CT scans

  1. Natural remedies for headaches

    New rules for migraines

    It's a stunning admission of failure from the mainstream -- a confession that modern medicine has done zip for millions of migraine patients compared to natural remedies for headaches and migraines.

    The American Headache Society is calling on doctors to completely change the way they approach migraine patients -- and to do away with the two things many of them use most: CT scans and narcotic painkillers. Instead, doctors are recommending natural remedies for headaches and migraines.

    When a patient first complains of a migraine, doctors routinely order a CT scan. They want to check for a tumor -- but the CT scan packs hundreds of times the radiation of an X-ray and can actually cause the very tumors it's supposed to detect.

    When the scan comes back clean -- and it almost always does -- docs then send the patient home with a prescription for powerful narcotic painkillers.

    These drugs have more problems than I can list here, so I'll just mention the biggest ones.

    First, you can build tolerance to them -- which is why it takes bigger doses to get the same level of relief. That's a recipe for addiction, overdose and death.

    Second, the drugs do nothing to correct the underlying causes of migraines -- so the condition will never get better.

    And third, many painkillers can actually cause migraines -- so-called "rebound" headaches that strike as the drugs wear off.

    The new guidelines recommending natural remedies for headaches rather than pills and scans have many doctors scrambling for answers -- but not me, because I never relied on painkillers or CT scans for my own migraine patients. In fact, you don't even have to visit me or any other doctor for two of the most powerful weapons in the fight against migraine pain.

    You already have them, possibly a few inches from where you're sitting right now: a pad and a pen.

    Use them to start your own headache journal. Note each headache, what you were doing when it struck, what you were doing beforehand, and everything you ate within the previous 24 hours.

    It won't be long before you start to see some patterns -- migraine triggers, from obvious ones such as alcohol to hidden ones such as food additives (MSG and aspartame are two common triggers).

    Other triggers can include sounds, colors, lights, smells and even weather changes.

    Once you learn the triggers, in most cases you can learn to avoid them.

    And for real and immediate pain relief while you work on your headache journal, don't turn to painkillers. Try all-natural butterbur supplements and similar natural remedies for headaches. They're proven to reduce both the number and severity of headaches.

  2. Patients say real colonoscopy has less pain than virtual ones

    Patients prefer real colonoscopies to virtual ones

    When a patient hears the word "colonoscopy," he starts looking for the door -- and that view of his rear end fleeing the room is usually about as close as a doctor will get to examining his backside.

    People are just terrified by the procedure, and for no good reason. It's relatively painless and highly effective. It not only detects the growths that cause colon cancer, but also removes them.

    No growths, no cancer -- and that's why people who get regular colonoscopies simply don't die of the disease.

    But most patients don't even want to talk about it. It sounds painful... uncomfortable... and for some people, even a conversation about "butt health" can be a little embarrassing.

    Some doctors have been pushing the less invasive "virtual" colonoscopy because patients seem to think it's a lot more comfortable -- but a new study shows that's not the case.

    Researchers gave both procedures to 90 patients between the ages of 19 and 65 years old, and then asked them which one they preferred.

    Turns out, the real deal beat "virtual" colonoscopy in just about every measure. Patients say they had less anxiety, less pain, and even liked the exam rooms better when they got the real colonoscopies.

    That might sound a little counterintuitive, but remember that patients who get a real colonoscopy get sedated.

    Patients who get the virtual procedure do not.

    As a result, patients who get a real colonoscopy don't feel a thing (some even fall asleep). Patients who get a "virtual" one do -- and while the "virtual" name might make it sound like a procedure that takes place on a computer screen instead of in your body, that's not quite the case.

    There's no scope in a virtual colonoscopy (unless polyps are detected), but a thin tube is put into the rectum so air can be pumped in. This inflates the colon and makes it easier to see.

    It doesn't hurt. But patients say it's not the most comfortable thing in the world, either -- and that's reflected in the 69 percent of patients in the survey who said the real colonoscopy had less pain.

    In addition, a full 77 percent said they would choose the real colonoscopy over the virtual procedure in the future.

    In other words, the real procedure isn't nearly as bad as most people fear. But there are other reasons why I prefer the real deal to the virtual ones.

    First, virtual colonoscopy a relatively new technology and there are still question marks over its effectiveness.

    Second, and more importantly, it uses a CT scan -- and CT scans rely on radiation. It seems a little backwards to me to use cancer-causing radiation to detect and treat cancer... but then again, a lot of the cancer screenings and treatments out there are backwards.

    Third, if you have polyps or a suspicious-looking lesion, you'll need to get another regular colonoscopy to biopsy the lesion -- leading to the very procedure you were trying to avoid in the first place

    So skip the gimmicks, and along with "virtual" colonoscopies that means avoiding the less thorough (and cheaper) sigmoidoscopy. And definitely stay away from the up-and-coming procedure, the "laxative-free" colonoscopy -- because it's really just another version of the virtual colonoscopy.

    Real colonoscopies are proven, and they work -- and they represent one of the best examples of mainstream medicine getting it right.

    I don't see any reason to mess with success.

    PS: If you have diabetes, be sure to start screening earlier -- at 40 instead of 50. New research shows that diabetics in their 40s have the same risk of precancerous colon growths as non-diabetics in their 50s. It's as if the disease ages the colon by an entire decade.

  3. The patient made me do it!

    CT scans, X-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds -- you name it, people are getting them far more often than necessary, leading to extra stress and excess treatments. And in the case of those CT scans and X-rays, patients are being dosed with high levels of radiation for no reason at all.
  4. Americans unaware of radiation risks

    A new study finds that Americans are utterly clueless when it comes to the levels of radiation they've been exposed to through CT scans.
  5. New study calls for more radiation zaps

    Two Americans undergo CT scans every second – 72 million zaps a year from just that one type of test – and at least a third of them are completely unnecessary.

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