Last week PBS aired a NOVA special on vaccinations: Vaccines—Calling the Shots
Diseases that were largely eradicated in the United States a generation ago—including whooping cough, measles, mumps—are returning, in part because nervous parents are skipping their children’s shots. Vaccines – Calling the Shots, a new NOVA special, takes viewers around the world to track epidemics, explore the science behind vaccinations, and shed light on the risks of opting out.
Like most NOVA specials, it focuses on the science behind vaccinations: How were they developed? How effective are they? How safe are they? And—perhaps … Continue reading
It’s October and time for my annual reminder for everyone age 6 months and older to get a flu shot!
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 flu season will be, so just assume it will be a bad and early flu season and prepare accordingly.
In other words, get your flu shot now. And remember to always wash your … Continue reading
I read a good article on BuzzFeed last week that offered simple tips to deal with anxiety and panic attacks: 31 Actually Helpful Tips For Dealing With Panic Attacks
I won’t list them all here, and you can check out the article for more details, but here are a few I thought especially helpful. (And I have suffered from panic attacks in the past, so I know what works for me.)
- Listen to songs with a slow rhythm to help control your breathing. Look through your playlists for music in the range of 60-70 beats per minute. Create a playlist
… Continue reading
Blue light pollution
Do you have trouble getting to sleep at night, and then feel sleepy and groggy in the morning?
“Blue light” from your TV, phone or tablet might be to blame. Do you watch TV or sit at your computer just before bed? Or take your phone, laptop or Kindle into bed with you?
These electronic devices all emit what’s known as blue light. Blue light is a specific part of the light spectrum. It’s why the sky is blue, and so our brains naturally associate blue light with day and become more alert, even if it’s time … Continue reading
Every fall my house becomes a mine field of spider webs. When I go out the front door, I immediately step face-first into a big, black, eight-legged bug. Yuck.
Whether it’s spiders preparing for the winter, or fleas and mosquitoes enjoying the wetter but still warm late-summer days, insects are just more bothersome in the fall.
I remember in my childhood my mother used to carry around a huge can of Raid and practically spray it in our faces when she saw a wasp or fly or spider.
Um, that’s not a good idea.
A recent study published in Pediatrics… Continue reading
Chronic neck pain can be, well, a pain in the neck.
Usually caused by overuse, poor posture, tension or arthritis—or a combination—neck, shoulder and upper back pain can interfere with almost all routine activities.
But some simple yoga moves can help, and I think this particular YouTube video is great. The moves are well explained, and they can be done either standing or sitting at your desk. And it’s short, only 4 minutes, so these exercises can be done almost any time if your neck muscles are feeling tight or painful.
The Clinical Journal of … Continue reading
It’s September and the kids are back in school!
Few things are germier than a school where lots of kids and adults are stuck in small rooms, touching the same objects and breathing the same air.
Then the kids bring those germs home on their hands and touch everything there, too.
Colds are miserable for children and parents alike, and missing work—whether a parent gets sick or has to stay home to care for a sick child—is a problem for many families.
It’s impossible to avoid every cold, and it’s probably better for our immune systems to get sick now … Continue reading
Because of the recent outbreaks of preventable diseases such as measles, California passed a law this summer that will severely limit a parent’s ability to opt out of vaccinating their school-aged kids.
But I understand why some parents, especially those with infants and young children, might be fearful when they hear so many (untrue) horror stories about the safety of vaccinations.
One family practice doctor wrote an open letter to parents about vaccinations—why they are necessary and why it’s safer to vaccinate than not—and published it on the health blog KevinMD.
I thought it was very … Continue reading
A friend of mine sent me a link to this story: Left in the Brain: Potentially Toxic Residue From MRI Drugs
Most MRIs, a common diagnostic imaging test, require you to be injected with a “contrast agent” that allows the images to be more defined and therefore more useful.
It’s been known for some time that these agents can be harmful to people with impaired kidney function, so in those cases radiologists will use a more kidney-friendly agent or do without.
But now it appears that some of these contrast agents, specifically the gadolinium agents (that just sounds toxic, doesn’t … Continue reading
Last month a medical journal published a study out of Stanford that links the use of Nexium (esomeprazole) and other proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) with an increased risk of heart attack.
This is another study that used “big data”—the information from thousands (if not millions) of patients’ electronic health records—to identify risks from drugs and other medical treatments.
Nexium, or “the Purple Pill”, is widely prescribed to treat heartburn and gastroesophogeal reflux disease (GERD). Other commonly used PPIs include Prevacid (lansoprazole) and Prilosec (omeprazole). These drugs are also readily available over-the-counter, and are heavily marketed to the general population.… Continue reading