Be informed – Poison control number

poison control numberA rising number of childhood poisonings

I don’t know much about e-cigarettes and vaping, but a recent study alarmed me. More kids are being poisoned because of them.

These devices use liquid nicotine, which can either be swallowed or absorbed into children’s skin. A small dose of nicotine can make a child sick; a large dose can kill.

Very small children are at the most risk.

Another type of accidental poisoning is also on the rise—prescription opioids, such as hydrocodone, morphine and oxycodone.

Related post: First aid for poisoning

Americans are taking more prescription drugs than ever … Continue reading

National Stroke Awareness Month

It’s Stroke Awareness Month!

May is  National Stroke Awareness Month, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) want you to be aware of the most common stroke symptoms, and know what to do if you see them.

The five most common symptoms, which tend to come on suddenly, are:

  1. Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially when on just one side of the body;
  2. Confusion, including having trouble speaking or understanding;
  3. Trouble seeing, in one or both eyes;
  4. Dizziness, having trouble walking or balancing;
  5. Headache, especially pain
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Hospital safety tips

hospital safetyHospital safety and medical mistakes

A friend forwarded an email to me. It was from a retirement blog he subscribes to, and this particular post was about what the writer, a doctor as well as a blogger, considers “The deadliest place you’re likely to visit this year…”

He’s talking about hospitals. And he’s not being overly dramatic, either.

He knows what many of us in health care know: hospitals can be dangerous to your health. One of my best friends is a physician. We have a pact that if either one of us has to go into the hospital, the … Continue reading

Choose paper towels over air hand dryers

I just came back from vacation. Between airports, restaurants and public attractions, I washed my hands in a lot of public restrooms. I noticed that more places, especially newer ones, have installed high-tech hand dryers rather than paper towel dispensers. Some have both.

I usually use a paper towel because it’s faster and I can use it on the handle of the restroom as I’m leaving.

But I’ve never really considered if there’s a health difference between the two ways to dry your hands. Apparently, there is.

recent study in the Journal of Applied Microbiology compared how many germs … Continue reading

Exercise for brain health

brainThe wellness blog in the New York Times had an article about brain health that has strengthened my resolve to exercise every day.

Walk, Jog or Dance: It’s All Good For the Aging Brain

It turns out that regular walking, cycling, swimming, dancing and even gardening may substantially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

The author is referring to a recently published study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The study looked at 10 years’ worth of lifestyle data, including exercise levels, on 900 men and women over the age of 65. Over the course of those 10 years, the … Continue reading

Prevent sports-related eye injuries

eye safetyIt’s spring and sporting equipment is coming out of the closets!

That’s why April is designated Sports Eye Safety Month.

If you and/or your kids play a sport that involves fast-moving balls, frisbees or sticks, the American Academy of Ophthamology (AAO) wants you to take steps to prevent eye injuries.

Every year, more than 42,000 people are seen in ERs with sports-related eye injuries, and 13,500 suffer some degree of blindness as a result.

Common sports eye injuries include corneal abrasions, lacerations and bleeding in the eye. Basketball players tend to get poked in the eye with fingers. Tennis and

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Harken Health – Betting on primary care

I just read about health insurance giant UnitedHealth’s bold but risky new insurance plan, Harken Health:

UnitedHealthcare is betting $65 million that it can profit by making primary care more attractive.

With little fanfare, the nation’s largest health insurer launched an independent subsidiary in January that offers unlimited free doctor visits and 24/7 access by phone. Every member gets a personal health coach to nudge them toward their goals, such as losing weight or exercising more. Mental health counseling is also provided, as are yoga, cooking and acupuncture classes.

At this time, Harken Health is only available in Chicago … Continue reading

Sunshine for health!

sunshine03Just in time for spring and summer fun in the sun, the results of a large and long-term study on the hazards of avoiding the sun were published last week in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Usually all we hear about are the bad things about too much sun exposure—skin cancer, melanoma, wrinkles, sunburns, etc.

But this study out of Sweden, which followed 30,000 women for 20 years, found:

Nonsmokers who stayed out of the sun had a life expectancy similar to smokers who soaked up the most rays, according to researchers who studied nearly 30,000 Swedish women over

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Spring break and the Zika virus

Just in time for spring breaks across the country, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has posted the following fact sheets on its Zika Virus homepage:

Most of the tips concentrate on avoiding mosquitoes and mosquito bites by using recommended insect repellents and bed nets, and wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants, or clothing treated with permethrin.

Related post: Be informed – Bug repellents

It’s believed the Zika virus causes the really tragic birth defect microcephaly, so pregnant women or women planning on becoming pregnant need to … Continue reading

Blueberries for brain health

blueberriesFor years I’ve heard that blueberries are good for brain health. Which is great, because I love blueberries and try to work them into my diet several times a week.

So I was happy to read the results of some new research that supports the connection between blueberries and the human brain.

Most blueberry studies to date have been performed on animals, but two recent studies—funded in part by the National Institute on Aging and the blueberry industry—used human subjects.

One study used adults over the age of 68. Half ate the equivalent of 1 cup of blueberries daily for … Continue reading

Michael Pollan – “Cooked”

cookedIf you have Netflix, I highly recommend watching Michael Pollan’s new series, Cooked.

Based on his book of the same name, Cooked, in typical Pollan style, shows us a fresher, healthier, and more enjoyable way to eat. He focuses not only on the nutritional value of foods, but also the culture of preparing and sharing meals.

The series is divided into four parts: Fire, Water, Air and Earth. Each episode features mouth-watering meals from a variety of countries and cultures.

Pollan also offers theories as to how America’s diet and food culture got so completely messed up.

Related post:
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Screening eye exams in older adults

Just yesterday I posted about the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the fine line they walk between providing evidence-based recommendations for screening tests and making medical specialist groups happy.

Sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

The task force recently gave an “I” grade to vision screening in patients over 65. An I grade, or Insufficient evidence, means that the task force can’t definitively say that the benefits of vision screening in older adults outweigh the possible harms.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) doesn’t agree.

Specifically, the task force reviewed the evidence for primary care doctors screening for … Continue reading

Use hydrogen peroxide contact solutions with care

peroxiclearI wear contact lenses. Several years ago, when my eyes began to be more dry and easily irritated, my ophthalmologist recommended using the new 3% hydrogen peroxide-based cleaning solution.

The preservatives used in many eye drops and contact lens solutions can be irritating, especially if used over time. Hydrogen peroxide solutions don’t contain these preservatives.

Related post: The eyes have it

I was interested in getting rid of my red eyes, but the thought of using hydrogen peroxide on my eyeballs scared me. I had to have a lot of faith in the science that the little piece of platinum … Continue reading

How much sugar is in that beverage?

Ever since watching That Sugar Film, I’m trying to be more aware of how much sugar I eat or drink every day.

Because there is more and more evidence that too much sugar is bad for us, we all need to be more aware of what we’re eating and drinking.

I think we need to be especially careful with beverages. The trend is to sell larger and larger cup sizes (a Double Gulp is a whopping 55 ounces!) and bottle sizes, so we are probably drinking way more sugar than we are eating it.

The Centers for Disease Continue reading

The HPV vaccine is working

This week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a report that shows since the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine was introduced in 2006, HPV infections

have dropped by 64% among females aged 14 to 19 years and by 34% among those aged 20 to 24 years.

That’s great news. HPV is responsible for most forms of cervical cancer, as well as an increasing number of rectal and oral cancers.

Related post: HPV and cancer

But we can do better.

The American Cancer Society reports that only about 40% of girls and 21% of boys have received the recommended 3 doses … Continue reading