Codeine is a terrible choice for treating children’s pain and cough, and we ought to just stop using it. It’s like an old yogurt container, way at the back of your fridge -- sure, it was once tasty, and then for a while, you held on to it for sentimental reasons. “Remember that yogurt?” you’d say to your spouse. But it’s well past time to throw that stinky stuff away. For ...

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A provocative new study from Denmark supports a link between hormonal contraceptive methods (like birth control pills) and depression. The association seems to be strongest for adolescent girls. Huge studies like this are based on huge datasets. In this case, the study relies on the Danish medical system’s longstanding penchant for meticulous and integrated medical records. You couldn’t do this kind of research in the USA, where medical records ...

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A patient wrote in, asking what she ought to do with unused medications, including some psychiatric drugs and controlled substances. It’s good to get those out of the house, safely -- but how? Parents should make sure to keep their homes free of unused medications. The misuse of prescription medications (usually narcotic painkillers) has surpassed motor vehicle accidents as the leading accidental cause of death in the U.S. A lot ...

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The television doctors: Striding purposefully through the ER, giving orders, surrounded by a gaggle of eager learners and a super-team of nurses and techs. Or spending hours operating, then sipping martinis while waiting for the next disaster. Maybe saving lives in between daydreams and liaisons with hot colleagues and nurses. All in a day’s work! Maybe not. A new study looked at what doctors really do all day. In the real ...

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EpiPens have gotten crazy expensive, yes: $600 for a two-pack. Here are some alternatives that might help you save a few bucks. 1. Wait a few weeks, and see what Mylan does. Mylan, the company that makes the “EpiPen” brand of epinephrine auto-injector, has been under a lot of pressure lately to back off their unseemly price gouging. They’ve introduced a savings card that claims to lower your ...

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Can the chiropractic profession evolve and renew itself as a legitimate part of the health care system? Prominent Australian chiropractor Bruce Walker, who is also the editor-in-chief of the Journal Chiropractic and Manual Therapies, has proposed a 10 point plan to ensure that chiropractors create a profession based on science, knowledge, and genuine healing. He makes a strong case that chiropractors need to embrace research, shun “nonsensical elements,” ...

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Recently, the CDC announced that its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to stop recommending the nasal spray flu vaccine, FluMist, for anyone. Bottom line: it doesn’t work. Though their recommendation against the use of FluMist still has to be approved by the CDC director to make it “official,” it’s pretty much a done deal. The AAP’s president has already endorsed the announcement, too. Bye, Flumist. We’ll ...

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We’ve heard it before: Antibiotics just don’t work for viral infections. Docs know this, and I think most patients know this, but it’s an addiction we’ve had a hard time shaking. Docs overprescribe because it’s fast, it’s easy, and it (might) increase patient satisfaction and return visits. That’s led to a cycle of reinforcing expectations from patients -- who, after all, keep feeling better after the antibiotics. Of course, they do. ...

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“Customer service” is the new buzzword in health care. (Yes, I know it’s two words. Stay with me here.) Health care has become a service industry, like a restaurant or a company that comes to your home to replace a broken windshield. The shrimp is too salty, or the tech left footprints on your floor mat? You complain, and you send the shrimp back, and the tech apologizes and says ...

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A reader writes: “Grunting baby syndrome. Is this really a thing? My 6-week-old son grunts, strains, and writhes from approximately 3 to 6 a.m. every night. Most of the time he sleeps through it. My GP suspects reflux but ranitidine has not helped. Also, he’s very happy/calm all day rarely fusses or cries. My Google searching came across grunting baby syndrome. Is that a real thing? When do babies grow out of ...

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