Sleep disorders can be difficult to diagnose and treat. A science journalist discusses his efforts to overcome narcolepsy, which produces extreme daytime sleepiness, and cataplexy, which produces instant sleep-like paralysis, as well as the science behind sleep disorders.
Henry Nicholls, author, Sleepyhead: The Neuroscience of a Good Night’s Sleep
Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a first responder? We talk with Kevin Hazzard, former paramedic and author of A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back, who tells us about his experiences as a paramedic and what it takes to be able to deal with emergency situations.
As a first responder, paramedics must enjoy the chaos and must be able to adjust to any situation. Hazzard explains that the practices of medicine that are taught during training are not always the most effective way to approach an emergency situation because EMTs and paramedics tend to be outmatched. Furthermore, he states that being a paramedic is often like being a detective because first responders must be attentive to the details surrounding them in order to figure out what happened and how to best treat the victim. An EMT or paramedic must be capable of listening to the victim and the bystanders, as well as making observations about the environment, because they are incapable of running tests that can provide them with answers. Hazzard describes the care provided by first responders as a primitive form of medicine because they are not able to use a lot of advanced medical techniques that medical practices have access to.
Along with these skills, first responders rely on a certain level of emotional capability in these emergency situations. Hazzard explains that it is important to be able to be detached from the victims because if not, many would be incapable of doing the job. He states that a first responder cannot think about the pain of the victim because it will hinder their ability to perform vital tasks. However, in certain situations, empathy provides the most effective care. Hazzard explains that some people call 911 because they are frightened or unsure of what is going on, and the best way to help them in this situation is to simply talk to them. Furthermore, he expresses that paramedics must be able to cope with the fact that they are almost always going to be put into compromising situations.
In the end, first responders must be dedicated to their jobs. Hazzard explains that as a tax funded field, they are not given the best supplies, and are often told to made do with what they have. Some even spend their own income to purchase better equipment. Despite the tough circumstances and compromising situations, most first responders continue to be committed to saving the lives of the American people that need their help.
Kevin Hazzard, former paramedic and author of A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back
Imagine waking up and no longer being able to hear in one of your ears. And, after losing the ability to hear, you are suddenly affected by bouts of vertigo attacks that can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. This is what happened to James Raath, business consultant and author of Love Mondays, who suffers from Meniere’s disease which is a disease that is caused by a fluid imbalance in the inner ear that forces the membrane separating the chambers to rupture.
Dr. David Friedland, Professor and Vice Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at Medical College of Wisconsin, explains that this disease is commonly diagnosed, however, it is an uncommon disease to have. While the main symptoms, tinnitus and vertigo, are experienced by many people, the presence of both does not necessarily imply that the person has Meniere’s. Furthermore, Dr. Friedland explains that it is unknown whether the rupturing of the membrane is caused by the endolymphatic sac absorbing too little or too much fluid. But, the sufferer will be relieved of the symptoms once the membrane fixes itself. However, regular occurrences of this rupturing can have long term effects. Dr. Friedland explains that a person may suffer from progressive loss of hearing and increased weakness in the balance system.
So, what can be done to stop the progression of this disease? Dr. Friedland explains a few ways in which physicians can go about treating Meniere’s disease. The first, he says, is allergy medicine because allergies appear to be a trigger that can set off the fluid imbalance. Another way that he suggests to counteract the disease is to consume a low salt diet and water pills. In some cases, Dr. Friedland states some patients may get a shot that can drain excess fluid in the ear and improve the hearing loss. A final treatment that he explains is ablation which destroys the balance cells within the inner ear. The goal of this procedure is to reduce vertigo by making it so that an imbalance of fluid in the ear does not affect the balance system that causes vertigo. However, he warns that this procedure does not change the disease process, but instead, only changes the balance system so it cannot be stimulated by the disorder. While there is no cure to Meniere’s disease, there are many ways in which those who suffer from the disease can work to counteract or slow down the process.
James Raath, business consultant and author of Love Mondays
Dr. David Friedland, Professor and Vice Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at Medical College of Wisconsin
Patients used to accept doctors’ orders without question. Today, more are asking questions and challenging their doctors’ opinions. However, even those who do it politely are likely to be labeled “difficult.” A doctor whose late wife nearly made a career of being a difficult patient discusses how patients can do it respectfully and fruitfully.
Public hospitals have a poor reputation, but in some fields, especially trauma, they are often among the best hospitals in the US. Two experts discuss reputation vs. reality and the threats public hospitals face.
Most people rely on their primary care doctors first when they need health care. But a shortage in primary care doctors is only getting worse. Some medical schools have been successful in keeping their grads in primary care. We talk to an expert from one of them to see how it’s done and if other schools can replicate their success.
Homeless Americans have a life expectancy of only around 50, and often use the ER for primary care at a huge cost. The lack of followup care for their illnesses and the mental health or substance abuse disorders common in this population add up to an enormous health burden. Experts discuss how doctors on the street can improve health for the homeless and lower cost for society.