Some hospital units have set up handshake bans because too few healthcare workers wash hands well enough to keep from spreading germs. The general public is even worse at washing hands, which has caused spread of serious disease. Some experts say handshakes foster important human connections and oppose bans. Experts discuss and describe what it takes to wash hands well enough to be “clean.”
Dr. Mark Sklansky, Professor and Chief, Division of Pediatric Cardiology, UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital and UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine
Donna Cardillo, registered nurse and inspirational speaker, “The Inspirational Nurse”
Dr. Pam Marquess, Atlanta pharmacist
Dr. Wilma Wooten, Public Health Officer, County of San Diego (CA)
Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are making crops grow bigger & faster. However, researchers have found that these crops contain significantly lower levels of protein, iron, zinc, and other important nutrients, potentially endangering nutrition for hundreds of millions of people. Experts explain the effect will get worse as CO2 levels continue to rise, and what might be done to combat the problem.
Dr. Sam Myers, Principal Research Scientist and Director, Planetary Health Alliance, Harvard University
Dr. Kristie Ebi, Director, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Univ. of Washington
Some people who seek repeated plastic surgery are afflicted with a mental illness, body dysmorphic disorder, which distorts their view of their own appearance. Experts discuss symptoms and how the disorder may be treated, though few with the disorder agree to psychological treatment.
Dr. Elliot Hirsch, Los Angeles plastic surgeon
Dr. Angela Fang, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School and psychologist, Massachusetts General Hospital
Before a medication is released to the public, it’s safety and effectiveness must be put to the test. Clinical trials are a key part of this process, but experts say drugs are being proclaimed safe without enough attention on how the impacts differ between men and women.
Dr. Teresa Woodruff, Director of the Women’s Health Research Institute at Northwestern University, suggests the example of the drug Ambien, a common prescription sleep aid that was taken off shelves because of adverse events in women. Even though it was observed that there was a difference in how long it took for the body to clear the drug in men and women, the difference in efficacy was never quantified. The drug was later returned to shelves, but received new labeling instructing women to take smaller doses than men.
Dr. Melina Kibbe, Professor of Surgery at Northwestern University, says this is the first time a drug had explicitly instructed different dosing for men and women, but questions how many more drugs need to be reconsidered. Only one third of research subjects in clinical trials are women and, even if a study has exactly fifty-percent of each sex, issues still remain. “The problem is if you include both sexes but you report the data in aggregate then you won’t know if a drug has say a better effect in men versus women,” Dr. Kibbe explains.
Even before human clinical trials, research is conducted on predominantly male cells and animals, with very little focus on the variable of sex of the subject. Dr. Kathryn Sandburg, Director of the Center for the Study of Sex Differences in Health, Aging and Disease at Georgetown University, says researchers fall victim to the fall belief that there’s less variable in studying male subjects than female because of hormonal cycles. The opposite turns out to be true. Males actually have more variables to control. Recently, there’s been a push to have equality in research subjects, but private pharmaceutical companies are still not required to adhere to these guidelines.
Dr. Teresa Woodruff, Director, Women’s Health Research Institute, Northwestern University
Dr. Melina Kibbe, Professor of Surgery, Northwestern University
Dr. Kathryn Sandburg, Director, Center for the Study of Sex Differences in Health, Aging & Disease, Georgetown University
The unusual name will certainly get your attention, but fortunately Exploding Head Syndrome is not life-threatening or physically harmful. In a recent study more than 10 percent of people experienced the syndrome, a sleep disorder in which crashing or exploding sounds make it difficult to fall and stay asleep.
Dr. Brian Sharpless, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Washington State University and author of Sleep Paralysis, explains that instead of the auditory neurons in the brain shutting down in the process of going to sleep, they all fire at once causing the loud noises. The syndrome is not totally understood, but Dr. Sharpless believes it is related to sleep paralysis, the feeling of being awake but unable to speak or move, which involves a similar misfiring in the brain. There’s a wide range of symptoms, from an isolated episode once a week to daily extreme fatigue. here are a few medical solutions to the problem, mostly off-label uses of medication, such as antidepressants or psychotropics.
Walter Michka, a health blogger, has experienced Exploding Head Syndrome first hand. Although it might be a little scary at first, for him the syndrome is something he can live with. Learn more about the syndrome or related sleep disorder by visiting Dr. Sharpless’s website, www.briansharpless.com
Walter Michka, health blogger and exploding head syndrome sufferer
Dr. Brian Sharpless, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Washington State University and author, Sleep Paralysis