Why do Drugs have Crazy Names?

Adrian Baciu (freeimages.com)

Everyone agrees that drug names are becoming ever more crazy. For instance, why all those X’s and Z’s in brand names (Pradaxa, Xarelto, Xeljanz, Zyprexa)?

Generic names can be even more mouth-boggling. Can you remember that acetaminophen is the generic name for Tylenol, and can you pronounce it? If you want to get it when visiting Europe, however, you’ll have to ask for paracetamol. Both of those names get their syllables from a chemical name of the compound: para-acetylaminophenol.

But the names of most generics (like brand names) are largely or completely made up and illogical, except that some related drugs share a suffix, such as “-statin” at the end of cholesterol-lowering drugs like simvastatin (Lipitor) or rosuvastatin (Crestor), and “-azepam” for tranquilizers like lorazepam (Ativan) or temazepam (Restoril).

Tongue-twisting generic names are a big problem since the vast majority of drugs are now dispensed as generics, leading to growing concerns that if names are mispronounced or misread and drugs misidentified, patients could be harmed. Avoiding such confusions is one of the rationales for electronic prescriptions. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s in your Flu Shot?

An influenza expert at Johns Hopkins University explains how the cocktail for this year’s flu vaccine was developed

Predicting which fast-mutating influenza viruses will dominate the flu season more than six months before it happens is notoriously difficult yet the ponderous global vaccine production process demands maximum lead time. So, scientists have to take their best guess based on the available data.

In March, the WHO rolled out its recommended composition for flu vaccines in the Northern Hemisphere. (It announced its next Southern Hemisphere recommendations six months or so later.) For northern climes, the WHO proposes a cocktail of H1N1, H3N2 and a B virus—and for those interested in a quadrivalent vaccine, a dash of B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus.

For an explanation on the process for making vaccines and related issues, Global Health Now spoke this spring to Andrew Pekosz, director of the Center for Emerging Viruses and Infectious Diseases at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Read the rest of this entry »

How Some Everyday Drugs Can Mess With Your Mind

mspurity (freeimages.com)

mspurity (freeimages.com)


You wouldn’t be surprised if a narcotic painkiller made you feel a little sleepy or you developed an upset stomach after taking an aspirin-like painkiller for a few days.

What most people don’t know—and their doctors don’t talk about—is that popular prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs can affect your body and your mind.

A hidden risk: Let’s say that you start taking a new drug. Weeks or even months later, you begin to feel depressed or suffer some other psychiatric symptom. You might assume that something’s wrong with you when, in fact, the drug could be to blame. Common offenders you need to know about—psychiatric side effects can occur with any dose, but the greater the drug amount, the greater the risk…

Read the rest of this entry »

3 Questions to Ask Your Doctor

doctor-consultationAbout a year before my mother-in-law passed away from cancer, her oncologist said nothing more could be done to treat her illness. He did not volunteer how much longer she might live, nor did he indicate how the remaining course of her disease would likely unfold. Here’s the surprising part: This doctor’s omissions were perfectly legal in the state in which he practiced. That’s because there is no law in that state that required him to disclose such information unless the patient specifically asked for it or he was proposing a treatment that required her to either accept or reject it.

This is just one of the thorny issues related to “informed consent.” Simply put, informed consent is when a doctor must tell you what he/she wants to do about your medical problem…explain the treatment or procedure in a detailed, yet understandable way (including what might go wrong)…and get your permission to proceed. To avoid confusion regarding your care, always ask your doctors these questions before you make a medical decision requiring your consent… Read the rest of this entry »

The Truth About Flu Shots

flu seasonWhen flu vaccination season comes each year, do you get vaccinated?

Read the rest of this entry »

Ebola Myths

 What you need to know most about this outbreak…

Read the rest of this entry »

Do You Really Need That Surgery?

Do You Need to be on Antidepressants?

ba1969 (sxc.hu)

ba1969 (sxc.hu)

Sometimes these drugs can mask

emotions you need to feel better.

The statistics are truly shocking—more than one out of every 10 Americans takes an antidepressant. That includes nearly 4% of all adolescents (ages 12 to 17) and more than 20% of women ages 40 to 59.

Things Your Hospital Will Not Tell You

macarthur (sxc.hu)

macarthur (sxc.hu)

We trust hospitals with our lives. Sometimes that trust is misplaced. A remarkable 25% of all hospitalized patients will experience a preventable medical error of some kind. Here are seven things your hospital might not tell you… Read the rest of this entry »

Millions of Americans Have Hepatitis C and Do Not Know It!

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Why YOU Need a Test Now

Shocking fact: One of every 30 baby boomers has been infected with a virus—most of them unknowingly—that greatly increases the risk for liver cancer, liver cirrhosis and liver transplants.

Latest development: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that every boomer get tested for the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which often causes no symptoms until the liver is severely damaged. Certain other people of any age, including those who received a blood transfusion or an organ transplant before blood-screening tests were widely available, also should be tested for the stealthy virus.

Because testing and treatment frequently can cure the HCV infection, these new guidelines are projected to prevent more than 120,000 unnecessarydeaths in the US.

A GENERATION AT RISK Read the rest of this entry »

Childhood Virus Now Targeting Adults

A virus that normally makes the rounds at day-care centers, preschools and playgrounds during the summer is behaving differently this time around.

Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD)—sometimes called coxsackie A16—has been around since about the mid-1900s.

But a new variant of this virus, called coxsackie A6, started hitting the US last fall.

Unfortunately, this variant is now affecting people of all ages—and the worst part is that the symptoms are more severe than ever before.

Do you know what these symptoms are? Read the rest of this entry »

What Does “Explanation of Benefits” Mean?

Think back to the last time you received one of those forms from Medicare or your health insurer that’s marked “THIS IS NOT A BILL.” Chances are you stuck it in a pile or even tossed it in the garbage, never really looking at it. But if you take the time to understand and review these forms, you may save a lot in out-of-pocket expenses. I once saved $9,500 because of an error on the form—more on that later.

What’s the form all about?

This form is called your “Explanation of Benefits,” or “EOB” for short. By law, Medicare or your insurance company must send it to you every time a medical practitioner or hospital submits a claim for services provided to you. Sometimes, a single form will include a long list of services rendered—especially if you were hospitalized. While the form does not go into detail about the services listed, the EOB is for you, the patient, to review and know what portion, if any, of the charges you will have to pay out-of-pocket—and to spot errors.

What should you look at first? Read the rest of this entry »

Misdiagnosed Death

You Can Help Your Doctor Get it Right

Millions of patients each year are misdiagnosed and treated for the wrong disease. A report in The Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that between 40,000 and 80,000 hospital deaths a year in the US are due to misdiagnosis. In autopsy studies, researchers have found that doctors misdiagnosed illnesses between 20% and 40% of the time.

What Goes Wrong? Read the rest of this entry »

Having Surgery at the Doctor’s Office?

Before Having Surgery at the Doctor’s Office…

Just 30 years ago, more than 90% of all surgical procedures were performed in hospitals, requiring at least one night’s stay. But because of advanced surgical techniques and safer, easier to administer anesthesia, one-third (about 15 million surgeries) are now performed on an outpatient basis at hospital-owned or independent surgery centers. And still another 15 million operations — everything from the removal of a skin cancer to cataract surgery and knee arthroscopy — are performed in physicians’ offices.

In-hospital surgery, hospital-run outpatient centers and independently owned surgicenters are highly regulated by both federal and state governments, and most must be certified by well-respected accrediting organizations to be eligible to bill Medicare or private insurance companies. But surgical procedures performed in physicians’ offices are not tightly regulated. In fact Read the rest of this entry »

Yank Those Wisdom Teeth


qr5 (sxc.hu)


Shortly before my next-door neighbor shipped her daughter off to college, she took her to an oral surgeon to have her wisdom teeth removed. The teen was not experiencing dental problems of any kind, but taking out wisdom teeth before they cause concern has become a routine rite of passage for many American adolescents, just as getting your tonsils out was in my generation. In fact, last year the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons issued a statement recommending that young people have their wisdom teeth removed regardless of whether or not the teeth are “diseased or symptomatic” — but personally I’m not convinced, and neither are a growing number of patients and dental professionals. To put it bluntly, I suspect a case of procedures for profit… and not for health.


Some wisdom about those wisdom teeth: Read the rest of this entry »

New HPV Test for Cervical Cancer

The FDA has approved a new way to screen for warning signs of cervical cancer — good news indeed as more than 12,000 American women develop this life-threatening disease each year, and some 4,000 die from it. On a global scale, the World Health Organization estimates that there are 470,000 new cases of cervical cancer annually — a figure that translates into 275,000 deaths. Now, finally, a significantly more sensitive version of the test — called cobas HPV — has arrived, and it is sure to bring about a major reduction in those frightening numbers.
The new cobas HPV test, developed by Roche, identifies 14 strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), the sexually transmitted virus that causes nearly all cervical cancers. In combination with regular Pap smears, this test can help you get an earlier and more accurate diagnosis. Read the rest of this entry »

Which Hospital is Best?

Hospitals You Should Avoid

Michal Zacharzewski, SXC

Going to the hospital… it sounds almost quaint to the modern ear, when we can now choose among so many different kinds of hospitals.

There are traditional community hospitals… academic medical centers… small, upscale private hospitals (some owned by doctors)… long-term-care facilities… and specialty hospitals that focus on particular disciplines such as rehabilitation or ophthalmology.

Why so many different kinds? Is one type better than the others? Are you getting bad care if you don’t go to a specialty hospital? Is it misguided to just choose the closest, most convenient hospital? These are just some of the questions I’ve heard from readers over the past year… so I thought it would be helpful to ask medical consumer advocate Charles B. Inlander, author of Take This Book to the Hospital with You, what people need to know in order to choose the right hospital every time.

 Specialty or General? Read the rest of this entry »

Staples or Stitches – Which After Surgery?

Leo Synapse (sxc.hu)

The next time you have surgery, minor or major, you may want to ask your surgeon how he/she plans to close your wound — because the answer may affect how fast you heal.

More and more often, surgeons have been using staples made of stainless steel or titanium instead of sewing up wounds the old-fashioned way. The assumption has been that in many cases, either approach is equally appropriate. But in fact, that may not be true — recent studies are raising questions about the use of staples for certain types of surgeries because they cause problems for patients.
Read the rest of this entry »

Doctor, Doctor, Wash Your Hands! — please.

rweller (sxc.hu)

How to Be Sure Your Doctor’s Hands Are Clean

The very thought of asking a doctor or nurse to “wash up” would give some people hives — the gall!– but by now, we all know that unwashed hands, especially in a hospital or other medical setting, can spread very dangerous infections. In an attempt to make this less difficult for people who feel uneasy at the thought of making such a request, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made a video you can see online that shows a way to do this comfortably — and effectively.

The five-minute video urges hospitalized patients to make sure that everyone who touches them — including doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals — cleans hands first, either with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer. As the video says, health-care providers know they should do this — but as you’ve undoubtedly seen with your own eyes, sometimes they don’t. In fact, studies suggest that although 90% of health-care providers say they wash their hands before patient contact, about half the time they don’t.

These lapses literally cost lives. Here in the US, hospital patients get about 1.7 million infections annually while being treated for something else… and hospital-acquired infections are responsible for nearly 100,000 deaths each year.

So how do you make this awkward request? The video shows an encounter that unfolds like this: Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Get Scammed by Medical Web Sites

kikashi (sxc.hu)

The “cutting edge” concept that consumers should be active participants in our own medical care is a core philosophy here at Daily Health News. We’ve long preached that when it comes to health, knowledge is power. However, since so many companies now combine marketing with online medical “information” while trying to pull in as many “participants” as possible, it is important to be aware that not all resources that come up on a “Google” search have your best interests in mind.

Says Who?

 I went to the nonprofit Medical Library Association (mlanet.org) for professional guidance on how to evaluate the trustworthiness of health sites, and they suggested looking at four key criteria before deciding to trust a particular site… Read the rest of this entry »