal passages

A nasal rinse can ease allergy symptoms, whisking away bacteria and cutting down on postnasal drip. Use a neti pot. Mix half a teaspoon of salt with a pinch of baking soda in 8 ounces of warm distilled or sterilized water. Be sure to keep the neti pot clean and dry in between uses so that you don't inadvertently invite the growth of mold or mildew.

Drink more

Extra fluids - water, juice, or other nonalcoholic drinks - can give you some relief. Hot fluids like tea, broth, or soup have the added benefit of steam.
 
Use steam

Inhaling steam can ease your stuffy nose and help you breathe more easily. Hold your head over a bowl or a sink full of water and put a towel over your head to trap the steam. Or sit in the bathroom and run the hot shower.
 
Keep mold from accumulating

Keep the humidity in your house below 50 percent to prevent the growth of mold. Install dehumidifiers in your basement and other places where mold can grow. Have someone else clean areas of your house where mold might be lurking, such as the basement, garage, crawl spaces, storage shed, etc. Consider hardwood floors, and reduce the number of throw rugs you use.

 

Carry an auto-injector

If you have severe, anaphylactic reactions to insect bites or to certain foods, carry an Epi Pen.
 
Know your triggers

Make an appointment with a good allergist for an allergy skin test to pinpoint the things to which you are allergic. If your eyes, nose, and roof of your mouth itch or you have other symptoms, go to your allergist and determine if you are having an allergic reaction.

Don't hesitate to go to your drugstore for symptom relief

Over-the-counter decongestants will help relieve a stuffy nose; antihistamines will reduce sniffles and itching. For stronger medications, see your allergist. You may benefit from immunotherapy shots.
 
Carefully avoid exposure -- be vigilant

In one sense, a food allergy is simple - just don't eat that food - whereas other allergens are lurking all around you in the atmosphere. However, reactions to food allergies are often very severe, and small residues in other foods or on plates and utensils can trigger a strong reaction. So pay close attention.
LOL - Allergy Humor
              

Do you remember that old song, "Blowin' in the Wind," 

by Peter Pollen Mary?


 

Humans and bees have something in common - hives. 


 

Medications for allergies are expensive. 

You have to rob Peter to pay for pollen.


 

Did you hear the one about the convict who had an allergy? 

He broke out.

For Your Long-Term Care Needs
Brethren Insurance Services offers Long-Term Care Insurance all through the year
 
If you're interested in purchasing coverage, you should know that e ligibility for benefits is determined by the inability to meet at least two of these six activities of daily living -- bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, continence, or transferring. Cognitive impairment can also trigger benefits.
 
It's difficult to think about the fact that a debilitating condition or a disabling injury might leave you unable to care for yourself, or that when you reach your twilight years, the time will come when you will need some extra care. Long-term care insurance makes sure that you will get the care you need. It helps assure that the cost of your custodial care will not eat up your savings. Finally, and this is one of the best things about LTCI, it can help protect your children and other relatives from having to use their resources to care for you.
 
Brethren Insurance Services offers Long-Term Care Insurance for all members and employees of the Church of the Brethren and their family and friends; and also for employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities and their families and friends.
 
If you are interested in obtaining this coverage, contact Brethren Insurance Services at  insurance@cobbt.org or 800-746-1505 for a free, no-obligation proposal.