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The Top-8 Medical Uses for Vodka

Previously the top-7 medical uses! by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Thursday, the U.S. government banned liquids, including gels, in carry-ons to Russia. That means hand sanitizers. That means hand sanitizers that reporters and visitors on their way to Sochi for the Olympics probably packed because of tales of contaminated water. What to do? Even if you didn’t put sanitizer in your checked bag and Russia’s all sold out when you get there, remember, this country just so happens to be famous for … its vodka. Vodka is about 40 percent alcohol. Alcohol kills germs. So in a pinch, vodka = medical supply. […]

By | February 10th, 2014|Cuts, Infectious Disease, Skin|24 Comments

The Dangers of Acetaminophen (Tylenol)—Put Into Context

Due to newsworthiness, this week’s post is being published early. by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Part of a public service announcement from the FDA about acetaminophen overdose. Taking too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be dangerous to your health. The medical community has known this for a long time, but I guess the media, prompted by a ProPublica investigation, has decided it’s time to spread the word. The problem is it’s so easy to accidentally overdose on the stuff. Every year about 150 people—including children—die from an accidental acetaminophen overdose. That’s more than any other over-the-counter medicine. So what makes this commonly used pain and fever reliever so dangerous? It’s really two things: […]

By | September 30th, 2013|General|31 Comments

Slideshow: 8 Headache Stretches That Rival Pain Pills

For part 2 of my headache series, I asked my daughter and editorial consultant, Leigh Ann Hubbard, to write about her experiences with stretches for headaches. They’re a great survival-medicine tool: You can do them anywhere and with no equipment. (See part 1 of the headache series here.) Slideshow starts at bottom of post. by Leigh Ann Hubbard When even four ibuprofen struggle to knock out your headaches, you’ve got issues, my friend. That was my predicament a few months ago. I tried prevention: heading off my main headache trigger, blood-sugar lows. I considered prescription medicine. I tried dry needling with electrical stimulation. (You heard me.) And that … actually worked! And it’s what got me on the path toward stretches for headaches. […]

By | September 11th, 2013|General|18 Comments

Which Drug-Free Headache Remedies Actually Work?

Part 1 in my two-part headache series. (Read part 2, about headache stretches, here.) by James Hubbard, MD, MPH There’s nothing like a lingering headache to spoil your week. And if you have really bad one during a disaster it could be downright devastating. Well, lucky for you I just read a good review of study-proven complementary and alternative medicine treatments for chronic tension and migraine headaches on Medscape, by Désirée A. Lie, MD, MSEd—in other words, headache remedies that have been proven to work. […]

By | September 4th, 2013|General|17 Comments

14 Warning Signs Your Headache Could Be Serious

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH You’re out cleaning up after a big storm and you start getting a headache. At first it’s pretty mild, barely noticeable. You keep working and it gets worse. Thinking it’s probably a tension headache, or maybe from dehydration, you take a break, drink a couple of glasses of water, and take some acetaminophen or ibuprofen. But it doesn’t help. Pretty soon the headache is so severe that you stop working. And a thought crosses your mind—could this headache be serious? Maybe you should you call your doctor. Wait, the phones are down, and she/he’s probably not in the clinic anyway. Your head is pounding now. What about going to the emergency room? You think of the crowds, the really sick and injured who actually are needing emergency help. But what if you’re one of them? When is a headache an emergency? […]

By | June 19th, 2013|General|24 Comments

When Every Breath Hurts: What to Do

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Breathing is so natural, so automatic. The only time we notice it is if we’re not getting enough oxygen or it’s painful to breathe (or if you start thinking about it, like you are right now). If breathing is painful, we start holding our breath or breathing less deeply, which makes us want to breathe even more. If this happens to you and you can’t get medical help, you’ll want to know how to stop this cycle. There are some simple things that can help, but in the end, professional treatment may be the only thing that fixes it. Depending on the cause, you may need quick treatment for more than just painful breathing anyway. […]

By | November 20th, 2012|Infectious Disease|121 Comments

4 Reasons Your Breast Hurts. (For Men Too!)

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH In case you’ve wondered why pink has become the latest fashion statement for pro footballers this month, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I think you all know about self-exams, medical exams, and mammograms—and to get to a doctor right away if you feel a new lump. (It doesn’t matter if it’s painful or not; get it checked.) And I hope you men know that you can get breast cancer too. In my mind, prevention and prompt treatment of any medical problem are some of the best preparedness steps you can take. You’ll have one less thing to worry about in case of a disaster. But sometimes things just happen. You’re not going to be able to do anything about a breast lump you find during a disaster. You’ll just have to wait to get expert medical help. But there’s another symptom you’ll really want to do something about: pain. Breast pain can get so bad that it becomes debilitating. Fortunately, it usually heralds something less serious than cancer. And there are things you can do about it. Here are four causes of breast pain that isn’t from an injury. All can happen in men or women. One is life-threatening. […]

By | October 18th, 2012|General|8 Comments

Pain Relief Packed in a Pod

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Around here it’s not unusual to see a string of dried peppers hanging on a wall for decoration. These people are preppers and probably don’t know it. Many would be surprised of the pain-relief power packed in each those little pods. Capsaicin is the chemical that makes the pepper hot. It’s concentrated in that pepper placenta—the light-colored material that keeps the seeds stuck together. Diluted into a cream or spray, the capsaicin can do wonders for certain types of pain. In a disaster setting, when no other pain medicine is available, you could make your own. But be very careful. You’d need gloves, a mask, and airtight goggles. Undiluted capsaicin is beyond hot. More on recipes later. When I have to give a painful shot, I often kid that at least it’ll take your mind off the pain you came in for. I know, lame on my part, but that’s actually the way I used to think the capsaicin worked. It masked the underlying problem. Now I know it works in far more wondrous ways than that. […]

By | April 19th, 2012|General|18 Comments