The other day I was in Target shopping for toothpaste, and I thought, “Wow, do Americans really need this many toothpastes?”
At first glance I couldn’t even find the toothpaste I normally use, no doubt because the packaging had changed. It’s probably “new and improved.” Aren’t they all?
Ignoring the hyperbole of “advanced”, “intense” and “extreme”, I started looking at the ingredient lists on the backs of the boxes. I know exactly which ingredients I want to see to get the most effective toothpaste at the lowest price.
For me, the most important ingredient in a toothpaste is fluoride. … Continue reading
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
Medical errors happen
The other day I saw my doctor for an annual exam.
This year I was determined to ask my doctor NOT to order a vitamin D level.
I have had my vitamin D level tested for the last three years and it costs me approximately $100 out of pocket. (It is not considered preventive by the Affordable Care Act.)
Earlier this year, the health advocacy group Choosing Wisely recommended against routine screening for Vitamin D level in healthy adults. Well, I am a healthy adult, and my previous vitamin D levels have been normal—albeit at the lower … Continue reading
This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
You have probably seen this warning many times, but perhaps never paused to consider what it meant. Or, maybe you haven’t seen it, because it usually appears in very fine print and is only obvious if you are looking for it.
What is it, what does it mean, and why is it important?
In 1994 congress enacted the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), effectively allowing any product under the broad classification of … Continue reading
Out of sight, out of mind
The other day I was cleaning out a kitchen cupboard and unearthed an economy-sized bottle of calcium tablets. Oops! I should be taking one or two of those every day.
Or should I?
Everyone knows calcium is necessary for bone health. Most women have been told by their doctors that they need extra calcium after menopause because without estrogen’s help, bones do not absorb it well. Low calcium leads to osteoporosis, which leads to broken bones, which lead to huge health care costs. Oh no!
Too much of a good thing—or the wrong thing
… Continue reading
As 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
Probiotics are of limited use
As a nurse, I often give patients the advice to eat yogurt when taking antibiotics to decrease the risk of developing diarrhea or, in women, vaginal yeast infections.
Why yogurt? Because it contains live, beneficial micro-organisms—now called probiotics—that are thought to replenish the “good” bacteria incidentally killed when taking antibiotics. In theory, eating yogurt makes sense. At best, it helps; at worse, you get a tasty snack with some extra calcium.
In the last few years, however, I have seen probiotic-laced products (fortified yogurt, snack bars, capsules) account for an increasingly large part of the … Continue reading
Did you ever stop to wonder how the skin of your lips differs from the skin on the rest of your face?
The skin over your lips is very thin and highly vascular, hence their typical “vermilion” or red color. Your lips also have more nerve endings, making them very tactile and sensitive.
These anatomical differences make our lips attractive and nice for kissing, but they also make our lips vulnerable to dryness, sunburn and chemical sensitivities.
Painful and unattractive, chapped lips are especially common in the winter because of the dry, cold air outside, the dry, warm air inside, … Continue reading
Do you suffer from chronically dry, red, itchy eyes? The eye drops you use might actually be making your eyes look and feel worse.
Like so many over-the-counter (OTC) products, there are dozens of eye drops from which to choose. How do you know which is best?
As always, ignore the front of the package and read the ingredients.
Oxymetazoline HCl and naphazoline HCl are decongestants. Drops that advertise “decreased redness”, such as Visine, contain a decongestant that constricts the small blood vessels in the eye. It works temporarily, but has a “rebound” effect; that is, the redness gets worse … Continue reading
Flu season hit hard this year, and the normal, if unwelcome, after effect of many viral upper respiratory infections is a lingering cough.
A recent review of the medical literature found that, on average, a cough will last 17.8 days! Fortunately, most coughs are self limiting; that is, they will get better without special treatment, such as antibiotics.
If you have a question about when to seek medical attention for a cough, visit FamilyDoctor.org ‘Check Your Symptoms’.
For home treatment, however, the drugstore shelves are filled with a dizzying array of cough products. Which one, if any, is best?
Before … Continue reading