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Jennifer L.W. Fink is a Registered Nurse-turned-freelance writer based in Wisconsin. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Parents, Cancer Today and Ladies' Home Journal. Jennifer is also the founder and creator of BuildingBoys.net.

Crissi Estep had been on Cymbalta (duloxetine) for a few years when the medication seemed to stop working. At first, it effectively controlled both her fibromyalgia-related nerve pain and her depression, but “any successes I had had with it earlier were gone,” Estep says. “I was very depressed, even agitated, and felt like I had plateaued,” she added. When Estep shared her concerns with her physician, he added Abilify (aripiprazole) to her medication regimen. Estep soon developed intolerable side effects. Frustrated, she decided to quit taking her medications. Because she’s a registered nurse, Estep knew that antidepressant medications are usually…

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Lisa Collien didn’t question the doctor when he prescribed an opioid painkiller to her then 13-year-old son, Brennan. He’d broken his collarbone playing football and was clearly in pain. At the time, she didn’t know that prescription painkillers can lead to opioid addiction, even among kids like her son, who was firmly anti-drugs and alcohol. But that prescription spiraled into an addiction that Brennan, now in his 20s, struggles with even today. So when Collien’s youngest son, Jaden, landed in the ER with severe abdominal pain and likely appendicitis, she intervened when the nurse said they were going to give…

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I swallowed so many doses of over-the-counter (OTC) cold medication when I was a child. “Cough medicine” was my mother’s go-to remedy for colds. At the first cough or sneeze, she’d pull the bottles from the top kitchen shelf and carefully pour the viscous liquid onto a spoon, which she carefully guided into my open mouth. By the time I was a teenager, I was pouring and dosing my cold medicine independently. What I didn’t understand until years later – until my first child was born – was the helpless, desperate feeling a parent experiences when their child is sick.…

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By the year 2000, measles was virtually eliminated from the United States, thanks to widespread vaccination. Now the disease, which once caused nearly 500 deaths annually and tens of thousands of cases of lingering brain damage, is back. In 2018, 17 measles outbreaks, affecting almost 400 individuals, were reported in the United States. As of March 7, 228 measles cases have been reported in 12 states so far this year. Other vaccine-preventable diseases, including pertussis (“whooping cough”) and hepatitis A, are also on the upswing, and experts say that persistent myths regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccines contribute to…

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Untreated and inadequately controlled depression is a big problem. In 2016, 16.2 million American adults experienced at least one major depressive episode, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Approximately 37% did not receive any kind of professional treatment –- no counseling, no antidepressants, no mental health evaluation. That’s nearly 6 million people living, working and parenting under a cloud of depression. Additionally, somewhere between 10 and 30% of those who receive treatment for depression do not improve or only improve partially. Many eventually quit their antidepressant medication and therapy due to frustration. Could cannabis help these patients? At…

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Did you know that aspirin can cause asthma in some people? Or that as many as 90 different medications may cause lupus erythematosus, a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by fatigue and joint pain? The fact that prescription medications can cause side effects is well-known. The idea that they can cause disease is not. Yet the difference between a drug-induced disease and an adverse drug reaction isn’t as great – or as dramatic – as it might seem. “Really, it’s a matter of semantics,” says B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, Dean of Pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco. “The bottom…

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Medications to treat enlarged prostate can improve urinary symptoms, but also cause sexual side effects. Surgical solutions can cause sexual side effects, too. No wonder so many men delay seeking treatment! “There is significant fear in men,” said Alex Shteynshlyuger, MD, director of urology at New York Urology Specialists. “I have patients who drive for years with a pee bottle in the car.” See also: The Need to Pee – Tips and Tricks for Men Unfortunately, doing nothing isn’t a good option. The prostate, a gland that surrounds the urethra, gets gradually bigger throughout the lifespan. As it enlarges, it…

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Every morning, I swallow a little white pill in the hope that it will keep me from losing my breasts — or my life — to the disease that’s already taken so much from so many women in my family. The drug is tamoxifen, a selective estrogen receptor modulator that reduces the effects of estrogen in most parts of the body. The disease I’m running from is breast cancer. And the hope is that this pill will alter my destiny. Breast cancer cells need estrogen to grow and tamoxifen works by blocking hormone receptors on those cells so that estrogen…

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There is no approved treatment for a persistent form of Lyme disease. But some doctors on the ground are finding that long-term antibiotics may work. When Dana Parish developed a bull’s-eye rash and was diagnosed with Lyme disease, her physician prescribed a 21-day course of antibiotics. Parish assumed her treatment — and her symptoms — would end when she finished her antibiotics. She was wrong. Over the next few months, she developed swollen joints, muscle pain, fatigue, weakness and shortness of breath which got progressively worse. And though she didn’t know it at the time, Parish, a singer-songwriter, was bumping…

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