Poisoning is the #1 cause of injury-related death in the U.S. The third week in March each year is designated as National Poison Prevention Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness about the burden of poisoning in the U.S. and highlighting specific ways to prevent it.

Be prepared for poisoning emergencies by programming the Poison Help line in your phone today: 1-800-222-1222!

Poison centers are open 24/7 every day, including holidays, for questions or emergencies regarding poisons. Poison center cases are managed by medical experts – doctors, nurses, and pharmacists who have extensive training in poison prevention and treatment.


  • More than 90 percent of poisonings occur inside the home, and most are treatable and preventable.
  • The most common sources of poisoning in young children are items typically found at home, including cleaning, cosmetic, and personal care products, as well as over-the-counter and prescription medications.
  • Adults – who are most commonly poisoned by cleaning products, or by the improper use of sedatives, antidepressants, pain relievers, or prescription drugs – are far more likely to die from poison exposure.


  • Make sure household products are kept in their original bottles and away from children, and never mix such products together.
  • Have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, use it properly, and get it tested regularly.
  • Medications should always be kept out of the reach of children, and all drugs should be taken safely and in accordance with guidance on the label or as prescribed and instructed by healthcare professionals.

For more information on how to prevent poisonings, go to: AAPCC.org or PoisonHelp.gov.


Kick Butts Day, organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, occurs on March 15, 2017. This is a great day to get involved in helping smokers you know give up smoking.

If you or someone you know smokes cigarettes, know that quitting is far and away the best step you can take toward improving your health. Smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans every year – more than HIV, drugs and alcohol, car accidents, and guns combined. Along with a significant risk of lung cancer, smoking contributes to many other health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, respiratory illness and many other types of cancer.

How to Quit Smoking
Are you ready to quit? Here are 5 tips experts recommend to help you succeed.

  1. Make a Plan – Start by deciding how you want to quit and ask friends and family to support you. For some, quitting cold turkey may be the best choice, while others may prefer medication or a nicotine replacement tool, like gum or the patch, to help them through the physical cravings. Your doctor can help you decide which is right for you.
  1. Avoid Temptations – The physical craving for nicotine should dissipate after a couple of weeks, but temptation to fall back into your old habits may persist much longer. To reduce temptation, avoid going places where other people smoke, and identify situations that previously made you reach for a cigarette so you can figure out how to deal with them before they happen.
  1. Adopt New Habits – One of the hardest aspects of quitting is breaking the routines you had while smoking, and the best way to break old habits is by introducing new ones. Try chewing a stick of gum after meals, when you would otherwise want to smoke, and if you feel like taking smoke breaks at work, get up and walk around the block instead.
  1. Create a Win-Win with Exercise – Whether it’s walking, biking or lifting weights, exercise is a great tool for quitting smoking. Being active takes your mind off the desire to smoke, while the endorphins released help you feel happier and more energized. And you get the usual benefits of working out, including weight loss, improved cardiovascular health and better lung function.
  1. Reward Yourself – Set attainable, short-term goals to keep you motivated for the long-term goals, and then give yourself a (nonsmoking) reward for meeting them. For example, put aside all the money you’d normally spend on cigarettes in a week, and at the end of the week use the money for concert tickets or gear for a new hobby.


Go to mywha.org/wellness for information on WHA’s online smoking cessation program.


To increase awareness about the importance of colorectal cancer screening, Western Health Advantage is proudly participating in Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month on March 3rd. In California, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed (excluding skin cancers), with over 15,000 Californians diagnosed annually.

Colorectal cancer affects all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people ages 50 and older. There are often no signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer – that’s why it’s so important to get screened. To determine if you have colorectal cancer and to allow for it to be treated early if you do, you should get screened regularly starting at age 50.

People over age 50 have the highest risk of colorectal cancer. You may also be at higher risk if you are African American, smoke, or have a family history of colorectal cancer.

Take these healthy steps to help prevent colorectal cancer:

  • Get screened starting at age 50. If you have a family history of colon polyps or cancer, your doctor may recommend getting screened before age 50.
  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
  • Get plenty of physical activity and eat healthy.

For more information, visit cancer.org.

Did you know? WHA is a sponsor of Sacramento’s Undy Run/Walk held in February – another way we support our community and help prevent colorectal cancer.


On February 25th, Western Health Advantage will be raising awareness about colon cancer by participating as a sponsor and as a team – WHAtch Your Tushie – in the 2017 Sacramento Undy Run/Walk put on by the Colon Cancer Alliance.

Last year, Sacramento was one of 24 cities nationwide to hold an Undy Run/Walk, and this February we will be hitting the streets in our boxers or briefs for this family-friendly event. The Undy Run/Walk is a fun twist on a serious topic which is sparking much-needed conversations and kicking colon cancer’s butt, one city at a time.  And if that’s not enough, you even have the chance to stroll through a larger-than-life inflatable colon on site and learn more about colon cancer! (How many chances do you have to do that in your life?)

The 5K and one-mile fun runs – which take place in William Land Park – include a wellness expo area and a special ceremony to support everyone impacted by this disease.

A healthy diet, daily exercise and proper colon screening can help prevent and detect colon cancer.  WHAtch Your Tushie and get your colon checked!   Talk to your doctor and together decide what’s best for you. For more information, visit cancer.org.

Please support the WHA team’s involvement in the Colon Cancer Alliance’s Undy Run/Walk with a tax-deductible donation. Your support will help us end colorectal cancer and save lives. Or even better, join the WHA team and enter WHAtch Your Tushie.

For more information on the Sacramento Undy Run/Walk, visit support.ccalliance.org.

Want more info on colon cancer and events?  Go to Colon Cancer Alliance


To help protect adolescents against dangerous diseases, Western Health Advantage is joining with the California Department of Public Health in recognizing February 12-18 as Preteen Vaccine Week.

“Vaccines offer safe and effective protection from infectious diseases. By staying up-to-date on the recommended vaccinations, people can protect themselves, their families, and their communities from serious, life-threatening illnesses,” said Donald B. Hufford, M.D., WHA’s Chief Medical Officer.

Preteens need vaccines against whooping cough (Tdap), meningitis (MenACWY), and HPV when they are 11-12 years old. Incoming 7th graders must also provide proof of having received the whooping cough shot before starting school. A booster dose of MenACWY is recommended when teens are 16 years old. In addition, flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months or older – not just preteens and teens.

Dr. Hufford reminds parents, “If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to ask your doctor about the three vaccines recommended for your child at their preteen visit, plus a flu shot every year.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, all new health plans are required to cover ACIP-recommended vaccines at all ages without charging a deductible or copayment.

For more information about recommended schedules for immunizations, visit mywha.org/teenIZ.



Red puzzle heart with stethoscope on grey wooden background

Western Health Advantage is proud to participate in American Heart Month, in partnership with the American Heart Association. This is a great time to commit to a healthy lifestyle and make small changes that can lead to a lifetime of heart health.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease. The good news? Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions.

You can make healthy changes to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease. To lower your risk:

  • Watch your weight.
  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get active and eat healthy.

Also, if you haven’t had a physical in the last year, schedule one. If you have received a check-up recently, are you following your healthcare provider’s recommendations? And ask the people you care about these questions too.

For more information, visit heart.org and westernhealth.com/hearthealth.


Heart disease is the No.1 cause of death in women and it’s time to take a stand……in RED! Go Red for Women is a nationwide event that is devoted in helping women fight back against heart disease.

Join millions of women in the fight against heart disease Feb. 3, 2017 for National Wear Red Day.  Whether on the job or walking outside, illuminate your wardrobe and support women fighting heart disease.

Alarming heart health statistics include:

  • Every 80 seconds a woman dies of heart disease or stroke.
  • Heart disease causes 1 in 3 three deaths in women each year.
  • Cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death.

Take charge of your heart care! Urge your mothers, sisters, and friends to get their heart checkups. Get your cholesterol screening and get regular medical care from your primary care physician.

Get healthier! Resolve, today, to make one healthy change in your life. Eat breakfast, even if it’s an apple or a high-fiber bagel you grab on your way out the door. Switch one soda a day for a glass of water. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Heart disease is largely preventable. Click here to learn more about heart disease prevention and heart healthy tips.

Check out Go Red for Women for more information.

%d bloggers like this: