7 ways to safeguard your feet

Protecting the feet is important to mobility. Ways to do that include inspecting feet daily for potential problems, keeping toenails trim, wearing the right shoes, and avoiding going barefoot. One should also get an annual check-up with a foot and ankle specialist, either an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist or a podiatrist. The expert will often be able to pick up signs of foot trouble early, which is often the key to safe, simple, and effective treatment. (Locked) More »

Does heartburn feel like a heart attack?

Q. Is it true that chest pain can sometimes be caused by heartburn? A. It surely is true. Heartburn is called that because it causes a burning sensation in the middle of your chest, near where your heart is. Yet heartburn is not a condition of the heart: it is a condition of the stomach and esophagus (the tube that carries food and drink from the throat, through the chest, and into the stomach). Confusing? Let me explain. Where the esophagus enters the stomach, there is a circle of muscle that clamps down to prevent stomach acid from backing up, or refluxing, into the esophagus. It normally relaxes only when you swallow, to let food into your stomach. However, sometimes the muscle fails to tighten enough to prevent acid reflux. When acid hits the inner lining of the esophagus, it injures the lining and causes pain — heartburn. If this happens regularly, the problem is called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. (Locked) More »

Better balance: Activities to keep you on an even keel

Many types of common physical activity can help improve balance. For example, climbing stairs without holding onto the railing trains the body to balance on one leg and improves leg stability. Playing tennis challenges coordination and reaction time, which helps balance. Tai chi and yoga train the body to shift in space and control movement. Other common activities that can boost balance include playing golf, walking sideways or backward, and playing soccer. Before starting any of these activities, one should get a doctor’s okay first. More »

What should you do about those unpleasant eye floaters?

For some people, debris from the vitreous in the eye may wind up floating around. These “floaters” may interfere with vision and become bothersome. Options include getting used to them, which becomes easier over time, or undergoing surgery to remove them. Another option that’s not currently recommended is a laser procedure called YAG vitreolysis, which vaporizes floaters with heat. The procedure is controversial, mainly because some doctors have been offering it since the early 1990s without solid evidence about its safety and effectiveness. Recent research suggests YAG vitreolysis may deserve more investigation. More »

Pulse power: Easy ways to make plant-based proteins a regular part of your diet

Pulses are legumes harvested for their dried seeds, such as chickpeas, lentils, and dried peas and beans. They’re an important source of protein, fiber, and many other nutrients. Now pulses are being used in products such as pastas, crackers, and even brownie mix. When buying pulse-based products, it’s important to check the ingredients list to see if the pulses are just filler or are the bulk of the product, and whether the product is loaded with sugar, sodium, and saturated fat. (Locked) More »

Quick-start guide to headaches

There are several types of common headaches. Migraines typically begin on one side of the head, with pain stretching from the front to the back of the head. Tension headaches feel like a tight band around the head. Cluster headaches cause a terrible stabbing pain around the eye. Sinus headaches are usually behind the eyes and nose and feel more like pressure than pain. An occasional headache is probably nothing to worry about. But when pain is sudden or chronic—more than once a week— it’s time to tell a doctor. (Locked) More »

Should you take an antiviral drug when you get the flu?

Antiviral medications may help reduce the symptoms of influenza. They must be taken within two days of the start of symptoms to be effective. In June 2017, the World Health Organization removed one antiviral, oseltamivir (Tamiflu), from its list of essential medications because of questionable effectiveness. However, Harvard experts say antivirals are the only medication option, have a good safety record, and at least some people respond to the drugs if they are prescribed promptly. (Locked) More »