Good old-fashioned mobility insurance: Protecting your feet and ankles

Ignoring foot or ankle problems may lead to long periods of unnecessary disability. Common problems include fallen arches, ankle sprains, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, bunions, and ingrown toenails. It’s best to seek out a doctor when a problem progresses or persists for more than a few weeks. Available fixes depend on the problem and its severity. Examining the feet at least once a week can help detect a condition early, before it turns into a big problem. More »

The benefits of vitamin pills and chocolate

Although theoretically multivitamins and chocolate might reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers, proof is lacking. A new randomized trial called COSMOS will test whether multivitamin pills and cocoa pills have health benefits. (Locked) More »

Avoiding winter heart attacks

The colder months pose many risks that can lead to heart attack. These include overexertion from shoveling snow, sudden cold exposure from not being dressed properly outside, influenza, and not getting prescriptions filled due to bad weather. Ideas for reducing these risks include having someone else shovel the snow, dressing warmly before heading out the door, getting a flu shot, and having a supply of medication large enough to keep from running out if there’s rough weather.  (Locked) More »

Virtual doctor visits: A new kind of house call

Videoconferencing applications that download to a smartphone, tablet, or home computer enable people to experience a virtual visit with a physician at any time, day or night. The visits are convenient and affordable, costing about $40 or $50 per visit, which is about half the cost of an in-person visit. Many insurance companies now cover the costs. But virtual visits aren’t meant to replace every trip to the doctor’s office. They’re considered effective for conditions such as cold and flu. For older adults, it may be best to see a doctor in person. (Locked) More »

An easy way to soup up your diet

Soup may have hidden health risks. Many store-bought and some restaurant soups contain unnatural ingredients, such as preservatives, or unhealthy ingredients such as saturated fat, sodium, or sugar. It’s best to avoid prepared soups, although they’re okay on occasion, within limits. Aim for less than 500 calories, 600 mg of sodium, 5 grams of saturated fat, and 5 grams of added sugar in a bowl of soup. The healthiest soups are made from scratch, without fatty cream-based broths. (Locked) More »

Choking alert: Strategies for safe swallowing

Swallowing problems, known as dysphagia, can enable food or liquid to get into the lungs. This can cause pneumonia. Dysphagia may be age-related, or it may be caused by neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease; stroke; mouth or throat cancer; neck injury; or breathing problems. Warning signs include coughing and choking during meals, recurrent lung infections, shortness of breath when eating, and a gurgly sound in the voice. Swallowing therapy can help reduce dysphagia risks, as can strategies such as taking smaller bites, clearing the throat between bites, and tucking the chin to the chest while swallowing. (Locked) More »

Vaccination roundup

Vaccines help protect against common and sometimes vicious illnesses, such as influenza, pneumonia, and shingles. An annual flu shot is considered a “must” for older adults, especially those with heart disease. Two different pneumococcal vaccines, which protect against pneumonia, bacteremia, and meningitis, are recommended for adults 65 and older. The shingles vaccine is recommended for anyone 50 or older. A potentially more effective shingles vaccine is still in development and not yet available.  (Locked) More »

Can the right shoes relieve knee pain?

It appears that “unloading” shoes are no better at reducing pain or improving function than a good pair of walking shoes, according to a study published online July 12, 2016, by Annals of Internal Medicine.  (Locked) More »