ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Garlic Yields Up Its Health Secret
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Drinking Cuts Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
For All Their Plusses, Pets Pose a Risk for Falls, Too
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
CANCER
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
CAREGIVING
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Timing May Matter in Organ Donation Decisions
Weekend Admission May Be Riskier for GI Bleeding
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Smog Tougher on the Obese
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
DIABETES
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
Mediterranean Diet May Help Prevent Depression
Eat Up, But Eat Healthy This Holiday Season
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Green Areas Lower Health Inequities Between Rich, Poor
Gas Cooking Might Up Your Cancer Risk
Walkable Neighborhoods Keep the Pounds Off
EYE CARE, VISION
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
FITNESS
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
Heavy Alcohol Use Linked to Cancer
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
New Methods Could Speed Production of Flu Vaccines
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
Exercise Eases Obesity and Anger in Kids
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
SENIORS
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Green Tea May Help Treat Uterine Fibroids
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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.