Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sun of a beach

…Seems there is a new menace at the seashore—collapsing sand. The beach sort of eats you.

…HA prefers a nice bloody shark bite and a shot at CNN.

…But, even without predatory sand, it's not all, day at the beach.

...To keep you and yours safe at the shore you need to watch the kids constantly. Small children can slip under without a sound.

…Never swim alone or in unsupervised places. Twenty-five percent of drownings take place when there is a lifeguard. Swim in front of him or her, not down a ways.

…Wear sunscreen. Put it on in the car—it takes a half hour to get working. All sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours—a higher protection number does not affect that. Did you know that?

…Flicker of lightning? Don’t wait for a second one—get out.

…Beaches are hot—drink fluids. Forget the booze—most drownings and boating accidents are alcohol-related.

…Bring plenty of ice—Fill jugs with water and freeze before leaving.

…Bring vinegar and maybe some ammonia, too. These take the string out of jellyfish attacks (photo).

…Be careful of insect repellents containing DEET. Spray clothes not skin. Don’t hose it all over little kids. DEET makes rats stumble around with brain damage.

…Bring autoinjectors if you have allergies. A little first aid kit from the drugstore is also good.

…Don’t swim with your dog—they thrash around. Sharks love that. Avoid murky water and don’t swim at night—same reason.

…And don’t forget those collapsing sand thingies. Maybe bring a shovel?

…OK…now have a nice time, ya hear?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Check young athletes for asthma on the field

…In the late 1990s, a certified athletic trainer at Temple Univ noticed kids coming off the football field wheezing and coughing.

…HS age kids can die of asthma or its close cuz, exercise bronchospasm.

…Rogers started poking around—60 HS kids had died in the five years preceding.

…Rogers went to a critical care doc at Temple and laid out the facts. The two subscribed to a clipping service, gathering stories.

…Then they did a study of 238 male, HS varsity football players, average age 16 (Chest, 1998). The athletes filled out a form, then took a one-mile run. Peak flow times (how open their airways were) were measured prior to the run then three times afterwards. Twenty-four of the 238 had treated asthma.

…But exercise bronchospasm was diagnosed in 19 of the others—a high 9%.

…The doc was stunned—we check kids for high BP, but as many as 18% may have asthma no one kew about.

…The coaches knew they were dealing with two groups—the treated who were in poor control was one group. The second group felt tightness in their chests during practice, or had trouble breathing or got more winded than their peers, but had tested normal at the doctor’s office in nice, cool, air conditioned surroundings.

…The football field, gym, or in the pool tests the kid with pollen, chlorine, dust and other factors in place.

…Kids may not even know they are not feeling like everyone else. Someone may say, “Man, that was brutal” and the kid nods, was.

…By testing in situ—on the field—the coach finds from 8-18% previously undetected asthma.

…Pro athletes show similar results.

…The coach thinks such testing should be routine. Parents will have to demand it.

…Under the Asthma Watch program, an asthmatic athlete must have his or her inhaler during play or practice.

…More than two “rescues” an exercise period or three times a week—trip to the doctor.

…For coach Rogers, the sad part? Kids may not be diagnosed early and if they are good athletes, they could have been even greater!

…In some cases, they might still be alive, too.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007 to deal with anger

…We all encounter flashpoints almost every day—anger, irritation or rage.

…HA once wrote about this for WebMD.

…Anger is a response to a threat, one psychologist said. When you are threatened, cortisol and adrenaline flood your system and the blood rushes out of your brain so you can’t think as well.

…Men often turn fear and sadness into anger. Women will say they are scared and then start talking about the fear.

…A lot of anger is learned—it is what we saw as children.

…Anger can come in stages..first passive agression, stalling, clamming up.

…Sarcasm may be next.

…Cold anger is the silent treatment or minimal response.

…Hostility can manifest…toetapping or acting like a time bomb.

…You need to see your own thinking distortions. Maybe you set thresholds—if the person does it ONE more time. Or catastrophize…what a total nightmare. Or personalize…I am always the one that gets cut off!

…The five S’s affect your ability to be resilient and short circuit these responses. The S’s are sleep, stress, sustenance, substances, and sickness. Take a look at how you are doing on these.

…In face-to-face meetings, actively listen to the other person. Use “I” statements. “When I got home you didn’t even say Hi.” Don’t use “you” statements—“What the hell is the matter with you?”

…When you get angry, see which part tenses the most. Next time, make an effort to unclench that part first.

…Another approach. Write your grievance on a Post-It and put it on your shoe sole and stomp on it.

…HA suspects by then you will be laughing.

…”Mind over madder,” advised one doc. Hope bad puns don’t make you angry.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Wear that brain bucket!

…In AZ, anyhow, more people are getting killed in motorcycle accidents. Deaths have doubled in the last six years.

…In 2005, 150 riders were killed statewide—and that’s one state.

…Nationwide, motorcycles are 2% of the vehicles and 10% of the fatalities.

…Police attribute this not only to more people riding, but to a lack of training.

…Many younger riders, especially, are buying high-powered bikes and hopping on without a class.

…People need proper training, practice, and to wear the proper gear.

…HA once wrote an article on women who take up motorcycling and the gear, leathers and so on, were very important to them. These are also a major safety element, preventing the strewing of flesh on the pavement.

…If you haven’t ridden in a while, take a refresher course.

…The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is the place to go for courses. They are given all over the country. Check out

…Cycling, especially with clubs, is supposed to be fun. Don’t let testosterone overload or careless preparation spoil your day or your entire life!

…Above all, even if optional, wear a helmet. Duh.

…Oh, and car drivers? Watch out for these people—they don’t have a steel compartment to ride in.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Don't want an unhealthy glow

... Stop!

…According to Roni Caryn Rabin, NYT, June 19, 2007, all these CT scans, MRIs, nuclear studies, and other techy high-ticky exams are loading on the roentgens.

…Americans may be getting too much harmful ionizing radiation from trying to be so healthy.

…The per capita dose has increased almost six times since 1986.

…One doc called this a wakeup call!

…Except for mammography, other scans are unregulated. Most docs certainly don’t add up the exposure when ordering a test. With today's medical recordkeeping, they don't even KNOW a patient's total dose.

…The equipment sometimes works differently, too, with one machine emitting a modest amount of radiation and another spewing it into you.

…People still need these studies, but the government wants docs to be careful and evaluate the risks and benefits of ordering them.

…Certainly full-body CT scans (like in the mall) are almost never needed or prudent

…Studies of atomic bomb survivors found that the ones who got cancer at increased rates got more than 16 times what Americans are getting from their medical tests. But no safe levelhas been established.

…Don’t be shy about asking questions, the experts say. Ask: Is this test really necessary and why?

…The American College of Radiology has a list of studies and their appropriateness for 200 conditions.

…If you get a CD of your study to keep, hang onto it—it will prevent a repeat.

…How many people question any of this—not many. Certainly nowhere near the majority.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lean beef--still pretty tasty and healthful

…HA likes beef, unfashionable or not!

…Writing for the AP, Jim Romanoff says one can still eat beef—the lean cuts—and not be a total health pariah.

…Warning: This post may involve cooking.

…Beef, Romanoff points out, is full of protein and a great source of vitamins B6 and B12, and of zinc and selenium.

…A 3.5 ounce serving of beef is lean if it has less than 10 grams of total fat and no more than 4.5 grams of saturated fat.

…So which cuts are which?

…Top, eye, and bottom round steaks are extra lean (fewer than 5 grams of total fat and 2 of saturated).

…Top round (London broil) is extra-lean.

…The leaner cuts (these, plus should roasts and steaks) require more cooking or braising. Think pot roast!

…Short loin cuts, such as strip steak, T-bones and tenderloin, are higher in fat, though still labeled lean. These are the ones for grilling with a simple seasoning. Tender.

…Sirloin or top sirloin are the fattiest of the leans and therefore more tender and flavorful. These also take to the grill.

…To test for doneness, writes Fred Thompson, author of Barbeque Nation, touch your cheek. When you push on a steak and it feels like that—it’s rare. The tip of your nose—medium. Your forehead—well done.

…Did HA just write that your forehead is well done?

…Time to quit for the day!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Should kids be on a diet?

…In the Wayback, HA’s family was always in torment over who was fat, who should diet—and HA was often the answer to both of those.

…People have lost their minds over this. Seriously. The Surgeon General has called obesity “the terror within.” Come on! If you were a kid, would you like being told you were full of terror?

…Kids have a higher famine sensitivity, one authority says. This means they are more likely to sock away unused cals as fat.

…What makes this happen most often is that the kid feels hungry.

…The key is to have high fiber, low fat, high quality food around and feed on demand.

…Forget the “just one bite” and “clean your plate or else” deal. Toddlers don’t eat much at a sitting…maybe a tablespoon per year of age per item of food.

…Salads veggies, fruits, buts, lean meats and grains. And sometimes? A borderline, pleasure food such as a cookie or ice cream. One mother keeps it to 80-20. 20% borderline, fun stuff.

…HA wrote on this for WebMD once. Her source suggested good quality items for kids, such as a small bowl of whole grain cereal with blueberries, whole wheat toast with peanut butter, half a whole wheat English muffin with melted mozzarella, or low-fat yogurt with raw veggies to dip.

…Kids like to move, too! They whirl around even if they are standing there. Get them outside right after school or else they will slump in at the computer or TV. If they flop there, stand between them and the computer and get them to do something!

…In a recent article by Connie Midey in the Arizona Republic (June 19, 2007), one expert said serve the food you want the family to eat and let it go at that. Offer nutritious snacks every few hours. Give the whole family the same foods—don’t single out a larger child for special meals.

…One kid said, “Why do I have to eat broccoli, I am not fat.” He associated broccoli with a diet! That should not happen.

…Check out www.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rubbing the wrong way

…Writing in the LA Times (June 18, 2007), Melissa Healy reminds us of the lesson of the 17-year-old in New York who died of rubbing on too much muscle-soothing cream.

…Over the counter does not mean harmless.It means someone trusts you enough to use common sense that you don’t need a prescription.

…Ben Gay, cortisone creams, the older nostrums are now crowded on the shelves by gels and pads that contain potentially powerful medications.

…The skin is just an organ and a cream is something you are putting in the skin. In other words, it counts.

…“The skin has become the new stomach,” Healy notes.

…Apparently, the New York woman was using several methods of soothing. She absorbed so much methyl salicylate that it affected her heart rhythm.

…Another woman Healy mentioned applied soothing gel to her legs from ankle to thigh after laser hair removal. Then she wrapped the local anesthetic onto her skin, where it absorbed and built up to fatal levels.

…Watch on the labels for methyl salicylate—it’s related to aspirin. Allergic to aspirin? This is bad for you!

…Before hypodermic needles, most medicines were absorbed in therapeutic levels through the skin—poultices, mustard plasters, and the like.

…Today’s concoctions tend to contain more effective and thus more dangerous chemicals. The active ingredients pile up in the blood and then, one unfortunate day, wham!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Do you ever get "stuck tune"?

…After the denoument of The Sopranos, accompanied by Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” people were as mad about the song invading their mind as they were (some of them) about the Lady and the Tiger ending.

…HA, personally? When Tony pushed K4 on the juke, it was saying all four would be killed, but what does HA know?

…Anywaaay, the Germans have a name describing a song that won’t leave your brain—Ohrwurm, or ear worm. Think of it burrowing in, clinging on.

…HA once wrote about this for CBS HealthWatch. A professor of marketing at the Univ of Cincinnati named James Kellaris, PhD., has studied “stuck tune syndrome.”

…He interviewed a thousand college kids at four univs and all of them had endured ST at one time or another (“School days, school days, good old…”).

…In 55% of cases, the tune had lingered only a few hours, but almost a fourth of them had hummed and twitched for a full day.

…The associations to music in the brain are very strong. We respond emotionally even before we consciously know we are listening.

…The brain also sops up music like mad. They have done experiments in which whole symphonies play in the minds of people who are touched on a certain part of the brain during surgery.

…Kellaris thinks ST may be a “brain itch,” comparable to a skin itch. The repeating is like scratching—making the itch worse.

…Some people with ST look at the tune as a separate entity—“Don’t fight it. That is what it wants you to do.”

…Songs you learned as a child can be especially persistent (“I’m a Little Teapot”).

…Atonality, like those five tones in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” can be “sticky.”

…What can you do if you get a case of ST? Try to give it to someone else…Tell them, hum the tune.

…OK, that’s mean.

…Suck on a cinnamon stick—try to replace one sense with another.

…No matter what, though—don’t stop believin’.

Friday, June 15, 2007

College kids unhealthy

…Gee, finals, rush, studying, and now college kids are supposed to be healthy?

…Yup, some researchers checked out these relatively young, well educated, and presumably not poor people and found they are a mess.

…In fact, the 18-24 year-olds are overweight slugs eating a bad diet and on their way to the nursing home any minute.

…The study was done at the Univ of New Hampshire and involved 800 young people.

…A third were overweight or the o-word, 8% had affllicted metabolisms, 60% of the males had high blood pressure, and more than two-thirds did not get enough iron, calcium, and folate.

…Oh, and they drink and disdain the veggies. Not too many smoked.

…Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of five risk factors—blood pressure, excess abdominal fat, high blood glucose, high triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol—and 50% of the women and 66% of the men were at risk for this (at risk for risks?). Eight percent of the males had it!

…Oh, and these kids don’t eat enough fiber.

…The researchers said this is a good age for a wakeup call. People can change in time at this age.

…”Did you eat my apple, dude? It was next to the bong.”

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Patient lists, blogs helping med centers

…In the June 13 WSJ, Laura Landro says Harvard docs were look for a gene mutation in a group of rare blood cancers, and turned to a woman named Joyce Niblack who put the word out on a patient blog she runs and got 300 people to send in mouth swabs and bone marrow samples.

…Later, she also got almost 2,000 people to help Mayo study how rare cancers affected quality of life.

…Online groups not only offer research help, but raise money.

…Some even conduct their own studies!

…Yet another group helped Novartis identify bone deformities in patients taking a drug the company makes.

…To increase these online efforts, a website called has been formed.

…Most patients are not too picky about privacy—just wanting answers and quick!

… Naturally, wires can get crossed—drug companies can link ads to sites. Or side effects or lack of same reported by patients can be suspect because of financial interests.

…If you are interested in finding online cancer resources, go to

…Anyone know of eye studies for people with neurotrophic corneas?

…HA was just wondering.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

How we sleep now

…From Bedmart, consider the source (always do that), comes news of a National Sleep Foundation study of the sleeping habits of adult Americans. Based on 1, 506 phone interviews, researchers delved into whether people had difficulty falling asleep, or awoke too early, or awoke feeling unrefreshed.

…Out of this came some “sleep types.” Which are you?

…Healthy, lively larks (27%). Fall sleep quickly, unlikely to have medical conditions, average age 44 (youngest of the five groups). Likely to be married or partnered. Have full-time, day shift job as a rule.

…Sleep-savvy seniors (21%). Most are not employed, two-thirds have some medical problem. Vast majority do not smoke or drink. Three-fourths say they get a great sleep every night. Half take two or more naps a week.

….Dragging duos (20%). 80% married or partnered. Get up early, work long hours (half more than 40 hrs a week) and tend to get less sleep than they need. Most ot them--83%--can fall asleep in fewer than 15 mins.

…Overwork,ed overweight, overcaffeinated (17%). A third work rotating, night, or irregular shifts. 39% are smokers, half are obese. They slug down the caffeinated beverages. More than half are not married or partnered. One third have difficulty falling asleep and all take longer to do so.

…Sleepless and missin’ the kissin’ (15%). 84% have some medical condition, depression or anxiety disorder. Likely to say they have a sleep problem. Likely to say their sleep problems or their partner’s has caused trouble in the relationship. While they are awake,they feel tired. 90% have some form of insomnia.

…Some other hints: You can make up a small sleep debt by going to bed earlier the next night. You cannot do it by sleeping hours and hours extra on the weekend.

…Larks and owls. HA thinks like should marry or live with like. It causes so much basic, fundamental trouble in a household if people are different in this respect.

…Of course, HA never got the memo asking her opinion on this.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bacteria real-time example of evolution

…Writing in the the WSJ (June 8, 2007), Robert Lee Hotz talks about how natural selection and adaptation are at work all the time keeping bacteria alive and resisting our best efforts to poison them.

…Recently, docs formed an international team to identify the genetic changes within Staph allowing it to pass on drug-resistant traits.

…They kept taking blood from a sick man and tracking the genetic changes in the bacteria that was killing him.

…When he first came to the hospital, antibiotics were working against his infection. As he was treated, though, the bacteria formed and reformed to fight the drugs and keep them from working. He eventually died of a bacteria that many, many people harbor.

…The bacteria kept passing on protective mutations, as the scientists termed it.

…This was fast—12 weeks—not over epochs, whatever those are.

…It may take millions of years for an eye to evolve—but this bacteria changes itself in a week, one doc said.

…Nearly 2 million people a year catch bacterial infections in U.S. hospitals. 90,000 die—seven times as many as a decade ago.

…Scientists are trying to find ways to disable this adaptive gene.

…Get on it, people!

…The crud is gaining.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Hey, Mom, eat apples and fish during pregnancy

…At the 2007 Intl Conference of the American Thoracic Society, scientists talked about a study done in Scotland that found a connection between mothers who loved and ate a lotof apples during pregnancy—and the incidence of allergies in their offspring.

…Called the SEATON study, performed at the Univ of Aberdeen, it showed that children of mothers who were all about apples were likely to have never wheezed or have doctor-confirmed asthma at the age of 5.

…Children of mothers who ate a lot of fish (once or more a week) also had less eczema.

…They also had the preggos load up on veggies, fruit juice, citrus or kiwi to see if these provided protection—nada.

…Previous studies suggested protection from Vitamin E and D and zinc.

…This does not mean ODing on these nutrients. Fish, for one, can contain mercury.

…Check out before pounding in the fish.

…The apples are probably OK—wash carefully.

…What? You never heard of apple and fish cravings? Where have you been?

…How about fish sherbert with applesauce?

…Candy apples with sardines back?

…No? How does tuna and apple salad sound? See pix!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

YOW--kidney stones

…Worse than labor pains! A kidney stone is a sharp piece of matter (er, think rock) lodged in your delicate inner tissues and then squeezed by frantic muscles beyond your control.

…You don’t want this.

…HA wrote about these for WebMD once. The stones consist of calcium, mostly, which gets “caught” in the little tubes in the kidney. Or you can get a backup of uric acid from eating a lot of meat.

…Usually kidney stones strike between 25 and 50. This could be the first of many trips to the ER.

…Some docs think more people get these in summer than other months, though the data is not there.

…It is much more common in the southeast (think summer barbeque and dehydration).

…Yes, not drinking enough water can lead to these. When you get to the ER, they may give painkillers, but they most certainly will pour in the fluids.

…You may have to get in a tank of water and get the stone broken up with sound waves.

…You should be excreting 2 liters of urine a day.

…Waer, water…drink water, and not mineral water, either—more minerals.

…Cut back on soda and iced tea. Dark colas contain oxalates, which can lead to calcium oxalate stones.

…Drink fluids constantly during the day, not in big gorges.

…Exercise, lose weight—but drink, drink, drink, above all!

…Oh, and ask the doc about those calcium supplements. Some people think the pill form can increase kidney stone risk.

…Ever heard that lemonade—the real thing, not the crystals--is good for preventing kidney stones?

…Some docs recommend drinking some each day. Others poohpooh the old wives on this one.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

DIY health

…According to Connie Midey, writing in the Arizona Republic (June 5, 2007), we are all going to be stocking up on the medical gadgets and monitoring ourselves.

…HA already has a digital thermometer shaped like a lollipop and wrote about it a while back.

…Many of us have worn the Holter monitor to track heartbeats for 24 hours. These can keep chugging for 30 days.

…But the biggest at-home dealies are the blood pressure checker and blood sugar monitor.

…Midey talked to a pre-diabetic fellow who checked himself constantly, before and after sandwiches and walks.

…We can nolonger sit in the rocker and try to stay alive. We must monitor, then walk or be active.

…This is especially handy if you, like one interviewee, want to compete in Iron Man contests in your seventies.

…Pretty soon, they will have clothes that track your innards without even strapping a device on your arm.

…Mirrors will scan us for melanomas. Stop! Scanning for cellulite is bad enough. Scanning? It’s called LOOKING in the mirror.

…So people with heart conditions are wearing monitors. People who don’t want heart conditions are wearing monitors. Everyone is counting heartbeats.

..You can also jab yourself and check your cholesterol.

..Your pill bottle will talk and nag you to take a dose!

..You can even wear special socks that tell if your feet are heating up (diabetics wear these).

…HA thinks clothes are getting too nosy!

…And the Iron Man? Most of us are sort of bendy Aluminum types, thin-skinned.

…Maybe this is the new TMI, all this.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Great, now docs want to dump Medicare patients

…Did HA mention that her mother’s doctor’s office has a sign up that says, “Due to low reimbursement, we can only answer one question per visit”?

…Yes, HA, only about 50 times….…Humpf. OK.

…Well, today HA got an email from the American Medical Assn saying they surveyed docs and 9,000 physicians took a grumpy view of proposed 10% cuts in reimbursement.

…We all know wages blow at the moment, but are all of us getting a 10% cut?

…Probably not. …

…Congress’s own Medicare advisory group says a 1.7% bump would be better.

…The docs say they will quit taking Medicare patients and this needs to be fixed and $60 billion blasted into the system.

…Now, the docs say they are getting out, turning off the lights, I am leaving, look, I am opening the door, my foot is out…

…If you are concerned about this, go to or phone (888) 434-6200.

…HA may be priced out of her health insurance for the uninsurable and have to positive-think her way to Medicare for 18 mos.

…You know how bad she is at positive thinking. And then to find no docs will take care of her, well, this would not be good.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Police tips for not getting killed on the highway

…AOL Autos recently had some ideas from the police about not getting mangled on the road.

…Don’t drive with your hands dangling from the wrist over the back of the wheel—like the cool guys used to in HS. The airbag can break your hand. One cop’s hand even flew up from the airbag and broke his own teeth!

...Keep side windows all the way down if you want to open them. A side-impact crash could snap your head against the top of the half-opened glass. This is a guillotine, in effect, and you know what they were used for.

…Lock your doors. A closed door will keep you inside the vehicle in the event of a crash. This also prevents carjacking.

…Back into parking spaces if you have time.

…Practice backing up. Go to a parking lot.

…Right foot only for the brake. Race drivers brake with their left feet, but you probably are not one.

…HA, as all the civilized world knows, does not drive. But you do—so be careful!

…Better yet, be smart!

…Oh, and the dog? Probably should let the humans drive. At least on the freeways.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Summer camp, complete with pills

…In the July 16, 2006, issue of the NYT, Jane Gross talked about how summer camps are now charged with passing the pills for kids with all kinds of ailments and conditions.

…Between a quarter and a half of kids in camp take daily meds, Gross writes.

…Asthma, depression, bipolarity, that’s just part of the list. And these are not camps for kids with cancer or other specific diseases.

…This cuts across all education, racial, and socioeconomic levels.

…There is even at least one company, CampMeds, that prepackages kids’ pills, just like they do in residential care facilities for the elderly. The camp nurse then checks the name, date, and time and hands over the package.

…In some cases, hyperaactive kids or kids with other behavioral or medical problems might not even be allowed to go to camp.

…But sometimes, camp nurses question the diagnosis or even the off-label use of a drug--and parents object.

…Some camp doctors and nurses even urge parents to send over-the-counter allergy meds and the like and no overdo it. Bedwetting meds, for instance, can make kids sluggish. “Zombies,” snapped one camp nurse.

…Man, camp has changed since HA went to Cedarledge in St Louis. Kids sat in the rain, no parents hovering, happily waiting for blueberry muffins to “bake” in a reflector oven next to the fire and finally wolfing down the smooshy dough for breakfast.

…We also slept in hammocks for 2 weeks…think what it did to our backs. Actually, our backs were fine.

…HA did learn about topical anesthetics, though. One counselor used a hemorrhoid medicine with a painkiller to stop itchy mosquito bites. This was very popular.

…Lanacane. It still works.