On Your Mind... Joint Pain, COVID-19, and Allergies

Last week, we did things a little differently at Health & Wealth Bulletin. I wanted the team to take a break from the coronavirus craziness.

So we sent you our favorite "blasts from the past," age-old, timeless wisdom on the best ways to maintain both your wealth and your health – no matter what's going on elsewhere. (If you missed any of them, you can catch up on our website.)

But that means we missed out on our usual Friday Q&A. So today, we're taking the time to answer some of your most pressing questions.

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

Let's get right to it...

Q: I read your piece on what to do with our stimulus checks from the government. But I still haven't received mine... – S.C.

A: So much for the government helping us with those stimulus checks. Lots of folks thought they'd get their stimulus checks pretty quickly. But it turns out, your check might not reach you until September...

The IRS announced that it started sending checks the week of April 20. But they're only sending about five million per week... which means the last ones might not reach folks until September.

The checks get sent in order of income level, so if you're closer to the higher limit ($99,000 per year for individuals, $198,000 for couples), you'll be one of the last to get a check. One way to get it faster is by using direct deposit. If you file taxes and use the direct deposit feature, you already got the stimulus money in your account. But if you don't use that feature for your taxes, you can still go online and provide your information now to help speed up your payment. You can set that up right here.

Q: I have taken supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin for decades. I take it to enhance the cartilage in my joints, particularly my knees. I am still very active, physically, because of the positive effects. Could this present problems for me? – D.T.

A: The evidence for glucosamine and chondroitin working is all over the place. Some studies find them effective, while others show they only work as well as a placebo. In fact, a 2016 study out of Spain had to stop in the middle of the experiment because the people taking the supplements developed worse joint symptoms than those on the placebo.

There are some side effects to keep an eye on. You might have seen the recent news that Australia has urged folks to stop taking them. That's based on the allergic reactions seen in some people – the supplements contain shellfish, so if you have an allergy you could be in trouble. There's also some blood-thinning effects, so if you're taking a prescription blood thinner, you should stop taking the supplements.

Personally, I hate supplements and always recommend finding other lifestyle changes that will help instead. For knee pain, one of the best treatments is regular walking exercise. You can read more on that and three other knee-pain recommendations in my issue, here.

Q: This last week you said you were not planning to do a weekly coronavirus update this week. Please keep doing them. I find your insight and information extremely helpful.

Thanks for all you do. – M.Y.

A: Don't worry, M.Y. We took a break last week, but we're back at it this week with our 10th COVID-19 briefing. This week, we turned our attention to tracking the reopening and seeing what people are up to.

If you haven't watched it yet, you can do that here.

Q: This time of year, my allergies always give me headaches. Any suggestions? Thanks, Doc! – K.O.

A: As we mentioned last week, seasonal allergies can lead to headaches. But your sinus congestion might not be the culprit.

One way to recognize a sinus headache is if you bend over and the pain gets worse. That's from the pressure on the sinuses. You might also get symptoms of a sinus infection like a fever, excessive mucus, or congestion.

But allergies often serve as a trigger for migraines. That means you can experience hay fever symptoms like congestion and excessive mucus. You might also feel a throbbing headache in your forehead if a migraine starts. Although migraines typically appear only on one side of the head, they can also cause pain in your forehead, similar to a sinus headache.

Also, if it's your forehead that hurts, it might not even be allergies at all. It could be a tension headache instead.

Tension headaches have plenty of different causes, but usually not allergies. However, if you're feeling sick and suffering from allergies this time of year, chances are you're also stressed. And stress is a common cause of tension headaches.

Tension headaches have a lot of causes: Dehydration, poor posture, or sore muscles – even sleeping the wrong way on your neck can trigger a headache the next day. Tension headaches feel like a tight pain or pressure that often runs in a band around your head (including your forehead), but also affects the back of your head, particularly just above your neck.

If you're suffering from headaches this time of year, you can try a Neti Pot (as I mentioned last week) to clean out your sinuses. And make sure you're staying hydrated. As we listed above, dehydration causes many of the headaches we get.

Adding these fixes to your routine will help ward off many headaches, along with the other unpleasant symptoms of allergy flare-ups.

What We're Reading...

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

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
June 5, 2020