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Brain Hacking: How to Prep for Emergency Thinking

The prefrontal cortex is used in system 2 thinking.

The prefrontal cortex (in red) is used in system 2 thinking.

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

As I’ve mentioned multiple times, in emergency medicine, it is essential to memorize certain basic rules and techniques to the point that they become second nature—a reflex. “For a bleeding wound, apply direct pressure”; “cool a burn.”

The most obvious reason for this is quick action can prevent further damage. But there’s another reason I’d like to explain: Reflex-like thinking uses a different part of your brain than regular thinking. This allows you to multitask easily; you can treat the immediate problem while at the same time considering what to do next.

However, reflex-like thinking does have a down side. It can lead to incorrect assumptions. So the trick is not to let either type of thinking take over too much. Otherwise, you could get into major problems.

The two types of thinking are today called system 1 and system 2. Doctors use them every day. But you do too. And you can learn to use them for medical purposes.

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Respected Task Force Updates Guidelines for Diabetes Screening

Undetected Diabetes and Survival: Don’t Risk It

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

You’re stuck in a bad storm and probably can’t get medical help for several days. You begin feeling really weak—maybe a bit nauseated. The weakness is not going away. Actually, when you think about it, through your currently fuzzy brain, you realize you’ve been feeling dehydrated and constantly thirsty for weeks now, but you’ve been urinating more than ever—even several times a night. Something’s up.

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Experts’ 10 Best Home Remedies—Using Stuff Around Your House

The best home remedies from doctors and other experts that use stuff you already have lying around the house.

Editor’s note: A version of this article was published in My Family Doctor magazine.*

When you’re in a pinch, try these top, expert-suggested remedies—using things you already have around the house!

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Surviving Prostate Cancer: Why Early Detection Can Be Important

Surviving Prostate Cancer: Why Early Detection Can Be Important

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Sometimes people forget that not only prevention but early detection of serious illness is one of the best survival techniques. I recently thought of this when reading up on a few of the latest recommendations for prostate cancer, the leading cause of cancer in men.

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Assign Me a Post: What’s Your Biggest Survival Medicine Worry?

Assign Me a Post: What’s Your Biggest Survival-Medicine Worry? | The Survival Doctor

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Picture the time you’re preparing for: you can’t get professional medical care for a few days—or longer. Maybe you’re hiking or homesteading off the grid. Or a snowstorm has shut down roads, or an earthquake has caused mass casualties.

Or maybe you’re living in a long-term disaster situation that’ll keep society out of commission for a while.

When you think of this scenario, what’s your number-one fear, survival medicine-wise?

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2 Medical Procedures You Can Do at Home—and Avoid the ER

Here are two tricks to remove a ring from a swollen finger and find a tiny speck in your eye.

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

These two medical techniques are among the most popular I’ve ever shared here. They’re little-known but easy to master, and they often solve a couple of daunting, frustrating problems.

Since I published them over two years ago, readers have told me again and again that these tips have allowed them to avoid expensive doctor visits. So I thought they were worth recapping, to make sure you have them in your back pocket. They could save you time, money, and lots and lots of frustration.

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Coming Next Week: Everything You Want to Know About Fish Antibiotics

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

There will be no post this week because we’re putting the final touches on a special investigative report we’ve been working on for weeks.

It’s about a topic that’s often speculated about in the survival community: the possibility of using fish antibiotics in humans. Are these medicines safe for people? Are they effective?

We found some surprising, never-before-reported information. Stay tuned for more. (And if you’re not subscribed, sign up to the left to get a reminder when it’s published!)

8 Lifesaving Treatments That Should Be a Reflex

8 Lifesaving Treatments That Should Be a Reflex

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

If you’ve been reading The Survival Doctor for a while, you’ve learned a lot about survival medicine.

Yet all the long-term treatments in the world are useless if the victim dies in the first few minutes. So it’s important to continually return to the basics, to reinforce those quick, life-saving skills I believe are most important to remember.

After all, saving a life or limb in the short-term is often as simple as taking one easy step—but doing it quickly enough to make a difference. People die all the time just because no one around them knew the fix that would have turned things around.

To become a hero at-the-ready, memorize these eight quick treatments and tips. Share them with your friends and family so they’re prepared in case you’re the one who needs care.

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Medical and Self-Help Treatment Options for PTSD

Soldiers of the Connecticut National Guard's 143rd MP Co, currently stationed in Afghanistan, say a prayer for the families and the community of Newtown, CT. (US National Guard photo)

This is part 2 in my series on PTSD. See part 1, “How the Brain Is Physically Changed With PTSD,” here.

Soldiers of the Connecticut National Guard’s 143rd MP Co, stationed in Afghanistan, say a prayer for the families and the community of Newtown, CT. (US National Guard photo, December 18, 2012.)

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Say someone is robbed at gunpoint, or they’re walking down the street and their best friend is shot and killed in front of them. We think to ourselves, “Poor person. How can they ever cope with something like that?” Certainly we expect they’re going to need counseling.

Soldiers in a war zone may face these same events over and over, for days or weeks upon end. Others are abused behind closed doors.

These people, and many others, are at high risk for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Because so many people have PTSD in wartimes (like right now), we learn a lot during these times about treating the disorder, not only in soldiers but in the public at large.

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How the Brain Is Physically Changed With PTSD

How the Brain Is Physically Changed With PTSD | The Survival Doctor

Paratroopers from 3rd Platoon, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division prepare to load a CH-47 Chinook Helicopter in the Bermel District of the Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan, Oct. 13, during an air-assault mission to detain a known militant. (Photo by U.S. Army Pfc. Andrya Hill, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs.)

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

With Memorial Day just past, I thought I might write on a fairly common medical problem that affects many soldiers coming back from war: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The reason I find this appropriate for The Survival Doctor is soldiers are not the only ones who can be affected. This same disorder can hit anyone who has experienced a major trauma or trauma of a loved one.

Let me emphasize I do know that Memorial Day is meant to remember the men and women who have died in defense of our country. We should never forget and always honor their sacrifice, not only on Memorial Day but every day. But I think we should also not forget the permanently altered lives of the loved ones they left behind [… continue reading]