February 12, 2017

Does Laughing Gas Work For Managing Labor Pain?

Nitrous Oxide, better known as laughing gas, is quickly gaining interest in the United States as an option for expectant mothers to manage labor pains [1]. A recent study discovered that the use of nitrous oxide is not a very beneficial pain reliever when giving birth.

Although this innovative method may serve as an interesting and somewhat helpful method to manage labor pain, an epidural remains the most effective method. A study by Dr. Caitlin Sutton, an obstetric anesthesiology at Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California, points out that while nitrous oxide is gaining popularity, the majority of patients ended up requesting an epidural as well.

Furthermore, the research justified its claim by reviewing the medical records of 4700 women who delivered vaginally and only 148 of those women used nitrous oxide as their method of a pain reliever. On average, there was no change in the pain scale (0-10) before and after nitrous oxide. However, there is some promise in using nitrous oxide and more research will have to be performed to determine which women would benefit most from using laughing gas during labor.

[1] “‘Laughing Gas’ May not Ease Pain during Childbirth” Preidt, Robert. WebMd. Retrieved From: http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20161024/laughing-gas-may-not-ease-pain-during-childbirth-study

February 1, 2017

Depression: The Most Common Illness in the World

The World Health Organization recognizes depression as the most common illness in the world and estimates that 350 million people are affected by depression globally [1].  Depression is a condition where the severity of the condition varies greatly from person to person.

Depression is a mental health disorder in which the patient faces sadness and loss of interest in various aspects of their life. These feelings often result in an unhealthy condition of the patient’s mood. It is common for people to confuse common fluctuations in the mood with depression. These fluctuations are part of a normal and healthy life; therefore depression cannot be classified by fluctuations in the mood over a very short period of time. The standard period of a depressive episode is usually 6-8 months to be classified as depression [2].

Since depression is a very complex disease, it is extremely difficult to narrow down a generalized cause. The condition varies patient to patient and a series of factors are observed in order to diagnose a patient. For instance, genetics and biological changes in neurotransmitter levels may cause depression. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the brain that affect chemical changes in the body which cause a change in mood. Also, a family history of depression elevates the chances for the condition, as it is a genetic condition. Looking into family history in cases of depression is a common procedure for family physicians. Furthermore, there are environmental and physiological factors that may contribute to depression. These factors are often determined by social and personal factors a person may face in everyday life.

These causes are often self-diagnosed, but it is vitally important that patients seek a medical professional’s attention in order to further classify the type of condition that they may be facing. Being in a bad mood doesn’t always signify depression, so it is best to get a professional opinion.

[1] Depression. World Health Organization. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/

[2] Depression: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments. MacGill, Markus. Medical News Today. Retrieved from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/kc/depression-causes-symptoms-treatments-8933

January 18, 2017

There Could Be A Definite Way To Detect Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition in which many important mental functions are inhibited. With the onset of Alzheimer’s, a patient may experience mild confusion and memory loss. However when the condition becomes more severe, patients may suffer dramatic personality changes and severe memory loss. This disease is categorized as a type of dementia, which is a common term used to describe brain disorders that cause the loss of intellectual and social skills. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s accounts for about 60-80% of the cases of dementia; making Alzheimer’s the most common form of dementia [1].

In order to get a better understanding of the disease, researchers have observed how genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors affect the brain. They believe that a combination of these factors have an effect on the brain, which further leads to development of the disease [2]. However in fewer than 5 percent of the cases, Alzheimer’s is caused by a genetic change which almost guarantees that a patient will develop this disease. In order to achieve a better understanding this concept, researchers at the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) attempt to understand the alterations that occur in early stages of the disease. One factor they examined is the alterations on bones, in attempt to offer biomarkers for earlier detection that does not involve examining the brain [3].

By definition, a biomarker can be defined as the presence of a substance which indicates the presence of a disease [4]. In this case, the researchers at NEOMED use the mouse model of Alzheimer’s to link between early bone loss and brain degeneration. Their aim was to move a step closer to determining biomarkers such as bone density loss, which could help in early identification of the development of Alzheimer’s.

In the mouse model, the researchers from NEOMED measured the bone density in htau mice before they developed significant signs of abnormality. They found that bone density was significantly reduced when the mice developed this disease. With a further analysis of the effects on the brains of the mice, researchers were able to conclude that there is a “significant link between early bone loss and brain degeneration” [3].

In lieu of this finding, researchers suggest that more research needs to be conducted to identify the same molecular mechanisms in humans. If these studies yield conclusive results, researchers will be able to act on developing the logistics for using bone density as a biomarker for the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Sources:

[1] What is Alzheimer’s? Alzhiemer’s Association. Retrieved from: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp

[2] Alzheimer’s Disease. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/home/ovc-20167098

[3] Bone Loss May Be Linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Paddock, Catherine. Medical News Today. Retrieved from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314492.php

[4] What are Biomarkers? Strimbu, Kyle and Tavel, Jorge. US National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078627/

January 4, 2017

How Junk Food Marketing Leads to Unhealthy Diets

Selective focus on the right cheeseburger

In the 21st century, technology has become an unavoidable part of children’s lives. From educational tools, to watching videos and playing games, children are surrounded by screens of all sorts and sizes. These devices are a perfect media outlet for companies to advertise a number of products to children including snacks, toys and apparel to children.

As a part of this impactful demographic, children have influence over how their parents spend.  Much of these expenses are processed junk foods that children ask their parents to buy each time they visit the grocery store.  These foods are intentionally placed near the checkout tills and within a child’s reach; this forces situations where a child is easily able to access them and ask their parents for that particular treat. Furthermore, the effect of these foods on their health is monumental. An article by Time Magazine quoted UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Oliver De Schutter, stating that “unhealthy diets are now a greater threat to global health than tobacco” [1].

This may be due to the fact that junk foods are highly processed and contain large amounts of carbohydrates, unnecessary sugar, unhealthy fats, and extra sodium. Consuming ingredients with little nutritional value has a negative impact on your body. In addition, many of these junk foods are very addictive and tempt a person to keep consuming them. It is important that people control these temptations and are selective in choosing the foods they intend to consume. Unhealthy diets have a direct link with the function of many major body systems such as the cardiovascular and digestive systems.

[1] U.N Official Says Junk Food Just as Bad as Cigarettes. Alter, Charlotte. Time Magazine. Retrieved From: http://time.com/104999/u-n-official-says-junk-food-just-as-bad-as-cigarettes/

 

December 21, 2016

Drug Company’s CEO Salary Rises 6 Times as Prices Increase

ceo salary rise drug price affordableEpiPen is known to be vitally important to people who have extreme allergies and those at risk of anaphylaxis. The EpiPen was taken over by the pharmaceutical company, Mylan, in 2007 and has been increasing their prices drastically over the last eight years. The $100 for a pair of EpiPens in 2007, is now being sold for a little over $600!

There have been many executives who have benefited from this ordeal but Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Heather Bresch, has seen her compensation increase over 600% over the past eight years. While numerous patients and families have struggled to afford the drastically increasing expense of EpiPens, CEO Heather Bresch has enjoyed a “total compensation of $18,931,068” [1]. Although there has been no open investigation of Mylan’s pricing structures, it has received public scrutiny from numerous politicians.

When the company first acquired the rights to the EpiPen, it was considered a failing enterprise. Having developed the product to a satisfactory level the company subsequently began increasing its price. This was seen as a fair business move, but hiking up the prices to such an outrageous number is unfair to numerous families who struggle to afford a crucial medication to treat a common and easily controlled condition.

Furthermore, Mylan has also purchased a drug company in the Netherlands for the sole purpose of paying lower taxes. Mylan was further criticized  for its profit-seeking actions in an article by Michael Hiltzik. Hiltzik pointed out that Mylan is unpatriotic and an “inversion”, which is defined as a “U.S. company cuts its tax bill by acquiring a foreign firm and moving its tax domicile to the acquired company’s homeland” [2]

The EpiPen is not merely an allergy medication that avoids minor symptoms, yet it is an auto-injector which is used in life or death situations. This is why numerous patients find the price increases outrageous, because such a crucial piece of equipment should not be made so unaffordable.

[1] CEO of EpiPen Maker Mylan Sees 671% Compensation Increase in 8 Years. Willingham, Emily. Forbes. Retrieved From: http://www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham/2016/08/23/ceo-of-mylan-pharmaceuticals-sees-671-salary-increase-in-8-years/#e1eb0b44b236

[2] Another reason to hate Mylan, which jacked up the price of life-saving EpiPens: It’s a tax dodger. Hiltzik, Michael. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved From: http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-mylan-inversion-20160823-snap-story.html

December 8, 2016

Avocados: An Excellent Way to Fight Cholesterol

hass-avocoado-with-slice_zyPwlDO_Lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels are a reality that many adults are challenged with. An abundance of cholesterol causes your blood stream to carry more plaque and cholesterol in your arteries. Excess plaque can create a blockage that causes chest pains and greatly increases the risk of heart attacks and other heart conditions.

The first step to avoid these severe situations is to improve your diet by consuming foods that help lower LDL levels. A recent study that was reviewed by WebMD showed the beneficial effects of avocados on your LDL levels. This comes as a surprise to many people, as avocados are commonly seen as a fatty food, which seems counteractive to combating high cholesterol. However, they are in fact high in monounsaturated fat, vitamins, minerals, fiber, all ingredients that help lower LDL levels. Researchers concluded that “people on a moderate-fat diet who ate an avocado every day had lower [LDL] cholesterol levels than those on a similar diet without an avocado a day or those who were on a lower-fat diet” [1].

Sources:

[1] Avocados Help Lower Cholesterol in some People. WebMd. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/news/20150108/avocado-ldl-bad-cholesterol]

November 1, 2016

How Depression Medication Affects Your Body

Filed under: Depression,health,stress — Tags: , , , , , — drwatson @ 11:24 pm

Depression treatment and symptomsNeurotransmitters are chemicals in your brain that affect mood and emotions. If you suffer from depression, antidepressant pills are a common treatment option. These anti-depressants help with improving mood, sleeping better and increasing appetite. Improving these areas of a person’s life are all are helpful when coping with depression and to help construct a more positive outlook for the patient. It is important that patients are aware of the emotions and feelings they will exhibit when they are going through their depression treatment.

For each person who takes depression medication, the effects may take different amounts of time to manifest. It normally takes a minimum of three to four weeks before a person taking depression medication starts to notice a change in their mood [1].

Antidepressants, like many other medications, have noticeable side effects. These include headaches, drowsiness, weight gain and agitation. With a variety of antidepressants that can be prescribed, side effects will vary greatly and some side effects may be more common in some types of medication. For example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibiters (SSRIs) tend to have fewer side effects. It is important to seek a medical professional is sought before finding an appropriate anti-depressant.

Lastly, the length of these side effects vary from person to person.  In many cases, these effects only last for a few days whereas in others it may take up to a number of weeks. The effects of a certain medication is variable, each person will react differently to a medication and it is important to keep consulting a medical professional to see if an antidepressant is appropriate for a person’s condition. Sometimes the time of day or type of medication may not be suited to a patient and a doctor can help with that diagnosis.

[1] How Your Depression Medication Can Affect Your Life? Greenlaw, Ellen. WebMd. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/antidepressant-effects#1

October 18, 2016

Copper Is The Simple Solution To Hospital Infections

Copper Sink Hospital Health Bacteria InfectionHospitals are a center for bacterial infections; people sometimes leave with a bacterial infection that they did not have before entering the hospital. The 2011 Health Grades Hospital Quality in America Study stated that the medical harm caused in the United States led to over 40,000 harmful errors each day, causing hundreds of millions in damages [1]. It is essential that there are efforts made in order to reduce this number. Some of this can be rectified by maintaining higher levels of cleanliness in a hospital, but there is always human error. Recent studies based on common knowledge has yielded a unique new approach.

In an article by the New York Times, a new study performed by the American Journal of Infection Control was reviewed. It determined that “installing copper equipment in hospital rooms may be a good way to reduce infections” [2]. Historically, copper has been used to sanitize water and clean wounds. Researchers arrived at a more scientific conclusion by comparing the abundance of bacteria on commonly touched equipment made of copper and commonly touched equipment made of more common materials (metal, porcelain, plastic, etc.). After contamination researchers took swabs of this equipment (toilet flush levers, door handles, light switches, etc.) and tried growing the bacteria in the lab.

The results indicated that the copper fixtures had as much as 98% less bacteria on them, and on half of the swabs taken from the copper fixtures did not grow any additional bacteria.

Although hospital staff have certain procedures for cleansing and sanitizing their environments these new ideas can have a positive effect on improving hospital conditions. Copper fixtures are not yet common in hospital environments but may have a great effect in minimizing bacteria.

[1]Health Grades 2011 Healthcare consumerism and Hospital Quality in America Report. Health Grades. Retrieved from: http://hg-article-center.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/7b/de/dc25d2c94d25ad88c9e1688c9adc/HealthcareConsumerismHospitalQualityReport2011.pdf

[2] Copper Sinks and Faucets May Stem Hospital Infections. Bakalar, Nicholas.  New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/04/well/copper-sinks-and-faucets-may-stem-hospital-infections.html?ribbon-ad-idx=5&rref=health&module=Ribbon&version=origin&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Health&pgtype=article

October 4, 2016

4 Ways Prescription and Over the Counter Drugs Differ

Drugs can usually be categorized into prescription and over the counter (OTC) drugs. These two categories have many significant differences. Here are four aspects in which they differ:

Prescriptions are not needed for OTC drugs.

OTC Drugs can be purchased without a prescription or a doctor’s referral.  The assumption is that the patient is able to recognize their symptoms and find an appropriate OTC drug to reduce them. Prescription drugs however require a doctor’s prescription. This is due to the fact that the patient needs to see the doctor before he can recommend a stronger or more specific drug to cure their condition.

The sale of prescription drugs is limited compared to OTC drugs.

Prescription drugs can only be dispensed by pharmacies. A mandatory prescription is needed for these drugs and can only be sold once prescription is verified. However, OTC drugs are readily available at pharmacies and grocery stores straight off the shelf.  They are also available at pharmacies but are not limited to them.

Consumption and usage of OTC and prescription drugs is distinct.

When purchasing a prescription drug you are provided with a specific label which guides you on what dose to take. These instructions are highly specific and are recommended by your doctor. You may also receive additional advice from the pharmacist on how to take the drug.  OTC drugs use different reference points, such as weight, height, age, on how to determine what dose is appropriate for each patient.

Use of OTC drugs requires self-diagnosis.

Patients make the decision of which drugs they need to take when purchasing OTC drugs whereas doctors determine which drugs a patient should take when purchasing prescription drugs. However, if the symptoms are uncommon, or are not alleviated by the OTC drug, it is advisable that they consult a doctor so they can prescribe the appropriate medication.

 

 

September 20, 2016

Why is Vitamin D Important for Nursing Babies?

pill-316601_960_720Vitamin D is an essential vitamin and an important part of everyone’s diet. Getting a good amount of vitamin D in the early stages of life can help prevent autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Most importantly, Vitamin D increases calcium metabolism and reduces risk of current infections. Sometime this can be tricky because the main source of our vitamin D comes from food and the sun.  Proper diets have a huge influence in determining our levels of this crucial vitamin.

It is vital that a baby consume enough vitamin D during the first year of life. This is particularly hard to do because breast milk and baby food may contain very little amounts of vitamin D.  However, “new research has found that giving breastfeeding mothers monthly high-dose vitamin D supplements may be a possible way to improve their babies’ vitamin D status”[1].

[1] University of Otago. “Increasing nursing mothers’ vitamin D levels may benefit babies.” Science Daily. Science Daily, 30 August 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160830101350.htm>.

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