Doctors test ‘balloon’ procedure for lesser weight-loss goals

PITTSBURGH – She’s 35 pounds overweight and has tried everything, but when that patient goes to see George Eid, a bariatric surgeon in the Allegheny Health Network, he usually has to tell her she’s not heavy enough for weight-loss surgery. Soon, though, there may be … Read more

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Help your kids get serious about playing healthy

Swimming, lacrosse, hockey, track, rock climbing, karate and volleyball are only a few of the sports your child could participate in this year. Whether your child is involved in an organized team sport or individual sport, takes P.E. at school or enjoys active play with friends on the weekend, you probably know that staying physically active is an important part of good health, and a great habit to develop in childhood. While keeping your child active, encourage some other healthy habits to go along with exercise. Read more

Brain gain

Exercise tones the legs, builds bigger biceps and strengthens the heart. But of all the body parts that benefit from a good workout, the brain may be the big winner. Physical fitness directly affects our mind and plays a crucial role in the way the brain develops and functions. Moreover, exercise is linked to brain changes throughout all stages of life, beginning in infancy and lasting through old age. Read more

‘An apple a day will keep the drug companies at bay’

You’ve heard the slogan, “An apple a day will keep the doctor away.” Some say it started as, “An apple a day, no doctor to pay.” Clearly from pre-insurance times. But I like the writing from best-selling author Michael Pollan, noting that when apples were first introduced in the United States, most were used in making hard cider – alcohol. Read more

Ask Doctor K: Colon polyps can cause rectal bleeding in children

DEAR DOCTOR K: My young son had rectal bleeding caused by a colon polyp, which the doctor surgically removed. Why did he develop a polyp? Can we do anything to prevent more polyps from forming? DEAR READER: Colon polyps are growths of tissue inside the colon (large intestine). They are a relatively common cause of bleeding from the rectum in children. Read more

Sandpoint’s Woolnough picked for Parkinson’s council

Sandpoint resident and retired educator A.C. Woolnough was recently selected for the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation’s People with Parkinson’s Advisory Council, which integrates the perspective of people living with the disease into the foundation’s program development and priority setting. “I am enthusiastic about working with PDF to bring information and support to people with Parkinson’s and care partners who reside in rural or remote areas,” said Woolnough in a news release. Read more

The naked patient: Modesty movement won’t take it lying down

Patient modesty might seem like an oxymoron when those seeking medical care are routinely told to remove their clothes, put on a flimsy gown, lie back and let the professionals do their work. But to many people, everything about those instructions induces anxiety and even anger. They fear the vulnerability that comes with it. They can’t relax when they’re ceding control over what’s happening to them, and it’s irrelevant that physicians and nurses have seen thousands of bare bottoms or private parts. Read more

Progression of produce

LOS ANGELES – Whether you clear your cabinets out for every new diet that promises health and beauty, just grab the bacon-topped cheeseburger or live somewhere in the middle, you must – you just must – know by now that we should all eat more vegetables and fruit. So what will make you actually do it? It’s nowhere near time for a victory dance, but experts see a little movement in the right direction, citing the growth of farmers markets, more vegetarian restaurant options and campaigns to encourage produce consumption. Read more

Don’t enjoy the sun without the screen

Sunshine is one of the most enjoyable things about this time of year in Spokane. We had a beautiful, sunny day for Bloomsday. I have been out in my garden almost daily for the past month, and I can hardly wait for the outdoor pools to open. Although protecting yourself and your family from the skin damage the sun causes should be something to keep in mind all year long, you may be thinking about it more as the sunshine returns, making sure you have hats, umbrellas for days by the water and plenty of sunscreen. I go through my cupboard to pitch the expired containers of sunscreen and stock up on what we will need for the coming summer days. When I talk with patients about sun protection, they want to know which sunscreen to buy. Answering this question is easier if I first explain how the sun damages your skin. Read more

Delirium in old age can be prevented

DEAR DOCTOR K: My elderly mother has a number of health conditions. Over the past year, she has ended up in the hospital four times. The last two times, she became delirious. Is there anything we can do to prevent delirium if she has to have another hospital stay? DEAR READER: Unfortunately, delirium is common among older patients in hospitals, particularly after surgery or during a stay in an intensive care unit. One-third to two-thirds of elderly hospital patients develop delirium. Read more

Good doctor worth more than bad test

Earlier this year I talked about the dangers of overtesting. Still, once you find things, you are usually bound to follow it up. Finding an incidental tiny spot on a CT scan of a nonsmoker rarely means cancer, yet once you find the spot you have to follow it with serial scans. More scans mean more exposure to radiation. Read more

More or less, exercising lessens risks

DEAR DOCTOR K: You often recommend exercising for 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. That target intimidates me. Is it worth it for me to exercise less, say 15 minutes, three days a week? Or is there no benefit unless I commit to the full 150 minutes per week? DEAR READER: I’m glad you asked that question, because there are a lot of people who are daunted by the thought of exercising that much – and therefore don’t do it at all. It is true that I do advise 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week. But two recent studies, while not changing my view that 150 minutes is best, show that less than this still brings benefits. Read more

Why have rural hospitals been closing?

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – There are more than 4,700 hospitals in the U.S, spread about evenly between urban and rural areas. But that number has been dwindling. More than 100 hospitals have closed since 2010, and the pace has quickened in the past couple of years. Hospitals are closing at about the same rate in urban and rural areas, but health care analysts say the effect often is more pronounced in small towns, where residents typically must travel farther to get to the next nearest hospital. Read more

Green smiley faces entice kids to eat healthier

Crusaders in the fight against childhood obesity have discovered a new weapon – the green smiley-faced emoticon. When placed near cartons of plain nonfat milk in school cafeterias, the proportion of kids who put them on their trays skyrocketed from 7.4 percent to 48 percent, researchers reported last week. That’s an increase of 549 percent. Read more

Minimize symptoms of COPD

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have COPD. My doctor is great about prescribing medication, but he doesn’t give me much other advice. So I’ll ask you: What can I do to improve my quality of life? DEAR READER: There’s a lot you can do. Read more

Psychotherapy can treat borderline personality disorder

DEAR DOCTOR K: My daughter is in her 20s. She had a hard time during her teenage years and was recently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Can you tell me what this is? DEAR READER: Borderline personality disorder is a mental health condition that involves poor self-image, a feeling of emptiness and great difficulty being alone. BPD is surprisingly common: About 6 percent of the U.S. population suffers from it at some point in their lifetime. Read more

Studies: U.S. pregnancies typically 21/2 years apart

NEW YORK – For U.S. moms, the typical time between pregnancies is about 21/2 years but nearly a third of women space their children too close, a government study shows. Experts say mothers should wait at least 18 months to give their body time to recover and increase the chances the next child is full-term and healthy. Read more

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