Skin cancer screening guidelines

skin cancer“Insufficient evidence”

Many years ago I had a primary care doctor who used to perform a total body skin examination (TBSE) on me every year as part of my annual exam.

Of course, those all-inclusive physicals are a thing of the past. I haven’t had a physician perform a TBSE for a long time.

I often wondered about that. A TBSE seems like a relatively easy and harmless way to quickly screen for skin cancer. The goal, of course, is to find a melanoma, the deadly skin cancer, when it’s small and possibly curable.

Related post: A must-watch video about Continue reading

Prevent kidney stones

kidney stonesAnd save money!

If you’re interested in how much a kidney stone costs, read this blog post from the Costs of Care website. The author of the post gives an accounting of her physician visits, diagnostic tests and medications:

  • At least 5 sets of blood work, with CBC and chemical profiles, parathyroid studies
  • Several urine tests, including urinalysis and urine culture, and two 24 hour urine tests (a third 24 hour urine test was recommended but I declined)
  • 2 CT scans
  • 1 MRI
  • 4 specialist visits, 2 primary care visits, 2 ER visits (involving IVs, pain meds, lab studies)
  • Prescriptions
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Use Pepto-Bismol with caution

pepto-bismolThe FDA issues a warning

In my last post about treating heartburn, I mentioned Pepto-Bismol as one of several inexpensive and readily available over-the-counter treatments.

I also said that anyone who is allergic or sensitive to aspirin should not use Pepto-Bismol because it contains salicylic acid, or aspirin.

Aspirin is a blood thinner and can cause bleeding in the stomach. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a consumer warning that anyone sensitive to aspirin, or anyone taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, should consider other options to treat heartburn.

Read the label and

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Home remedies for heartburn

heartburnImmediate relief

The other day a family member asked for my advice on treating heartburn. It’s a common problem and fortunately there are many lifestyle changes and simple products to try before spending money on doctors’ appointments and prescription medications.

For the occasional case of heartburn following a large meal, or eating too late at night, or being more stressed than usual, try a herbal product or one of the inexpensive over-the-counter antacids.

  • Chamomile has a mild healing and protective effect on the digestive tract. Choose a good-quality tea bag and enjoy a cup after a meal.
  • Peppermint also has
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First aid for bee stings

yellow jacketHow do you react?

Bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, and fire ants all belong to the same order of insects, Hymenoptera, so their venoms cause similar reactions if you are stung or bitten.

People’s bodies react in one of three ways:

  1. 85-90% experience a small local reaction—pain, redness and some swelling just around the sting site.
  2. 10% experience what is called a “large local reaction”—pain, itching, redness and swelling extending well beyond the sting site, 4 to 6 inches or more. (This is me! When I was stung in the hand last year, my entire arm swelled up.)
  3. 1-3%
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What is a dry drowning?

Dry drowning and secondary drowning

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about kids and water safety.

I want to add some information about two little known conditions called “dry drowning” and “secondary drowning.” They’re relatively rare, thank goodness, but can happen up to 24 hours following a near-drowning when parents think their child is no longer in danger.

Both a dry drowning and a secondary drowning occur out of the water, after a child inhales some water. He or she might look panicked and cough violently for a short time. Often these kids then feel well … Continue reading

Save money – Tips for healthy teeth

healthy teethPreventive care saves money

As anyone without dental insurance (like me!) can tell you, dental care is expensive. In a previous post I share some ideas for saving money at the dentist.

But the best thing you can do, and teach your kids to do, is take care of your teeth. Healthy teeth save money.

That means taking time to care for your teeth EVERY DAY.

Did you know that with proper oral care small cavities can heal themselves? If your dentist finds a small cavity, ask about watching and waiting for a few months to see if you … Continue reading

First aid for fireworks injuries

By July 5, most large communities have reported property damage—fires, mostly—and bodily damage—burns, missing fingers, blindness.

As a reminder to everybody to be careful around fireworks—my preference is to avoid them altogether—the San Diego Fire Department put together this great public service video demonstrating the danger of explosives fireworks.

If you want some pretty graphic reasons to stay away from fireworks, just go to YouTube and search for “fireworks injuries.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers the following tips to keep kids safe:

  • Fireworks can result in severe burns, blindness, scars, and even death.
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Home remedies for sunburns

sunburnsFew summer ailments are as common as sunburns.

Prevention is key, of course, and you can read my previous posts on using sunscreens and how to save money on them.

But if you or your kids get a sunburn, here are some simple steps you can take to stop the burning and promote healing.

You don’t need to buy a bunch of special products. I do keep an inexpensive bottle of aloe vera gel in my medicine cabinet as one of my basic first aid supplies.

Tips to treat sunburns

  • Cool the skin. Whether
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Water safety tips

water safety tipsA preventable tragedy

A children’s hospital in Texas just released a grim statistic for the not-yet-over month of June: 15 near drownings and two drowning deaths of small children.

“Can you imagine being a parent, sitting in the ED waiting room, praying that the life of someone you love so dearly is spared, especially since it was something that didn’t have to happen? No parent wants to be saddled with that guilt.”

Such tragedies aren’t unique to Texas. Near drownings and deaths are reported every spring and summer as the weather heats up, kids get out of school, and families … Continue reading

Prevent a bunion from getting bigger

what is a bunionAn ugly problem with an ugly name—hallux valgus

Last summer I noticed I had the beginning of a small bunion.

Horrified, I wanted to find out if there was anything I could do to keep it from becoming bigger, uglier and more painful.

Anything except surgery. The last thing I want is foot surgery.

I also wanted to know how to prevent a bunion from developing in my other foot.

But I had to admit that I knew next to nothing about the lowly bunion, so I had to do a little research first.

Who gets bunions?

A bunion … Continue reading

“Pass on Packets” to keep kids safe

pass on packetsYesterday, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Doernbecher Children’s Hospital hosted a Twitter chat discussing the dangers of those oh-so-convenient laundry detergent packets or pods that many of us use.

I use them.

But here is a scary statistic: every month almost 1,000 children under the age of 6 suffer the ill effects of biting into a packet and being exposed to the toxic detergent.

A pediatrician at OHSU writes:

If ingested…the highly concentrated packets can lead to vomiting, oral burns and swelling, respiratory distress and even respiratory failure – not to mention the neurologic impacts such as seizures,

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First aid for heat stroke

first aid for heat strokeHere comes the sun!

Once again, the Seattle area is experiencing record-breaking temperatures and it’s not even summer yet! This seems like a good time to re-post some sun safety tips. People can die from excessive heat, so here are some tips to protect yourself and those most vulnerable to the heat—the very young and very old. Sláinte, Frugal Nurse

This post was first published June 26, 2015

Living in the Pacific Northwest,  we rarely have to worry about heat stroke or other heat-related illnesses.

In fact, it so often rains through the Fourth of July, we joke that summer … Continue reading

How to prevent osteoporosis

prevent osteoporosisMay is National Osteoporosis Month

I can’t let May and the NOF’s awareness campaign pass without giving a shout out to the best way to prevent bone loss or osteoporosis.

It’s not taking enormous calcium supplement tablets every day or occasionally choking down a couple of chalky TUMS.

It’s a combination of eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods and exercising every day.

Actually, no one can prevent bone loss altogether. That’s like saying you can prevent wrinkles. As we age our bones lose strength and flexibility. But we can slow the process down and prevent it from turning into significant Continue reading

Dormant Butt Syndrome

dormant butt syndromeDo you suffer from DBS?

As far as I know, Dormant Butt Syndrome (DBS) isn’t really a disease, but rather a phrase coined by a physical therapist at a medical center in Ohio.

Millions of Americans (myself included) suffer from knee, hip and/or lower back pain. Therapist Chris Kolba, PT, PhD, MHS, blames too much sitting, which is weakening our gluteus or butt muscles.

The entire body works as a linked system, and a lot of times when people come in with knee or hip injuries, it’s actually because their butt is not strong enough. The rear end should

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