5 health products that might be a waste of money

Published: February 13, 2016
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Naturally, all of us want to look and feel our very best most of the time. Unfortunately, there are some everyday health items that we use for this purpose that do little more than wasting our hard-earned cash. As compiled from Reader’s Digest, consider rethinking the following medicine cabinet staples. We promise you won’t regret it!

Mouthwash

If you brush twice a day, floss and visit the dentist for check-ups, you probably won’t be needing mouthwash as such. “Most mouthwashes are only effective at the very surface,” explains dental surgeon, Dante Gonzalez. “If plaque and bacteria are allowed to build up on the teeth and tissues, the mouthwash is not very effective in penetrating into the plaque.” Orthodontist Thomas Connelly, also shares that, while mouthwash does kill bacteria, the effects don’t last very long. Also, the alcohol dries out your mouth, which can actually increase bacterial growth. If you do want to swish, pick a product that’s right for you. Those with cavity-fighting fluoride, for example, aren’t great if you have a gum disease.

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Vitamin C supplements

Thinking of popping mega doses of Vitamin C to keep the common cold and pesky cough at bay? Dr Mark Levine, a researcher at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, told Reader’s Digest that popping vitamin C supplements will basically just give you expensive urine. To get protection from cancer, heart disease, age-related macular degeneration and more, the best evidence comes from studies where people consume vitamin C naturally in their diets — not through supplements. “The body works very hard to absorb low amounts of vitamin C,” Dr Levine says. “But as the dose goes up, you absorb much less and you excrete the extra vitamin C through your urine in a matter of hours.”

Pricey sunblock

When it comes to protection against UV rays (responsible for skin cancer and wrinkles), you don’t always get what you pay for. In its 2013 review of sunblock lotions and sunscreens, Consumer Reports found that the least effective sunscreens also happened to be the priciest. Of the most top-rated sunscreens, three of them were much cheaper generic store brands. Nearly all dermatologists acknowledge that we are not good at applying sunscreen properly, which greatly diminishes its protective abilities. This might change if we buy sunscreen that we can afford to apply generously and regularly — ideally every two or three hours if you’re planning a day at the beach.

Q-Tips or cotton swabs for ears

“Buy Q-Tips if you want to make your ear doctor rich,” says Stephen Rothstein, MD and clinical associate professor of otolaryngology at NYU. Wax may look and feel nasty but be kind to yourself and resist the urge to scoop it out with Q-Tips. For one thing, your body makes the wax for a reason: It works as a lubricant, defends against foreign objects and even possesses antimicrobial properties. Cotton swabs or Q-Tips can push the wax too far into the ear canal, where it can harden and create a blockage and ultimately, affect your hearing. Yikes!

Eye-drops for redness

You can turn to these fun-sized, eye-care staples when you wake up looking like a zombie but experts advise against using eye-drops on a regular basis. Mark Melrose, an emergency physician and owner of Urgent Care Manhattan, suggests that eye-drops can mask a more serious underlying problem, such as dry eyes, allergies or irritation from contact lenses. These can, ultimately, lead to more severe problems. Eye-drops can even make matters worse, triggering persistent redness because your eyes have grown used to them. If your eyes look bloodshot and irritated, see a doctor first to figure out if there’s any underlying issue, advises Melrose.

Umnia Shahid

Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2016.

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