Health Care Investing in a Bear Market

Last week was a quiet one around our Baltimore office...

While the Health & Wealth Bulletin team took a break to spend Thanksgiving with our families, we shared some of our favorite issues of the year with you, including...

Doc's Magic Formula 2.0
The Military's Music Doctors
How Versailles Made Visitors Sick

But our dear readers were as busy as ever, and we came back to a full inbox. So today, we're jumping straight into some of the questions you've been asking.

As always, keep sending your comments, questions, and topic suggestions to [email protected]. We read every e-mail.

Q: What's your take on investing in health care when the overall market isn't doing well? – V.T.

A: During a recession or bear market is one of the best times to invest in health care.

For example, back during the 2000 tech crisis, when the S&P 500 Index fell 25% (and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell far more)... Health care stocks rose nearly 15%.

But we always need health care – in good times and bad. And that means this massive industry is going to keep growing no matter what. Every single one of us is a customer. That's why, in the U.S. alone, health care is a $4 trillion market (and growing).

It's complex, expensive, and confusing to access and pay for. It's also full of emotion and can be scary at times. That keeps a lot of investors away from the industry.

But these reasons are exactly why we want to invest.

Today, there is a tremendous buying opportunity in health care stocks, with many great businesses trading for ultra-low valuations. I recently went on record saying this is one of the best moneymaking opportunities I've seen in my decadeslong career.

If you haven't watched my full presentation yet on what I'm calling a "recession loophole" that could save your portfolio and return steady 20%-per-year growth in the lowest-risk stocks if you act immediately, click here to watch it now.

Q: This might be a stupid question... what's the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia? – B.E.

A: Not a stupid question at all, B.E., as they're intertwined. The main difference is that dementia is a broad term for a gradual loss of mental abilities that's severe enough to interfere with your daily life, while Alzheimer's disease is just one type of dementia. Affected cognitive abilities for dementia and Alzheimer's include memory, attention, reasoning, speech, time management, and control of emotions or impulses.

Dementia is typically broken down into four different subtypes. They are vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's is the most common subtype, affecting nearly 7 million Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also estimates that Alzheimer's is the fifth-leading cause of death for older folks and the seventh-leading cause of death for all U.S. adults.

Both dementia and Alzheimer's are devastating diagnoses with no known cure. But you have the power to reduce your risk of developing either of these conditions. It comes down to actively managing your physical and mental health... whether it's meditating to reduce anxiety and stress or even flossing each night. My team and I recently covered two tricks to keep your memory sharp. And don't forget to check out these three brain-boosting foods to lower your risk of developing Alzheimer's.

Q: Hi Doc and team at Health & Wealth Bulletin.

First, kudos to all of you for such excellent research and advice. It really does make a difference, so deserves a big thank you. Please keep it up!

Now a question – it's about the effect of HIIT exercise on tinnitus: For years, I have been keeping moving through HIIT on an exercise bike which really gets my pulse rate up and leaves me feeling quite fit for my age. However, for years, I've been aware of a low level of tinnitus – a faint, but persistent high-level "hssss" in my case. Not enough to impede my hearing, but always there.

However, this hsss sound becomes much more noticeable when I do the HIIT and for a few minutes right afterwards until it fades away back to the normal low level, so I'm wondering if the exercise regime is going to permanently damage my hearing. I do the HIIT at home, so no loud noises that could be causing damage.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated. Kind regards. – N.B.

A: Thanks for the kudos, N.B.!

For readers who aren't familiar with the terms, tinnitus is that ringing in your ears with no apparent external cause, while HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. Most of us have experienced ringing in our ears before, but some people have the ringing constantly. Around 50 million Americans experience tinnitus.

Unfortunately, its causes – and the best ways to treat it – are largely unknown. But experts agree around 90% of tinnitus cases are due to prolonged exposure to loud sounds.

I know you said you exercise at home, but noise might still be the culprit. For example, many of us listen to loud music while we exercise. If you do, especially if it's through headphones or earbuds, this can cause temporary ringing in your ears. In this case, the simple solution would be to turn the music down.

If you're exercising quietly, the research is more ambiguous. Most of the studies we found were too small or lacked a solid link between exercise and tinnitus. Still, it's plausible that there could be a connection...

Strenuous exercise can cause increased pressure in your ears, which might lead to some temporary ringing afterward. It's similar to what lots of folks experience on an airplane during takeoff. The next time you exercise, do your ears feel clogged? Are you holding your breath and overstraining yourself? If so, that could be the cause of your temporary tinnitus.

Now, tinnitus itself isn't the cause of hearing loss. Rather, it's a symptom of an underlying problem. As we've mentioned, the hissing sound you experience could be the result of listening to loud noise during a workout or straining too much. But this post-exercise ringing isn't damaging to your hearing.

We know that exercise is good for our hearing in general. A study published last year in the Journals of Gerontology found that folks who live sedentary lifestyles are more likely to experience hearing loss in their 60s than those who exercise regularly.

But while I'll reemphasize that there isn't good research out there, some health experts believe that overstraining while exercising could cause permanent inflammation in your inner ear.

If you're worried, we recommend keeping track of your hearing. The National Hearing Test is a simple screening test you can take in the privacy of your own home for an $8 fee. You register online, pay, and receive a code to use. Then get on the phone, call the number, and punch in your code. It only takes about 10 minutes and evaluates both ears. You can learn more about it right here.

If you experience a decrease in your hearing over time, follow up with your doctor.

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
December 2, 2022