Diseases apparently have distinctive odors that humans can’t detect. Researchers are using dogs, mice, rats and other animals to literally sniff out cancer and other diseases in the laboratory. In the 3rd World, rats are used to diagnose TB. Experts discuss the use of animals to diagnose disease and their efforts to build machines that can do the same thing.
Processed Food Addiction
Researchers are discovering that for some people, eating processed foods produces some of the same brain effects as people addicted to alcohol or drugs. An expert discusses how dietary adjustment can end this addiction and its effects.
With the opioid epidemic continuing to take many lives every year, people are concerned with how to stop it. In order to help counter this epidemic, Medicare has taken steps to implement limits on the prescriptions of opioids. However, the Medicare proposal has left doctors wondering if these new limits will do more harm than good for patients.
Currently, the United States is experiencing the second wave of the opioid epidemic. Dr. Anna Lembke, Associate Professor and Chief of Addiction Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, explains that opioid addiction arises from the prescription of these medications as a go-to for doctors even if the medical condition does not necessarily call for it. Furthermore, Dr. Sally Satel, an addiction psychiatrist and lecturer at Yale University School of Medicine and Resident Scholar at American Enterprise Institute, states that another issue is not just the prescribing of opioid medications, but the over-prescribing. In many cases, a doctor will prescribe a patient an unnecessary amount of opioids, but this often leads to leftover medication that tends to get into the hands of people who are likely to abuse it. So, one way that Medicare is working to counteract this is by regulating the quantity and overall dose of opioids that are allowed to be prescribed to a patient. Dr. Satel explains that by limiting the number of pills allowed when refilling a prescription, not only will it decrease the number of leftover pills, but it will also guarantee that those who benefit from opioids continue to take them appropriately. Along with this, Dr. Lembke states that this limit on the number allowed to be prescribed is important because doctors most likely would not limit their prescriptions enough to a point that would allow for a decrease in the epidemic. With this regulation, the number of leftover pills being circulated outside of who they were prescribed to will decrease which will allow for a drop in the number of people addicted to prescription opioids.
The proposed Medicare regulations also came with a second leg to it. This other guideline would cut-off any doctor from prescribing a high-dose of opioid medications. However, Dr. Satel explains that many pain physicians had problems with this regulation because it would make it extremely difficult for patients who do benefit from these prescriptions, and use them properly, to have access to them. So, when the final Medicare proposal was released, this second guideline was altered to allow physicians to prescribe high-doses of opioid medications, but it gave pharmacists the power to override a high-dose request that seemed unnecessary.
While these Medicare limits are a step in the right direction for managing the opioid epidemic, there is still much that can be done to improve it. For instance, other medical treatments should be made more accessible through Medicare, explains Dr. Lembke. It’s important to reduce the access to opioids. However, it is also important to facilitate the use of other medical treatments to help with pain. Improvements are being made in the healthcare system to stop the opioid epidemic, but those who benefit from opioid prescriptions should not have to suffer.
Dr. Anna Lembke, Associate Professor and Chief of Addiction Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine
Dr. Sally Satel, addiction psychiatrist and lecturer at Yale University School of Medicine, and Resident Scholar at American Enterprise Institute
Common colds, allergies, and sinus infections have similar symptoms that make it very difficult to identify which malady a person is suffering from. However, for some people who constantly feel sick, knowing what their symptoms mean could allow them to receive better healthcare. So, how can you tell the difference between a cold, allergies, and a sinus infection?
Dr. Lisa Liberatore, an otolaryngologist specializing in sinus and sleep issues at Totum Health, New York, explains the differences between these three maladies. If a patient has body aches, fevers, and other systemic symptoms, she states that these are not usually symptoms of allergies and can be indicative of an infection. Along with these symptoms, Dr. Liberatore explains that the longevity of the symptoms can further indicate if the infection is viral or bacterial. Some infections can start off as viral, but once seven to ten days pass, a patient may begin to have fits of heavy coughing or notice yellow or green mucus. Dr. Liberatore says that this is an indication that the infection has become bacterial. Despite being a bacterial infection, antibiotics tend to do little to help the patient. The best way to get over a cold or cold-like symptoms is often to just wait out the course of the infection, consume lots of fluids, and get lots of rest.
But, for some people, these cold-like symptoms never seem to go away. Dr. Liberatore explains that if the cold lasts for a long time, or tends to progress to something worse, that can be an indication of a structural problem. This structural problem is related to chronic sinusitis which affects a person’s quality of life tremendously, causing symptoms such as severe nasal congestion to lack of productivity. Dr. Liberatore states that many primary care physicians often provide their patients with two treatment options–antibiotics or surgery. However, she explains that there are many smaller treatments present today that can provide relief to the patient without having to undergo an intense surgery.
Dr. Lisa Liberatore, otolaryngologist specializing in sinus and sleep issues at Totum Health, New York
Ten to 15 percent of parents don’t follow the recommended vaccination schedule for their kids under age two. But a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that one of the reasons parents give doesn’t hold water. The study finds that it’s not true that vaccines overload the immune system and make kids more likely to contract other diseases later. Researchers say they can find no reason to deviate from the CDC’s recommended immunization schedule.
If you work for a company dealing face-to-face with customers, a new study finds that you’re likely to be happier than people who work for firms that don’t interact with people. For example, if you work for a retailer, you’re likely happier than those in manufacturing. And you’re likely to be happy even if you yourself don’t deal with customers at all. The study in the Academy of Management Journal upends conventional wisdom that says dealing with customers is aggravating.
And finally, pasta has gotten a bad rap among weight watchers, but it’s apparently undeserved. A study in the journal BMJ Open finds that pasta is unlike other carbs because it has a low glycemic index so it doesn’t contribute to weight gain. In fact, members of a study group that ate pasta in place of bread and other carbs for 12 weeks lost weight rather than gaining.
New limits on Medicare prescriptions of opioids are controversial, as some doctors believe patients could suffer more pain. Others believe the limits will achieve a much needed brake on the temptation to overprescribe while allowing legitimate treatment. Experts discuss.
Curing Chronic Sinusitis
Many people confuse allergies, colds, and sinus infections. A physician specializing in these maladies describes the differences, and the new ways sinusitis can be treated.
Imagine going to the doctor with your newborn baby because you are interested in receiving help for symptoms of depression only to be taken to the emergency room by the police. This is what happened to new mother Jessica Porten who had been experiencing symptoms of perinatal depression–previously known as postpartum depression–when she attempted to seek medical treatment. While this sounds like an overreaction in this situation, Dr. Darby Saxbe and Dr. Tiffany Moore Simas both agree that the healthcare provider was just attempting to protect the mother and the child by avoiding any harm. In any situation like this, Dr. Moore Simas, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Quantitative Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and co-chair of Maternal Mental Health Expert Work Group at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, explains that either way a physician will face scrutiny by overreacting or underreacting, so it is best to overreact when there are safety concerns. Yet, symptoms similar to Porten’s are common in new mothers, so why do these situations continue to happen?
Dr. Saxbe, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Southern California, explains that one in seven women are affected by perinatal depression, with some populations being more highly affected. But, it still remains massively undertreated because of the stigmatization of mental illness. Dr. Saxbe states that many new moms feel it is wrong to not feel overjoyed by the birth of their child, so they do not feel comfortable seeking treatment. Furthermore, Dr. Moore Simas explains that the symptoms of perinatal depression are often times not associated with depression, but instead, they are attributed to being apart of pregnancy or postpartum.
While stigmatization and confusion of the symptoms do decrease the likelihood of diagnosing perinatal depression, there appears to be another problem with the lack of training given to OBGYN’s. Dr. Saxbe explains that they often have little to no training in psychiatry, and remain unqualified in properly screening and diagnosing perinatal depression. But, Dr. Moore Simas states, recently schooling to become an OBGYN has started to introduce mental health training as a component in order to improve the care provided to women experiencing perinatal depression. With increased knowledge on psychiatry and increased accessibility to psychiatric care, women with perinatal depression will be able to receive better treatment and many of these cases will no longer go undiagnosed.
Jessica Porten, new mother diagnosed with depression
Dr. Darby Saxbe, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Southern California
Dr. Tiffany Moore Simas, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Quantitative Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and co-chair of Maternal Mental Health Expert Work Group at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
In a medical emergency that results in a brain injury, such as a stroke, there are a number of health complications that can affect the patient afterward. One of the more well-known subsequent results is aphasia which is the impairment of speech and language. However, many people do not know that once the aphasia wears off, the patient may still be left with an accent. This sudden change in speaking is actually a syndrome known as foreign accent syndrome. However, Dr. Jack Ryalls, Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at University of Central Florida, explains that research has proven that these patients’ new way of speaking is actually not an accent. Furthermore, Dr. Sheila Blumstein, Albert D. Mead Professor of Cognitive Linguistics and Psychological Sciences at Brown University, states that people will perceive these as foreign accents, but in actuality, people who suffer from foreign accent syndrome have only developed slight variations in how they pronounce words which indicates to those listening to them that they have an accent.
So, what happens to those who suffer from foreign accent syndrome? Dr. Ryalls explains that chances of recovery are very slim–only about 30% are able to recover their old accent because therapy has been proven to not be beneficial. Along with this, people with foreign accent syndrome are likely to experience distress. Dr. Blumstein states that how an individual sounds and speaks contributes a lot to their self-identity, so it can affect a person’s perception of oneself. This distress can be furthered, too, by a change in how they are identified in the world. Dr. Blumstein explains that foreign accent syndrome can be isolating because many people will view this person as being from a foreign country. While many people do not recover, some are able to regain their old accents. Researchers have been looking into cases of recovery in order to improve the chances of recovery for others who suffer from foreign accent syndrome.
Dr. Sheila Blumstein, Albert D. Mead Professor of Cognitive Linguistics and Psychological Sciences at Brown University
Dr. Jack Ryalls, Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Central Florida