Tag Archives: illness

What Ails You?

Last week I was too sick to do anything.  I left my house twice in six days- once for a doctor visit, and once for a trip across the street to the mailbox.  I know a lot of other people are sick right now, too.  It may not even be winter yet, but cold season has clearly already arrived.

If you’re interested in getting to know the enemy a little better, stop into the library for one of my top five picks about germs.   (Don’t be afraid, we have hand-sanitizer.)

Why Dirt Is Good: 5 Ways To Make Germs Your Friends, by Mary Ruebush

Ruebush irreverently describes how the immune system works, the behavior of germs in our bodies, and how the American obsession with hygiene might actually be making us sick.

The Five Second Rule and Other Myths About Germs: What Everyone Should Know About Bacteria, Viruses, Mold, and Mildew, by Anne E. Maczulak

Maczulak details the germs that are lurking everywhere, inlcuding which ones could actually be dangerous and the (real) best ways of avoiding them.

The Wild Life of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today by Rob Dunn

The modern human lives in a world with no predators and relatively little disease.  Biologist Rob Dunn explores the ecosystem we used to be a part of, and the possible consequences of leaving it.

Viruses, Plagues, and History: Past, Present, and Future, by Michael B. A. Oldstone

From smallpox to SARS, Oldstone recounts history’s most notorious epidemics, and introduces us to the scientists who are trying to identify and prepare for the next one.

Germs & Your Health, by Bill Nye the Science Guy

If all this germ talk is starting to make you uncomfortable, let Bill Nye explain how good nutrition, fitness, and sleep – along with a proper hand washing routine – can help ward off the plague.


(PS – Don’t forget that today is election day.  For more information on Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s referendum on the ballot, please visit ourlibraryourfuture.org.)

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Looking out for numero uno

Have you ever been sick?  Do you have any health conditions or concerns about the health of loved ones?  When you hear other people say that they have certain illnesses, do you just know that you have that illness too?  If you said yes to any of these questions, you are in luck!


The U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health have teamed up to make an invaluable, free web resource called MedlinePlus.gov.  Medline Plus is a consumer health website that is easy to navigate, and is full of information like health news, medical journal articles, an illustrated medical encyclopedia, a dictionary, physician and hospital directories, interactive tutorials, drug information and more.  It even has surgery videos!


One feature that is especially great to file in your brain for the future is the tests and diagnostic procedures tutorials.  Let’s say you have carpal tunnel syndrome or are thinking about hip replacement surgery.  Each condition and procedure has a multimedia tutorial with an optional questionnaire that helps to customize your tutorial.  This page is easy to navigate and has plenty of tips for those of us not very comfortable using a computer.  The slides and videos contain enlightening and empowering information presented in non-threatening, easy-to-understand language.  The tutorials have anatomical drawings with explanations, as well as symptoms and causes, treatment options, risks and other information. There are even text documents like this one on back pain prevention that can easily be printed and read away from the computer.


Another great feature is the link to the quarterly Medline Plus: the Magazine.  The pdf format is colorful, the information is relevant, and most importantly (some might say), the stars on the cover are glamorous.  Some highlights from the Winter 2008 issue include alternative health, fighting stress, diabetes, best buy prescription drugs, and having a healthy pregnancy.


Remember, the best way to take care of yourself is to be knowledgeable and informed.  This is a great place to start.




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