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Medical Notes: Week of August 2, 2020

A look at the top medical headlines for the week of August 2, 2020 including: A study showing that telehealth is taking off in the United States. Then, a study in the Journal of Hospital Infection showing some mask materials are better than others. And finally, a new study shows that the “mommy brain” stereotype is wrong.

“Electroshock Therapy:” Not What You See In The Movies

Electroconvulsive therapy still has a stigma, with the reputation of being a painful, disturbing procedure that wipes out memories and, if movies are to be believed, even creates zombies. Experts explain the reality—that ECT is a quiet procedure that provokes a short brain seizure, releasing huge amounts of neurotransmitters to reset the brain in what is the quickest and most dependable treatment for severe and often suicidal depression.

PTSD In Children

Mental health experts once believed that children were too young to remember traumas well enough to suffer much from post-traumatic stress disorder. Now they know that children as young as 2 or 3 can be affected, often for the rest of their lives. An expert discusses PTSD in children and its treatment.

Public Health Officials Resigning Under Pressure

State and local public health officials have been under pressure like never before in the COVID-19 pandemic, as citizens and elected officials push back against tough restrictions designed to curb the virus. Some officials have even been threatened. Feeling their bosses don’t have their backs, a higher proportion of officials are quitting than normal, and these essential jobs will be hard to fill with qualified health experts.

Medical Notes: Week of July 26, 2020

A look at the top medical headlines for the week of July 26, 2020 including: Evidence is piling up that face masks cut the risk of getting COVID-19 by up to 65 percent. Then, a study finds that, at least in the laboratory, a common asthma drug can prevent the formation of tangles. Then, A study finds that cord blood helps some children with autism improve their social communication skills. And finally, if you feel especially insecure about your romantic partner… it may be all in your genes.

Dealing With The Rise In Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is increasing as America ages. However, fewer people are being tested for bone density and are agreeing to treatment because of side effects of osteoporosis medications. Experts discuss the devastating effects of increased broken bones and what can now be done to prevent them.

Medical Notes: Week of July 19, 2020

A look at the top medical headlines for the week of July 19, 2020 including: Do-it-yourself COVID swabs could be just as accurate as those taken by a medical professional. Then, researchers say access to air conditioning is far more important than officials have planned for… especially when some people are still in isolation. And finally, for many people, one casualty of the coronavirus pandemic has been the grocery store they used to shop at.

Orthorexia: Overdoing A Good Thing

Therapists report an increase in orthorexia, a not-yet recognized eating disorder where people become fixated on eating only healthy things and/or exercising hours per day. It can take over an afflicted person’s life and result in physical symptoms much like anorexia. Experts discuss diagnosis and treatment.

Medical Notes: Week of July 12, 2020

A look at the top medical headlines for the week of July 12, 2020 including: An analysis showing states that stuck to tough shelter in place rules are now recovering. Then, your blood type could be a more factor that can raise your risk of contracting coronavirus. And finally, Americans are less happy than they’ve been in at least 50 years. Scientists at the University of Chicago have been surveying happiness nationwide since 1972… and the results have never been worse.

Contact Tracing And Quarantine: How Far Can We Go?

The next step in beating the COVID-19 pandemic may be stepped up contact tracing and quarantine of people who’ve had contact with Covid-positive individuals. However, many people see that as too expensive and intrusive to be practical. An expert discusses how it might work, and how it might not.

Autism And Substance Abuse

While most people who contract COVID-19 survive, those who suffer often-changing symptoms for months on end can only wonder when they’ll get well. A survey of members of a long-haul survivors support group find that many who don’t have “textbook” symptoms suffer poor medical care and discrimination as a result. Two women who operate the support group discuss the issues.

Medical Notes: Week of July 5, 2020

A look at the top medical headlines for the week of July 5, 2020 including: Shelter in place rules have brought the economy to its knees but researchers say it was worth it. Then, people who’ve never smoked make up about 25 percent of those who develop the lung disease COPD. Plus, resetting the body clock may be as simple as exercise. And finally, people have joked about the “COVID 15,” the supposed weight gain of people staying home during the pandemic. But a new study shows it’s a real thing.

Face Masks And Breathing

Some people insist that wearing a face mask smothers them and makes them feel like they’re not getting enough air. An expert discusses what might be going wrong and lays out the basics on how to wear a mask without needing to come up for air.

Long-Suffering Covid Survivors

While most people who contract COVID-19 survive, those who suffer often-changing symptoms for months on end can only wonder when they’ll get well. A survey of members of a long-haul survivors support group find that many who don’t have “textbook” symptoms suffer poor medical care and discrimination as a result. Two women who operate the support group discuss the issues.

Medical Notes: Week of June 21, 2020

A look at the top medical headlines for the week of June 21, 2020 including: A study finds a much lower death rate among coronavirus patients placed on a ventilator. Then, everyone’s wiping down surfaces with disinfectant these days…but they may become contaminated again within seconds. Then, a new study shows that one reason older men have a higher risk for COVID-19 is because they’re not worried about it. And finally, if you’re counting on your child to grow out of being a picky eater…it may never happen.

Protests Amid The Pandemic

With thousands of people demonstrating in the streets after the death of George Floyd, health experts are concerned that the crowds, shouting, and lack of masks may contribute to a spike in COVID-19 cases. However, with many locations also “opening up,” they say a spike is inevitable, to be made worse by protests, but teasing out what’s responsible becomes more difficult. Experts discuss.

Disease Risk And Inheritance

Scientists have learned that the habits and environments of our parents and grandparents can have a strong effect on our health and longevity as a result of imprinting on egg and sperm cells. An expert explains.

Misunderstanding Stuttering

Stuttering is an extremely misunderstood disability. Many stutterers go to great lengths to avoid the words or phrases that trip them up, and are often successful in keeping their disability hidden. Yet then it may be mistaken for other problems. Experts explain, using former Vice President Joe Biden as an example.

Medical Notes: Week of June 14, 2020

A look at the top medical headlines for the week of June 14, 2020 including: People who recover from a coronavirus infection often still have a long way to go to recover their mental health. Then, a study that shows sick leave is a good way to slow the spread of diseases like COVID-19. Then, doing good for other people is contagious. And finally, if you’re feeling stressed and anxious about the pandemic… You can bet your dog or cat is feeling it just as much.

Genetic Testing And Life Insurance

It’s illegal for health insurers to use genetic testing to discriminate against policyholders. However, life insurers can and do discriminate on that basis if the test is in your medical file. Private testing lets patients know their risk for many diseases without landing in health files. Advocates want to make it illegal for life insurers to also discriminate on this basis, but it may end up with higher costs for everyone. Experts explain.

Medical Notes: Week of June 7, 2020

A look at the top medical headlines for the week of June 7, 2020 including: Researchers are working on an app with a sensor to test for COVID-19 using only a drop of saliva. Then, life was more stressful than it was 25 years ago… and for middle aged people, it’s much more stressful. Plus, A study shows that emergency room visits for children for mental health disorders has increased 60 percent of the last 10 years. And finally, a study shows that homeschooled adolescents have significantly lower abdominal strength and endurance than public school kids even though their BMI’s were the same.

Why Women Are Genetically Stronger

Women may have been known through the centuries as the weaker sex, but researchers have learned that they are anything but weak. Their 2 X chromosomes are both active and cooperate with each other, especially in immune response. An expert discusses new findings on their genetic superiority.

Covid And Choirs

Scientists have discovered that singing is an exceptionally effective way to spread viruses through the aerosolized particles it expels, which may travel much farther than the six foot safety zone many people follow. This means choruses and choirs may not get back to “normal” after the COVI-19 pandemic until much later than most activities, and only with rapid, effective testing or a vaccine. Experts explain.

Medical Notes: Week of May 31, 2020

A look at the top medical headlines for the week of May 31, 2020 including: A newly developed smartphone app is remarkably effective at predicting if a person is infected with COVID-19. Then biomarkers for A-L-S or Lou Gehrig’s disease can be found in a person’s teeth in the first decade of life. Then, a study shows that changing the way physical therapy is done can improve strength by an additional 30 percent. And finally, The labels on drinks for kids don’t help adults figure out which ones are real fruit juice and which are sugary, artificially flavored imitations.

Androgens And COVID-19

For people under about age 70, COVID-19 is much harder on men than on women, especially those with strong male characteristics like scalp balding and plentiful body hair. A group of researchers has a theory as to why—that male hormones provide the virus with an entry into the cell. One of the researchers discusses what that could mean in terms of treatment.

The Shrinking Human Jaw

Over the last 8,000 years, the human jaw has been getting smaller due to an increasingly soft diet and a lack of jaw exercise. The result is an epidemic of crooked teeth and serious health consequences, as two experts explain.

Medical Notes: Week of May 24, 2020

A look at the top medical headlines for the week of May 24, 2020 including: Scientists have come up with a blood test that screens for a panel of biomarkers for pancreatic cancer that’s nearly 92 percent accurate. Then, a new study shows that heart valve blockages in men and women may be caused by completely different factors. Plus, a report is out indicating Americans are feeling depressed right now. And finally, doctors and nurses can’t go back and forth like they used to, and that can create communication problems. One solution at some hospitals? baby monitors.

The Loss Of Rituals

Spring is the season of rituals—prom, graduation, commencement and weddings. Social distancing has taken most of these rituals away. An expert discusses the importance of rituals in our mental health and why it’s OK to grieve their loss. She also discusses how changing rituals can be successful save for the tragic loss of funerals.

Women, Alcohol, And Isolation

The COVID-19 lockdown has triggered increased alcohol use in many people, and an alcohol use disorder in some. Help can be difficult to access, as face-to-face counseling and group sessions have been halted. For women, it can be even more difficult, as they are much more comfortable in more rare single-sex sharing situations. Two experts discuss today’s dangerous alcohol triggers and how to seek help.

Medical Notes: Week of May 17, 2020

A look at the top medical headlines for the week of May 17, 2020 including: People with heart attacks and other health emergencies are avoiding the emergency room for fear of contracting COVID-19. Then, a study showing that artificial intelligence can predict with about 80 percent accuracy which moderately-infected COVID-19 patients will get worse and which ones won’t. Next, a study saying that having your first child by C-section may lead to impaired fertility. And finally, men, if your wife says she needs just a little more sleep, believe her.

The Economy After The Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a quicker economic crash than we’ve ever seen. Opening the nation too fast will likely trigger a “W” shaped recovery with wide swings of growth then decline. Either way, the effects will last for years. Experts discuss likely scenarios.

Telemedicine Finally Gets Its Chance

Doctor’s appointments via smartphone have been available for some time but were little used except in remote areas due to insurance reluctance. Now telemedicine has been forced on us and on insurers by COVID-19 restrictions, and many providers swear by them. Three experts discuss.

Medical Notes: Week of May 10, 2020

A look at the top medical headlines for the week of May 10, 2020 including: A number of new treatments for COVID-19 are showing promise and could be fast-tracked if clinical trials continue to show good results. Then, another trial of 53 severely ill patients reported in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 68 percent showed clinical improvement with Remdesivir. Then, viruses like COVID-19 that jump from animals to people are going to become more common. Then, If you’re having trouble sleeping these days, you’re far from alone. And finally many people are concerned about getting COVID-19 from food they buy, but scientists say the risk of that is very, very low.

Maintaining Mental Health During the Lockdown

Mental health is difficult to maintain when people are required to stay inside at home. In fact, we’re asked to engage in activities that normally would indicate mental distress. A noted psychologist with the NIH discusses ways to stay mentally healthy during the pandemic lockdown.

Nursing Homes Try to Fend Off COVID-19

Nursing homes have been a hotbed of fatal COVID-19 infections. The virus was loose in many of them before they could even know it. An industry expert discusses what nursing homes are doing now to keep the virus out and their patients safe.

Medical Notes: Week of May 3, 2020

A look at the top medical headlines for the week of May 3, 2020 including: By now, most of us are familiar with the main symptoms of a COVID-19 infection—fever, cough, and respiratory distress. But doctors are learning that the virus may also attack the heart and brain. And finally, last year we told you about a “smart toilet seat” that could diagnose congestive heart failure. Now scientists at Stanford University have put diagnostic tools in the toilet itself.

Medical Notes: Week of April 26, 2020

A look at the top medical headlines for the week of April 26, 2020 including: A blood test for many types of cancer has been a long-sought goal of researchers, and now they’re much closer. Then, a team of faculty and students at Rice University has developed an automated bag valve mask ventilator using $300 worth of parts off the shelf. And finally, a study from the University of Michigan finds that if you talk to yourself in the third person by name, you’ll be less likely to cave in to tempting foods.

Rules For Who Lives, Who Dies in the Pandemic

A lack of ventilators potentially puts doctors in the position of deciding which of their COVID-19 patients get a ventilator and live, and which ones don’t get one and die. New rules for making such decisions have been released which are designed to be fair and independent. The designer of the rules explains.

Opening America Again: When Is It Safe?

Many Americans are impatient with social distancing as a result of COVID-19 despite the success of the tactic. However, reopening the country too quickly could allow the virus to come roaring back, resulting in thousands more deaths and even more economic damage. Two experts explain how the rollout should happen to get us back to work safely.

Staying Fit While Staying Home

The national effort to shelter in place has closed gyms and led many people to complain of weight gain. Two exercise experts discuss how people can maintain fitness at home with no equipment.

Will COVID-19 Bankrupt The Healthcare System?

Hospitals are scrambling to get extra equipment and outfit more beds and ICU units for COVID-19 patients. Their treatment is time-consuming and expensive. At the same time, hospitals’ lucrative elective procedure business has largely been eliminated. Will the combination bankrupt hospitals? Two experts who have studied the crisis discuss.

Medical Notes: Week of April 19, 2020

A look at the top medical headlines for the week of April 19, 2020 including: If you’ve been taking the drug Ranitidine for reflux or ulcer prevention, the FDA says stop. Then, a new study shows that parents are yelling at their children more since most of us have been ordered to stay home. And finally, with COVID-19 testing in such short supply… why not let a dog do it?

Foreign Accent Syndrome

People who suddenly speak with what sounds like a foreign accent often have a brain injury due to a stroke or other trauma. Experts discuss the syndrome and chances of recovery.

Domestic Abuse And The Pandemic

With hundreds of millions of Americans sheltering at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the odds and fear of domestic abuse are rising. The leader of a noted shelter and counseling program discusses the increase, the difficulty of counteracting it during a national lockdown, and what people can do to cope.

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