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Flu shots 101: What you need to know

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory infection that circulates around the world each year and usually hits the United States between October and May. The viruses that cause the flu are most often spread by coughing, sneezing, or close contact.

Anyone can get the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it tends to strike suddenly and can last for several days. Although it has some of the same symptoms as the common cold—a runny or stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, and fatigue—the flu can lead to pneumonia, blood infections, or even death. Other symptoms of the flu include fever, body aches, headache, and chills.

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Heart disease in women: Take steps to reduce your risk factors

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, heart disease—also known as cardiovascular disease—and stroke cause 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, claiming the life of approximately one woman every 80 seconds. It’s the most common cause of death for men, too, but some of the symptoms and warning signs of heart disease differ between men and women. And, it doesn’t affect all women alike. Fortunately, as a woman, you can take steps to understand the symptoms and reduce your risk of heart disease.

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Sleep and weight gain: How much you sleep can affect how much you weigh

You don’t have to be an expert to appreciate the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep. Not only does lack of sleep make you feel groggy and irritable, but sleep also plays a critical role in everything from boosting your immune system to improving your memory, promoting learning, and more. But did you know that getting the right amount of sleep can also help you avoid gaining weight?

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What you need to know about opioids

Opioids are drugs that relieve pain. Prescription opioids are medications that doctors use to treat moderate to severe pain after surgery or injury or for health conditions like cancer. Common prescription opioids include oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), morphine, and methadone. Other types of opioids include fentanyl, a synthetic opioid pain reliever, and heroin, an illegal drug.

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Healthy snacks you can eat without gaining weight

Snacking gets a bad rap, but it can actually help you maintain a healthy weight—and even lose weight—as long as you pay attention to the types of foods you snack on and make smart choices. Eating smaller meals and snacks about every three hours or so can help maintain more stable blood sugar levels throughout the day. And, it can help you avoid extreme hunger so you don’t overeat at lunch or dinner.

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Where to go for medical care

It isn’t always easy to know what to do, especially when symptoms come on suddenly, but knowing where to go for medical care is a key part of being an informed health care consumer. Before you wait for hours in the ER and end up with an exorbitant hospital bill, take a few moments to consider your options. It could save you time, money, and a lot of frustration.

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Is walking good exercise?

Walking is one of the easiest ways to exercise. You can do it almost anywhere—including parks, shopping malls, or in your own neighborhood—and you don’t need to invest in a lot of special equipment. Best of all, walking can help you achieve your fitness and weight-loss goals.

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Preventive care can help you stay healthy

Preventive health care includes services like doctor checkups and routine screenings that can help prevent diseases and other health problems. Taking advantage of your preventive care benefits can help you stay healthy and discover a health issue before it becomes a serious problem. Treatment is often more effective when an illness is detected early.

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How to start exercising when you’re overweight

Exercising regularly can be an effective way to lose weight and keep your weight under control. But starting a new workout routine when you’re overweight can be hard, especially if you haven’t been active for a while. Focusing on the benefits of exercise can help motivate you to get started and keep going. Of course, always talk with your doctor before you start any exercise program.

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