Monthly Archives: August 2017

Boost your flu shots effectiveness

Unfortunately, getting a flu shot doesn’t absolutely guarantee that you’ll sail through flu season unaffected, or even that you’ll be safe from the specific flu strains contained in the shot. But there is one factor that might give you better odds: your mood.

A recent study recruited 138 adults aged 65 to 85, collecting data for two weeks before a flu shot about food and drink consumption, physical activity, stress levels, sleep, and having a positive or negative outlook. For a month after the shot, participants continued to track all of these factors.

Researchers found that only one of them was predictive of higher flu antibodies four weeks after the flu shot. They write in the study, “We found that greater positive mood, whether measured repeated over a 6-week period around vaccination, or on the day of vaccination, significantly predicted greater antibody responses to influenza vaccination.”

Previous studies have noted that chronic stress can negatively affect the immune response to vaccines, but this is the first one to look at whether lack of stress can have a positive impact, says Lisa Christian, PhD, at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Having a sunnier outlook on life doesn’t just make you less likely to get the flu, either. Christian says research suggests that those with consistently low stress levels also have better health behaviors overall—they tend to exercise more, eat healthier foods, and sleep more soundly than their less-joyful peers.

“What we see is that the longer you maintain a positive mood, the better your health outcomes tend to be,” she says. “So, if you have that positivity for at least a few weeks before your flu shot, for example, you’ll likely be in a better position for that vaccine to work effectively.”

Football game after 9 players take blows to head

A high school team in Canada forfeited a game Friday after nine players suffered head injuries, CBC News reports. The coach of the Ecole L’Odyssee Olympiens said he had no choice after four members of the team in New Brunswick showed symptoms of concussion, including vomiting.

“We had to forfeit the game for players’ safety and security,” Marcel Metti said.

The teens with concussion symptoms were still feeling ill on Sunday, he said.

Metti declined to discuss what happened during the game against the Titans; the match was called midway, with the Titans leading 35-0.

“I’m not going to get into that. It’s part of the football game,” he said.

But Titans coach Scott O’Neal said the Olympiens “were outmatched, that’s as simple as it was. That’s how football is.”

O’Neal said his team played by the rules, noting they weren’t hit with any penalties.

If anyone was injured, he added, it was the fault of the coaches for failing to train them. The episode followed a new school district policy that specifies that a player who takes a blow to the head must get a doctor’s note before playing again.

A Quebec university this month settled a lawsuit filed by a former student who says he suffered critical brain injuries during a game, per the National Post.

Kevin Kwasny claimed coaches sent him back onto the field in 2011 after he’d been hit, and he then suffered a second head injury and was hospitalized in critical condition.

A medical mystery for doctors

Italian doctors were left bewildered when a woman was admitted to the hospital for “sweating blood” from her face and hands, a new case published in a medical journal on Monday revealed.

The woman, 21, would spontaneously bleed with no visible lesions on her skin, according to the case report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The woman has been suffering from the mysterious disorder for three years and would start bleeding spontaneously in her sleep or while she was physically active.

It’s unclear what triggered the bleeding, but the bleeding intensified when she was under stress. The episodes would last between one to five minutes.

The women told doctors she suffered major depression and panic disorder because of the condition and became “socially isolated.” She has no history of psychosis, the report said.

The doctors floated different theories on what caused the condition, including factitious disorder, when someone would deceive others by appearing sick. However, she continued to spontaneously bleed after she was prescribed paroxetine and clonazepam for her depression and anxiety order.

They ultimately concluded she had hematohidrosis, an uncommon disease that would cause “spontaneous discharge of ‘blood sweat’ through intact skin.” Blood can also come out of areas that don’t have sweat glands.

It’s still unclear what causes the “blood sweat.” Dr. Michelle Sholzberg, co-director of the Hemophilia Comprehensive Care program at St. Michael’s Hospital, told CBC News the case is the “most unusual.”

“I can say with clarity that I’ve never seen a case like this — ever,” Sholzberg told CBC News. “And I can say that I’ve seen some of the worst bleeding disorders, and I’ve never seen them sweat blood.”

Killing thousands of Americans

President Trump has promised a major announcement and action on the opioid abuse crisis in the coming days – welcome news to deal with a growing and deadly problem.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost 2 million Americans abuse or are addicted to opioids and says that “from 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids.” That’s a quadrupling of the death rate from these prescription drugs since 1999.

Even before the president’s upcoming announcement, his administration has begun taking action. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is revising the rules for approval and removal of opioids from circulation, and enhancing and expanding health care provider opioid education to include nurses and pharmacists.

An important step in combating the opioid epidemic is to cut the skyrocketing growth of opioid prescriptions. About 38 percent of the adult U.S. population, amounting to nearly 92 million people, took opioids they were prescribed in 2015, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health has found.

The best way to do deal with the epidemic is to address the sources of pain, rather than just managing the symptoms with opioids.

The vast majority of opioid abuse and addiction cases begin with doctors and other health care providers offering relief from pain. Opioids provide the relief, but not by addressing the pain. Instead, the drugs induce a numbed and euphoric state in which suffering is temporarily masked.

However, short-term relief can lead to increased future pain if the underlying source of pain is not healed. And the pills put patients – and everyone with access to their medicine cabinets – at risk of dependence.

For retired Army Brig. Gen. Rebecca Halstead, who was America’s first female commanding general in combat, chiropractic care was the right alternative. She says it saved her life.

When Halstead suffered unmanageable pain due to chronic fibromyalgia the solution offered by the military was multiple prescription medications. “I refused and sought out other solutions,” she says.

Surgery to remove three of the tumors

A high school football team is playing for more than touchdowns and stats after a relative reached out and asked if they could honor a 3-year-old girl facing a terminal illness. In response, the Dixon High School varsity team in California took the field last week with “Frankie Strong” stickers on their helmets, and played for the girl who is headed to New York for further treatments, Fox 40 reported.

Frankie, whose last name was not disclosed, was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma last year, and will have surgery to remove three of the tumors in the near future. Her uncle, Craig Militano, whose son Jake plays on the Dixon football team, said that several other tumors cannot be removed.

“She just wants to play and be a kid,” Militano told the news outlet. “It’s hard to do that when you have a tube in your nose.”

Though Frankie was unable to attend the game because of her fragile immune system, the family said the support has made a large impact on them.

“It makes me proud that I have the stage and platform for her, and make her feel happy for one night,” Jake Militano told Fox 40.

Head coach Wes Besseghini said the decision to honor Frankie was easy.

“The ability to give support to other people is what these fights are all about,” he told Fox 40.


Home bills resident who died during Hurricane Irma

A Florida nursing home that charged one of its residents who died when Hurricane Irma created sweltering conditions at the facility has blamed an automatic payment system for the error, and claims that the family has been refunded.

The relatives of Albertina Vega, who was a resident at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, said they were shocked to see the bank withdrawal and subsequent overdraft fee on her account, The Sun Sentinel reported.

Vega, who was 99 at the time of her death, was charged $958 on what would have been her 100th birthday. Carmen Fernandez, a relative, said she saw the charge and fee when she went to close the woman’s account, the news outlet reported.

“How are they going to charge a dead person?” Fernandez told The Sun Sentinel. “How is she going to pay that? I was enraged. They let her die and then they bill her. This was someone who was like a mother to me.”

Vega was one of the 14 residents who died when the facility’s central air conditioning failed during the hurricane. She was living on the second floor of the nursing home, which did not have air conditioning for three days, the news outlet reported. Hollywood police and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement launched an investigation into the deaths, but Fernandez wonders if Medicaid has also been billed for Vega’s care, or if the other victims have received similar bills.

The state’s Agency for Health Care Administration would not comment on the incident, but said the facility was suspended from the Medicaid program in September, according to The Sun Sentinel.

Fernandez said she filed a complaint with the bank manager, while a spokeswoman for the nursing home said the billing was part of an automated system that was beyond the facility’s control.

“Unfortunately, in this family’s case, this was an automatic deduction,” Alia Faraj-Johnson told The Sun Sentinel. “Due to circumstances beyond the facility’s control and their lack of access to what they need – the computers in the system – the withdrawal automatically occurred.”

States due to possible contamination from Listeria monocytogenes bacteria

Retailer Meijer Inc said it was recalling packaged vegetables in six U.S. states due to possible contamination from Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, which can cause fatal food poisoning in young children, pregnant women and elderly or frail people.

The recall affects 35 products and includes vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus as well as party trays sold in Meijer-branded plastic or foam packaging in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin between Sept. 27 and Oct. 20, the company said on Saturday.


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimated that 1,600 people develop a serious form of infection known as listeriosis each year, and 260 die from the disease, making it the third most-deadly form of food poisoning in the United States.

“The infection is most likely to sicken pregnant women and their newborns, adults aged 65 or older and people with weakened immune systems,” the CDC said on its website. Symptoms include fever and diarrhea and can start the same day of exposure or as much as 70 days later.

Meijer, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said there were no illnesses reported as of Saturday. A company spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for information on Sunday.