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
Supermarkets can be scary
Today is Halloween, and I just watched the most terrifying movie! 😯
No, it wasn’t Carrie or Paranormal Activity 4. It was Food, Inc., an exposé of America’s food industry—the multinational, fast-food and junk-food-supporting, animal-abusing, politically-subsidized conglomerations that produce the majority of our food products.
The film maker, Robert Kenner, points out that the average supermarket contains 47,000 items, but most are made by just a handful of giant corporations, such as Coca Cola, Tyson or Proctor & Gamble.
These megacompanies keep hidden some pretty nauseating industry practices. Perhaps they think we are too ignorant … Continue reading
Increased risk of breast cancer reported
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that women who have taken a certain type of medication—calcium channel blockers—for more than 10 years to treat high blood pressure are at increased risk of developing breast cancer.
The study is observational, meaning that it looked at data from a large group of women who had already been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Increased risk of breast cancer was not seen in the women who had high blood pressure but took other types of medications, such as diuretics and beta … 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 unloved woman
I recently read two books that provoked my thoughts. The first was Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital by Dr. Eric Manheimer, the medical director of what is probably the largest public hospital in America.
Located in New York City, Bellevue sees patients from all demographics—incarcerated, homeless, undocumented, uninsured, mentally ill, addicted—and treats the worst trauma cases in the city.
Dr. Manheimer sees it all, and he writes compelling stories about the patients and their situations. He also comments on America’s health and health care in general.
His chapter entitled “The Unloved Woman” struck me … Continue reading
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
How much does good health cost? Apparently less than we are spending…
Once again, a study has shown that although Americans far outspend other countries on health care, our health is poor in comparison.
The healthiest citizens, no surprise, are in the wealthier cities and states, and vice versa. And it’s not because they can afford better health insurance. Other studies have linked education and income level to better lifestyle choices – diet and exercise – rather than access to health care.
In my opinion, we should be spending tax-payer dollars on all levels of education (Congress, what about … Continue reading
Last week the American Medical Association voted to recognize obesity as a disease, as opposed to just a symptom of an unhealthy lifestyle or sluggish metabolism.
Obesity is a huge (no pun intended) problem in the US; over 60% of adults and 30% of children are considered overweight or obese. Proponents of the decision argue that accepting obesity as a disease will focus more attention on the problem and allow physicians and patients greater access to and reimbursement of weight loss counseling, drugs and surgeries. Sounds good, right?
So why does this decision trouble me? Three reasons come … Continue reading
Don’t want hepatitis A? Get vaccinated!
At last report there were 61 cases of hepatitis A resulting from contaminated frozen berries sold at Costco in several states. Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver, and the virus is usually passed along from an infected person through contaminated food.
The CDC recommends the hepatitis A vaccine for all children, and for adults who might be at higher risk, such as those who travel frequently. But the vaccine is available (requires 2 doses) to anyone who wants to be protected. Bonus: the vaccine is covered under Obamacare’s preventive care services mandate.… Continue reading
How are farming and medicine alike?
I just finished reading a thoughtful and informative book by Harvard-educated physician, Daphne Miller, MD. In Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing, she makes an analogy between the “complex and dynamic” systems of soil and modern farming practices, and the human body and modern medicine.
After reading a book about soil ecosystems, Dr. Miller was struck by the similarities of the chemical processes that occurred in soil and those that happened in our own intestines.
Like our own biosystems, it [soil] too depends on bacteria and fungi
… Continue reading