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 are 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

Disease outbreaks and vaccinations

book vaccinationsLast week there was another warning in our local newspaper that a person diagnosed with measles had traveled through our airport. The article advised anyone who was at the airport during that particular time frame, and who might not be vaccinated and/or might be pregnant, to talk to their health care provider.

Measles is very contagious and can be especially dangerous to pregnant women.

In light of continuing misinformation about vaccinations, and the possibility that more unvaccinated children will be in our schools due to the influx of immigrants from Mexico and Central America, I decided to republish this post Continue reading

Three questions to ask your physician

demand-evidenceBe a proactive patient

In addition to talking to my doctor friends, I spend a lot of time reading various doctor blogs because I want to better understand our health care system from their unique point of view.

The majority of those I read seem to agree with me that the industry has morphed into a giant profit-making machine—profits first, patients second. Many physicians write of their loss of autonomy and the ability to treat patients in a thoughtful, patient-centered and cost-effective way.

More than ever, they say, patients need to be informed and take control of their health care. … Continue reading

Potassium for health

potassiumA banana a day?

We’ve all heard the phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” (thank you, Benjamin Franklin!), but a potassium-rich banana might help, too.

A recent study looking at stroke risk in post-menopausal women (ages 50-79) found that, overall, women with the highest dietary potassium intake were 12% less likely to suffer a stroke.

And women who didn’t have high blood pressure and ate a lot of potassium-rich foods had a 21% lower risk of stroke.

But don’t go running to the drugstore for potassium supplements! This study didn’t look at the effect of potassium supplements … Continue reading

The demise of annual exams and the doctor-patient relationship

Are annual exams a waste of money?

Based on the most recent evidence, I would argue yes. I posted about annual exams a few months ago, and quoted the following from the Society for General Internal Medicine (a primary care specialty group):

Routine general health checks are office visits between a health professional and a patient exclusively for preventive counseling and screening tests. In contrast to office visits for acute illness, specific evidence-based preventive strategies, or chronic care management such as treatment of high blood pressure, regularly scheduled general health checks without a specific cause including the “health maintenance” annual

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Hola! Puerto Rico opens for health tourism

puerto rico health tourismWhat is health tourism and why Puerto Rico?

I read the other day that Puerto Rico wants to jump into the medical tourism ring and compete with those countries where it is already pretty well established, such as Mexico and Costa Rica.

Medical tourism, as the name implies, is traveling to another country to receive more affordable medical care.

[Puerto Rico's] administration says that it commissioned a market study from which it deduces that medical costs on the island are between 40 percent and 60 percent lower than in the mainland U.S.

Such a move, if successful, could be a … Continue reading

Salt – Are we eating too much or not enough?

The debate continues

Aargh! Last month the media picked up on three studies in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) about the association between how much salt we eat and our health.

Unfortunately, the studies didn’t do much to clear up the confusion surrounding how much salt we should be getting in our diets. In fact, popular reporting on the subject did little other than stir up more fear over what we eat.

The world has an increasingly high taste for salty foods — a taste that new research suggests leads to to 1.65 million excess deaths annually.

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End of life – Five Wishes

end of life care five wishesStart the conversation early

There’s an ongoing joke in health care circles that “Scientific studies continue to show that 100% of Americans eventually die.”

And yet, judging by the amount of money spent on medical care in the last 6 months of life, we make every effort to deny that eventuality.

It seems that no matter how much money you use during that last year/month, if the person is sick enough, the effort makes things worse. A lot of the money being spent is not only not helping, it is making that patient endure more bad experiences on a

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Belsomra – Do we really need another sleeping pill?

The high cost of insomnia

I read with some trepidation that the pharmaceutical giant Merck recently received FDA approval for a new sleeping pill, Belsomra (suvorexant). It will be available later this year or early in 2015.

Great, I thought, what will another brain-altering drug cost us?

Financially, Belsomra is expected to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in its first year. That’s great for Merck, whose shares went up after the announcement. But not so great for the individuals, insurance companies and government agencies that will need to cover the cost. The price for a month’s … Continue reading

Protect your health care information

protect your health care informationOops, they did it again

This week revealed another major data hack, this time targeting a huge health care group, Tennessee-based Community Health.

A cyberattack suspected to have originated in China stole Social Security numbers and other personal data for 4.5 million patients whose records were in Community Health Services Inc.’s system, the company said Monday.

The data breach included the names, addresses, birth dates, telephone numbers and Social Security numbers of patients who were referred for or received services from doctors affiliated with the hospital group in the last five years.

4.5 million patients! What a jackpot … Continue reading

Childhood vaccinations

childhood vaccinations back to schoolBack to school

Summer is winding down and Labor Day comes early this year. It seems like a good time to re-post about keeping children safe and healthy by keeping their vaccinations up-to-date. This post was first published on August 16, 2013, but I’ve included a handy button from the CDC that will allow you to easily access and view the recommended pediatric immunization schedule. FN

Catch-Up Immunization scheduler. Learn what vaccines your child has missed according to the CDC vaccination schedule.

It’s that time of year when the days shorten, department stores advertise trendy back-to-school clothes, and parents scramble to make appointments with their kids’ pediatricians for sport physicals and immunizations.

At least, I … Continue reading

Baby aspirin is not for everyone

Because it doesn’t help everyone

There is nothing I like more than cleaning clutter out of drawers, closets, shelves and…my medicine cabinet.

Over the last year, as I’ve been researching for my blog, I’ve eliminated multivitamins, calcium supplements, vitamin D supplements and niacin. Now it’s time to give that unopened bottle of baby aspirin the heave-ho.

My husband bought it a few of years ago on the advice of his physician. At that time, many doctors were recommending a daily baby or low-dose aspirin to patients that had some risk of heart attack or stroke, usually those … Continue reading