This Black Friday, Fill Your Cart with These Doctor-Approved Healthcare Essentials.

By Rhiannon Collette

Planning on hitting the shops today to score some sweet Black Friday deals? While health and wellness products may not necessarily top your wish list, the busiest shopping day of the year is the perfect time to stock up on deeply discounted essentials to keep your family well.

Along with the typical gifts that fill your cart this year, Dr. Charles Whitehead, a family medicine physician at Memorial Hermann Medical Group Memorial City, recommends scooping up a few other products that promote healthier lifestyles for everyone in your household – and that’s especially important during cold and flu season.

Digital thermometers

Gone are the days of squinting to discern the numbers etched into the side of a mercury thermometer. Today’s digital thermometers are not only easier to read – a huge benefit for parents trying to capture a sleeping child’s temperature – they are also considered much safer.

“We actually don’t recommend families use mercury thermometers at all anymore because there’s a risk they could break and release the toxic mercury,” Dr. Whitehead said. “If you’re still using an old and outdated mercury model, I suggest getting rid of it and replacing it with a new one.”

There are plenty of digital options available on the market, from a basic model that can be used in the mouth and armpit (or rectum for babies), to ear thermometers and temporal artery thermometers, which both use infrared rays to measure temperature.

“The temporal versions are the least intrusive, the simplest to use, and they capture accurate readings, but they can be expensive,” Dr. Whitehead said. “To use them, place the sensor in the middle of the forehead and swipe toward the temples, stopping just at the hairline. Anything greater than 100.4 degrees is considered a fever in a child.”

Cool-mist humidifiers

If you’re suffering from a stuffed-up nose or hacking cough, you might find some relief by adding a little humidity to your bedroom while you sleep. But buyer beware: although you may have grown up with a vaporizer that filled your childhood bedroom with warm mist, those models are no longer recommended because children can burn themselves on the hot water and steam.

Dr. Whitehead recommends that families instead opt for cool-mists humidifiers, which are a safer alternative.

“If you’re planning to use one, make sure you clean it regularly to avoid build-up of mold and bacteria,” Dr. Whitehead said. “Don’t forget to replace the water often and I’d suggest opting for distilled water to prevent mineral deposits.”

Reusable water bottles

Water is the building block of health. Sipping plain water regularly can help keep you trim while also boosting your mood, helping you think more clearly, and preventing constipation and kidney stones.

So how do you make sure you’re getting enough of the good stuff? Try toting around a reusable water bottle wherever you go.

“If you opt for a reusable version, you’ll help keep plastic out of landfills, avoid some of the chemicals in plastic that are potentially cancer-causing and save money on purchasing bottled water,” Dr. Whitehead said. “It’s a win-win!”

There are plenty of options on the stylish and functional market, from durable plastic versions to insulated bottles, stainless steel canisters and even glass decanters.

“Whatever you select, make sure it’s labeled BPA free,” Dr. Whitehead said. “Bisphenol-A, commonly called BPA, is a chemical that some research has shown may cause health problems, so it’s best to avoid it when possible.”

Sunscreen

It may be winter, but sunshine is plentiful in the Bayou City year-round, and that means you should be coating your skin with a protective layer of sunscreen every day.

One in five Americans will get skin cancer at some point in their lifetime. Applying sunscreen daily is your best protection from dangerous ultraviolet rays.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends selecting a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and water resistant.

“If you plan to be outside at any point during the day – and that includes driving in your car – you should slather on sunscreen ahead of time,” Dr. Whitehead said. “Apply enough to cover all exposed skin, which, for an adult, is roughly the amount needed to fill a shot glass. If you’re outside for an extended period of time, be sure to reapply every two hours.”

Memorial Hermann Medical Group Memorial City offers quality primary care with a focus on establishing lifelong relationships with patients. To make an appointment with an MHMG practitioner at the clinic, call 713-242-2222.  You also can schedule an appointment online with ScheduleNow for the MHMG location near you.

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