Quick tips: shingles, dementia & depression, high blood pressure medications

Since you asked . . . here’s another “Quick tips” post from last week’s Healthy Matters broadcast.    I have included links to point you toward reliable information if you want to learn more.  The Internet is full of not-so-reliable information so I try to include sources that I think you can trust.  That’s assuming you trust me.  As my texting daughter would say “hahahaha”!

 

To listen to the podcast of this recent “Open Lines” show, click this banner and look for April 29, 2018 show (Healthy Matters show #485)

On to the questions from listeners . . .

Continue reading “Quick tips: shingles, dementia & depression, high blood pressure medications”

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Opioids for back, knee, and hip pain? A chat with Dr. Erin Krebs

You have undoubtedly heard about the opioid crisis. It is a near daily part of my life since treating pain is a hefty part of what most doctors do. In addition, I am fortunate to work in an academic health setting so I am surrounded by researchers and teachers. Just this week, one of my friends and colleagues, Dr. Charlie Reznikoff was in Washington DC where he testified about opioids to members of Congress. So you might say I’m surrounded by smart people on this issue.

In this post, I want to draw your attention to some new information about treating arthritis pain.  A new study was recently published in JAMA (one of the most respected journals in existence) which concluded that for chronic back pain and arthritis pain of the hips and knees, opioids are no better than other remedies.

Let me say that startling conclusion again:  opioids are no better than non-opioid treatments at relieving low back, knee, and hip pain.  There is NO advantage, and plenty of risk, in using opioids to treat these chronic pain conditions.

This is big news.  For me, it is just a little bigger because the lead author of the study is a Minneapolis physician from my medical school class, Dr. Erin Krebs. Dr. Krebs is a leading researcher in this area and I may add, a terrific doctor and person. To her, I say, well done! To learn more about Dr. Krebs, check out her site from the VA here.  You can also learn more about her from the University of Minnesota Medical School.

I reached out to Dr. Krebs and she graciously responded to some of my questions about her research.  I offer her insights to you below.  This is a rare chance to hear from a physician-scientist, uncluttered from what you may find elsewhere on the Internet.  Often people ask me what where to get reliable information on health issues.  On this issue, this is as reliable as it gets.  I’ll include a couple links as well, including one to an audio interview with Dr. Krebs.  Read on.
Continue reading “Opioids for back, knee, and hip pain? A chat with Dr. Erin Krebs”

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A variety of everyday health concerns . . . from the Fair!

Healthy Matters LIVE from the Minnesota State Fair!

Last Sunday I joined 197,890 of my closest friends at the Minnesota State Fair.  Along with the best radio person in the business, Denny Long, I did a live, in-person broadcast of Healthy Matters.  This was our 451th (!) live broadcast and my 9th year doing it from the state fair. I’m serious about the 197,000 figure.  That is literally the number of people who attended – on just this one day – the country’s second-largest state fair (Texas is bigger but also runs twice as long).

To all of you who came out to see the show in person, thank you!  It was great to meet people from all over the region . . . Moose Lake, Lonsdale, St. Louis Park, Woodbury . . . . but for those who didn’t make it last week, you have another chance!  Come out to the Minnesota State Fair on Sunday, Sept 3, at 7:30 a.m. and say hi!  We’ll do the show live from the veranda at the WCCO radio booth.  If you come up and introduce yourself, I’ll put you on the radio and you can ask a health question.  The WCCO radio booth is easy to find on Carnes Ave between Nelson and Underwood.  It’s right by the Ye Olde Mill and right next to a Sweet Martha’s cookies.

As always, you can listen to podcasts of all previous shows by going to the WCCO website. Continue reading “A variety of everyday health concerns . . . from the Fair!”

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Insomnia Part 1: Maybe you should just count sheep.

By John Fowler from Placitas, NM, USA
By John Fowler from Placitas, NM, USA

I think I may hold the world record for the fastest time in falling asleep.  Usually I’m out about a nanosecond after my head hits the pillow.  And that’s just at night.  I’m pretty good at falling asleep just about anywhere during the day as well.  I think it’s a relic from my medical training days where the ability to sleep anywhere at anytime comes in really handy.

So falling asleep?  No problem for me.

But every now and then, somewhere around 2 or 3:00 in the middle of the night, I wake up.  And when this happens, I almost immediately start thinking about a zillion different thoughts.  Last week when I inexplicably woke up at 3:00 a.m., I started thinking about a creepy discovery that my wife and I had made earlier in the day.  It involved rodents, birdseed, and a crack in our house’s foundation.  So my mind was racing, lying in bed in the middle of the night, and nothing I could do helped me get back to sleep.

I seriously considered counting sheep until I realized that the specifics of how one actually counts sheep while lying in bed are not apparent to me.  Do you envision sheep leaping over a fence like in a cartoon?  Or do the sheep pass in front of you in a single file line?  Perhaps there is an audio component and you count the “baa” sounds.

Does anybody really know how to count sheep to help insomnia?  I’m desperate here.  So let’s turn elsewhere for some tips on sleep.

In this post you will find:

  • Two short videos about insomnia.
  • Links to insomnia resources.
  • Some background about the types of insomnia.
  • Practical tips to help you sleep.

Continue reading “Insomnia Part 1: Maybe you should just count sheep.”

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Dementia is not normal aging. It’s a disease.

Alois_Alzheimer_002Hi, everybody!  I’m back after a bit of a hiatus for a bit of family vacation.  Thanks for checking in!

This week’s topic is dementia.  We talked about it with an expert colleague on our Healthy Matters radio broadcast and as I mentioned on the air, I’ll use this blog post to dig a little deeper into this expansive topic

Do you know who that is in the picture at left?  That’s Dr. Alois Alzheimer.  He’s the Bavarian doctor who had a patient, 51 year old Auguste Deter, who back in 1901 was in the Frankfurt asylum.  She was forgetting things and acting strangely – a condition he called presenile dementia.  Sadly, she was exactly the type of people who ended up in places like asylums at that time.  She was to become the first patient with what later became known as Alzheimer’s Disease, named for this doctor who found strange formations in her brain tissue at autopsy.  More on that later.

But rather than get into the science of dementia right away, I’d like to get you thinking about what dementia can look like on a more humanistic level.  Please check out this 3-minute video – it’s really poignant and tender.

Preview of this post

Here’s what you will find in this post should you choose to read further:

  • Meet Dr. Abigail Holley.  Someone who is uniquely positioned to care for older adults.
  • Dementia 101.  The scientific/medical basics.
  • Links to resources to help you or a loved one who may have cognitive decline.  There are some terrific links scattered throughout this post that are interactive, reliable, and really informative.  Look for the blue underlined links and click away!
  • Two videos – one above about the human aspect of dementia and one near the bottom from the scientific community about latest research. Continue reading “Dementia is not normal aging. It’s a disease.”
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Medication questions? Ask a Pharmacist!

pills-dispenser-966334__180Every year or so I do an “Ask the Pharmacist” show on Healthy Matters.  These are always popular shows with listeners and this week was no exception.  Joining me in studio were two HCMC pharmacists, Laurie Wilhite and Erika Ridl.  We answered questions from listeners about all kinds of medication topics.

To hear the Q&A from our pharmacy show you may want to listen to the podcast here.

I learned a ton on Sunday’s show but two of the take home messages are 1) you are not alone if you have medication questions and 2) your pharmacist is most definitely your friend.

Actually, I hope to educate folks about one thing in this post:  MTM (or Medication Therapy Management).  Ever heard of it?  I didn’t think so.  Read on, read on. Continue reading “Medication questions? Ask a Pharmacist!”

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