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Latest Posts

Fungus: An Unwanted Yoga Partner

Yoga is good for your mind and body, including your skin. Yoga mats, on the other hand, might not be. Using someone else’s yoga mat for an hour could lead to an infection.

Fungal infections are common and appear as athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, and ringworm. Unfortunately, the fungus can survive on surfaces like mats long after the infected person has left. Although most people blame the gym locker room when they develop athlete’s foot, you can catch the fungus from a variety of places anytime you walk barefoot.

Fortunately, even if the fungus comes into contact with your skin, it doesn’t always lead to infection. Dry, cracked skin, or soft, wet skin disrupt your primary defense against the fungus — the densely packed barrier of skin cells, oils and proteins on your healthy skin’s surface. Here are five ways to prevent taking a fungus home with you from your next yoga class:

1. Bring your own mat. At least you know what you have.

2. Use an alcohol sanitizer on your hands and feet after your class. Sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol are excellent at drying up the fungus and killing it long before it has a chance to infect you. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Dermatology Blog*

Are Airport Security Pat-Downs Unhealthy?

Potential health effects of airport security are being questioned for their possible health consequences, from spreading germs to radiation exposure to the stress that being searched induces.

With cheaper flights available this year and the need for security in air travel, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is justifying its full body scans and its pat-downs that rise up travelers’ legs — all the way up.

The scanners use microwaves, leading some to question whether people may be receiving too much radiation. It’s also a concern to activists who may have already undergone a lot of radiation for existing condition, or who have other conditions for which TSA agents may not be trained. (Read one seasoned traveler’s personal experience here.) The TSA reports the scanners expose users less energy than a cell phone.

Some protesters refused the body scans in favor of a pat-down, in an effort to tie up air travel on the day before Thanksgiving and force a review on the issue. But a manual exam spreads germs, say others.

Amid all the speculation of potential health consequences, federal officials are reminding travelers that the security measures are there for passenger safety. However, retorts Jason Mustian‘s Twitter feed, “Body scans and genital fondlings would save more lives if our government was paying to have them done in hospitals rather than airports.”

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Personal Hygiene, Role-Model Behavior, And The World Series

imageTo: Bud Selig, Commissioner of Baseball

Dear Mr. Selig:

The World Series is an exciting time. It’s important to promote the national pastime. Kids play baseball all over the world. I have been particularly interested in the post-season games this season because my home team, the Texas Rangers, is in the World Series. They have been playing magnificent baseball.

I have been both a Yankees and Rangers fan ever since the Rangers came to Texas. In fact, my brother and I went to the first Rangers game in Arlington Stadium. I have been a student of baseball strategy for many years. Baseball is a fantastic game.

Baseball players are role models to kids all over the world. A baseball player’s behavior on the playing field should be exemplary. Baseball players have been poor role models as far as spitting and scratching their crotch. I have never become immune to these tasteless rituals. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Repairing the Healthcare System*

A Grassroots Leukemia Mission

I am just back from Phoenix where I spent the weekend with people living with CML, chronic myelogenous leukemia. The operative words are “living with” because it wasn’t very long ago when people did not live long with this disease. However, medical science and dedicated researchers like Dr. Brian Druker at OHSU in Portland, Oregon have brought us what first appear to be “miracle” pills (Gleevec, Sprycel, and Tasigna) that can keep patients alive and doing well.

My weekend was spent with several people, all taking one of the tyrosine kinase inhibitor drugs, as they were planning next steps for a new advocacy organization, The National CML Society. The Society is the creation of Greg Stephens of Birmingham, Alabama, a business consultant who lost his mother to CML. Now he has devoted his life to giving voice to patients, researchers, and building a vibrant community.

CML is not common. There are just over 4,000 new cases in the U.S. each year. And, now that there are three powerful and approved medicines, some people feel the disease is “cured” and not in urgent need of public discussion. The patients I met with said this was “baloney” and they were driven to support the new society because they felt the obvious advocacy group, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, was not giving them enough attention nor listening carefully to their stories. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

All About Hands: Guidance And Germs

Some interesting items this week involving hands. The one which has gotten much news coverage is the issue of handwashing. Take a look at some of the headlines:

High five! Handwashing on rise (Chicago Sun-Times)

For Many, ‘Washroom’ Seems to Be Just a Name (The New York Times)

93% of women wash their hands vs. 77% of men (USA Today)

All the above are reporting on the same study, but the difference in presentation is amazing to me.

The study doesn’t involve handwashing in a hospital or doctor’s office setting. The JAMA article (2nd reference below) does, but this article focuses on whether public reporting of handwashing compliance is helpful or not. Do we inflate our numbers to make ourselves look better? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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