Posts Tagged “Influenza”

Share

These are my links for January 20th through January 25th:

  • Penalty could keep smokers out of health overhaul -Millions of smokers could be priced out of health insurance because of tobacco penalties in President Barack Obama’s health care law, according to experts who are just now teasing out the potential impact of a little-noted provision in the massive legislation.The Affordable Care Act — “Obamacare” to its detractors — allows health insurers to charge smokers buying individual policies up to 50 percent higher premiums starting next Jan. 1.For a 55-year-old smoker, the penalty could reach nearly $4,250 a year. A 60-year-old could wind up paying nearly $5,100 on top of premiums.

    Younger smokers could be charged lower penalties under rules proposed last fall by the Obama administration. But older smokers could face a heavy hit on their household budgets at a time in life when smoking-related illnesses tend to emerge.

    Tags:

  • Lawmakers seek to repeal ‘fiscal-cliff’ provision aiding Amgen -A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers is seeking to repeal a Medicare-pricing provision in the recent “fiscal-cliff” deal in Congress that benefits Thousand Oaks biotech giant Amgen Inc.Legislation to eliminate the exemption for a class of drugs, including Amgen’s Sensipar, that are used by kidney dialysis patients, was filed this week by U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.). The fiscal cliff legislation approved this month excluded these oral medications from Medicare price controls for an additional two years.”Amgen managed to get a $500-million paragraph in the fiscal cliff bill, and virtually no one in Congress was aware of it,” Welch said. “It’s a taxpayer rip-off and comes at a really bad time when we’re trying to control healthcare costs. Amgen should not be allowed to turn Medicare into a profit center.”

    Tags:

  • Gap widens between actual weight and people’s imagined weight -Men and women, particularly those categorized as obese, have grown increasingly likely over the years to underestimate their true weight, according to a recent study.In a paper published Wednesday in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers at University College of Cork examined height and weight data for Irish adults over a nine-year period. In three separate health surveys, men and women were asked to estimate their height and weight, and those figures were used to calculate body mass index, or BMI. Afterward, they were weighed and measured for accuracy.What researchers discovered was that while people routinely misjudged their true dimensions, their weight estimates had grown increasingly inaccurate over time. Their height estimates however remained more or less constant.

    Tags:

  • U.S. researchers tracking flu through Twitter -Researchers and computer scientists at Johns Hopkins University have devised a way to track cases of influenza across the United States using the microblogging site Twitter.Twitter is full of tweets about the flu, which has been severe and reached epidemic proportions this year, but it has been difficult to separate tweets about the flu from actual cases.”We wanted to separate hype about the flu from messages from people who truly become ill,” said Mark Dredze, an assistant research professor in Johns Hopkins’ department of computer science, who monitors public health trends by looking at tweets.

    To solve the problem, Dredze and his colleagues developed a screening method based on human language-processing technologies that only delivers real-time information on actual flu cases and filters out the rest of the chatter on the public tweets in the United States.

    Tags:

  • Quitting smoking prolongs life at any age -t’s never too late to quit smoking, and researchers have new data to prove it. Even at the age of 64, kicking the habit can add four years to a person’s life, while quitting by age 34 can increase life expectancy by a decade, according to a study published online Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.After analyzing health data from more than 200,000 Americans, researchers calculated that current smokers were three times more likely to die during the course of the study compared with people who had never smoked. For the most part, their deaths were caused by smoking-related ailments, including heart and lung disease. Overall, their odds of surviving to age 80 were half as good as for never-smokers.But the study, one of two large-scale surveys in the journal providing updated information on smoking and mortality, saw significant benefits for those who quit. Giving up smoking between the ages of 35 and 44 was associated with a gain of nine years of life, and those who quit between 45 and 54 lived an extra six years.

    Tags:

  • Quitting smoking by age 40 erases most of the risk of an early death -Smokers who quit by around age 40 can stave off an early death, according to a landmark study that fills key gaps in knowledge of smoking-related health ills.While smokers who never stop lose about a decade of life expectancy, those who quit between ages 35 and 44 gained back nine of those years, the study found.Moreover, the benefits of dropping the habit extend deep into middle age. Smokers who quit between 45 and 54 gained back six otherwise lost years, and those who quit between 55 and 64 gained four years.

    Quitting young, before age 35, erased the entire decade of lost life expectancy.

    Tags:

  • Antibiotic-resistant diseases pose ‘apocalyptic’ threat, top expert says -Britain’s most senior medical adviser has warned MPs that the rise in drug-resistant diseases could trigger a national emergency comparable to a catastrophic terrorist attack, pandemic flu or major coastal flooding.Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, said the threat from infections that are resistant to frontline antibiotics was so serious that the issue should be added to the government’s national risk register of civil emergencies.She described what she called an “apocalyptic scenario” where people going for simple operations in 20 years’ time die of routine infections “because we have run out of antibiotics”.

    Tags:

  • Marijuana still a drug with no accepted medical use, court says -Marijuana will continue to be considered a highly dangerous drug under federal law with no accepted medical uses, after a U.S. appeals court Tuesday refused to order a change in the government’s 40-year-old drug classification schedule.The decision keeps in place an odd legal split over marijuana, a drug deemed to be as dangerous as heroin and worse than methamphetamine by federal authorities, but one that has been legalized for medical use by voters or legislators in 20 states and the District of Columbia.A marijuana advocacy group went to court, arguing that federal officials had a duty to reexamine the medical evidence and reclassify marijuana as a drug that has clear benefits for those who are suffering and in pain. Joe Elford, counsel for Americans for Safe Access, said federal drug officials had a bias against marijuana that caused them to ignore its benefits and to exaggerate its dangers.

    Tags:

  • Big Xylitol Trial Finds Scant Benefits in Adult Caries -The first big randomized controlled trial of xylitol for caries has found no statistically significant benefits in a population of adults at high risk for the disease.Published in the January issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association, the Xylitol for Adult Caries Trial (X-ACT) showed a 10% reduction in caries in a high-risk population who sucked xylitol lozenges compared with a matched population who sucked sucralose lozenges.This effect fell below statistical significance (P = .06). “What this says is xylitol is not going to be a frontline defense for those at high risk,” lead author James Bader, DDS, MPH, a research professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Medscape Medical News. “Use it, but don’t rely on it.”

    Tags:

  • A Check on Physicals -Even if there is no direct medical benefit, many doctors say that having their patients visit once a year helps to maintain a meaningful relationship and alert doctors to changes in patients’ lives that could affect health. It is also an opportunity to give patients needed immunizations and to remind them to get their eyes, teeth and skin checked.But the long-sacrosanct recommendation that everyone should have an annual physical was challenged yet again recently by researchers at the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen.Tags:

  • Snowboarding linked to injury rate rise on slopes: study -Allowing snowboarders to hit the slopes at one U.S. ski resort led to a small rise in the number of overall injuries, a trend in line with findings at ski areas elsewhere, according to a U.S. report.Injuries rose by 13 percent in the two years after snowboarders were permitted at the Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico, compared to the two years before, according to the report in The American Journal of Sports Medicine.”We recognize that a small but statistically significant increase in injury rate was observed after the addition of snowboarding to this mountain but that factors other than type of sport may play a role in the differences that were identified,” said study leader David Rust from the University of new Mexico in Albuquerque.

    Tags:

  • Getting a flu shot can be sticking point with healthcare workers -As a nurse at a Downey hospital, Darlene Andres spends her days caring for postpartum mothers and their newborn babies. Andres urges new moms to get the flu vaccine before leaving.But Andres, 36, decided not to get the flu shot herself. Andres — a self-proclaimed “germ freak” — said she just washes her hands instead.”I heard from a lot of co-workers on the floors that they were getting a lot of symptoms after getting the flu vaccine,” she said. “I kind of got scared.”

    On Friday, public health officials warned that the flu wreaking havoc elsewhere has finally arrived in California and is now causing widespread hospitalizations across the state. The increase in illnesses so early could signal a worse flu season than in years past.

    Tags:

  • Graphic warnings on cigarettes effective across demographic groups -Quitting smoking is a common New Year’s resolution for Americans each year, but research has repeatedly shown it is not an easy task. Some groups, such as racial/ethnic minorities, have an even harder time quitting. New research suggests hard-hitting graphic tobacco warnings may help smokers of diverse backgrounds who are struggling to quit. A new study by researchers at Legacy® and Harvard School of Public Health provides further evidence that bold pictorial cigarette warning labels that visually depict the health consequences of smoking — such as those required under the 2009 Family Smoking and Prevention Tobacco Control Act — play a life-saving role in highlighting the dangers of smoking and encouraging smokers to quit.Tags:

  • Flu season fuels debate over paid sick time laws -Sniffling, groggy and afraid she had caught the flu, Diana Zavala dragged herself in to work anyway for a day she felt she couldn’t afford to miss.A school speech therapist who works as an independent contractor, she doesn’t have paid sick days. So the mother of two reported to work and hoped for the best — and was aching, shivering and coughing by the end of the day. She stayed home the next day, then loaded up on medicine and returned to work.”It’s a balancing act” between physical health and financial well-being, she said.

    An unusually early and vigorous flu season is drawing attention to a cause that has scored victories but also hit roadblocks in recent years: mandatory paid sick leave for a third of civilian workers — more than 40 million people — who don’t have it.

    Tags:

Share
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off

Share

Lance Armstrong and OprahLance Armstrong in interview with Oprah Winfrey

The Healthy Flap: my links for January 4th through January 18th:

  • Lance Armstrong’s doping drugs -Lance Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired Thursday night.Did he use EPO? Testosterone? Cortisone? Human growth hormone? Illegal blood transfusions and other blood doping? Armstrong answered “yes” on all counts.In October, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released more than 1,000 pages of evidence in doping allegations against Armstrong and his teammates. He was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in the scandal. On Thursday, the International Olympic Committee demanded that he give back the bronze medal he won in 2000.
  • Kids’ dental care at risk -California’s Medi-Cal program will soon be responsible for the dental care of half the state’s children. But advocates say the program is not prepared for the big increase in demand that will come with the closure of the Healthy Families insurance program and the implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act. This report from the Children’s Partnership explains the problem and offers some recommendations for ensuring that kids get the care they need.
  • Cheesecake Factory pasta on list of caloric “food porn” -A Cheesecake Factory pasta dish with more than 3,000 calories – or more than a day and a half of the recommended caloric intake for an average adult – is among the headliners on this year’s Xtreme Eating list of the most unhealthy dishes at U.S. chain restaurants.The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer-focused nonprofit group that promotes healthier eating, compiles an annual list of “food porn” to alert consumers to menu items with eye-popping levels of calories, saturated fat, sugar and/or sodium.
  • Poll: Few people know obesity can cause more harm to health than just heart disease, diabetes -Heart disease and diabetes get all the attention, but what about the many other ways obesity can damage your health?Carrying too many pounds may lead to or worsen some types of cancer, arthritis, sleep apnea, even infertility. But a new poll suggests few Americans realize the links.Only about one-quarter of people think it’s possible for someone to be very overweight and still healthy, according to the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.Ask about the most serious consequences, and more than 7 in 10 Americans can correctly tick off heart disease and diabetes. Heart disease is the nation’s leading killer, and diabetes and obesity are twin epidemics, as rates of both have climbed in recent years.
  • Eat, drink and pump it out: new weight loss gadget sucks food straight out of the stomach -Who would have thought that the future of weight loss might lie in the hands of the inventor of the Segway? Dean Kamen, creator of the two-wheeled wonder, along with a team from Aspire Bariatrics, of Philadelphia, has applied for a patent for a pump that can suck food and drink straight out of the stomach.Users are able to stuff their face before draining their stomach by connecting the pump to a valve surgically installed in their abdominal wall. The makers hope to use it to treat the morbidly obese, and to provide an alternative to a gastric bypass.
  • Early flu season accelerates; no peak yet, CDC says -The nation’s early flu season continued to grow in the U.S. this week, with no sign yet of a peak in the spread of coughing, achy, feverish illness, health officials said Friday.”I think we’re still accelerating,” said Tom Skinner, a CDC spokesman.Twenty-nine states and New York City reported high levels of flu activity, up from 16 states and NYC the previous week. Flu was widespread in 41 states, up from 31 states, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Share
Tags: , , , ,

Comments Comments Off

Share

Google Flu Activity Chart

From Google Flu Tracker

Why not use social media to fight influenza?

The flu season has arrived — and it’s weeks early.

In one week, 16 states and New York City reported high levels of the flu. By the following week, that number was up to 29.

Each day for the past week, more than 500 New Yorkers have descended on emergency rooms with flu symptoms, according to a city website.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in high flu states 70 percent to 80 percent of the coughs you hear around you right now stem from the flu.

Each cough, sneeze or even conversation puts the virus into the air — and potentially into your lungs.

The virus goes everywhere — onto railings and the salt shakers in the diner; on the keys of the ATM; and on every door anyone touches.

The flu virus can survive two to eight hours on hard surfaces such as metal and plastic — touch it and you can spread it to your nose and mouth from your hand.

Now, there are ways to track the influenza outbreak using Google and Facebook.

But, what should YOU do to protect yourself?

  1. Get vaccinated against flu – it’s your best defense.
  2. Cover your cough, wash hands often.
  3. Take antiviral drugs if your doctor recommends them.

The influenza map this January is not very favorable no matter where you are in the United States, so please consider vaccination, if you have not already done so. Having been hospitalized with the influenza virus a few years ago, I can attest that it is a very nasty disease.

Share
Tags: , ,

Comments Comments Off

Share

Tdap – Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis

Yes, and dentists should also have their Hepatitis B antibodies monitored.

Why?

Read this excellent piece and it explains.

The Italian study also assessed the impact of flu shots and found that while occupational influenza risk among dentists is high, dentists who receive a flu vaccine have half the absenteeism rates of nonvaccinated dentists for influenza-like illness and lower rates of recurrence. Even so, fewer than half of the dentists in the study reported receiving annual flu vaccines.

In the U.S., 10% to 20% of the population becomes infected with the flu each year. Transmission of influenza is possible for 24 hours or more before the sick person shows any symptoms.

“Other than hepatitis B, it’s all about droplets,” J. Michael Hitt, MD, an occupational medicine physician at the University of Arizona, told DrBicuspid.com. “Dental staff are bathed in droplets on a daily basis. Face shields, masks, and gloves are a big help, but innate immunity (by vaccination) will seal the deal.”

Pertussis is another infectious disease that dental care professionals should be prepared for. Based on studies that look at reporting rates, pertussis is estimated to affect 600,000 U.S. adults ages 20-64 annually, and epidemics occur in the U.S. every three to five years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2010, cases of pertussis in California reached the highest reported rate since 1947, and reported cases also rose significantly in Michigan and Ohio, according to the CDC.

For me, I have already been vaccinated against influenza. Remember I was hospitalized for four days a few years ago with the flu and it was not a pleasant experience.

I will return to my physician’s office for my Tdap injection after I run the Las Vegas Half Marathon on December 4th.

Share
Tags: , , ,

Comments 1 Comment »

©Gregory Flap Cole All Rights Reserved