1. Antibiotics for your appendix

    Show up in the hospital with a fever and a terrible ache near your belly, and you can count the minutes until they start hacking your appendix out.

    These days, the doctors in your hospital almost certainly know the appendix doesn't actually need to be removed in most cases. They just don't have the time (or interest) to pick and choose -- so they all come out.

    Plus, they don't want to be sued if they make the wrong choice and your appendix bursts like an overripe grapefruit.

    But now, a new study shows they shouldn't worry so much -- because up to 80 percent of all appendixes can remain in place even after acute appendicitis if docs turn to antibiotics instead of a scalpel.

    In a look at data from four studies involving some 900 patients, researchers found that 63 percent of those given antibiotics first intravenously, then by mouth, managed to keep their appendixes.

    The rest did eventually get surgery, but since statistics show that only 20 percent of appendix patients have the complicated appendicitis that requires the removal of the organ, the success rate from meds alone could ultimately be as high as 80 percent.

    And this is one case where meds make sense -- because you don't just avoid the knife itself. You avoid the risks that come with it: Patients on antibiotics had a 39 percent lower risk of complications, according to the study in BMJ.

    You also get to keep your appendix, which might not be as useless as scientists have thought. In fact, the latest research shows it may be a "safe house" for good bacteria, so that your stomach can get back on track after an infection.

    Given the growing number of dangerous stomach bugs out there these days, it might be a good idea to hang onto the keys to that safe house.

  2. 10 days that can ruin you forever

    A lifetime of damage from a single drug

    If all you get from a 10-day course of antibiotics is a case of the runs, count your lucky stars -- because the side effects of these drugs can be worse than anyone ever thought.

    Much worse.

    You already know how antibiotics kill off nearly everything in your stomach -- all the bacteria, good and bad (except for the drug-resistant superbugs... but that's a topic for another day).

    But here's something you probably don't know: After a single course of antibiotics, your gut flora is never the same again -- and you could end up suffering from a severe and permanent loss of the very bacteria you need most.

    We're not talking extra tummyaches here. Believe it or not, these bacteria play a role in just about every function in your body. And when they go AWOL, you could be left crippled with multiple sclerosis, fighting off the demons of mental illness and depression, or even battling severe muscle disorders.

    It's the same story for kids: Gut imbalances from antibiotic use can cause asthma, allergies, and even autism.

    If you or someone you love is suffering from any of the conditions I mentioned earlier -- or even from a "mystery" disorder that doctors can't figure out -- you might really be battling a gut imbalance.

    The good news is you can stop the guessing game right now. A naturopathic physician can run some tests and figure out what's missing from your gut -- and replace it the right way.

  3. The vitamin that can beat Crohn's

    One of the worst of these conditions is Crohn's disease, a relentless assault on the gut that can force sufferers to wonder if they're paying for crimes from a previous life. Don't lose hope -- because you might be able to get a lighter sentence by turning to the simple and safe vitamin I've been urging you to take all along: vitamin D3.
  4. Are you addicted to heartburn meds?

    There's a new call for the feds to put more warnings onto common heartburn drugs. Big whooptie-do. Any warning slapped onto these meds now is way too little and far too late. Millions are already hooked on proton pump inhibitors...

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