Health Buzz: Public Option Looking Less Likely and Other Health News

Ragweed allergy season is here; how to improve your sleep quality and maybe even beat insomnia.

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Prospects Dim for Health Insurance "Public Option"?

The plan to offer a government-run health insurance option as part of health reform may be losing steam. A compromise might entail a nonprofit health cooperative instead of a public option, the New York Times reports. On Sunday, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, said in a CNN interview that the public option is "not the essential element" for reform, according to the Times. A bill including a nonprofit health cooperative is being developed by the Senate Finance Committee; such a co-op would be run by consumers rather than the government. Its developer, Kent Conrad, said on Fox News Sunday, "The fact of the matter is, there are not the votes in the United States Senate for the public option," the Times reports. "There never have been. So to continue to chase that rabbit, I think, is just a wasted effort."

U.S. News columnist and physician Bernadine Healy has written extensively on the subject of health reform. Earlier this month, she listed 4 details of the health reform bill that promise to radically change some people's health experiences—and everyone's relationship with the government. In July, she proposed a two-part plan to fix the health insurance system. She has also discussed why doctors take issue with health reform and wrote about 7 ways health reform will affect Americans.

Ready for Ragweed Allergy Season? These 8 Tips Can Help Fight Pollen Allergy

Most regions in the United States experience ragweed growth between mid-August and the first frost. Each ragweed plant makes about a billion pollen grains per season—and with the help of the wind, those grains can travel up to 400 miles, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Experts suggest getting a jump-start on symptoms before you start to feel lousy. U.S. News offers 8 tips for making this ragweed season as painless as possible. Tips include showering before bed, which means scrubbing pollen from your face and hair so that it doesn't wind up on your pillow. Call your doctor now for an appointment if you're out of prescription medication refills rather than waiting until you're miserable and fighting the crowds in the doctor's office, advises one expert.

Consider these 6 ways to prevent or treat seasonal allergy symptoms, and for updates, see U.S. News's page on allergies and asthma.

10 Ways to Get Better Sleep (and Maybe Cure Your Insomnia)

A study released last week identified a rare genetic mutation that might allow people who carry it to require less sleep. Researchers found that a mother and daughter most likely need only an average of six hours of sleep each night because of a mutation on their DEC2 gene, which is partly responsible for regulating sleep. The majority of people without the mutation need more sleep than that to avoid grogginess the next day.

In March, U.S. News's Lindsay Lyon detailed 10 ways to get better sleep. While pharmacies offer lots of sleep remedies, one expert recommends trying a different approach. Medications like Benadryl and Tylenol PM can induce next-day grogginess—what some patients call "sleep hangovers," she says. Instead, try taking a hot bath or sipping a warm cup of chamomile tea; either will raise your core body temperature, which leads to a drowsy feeling as you cool down. Read more.

Here are 10 reasons not to skimp on sleep. And check out an expert's view on why sleep matters to your health.

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