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.


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

The Machine That Goes “Bing!”

Well, 2013 is ending and what a year it’s been in health care! I fear 2014 will deliver more confusion, cost and concerns related to health care and health insurance, but for now I’d like to end this year on a humorous note.

Like me, many of you will be old enough to remember seeing the Monty Python movie The Meaning of Life when it hit the theaters in 1983. Even though it’s 30 years old, there is a hilarious operating room scene that is still applicable today.

In it, the doctors are so obsessed with new technology, including the … Continue reading

Blood pressure apps

iphone blood pressure appsThe “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

Optimize your wake-up time

sleep cycle appSleep cycle tracking apps

Have you ever been wrenched out of a deep sleep by your alarm clock? Or been in such a deep sleep that you slept right through the &#%!@ alarm?

When this happens to me, I wake up feeling groggy and sleep deprived, even if I slept “enough” hours the night before.

Other mornings when the alarm goes off I am full of energy, feeling well rested and loving life.

The difference is not necessarily how many hours I slept; it’s at what point in my sleep cycle—the light and deep stages of sleep—the alarm woke me.… Continue reading

Perverse incentives: Where’s the outrage?

perverse incentives in health careThat’s a good question!

H. Gilbert Welch, MD, the author of Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health, wrote a recent op-ed in the New York Times in which he wonders at what point will the high costs—and profits—of medical care in America be considered “a crime”?

Medical care is intended to help people, not enrich providers. But the way prices are rising, it’s beginning to look less like help than like highway robbery. And the providers — hospitals, doctors, universities, pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers — are the ones benefiting.

The crime of perverse incentives

Although … Continue reading

The FDA wants you

patient networkThe FDA gets consumer friendly

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently launched the FDA Patient Network, its new patient-centric website.  The website’s slogan, according to FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, is “Get Informed. Get Involved. Help FDA Help Patients Have a Bigger Voice.”

The website is a result of last year’s  FDA Safety and Innovation Act mandate to increase patient participation in the medical product approval process. The twin goals for this website are to educate and engage the public, and after spending some time on the site I am impressed with what it offers.… Continue reading

New prescription? Ask for it in writing

I try to be as vigilant as possible when it comes to medical expenses, but I can still be caught napping on occasion.

Last summer while working in my garden I was stung on the ankle by a wasp. Within 24 hours, my leg from the knee down was swollen to twice its normal size.

Although technically not an allergic reaction, it was a severe local reaction. I wondered what would happen if I were stung on the face or neck. So, last month when I saw my doctor for my annual exam, I asked her if it might be … Continue reading

Look behind the front

The news media recently picked up a report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that stated: “…11 percent of school-age children…have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” Boys are diagnosed twice as often as girls.

Some experts in pediatric psychology and psychiatry are concerned that ADHD is being diagnosed too hastily and treated too recklessly with prescription medications, specifically Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta. Sales of these drugs reached $9 billion in 2012. Overall health care costs related to ADHD are in the tens of billions of dollars—and will increase right along with the diagnoses.

Are there … Continue reading

Got (breast)milk?

I was surprised recently when I read the following article on Kaiser Health News: Nursing moms get free breast pumps from health law.


So I went to, the official website of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and found the expanded list of essential benefits/preventive services for women that went into effect on August 1, 2012. Breast pumps, listed under “Breastfeeding Support, Supplies and Counseling,” are indeed considered “preventive” and must be covered without cost sharing (co-pays or deductibles).

According to the factsheet: “Breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive measures mothers can take to protect Continue reading

At risk: Unbiased medical research

On March 1, if Congress and the president do not reach some kind of fiscal accord, mandatory cuts to federal programs—sequestration—will take effect.

One of the many victims of such massive spending cuts will be the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the medical research arm of the Department of Health and Human Services. According to its director, Francis Collins, MD, the NIH, in a “profound and devastating blow,” will lose 6.4% of its budget.

Their loss, however, could be the drug industry’s gain.

Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine

In his book Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine, John Abramson, MD, … Continue reading

The CPAP machine – An American success story?

Have you ever heard of a company called ResMed? If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and have been prescribed a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, you probably have.

Or, if you follow the stock market, you might recognize ResMed as one of its rising stars. Rising because, according to its website, ResMed ‘s revenues and profits have grown every quarter since it was formed in 1989. In 2012, ResMed reported revenues of approximately $1.4 billion.

What is the secret to ResMed’s amazing success? Our country’s poor health.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the common condition in which … Continue reading