ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Cranberries May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
Gene Therapy May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis
CANCER
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Smoking Exposure Now Linked to Colon, Breast Cancers
CAREGIVING
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
Study Links Pesticides to Birth Defects
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Holistic Dentistry-My View
DIABETES
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
DIET, NUTRITION
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Mediterranean Diet May Help Prevent Depression
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Controversial Chemical Lingers Longer in the Body
Dementia Underestimated in Developing Countries
Are Medical Meetings Environmentally Unfriendly?
EYE CARE, VISION
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
FITNESS
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
Run for Your Life
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Parents Influence Sex Decisions, Hispanic Teens Say
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Years of Heavy Smoking Raises Heart Risks
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Dangerous Toys Still on Store Shelves, Report Finds
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
MENTAL HEALTH
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
SENIORS
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Supportive Weigh-In Program Keeps Pounds Off
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
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.