New year, new approach to health care

Thousands of family medicine practices are adopting a new model of health care delivery called a patient-centered medical home (PCMH). The PCMH turns a doctor’s practice into a physician-led team that makes a point to get to know patients, develop long-term treatment plans for them, focus on prevention, educate patients about health goals, and coordinate care with other specialists if necessary. The team must be available to patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Holding the team accountable to these high standards are several national accreditation programs that provide certifications and keep track of a PCMH’s progress. More »

Ask the doctor: How you burn calories matters when you're trying to lose weight

Exercising more and eating less can help people lose weight. However, it’s not just a matter of willpower. Not everyone digests food with the same amount of efficiency. And not everyone burns calories with the same efficiency, possibly because of genetics, hormones, or types of fat. So some people have great trouble losing weight even when they exercise more and eat less, and other people never seem to gain weight despite eating a lot of food. (Locked) More »

Is your medication affecting your thinking skills?

Some medications can impair thinking skills as a side effect, especially a group of drugs called anticholinergics. These block the effects of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for stimulation and activity in the brain. When acetylcholine is blocked, brain activity may slow down, resulting in confusion. There are many types of anticholinergics found in over-the-counter and prescription medications. These include medications used to treat incontinence (oxybutynin) or depression (amitriptyline); medications that are used to treat muscle spasms like cyclobenzaprine; and medications to treat allergies or help you sleep (diphenhydramine). (Locked) More »

Best exercise for balance: Tai chi

Tai chi is an exercise that can help reduce the risk of falling, which can help reduce the risk of suffering an injury. The exercise uses a series of slow, flowing motions, and deep, slow breathing to exercise the body and calm the mind. Participants move from one pose to another gradually, shifting their weight and extending their limbs to challenge their balance. It looks like a graceful dance. Tai chi has its roots in the Chinese martial arts.  More »

Easy ways to fit more fiber into meals and snacks

Fiber helps fight constipation, obesity, and disease, and it curbs hunger. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women ages 50 and older get 21 grams a day; men ages 50 and older should get 30 grams per day. An easy way to keep fiber content high is to eat whole, natural foods. Less processed foods have more fiber. Suggestions include beans, vegetables (especially spinach and Brussels sprouts), nuts, seeds, and whole fruits (especially pears and apples with the skin on them).  (Locked) More »

Pill-free ways to fight urinary incontinence

Problems with bladder control, or urinary incontinence, fall into a few categories. Leakage from pressure on the bladder is known as stress incontinence. For women, it’s often caused by childbirth, which can stretch or damage the pelvic floor muscles and nerves. Another common type of incontinence is urge incontinence or overactive bladder. The American College of Physicians has new guidelines urging doctors to first prescribe pill-free treatments for women—such as Kegel exercises, bladder training, and weight loss and exercise—before prescribing any medications. (Locked) More »

How to prevent and treat dry skin

Winter is tough on the skin. This is because people are indoors with forced, hot air, which decreases humidity and causes dry skin. Ways to fight back include avoiding hot showers; adding a humidifier to the home so that the air will be less dry; and moisturizing the skin. Dermatologists recommend skin moisturizers that contain natural fats called ceramides. Moisturizers should be applied on the skin as soon as possible after showering or washing hands.  (Locked) More »

Does the nose know your future health?

Diminished smell may be an early sign of neurodegenerative disease. People who experience a diminished smell sense for more than a few weeks should consult with a primary care doctor or an ear, nose, and throat specialist. (Locked) More »