They are drugs, after all
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, How NOT to whiten your teeth, I enjoy Pinterest. What I don’t enjoy is the poor health advice that gets pinned and re-pinned hundreds of times over. Like putting acid (lemon juice) on your teeth and then brushing with an abrasive substance (baking soda). Bad idea if you like your enamel. But I see variations of this “recipe” pop up dozens of times every day.
Essential oils are another frequently-used ingredient on the home remedy boards. There are hundreds of home remedies using essential oils to treat … Continue reading
I read a really sad and infuriating article in the New York Times the other day: “The Policy Lapsed, but No One Knew”.
The “policy” referred to an elderly couple’s long-term care insurance, which they had purchased over a decade ago. Even at that time, in their late 50s and early 60s, they knew health care costs for the aged could be exorbitant, and there was no accurate way to predict either how old they would get, or how sick.
So they did what prudent people do—they bought long-term care insurance.
They even gave their son power of attorney … Continue reading
Research says it’s not healthier
I’m always conflicted at the grocery store.
Should I spend the extra money on fruits and vegetables labeled “organic”? Or should I just buy “conventionally-grown” produce at the lower price?
I don’t mind paying premium for the best flavor, such as fresh peaches or tomatoes from local growers that boast organic and sustainable farming practices.
But broccoli, apples, bananas? Can anyone really tell the difference?
More importantly, if I choose to be more frugal, am I hurting myself and my family?
I’ve never been one to buy into marketing hype; I want facts! So … Continue reading
Tis the season
Cold and flu season is peaking.
I came down with a cold a few weeks ago (following a plane trip to a very dry climate—see my related post on Humidity for sinus health!)
And now I’ve had a cough linger for almost three weeks.
But I’m reminded again and again in various doctor blogs that viral coughs take a long, long time to go away, two and a half weeks on average, and patience is the best medicine.
As one family practice physician writes:
[Our waiting room is] a chorus of coughs, high, low, dry,
… Continue reading
A friend emailed me a link to a recent article about a patient’s experience with the health care system in France.
The writer’s father, a French citizen living in New York, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and chose to forego treatment at one of America’s top-notch hospitals and return to his native country for chemotherapy.
The writer was understandably worried for her father: How could a public hospital in Paris possibly improve on Sloan Kettering’s cancer treatment?
Indeed. But what she discovered over the course of her father’s treatment is that the French have a pretty awesome … Continue reading
I saw this Travel Humidifier on a pharmacist’s blog last week, and I’m thinking I might get one.
Normally, I don’t buy a lot of gadgets of any kind, but I’m kind of excited about this humidifier.
Just a few weeks ago, I arrived home from a plane trip and promptly came down with a cold that turned into a sinus infection.
I wasn’t as conscientious as I could have been with my hand sanitizer, I know, but I blame the plane’s low humidity for injuring my nose’s first line of defense.
What do I hate most about plane … Continue reading
A doctor posted this photo the other day. It’s a typical lab result slip with a twist—look closely and you’ll see a column for “cost”.
When doctors want to treat an infection, they generally get a “culture and sensitivity” first. That is, they take a sample of whatever is infected (urine, skin, blood, or other) and send it to the lab. The lab grows (“cultures”) and identifies the bacteria, and then tells the doctor which antibiotics the bacteria is “sensitive” to, that is which will kill it.
Antibiotics can be extremely expensive, especially the newest ones that can cost … Continue reading
The latest report
Most of my nursing career was in breast cancer, so I like to stay current on the most recent research on screening, diagnosis and treatment.
Earlier this week, the British Medical Journal released a pretty stunning report:
In conclusion, our data show that annual mammography does not result in a reduction in breast cancer specific mortality for women aged 40-59.
In normal language that translates to “annual mammograms don’t save lives.”
Aaron Carroll, MD, writes on his blog:
This study is going to make a whole lot of people upset. It’s a large, well designed
… Continue reading
Losing a job or gaining an opportunity?
I feel compelled to give my perspective on the latest round of Obamacare news (OK, not really the latest, since it seems to be changing every day).
And I’ll give my bottom line here at the beginning, just in case you aren’t interested in the following health care-political gymnastics: Don’t retire early if you’re getting good health insurance at your job!
Last week the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) came out with a report that caused a stir among political and health care reform pundits.
Some highlights from the report include:
… Continue reading
CDC reports low rates for key vaccinations
Last week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published its annual report on adult vaccination rates in the US.
Vaccination coverage levels among adults are low. Improvement in adult vaccination is needed to reduce the health consequences of vaccine-preventable diseases among adults and to prevent pertussis [whooping cough] morbidity and mortality in infants, who need the protection afforded by the Tdap vaccination.
Besides yearly flu shots, other vaccinations adults should consider are:
- Td/Tdap (tetanus, diptheria, pertussis “whooping cough”)
- Varicella (chickenpox)
- HPV (human papilloma virus)
- MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
- Hepatitis A
… Continue reading
A terrific resource
Recently, I was delighted to receive a copy of “The Self-Pay Patient” by Sean Parnell.
He has a blog of the same name, and he asked me to read his recently-published book and give him some feedback. (Full disclosure—the book was gratis.) I was happy to oblige; what he didn’t know was that I had been following his blog for several months and was eager to read the book!
Sean has a background in economics, writing and health care policy. He realizes, as I do, that today’s health care (and health insurance) is increasingly unaffordable … Continue reading
It’s all relative
A few days ago I read something that really annoyed me: “Report Finds That Health Exchange Insurance Purchases Are A Good Deal”
Now, I’m not annoyed that people might be getting a good deal on the health exchanges. I just don’t think they are. I’m not. My neighbors aren’t. Premiums are expensive, deductibles are high, networks are narrow. Even those individuals and families who get subsidies must now always be aware that if their income goes too high or too low, they will lose the subsidy and perhaps their insurance. That sounds really stressful to me.… Continue reading
Tamiflu makers trolling for money
We are well into flu season, and in another egregious direct-to-consumer advertising campaign, the makers of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu (Roche) are broadcasting a commercial encouraging people to—what else?—“Ask your doctor about Tamiflu.”
The thing about Tamiflu is that to have any chance of being effective, it must be prescribed within, ideally, 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
And the commercial says this, more or less: “The flu comes on fast. Don’t wait! Call your doctor right away.”
No. Do wait.
When I first saw this commercial, I thought, “Yikes. How many people … Continue reading
The anatomy of a prolonged death
In 2001, author Katy Butler’s father suffered a stroke. Thus began her and her family’s long journey through our health care system detailed in Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death.
After his death, I would not rest until I understood better why the most advanced medical care on earth, which saved my father’s life at least once when he was a young man, succeeded at the end mainly in prolonging his suffering.
During vigorous rehabilitation to regain strength following the stroke, Ms. Butler’s father developed a hernia—a … Continue reading
“I need to sleep!”
As a nurse, I’ve always known that a hospital is a lousy place to be sick. Why? You can never get a decent amount of sleep! And who needs sleep more than someone who is recovering from an illness or injury?
I loved this YouTube video I ran across while reading an article about patient-centered care:
It was made by 15-year-old Morgan Gleason, who, according to the article
First…contracted meningitis while getting an infusion for an autoimmune condition. Then, hospitalized, Tuesday morning she got fed up with how she was being treated, and laid down
… Continue reading