Consider 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
Strike a pose and possibly avoid surgery
I love research that shows conservative treatments—rest, diet and exercise—to be as effective (or more!) than drugs and surgery.
So when I ran across this article, “9 exercises to rehab a torn ACL without surgery,” I wanted to pass it on.
There are approximately 150,000 anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears a year, most of which need to be fixed surgically. However, new research at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City found that about 25 percent of the ACL injured population does not need to undergo surgery because partially— and,
… Continue reading
Rest, 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
What causes gas and bloating?
In short, gas is caused by what we eat and how we eat it. Most gas is formed in our lower intestines where bacteria are busy breaking down any undigested food. Gas is the normal byproduct of this process. In fact, our bodies produce between 1 and 4 pints of gas a day!
Thankfully, most of the time this gas is passed unnoticed by us or others. At other times, however, excessive gas can be embarrassing or even painful. Anyone who has ever doubled over with colicky gas pain knows what I mean!
Gas … Continue reading
They are drugs, after all
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, How NOT to whiten your teeth, I enjoy Pinterest. What I don’t enjoy is the poor health advice that gets pinned and re-pinned hundreds of times over. Like putting acid (lemon juice) on your teeth and then brushing with an abrasive substance (baking soda). Bad idea if you like your enamel. But I see variations of this “recipe” pop up dozens of times every day.
Essential oils are another frequently-used ingredient on the home remedy boards. There are hundreds of home remedies using essential oils to treat … Continue reading
‘Tis the season
Cold and flu season is peaking.
I came down with a cold a few weeks ago (following a plane trip to a very dry climate—see my related post on Humidity for sinus health!)
And now I’ve had a cough linger for almost three weeks.
But I’m reminded again and again in various doctor blogs that viral coughs take a long, long time to go away, two and a half weeks on average, and patience is the best medicine.
As one family practice physician writes:
[Our waiting room is] a chorus of coughs, high, low, dry,
… Continue reading
Tamiflu makers trolling for money
We are well into flu season, and in another egregious direct-to-consumer advertising campaign, the makers of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu (Roche) are broadcasting a commercial encouraging people to—what else?—“Ask your doctor about Tamiflu.”
The thing about Tamiflu is that to have any chance of being effective, it must be prescribed within, ideally, 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
And the commercial says this, more or less: “The flu comes on fast. Don’t wait! Call your doctor right away.”
No. Do wait.
When I first saw this commercial, I thought, “Yikes. How many people … Continue reading
Baby, it’s cold outside!
Most of the headlines over the last few days have focused on the “polar vortex” weather pattern that is pushing frigid air into most of the United States.
Low temperature records are being shattered. Some states are reporting wind chills of -30°F or less.
Outside my house, in Seattle, the weather is pretty seasonal—rainy and 40°F. Lucky us.
But anyone struggling with these super cold temperatures might need a few tips for dealing with hypothermia and frostbite.
Hypothermia, or low body temperature, occurs from exposure to a cold environment (water or air). As your … Continue reading
Oh, my aching head!
Headaches must be one of the most common health complaints. They affect all age groups, and have any number of underlying causes. Still, most headaches are a minor annoyance at most, and go away with minimal treatment.
But judging by the amount of money spent on over-the-counter pain relievers and headache medications (about half a billion dollars a year), we must be a country in a lot of pain!
The vast majority (90%) of headaches are the tension-type, or stress, headaches.
Luckily, tension-type headaches can be treated easily with inexpensive over-the-counter medications or simple home … Continue reading
Know some resources and use them
Triage is a commonly used word in medicine, especially in overcrowded emergency departments as staff do their best to determine which patients are sickest (will soon die unless treated) and which can wait. This process of prioritizing patients for treatment is known as triage.
But triage has a broader definition: The principle or practice of allocating limited resources.
And for most of us, money is definitely a limited resource!
In 2014 more health insurance policies will come with huge deductibles, and I think this trend will continue. Health care costs are not going to … Continue reading