Premium increases for 2018. Ouch.

My peek into the future

Health insurance companies in my state finally submitted their requests for 2018 rate hikes.

Usually I can look up this info online by mid-May, but all the partisan and intra-party bickering over the future of healthcare in this country has left insurance companies scratching their figurative heads over how to price next year’s policies.

I remember a time when I never gave my health insurance much thought. Like my car or home insurance, it didn’t change much year to year, and was simply there when I needed it.

But for the last ten years or … Continue reading

Contrast baths for arthritis pain

contrast bathsArthritis is a pain

I have osteoarthritis. I also have carpal tunnel and some other overuse injuries that are a result of using my hands a lot over the years.

Arthritis runs in my family, but some level of arthritis is just a natural part of aging.

(I don’t mean rheumatoid arthritis, which is a different animal. It’s an autoimmune disease that affects the whole body and can strike at an early age.)

I can live with my hand and foot pain during the day when I’m active and not thinking about it much. But at night when I’m trying … Continue reading

Sleepio and SHUTi: Online sleep therapy

sleepioWe’re not sleeping enough

Sleeplessness is epidemic in this country.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) consider insomnia a public health issue and report that at least 35% of adults don’t get a good night’s sleep.

Judging from my circle of friends, I think the percentage is much higher than that!

Insomnia and daytime fatigue make life miserable and contribute to chronic illness. Drowsy drivers cause accidents. Drowsy employees cause on-the-job injuries.

Sleeping pills (hypnotics) are the go-to treatment in the US. Drugs like zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta) and suvorexant (Belsomra).

Related post: Belsomra—Use with caution

But they have side … Continue reading

Homemade yogurt – Easy, healthy and delicious

homemade yogurtAnd frugal, too!

I’m so lucky because my husband LOVES making homemade yogurt.

Several years ago, I bought him a yogurt maker for Christmas. He told me once that he used to make his own yogurt when he was in college, so I thought he would enjoy trying it again.

He sure did!  😀

Homemade yogurt has become a staple in our diet, and it is so superior to store-bought brands, I can’t even describe it. You need to eat some to understand.

Anyone who loves yogurt should try making it at home. It’s easy to do with either an … Continue reading

June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

alzheimer's awareness monthAnd brain health awareness, too!

At this time, there is no drug or treatment to prevent Alzheimer’s or dementia. The best advice is that what is good for your heart is good for your brain, too.

Related post: Don’t buy supplements to prevent Alzheimer’s

Embracing a healthy lifestyle is our best chance to reduce the risk of developing dementia as we age.

That means moderate physical exercise every day, a calorie-appropriate diet full of a wide variety of nutrients, and lots of mental stimulation.

Related post: Do “brain games” prevent dementia?

Socializing and mental exercises help improve brain … Continue reading

Stop the Bleeding – First aid tips to control bleeding

stop the bleedingSurgeons want the public to learn this skill

I taught first aid classes for the American Red Cross for many years. To control excessive bleeding, we showed students how to apply pressure directly on a wound, or at pressure points in the groin and upper arm.

We did not teach how to use a tourniquet. The Red Cross deemed this technique to be potentially dangerous and beyond the skill set of most lay responders.

I told this to a surgeon friend once, and he was amazed. He said “The Red Cross needs to get its head into the 21st century.”Continue reading

Frugal Nurse tips for a safe summer

I’m writing this on Memorial Day while gazing out my window at an (unusually) sunny and warm Seattle day.

We’re on the cusp of summer!  😎

Here is a collection of some of my most popular posts about staying safe during the summer, including information about sunscreens and insect repellents, and first aid tips for burns, bites and too much sun. Stay safe! FN

Be informed – What is SPF?

An SPF rating is an estimate of how effectively a sunscreen product reduces the time it takes your skin to burn.  Some sunscreens use chemical barriers, like oxybenzone, and others … Continue reading

Choosing Wisely: 5 Questions to ask your doctor

choosing wisely 5 questionsCutting the waste

I’ve posted several times about the Choosing Wisely campaign.

Developed by Consumer Reports and the American Board of Internal Medicine, Choosing Wisely hopes to educate both physicians and patients, and cut back or eliminate unnecessary medical tests, procedures and treatments.

Over-testing and over-treatment are estimated to cost about $200 billion every year. I think that’s a conservative figure, as the financial—not to mention emotional—consequences of too much medicine can be difficult to quantify.

Bringing about change in our behemoth, for-profit healthcare system is a daunting task, and I’m always happy to see signs that it’s catching Continue reading

Turmeric for arthritis pain

turmeric for arthritisGood evidence for using turmeric to treat arthritis pain

I’m generally not a fan of supplements or herbal remedies.

There can be a lot of marketing hype behind these products, but not a lot of good science.

However…about a month ago I finally became so tired of living with chronic arthritis pain, mostly in my hands and neck, that I decided to research turmeric to see if there was any chance it could help me.

I wanted an alternative to ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), which works great to control my pain, but it’s not only hard on my stomach, it’s a … Continue reading

3 tips to prevent surprise medical bills

surprise medical billsMy guest post today is from Matthew Bahr, a healthcare finance specialist.

I’ve posted about surprise medical bills before. Sadly, they are becoming more common as healthcare costs continue to rise and provider networks shrink.

Consumer Reports estimates about one third of patients with health insurance receive these unexpectedly high medical bills.

Thank you, Matthew, for sharing your tips and expertise with my readers! FN

Although we know healthcare costs a lot of money, it still stings when we see that bill.

You might think because you’re insured, your insurance will cover most or many of the costs. But … Continue reading

10 exercises you should never do

Be careful at the gym!

I’ve been working with a personal trainer to improve my muscle strength and cardiac endurance.

At one point my trainer had me doing overhead shoulder presses. After the first few lifts, I knew this was a bad idea. I struggled to lift the bar over my head, even with minimal weight (wimpy arms!).

Since then I’ve been having shooting pains in my right arm and shoulder. Then I watched this video from one of my favorite YouTubers, The Two Most Famous Physical Therapists, who confirmed what I thought: overhead shoulder presses are bad.

5 stress relieving tips you can try at home

stress relieving tipsToday’s post is from guest contributor Helen Sanders, chief editor at HealthAmbition.com.

“Health Ambition’s goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.”

Thank you, Helen!

Each and every one of us will experience stress at some point in our lifetime.

Acute stress is normal following a hugely stressful situation, such as a trauma or natural disaster. However, stress can be more intense for some of us and can sometimes lead to a chronic condition that … Continue reading

Choose sunglasses that block UV rays

sunglasses that block uv raysUV rays damage eyes

As part of May’s Skin Cancer Prevention Month, I wanted to share some tips to protect your eyes.

Just as the sun can injure your skin, it can hurt the delicate tissue of your eyes, too.

Did you know you can also get melanoma of the eye? Unprotected UV exposure from the sun or tanning beds increases the risk of this type of cancer.

Related post: Tanning beds and skin cancer

Long-term exposure to UVA and UVB rays contributes to cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Cataracts—cloudy areas on your eye’s lens—can be corrected with … Continue reading

ZDoggMD and Healthcare 3.0

“Trying to make medicine great again”

I’ve been a fan of Zubin Damania, MD—aka ZDoggMD—for several years. A hospitalist physician based in Las Vegas, he began by making entertaining parody videos on a variety of healthcare topics: end-of-life, the opioid epidemic, electronic health records (EHR), sepsis, sleep apnea, and more.

Now he has expanded his social media footprint in an attempt to rally healthcare professionals behind Healthcare 3.0.

As he explains in the video, Healthcare 1.0 was the old doctor-patient relationship—”Doctor knows best” and all that (I still know doctors and nurses who … Continue reading

Melanoma – Prevention and detection

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month!

I think one of the best discussions about the prevention and detection of melanoma is from Doctor Mike Evans in this YouTube video:

It’s only 8 minutes long, but packed full of information.

Melanoma is deadly

And the numbers are increasing. Did you know:

  • From 1970 to 2009, the incidence of melanoma increased by 800 percent among young women?
  • One person dies of melanoma every 57 minutes?
  • About 86 percent of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun?
  • Tanning beds are considered
Continue reading