December 2011

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This Week's Radio Show: 840 Willpower Science
Drugs Can Cause Life-Threatening Falls
Can Cholesterol Levels Go TOO Low?
Shrimpy Kiss Could be Lethal
Sharing Tips on Remedies
Do Stethoscopes Transfer Bacteria?
Emergency Backboards Often Contaminated
Botox May Cause Surgery Complications
Improving Stent Outcomes
D-Deficiency Damaging in Diabetes (Read More)
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I read your article about the danger some drugs pose for falls. I would like to share my experience. In October 2009, I underwent major spinal surgery. I was given a combination of pain meds. When I left the hospital,... (Read More)
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Q. My father takes Niaspan and Lipitor, which have lowered his cholesterol to 110. Isn't that too low? He has severe arthritis, memory problems and debilitating fatigue. I worry that he is taking too much medicine, but he says the... (Read More)
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Stethoscopes might be an unrecognized source of bacterial contamination. Hospital acquired infections are responsible for roughly 100,000 deaths each year. Healthcare workers have been admonished to wash their hands thoroughly between patients to reduce the risk of infection. Although this... (Read More)
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Another unexpected source of bacterial contamination appears to be the plastic backboards that emergency medical technicians use to transfer patients to a gurney. Such plastic boards help stabilize the patient for transfer to an ambulance. Once the patient has been... (Read More)
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Botox has become a household name. It stands for Botulinum neurotoxin type A and is used to eliminate facial wrinkles and frown lines. Other indications include excessive perspiration, chronic migraine, urinary incontinence and spasms of the eyelids or upper limbs.... (Read More)

Improving Stent Outcomes

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More than one million heart stents are placed in clogged coronary arteries each year. They are supposed to improve blood flow to heart muscles and reduce symptoms such as chest pain. This procedure has become more common than invasive coronary... (Read More)
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Q. My girlfriend is very allergic to shrimp and crab and, I suspect, lobster as well. I love them but have avoided eating them since we have been together. We will soon be sharing a vacation at a resort beach... (Read More)
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People with type 2 diabetes are especially susceptible to coronary artery disease. Scientists in Denmark have found that vitamin D deficiency significantly raises that risk. Two hundred people with type 2 diabetes and no diagnosis of heart disease underwent tests... (Read More)
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Q. I enjoy your column when I read my local paper online. Sometimes I want to keep a column and share it with family, but I find it difficult to get back to the specific remedy I remember. I wonder... (Read More)
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Listen To Our Podcast: 798 The Scalpel and the Soul (Archive)
Black Pepper Saves the Day
How Clean Is Your Doctor's Stethoscope?
Fennel Flavor Doesn't Signal Danger
Blood Pressure Pills and Hair Loss
Soap to Ease Menstrual Cramps
Home Remedy Put to the Test
Dandruff Shampoo Clears Face (Read More)

This Week in The People's Pharmacy

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Q. At Thanksgiving my son-in-law sharpened my knives, but he cut his thumb and finger badly in the process. I quickly said, "Let's put pepper on it." His thumb could probably have used a suture, but I live on top... (Read More)
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Q. My doctor always washes his hands before an exam, but he never seems to wipe down his stethoscope. This makes me nervous, but perhaps I am being silly. Should I ask about the stethoscope next time? A. Stethoscopes can... (Read More)
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Q. I am 68 years old and have a lot of trouble with gas. You suggested using fennel seed tea. I have had success with that, but fennel tastes a lot like licorice. I have heard that licorice is not... (Read More)
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Q. At age 49 I still had a thick head of long wavy hair. Then I was prescribed the blood pressure drug lisinopril with HCT. Within three weeks my hair was falling out, along with my eyelashes and eyebrows. My... (Read More)
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Q. I've been using a small bar of hotel soap under the sheet near my feet for three months to counteract leg cramps. It works great and they never wake me in the middle of the night any more. Today... (Read More)

Home Remedy Put to the Test

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Home remedies are rarely put to the test of scientific scrutiny. That's probably why physicians frequently pooh-pooh them. It's hardly surprising that doctors prefer randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. This type of experiment helps rule out expectations, bias and plain old... (Read More)
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Q. I have been seeing a dermatologist for years for my rosacea. Nothing really helps much, and many things irritate my skin. I saw my neurologist for headaches, and he asked what I was doing for my face. I told... (Read More)
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Surgeons, especially neurosurgeons, have incredible technical skills that can help patients survive in difficult circumstances. Sometimes, though, they find they need to look a bit beyond their usual abilities to figure out how to proceed. We talk with a neurosurgeon... (Read More)
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This Week's Radio Show: 798 The Scalpel and the Soul (Archive)
Coffee Averts Asthma at 30,000 Feet
Surprising Cough Medicine from Kitchen Cupboard
Coconut Cookies Help Prevent Surgery
Chantix May Harm Heart
Questions about Antidepressant Effectiveness
Restricting Carbohydrates Helps Some Women
Traditional Birth Attendants Save Lives (Read More)
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Q. I want to thank you for helping me out of a medical emergency. I was flying across country and had packed my asthma medicine in my carry-on luggage. The flight was too full and there was not enough room... (Read More)
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Q. Last month I had the flu for a couple of weeks with a lingering cough. Before I got better I caught a cold, and at the end of the cold, a cough returned that was much worse than the... (Read More)
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Q. A while back you ran an article concerning chronic diarrhea caused by Crohn's disease: some people were experiencing relief with cookies (of all things). They were Archway Coconut Macaroons, to be exact. Before reading your column I was leading... (Read More)

Chantix May Harm Heart

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A popular stop-smoking drug may be hard on the heart. The smoking cessation drug Chantix is being prescribed world-wide to help smokers give up their dangerous addiction. Smoking increases the chance that a person will develop lung cancer, several other... (Read More)
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Antidepressant medications have been controversial for decades. When first introduced, drugs like Prozac were heralded as a major breakthrough in the treatment of depression. More recently, though, careful analysis of the medical literature shows that while such medicines can be... (Read More)
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Women who have polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, often experience irregular menstrual periods, infertility, insulin resistance, overweight, elevated cholesterol and type-2 diabetes. Higher levels of male hormones circulating in the body may contribute to symptoms such as acne and hairiness.... (Read More)
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In many parts of the world where women don't have access to hospitals for giving birth, rates of infant and maternal mortality are high. But when traditional birth attendants such as comadronas or doulas are trained in what to do... (Read More)
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Listen To Our Podcast: 839 Health News Update
Hot Peppers for Heartburn?
Defending Generic Drugs
Unexpected Help for Itchy Dandruff
Dealing with Vaginal Dryness
Overcoming Symptoms of Underactive Thyroid
Natural Treatments for Cold Symptoms
Mixing Drinks with Drugs Could Be Lethal
Save a Life This Holiday Season (Read More)
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Q. I was on reflux drugs like omeprazole (PPIs) for over ten years and even had surgery for severe reflux. I was determined to get off the PPIs, so I started drinking ginger tea, eating crystallized ginger when acute pain... (Read More)