Try simple changes to fight heartburn

People who take acid-supressing medications, especially at high doses and on a long-term basis, could be putting their bones at risk
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine studied medical records of 145,000 people in England. The hip-fracture rate among patients taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to treat gastroesophagel reflux disease (GERD) was 44 percent higher than for those not taking the drugs. About 79 percent of the patients studied were women.
PPIs include Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec. Nexium is the third-largest selling drug in the world.
Many studies suggest that PPIs interfere with calcium absorption. Getting enough calcium is especially important for people 50 years of age and older who take PPIs. Both diet and calcium supplements are recommended.
To fight GERD without drugs, doctors say:
* Eat smaller meals and eat more often. Skip coffee, citrus juices, carbonated beverages, and alcohol.
* Lose weight. Obesity has been linked to heartburn.
* Don’t smoke.
* Avoid tight-fitting waistbands and clothes that squeeze your middle.
* Elevate the head of your bed by six to eight inches.
* Avoid lying down or bending over immediately after meals.

Keep your body in mind when minding the soil

minding the soilSome surveys find that gardening is now the country’s number one outdoor leisure activity. That’s good because it provides the moderate physical activity that brings excellent health benefits.
Gardening can be therapy for worried minds. Being outdoors doing a variety of garden activities gives a psychological boost and makes people feel good.
But all that digging and weeding can be hard on knees, hands, wrists, and shoulders. Digging with a garden trowel can cause ulnar deviation that leads to muscle strain and nerve pain in the wrist. Even tools that are called ergonomic don’t help much, according to the Department of Occupational Therapy at the Medical University of Ohio. Through their studies, they have come up with this advice.
* Buy tools with thick handles. Single-handle tools like trowels should have handles that are 1 1/4 to 2 inches in diameter.
* Long handles are better. You can get a firmer grip on the tool if there is plenty of room for all your fingers.
* Look for sturdy but lightweight tools. A flimsy tool makes for more work. Whatever the tool, the less it weighs, the easier it is on your body.
* Avoid transferring the stress. Trowels that have a frame around the hand keep the wrist straight. But keeping the wrist straight can cause awkward motions for the elbow and shoulder.
Joyce Thomas, chair of the Medical University, says gardeners should also avoid getting into the “zone,” where they lose track of time. Quoted in the Harvard Health Letter, she says repetitive motions and staying in one position can cause muscle problems and aggravate arthritis. So stop, stretch, sit in a lawn chair, and have a drink of water.

Dry eye: There is a tremendous need for consumer awareness

Cry eye Symptoms of dry eye can range from mildly irritating to almost debilitating. They include painful scratchiness, light sensitivity, and stinging.

About 25 percent of eye-doctor visits are for dry-eye complaints, but patients say the doctors don’t offer much help. They advise blinking more and using over-the-counter lubricating drops.

What’s causing the big increase in dry-eye problems?

* Age. Most patients are over 40.

* Soft contact lenses. They absorb fluid on the eye surface.

* Vision correction surgery. Dry eye can be a side effect of the 1.4 million U.S. surgeries done annually.

* Eyelid surgery. Sometimes results in a sliver of an opening when eyes are closed, which dries the eyes.

* Activities in which the eyes are not blinked regularly including computer use and watching television.

* Wind. Outside or from heating and cooling systems in the home and car.

* Dust or allergens in the air.

With a huge need for dry-eye treatments, many pharmaceutical companies are developing new drugs. Right now, here’s what’s available:

Lubricating drops such as Systane, TheraTears, and Refresh.

Proclear and Acuvue Oasys, contact lenses meant to alleviate dry-eye for contact wearers.

Omega-3 fatty acid (a nutritional supplement). A 2005 Harvard study showed the benefits of tuna.

Restasis, an FDA approved prescription drug that has good results in many cases but doesn’t work for everyone.

Goggles: Those by Panoptx and others create a moisture chamber around the eye. They are available at ski shops and motorcycle shops.

Boston Scleral Lens. A custom-fitted prosthetic device that creates a reservoir over the cornea.