Shingles of the eye can cause lasting vision impairment

January 28, 2021 Adiantku 0

Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a viral infection known for its characteristic painful, burning, or itchy rash. This rash appears along a particular affected nerve, for example in a band on one side of the chest or abdomen that extends around to the back. In fact, the name shingles comes from cingulum, the Latin word for girdle, belt, or sash.

Shingles is caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, the virus that causes chickenpox. After the initial chickenpox infection resolves the virus lives on in nerves all over the body, but is kept in check by the immune system. The risk of shingles therefore increases with any process that can weaken the immune system, including age, illness, and immune-suppressing medications. About one million cases of shingles occur in the US each year.

Up to 20% of shingles episodes involve nerves of the head, where the infection can affect … Read the rest

New dietary guidelines: Any changes for infants, children, and teens?

January 27, 2021 Adiantku 0

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published new dietary guidelines to help Americans get and stay healthier across all parts of the lifespan. Babies and toddlers are included for the first time, because the recommendations cover our full lifespan.

The guidelines are called “Make Every Bite Count.” If we want to get and stay healthy, we shouldn’t be eating foods that are basically empty calories — or worse, foods that actually do us harm.

Because foods can do us harm. Eating an unhealthy diet can lead to obesity, with the cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and everything else obesity brings. It can lead to cancer, tooth decay, anemia, high blood pressure, weak bones, and so many other problems. The adage “you are what you eat” is remarkably true.

Why healthy eating is so important for children

Children are building bodies and habits they will carry with them … Read the rest

3 simple strategies for stress relief

January 26, 2021 Adiantku 0

The last few months of any year, with deadlines and holidays, often create a harried pace. The beginning of a new year can give you a chance to exhale. But even if you experience a few serene days or weeks, tight shoulders and tension are never far off.

Family stress. Work stress. Daily life stress. Self-induced stress brought on by scrolling through the news. As it turns out, stress is almost impossible to avoid. So this year, instead of waiting for your most recent stressful patch to ebb, take a different approach. Teach yourself to stay grounded and calm — regardless of what’s going on around you.

Managing stress helps you stay healthier

It’s important to manage stress, because it’s not only emotionally taxing, but it’s also bad for your health. When you are under stress, the levels of a hormone called cortisol start to rise in your blood. Over … Read the rest

Need surgery? Should you avoid your surgeon’s birthday?

January 24, 2021 Adiantku 0

If you need surgery, it should reassure you to know that researchers have been studying factors that predict surgical success or failure for years. Some of the most important findings have been ones you might expect.

For example, studies have found that hospitals and medical centers that perform a lot of hip and knee replacements tend to have lower complication rates than those performing fewer operations. As a result, there is a trend for people needing these surgeries to have them performed at high-volume centers. Similarly, surgeons who frequently perform hip or knee replacement surgery tend to have better results than those who perform them rarely. Studies like these have been published for a number of other operations and conditions.

Less obvious factors to consider in scheduling surgeries

It might surprise you to learn that less obvious factors have also been studied. For example, researchers have examined whether

  • surgical outcomes
Read the rest

How not to lose money because of Alzheimer’s disease

January 23, 2021 Adiantku 0

Researchers from Maryland and Michigan recently published an article showing that six years prior to their diagnosis, individuals developing Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder were more likely to miss paying a bill compared to older adults without such a diagnosis (7.7% versus 7.3%), and they were also more likely to develop subprime credit scores (7.9% versus 6.9%). As the authors concede, there were a number of problems with the study, including unequal matching of the average age of the groups (79.4 versus 74.0 years), which could mean that the results were actually due to age, rather than Alzheimer’s disease. The authors did attempt to adjust for this difference with their statistical analyses, but sometimes that doesn’t fully correct for this type of inequality.

The tip of the iceberg

The biggest problem with the study, however, is that it grossly underestimates the true financial difficulties that those developing Alzheimer’s disease … Read the rest

Do hair dyes increase cancer risk?

January 22, 2021 Adiantku 0

Personal use of hair dyes is very common, with estimates that 50% or more of women and 10% of men over age 40 color their hair. However, with social distancing guidelines in place amidst the ongoing pandemic, many people have foregone their regular hair salon appointments. As natural hair colors get rooted out, let’s cut to a layered question: do permanent hair dyes increase cancer risk?

Decades of research, conflicting results

Hair dyes come in three major varieties: oxidative (permanent), direct (semi-permanent or temporary), and natural dyes. Most hair dyes used in the US and Europe — both do-it-yourself dyes and those used in salons — are permanent dyes. They undergo chemical reactions to create pigment that deposits on hair shafts and may pose the greatest cancer risk.

People are exposed to chemicals in hair dyes through direct skin contact or by inhaling fumes during the coloring process. Occupational exposure … Read the rest

More intensive treatment of DCIS reduces the risk of invasive breast cancer

January 21, 2021 Adiantku 0

Breast cancer screening with mammography or other tools (such as MRI) has increased the rates of diagnosis of very early breast cancers knowns as DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ). As opposed to invasive breast cancers, DCIS cancers are confined to the local area and have not spread to deeper tissues or elsewhere in the body. With increased rates of diagnosis, there has been considerable controversy about the true risks of DCIS and the best treatments, with some suggesting that women are being overtreated for a condition that does not substantially increase the long-term risk of death, and others advocating more intensive preventive treatment among women with DCIS.

Long-term outcomes for women with and without DCIS have been limited, until now

A recent study published in The BMJ offers the best data so far on the risks associated with DCIS and the impact of different treatments. In the study, more than … Read the rest

Exercise matters to health and well-being, regardless of your size

January 17, 2021 Adiantku 0

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc in our daily lives. Regardless of who you are, your life has been impacted in some way. Stress is mounting, and you may need to find a way to decompress while social distancing. Enter stage left my favorite pastime: exercise!

All right, I know what you are thinking: She’s one of those exercise fanatics who is going to tell me that I need to exercise several hours every day. Well, no. What I am going to tell you is that you can make exercise work for you. It is imperative to find your “soulmate workout” or simple activities you can do. You might think that you need to be a certain size or already in shape to engage in exercise. This is simply not true, nor is it helpful for your health and well-being, since exercise — even small amounts — helps … Read the rest

Alcohol harms the brain in teen years –– before and after that, too

January 16, 2021 Adiantku 0

If we only paid attention to ads, it might seem as though alcohol — a beer or glass of wine, a shot of fiery liquor or sophisticated cocktail — merely served as a way to bring people together and make them happy. Drink responsibly, the ads wink, without ever explaining the toll that frequent or excessive alcohol use exacts, particularly at certain stages in life. Because alcohol doesn’t just get us drunk, impair our judgment, and hurt our liver: it can have many other bad effects on our bodies — including effects on the brain.

In a recent editorial in The BMJ, a trio of scientists pointed out that there are three periods in life when the brain goes through major changes and is particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. Two of those periods are at the beginning and end of life. When pregnant women drink alcohol, it … Read the rest

3 simple steps to jump-start your heart health this year

January 15, 2021 Adiantku 0

In 2020, the terrible toll of the COVID-19 pandemic largely overshadowed the affliction that remains the leading cause of death in this country: heart disease. In the United States last year, at least twice as many people died from cardiovascular causes as those who died from complications from SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus.

While the challenges from the virus are new, experts have been studying heart disease for decades — and everyone can benefit from that knowledge. “The lifestyle habits that keep your heart healthy may also leave you less vulnerable to serious complications from infections such as COVID-19 and influenza,” says cardiologist Dr. Deepak L. Bhatt, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and editor in chief of the Harvard Heart Letter.

So what exactly are those heart-healthy habits? The American Heart Association refers to them as “Life’s Simple 7.” Put simply, they are:

1) Stop smoking

2) Eat … Read the rest