Home remedies for headaches

Oh, my aching head!

Headaches must be one of the most common health complaints. They affect all age groups, and have any number of underlying causes. Still, most headaches are a minor annoyance at most, and go away with minimal treatment.

But judging by the amount of money spent on over-the-counter pain relievers and headache medications (about half a billion dollars a year), we must be a country in a lot of pain!

The vast majority (90%) of headaches are the tension-type, or stress, headaches.

Luckily, tension-type headaches can be treated easily with inexpensive over-the-counter medications or simple home … Continue reading

Self triage and save money

Know some resources and use them

Triage is a commonly used word in medicine, especially in overcrowded emergency departments as staff do their best to determine which patients are sickest (will soon die unless treated) and which can wait. This process of prioritizing patients for treatment is known as triage.

But triage has a broader definition: The principle or practice of allocating limited resources.

And for most of us, money is definitely a limited resource!

In 2014 more health insurance policies will come with huge deductibles, and I think this trend will continue. Health care costs are not going to … Continue reading

A follow up on vitamin D

What they said about vitamin D then…

A few months ago I posted about calcium supplements and vitamin D supplements. I’m not a big fan of taking a lot of pills (or any, actually), so I did a little more research into what the most current evidence-based studies recommended.

Regarding calcium, I found that it’s best to get calcium from foods in my diet, such as dairy products and certain vegetables. I’ve been trying to do that.

And what about vitamin D? Calcium supplements often include vitamin D because it helps with absorption of calcium. Low vitamin D levels … Continue reading

A Brighter future for dental care

brighter dentist serviceDentist shopping made simple

A few weeks ago I posted that I was in the market for a new family dentist. Because I don’t have dental insurance, I am always looking for ways to keep my dental care within budget.

Friends have recommended several dentists to me, and I have been calling these offices and asking about cash discounts. It’s such a hassle and, frankly, a bit embarrassing. I’m not a haggler by nature.

I’ve gotten a variety of responses from “We aren’t accepting new patients” to “We only offer a new patient, first-time discount” to “We can give … Continue reading

Tips to save money on specialist visits

…or mistakes I wish I hadn’t made

We are entering a new era in health insurance coverage and paying for health care. Kind of.

More people will have an opportunity to buy insurance through the new exchanges. However, we will also be expected to pay much more towards our care through considerably higher deductibles and co-pays.

And I suspect this is a trend that will spread to more and more insurance plans in the near future.

My family’s new deductible will be about $10,000, so I will be more motivated than ever to limit my health care expenses. But we’ve … Continue reading

Save money on dental care

Tips to save money on dental care

If, like me, you buy an individual health plan, most likely it doesn’t cover dental (or vision) care.

I have priced buying separate dental coverage, but over an average year the premiums exceed any savings, so I have always chosen not to buy it.

Also, like me, if you are going to be faced with a steep rate hike for your medical insurance next year, you will not want to spend the extra money on a separate plan.

Pediatric dental care must be covered per Obamacare rules, but not adult dental, … Continue reading

Save money on cold medications

save money on cold medicinesCold season is here!

It’s that time of year when we head indoors, the kids go back to school (the biggest germ pool ever), and the makers of all types of cold medications start spending big bucks on advertising.

And it works. On average, Americans spend about $3.5 billion every year on over-the-counter cold and cough remedies.

But despite spending such a huge amount of money, has anyone ever bought a magic bullet to prevent or cure the common cold?

I doubt it. In fact, scientific evidence would tell you to save your money.

Frugal Nurse tips to save

Continue reading

First aid for blisters

friction blistersInfections can be expensive!

When my son was about 10 years old, he developed a nasty blister on his foot after a long hike in poorly-fitting shoes. I wasn’t aware of the blister until several days later when he came to me with what was obviously a badly infected sore between two of his toes.

I had to take him to the pediatrician to have the wound lanced (opened) and drained. He was then given a prescription for antibiotics (one of the expensive new ones, of course).

Altogether, that blister cost us about $300.

Not to mention my son’s misery. … Continue reading

Toothpaste wars

crest sensitivity toothpasteBeware false advertising

As often happens on the internet, while looking for information about one thing, I stumbled across something else I found interesting.

In 2011, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Procter & Gamble for “false labels” on one of their toothpastes. The toothpaste, Crest Sensitivity Treatment & Protection, advertised “relief within minutes” from sensitive tooth pain.

The label promised that users did not “have to wait to enjoy all [their] favorite hot and cold foods.”

Who filed the claim against Procter & Gamble? Colgate-Palmolive, the makers of the line of Colgate toothpastes, including Colgate Sensitive.

The lawsuit … Continue reading

First aid for itchy bug bites

I didn’t see them coming

Early one morning last week, while strolling a Florida beach looking for sea shells, I was attacked by the area’s notorious “no-see-ems”, or sand flies or biting midges. I didn’t realize it, however, until later that evening when the itching started – the agonizing, I-want-to-flay-the-skin-off-my-legs itching.  😡

After a sleepless night, I sped to the drugstore to buy something, anything, that might help. As usual, I was faced with an aisle of products all promising “fast” relief.

As miserable as I was (I had over 50 bites!), I doubted that any product would be … Continue reading

New prescription? Ask for it in writing

I try to be as vigilant as possible when it comes to medical expenses, but I can still be caught napping on occasion.

Last summer while working in my garden I was stung on the ankle by a wasp. Within 24 hours, my leg from the knee down was swollen to twice its normal size.

Although technically not an allergic reaction, it was a severe local reaction. I wondered what would happen if I were stung on the face or neck. So, last month when I saw my doctor for my annual exam, I asked her if it might be … Continue reading

Be prepared – Learn basic first aid

One of the advantages of being a nurse/mom is that I can tend to a wide variety of illnesses and injuries without seeking medical help. I have probably saved my family a lot of money over the years!

Anyone can learn the basics of providing first aid. I taught American Red Cross First Aid and CPR classes for years, and I highly recommend taking a class, whether you are a parent or not. Even kids as young as 13 or 14 can take the classes.

Spring is a good time to sign up for a class. Once schools are out … Continue reading

Vitamin D – Yes, no or maybe?

The sunshine supplement

Last week I learned that my vitamin D level is slightly below normal. My physician recommended that I take a daily vitamin D supplement of 1000 to 2000 IU.

I didn’t want the test, but what’s done is done. Now I need to decide what the test result means to me, and if I should follow my doctor’s recommendation.

A few years ago, vitamin D was the new wonder supplement. Various studies associated a low vitamin D level with an increased incidence of all kinds of diseases, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, prostate cancer, breast cancer, … Continue reading

Welcome spring (and hay fever)!

I love that first warm touch of spring. But the red, itchy eyes and drippy nose I can do without.

In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 16.9 million adults and 6.7 million children were diagnosed with hay fever. Every year, Americans spend billions of dollars on prescription and over-the-counter allergy medications in the quest for relief.

I suffer from hay fever, too, but I am not a fan of most of the available medications. Prescription drugs are expensive, and require a costly visit to the doctor. Over-the-counter drugs (and there are dozens of them!) are pretty … Continue reading

Do you didgeridoo?

didgeridoo playerAs I was skimming through some of my favorite medical blogs the other day, I ran across a post by Dr. Synonymous, a family medicine doctor somewhere in middle America. His post referred to the time and place of his first “Didgeridoo Hullabaloo” session that he was offering for his patients that suffered from snoring and sleep apnea.

What is a didgeridoo? It’s a native Australian wind instrument, which can be up to 10 feet long! It works like a large kazoo, and produces a low, resonant sound something like an elephant.

And how does this help snoring? Snoring and … Continue reading