Saturday, June 28, 2008

How to Head off Summer Headaches:

For those of you who know me well, I do not like to just throw you a pill. I prefer to think and find the cause or the trigger to your medical problem. One such summer problem is headaches. There are quite a few triggers that occur each summer. Avoiding or preparing for these triggers may help you to prevent the dreaded headache:
  • Dehydration: In the hotter, steamier summer weather, our bodies may lose more water than they take in. If you do not replenish this water with an increased fluid intake, dehydration may occur and not long after a headache. Try drinking more fluids in the warmer days, and water is still the best option. Caffeinated or alcoholic beverages are not helpful. Some like Gatorade or Vitamin water. These two beverages have a large sugar content. If you prefer these beverages, try diluting them half with water. They will still taste good, and the fluid to sugar ratio will be healthier.
  • Deli or Cured Meats: Summertime is the time for picnics and outdoor activities. Many of the deli or cured meats as well as vegetable salads and potato or macaroni salads have preservatives made from sodium nitrite. There are many nitrite sensitive migraine patients who develop worsening headaches after a summer barbecue or picnic. If you are in charge of your summer food, try reading the labels carefully for preservatives. I like to read labels and if I have a hard time pronouncing an ingredient on the label, I usually put it back. I prefer to eat food with no more than 4 ingredients on the label.
  • Travel- In the warmer weather we like to travel or vacation more. The motion involved in planes, trains or automobiles can be overstimulating to our brain, causing motion sickness. If driving, try to keep the windows open and the air circulating and keep your head as still as possible. Headaches can be triggered by excessive movement of the head or eyes. Also try to keep your eyes focused on a fixed point in the distance. Some people believe that ginger capsules can help to alleviate motion sickness.
  • Icy treats: Probably everyone's favorite summertime treat. I have to admit a slight increase in my gelato consumption since the weather warmed up. The roof of your mouth has very active and sensitive nerves. When cold particles touch the roof of your mouth, it can cause the blood vessels around the brain to temporarily swell, leading to a vascular headache. So go ahead and treat yourself to something cool. Just keep it away from the roof of your mouth. If you develop a headache, a caffeinated beverage may help. For all my patients who I have told to avoid icy treats for their health, remember everything is a balance. If it is a special occasion go for it, just don't have a special occasion every day!!
Steven Horvitz, D.O.
Founder of The Institute for Medical Wellness
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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

An Open Letter from America's Physicians

Dr Steven Horvitz- Reading between the lines: Healthcare Information you can trust!
In the first half of 2008, I have been involved in a grass roots campaign with other doctor's across the nation whose goal is to reform the healthcare system and to restore the doctor-patient relationship to make healthcare once again affordable for all. Written below is a letter that I helped to create along with six other doctors. We are presently acquiring physician signatures so that we can present our thoughts on the problems that face our healthcare system and how we can best solve them.
We presently have over 3,200 physician signatures with more each and every day.
I ask for your opinions on healthcare today and on the letter as it is written. The physician community truly wants to partner with the American public to create and better system.

If you have any thoughts about this letter or any possible solutions please email me directly at

An Open Letter from America's Physicians

Dear Fellow Americans,

For decades the United States has led the world in healthcare. We have enjoyed the finest hospitals, medical schools, research, technology, and resources. Unfortunately, our healthcare system has lost focus to the point where patient well-being is placed after politics, profits, and special interests. Healthcare costs are on the rise and patients have lost their freedom of choice. These trends are hurting our economy and compromising the doctor-patient relationship. As a result, it has become difficult for physicians to deliver the best possible care.

Our heavily fragmented healthcare system has made it very difficult for you, the American public, to get the care you need. As your physicians, we want to partner with you to address the critical defects of the system as outlined below:
  • You are paying a lot for healthcare and not receiving enough in return. Your insurance premiums continue to increase while your healthcare options are dwindling. Gatekeepers, insurance networks, and restrictive regulations limit your choice of doctors and your access to care.
  • You have been made dependent on complicated and expensive health insurance plans. Employers are forced to take money out of your paycheck to purchase health coverage. If you lose your job, you are left with no safety net and the money you have paid for health coverage vanishes.
  • The time you spend with your physician has become remarkably brief due to regulatory hurdles requiring doctors to spend more time on documentation than with you.
We believe the following factors have made our current healthcare system unsustainable:
  • The insurance industry's undue authority and oppressive control over healthcare processes
  • Excessive and misguided government regulation
  • The practice of defensive medicine in response to a harmful and costly legal environment

We, the physicians of the United States, will no longer remain silent. We will not tolerate a healthcare system where those without medical expertise or genuine interest in our patients' health have absolute control. This letter is merely a summary of the most important problems in our current system. We believe that by partnering with the public we can start to demand real change and formulate practical solutions.

We invite you, our patients, friends, neighbors, and employers to unite with us at this important time in the history of healthcare in the United States. Together, we can guarantee our nation a healthier tomorrow.

Please talk to your doctor about this letter and visit for more information.


The Undersigned U.S. Physicians

Sunday, June 01, 2008

FDA: Time for asthma patients to switch inhalers

The following article from Yahoo News and The Associated Press.

FDA: Time for asthma patients to switch inhalers

Fri May 30, 8:16 PM ET

Old-fashioned asthma inhalers that contain environment-harming chemicals will no longer be sold at year's end — and the government is urging patients not to wait until the last minute to switch to newer alternatives.

Patients use inhalers to dispense airway-relaxing albuterol during asthma attacks.

Chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, once were widely used to propel the drug into the lungs. But CFC-containing consumer products are being phased out because CFCs damage the Earth's protective ozone layer. As of Dec. 31, asthma inhalers with CFCs can no longer be made or sold in the U.S. Inhalers instead will be powered by ozone-friendly HFAs, or hydrofluoroalkanes.

The ozone layer shields the planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Patients have been warned of the change for several years, but the Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory Friday saying anyone still using CFC inhalers should ask their doctor about switching now.

The FDA warns that patients will face a learning curve: HFA inhalers may taste and feel different. The spray may feel softer. Each must be primed and cleaned in a specific way to prevent clogs. And they tend to cost more.

CFC-free albuterol inhaler options include GlaxoSmithKline's Ventolin HFA, Schering Plough's Proventil HFA and Teva Specialty Pharmaceuticals' ProAir HFA. Sepracor's Xopenex HFA is also CFC-free, but it contains levalbuterol, a similar medication.
The FDA said Armstrong Pharmaceuticals is the sole remaining maker of CFC inhalers and is expected to stop production even before the deadline. A spokesman for Armstrong's parent company wouldn't say when production would stop, but sales of remaining inventory will continue until Dec. 31.

Asthma is a disease that can go from mild to life threatening quickly. As in life and politics, there is good change and bad change. Nonetheless, this change is happening. For anyone using the old non-HFA albuterol preparations, you should watch your symptoms closely. Hopefully you will not notice any change in effectiveness, but if you do, you should contact your physician for instructions.

Steven Horvitz, D.O.
Founder of The Institute for Medical Wellness

For past issues of newsletters please click here.