Do you suffer from dry, red, or itchy eyes?
Dry eyes are really common, especially in the late fall and winter when we spend more time in the dry indoor air.
But did you know the eye drops you use might actually be making your eyes look and feel worse?
Like so many over-the-counter (OTC) products, there are dozens of eye drops from which to choose. How do you know which is best? You can save money and get a more helpful product by understanding what you really need from an eye drop.
As always, ignore the marketing claims on … Continue reading
I sit too much. I always have.
By nature, I guess, I am a sedentary person. I’m not fidgety. I can sit for long periods of time reading a book or working at the computer.
I exercise every day, going for a long walk or working in my garden or doing yoga, and I thought that was enough.
But I just watched an episode of the excellent HealthCare Triage series ominously entitled: “Sitting vs. Standing. Is Your Sedentary Life Killing You?”
Wow, I need to move a whole lot more!
We all understand that … Continue reading
January 2017: Important update on Diclegis! A medical journal recently published a paper questioning the safety of Diclegis, or at least raising concerns about the quality of the research behind its FDA approval.
Although the components of Diclegis can be easily purchased over the counter, as my post shows, it’s very important that ANY drugs taken during pregnancy be OK’ed by your obstetrician first. FN
I don’t usually pay much attention to media’s almost 24/7 coverage of all things Kardashian, but it’s been hard to miss the news tidbits about Kim Kardashian’s second pregnancy.
And to those that follow her … Continue reading
I participate in a world-wide group of health care providers that exchanges information about the high costs of health care and overtreatment in our respective countries. (It’s not just an American problem!)
One provider recently shared for our consideration a paper that stated too many third molars (aka wisdom teeth) were being unnecessarily removed in the US.
Ten million third molars (wisdom teeth) are extracted from approximately 5 million people in the United States each year at an annual cost of over $3 billion.
In addition, more than 11 million patient days of “standard discomfort or disability”—pain, swelling, bruising, and
… Continue reading
I once bought an enormous jar of fish oil supplements from Costco—and then let it sit in a cabinet mostly untouched until well past its expiration date. (I hate taking pills.)
That was doubly wasteful on my part. Not only for ignoring the capsules once I’d bought them, but for buying them in the first place.
A recent article in the business pages of the Washington Post marveled that the fish oil supplement industry is booming despite any solid evidence that fish oil supplements work as claimed.
People in the United States spend about $1.2 billion annually for
… Continue reading
SPF = Sun Protection Factor
An SPF rating is an estimate of how effectively a sunscreen product reduces the time it takes your skin to burn. For example, if it normally takes about 10 minutes in the sun for you to burn, a product with an SPF of 15 extends that time to burn to 150 minutes. SPF 30? Approximately 300 minutes.
Related post: First aid for sunburns
Keep in mind two things about SPF:
1) It is not a super accurate measurement of protection. Different people with different skin types burn at different rates.
2) SPF measures protection from … Continue reading
Earlier this year, a new online health care cost checking tool became available: Guroo.com
It joins a couple other online tools that are meant to increase price transparency and help patients figure out how much a test or procedure will cost before getting the bill.
But do Guroo or the others really help?
If you’re uninsured or have a really high deductible, it’s nice to have at least a ballpark idea of what you will be spending if you need some kind of medical care. But, as Kaiser Health News puts it:
… Continue reading
Earlier this year, I posted about the study out of Harvard that showed headaches are being overtreated in America.
Over a 10-year period, the number of patients being referred to specialists, or sent for special diagnostic tests, has doubled.
With more CT scans and MRIs, and more prescriptions medications, headaches are costly. Also, all the extra tests and drugs don’t necessarily help, and they might just cause more problems with side effects.
Related post: Home remedies for headaches
Luckily, some headache specialists are leaning away from the trend to overtreat, and are prescribing exercise and dietary changes instead of drugs. … Continue reading
Stories like this make me so angry: Cancer Charities Called $187 Million “Sham”
A group of family members whose charities claimed to be raising millions of dollars for cancer victims bilked donors to the tune of $187 million over five years, spending some of that money on fancy cars and trips for themselves and their friends, according to a civil suit.
The alleged fraud, which would be one of the largest-ever involving a charity, was detailed in a complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission, all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It describes four connected groups, all with
… Continue reading
I love John Abramson’s work. He’s a physician and kind of the original whistle-blower on Big Pharma. He wrote a brilliant book, Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine, in which he outlined how the aggressive marketing techniques and biased medical research of the giant pharmaceutical companies have led to the overuse of many prescription drugs.
The pervasive use of statins is one of his (and my) pet peeves.
And recently the American Heart Association (AHA) came out with cholesterol guidelines that will lead to a huge increase in prescribing statins to people with a low risk of … Continue reading
Healthism is a term coined in the early 1990s that describes the government’s use of “propaganda and coercion to establish norms of health” and its attempts “to impose norms of a ‘healthy lifestyle.'”
Think about the cities that have chosen to ban smoking or trans-fats or super-sized sodas.
Or the new federal school lunch program’s rather rigid nutrition standards.
Or the Affordable Care Act. It mandates coverage of multiple “essential benefits” such as annual “wellness visits” and screening exams of debatable value. It also requires health care providers to document that they’ve talked to every patient about weight … Continue reading
I’ve always been skeptical of the over-hyped claims of alternative medicine, including homeopathy.
(Heck, if you’d read my blog for long you know I’m skeptical of a lot of mainstream medicine, as well!)
So I read with much amusement an article on The Daily Beast: Sorry, Hippies, Homeopathy is Totally Useless
Homeopathy is a worthless means of sustaining your health. In terms of preventing or treating disease, it’s up there with bloodletting or erecting a shrine to Asclepius in your pantry. It is literally good for nothing from a medical perspective.
The author, a physician, wrote in response to… Continue reading
All around the country, and certainly in my own city (Seattle), hospital construction has been booming over the last ten years.
Billions of dollars are being spent, and not just for necessary upgrades. Hospitals are going for a more upscale look in the hopes that they can attract better paying patients (those with the best insurance coverage) and get better patient satisfaction scores.
And patient satisfaction scores are important because Medicare is basing some reimbursements on those scores—if the patient isn’t happy, Medicare won’t pay.
But a couple of recent studies have shown that patients don’t give hospitals better ratings … Continue reading
I’ve posted many times about the problems with the multi-billion-dollar supplement industry, and there was a good Op-Ed piece on Live Science yesterday that supported my own opinion: These 5 Supplements Do Nothing For Alzheimer’s, Despite Claims
The article was co-written by two physicians, both geriatric (aging) specialists.
The Latin axiom “caveat emptor,” let the buyer beware, applies to people of all ages. But in our medical practices, we have witnessed the incredible dependence elderly patients have on herbal supplements to help them (in their minds, at least) prevent and manage chronic illness.
When we see patients, we ask them
… Continue reading