How to stay in the sodium safe zone

Excessive sodium raises blood pressure, which raises cardiovascular risks. Reading nutrition labels, considering sodium in restaurant meals, and reducing calorie consumption can lower dietary sodium intake. Making sure to eat potassium-rich foods helps to counteract sodium’s effect on blood pressure. The recommended sodium intake for good health is currently debatable. It ranges from 1,500 to 2,300 mg. The average American takes in an estimated 3,400 mg per day, so there is plenty of room for improvement even if the final intake doesn’t reach the lowest recommended level. More »

Ask the doctor: Acupuncture for knee pain

Acupuncture has been promoted for many conditions, but clinical studies to confirm the benefit for knee arthritis have been mixed. The risks are minimal, but most insurance providers do not reimburse for acupuncture. (Locked) More »

Plant-based diet: Nuts, seeds, and legumes can help get you there

Eating nuts, seeds, and legumes (such as beans) supports the plant-based diet thought to be healthy in a variety of ways. Nuts and seeds are rich in healthy plant oils, but this emans they are also dense with calories. For that reason, moderate portions are best. People who are not accustomed to eating many nuts, seeds, and legumes in their normal diet could add them gradually to foods they already like to eat, including main courses and salads. More »

Back pain: What you can expect from steroid injections

Doctors recommend conservative measures first to treat back pain conditions. This rule of thumb applies to strain-and-sprain back pain as well as pain related to irritated nerves near the spine. After trying and failing to control back pain with conservative measures, injections of anti-inflammatory steroid medication may be an option. Research suggests that the average pain relief and improved function after steroid injections is small, though some individuals may benefit more. The effect of the injection is temporary and will not improve long-term outcomes. The therapy has risks such as infection, but these are uncommon. Having too many injections at the same location can cause breakdown of soft tissue and bone. More »

Seasonal blues: Should you worry?

Many people feel a change in mood with the change in seasons. In some cases, major clinical depression can be triggered by the change from fall to winter or winter to spring. This pattern is called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). A possibly helpful treatment is morning exposure to a special daylight lamp. However, depression of any kind that causes concern should be evaluated by a doctor. (Locked) More »

Try medication first for urinary woes

Before considering surgery for bothersome urinary symptoms caused by an noncancerous overgrown prostate gland, or benign prostatic hyperplasia, men should make sure they have given standard treatment with medication a chance to work. If the underlying problem is overactive bladder, there are alternative drugs to try. Overactive bladder drugs should not be used unless an exam and tests rule out urinary obstruction. A range of surgical options are available, each with pros and cons that should be discussed with a doctor. More »

Older men slow to quit PSA testing

Many American men 65 and older continue to have routine prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests to look for hidden cancer, despite expert recommendations that discourage the practice, according to national survey findings. (Locked) More »