Anyone who suffers from chronic pain knows that physicians recommend keeping a journal or diary of pain symptoms: How bad is it over a day or week? What triggers it or makes it worse? Is it affected by weather, exercise, foods, stress? What makes it better? What medications have you tried, when and for how long?
That can add up to a lot of information to keep track of.
But LiveScience recently published a list of what they consider the best pain management apps.
There is a huge potential market for these apps: Some 100 million American adults are
… Continue reading
Making the correct diagnosis in a timely manner is crucial. It not only avoids lots of unnecessary (and expensive) tests, but gets the appropriate treatment started more quickly.
But making a diagnosis can be difficult. And one of the leading causes of medical malpractice suits is “failure to diagnose”; that’s why so many cases of indigestion are worked up as potential heart attacks, or headaches for aneurysms or tumors.
Many patients (and physicians) turn to apps or online tools to help make a diagnosis. Unfortunately, Harvard just published a study that shows these tools are only right about half the … Continue reading
I’ve written several posts on calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is an important nutrient, but most evidence suggests we need to get more calcium in what we eat, rather than supplements.
It’s the same with vitamin D. We need to eat a variety of foods that are rich in vitamin D and also spend more time in the sunshine. There is no data at this time to support vitamin D supplements.
Related post: Healthy adults don’t need multivitamins
But it’s difficult to follow the recommended intake levels of both nutrients. Every day I try to eat foods … Continue reading
I just ran across this video of Andrew Weil, MD, explaining how to do yoga breathing exercises, specifically the 4-7-8 breathing technique. It’s based on the yoga practice of pranayama.
I’ve always had trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep, and I want to give these breathing exercises a try as they are an inexpensive and drug-free approach to hopefully improving my quantity and quality of sleep.
The steps of the 4-7-8 technique are simple:
- Exhale completely through your mouth while making a ‘whoosh’ sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your
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When the cost of both brand name and generic levothyroxin skyrocketed two years ago, the first thing I did (after complaining loudly to the pharmacist, although it wasn’t his fault) was look at the Food and Drug Administrations’s (FDA) website.
Following the Economics 101 rule of supply and demand, the sudden price increase of a drug is usually due to a shortage. Sometimes ingredients are difficult to find, or a quality control issue has limited the supply.
The FDA has a page that lists all known drug shortages, including the reason for the shortage and how long it is … Continue reading
The Doctor Mole skin cancer detection app
I was browsing through some smartphone apps last week and I ran across one called Doctor Mole. At first I thought it had something to do with the garden pest—I have an infestation of moles plowing through my vegetable garden every evening, so they are much on my mind.
I thought, “Yes! An app to tell me how to get rid of moles!”
Nope. Wrong kind of mole.
But I was still interested. I had heard of these skin cancer tracking apps, so I decided to take a look and see what … Continue reading
UV rays are damaging
Just as the sun can injure your skin, it can hurt the delicate tissue of your eyes, too. Long-term exposure to UVA and UVB rays contributes to cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Cataracts, cloudy areas on your eye’s lens, can be corrected with surgery; there is no effective treatment for macular degeneration, and it can lead to blindness.
Did you know you can also get melanoma of the eye? Unprotected UV exposure from the sun or tanning beds increases the risk of this type of cancer. And, of course, squinting against the sun’s glare … Continue reading
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
The depression epidemic
I posted last week that prescriptions for antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications have soared in the last 20 years.
I like to blame the pharmaceutical companies that reap the huge profits, but the relentless output of bleak news from the media sure doesn’t help. Political scandals and inertia, the economic roller coaster, global warming (or do we call it climate change?) resulting in natural disasters, terrorists, international crises, racial tensions, gun violence, and on and on and on…
And then I read an article in the Los Angeles Times entitled “Facebook may be making you hate life, study … Continue reading
The “Quantified Self”
There are thousands of apps and gadgets that help us record personal data—weight, calories consumed, steps walked, hours slept, and so on. Quantified Self is the name of the movement that seeks to improve daily life through the measurement and tracking of this data.
Someone I know said he would like to see sensors implanted in our bodies to automatically measure and record everything. Everything? Um, no thanks.
There is such as thing as too much information, and at what point does an obsession with personal data become unhealthy and counterproductive?
The iHealth blood pressure system
However, … Continue reading