Protect yourself from food poisoning

Cases of food poisoning, or food-borne illnesses, have been on the rise.

A lot of media attention was on the restaurant chain Chipotle recently because of an outbreak of the potentially deadly bacteria E. coli.

But it seems there is always a story in the news about contaminated foods, food recalls and outbreaks of the most common culprits of food poisoning: E. coli, salmonella, listeria and hepatitis A.

As the health news website Medscape reports:

Contaminated-food recalls in 2015 were on pace to exceed those from 2014, with bacteria discovered in everything from ice cream to spinach. Companies in

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Kids and codeine cough syrup

Last month, a medical advisory group to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted “overwhelmingly” to limit the sale of codeine products without a prescription and advised drugs containing codeine should not be used to treat children or the majority of teens suffering from pain or a cough.” [my emphasis]

I knew you could buy codeine painkillers and cough syrups in Canada, but apparently you can in 28 states, as well. The FDA hasn’t acted on the advisory committee’s recommendation yet, so these products are still available over the counter.

Parents—be especially cautious when buying cough or cold medications … Continue reading

Home remedies for chapped lips

chapped lipsDid 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 fall and winter because of the dry, cold air outside, the dry, warm … Continue reading

Save money on eye drops

Do you suffer from dry, red, or itchy eyes?

Dry eyes are really common, especially in the late fall and winter when we spend more time in the dry indoor air.

But did you know 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? You can save money and get a more helpful product by understanding what you really need from an eye drop.

As always, ignore the marketing claims on … Continue reading

Ear candling doesn’t work (and it’s dangerous)

I’ve posted before about the frighteningly ill-advised health tips I see perpetuated on Pinterest: How NOT to whiten your teeth

Another non-scientific and potentially dangerous home treatment that I frequently see pinned is ear candling.

Ear candling involves placing a specially-designed candle (or cone) into one ear and lighting a wick at the other end. Theoretically, the heat from the flame creates a mild vacuum pressure that draws “impurities” out of the ear.

By impurities, one would immediately think ear wax, but proponents of ear candling believe it does so much more. A short list of of the “benefits” of … Continue reading

Home remedies for panic attacks

I read a good article on BuzzFeed last week that offered simple tips to deal with anxiety and panic attacks: 31 Actually Helpful Tips For Dealing With Panic Attacks

I won’t list them all here, and you can check out the article for more details, but here are a few I thought especially helpful. (And I have suffered from panic attacks in the past, so I know what works for me.)

  • Listen to songs with a slow rhythm to help control your breathing. Look through your playlists for music in the range of 60-70 beats per minute. Create a playlist
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Yoga for neck pain

Chronic neck pain can be, well, a pain in the neck.

Usually caused by overuse, poor posture, tension or arthritis—or a combination—neck, shoulder and upper back pain can interfere with almost all routine activities.

But some simple yoga moves can help, and I think this particular YouTube video is great. The moves are well explained, and they can be done either standing or sitting at your desk. And it’s short, only 4 minutes, so these exercises can be done almost any time if your neck muscles are feeling tight or painful.

The Clinical Journal of Continue reading

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

Exercises for snoring and sleep apnea

It’s no secret that as we age we have to be more diligent about exercise to keep our muscles toned and flexible, and maintain a healthy body weight.

The same is true of the tissue inside our throats. Flabby throat muscles and fatty tissue cause snoring and sleep apnea. Poor quality sleep affects not only the patient, but anyone sleeping (or trying to) within hearing distance.

The typical solution given to most patients seeking help is the CPAP, a bulky machine that applies air pressure through a nasal mask as you sleep. It keeps the airways open so you can … Continue reading

Breathing exercises to improve sleep

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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Home remedies for pain relief

I’ve reached that age when everything hurts.

Age, overuse, less-than-perfect posture and a family history of arthritis have resulted in a variety of aches and pains: stiff neck, sore knees, carpal tunnel, stiff shoulders, foot pain, headaches, and so on.

Related post: Improve your posture

These are the common miseries to which we all fall victim at one time or another. Occasional use of over-the-counter pain remedies such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen is fine. But when the need becomes more frequent, or chronic, it’s time to start looking for other forms of relief.

Related post: Don’t overdose on acetaminophen!Continue reading

First aid for heat exhaustion

first aid for heat exhaustionHere comes the sun!

Summer is in full swing and the days are long and hot! It seemed like a good time to republish a post from last year about how to prevent and treat heat-related illnesses. Take care! FN

Living in the Pacific Northwest,  we rarely have to worry about heat exhaustion—that lousy feeling you get when your body starts to overheat.

But over the next few days the temperatures here are expected to hover around 90°F, which is pretty hot for us. Most of our homes don’t have air condtioning. Why bother when it’s truly hot only one … Continue reading

Climate change and kidney stones

Heat waves lead to dehydration

Today in Seattle we are in the middle of a heat wave. For the Northwest, that usually means 2 consecutive days over 75°F, but actually we have been experiencing temperatures into the 90s! And most of us don’t bother with air conditioning our homes, so indoor temps can get pretty high, as well.

(Summers are getting hotter all over, aren’t they? A fun interactive website is Climate Central. Type in your city and find out how hot summers will be in the year 2100.)

As I sipped a glass of ice water to cool … Continue reading

First aid for the Fourth of July

This is a reprint from last year’s post. Happy and safe Fourth to everyone! FN

Every year around the Fourth of July, hospital emergency departments and fire departments get ready.

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.

I would also refer you to some of my relevant first aid posts:

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Bug repellents – what works?

bug repellentsConsider benefits versus risks

Last spring I went to Florida for spring break and was attacked by sand fleas. I had about a million (okay, about 70) bites over both legs, and I wrote a post about my attempts to find relief.

In short, nothing really worked other than ice packs and cool baths—cool skin decreases blood flow, which deceases the amount of histamine, which decreases the itchiness.

This year I went to Panama and gave much more thought to bug repellents.

I didn’t care about the itchiness, so much, although it’s an awful annoyance. I worried more about … Continue reading