Avoid unnecessary medical tests

This is a guest post from a dear friend. As a cancer survivor, she has a lot of experience dealing with doctors, hospitals and insurance companies. She does not work in the health care industry, but is very savvy and not afraid to ask questions. She has been a huge supporter of Frugal Nurse as she, too, sees a need for patients to be more aware and wary of the health care they receive.

After a recent trip to her doctor’s office, she called me with the following story and asked if I would be interested in sharing it with

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Brain health – Play EyeWire

brain health eyewireUse it or lose it

There are several pieces of advice for helping prevent or delay age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s.

  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat healthy, heart-friendly foods
  • Exercise
  • Socialize
  • Challenge your brain

Keeping your brain active and fit can be especially fun and rewarding, as it usually involves learning something new. Examples of good brain-stretchers are:

  • Learning a foreign language
  • Learning to play an instrument
  • Learning to dance, especially a complicated dance such as ballroom or folk dancing
  • Playing games

I love to play games. Board games, card games, word games or video games. You can play with others, which also … Continue reading

Probiotic busted for false advertising

probioticsPhillips’ Colon Health probiotic—”bloated” claims?

One of my favorite websites to look at on occasion is Truth in Advertising.

From their website:

Each year, American consumers lose billions of dollars as a result of deceptive marketing and false ads. These run the gamut from blatant lies and fraudulent scams to subtle ploys intended to confuse and mislead. Not only do these tactics impact us as consumers, but a mind-boggling amount of money is misdirected in our economy as a result of deceptive marketing. All too often, companies with quality goods and services lose out to businesses premised on false

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Ebola in the US

Ebola 24/7!

Two months ago I posted that I was not concerned about an outbreak of Ebola in an American city. By “outbreak” I mean a rapid spread of the virus resulting in many people becoming ill and dying, as is happening in West Africa.

I stand by that belief.

However, listening to and reading the non-stop media coverage of Ebola in the US, I can understand why so many are verging on panic. Mainstream media is designed to “sell” news rather than inform the public, and fear is a powerful motivator when it comes to selling something. I’m … Continue reading

Use herbal supplements with caution

herbal supplementsNatural does not mean safe

I read an article the other day about a man who developed a nasty rash after taking kava kava, a popular herbal supplement for stress and anxiety. He was also taking a prescription anxiety medication, Celexa (citalopram), which may have contributed to the bad reaction.

The article warns, with good reason, that herbal supplements are not necessarily safe, and may interact badly with other supplements and medications.

Always tell your health care provider if you are taking any over-the-counter herbs, supplements or vitamins!

Kava kava in particular, I think, highlights the problem of herbal … Continue reading

Think Pink? Think twice before buying

think pink breast cancer charitable givingProfiting from breast cancer?

I know October is all about the color pink and supporting breast cancer, but don’t be too hasty giving your money away, even if you think it’s going to a “good” cause.

I was watching Monday Night Football earlier this week, and it made me kind of cringe to see the garish pink gloves and shoes all the players were wearing, supposedly in support of breast cancer research and breast cancer survivors.

As one sports blogger posted:

The league profits from pink merchandise sales, especially during the “charitable” Breast Cancer Awareness month. This is fact.

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The high cost of cancer drugs

Exploring the “unreasonable, unsustainable” and “immoral” costs of treatment

If you or a friend or a family member have been impacted by the outrageous price of cancer drugs ($100,000 or more/year), take 15 minutes to watch this segment from a recent episode of the news magazine “60 Minutes.”

Heck, watch it even if you don’t have cancer because everyone is affected by the skyrocketing costs of all drugs, not just those that treat cancer. Health care prices go up, health insurance premiums, deductibles and copays increase, and taxpayers pay out more for Medicare and Medicaid.

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The prescription drug overdose epidemic

Black humor

Two things in the media caught my attention last week.

First was a pretty funny bit of pseudo-investigative journalism on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. Titled “The Pharmaceutical Drug Epidemic”, it showed correspondent Michael Che probing for answers to this country’s very real (and unfunny) epidemic of prescription narcotic (oxycontin, percocet, vicodin) abuse and overdose deaths.


Yes, he puts a humorous spin on the story, but in true Daily Show style he also hits a few … Continue reading

Healthy kids: “Lunch Lessons”

kids nutrition lunch lessonsSchool lunch is important

Since the school year began last month, I’ve been watching and listening with some bemusement to the furor over the new school lunch standards in this country. Kids and parents are Tweeting and Instagramming (is that a verb?) pictures of some pretty unappetizing fare.

Cupcakes are banned! Kids who share their lunch get detention! What, no pizza?

Well, I can afford to be amused because I don’t have kids depending on the public school system for a healthy and satisfying lunch.

But childhood obesity—which leads to adult chronic disease—is not funny. And while … Continue reading

Be informed: Read Elisabeth Rosenthal

Investigating the high costs of health care

Over the last year, Elisabeth Rosenthal, a journalist and science editor for The New York Times, has written a brilliant series of articles titled Paying Till it Hurts:

In her series on the costs of health care, Elisabeth Rosenthal of The New York Times examines the price of medical care in the United States, interviewing patients, physicians, economists, and hospital and industry officials. In each installment, readers were invited to share their perspectives on managing costs and treatment.

I’ve been reading the series, and the truly shocking charging and billing practices she … Continue reading

Home remedies for pain relief

home remedies for pain reliefOw!

I’ve reached that age when everything hurts.

Age, overuse, less-than-perfect posture and a family history of arthritis have resulted in a variety of aches and pains: stiff neck, sore knees, carpal tunnel, stiff shoulders, foot pain, headaches, and so on.

Related post: Improve your posture

These are the common miseries to which we all fall victim at one time or another. Occasional use of over-the-counter pain remedies such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen is fine. But when the need becomes more frequent, or chronic, it’s time to start looking for other forms of relief.

Related post: Don’t overdose on Continue reading

Researching health care costs

It’s not that simple

Last night on the local news I watched a story about health care costs. The reporter, a consumer affairs specialist, talked about the expanding trend in health care of high-deductible medical insurance plans. Under the ACA, family annual deductibles can reach up to $12,700 (increasing to $12,900 for 2015); whatever your deductible, you pay your medical bills out of pocket until that deductible is met.

The uninsured, of course, just pay out of pocket.

Related post: Health insurance basics, part 1

The reporter encouraged us to

…take some time to research, and see what the

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Get your seasonal flu shot

seasonal flu shotFall (and flu) is in the air

Tomorrow will be the first full day of autumn and my thoughts naturally turn to . . . influenza. Yes, that’s how my mind works.

I’m already seeing flu shots advertised at my local grocery store pharmacy, and at other chain drug stores in my neighborhood.

Flu season typically runs from November to March, but no one can predict with accuracy exactly when the first cases will start showing up or when the season will end–sometimes as early as October to as late as May. It’s unpredictable as well how severe the upcoming … Continue reading

Just for laughs

bride of anguished englishWhat’s in your medical chart?

I like books about writing and the English language, and the other day I picked up a book titled The Bride of Anguished English: A Bonanza of Bloopers, Blunders, Botches, and Boo-Boos by Richard Lederer.

Among all the entertaining examples of mixed metaphors, slaughtered syntax and runaway sentences was a chapter with a medical twist. The American Association of Medical Transcriptionists had submitted a few gems of mangled English gleaned from physicians’ dictations. The results are some pretty hilarious chart notes.

I worked as a medical transciptionist for several years before and during nursing school, … Continue reading