Category: Health

20 Halloween Movies for Kids to Watch This Spooky Season


If you want a movie your oldest and youngest kids catch watch together (and won’t bore to tears either), we’ve got the best picks for you. All of these Halloween films are the right mix of funny, spooky, and sentimental, meaning everyone will enjoy them.

Thanksgiving Appetizers to Kick Off the Holiday Right


When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey is the star of the show. But before you get to the bird, there are plenty of opportunities to impress your guests’ palates. Start the meal off right with these appetizer recipes that are both delicious and easy to make.

When You Don't Have to Finish Your Antibiotics


For decades, doctors and public-health officials have given those who have been prescribed antibiotics the same advice: Finish the whole bottle—even if you’re feeling better. But an analysis publ…


When You Don't Have to Finish Your Antibiotics


Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

For decades, doctors and public-health officials have given those who have been prescribed antibiotics the same advice: Finish the whole bottle—even if you’re feeling better. But an analysis published last year in the British Medical Journal challenges that conventional wisdom.

Although you should never stop taking these drugs without your doctor’s okay, the study authors say there may be times when you’re better off not finishing the whole course.

In the analysis, researchers in the U.K. found that the practice of treating all patients with a full course of antibiotics—typically seven to 14 days’ worth—dates back to when antibiotics first became available in the 1940s, and continues based more on habit than science.

“The ‘complete the course’ message has become embedded in medical practice despite a lack of evidence to support it,” says Tim Peto, M.D., a professor of medicine and an infectious disease researcher at the University of Oxford, and one of the study’s authors.

Peto notes that “when shorter courses have been compared to longer ones, the shorter therapy has nearly always proved just as effective.”

In fact, the BMJ analysis found that shorter courses of antibiotics worked just as well as longer ones to cure infections in six of the seven studies where the length of treatment has been studied. (One study found that a full 10-day course of antibiotics worked better to alleviate the symptoms of bacterial ear infections than stopping the drugs after five days.)

The Risks of Too Many Antibiotics

The idea that people need to take all their antibiotics, even after they’re feeling better, is based in part on outdated notions about what causes antibiotic resistance, says Lauri Hicks, D.O., a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and head of the agency’s Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work program.

“If we don’t complete the course of therapy, there is concern that the bacteria that are left over may be more likely to develop resistance to the antibiotic,” Hicks says. “That turns out to be much less of a problem than was originally believed.”

According to Hicks, scientists have come to realize that the larger problem is that antibiotics affect not only the bacteria causing the infection but also the trillions of other bacteria that live in and on your body.

“We have more bacteria in our body than human cells,” she says. And the longer people take antibiotics, the more likely some of those bacteria are to become immune, or resistant, to the drugs.

Overuse of these powerful drugs has led to the widespread development of “superbugs,” which cause infections that are extremely difficult to treat. “We are now starting to encounter scary bacteria, such as carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, that are resistant to all known antibiotics,” Hicks says.

Plus, the longer you take antibiotics, the more likely you are to wipe out the “good” bacteria in your intestines, Hicks says. That leaves you vulnerable to infection from the bacterium clostridium difficile, or C. diff, which can cause dangerous inflammation, abdominal cramping, and severe diarrhea, and can even be deadly.

Talk to Your Doctor About Antibiotics

About one-third of antibiotics prescribed in doctors’ offices are unnecessary, according to a recent report from the CDC.

Doctors commonly prescribe these drugs for upper-respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis, colds, and the flu. But these infections are caused by viruses—and antibiotics simply don’t work against viruses.

“Whenever your doctor recommends an antibiotic, it’s a good idea to ask what it’s for and whether there are other ways you might treat symptoms,” Hicks says.

If an antibiotic is warranted, she advises asking about possible side effects, and the steps to take if you start to feel better—or conversely, don’t improve. 

Some serious infections—such as those that affect the heart valves, bones, and bloodstream—require longer treatment with antibiotics, Hicks says. In those cases, it’s usually important to finish all the medication prescribed for you.

However, for less serious illnesses, such as pneumonia, a sinus infection, or a urinary tract infection, you may not need to finish, Hicks says. If you have been fever-free for 24 to 48 hours and are feeling significantly better, “it’s reasonable to call your doctor and ask if you can stop your antibiotic,” she says.

And be reassured that “stopping short of a full course of antibiotics won’t worsen the problem of antibiotic resistance,” Peto says.

If you wind up with leftover antibiotics, don’t hang on to them. Discard unused antibiotics by returning them to the pharmacy or a community take-back program. Or mix the medication with an unpalatable substance such as coffee grounds or kitty litter, seal it in a bag, and throw it out with the household trash. Read more about safe ways to dispose of antibiotics and other unwanted medicines.

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Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2018, Consumer Reports, Inc.

When Disaster Strikes: What to Put in Your Medication Go Bag


Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

A well-stocked medication go bag can be used to soothe a cut or burn—or to save your life during a hurricane, flood, fire, or other emergency.  

But it’s important not to wait until you’re faced with the need to leave your home in a hurry to assemble your medication go bag, says Geoffrey C. Wall, Pharm.D., a professor of pharmacy practice at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Whether you buy a kit from a drugstore or build it yourself, Wall recommends that all households keep a medication go bag on hand. It should contain the essentials, including: 

If you and your family have special medical needs, you can build a more sophisticated medication go bag—for example, one that contains hearing aids with extra batteries, an epinephrine auto-injector, glasses, contact lenses, or syringes.

Fill Prescriptions in Advance

For prescriptions you and your family members take, consider asking your doctor for 60- or 90-day refills rather than a month’s worth. That way, you’re more likely to have extras on hand for your medication go bag. (This can also save you money.)

Always fill prescriptions on the first day you become eligible for a refill, rather than waiting until the day you run out. If you are able to obtain an emergency supply, establish a plan for rotating your go-bag supply so that it remains up to date. And remember to check medications periodically to ensure that they have not expired.

“During an emergency, some states allow pharmacists to dispense an emergency supply of medications without doctor authorization,” Wall says. But, he adds, “certainly if a known potential disaster, such as a hurricane, is predicted, make sure you have prescription meds and supplies before it hits.”

You might also ask your health insurance company to assist you in obtaining enough medication and supplies to have on hand.

Storing and Maintaining Your Kit

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, pack the items in an easy-to-carry, water-resistant kit, and store it in a dry, cool place in your home. Keep the kit in a secure place that’s easy to access in a hurry but away from kids, Wall advises—for example, on a high shelf in your bedroom closet. 

Check your emergency kit regularly, and dispose of and replace any out-of-date supplies. Throw out any damaged medications, or pills that are wet or look or smell different. They could be contaminated by moisture.

Editor’s Note: This article and related materials are made possible by a grant from the state Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program, which is funded by the multistate settlement of consumer-fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin (gabapentin).

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  • At least seven days’ worth of over-the-counter and prescription medications you take on a regular basis. Label the containers clearly, and include a printed-out list of everything you take and the regimen for each medication, plus a copy of your health insurance card (in case you need medical care while you’re away from your home).
  • An antihistamine for allergic reactions, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl Allergy and generic) or loratadine (Claritin and generic).
  • Pain relievers, including acetaminophen (Tylenol and generic), aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, and generic), or naproxen (Aleve and generic).
  • Stomach and antidiarrheal remedies, including loperamide (Imodium and generic) and bismuth subsalicylate (Kaopectate, Pepto-Bismol, and generic).
  • An antacid for heartburn, such as Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids, Tums, or generic.
  • Antiseptic wipes; an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin, Bacitracin Plus, Curad, or generic (use only for infected wounds); and bandages, gauze, and tape, for treating burns, cuts, and wounds.
  • Mosquito repellent to prevent bites, and aloe gel, hydrocortisone cream, or calamine lotion to soothe bites and skin irritation.
  • An eyewash solution for flushing out eye irritants.
  • Water-purification tablets.
  • Scissors.
  • Thermometer.
  • Tweezers.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2018, Consumer Reports, Inc.