Treat headaches with diet and exercise

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

Big Pharma – Shady business tactics

There is nothing the major pharmaceutical companies fear more than their best-selling drugs going off patent.

That’s when generic versions of popular (and pricey) drugs become available and the drug companies have to kiss their billions of dollars in sales goodbye.

So it’s no wonder that over the years they have figured out more ways to either extend their patents by tweaking a drug (New and Improved!!) or by stalling the release of a competing generic (companies can get 30-month delays if they show the generic drug might infringe on a later patent).

Patients who take the Alzheimer’s … Continue reading

Don’t buy supplements to prevent Alzheimer’s

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

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Brain health – Play EyeWire

brain health eyewireUse it or lose it

There are several pieces of advice for helping prevent or delay age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s.

  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat healthy, heart-friendly foods
  • Exercise
  • Socialize
  • Challenge your brain

Keeping your brain active and fit can be especially fun and rewarding, as it usually involves learning something new. Examples of good brain-stretchers are:

  • Learning a foreign language
  • Learning to play an instrument
  • Learning to dance, especially a complicated dance such as ballroom or folk dancing
  • Playing games

I love to play games. Board games, card games, word games or video games. You can play with others, which also … Continue reading

Concussion assessment apps

There’s no such thing as a “mild” concussion

Last week I posted about first aid for concussions, which is important because head injuries in kids are a growing concern in the medical and public health communities.

Of particular importance is avoiding the potentially fatal “second impact syndrome”; if a young athlete suffers a “mild” concussion and then sustains another within a few weeks, “diffuse cerebral swelling, brain herniation, and death can occur.” Luckily, it’s rare.

But even minor concussions need to be recognized and treated, and it can be difficult because symptoms are often subtle and most parents … Continue reading

First aid for concussions

first aid for concussionsRest, rest and more rest

Gone are the days of the middle school football coach telling a player to “Shake it off and get back in the game.”

Proper first aid and treatment of concussions has received a lot of attention in recent years, mostly due to the alarming increase in long-term neurological problems—memory loss and behavior changes—suffered by professional athletes and soldiers.

Concerned pediatricians and public health officials are pushing schools, youth sports organizations and parents to be more aware of head injuries in young athletes.

Childrens’ brains are still developing, after all, and are especially vulnerable to Continue reading

Screening for Alzheimer’s and dementia

Will there soon be a blood test?

My father-in-law recently passed away after suffering with Alzheimer’s for several years. I also have an aunt who is currently living with some form of dementia, probably vascular.

Few diseases strike more fear into those over the age of 50 than Alzheimer’s. Needless to say, both my husband and I worry when we find ourselves saying:

“Oh, what’s the word I want?”

or “Where did I put it?”

or “Why did I come in here?”

So when I read the prevailing health headlines this week about a blood test to predict Alzheimer’s, … Continue reading

Weekly rounds July 19, 2013

Flight delayed? Learn CPR!

For the next six months, Dallas-Fort Worth airport is hosting a trial program to teach “hands-only” CPR to travelers. An automated kiosk, developed by the American Heart Association in partnership with American Airlines, guides passengers through a simplified CPR technique using video instructions and a manikin torso. If the program is successful, it will be expanded to other airports.

Hands-only CPR does not require rescue breaths and is as effective as regular CPR. It sounds like a useful way to pass some time, and I’d love to try it if I’m ever in one … Continue reading

First aid for stroke symptoms

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when blood (oxygen) cannot get to the brain tissue, and the brain cells die. A stroke can be caused by a clot (called an ischemic stroke) or a ruptured blood vessel (called a hemorrhagic stroke). About 9 out of 10 strokes are caused by a clot.

An ischemic stroke is similar to what happens with a heart attack, when blood to the heart is blocked by a clot and the heart tissue dies. Risk factors for heart attack – age, smoking, unhealthy lifestyle, family history – are the same for stroke.

Stroke symptoms

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Weekly rounds May 24, 2013

ADHD? Start counting your calories

A 40-years-long (so far) study evaluating the effect of having attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in childhood reported that the disorder seems to be connected to adult obesity, at least in men. The study actually brought the 40-something-year-old men back to look at their brain imaging, and just happened to notice that many were too big for the scanners!

The researchers don’t know why. One theory is that the impulsive behavior common in ADHD makes it difficult to control eating patterns, suggesting that more needs to be done to counsel young ADHD patients … Continue reading

The healing power of mahjongg?

For more than five years, one of my best friends has been battling ovarian cancer. A fierce fighter (and fabulous friend!), she has endured surgeries and several rounds of chemotherapy to keep this grim disease at bay. Her oncologist monitors her condition with the blood test CA-125.

Early last summer, her CA-125 began creeping up into the “let’s watch it but not get too excited—yet” territory. She knew from past experience that she might be facing another round of chemo.

Then we began playing mahjongg. Or, more accurately, American mahjongg, which is a variant of the arcane Chinese game … Continue reading