Staying Healthy Archive

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How well do you worry about your health?

It's impossible to never worry about your health — but are you worrying about the right things? Popular fears and Google and TikTok searches suggest our top concerns may bypass common health issues. So what should concern us and what can we do about it?

Ready to give up the lead vest?

Dental x-rays have long involved donning lead-lined shields. But new guidelines from the American Dental Association say that using the vest is no longer necessary. What has changed?

Ever worry about your gambling?

Recent changes in laws have made gambling widely accessible and popular. Uncontrolled gambling can have many kinds of consequences, some quite serious. A simple screening test for problem gambling and knowing the range of available resources can help people ward off the worst of these issues.

Eating more tomatoes may help lower high blood pressure

A 2023 study found that people who said they ate the most tomatoes (more than 110 grams per day, for three years) experienced a 36% reduction in hypertension, compared with people who said they ate the least tomatoes per day (less than 44 grams).

Pets may help fend off cognitive decline in single seniors

A 2023 study found that pet owners who lived alone had slower rates of cognitive decline compared with people who lived alone but had no pets. Living with a dog or cat may help ease loneliness — an important risk factor for cognitive decline.

Be wise about bee and wasp stings

In most cases, bee, wasp, or hornet stings can be treated with simple remedies. For example, placing a cold pack on the sting site helps reduce swelling. Applying over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream helps relieve swelling and itching, too. Taking an antihistamine—such as fexofenadine (Allegra) or loratadine (Claritin)—also eases itching. If symptoms persist for a few days, it's time to call a doctor. If a severe allergic response develops—indicated by difficulty breathing or hives—it's crucial to call 911 for help and get an injection of epinephrine as soon as possible.

Medication disposal: How — and why — to do it safely

It's dangerous to keep unneeded or expired medications around the house. But it's bad for the environment to simply flush or throw away the drugs. It's best to dispose of them by bringing them to a drug take-back site (such as a drugstore or law enforcement office) or a medical waste collection site (such as the local landfill). As a last resort, it's okay to toss medications into the trash with careful preparation. The FDA recommends mixing medicines with unappealing substances, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds; placing the mixture in a sealable plastic bag or container; and throwing the bag or container in the trash.

Does my daily aspirin therapy dose or pill coating matter?

People with heart disease may benefit from daily aspirin therapy to help reduce the risks for blood clots that cause heart attacks. A 2023 study suggests that neither the aspirin dose (81 mg vs. 325 mg) nor whether it is enteric-coated or uncoated affects the benefits or risks of daily aspirin therapy. However, aspirin carries the risk of brain and stomach bleeding. Some doctors maintain that people with heart disease are better off taking one low-dose, enteric-coated aspirin pill a day.

The colonoscopy diet

It's a good idea to eat a certain diet before and after a colonoscopy. Eating a low-fiber diet a few days before the procedure helps move foods through the colon quickly, which can make colon prep easier. On the day before the procedure, it's important to consume only clear liquids (such as broth or bouillon, black coffee, plain tea, clear juices, clear soft drinks or sports drinks, Jell-O, and popsicles). After the procedure, it's safe to resume a normal diet. But eating too much fiber too quickly might cause gas, bloating, and discomfort. It might be wisest to restart a normal fiber-rich diet gradually.

Spring cleaning? Prioritize your fridge and pantry

Food-borne illnesses are common, sickening 48 million Americans each year, hospitalizing 128,000, and killing 3,000. One way to keep food safe is to clean the refrigerator and pantry regularly to cleanse surfaces and purge dated and possibly contaminated products. The process should include taking all items out of food storage areas, washing all surfaces, checking expiration dates, assessing products' smell and appearance, marking dates packages are opened, and avoiding cross-contamination between raw and ready-made foods.

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