Five Fun Facts About Healthy Halloween Snacks

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513234365October is National Dental Hygiene Month! It’s probably not a coincidence that this falls on the same month as Halloween, a celebration notorious for sugary treats and candy-filled feasts. The American Dental Hygienist Association reminds us that while it’s okay to indulge in the avalanche of sweets that comes with Halloween parties, we still need to maintain healthy dental habits to prevent tooth decay and disease. Are there healthy alternatives to Halloween candies? Here’s what our HealthTap doctors have to say.

1. Is one type of candy better than another?

Dr. Pamela Lindor weighs in saying that dark chocolate may be slightly better.  But really, “Anything in small amounts, or for special occasions, is fine.” “Dark chocolate contains higher levels of antioxidants than other forms of chocolate however, chocolate is not considered a ‘health food’,” adds Dr. Douglas Fronzaglia And one final advice about chocolates: Dr. Lonna Larsh says that “If your chocolate is less that 70% cocoa, it is dessert. If it is >70%, it is therapeutic in small quantities. Chocolate is usually very high in saturated fat, which is why you should only eat small quantities.”

2. What are some healthy alternatives to holiday candy?

176810850Dr. Anthony La Barbera recommends the following:

  • Sugar free treats.
  • Limited sugary treats.
  • Fruit and nuts.

For other healthy snacks, Dr. Yolanda Wade recommends:

  • Cheese sticks/cubes
  • Yogurt
  • Edamame
  • Hummus

3. Is it okay to eat a piece of candy every now and then?

Dr. Ratna Dhingra says that “A candy now and then is fine.”  She goes on to emphasize that complex sugars—like those found in fruits such as cherries and strawberries—are better. While Dr. Neigatha Graney advices that “Enjoying candy in limited quantity is allowed. Processed foods are often sweetened with table sugar (sucrose), fructose (fruit juices), or corn syrup and offers minimal nutrition or fiber but lots of calories. Complex sugars found in fruits, vegetables offer nutrients, fiber & more. Do limit Carb intake to 45-65% daily calories.”

4. Is sugar-free candy okay?

LittleWitchCostumeDr. Rachel Chastanet says yes, in moderation.  “Sugar Free does not mean free of calories, and sugar free candy generally is made with sugar alcohols.  Sugar Alcohols are poorly and incompletely absorbed by the intestines, so eating a lot will give you bad gas and diarrhea. Taken in moderation, sugar free candy is better for your teeth than regular candy, and is a useful tool for diabetics and people on low carbohydrate diets.” “Depends on sweetener,” says Dr. Melissa Young. “Some sugar free candies are calorie free but some are not. Part of it depends on the sweetener used. Sugar alcohols can still raise your sugar. And some sugar free foods have just as many calories as the “regular” version, so they may not raise your blood sugar as much, but “lots” will cause weight gain and eventual increase in blood sugar. “lots” of anything is bad.”

5. What is the best kind of holiday candies to get that do the least damage to children’s teeth?

Dr. Arnold Malerman says to give chocolate as an occasional treat. “Stay away from hard candy…sticky candy and starches that linger on the teeth. Drink a glass of water to help clear the sugars off the teeth. Remember, all things in moderation.” One final advice from a dentist: “The least damaging candies are sugar free and sweetened with xylitol. You may be able to find them at a health food store in your area. Too much xylitol can cause stomach discomfort so don’t overdo it. Uncoated gummy candies are alright due to their non-sticky properties.” - Dr. Charles Kattuah

Have more questions about dental health? Ask a HealthTap doctor for free or schedule a live consult with a dentist today!

Tips to Improve Health Literacy

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HealthLiteracyMonthOctober is Health Literacy Month! “Health Literacy,” according to HealthTap Medical Expert Dr. Jeff Livingston, “refers to a person’s ability to understand health information, which includes things like determining medication doses, judging the quality of health information, and understanding the risks and benefits of treatment.”

There’s a significant gap between how health issues are communicated, and the ability of most people to understand them and to take appropriate action. Low health literacy is associated with medication non-adherence, condition mismanagement, increased hospitalization rates, and higher healthcare costs.

Consider these stats:

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that 9 out of 10 adults currently lack the necessary skills to properly manage their health and prevent diseases.
  • A Columbia University School of Nursing study found that 40 percent of patients with pacemakers and defibrillators did not property understand their cardiac health, including how the devices work or what to do in the event of irregular heartbeats.
  • About 50% of the 2 billion prescriptions filled each year are not taken correctly due to forgetfulness, dosage or duration confusion, ambivalence, or lack of understanding of the drug’s importance in the patient’s treatment regimen.

Dr. Reid Blackwelder, a Board Certified Family Medicine Doctor from Kingsport, Tennessee adds, “the biggest issue is usually when the provider does not check to see what literacy level the patient has, and uses words or phrases that are not understood. People often are embarrassed to admit they did not understand, so important parts of diagnostic or treatment decisions aren’t clearly reviewed.”

What you can do about it:

  • Be proactive about your health. Before speaking with your doctor, make a list of your symptoms and when they started, and write down all the medications you currently take—prescription and over the counter.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If something is not clear with the doctor, nurse or pharmacist’s instructions, ask them to use more familiar language, explain thing further, or write things down.
  • Stay connected to your healthcare provider. Make sure you have the contact numbers of your healthcare providers in case you have questions in between visits.

You can also use a service like HealthTap to reach one of our 63,000+ doctors to ask general health questions for free or schedule live virtual consults 24/7 via secure HD video or text chat with HealthTap Prime.



15 Myths & Facts About the Flu

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Child with fever | HealthTapFall is finally here and flu season is well underway. And when it comes to dealing with those aches, chills, and fever, we’ll often try anything to help us feel better faster. From drinking ginger tea to taking Vitamin C, there’s no shortage of advice on the internet. But what’s myth and what’s fact?

Our HealthTap doctors are here to set the facts straight and point you to the road to wellness. In this week’s post, can you tell what’s Myth and what’s Fact? Scroll down for answers and click on the links to learn more.

Test Your Knowledge: Myth or Fact?

1. The Flu Vaccine causes the flu.

2. Child running a fever | HealthTapChildren can spread the influenza virus for longer periods than adults.

3. If you get the flu, you can’t get it again during that flu season. 

4.  Chicken soup is good for colds and flu.

5. Antibiotics cure the flu.

6. If you’re allergic to eggs, you shouldn’t get a flu vaccine.

7. The flu causes itchy, watery eyes, and a runny nose.

8. One of the easiest ways to avoid the flu is to wash your hands regularly.

9. Babies as young as 6 months can get a flu shot.

10. Swine flu is transmitted by pork products.

11. Gargling with a teaspoon of salt dissolved in water helps soothe sore throats.

12. The flu is the leading cause of death from vaccine-preventable diseases.

13. A flu shot will help to keep you from getting a cold.

14. Cold weather causes the flu and colds.

15. Influenza is the 8th leading cause of death in the U.S.

Still have questions? Our doctors are here to help! Learn more about the flu on HealthTap or ask a doctor about the flu now.

(Answers: 1. Myth, 2. Fact, 3. Myth, 4. Fact, 5. Myth, 6. Myth, 7. Fact, 8. Fact, 9. Fact, 10. Myth, 11. Fact, 12. Fact, 13. Myth, 14. Myth, 15. Fact)

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Flu Symptom Checklist

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“Influenza (aka “the flu”) is a contagious respiratory viral illness that can cause mild to severe illness including death. There is treatment available to decrease symptoms, but it is better to prevent the flu is by getting the vaccine every year,” states HealthTap Medical Expert Dr. Henry Selke.

Can you tell the difference between a cold and the flu?

Here are symptoms to look out for:


Flu Symptoms


Need some help? Head over to HealthTap and ask one of our 63,000 doctors!


AppRx: 7 Best Baby Apps for Android

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Baby sleeping soundlyEvery week, we bring you AppRx—high-quality health, fitness and wellness apps reviewed and recommended by HealthTap’s network of 63,000 top doctors.

In this week’s edition, we highlight the 7 Best Baby Apps for Android. From helpful checklists and reminders, to baby tracking apps, to white noise apps to help sooth your baby to sleep. Know of another baby app not included in this list? Let us know in the comments section!

 1. My Baby Today

AppRx | My Baby Today | HealthTapDescription: What does every new parent need? Support. Advice. Reminders. Reasons to laugh. Keep it all by your side 24/7, along with a personalized daily calendar, helpful checklists and even a built-in photo album. The free My Baby Today app is here to help you simplify daily life and be the best parent possible through each stage of your little ones development. And its brought to you by BabyCenter, the trusted parenting resource supporting 25 million moms worldwide.

Recommended by: 63 doctors

Price: Free

2. Baby Connect

AppRx | Baby Connect | HealthTapDescription: Baby Connect is the most comprehensive baby tracking application on the Market. It has graphical reports and trending charts, weekly averages, medicine, vaccine, timers, notifications, emails, .csv export, an easy to use interface, unlimited data, and allows you to exchange information in real time with your spouse, babysitter, nanny or daycare wherever they are.

Recommended by: 33 Doctors

Price: $4.99

3. Baby Care – Track Baby Growth

AppRx | Baby CareDescription: Baby Care – Track Baby Growth helps you keep track of your baby’s natural sleep cycle, eating schedule, and bowel movements. Offers multiple reminders to help busy moms and/or caregivers stay on top of feeding schedules. You can even use it to track baby’s mood, vaccinations and medicine, and growth(weight, height, head circumference).

Recommended by: 16 doctors

Price: FREE

 4. The Wonder Weeks

AppRx | The Wonder Weeks | HealthTapDescription: Picking up on the international bestselling book, The Wonder Weeks, and more than 35 years of international scientific research, this app will keep you informed about the (mental) leaps and bounds and the fussy phases of your baby — any time of day or night. By knowing what is going on inside the head of your baby, you can help him to make the leap more easily and stimulate his development.

Recommended by: 10 Doctors

Price: $1.69

 5. Happy Baby

AppRx | Happy Baby | HealthTapDescription: Happy Baby is one of the Must-have pregnancy app for any parent-to-be. Features:

  • Due date: Calculate your due date;
  • Knowledge: Get weekly updates of your baby’s growth, track your symptoms;
  • Add a record: Record any bits and pieces during pregnancy or with your baby via: Photos, Texts, Videos and Recorder;
  • Milestone: List all the record by time and share these with your friends!

Recommended by: 7 Doctors

Price: FREE

6. KidNorm

AppRx | KidNorm | HealthTapDescription: This app is not only used by practicing doctors, but is an official pediatric reference of medical schools and various medical institutions. It is the only app which covers developmental milestones from newborn to age 18. This app also provides growth and sleep pattern information as well as primary and secondary tooth development. In addition to pediatric vital signs, it also covers medical equipment sizes, such as suction tubes and intubation blade sizes for all pediatric ages.

Recommended by: 7 Doctors

Price: $2.99

7. Baby Sitter Seal: Lullaby

AppRx | Baby Sitter Seal: LullabyDescription: One of the best new apps for new mothers to help sooth crying babies. Many research results show that white noise is efficient in relaxing newborn babies. This app features the four most efficient white noises after multiple testing. Pediatricians have approved this app for its safety. The app also features a seal that releases stars, notes, drops of water, and bubbles when touched. UI is intuitive enough for children aged between 1 and 2 years.

Recommended by: 5 doctors

Price: FREE