The year in health and medicine

2016 brought numerous medical news stories. The first case of Zika was detected in the United States in February 2016, and many more followed. There were developments in health guidelines, such as the CDC’s first-ever guidelines for prescription painkillers and updated depression screening guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Also in 2016, the FDA approved an updated Nutrition Facts label, and the agency proposed voluntary guidelines to reduce sodium levels in commercially processed and prepared food in the United States. (Locked) More »

Is it too late to get a flu shot?

The best time to get an annual flu shot is in mid-October. However, it’s not too late to get the shot in December, since people are still at risk of getting flu for several more months. (Locked) More »

Is your antidepressant making life a little too blah?

Sometimes, the effect of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) goes beyond improving mood and makes a person feel too little emotion. For example, a person may not cry at a movie’s ending, laugh with the same gusto, or get the same kick out of doing things that once brought enjoyment. A change of drug or dose may fix this. However, it’s important not to stop taking an SSRI without a doctor’s supervision. Suddenly stopping the medication may cause a relapse into depression.  (Locked) More »

Stretching: The new mobility protection

Stretching keeps muscles long and flexible. That increases range of motion, reduces the risk for muscle and joint injury, reduces joint and back pain, improves balance, reduces the risk of falling, and improves posture. An overall stretching program will focus on the calves, the hamstrings, the hip flexors in the pelvis, quadriceps in the front of the thigh, and the muscles of the shoulders, neck, and lower back. It’s best to stretch every day or at least three or four times per week. More »

Top screenings to avoid cancer

Getting routine cancer screenings can help find cancer early, when it’s easier to treat. Several screenings are recommended for people at average risk for cancer, such as colonoscopy for men and women and mammograms and Pap smears for women. Some screenings are not recommended routinely, but may be important, such as low-dose computed tomography to detect early signs of lung cancer, or a visual skin exam by a doctor to screen for skin cancer. (Locked) More »

Should you try a subscription meal kit?

Subscription meal kits provide fresh, pre-measured ingredients ready to be cooked at home. They are convenient and can challenge someone to try new foods. The pre-portioned ingredients arrive once a week in insulated packaging, with step-by-step instructions and photos. Some companies offer vegetarian and gluten-free options. But some meals are high in calories or sodium. Before selecting meals, it’s best to read the nutrition information. One should avoid meals with more than 500 milligrams of sodium per serving. (Locked) More »

It's never too late to start exercising!

The older people get in the United States, the less active they are. But it’s never too late to become physically active, and evidence shows that changing from being inactive to active benefits health. More »

Reminder: Don't skip blood pressure medication

Millions of older adults aren’t taking their blood pressure drugs as directed. Ways to combat adherence problems include asking a doctor for less expensive drugs, understanding what a medication is for, and reporting side effects.  More »