My favorite healthcare books and gifts for 2016

I’m spending the day online getting some gift shopping done, and I thought I’d post about some of the healthcare books and gifts I’m buying for friends and family this year.

I use Amazon a lot (Prime, so I get free 2-day shipping), and I have to include a disclosure here that the following links will take you to my Amazon Associates page. That said, I’m not trying to make any money with my blog, so if you can find these products for better prices elsewhere, great!

For the sleep deprived

As someone who has battled insomnia most of her … Continue reading

LASIK – Know the risks

lasikLASIK isn’t a cure all

LASIK has tempted me.

I’ve been nearsighted almost my entire life, and began wearing glasses when I was 5.

I would love to wake up in the morning and not have to fumble for my glasses, or worry about my lenses getting wet in the rain or fogging up when I come in from the cold.

I would love to say goodbye to irritating contact lenses, and the yearly expense of buying contact solution, new lenses and some years new eyeglasses. They’re expensive and I don’t have vision insurance.

But the truth is LASIK isn’t … Continue reading

An EpiShell for your EpiPen

The EpiShell will protect your investment

I recently saw a news story about a local family that came up with a brilliant invention—the EpiShell.

What is the EpiShell? It’s a small insulated tube that provides climate control for your EpiPens.

epishell

Why is this a great idea? Like most medications, epinephrine is best kept at room temperature. Temperature extremes speed up deterioration of the product.

Anyone who needs an EpiPen is counseled to carry it with them at all times. If a child has a life-threatening allergy, that means having multiple EpiPens for school, daycare, a backpack, the family car, … Continue reading

Prevent eye infections with proper use of contact lenses

prevent eye infectionsBad lens hygiene, or what was I thinking?

I’ve worn contact lenses my entire adult life. I remember many, many times throughout high school and college when I would pop out a lens, stick it in my mouth to wet it, and then put it back in my eye.

I really can’t believe I used to do that!

But at least I’m not alone in being careless with my contact lenses and eye health.

A couple weeks ago the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a report that said more than 99% of contact lens wearers (and that’s well over … Continue reading

Outrageous cost of EpiPens finally getting some attention

Wow. Talk about timing.

I just posted a few weeks ago about my dread of renewing my EpiPen prescription because of its cost—over $700 without insurance, and still over $600 with my insurance!

It seems other healthcare advocates, the media, Congress and even the presidential nominees are at last realizing how insane it is to charge that much for literally a few cents worth of epinephrine.

EpiPens are not even new to the market, like so many other high-priced drugs. It’s been around for a long time, so Mylan pharmaceuticals can’t claim it’s trying to recoup R&D costs. In fact, … Continue reading

How accurate is your Fitbit?

fitbitIt’s OK for steps, but not much else

I was feeling really good about myself the other day when I came home after finishing a 6,000 step walk that burned—according to the Fitbit Zip in my pocket—720 calories.

Woo!

I boasted about this to my husband, who immediately burst my pride bubble by saying, “There is no way you burned that many calories in a 40-minute walk. Think about it.”

He was right. I knew in the back of my mind that 720 calories was just too high. Have you ever run on a treadmill for 15 minutes and felt … Continue reading

Don’t use the Instant Blood Pressure app

Aura Life, the makers of the popular smartphone blood pressure app Instant Blood Pressure, probably made a mistake when they initially used the well-known medical research complex Johns Hopkins in their marketing campaign.

Aura Life boasted their app “uses a patent-pending process developed by a team from the Johns Hopkins University—a world leader in health innovation.”

Baffled, Johns Hopkins sent Aura Life a cease-and-desist letter, but they also decided to do some research into how well the blood pressure app performed.

Not well.

The researchers recently released their findings that showed the Instant Blood Pressure app, which uses an… Continue reading

The S-RAY – Dental imaging without radiation

One of the great things about living in Seattle is that because we are home to so many biotech companies, I often hear about innovative devices before they’re on the market.

I like to see (sometimes) where health technology is taking us.

I just saw a news report on a new dental imaging x-ray that actually isn’t an x-ray because it doesn’t use radiation. Instead it uses ultrasound, and it’s called the S-RAY.

I’ve posted before about the dangers of too much radiation from imaging studies, including dental x-rays. Dentists frequently order x-rays every year, even though the American … Continue reading

I love my Fitbit Zip!

fitbit zipI’m not a gadget person, and I don’t embrace the “quantified self” movement, which seeks to keep track of everything measurable about the human body—weight, body mass index, blood pressure, heart rate, calories consumed, miles walked, jogged, biked, etc.

But ever since I wrote the post Why sitting is bad for your health I’ve been more committed to racking up 10,000 steps every day.

Now, the 10,000 steps a day recommendation is not an exact science, but it’s a reasonable goal for a healthy adult. Also, to reach that goal, I have to move a lot throughout the … 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

Lack of transparency keeps medical costs high

Profits stay high, too

On Monday, the New York Times published another brilliant piece by Elisabeth Rosenthal in her series “Paying Till it Hurts.”

Testing has become to the United States’ medical system what liquor is to the hospitality industry: a profit center with large and often arbitrary markups. From a medical perspective, blood work, tests and scans are tools to help physicians diagnose and monitor disease. But from a business perspective, they are opportunities to bring in revenue.

And American doctors, clinics and hospitals tend to order lots of tests. “It’s one of the most lucrative revenue streams they

Continue reading

The problem with for-profit health care

for profit health careOr whose best interests are being served?

It’s no secret that our health care system is filled with conflicts of interest.

That’s because, for the most part, the doctors, hospitals and insurance companies that are the framework of the system are for-profit businesses. Like any other for-profit industry, health care sells a product and encourages you (or your insurance company) to buy it.

A friend of mine had a recent experience with for-profit health care that she wanted to share:

In my opinion, anyone who has been told they “must” replace their orthotic inserts every year or every few years Continue reading

Health care apps – Skin cancer detection

health care apps skin cancerI 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 was available and how they work. My … Continue reading

Concussion assessment apps

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

Humidity for sinus health

humidity for sinus healthI saw this Travel Humidifier on a pharmacist’s blog last week, and I’m thinking I might get one.

Normally, I don’t buy a lot of gadgets of any kind, but I’m kind of excited about this humidifier.

Why?

Just a few weeks ago, I arrived home from a plane trip and promptly came down with a cold that turned into a sinus infection.

I wasn’t as conscientious as I could have been with my hand sanitizer, I know, but I blame the plane’s low humidity for injuring my nose’s first line of defense.

What do I hate most about plane … Continue reading