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Stay Well Without Breaking the Bank

Break the bankThe buzz about health-care reform hasn’t died down since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed by President Obama last year. But although the battle rages on, one thing is clear: The new law is not likely to curb health-care expenditures in the United States. In 2009, the total U.S. health-care bill was $2.5 trillion — about $8,000 dollars per person. And, partly as a result of the population aging, that figure is projected to be $4.5 trillion a year by 2019.

What does this mean for most Americans? A typical family of four covered by employer-provided health insurance now spends about $18,000 a year on medical expenses. And even for those lucky enough to have insurance, out-of-pocket expenses are steadily rising due to higher deductibles and copayments and other costs.

An Ounce of Prevention

It is possible to spend less and stay healthy, however. That’s the message of a new book co-authored by Cynthia Haines, MD, a family physician, professor at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, chief medical officer for the news service HealthDay, and a medical reviewer for Everyday Health. Written with Eric Metcalf, MPH, The New

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Suze Orman on Health, Wealth, and Happiness

17orman-600Suze Orman has been called many things: an uber brand, a pop culture icon, a New York Times best-selling author, an Emmy award winner, one of Forbes magazine’s most powerful women in America, one of Time magazine’s most influential people in the world, Oprah’s money guru, America’s money lady, and the list goes on. For me personally, she embodies all those things, but most importantly I am proud to call her a trusted friend and mentor.

It’s for this reason that as I assumed my new role as “inspiration editor” for EverydayHealth.com, Suze was my first call. Every month I’ll be doing interviews with some of the most … well … inspiring people in the world, and I knew that Suze would provide me with brilliant information while still being patient and tolerant enough to be my very first “celebrity” interview.

And so we begin on a Friday evening. She’s just flown back to her home in Florida after wrapping up an exhilarating speaking engagement where she brought more than 600 inner-city teens to their feet in uproarious applause. This is the tail end of her

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Reports of Bad Drug Reactions on the Rise

dA new study found dramatic recent increases in the number of serious reactions to prescription drugs being reported to FDA. Could you be taking one of the drugs involved? Here, important drug safety advice everyone needs to know.
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April 12, 2011 — If you’ve ever gotten a rash from taking an antibiotic or gained weight on an antidepressant, you know that taking medicine means balancing the benefit of the drug against the possible risk of unpleasant, and sometimes even dangerous, side effects. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calls these unwanted consequences “adverse events,” and once a drug is on the market, watches closely to see if it needs to reevaluate a drug’s safety. FDA does this in part through their MedWatch program, where health professionals and the general public can report any reactions or problems they suspect may have been caused by a medication. Medwatch reports and those submitted by drug manufacturers are combined into

Medications Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) judges a drug to be safe enough to approve when the benefits of the medicine outweigh the known risks for the labeled use. Doctors, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, and YOU make up your health care team. To reduce the risks from using medicines and to get the most … Continue reading “Medications Safety”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) judges a drug to be safe enough to approve when the benefits of the medicine outweigh the known risks for the labeled use.

Doctors, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, and YOU make up your health care team. To reduce the risks from using medicines and to get the most benefit, you need to be an active member of the team.

To make medicine use SAFER:

  • Speak up
  • Ask questions
  • Find the facts
  • Evaluate your choices
  • Read the label and follow directions

Speak Up

The more information your health care team knows about you, the better the team can plan the care that’s right for you.

 

The members of your team need to know your medical history, such as illnesses, medical conditions (like high blood pressure or diabetes), and operations you have had.

They also need to know all the medicines and treatments you use, whether all the time or only some of the time. Before you add something new, talk it over with your team. Your team can help you with what mixes well, and what doesn’t.

It helps to give a written list of all your medicines and treatments to all your doctors, pharmacists and other team members.

A Guide to Good Personal Hygiene

Proper grooming and healthy personal habits can help you ward off illnesses and feel good about yourself. Find out which personal hygiene habits should be part of your regular routine.

Mom was right: Good personal hygiene is essential to promoting good health.

Personal hygiene habits such as washing your hands and brushing and flossing your teeth will help keep bacteria, viruses, and illnesses at bay. And there are mental as well as physical benefits. “Practicing good body hygiene helps you feel good about yourself, which is important for your mental health,” notes Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. People who have poor hygiene — disheveled hair and clothes, body odor, bad breath, missing teeth, and the like — often are seen as unhealthy and may face discrimination.

Personal Hygiene: Healthy Habits Include Good Grooming
If you want to minimize your risk of infection and also enhance your overall health, follow these basic personal hygiene habits:

Bathe regularly. Wash your body and your hair often. “I’m not saying that you need to shower or bathe every day,” remarks Dr. Novey. “But you should clean your body and shampoo your hair at regular intervals that work

6 Ways to Boost Women’s Health

Women’s health concerns are a little different from those of men. If you’re a woman, these tips will soon have you feeling fit and energetic.

To look and feel your best at every age, it’s important to make smart lifestyle and health choices. Here are six simple things that women can do every day (or with regularity) to ensure good health:

Health Tip #1: Eat a healthy diet. “You want to eat as close to a natural foods diet as you can,” says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. That means a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Eat whole grains and high-fiber foods and choose leaner cuts of meat, fish, and poultry. Include low-fat dairy products in your diet as well — depending on your age, you need between 800 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily to help avoid osteoporosis, Dr. Novey says. Avoid foods and beverages that are high in calories, sugar, salt, and fat.

Healthy eating will help you maintain a proper weight for your height, which is important because being overweight can lead to a number of illnesses. Looking for a healthy snack? Try some

Should You Take One?

Food is the best source of most nutrients, but a multivitamin can help provide what your diet doesn’t. Find out what to look for in a daily multivitamin.

Our bodies need many different vitamins and minerals to function properly.

Vitamins and minerals also offer us protection against a host of ailments, including heart disease and some cancers, such as colon and cervical cancer.

The good news is that we can get most of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need daily by choosing the right foods and eating a wide variety of them.

Still, many people take a multivitamin daily as an insurance policy — just to be sure they are getting all the vitamins and minerals that their bodies require.

“A multivitamin is a good idea for the trace elements,” says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill.

“You want a multivitamin for all those little things at the bottom of the ingredients list. The ones at the top of the list are familiar and the ones we can’t avoid if we’re eating enriched foods. It’s the trace elements at the bottom that are the ones often missing.”

Trace elements include chromium, folic acid, potassium, iron, manganese,

How to Eat a Healthy Diet

In order to keep yourself in the best shape possible, it’s essential to eat a healthy diet. Find out exactly what you should be eating on a regular basis.

If you are what you eat, it follows that you want to stick to a healthy diet that’s well balanced. “You want to eat a variety of foods,” says Stephen Bickston, MD, AGAF, professor of internal medicine and director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Center in Richmond. “You don’t want to be overly restrictive of any one food group or eat too much of another.”

Healthy Diet: The Building Blocks
The best source of meal planning for most Americans is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Food Pyramid. The pyramid, updated in 2005, suggests that for a healthy diet each day you should eat:

6 to 8 servings of grains. These include bread, cereal, rice, and pasta, and at least 3 servings should be from whole grains. A serving of bread is one slice while a serving of cereal is 1/2 (cooked) to 1 cup (ready-to-eat). A serving of rice or pasta is 1/2 cup cooked (1 ounce dry). Save

Health Boost or Health Risk?

When it comes to alcohol, how much is too much? Find out what the experts recommend and how to recognize the signs that you’

A large number of studies have shown that moderate alcohol intake can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. Moderate drinking means one drink per day for women and one to two for men, says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. “The difference in amounts is because of how men and women metabolize alcohol,” Dr. Novey explains.

“When you say one drink, the size of that drink matters,” Novey adds. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture one drink is equal to:

  • 12 ounces of beer or
  • 5 ounces of wine or
  • 1½ ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey, 80-proof)

The Dangers of Drinking Too Much

Unfortunately, some people can’t stop at just one or two drinks. Too much alcohol can result in serious health consequences. Heavy alcohol intake can damage the liver, causing cirrhosis, a fatal disease. Excessive drinking also can raise blood pressure and damage the heart, and is linked to many different cancers, including mouth, esophagus, breast, prostate, and

The Health Benefits of Water

Did you know that your body weight is approximately 60 percent water? Your body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Because your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it’s important to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water. The amount of water you need depends on a variety of factors, including the climate you live in, how physically active you are, and whether you’re experiencing an illness or have any other health problems.

Water Protects Your Tissues, Spinal Cord, and Joints

Water does more than just quench your thirst and regulate your body’s temperature; it also keeps the tissues in your body moist. You know how it feels when your eyes, nose, or mouth gets dry? Keeping your body hydrated helps it retain optimum levels of moisture in these sensitive areas, as well as in the blood, bones, and the brain. In addition, water helps protect the spinal cord, and it acts as a lubricant and cushion for your joints.

Water Helps Your Body Remove Waste

Adequate water intake enables your body to excrete waste through perspiration, urination, and defecation. The kidneys and liver use it

How They Save Lives

Do you snap in your seat belt as soon as you get in the car? Do your children have the right safety seats for their weight and age? If you’ve answered no, even just once, you need to read on.
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It’s been proven time and again, on back roads and superhighways: A seat belt can save a life in a car accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 15,000 lives are saved each year in the United States because drivers and their passengers were wearing seat belts when they were in accidents.

Seat Belt Safety: 5-Way Protection

“Seat belts prevent occupants of the vehicle from serious injury in five ways,” says Angela Osterhuber, director of the Pennsylvania Traffic Injury Prevention Project in Media, Pa. A seat belt:

Keeps the occupants of the vehicle inside. “It’s clearly a myth that people are better off being thrown clear from the crash,” Osterhuber says. “People thrown from a vehicle are four times more likely to be killed than those who remain

10 Ways to Fit In Exercise

The benefits of regular exercise are unrivaled: Physical activity can help you lose weight and prevent a host of ailments, including heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Being fit also can help you stay mentally sharp.

While most people know they should exercise, you may not know where to start or how to fit it into a busy schedule. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity spread out over five days a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity on each of three days a week.

“This is something we recommend to all Americans,” says Gerald Fletcher, MD, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and a spokesman for the AHA.

An ideal fitness routine also includes resistance or weight training to improve muscle strength and endurance. The ACSM and the AHA recommend that most adults engage in resistance training at least twice a week.

Finding Fitness: 10 Ways to Get in Exercise

 

Sometimes the problem isn’t motivation — it’s simply finding the time. But scheduling exercise isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here are

7 Ways to Make Water Taste Better

Not everybody has a taste for water, but we all need it to ensure that our bodies continue functioning properly. If you want to drink more water, but aren’t crazy about the taste (or lack thereof), here are some tips that can make it more enjoyable:

1. Add fresh fruit. Citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and oranges, are classic water enhancers, but other fruit flavors might also tempt your taste buds. Try crushing fresh raspberries or watermelon into your water, or adding strawberry slices. Cucumber and fresh mint are refreshing flavors as well — especially in summer.

2. Use juice. Any fruit juice can be a good base flavor for water, but tart juices, like cranberry, pomegranate, grape, and apple, are especially delicious. Go for juices that are all natural, with no added sugars. And remember: Fruits and their juices don’t just taste good — they contain vitamins and antioxidants that can benefit your health too.

3. Make it bubbly. Many people prefer sparkling to still water. If plain old water isn’t inspiring to you, try a naturally effervescent mineral water — which will give you the added benefit of minerals. Or try bubbly seltzer, a carbonated water. You can add fresh

Twin Cities Take Top Ranking for Healthy Living

Exercising more and smoking less are two of the main reasons why residents of Minneapolis-St. Paul find their city is now the top-ranked in the United States for healthy living.

Every year, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) ranks the 50 healthiest and fittest metropolitan areas in the United States, using the American Fitness Index (AFI). Although kicking the habit was a big part of why the Twin Cities unseated Washington D.C. from the No. 1 spot in 2011, moderate-to-low rates of chronic health problems such as obesity, asthma, heart disease and diabetes also factored into the city’s high score (77.2 out of 100 possible points).

Moreover, Minneapolis-St. Paul’s percentage of park land is above average, as is its share of recreational facilities. More farmers markets also popped up in the city this past year. These trends tend to indicate residents there are moving towards healthier lifestyles and eating habits, the ACSM noted.

Trailing behind Minneapolis-St. Paul to round out the AFI’s top five slots are the following cities:

  • Washington D.C., with a score of 76.8
  • Boston, with a score of 69.1
  • Portland, Ore., with a score of 67.7
  • Denver, with a score of 67.6

At the opposite end of the index, Memphis, Tenn., Louisville, Ken. and

Experts Issue ‘Top 5’ List for Better Primary Care

Cutting back on unnecessary antibiotics, delaying wasteful imaging for lower back pain and foregoing annual ECG screenings for healthy, low-risk patients are among the actions that could help streamline primary care, experts say.

Perhaps taking a page from David Letterman’s Top 10 list, the authors of a new report came up with a “Top 5” list of action items for each of the primary care disciplines — family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics — to help save money and conserve health resources.

Many physicians are already behind the suggestions, according to the report, which appears online May 23 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

“I have seen many instances where I thought clinicians were not making the right and wisest decisions in ways that were not good for patients’ health and not good for prudent use of finite resources,” said Dr. Stephen Smith, one of the report’s authors and professor emeritus of family medicine at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University in Providence, RI.

Smith is also a member of the National Physicians’ Alliance (NPA), a group of 22,000 doctors promoting affordable and quality healthcare, which put together the lists.

None of the suggestions are

How Normal Is Your Navel? Belly Button Facts and Figures You Probably Didn’t Know

Do you have an innie or outie? How germy is your belly button? Do you get belly button lint? We investigated this oft-overlooked body part and found out everything you need to know. How does your navel compare?
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Thursday, April 21, 2011 — Talk about navel-gazing: Since February, a group of scientists at North Carolina State University has been studying the germs that inhabit our belly buttons as part of a study called the Belly Button Biodiversity project.

Sounds like an odd research project, but the belly button is the “ideal location” to study germs, says Jiri Hulcr, PhD, a postdoctoral research assistant who is heading the project.

“We’re trying to educate the public about the role bacteria play in our world,” says Dr. Hulcr. “Bacteria are always present on our skin and in our bodies. In fact, there are many, many more bacterial cells on and in our bodies than actual human cells.” (Each person carries about 100 trillion microbes; the human body contains about 10 trillion cells).

Unlike

Dangerous Bacteria Also Spreads Outside Hospitals

The dangerous bacteria Clostridium difficile spreads not only in hospitals but also in other health-care settings, causing infections and death rates to hit “historic highs,” U.S. health officials reported Tuesday.

C. difficile is a deadly diarrheal infection that poses a significant threat to U.S. health care patients,” Ileana Arias, principal deputy director at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a morning news conference. “C. difficile is causing many Americans to suffer and die.”

The germ is linked to about 14,000 deaths in the United States every year. People most at risk from C. difficile are those who take antibiotics and also receive care in any medical facility.

“This failure is more difficult to accept because these are treatable, often preventable deaths,” Arias said. “We know what can be done to do a better job of protecting our patients.”

Much of the growth of this bacterial epidemic has been due to the overuse of antibiotics, the CDC noted in its March 6 report. Unlike healthy people, people in poor health are at high risk for C. difficile infection.

 

Almost 50 percent of infections are among people under 65, but more than 90 percent of deaths

McNeil Expands Odor-Related Recall of Medicines

A recall of certain medicines due to odor problems has been expanded by Johnson & Johnson’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit.

On Jan. 15, the company recalled a number of over-the-counter medicines due to consumer complaints about a moldy smell that caused nausea and sickness in some people, the Associated Press reported.

The expanded recall covers four lots of Benadryl Allergy Ultratablets and one lot of Extra Strength Tylenol that were distributed in the United States, Puerto Rico, Bermuda and Tobago.

The odor is from a chemical treatment on wooden pallets used to store and transport packaging materials for medications, the AP reported.

What Are Kidney Stones?

There are several different types of kidney stones, but each of them can cause a lot of pain.

Kidney stones are small chunks of solid material that can form in your kidneys, a pair of organs that filter your blood.

The “stones,” which are usually yellow and brown, vary in size and shape.

For instance, some may be jagged and as small as a grain of sand, while others may be lumpy and the size of golf balls.

A stone may stay in the kidney or travel down the urinary tract — the body’s waste and excess-water drainage system — and get stuck, causing severe pain in the belly or side of the back.

Other symptoms may include nausea, chills, and blood in the urine.
Prevalence and Demographics of Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract, resulting in more than a million visits to health care providers and 300,000 emergency room visits each year in the United States, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

About one in 11 people in the United States, or 8.8 percent of the population, have had a kidney stone, according to a 2012 report in the journal

How You Can Help the People of Haiti

Everyday Health is donating to the Haiti disaster earthquake relief efforts of the group Doctors Without Borders. A number of other aid organizations are also hard at work in Haiti, and they can use your donations — large or small.

Since the earthquake struck on Jan. 12, many non-profit organizations have been providing search and rescue aid, medical care, shelter, food, and other essential services in Haiti. All need additional funds to continue their work in the coming weeks and months.

Health and Medical Care

Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières)
An international humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists that provides medical and health services, often in emergency situations.

Direct Relief International
Provides medical care to people harmed by poverty, natural disasters, and civil unrest.

Partners in Health
An organization that provides medical care and advocacy in Haiti and nine other countries.

Emergency Services and Logistical Support

American Red Cross
The U.S. branch of the International Red Cross, which assists people whose lives have been disrupted by natural disasters, humanitarian crises, and health emergencies.

Clinton Bush Haiti Fund
A fundraising group started by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush at the request of President Barack Obama to support immediate relief efforts such as the provision of