Archive for October, 2009

Don’t Give Cough or Cold Remedies to Children Under Four

Cough syrupParents should always consult their pediatrician before giving any medication to their child, but the labels on cough and cold remedies have historically stated that these medicines should not be given to children under age 2. 

Cough and cold remedies are coming under fresh scrutiny and drug manufacturers have voluntarily decided to change their labels stating that cough and cold medicines should NOT be given to children younger than age 4. Products with the old labels will not be removed immediately from store shelves but will be gradually replaced with newly-labeled products.

A booming, and rapidly growing, multimillion dollar industry, herbal drugs as well as other over-the-counter drugs, line the shelves of grocery stores and pharmacies. People often assume that they are safe if they are sold in their neighborhood grocery store.  This is not necessarily true.  Every year, thousands of children under age 12 end up in emergency rooms after taking over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. Most of these children were unsupervised when they took the medicine.

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Source: CDC, October 2009

Caffeine: Too Much of a Good Thing?

CoffeeMost of us depend on caffeine to get us through the day, and we especially look forward to that first cup in the morning.  It helps us wake up, and gets us through a long hard day.  But unfortunately the bad side effects of caffeine can be unpleasant and sometimes even harmful. 

Excess caffeine can cause a fast heart rate, palpitations, tremors, restlessness, anxiety, depression,  difficulty sleeping, irritable bladder, excessive urination, stomach irritation, peptic ulcer, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), nausea and vomiting.

Caffeine is notorious for interfering with much-needed sleep. Many people get in a viscious cycle of using caffeine to mask their sleep deprivation, but then the excess caffeine keeps them from falling asleep the following night. The best way to break this cycle is to avoid all caffeine eight to ten hours before your desired bedtime. Individual sensitivity to caffeine varies however.  People who are more sensitive to caffeine may need to avoid it 10 to 12 hours before bedtime, while others can drink it 4 hours before falling asleep.

Stretching exerciseSo how does one keep working for long hours, and stay awake and alert until it’s time to go to bed?   Exercise is a great way to wake up–it wakes up your body and your mind.  A brief 5-minute break of floor exercises, once every hour or so, can stretch stiff muscles and keep your mind alert and until it’s time to go to bed. 

Caffeine Content:

An eight ounce cup of drip-brewed coffee contains about 85 mg of caffeine, whereas eight ounces of black tea only has about 45 mg of caffeine and 12 ounces of Coke contains 35 mg of caffeine. Many of the so called Sports/Energy Drinks on the market are loading up on caffeine for that extra jolt and may contain over 150 mg of caffeine.

Caffeine is also present in chocolate and some over-the-counter pain relievers, cold medications, and diet pills. These products can contain as little as 16 milligrams or as much as 200 milligrams of caffeine. 

Caffeine and Alcohol Don’t Mix:

Contrary to the popular belief that coffee will sober you up after drinking too much alcohol, it can actually worsen the problem.  A recent study found that a high caffeine energy drink mixed with vodka actually reduced the participants’ perception of motor coordination compared with vodka alone.  This could obviously lead to disasterous consequences in a person who is drinking heavily away from home and has several cups of coffee to sober up before driving home.

Interactive Tool for the Swine Flu

An elderly man using the InternetAre you wondering if you have the swine flu and need to see a doctor?  Microsoft has recently unveiled an interactive Web site which may help you decide.

Go to . Type in your age and answer questions about your current symptoms and general health.