“I drink a lot of liquids, and my mouth still feels dry.” “Sometimes, chewing, swallowing and even talking can be challenging.” “I brush, I floss and I still keep getting cavities.” “I’m embarrassed to bring up these symptoms to my doctor. How serious could dry mouth really be?”Talk to your doctor if you feel this way. Dry mouth can seem manageable, but it could be much more serious than you realize. Poor oral health can indicate more serious medical conditions.

“Any time you notice changes to your health or body, it’s important to talk to your doctor because no symptom is insignificant,”Dr. Michael Brennan DDS, MHS, is the Director of Sj?gren’s Syndrome and Salivary Disorders Center at Carolinas Medical Center Charlotte, N.C.

“Many patients ignore symptoms like dry mouth because they think they aren’t important, but they could be critical in diagnosing a systemic condition. Some of my patients, for example, simply try to drink more water and don’t talk about their dry mouth, which is a hallmark symptom of Sj?gren’s syndrome,” Dr. Brennan says.

Sj?gren’s syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which the immune cells attack and disable moisture-producing glands. It affects approximately four million Americans, but most people have never heard about it. It takes almost seven years for symptoms to develop into a diagnosis. The delay in diagnosis could be due to patients waiting months (or even years) before seeking treatment. Before discussing their symptoms with their doctors, it is possible for patients to wait several months or even years. Sjigren’s symptoms could be confusing, as they may look similar to other medical conditions. They can also vary from one person to the next. Patients may not always be able to connect symptoms such as cracked lips or cavities with dry-mouth symptoms. This means that they might not be able to accurately and thoroughly describe their dry-mouth symptoms when they finally speak to a doctor.

“If patients speak up sooner and give an accurate account of all of their symptoms, their doctors can address those symptoms and recommend a treatment plan earlier,” Dr. Brennan adds.

These tips will help you make the most out of every conversation with your doctor.

* Be prepared to explain your dry-mouth symptoms in detail, including how they affect your daily activities (e.g., eating at a restaurant, public speaking).

* Tell your doctor if you’ve been taking any over-the-counter products, lozenges, or other treatments. Your doctor can determine the best treatment plan for you based on how you manage your symptoms now.

* Be honest! Your doctor can provide more assistance if you give him or her more detail.

* Ask questions and take notes during the discussion.

* Leave with a plan of action to manage your symptoms, including follow-up appointments or additional tests.

Talk to your doctor if you have dry-mouth symptoms. Visit this site for more information about symptoms, testing, and diagnosis of Sj’gren’s syndrome. www.livingwithdryness.com.

The pace of life today is rapid. People can check their kids’ soccer scores on the phone, while also sending emails to work with the help of digital technology. With the advent of the Internet, consumers can expect the same conveniences from all services and businesses except their insurance companies. Although 98 per cent of insurance claims are processed within 30 working days, it can be frustrating for those who have difficulty paying their medical bills.

It is no longer enough to be insured, as nearly two-thirds of American households have less income than 2002. It is vital to understand how quickly and efficiently your insurance carrier pays claims. This is important for both financial and medical recovery.

According to a recent survey, 66% of workers would struggle to pay for the financial burdens associated with serious illnesses and injuries. Only 49% have enough money to cover out-of pocket expenses. Additionally, rising healthcare costs are forcing employers into cost-saving measures that are putting employees under greater financial pressure.

* Increasing employees’ health care insurance copayments.

* Increasing employees’ share of premium.

* Implementing high-deductible health plans with health savings accounts.

Some people might have to wait as long as a month to receive their insurance payments. Many insurance companies strive to provide fast service with better technology and better understanding of customers’ needs. This is just one example. AflacIn the insurance industry, it is rare to find policies that allow for claims approval, processing, and payment within one day.

Fast payment policies are no longer luxury items of the past. It’s a necessity. It is more important than ever that you have money available immediately for serious injuries or illnesses. Your insurance company should be able to respond quickly.

Aflac’s One Day Pay guarantee can be found on aflac.com/onedaypay.