9 Tips to Sleep Better Tonight

Sleep is essential to our health and well-being. HealthTap doctors advice getting at least 7-8 hours every night. And while all of us strive for a good night’s rest, most people have problems getting their shut-eye, with 48 percent of Americans reporting bouts of occasional insomnia.

Want to sleep better tonight? Follow this checklist created by Dr. Elizabeth Finley Belgrad.

CheckboxIdentify an ideal wakeup time that meets your needs & you can maintain (Once)

CheckboxTake 30 minutes to relax before bed (30 min daily)

CheckboxAvoid alcohol or smoking (Once)

CheckboxAvoid TV, video, or computer after dark (Once)

CheckboxExercise daily (Once)

CheckboxMake sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and undisturbed (Once)

CheckboxAvoid caffeine or stimulants (Once)

CheckboxTake 250 mg of magnesium (Once)

CheckboxConsider using melatonin (Once

Try these tips out for the next week and let us know how they work for you!

For more checklists on sleeping better, visit HealthTap today!










Wellness Series: 7 Tips for Healthy Outdoor Fun

Change is in the air! With Labor Day marking the unofficial transition from summer to fall, let’s tap into the positive energy of transformation! New friends, exciting learning opportunities, and fall colors are in the cards. The cooler fall weather presents the perfect chance for you and your loved ones to reap the health benefits of exercise from outdoor activities like camping, hiking, cycling, soccer, football, running, and more. Whether you plan to hit the trails, roads, or turf, make sure you are well informed with the most personalized and trusted health information from some of the best doctors you can find: the Medical Experts on HealthTap. Let’s check in with them now and find out what they say about the healthiest ways to enjoy the outdoors this Labor Day weekend and beyond.

HikingWhat are the health benefits of walking outside and enjoying nature?

Besides the positive physical and stress-relieving benefits of exercise and fresh air, walking in nature allows us to connect with something much larger than ourselves. On our little treks we can open to the entire web of life, realizing that we are part of it, and can impact it. We can quiet ourselves, which allows us space to perceive with compassion — rather than react automatically.- Dr. Pamela Pappas

How can I avoid blisters on a nature hike?

Bandaids. If you have new shoes break them in before you go. Wear god thick socks, have good fitting shoes that do not have heel slippage and put bandaids on the heels or places you get blisters before you get them. It prevents the friction that causes the blister. - Dr. Cornelia Franz

What mosquito repellents and after-bite treatments do you recommend?

DEET= gold standard of repellents. Use microencapsulated formulation. Max effective at 30%. Lasts about 5 hours. Higher concentrations last longer but not better. 10% lasts about 2 hours. If mosquito burden is high add permethrin to clothes. For aftercare use dab of pramoxine. If many, use spot of 1% hydrocortisone for itching. If very many I use 10 mg loratadine each day in addition. - Dr. Dan Fisher

What should I put in my portable first-aid kit?

Most basic first aid kits have ointment, bandages, gauze, ibuprofen, scissors, tape, instant cold pack, instant heat pack, alcohol rub. You can of course personalize the kit for any medical ailments that you have such as asthma inhaler, epinephrine pen for bee stings, etc.- Dr. James Chen

organic fruitHow long should I wait to exercise after eating?

Depends upon your food choices. If it’s a full meal then 1 or 2 hours to avoid gut distress. Digestion causes increase in blood flow to your stomach from your muscles. This would cause cramps if you exercise too intensely, thus the stay out of the water after lunch! However, many can eat a light meal, exercise then a small recovery meal. For me, PB&J preceding a morning run works great.- Dr. Judy Orton

What should I eat after exercising?

After exercising, you should probably just drink fluids. Wait one hour before consuming any food, so that the body has a chance to calm down and assimilate the food you eat. The trick is to eat properly so that when you exercise, you burn fat and make muscle!- Dr. Wm. Marcus Spurlock

Why is vitamin D important for my Health?

Traditionally, Vitamin D has important role in bone health but is increasingly recognized as a hormone with role in various body systems including skin, immunity, etc…. Sun exposure is an easy, reliable way for most people to get vitamin D. Exposure of the hands, face, arms, and legs to sunlight two to three times a week for about one-fourth of the time it would take to develop a mild sunburn will cause the skin to produce enough vitamin D. The necessary exposure time varies with age, skin type, season, time of day, etc. Still, vitamin D deficiency is very common.- Dr. Moinuddin Mokhashi

Our HealthTap doctors are giving you full license to have a blast outside. So take a break and enjoy the sunshine and all the outdoors has to offer. Call your new friends and go for a nice walk, or pull that bike and helmet out of the garage and discover parts of your neighborhood that you never knew were just around the corner. Wherever you go and whenever you have your own health questions, the doctors on HealthTap are here to help. Until then, live healthy and have fun!

AppRx: Top 10 Doctor-Approved Fitness Apps

fitness FITEvery week, we bring you AppRx—high-quality health, fitness and wellness apps reviewed and recommended by HealthTap’s network of 62,000 top doctors.

In this week’s edition, we take a look at 10 Best Fitness Apps. Get help monitoring and tracking your fitness progress, no matter what exercise you’re doing. These apps specialize in a number of activities, ranging from running, to cycling, to Zumba, and more! Want to hear the best part? Most of them are FREE.


AppRx | RunKeeper | HealthTap1. RunKeeper

Description: Join the more than 28 million people who are using RunKeeper to turn their phone into a personal trainer in their pocket! Track your runs, walks, bike rides, hikes, and more using the GPS in your iPhone. Track your fitness activities, measure your performance over time, and share with your friends. Learn More.

Recommended By: 165 Doctors

Available On: iOS and Android - FREE

2. FitbitAppRx | Fitbit | HealthTap

Description: Live a healthier, more active life with Fitbit, the top app for tracking all-day activity, workouts and health. NOW track runs stats, hikes and routes with MobileRun and stay on top of your calorie goals with faster, smarter food logging. Use this app on its own to track basic activity and runs, or connect with Fitbit’s line of activity trackers and the Aria Smart Scale to get a complete picture of your daily stats, including steps, distance, calories burned, sleep, weight, and more. Learn More.

Recommended By: 74 Doctors

Available On: iOS – FREE

 3. Nike+ Running

AppRx | Nike+ Running | HealthTap

Description: The Nike+ Running App tracks your runs and helps you reach your goals — whether its running your first race, or setting a new personal record. From first-time runners to marathon veterans, you\’ll get the measurement and motivation you need to run farther and faster than ever before. Welcome to the worlds greatest running community. Learn More.

Recommended By: 65 Doctors

Available On: iOS and Android – FREE

4. Fitness BuddyAppRx | Fitness Buddy | HealthTap

Description: With 1700+ unique exercises at your disposal, Fitness Buddy will revolutionize your training regimen. With this app, you will find the workout tracking process simple and easy in order to sustain your motivation and enforce your commitment to your fitness goals. Learn More.

Recommended By: 63 Doctors

Available On: iOS – $1.99

5. Men’s Health Workouts

AppRx | Men's Health Workouts | HealthTapDescription: Men’s Health Workouts puts the power of the world’s largest men’s magazine in your hand, featuring exclusive workouts from the world’s top strength coaches, athletes, and fitness experts. Powered by a one-of-a-kind circuit training interface, and featuring step-by-step instructions, high quality photos, and advanced logging features, Men’s Health Workouts makes it easier than ever to sculpt new muscle, burn fat fast, and build your best body ever. Learn More.

Recommended By: 53 Doctors

Available On: iOS – $1.99

AppRx | Runtastic GPS | HealthTap6. Runtastic GPS

Description: Runtastic GPS Coach is your personal tracking app and all-in-one exercise app for running, biking and other outdoor and indoor sports activities. The Runtastic app uses the built-in GPS to map your activities and track your progress (distance, time, speed, calories, altitude, pace, etc.). Show your friends how active you are and share your success with them. Learn More.

Recommended By: 54 Doctors

Available On: iOS – FREE

7. Runtastic PedometerAppRx | Runtastic Pedometer | HealthTap

Description: Everyone should walk 10,000 steps per day – how many steps are you walking? Whether you’re walking, hiking, or backpacking for enjoyment, to improve your general health and fitness, or as part of a specific diet and weight loss routine, the Runtastic Pedometer counts every step you take and helps you reach your workout goals. This high-quality app will meet users’ expectations for their walking, hiking, fitness training, and weight loss needs. Learn More.

Recommended By: 54 Doctors

Available On: Android – FREE

8. Zumba Fitness

AppRx | Zumba Fitness | HealthTapDescription: The world of Zumba Fitness is now in the palm of your hand! Find everything related to the Zumba program for free in the new, easy-to-use mobile app. Search classes by location and facility name, view locations in list or map view, filter your searches by class type, day, time or distance, save and easily access your favorite Zumba classes, set calendar reminders so you don’t miss the party, access Zumba Instructor profiles and contact them for class details, and share classes and invite your friends to join your fitness-parties. Learn More.

Recommended By: 46 Doctors

Available On: iOS and Android – FREE

AppRx | Map My Ride | HealthTap9. Map My Ride

Description: Turn your iPhone into the ultimate cycling computer.Easily track route, speed, distance, calories, time with audio alerts and much more! Basic and advanced ride tracking capabilities for novices thru competitive cyclists. Training and tracking features to suit recreational cyclists, bike touring, commuters, all the way through competitive racers. Great for training for group rides, century rides, and everything in between. Learn More.

Recommended By: 47 Doctors

Available On: iOS – FREE

10. Fitocracy Free Daily Workout TrackerAppRx | Fitocracy Free Daily Workout Tracker | HealthTap

Description: Fitocracy motivates you and helps you succeed at fitness and level up in real life. We make exercise fun! Track your workouts, earn points, unlock achievements, beat quests, and slay the laziness dragon. Join the best fitness community on the planet and become the person you were meant to be. Learn More.

Recommended By: 47 Doctors

Available On: iOS – FREE

For more Fitness apps, visit HealthTap today!  And stay tuned for next week’s edition, Top 10 Health Apps!


9 Things You Need to Know About the West Nile Virus

mosquito2On Monday, August 25, animals in Florida testing positive for the West Nile virus hit the news. Shortly after, the first human case of West Nile was reported in Utah.

According to the CDC’s website, there have been 210 cases of West Nile Virus in the United States this year, causing 11 deaths. Though most cases of the virus look similar to and are about as dangerous as the flu, a small percentage of cases can be life threatening.

We’ve compiled 9 important facts about West Nile Virus to keep you informed about what the virus is, how it is transmitted, and more.

What is West Nile Virus (WNV)?

“West nile virus is an infection transmitted by mosquitoes. If you become infected with west nile virus, you may not experience any signs or symptoms or you may experience only minor ones, such as fever and mild headache. However, some people who become infected with west nile virus develop a life-threatening illness that includes inflammation of the brain.” – Dr. Ahmad M. Hadied

What does WNV look like?

“Most people don’t have symptoms with west nile virus. Mild symptoms occur in about 20% of people; which can include fever, eye pain, generalized body aches, headaches, feeling really tired, possible enlarged lymph nodes or rash. About 1% have severe illness which can include neurologic problems. Possible symptoms include: seizures, severe headache w stiffness of the neck, high fever, confusion, weakness.” – Dr. Heidi Fowler

What time of year am I more likely to contract WNV?

“Virus activity correlates with mosquito activity: is highest from july to october, and in warmer climates such as the southern us, virus activity is high year-round. Age and immune status do not seem to affect susceptibility to infection. However, older or immunocompromised individuals are at higher risk of neuroinvasive disease. There is no clear evidence of a predilection for either sex.” – Dr. Pedro Hernandez


How is WNV transmitted?

“Typically, west nile virus spreads to humans via infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. You can not get infected by touching or kissing a person with the virus. In some cases, the virus may be spread by organ transplantation and blood transfusions.” – Dr. Michael Fisher

How can I tell if a mosquito is carrying WNV?

“There is no way to recognize a west nile virus mosquito from a non virus carrying mosquito. They all look same and bite same. I am sorry there is no way to tell the right kind. I know it isn’t a big help at this time. May be in future we’ll have more information. Just please avoid all kinds of mosquitos. Thanks.” – Dr. Hashmat Rajput

How common is WNV in other parts of the world?

“West nile virus was first identified in 1937 in Uganda in eastern Africa. It was first discovered in the United States in the summer of 1999 in New York. Since then, the virus has spread throughout the United States and appears to have more cases in the great plains, especially in the fall. West nile virus is one of the most geographically widespread arboviruses in the world with cases occurring.” – Dr. Lance Kurata

How common is it for mosquitoes to transmit WNV?

“A person’s risk of contracting west nile is very low, and less than 1% of those infected develop serious illness from the virus. The most high risk population for developing a serious illness from west nile virus are elderly and those who are immunosuppressed. It is important for everyone to protect themselves from mosquito bites to minimize the risk of infection.” – Dr. Geoffrey Rutledge


What are the main differences between WNV and malaria?

“Both are primarily transmitted by mosquitoes and cause fever but wnv is viral and can cause meningitis or encephalitis and malaria is protozoan, causing fever, anemia and enlarged spleen. Millions die of malaria yearly, not so much for west nile.” – Dr. Larry Lutwick

Will antibiotics help with WNV?

“No antibiotics are approved for use against west nile virus. Attempts at using ribavirin, immunoglobulins & interferons to treat wnv patients have been inconclusive. Numerous new medications are in development now. Fortunately 80-90% of people who are infected with wnv have no symptoms or disease. The elderly are at highest risk. Severe wnv infections have decreased in the past 10 years.” – Dr. Booth Wainscoat

For more information, visit HealthTap’s West Nile Virus page, or ask our doctors a new question here.

10 Quick Camping Tips

HealthTapCamping, hiking, backpacking, and other outdoor activities can be exciting and healthy, but it is important to take precautions to ensure your safety. We’ve compiled 7 Quick Camping Tips so you’re ready for the outdoors, no matter what your adventure is.

Can you offer some tips on how to make hiking a safe fitness activity?

“Plan your hiking in advance, determine how much you can handle in one hike, the amount of elevation, the terrain, and the distance. Also were comfortable hiking shoes.” – Dr. Foster Carr

What are the most common animal bites while camping?

“Mosquitos by a landslide. Of animals with teeth, probably raccoons – they are not shy about rummaging through peoples’ belongings.” – Dr. Anatoly Belilovsky

What are some ways to prevent mosquito bites?

“Insect repellents that contain deet (n, n-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) preferably 20-50% or picardin on all exposed skin are very effective mosquito repellents.Permethrin treated clothing is also very effective. Wear protective clothing, use mosquito netting if sleeping outdoors, avoid being outside between dusk and dawn.” – Dr. Michael Ein

What questions should I ask my doctor about camping?HealthTap

“What medications should I take along? What should be in my first aid kit? Where should I go if sick?” – Dr. Martin Raff

How should I wash my face while camping?

“You can bring pre-moistened towelettes that are made for that purpose (or just bring kiddie wipes) if there is not a clean water source near by.” – Dr. Heidi Fowler

How can I keep bandages dry while camping?

“A cast or bandage protector will keep dressings dry, but the best advice is to not go camping or expose the dressing to elements or water until all healed.” – Dr. Eric Lullove

What are the best shoes to wear when camping?

“Wear thick sole shoes when out for hiking or campHealthTaping.” – Dr. Mohammed Parvez

How do I prepare for a long hike?

“1. Gradually work up to the distance (get in shape). 2. Wear quality walking shoes (already been broken in). 3. Wear thin sock under absorbent sock to avoid blisters. 4. Bring moleskin to cover hot spots on feet before blisters form. 5. Plenty of water &water filter kit. 6. High energy food. 7. Light comfortable pack. 8. Warm clothes &good shelter. 9. Map+compass+signaling tools. 10. 1st aid kit.” – Dr. David Carl Houghton

Am I more susceptible to giardiasis when camping?

“Animal contamination of lakes and ponds may make camping a riskier event than sitting at home. Access to purified water and proper boiling of your utensils can lower your risk if you use lake or well water for cleaning. Boiling your water for 10 minutes will eliminate the threat if you are unsure of the water.” – Dr. James Ferguson

What is giardiasis?

“It’s a protozoan parasite that affects the upper GI tract. You get it from ingesting infected stool (through contaminated food, water, or sex). It causes diarrhea, nausea, and bloating. It’s treated with Metronidazole or tinidazole.” – Dr. Joel Gallant


Got another camping question? Ask our doctors today!