shutterstock_223663249 Chronic insomnia affects 5 percent to 15 percent of Americans. It is far from only a nighttime problem. As all of us know from occasional sleepless nights, the following day is unproductive and sometimes dangerous. Sleep deprived people are more prone to accidents, and are more likely to have depression, anxiety, diabetes and high blood pressure. It is no surprise then that ...

Read more...

shutterstock_110076689 Smoking is a major cause of heart attacks, strokes, emphysema, and lung cancer. Smoking rates have steadily declined in the U.S. in the last 50 years, but about a fifth of U.S. adults still smoke. Helping them quit would make a major contribution to their health. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) studied the effectiveness ...

Read more...

It’s very hard to find a product or service that is both lousy and unaffordable. Such expensive duds are usually quickly replaced by cheaper and better competitors. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, health care was becoming more expensive every year while simultaneously becoming less convenient, less personal, and less satisfying. In 2009, I wrote a series of four posts explaining how the health care marketplace reached such ...

Read more...

Delivering bad news is part of my job, an important part. It is fashionable nowadays to speak of the doctor-patient relationship as a partnership. In the sense that both doctor and patient have important roles to play for the patient to get good care, that’s very true. But even in the best of times, it’s a very asymmetric partnership. Even in a run-of-the-mill visit for a sinus infection the patient and ...

Read more...

The power of placebos has long been known. People who believe that they are taking an effective drug frequently feel better. In fact, prior to the discovery of penicillin, it is likely that the placebo effect accounted for much of the benefit of medical care. A study published in the journal Neurology makes an interesting connection between the magnitude of the placebo effect and the medication’s perceived price. The study enrolled 12 ...

Read more...

Unfortunately, measles is in the news again. Measles is a very contagious viral illness that causes a high fever, rash, cough, and a runny nose. Complications include pneumonia, brain inflammation and death. Prior to 1963 there were hundreds of thousands of measles cases in the U.S. annually, causing hundreds of deaths. In 1963 the measles vaccine was introduced, leading to an immediate decrease of measles cases in this country. In 2000 measles was ...

Read more...

The best way to avoid the flu is spending the months from fall until spring in a solitary bunker, communicating with other people only electronically. The second best way is getting the flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months who doesn’t have a specific contraindication to it. Because of the increasing number of different flu vaccines that are now ...

Read more...

The first Ebola patient has been diagnosed in the U.S. This news is likely making many of my regular readers wonder, “Should I freak out?” This is a reasonable question, and I will attempt to answer it. But first, let’s go over how this nasty microbe spreads. Ebola is caused by a virus that is transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids of someone who is sick. It is not airborne; ...

Read more...

The joys of September! Parents gleefully shove their reluctant children onto school buses, the palm trees in Los Angeles don’t change color, and everyone realizes that they gained 20 pounds during their summer vacation. It’s time to get serious again about losing weight. But how should you eat to best help you shed the extra pounds? Many people are passionate about their favorite diet, but there is very little data comparing ...

Read more...

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a truly horrible illness. It is a progressive fatal neurodegenerative disorder that leads to worsening muscle weakness. Weakness in the limbs initially makes handwriting sloppy and makes it hard to button clothes and eventually causes paralysis. Patients also develop weakness in the muscles that control swallowing and speech, eventually requiring them to use feeding tubes and computer text-to-speech software. Eventually the ...

Read more...

4 Pages

Most Popular