ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
A Little Drink May Be Good for Your Bones
Almost Half of Adults Will Develop Knee Osteoarthritis by 85
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
CANCER
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Omega-3 May Safely Treat Precancerous Bowel Polyps
CAREGIVING
Coordination Has Led to Quicker Heart Treatment
Depression, PTSD Common Among Lung Transplant Patient Caregivers
Medication Errors Could Be Cut: Experts
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
DIABETES
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
DIET, NUTRITION
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Imagine Food Aromas That Prevent Overeating
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
Gas Cooking Might Up Your Cancer Risk
Seasons Arriving 2 Days Earlier, Study Says
EYE CARE, VISION
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
Brain Adapts to Age-Related Eye Disease
Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe
FITNESS
Go To Work But Skip The Car
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Proven Strategies for Avoiding Colds and the Flu
When Clocks Change, Body May Need Time to Adjust
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Teen Stress May Have Roots in First Three Years of Life
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Scary Toxins Make Halloween Face Paints Questionable
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
SENIORS
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Add your Article

Be Healthy, Spend Less

MONDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- Most people are cutting back in these tough economic times, trying to save more and make do with less. But can you cut back when it comes to your health?

As it turns out, experts say you can -- if you're smart about it. There are ways to save money, they say, while still eating healthily, staying physically fit and receiving needed medical care.

Health Care

It's possible to save on health care, but skipping regular checkups and screenings to avoid an insurance co-pay isn't one of them, said Dr. Thomas J. Weida, professor in the Penn State College of Medicine's Department of Family and Community Medicine.

Those checkups and screenings are meant to look for health problems that, if nipped in the bud, will cost a lot less to treat than if they're allowed to get worse. "It's almost like a leak in a pipe," Weida said. "It usually doesn't go away by itself, and it can only get bigger. It's a lot easier to treat things earlier than later."

Strategies that Weida suggests for cutting health-care costs include:

* Discuss switching to cheaper medications. "If they're on chronic medicines, they should have a talk with their doctor about switching to cheaper alternatives or cutting back on dosage or number of pills," he said. "I'll often try to work with patients to see what I can get for them on these $4 prescription lists that some chains offer."
* Stay out of the emergency department. "That chews up a lot of money," Weida said. "Having an established family doc is critical to doing that. If you go into the emergency room with a cough, bringing up yellow mucus, you're almost always going to get a chest X-ray. I may treat you but say, 'Hey, if you're not getting better in a few days, give me a call and maybe we need an X-ray.' That's because I have the benefit of follow-up."
* Treat colds and flu at home. "A lot of what we see are colds and viruses and flu and things like that," Weida said. "If that is following its usual course with you, then you probably don't need to see the doc on that. Come see your doc if you are experiencing worse symptoms or different symptoms."
* Call for advice. "Sometimes just a phone call asking the doc handles the question," Weida said. "We do a lot of advice over the phone."

Diet

Cutbacks can be made in the food arena, too. "You can eat healthy and still stay on a budget," said Bethany Thayer, a registered dietician and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "It just takes a little bit of extra planning and a little bit of extra thought."

Thayer's advice includes:

* Prepare more of your own food. "Make as much as you can from scratch because the prepackaged foods are often the most expensive," she said.
* Have a plan at the supermarket. "Don't go to the grocery story hungry, and go with a list," she said. "These things can help you stay on track."
* Take advantage of seasonal produce. "Produce that's in-season is going to be a little bit cheaper than off-season produce," Thayer said. "Also, when buying perishables, make sure you're only buying what you're going to consume. If it's on special but you buy more than you'll consume, you haven't really saved any money."
* Stockpile non-perishables. Thayer suggests stocking up on canned foods when they're on sale. "Fruits and vegetables can sometimes be cheaper because they'll last longer than the fresh," she said. "Buying food in bulk is good if it doesn't spoil before you use it."
* Buy inexpensive sources of needed nutrients. "Beans are a very inexpensive source of protein and fiber, and very versatile," Thayer said. "There are many varieties of beans, and you can do many things with them." Popcorn and oatmeal are inexpensive grain options, and nonfat dry milk is a cheap source of dairy and "a great thing to have on hand," Thayer said. "It's inexpensive, and it's got shelf life. You just mix it up when you need it."

Exercise

You don't need a pricey gym membership to keep fit, said Michael Esco, an exercise physiology instructor at Auburn University Montgomery in Alabama.

"The thing people need to realize is for general health, physical activity is what's recommended," Esco said. "That's any bodily movement that results in energy expenditure. For health, we don't really have to go to the gym."

To keep physically fit on the cheap, Esco recommends that people:

* Buy a pedometer. A simple device, which can be bought for less than $20, can spur more activity. "Studies find that just by wearing the pedometer, people walk an extra mile to two miles a day," Esco said.
* Get a jump-rope. "It's a less-expensive device that can really get your heart rate up," he said. "You can achieve a comparable workout to what a gym would give you."
* Buy a bicycle trainer. The equipment turns a regular bike into a stationary bike and can be tucked away when not in use. "For $100 or less, you can have a stationary bike with a bike you've just got laying around," Esco said.
* Use your own body weight, or cheap alternatives, as resistance. "People can go a long way doing push-ups, sit-ups and body weight squats," Esco said. Heavy cans of vegetables, bottles filled with water or sand and inexpensive elastic bands also can provide weight resistance.
* Purchase a physioball. "You can do all sorts of exercises with these balls: push-ups, crunches, squats," Esco said. "Those are also cheap, less than $40."

SOURCES: Thomas J. Weida, M.D., professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Penn State College of Medicine, and medical director, University Physicians Group, Hershey, Pa.; Bethany Thayer, R.D., Huntington Woods, Mich.; Michael Esco, instructor, Department of Physical Education and Exercise Science, Auburn University Montgomery, Montgomery, Ala.