I enjoy writing a bi-monthly column for the readers of Today’s Christian Living magazine. In the January issue I address over-the-counter hearing aids, health risk from Wi-Fi routers, and inspiratory muscle training.
HERE’S THE TEXT OF THE ARTICLE:
Question: What do you know about a newer form of treatment, inspiratory muscle training (IMT)? The claims sound too good to be true.
Answer: IMT is a technique in which a person inhales through a device that restricts airflow and makes inhalation more difficult. It’s a form of “resistance exercise” which aims to improve respiratory muscle strength and endurance. Clinical studies have used various IMT protocols and devices to test the effectiveness of IMT. Yet, despite decades of research on IMT, some studies show clear benefit and others no value at all. The research has centered on people with pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, and those wanting to improve athletic endurance. However, it remains unclear to what extent IMT is clinically beneficial, especially when associated with pulmonary rehabilitation and improved athletic performance.
For lung disease, IMT may aid in overcoming disease-associated pathologies related to the pulmonary system, such as respiratory muscle weakness, altered operating lung volumes, and expiratory flow limitation, thus improving clinical status, shortness of breath, exercise capacity, and even quality of life in patients with lung disease such as COPD or asthma or even those with Parkinson’s Disease. IMT may not improve dyspnea, functional exercise capacity and life quality
For those with high blood pressure, studies have reported that 5 minutes of IMT, done 5 to 7 days a week, reduces blood pressure by about 7 mmHg systolic and 2 mmHg diastolic within two weeks of starting. Although these numbers sound small, they are in the range of what we typically find with some blood pressure medicines and are enough to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. At the very least, this may allow some people with hypertension to be treated with fewer medications or at lower dosages.
In healthy and athletic populations, IMT enhances respiratory muscle function which may improve athletic performance, stamina, or recovery even in the absence of pulmonary system abnormalities. More recently, IMT has been studied in occupational settings, such as military and emergency services and recreational settings, which require personnel and participants to exercise while carrying a load on the thoracic cavity (e.g., protective equipment, backpacks to transport gear and provisions, etc.). IMT appears to be effective in improving work and exercise capacity.
While I agree that these potential benefits seem almost too good to be true, there is evidence of potential benefit without much cost and with virtually no risk.
Question: My children have a router attached to their computers in their bedrooms to get Wi-Fi for our house. A neighbor told me there may be health risks to those who sit or sleep near a router due to its radio waves. True or false?
Answer: Wi-Fi is a technology that allows devices such as computers, smart phones, video game consoles, and smart home devices to connect wirelessly. It is also used to link home computers and tablets to the internet. Wi-Fi equipment emits radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields (EMF) as do cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, and remote controls for garage door openers.
For all of these devices, the RF EMF given off is a type of non-ionizing radiation. However, the energy output is extremely low, about 10 watts for the typical Wi-Fi router. Very powerful radio sources, such as AM radio towers, can cause injuries, but these have a power output in the thousands, or even tens of thousands, of watts.
Multiple public safety agencies and cancer institutes have determined that there are no health risks from exposure to RF EMF from Wi-Fi devices in your home, in schools or other areas accessible to the public.
All of these devices must meet standards to ensure they do not exceed RF EMF exposure limits. However, my main concern is that you allow your children to have their computers in their bedrooms.
I agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics which recommends that parents establish “screen-free” zones in the home – including no smart phones, TVs, or computers in bedrooms – and limit their children’s total screen time to one to two hours of high-quality content each day in a public area of the home.
Question: What do you think about the new over the counter (OTC) hearing aids? They seem to be a LOT less expensive than prescription hearing aids, but do you get what you pay for?
Answer: The new FDA-approved OTC hearing aids that hit the market in October 2022l are an attractive alternative to millions of Americans with hearing impairments. These new hearing aids can be purchased without a hearing exam, a prescription, or an appointment with an audiologist.
The savings can be significant. Jim Miller, of Senior Savy writes, “The average cost of an OTC hearing aid is about $1,600 per pair, which is about $3,000 less than the average price of a prescription hearing aid. But sorting through all the different options and styles can be confusing.” Here are some tips Jim provided recently:
OTC hearing aids are available online and at many pharmacies, electronics stores, and other retailers that carry health care devices. Some that currently carry OTC hearing aids include Best Buy, Costco, CVS, Hyvee, Walgreens, Walmart, and Victra Verizon.
But which brands should you consider?
A reliable resource is available from the National Council on Aging (NCOA), a nonprofit organization that advocates for older Americans. Their online reviews, found here, can help you choose the right aid. They recently assembled a review team that spent more than 5,000 hours researching, testing, and interviewing customers about OTC hearing aids. They can help you cut through all the options by coming with a list of winners based on such criteria as affordability, style, and fit. They also review Best Buy, Costco, and Walgreens hearing aids. You can get more details and links to these products here.
Walt Larimore, MD, has been called one of America’s best known family physicians and has been named in the “Guide to America’s Top Family Doctors,” “The Best Doctors in America,” “Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare,” and “Who’s Who in America.” He’s a former Vice President and Physician in Residence at Focus on the Family and the American Life League has named him a “Rock-Solid Pro-Life” awardee. He’s also an award-winning medical journalist and the best-selling author of over 40 books. He and his childhood sweetheart and wife of nearly 50 years, Barb, have two adult children and reside in Colorado Springs. You can find Doctor Walt’s health blog at www.DrWalt.com and follow him on Facebook at “DrWalt.com”. Have questions for Dr. Walt? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright WLL, INC. 2024. This blog provides healthcare tips and advice that you can trust about a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.