My favorite healthcare books and gifts for 2016

I’m spending the day online getting some gift shopping done, and I thought I’d post about some of the healthcare books and gifts I’m buying for friends and family this year.

I use Amazon a lot (Prime, so I get free 2-day shipping), and I have to include a disclosure here that the following links will take you to my Amazon Associates page. That said, I’m not trying to make any money with my blog, so if you can find these products for better prices elsewhere, great!

For the sleep deprived

As someone who has battled insomnia most of her … Continue reading

“Brain on Fire” – A diagnostic odyssey

brain-on-fireI just finished reading a really gripping and emotional story—Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by journalist Susannah Cahalan. (Soon to be a movie!)

As a twenty-something cub reporter in New York, Ms. Cahalan began experiencing strange, seemingly unconnected symptoms, such as forgetfulness, paranoia and the sensation that bugs were crawling on one side of her body.

The details of her weeks’ long medical journey—which she had to piece together from medical records, her parents’ journals, and the recollections of friends, doctors and nurses because she couldn’t remember most of it—are a pretty frightening look at today’s fragmented … Continue reading

National Stroke Awareness Month

It’s Stroke Awareness Month!

May is  National Stroke Awareness Month, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) want you to be aware of the most common stroke symptoms, and know what to do if you see them.

The five most common symptoms, which tend to come on suddenly, are:

  1. Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially when on just one side of the body;
  2. Confusion, including having trouble speaking or understanding;
  3. Trouble seeing, in one or both eyes;
  4. Dizziness, having trouble walking or balancing;
  5. Headache, especially pain
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Exercise for brain health

brainThe wellness blog in the New York Times had an article about brain health that has strengthened my resolve to exercise every day.

Walk, Jog or Dance: It’s All Good For the Aging Brain

It turns out that regular walking, cycling, swimming, dancing and even gardening may substantially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

The author is referring to a recently published study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The study looked at 10 years’ worth of lifestyle data, including exercise levels, on 900 men and women over the age of 65. Over the course of those 10 years, the … Continue reading

PBS – “Ride the Tiger”

Tomorrow night at 10pm, PBS is premiering a documentary about the history and treatment of bipolar disorder: Ride the Tiger—A Guide Through the Bipolar Brain.

It’s hard to find a family that hasn’t been affected by this condition, yet it’s still poorly understood and challenging to diagnose and treat.

The show looks at genetics, diagnosis and treatment, and features many highly accomplished people living with the condition.

The PBS webpage also offers resources for more information about bipolar disorder.

I will certainly be watching!

Sláinte,

Frugal Nurse

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Blueberries for brain health

blueberriesFor years I’ve heard that blueberries are good for brain health. Which is great, because I love blueberries and try to work them into my diet several times a week.

So I was happy to read the results of some new research that supports the connection between blueberries and the human brain.

Most blueberry studies to date have been performed on animals, but two recent studies—funded in part by the National Institute on Aging and the blueberry industry—used human subjects.

One study used adults over the age of 68. Half ate the equivalent of 1 cup of blueberries daily for … Continue reading

Sleep deprivation

March 6th to 13th is National Sleep Awareness Week.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) sponsors the week (#7Days4BetterSleep) to raise awareness of the health benefits of a good night’s sleep.

As if we didn’t know!

But if you need a reminder, here’s a TED-Ed video about the effects of sleep deprivation:

Good sleep habits are best learned at a young age. If you are a parent, help your kids find a healthy balance between all their activities and their sleep needs.

The NSF has lots of information about sleep, as well as sleep tips … Continue reading

Nexium and increased dementia risk

nexiumI’ve previously posted that Nexium and similar acid-reducing drugs, the PPIs (proton pump inhibitors), have been linked to an increased risk of heart attack .

Now, a new study has confirmed a connection between PPIs and dementia.

The patients receiving regular PPI medication…had a significantly increased risk of incident dementia compared with the patients not receiving PPI medication…

The avoidance of PPI medication may prevent the development of dementia.

The study specifically looked at PPI use in patients age 75 and older, who are frequently taking several prescription medications.

This is an important study, because as the health news Continue reading

Smoking pot hurts your brain

A couple years ago my state, Washington, legalized pot.

It’s been a boon for tax revenue, for sure (almost $83 million in the first year). And the state reports that it has saved millions of dollars by freeing up law enforcement resources.

Judging from the lines in front of the pot stores (green crosses are everywhere!), pot is really popular here, across a wide range of ages.

But apart from its commercial success, and the fact that it’s given us more stoned drivers, the law concerns me because it seems to promote the idea that smoking pot … Continue reading

What is Brintellix?

I was doing a little research into the new depression screening guidelines issued by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) when I ran across an article about a newer, more expensive antidepressant called Brintellix (vortioxetine).

It costs about $300 for 30 tablets, and is apparently no better at treating depression than the plethora of other cheaper drugs already out there, so it hasn’t been a best seller for its manufacturer, Lundbeck, Inc.

But Lundbeck and its partner Takeda Pharmaceutical hope to change that by convincing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week that Brintellix is better than … Continue reading

Do “brain games” prevent dementia?

I like playing the brain games of Lumosity online and on my phone.

I like puzzles and words games in general, and Lumosity offers a fun and convenient way to play and keep track of my improvement in a variety of challenges.

I’ve never paid the costly $15 a month subscription, because I’ve never bought into the idea that playing these “brain games”—Lumosity calls it “brain training”—by themselves is enough to prevent dementia as I age.

But many people, apparently, were influenced by Lumosity’s advertising.

Two weeks ago, the creators of Lumosity settled a $50 million lawsuit with the Federal Continue reading

The high cost of dementia

November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.

It’s hard to find anyone who isn’t aware of—and scared of—dementia**. Or who hasn’t had a family member or friend stricken by it.

Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease that damages not only the individual, but family and friends, as well, especially the primary care giver—most often the spouse.

Adding insult to injury is the incredible cost of getting help. A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine confirms what many already know—Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia cost families way more than almost any other disease.

Why? Cancer is one of Continue reading

Adults coloring books for stress relief

adult coloring bookA few weeks ago I posted about some simple ways to deal with stress and panic attacks, and I mentioned that I had received an adult coloring book from a friend and thought it was a great way to focus and relax my mind.

Apparently other people think so, too!

I just read this article in The Atlantic: The Zen of Adult Coloring Books

Several trend pieces about adult coloring books lump them in with other “childish” activities that grown-ups are apparently engaging in to regress back to their simpler youth, like adult preschool and adult summer camp. But

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The overuse of antidepressants

I know so many people taking antidepressants. And they talk about it quite openly, with me and with each other.

“What are you taking? Zoloft? Oh, I tried that but didn’t like it. Celexa works better for me.”

I’m sure none of these people went to his or her (mostly her) doctor and got a prescription for no reason whatsoever. But it’s pretty hard to deny that antidepressant use in this country has skyrocketed over the last two decades, which begs the question: Is everyone really that depressed?

No. A recent study in The Journal of Clinical Psychology looked at Continue reading

Overuse of antipsychotics in teenagers

I read a disturbing bit of news a couple of weeks ago: Antipsychotic use rising among teens and young adults.

A growing number of teens and young adults are being prescribed antipsychotics, a new study suggests.

In particular, it appears they’re being used to treat attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – a condition for which the powerful drugs are not approved.

The study mentioned was recently published in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Antipsychotics include such heavily-marketed drugs as Abilify (aripiprazole), Risperdal (risperidone), Seroquel (quetiapine) and Zyprexa (olanzapine).

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