NPR Health

Citing salmonella concerns, the Food and Drug Administration has issued a mandatory recall for kratom products made by a Las Vegas company — and the federal agency says it's the first time it has ever taken such an action after a company ignored a federal request for a voluntary recall.

There is a paradox with living as a human nowadays.

A 2014 article from the United Nations states that about 54 percent of the human population lives in urban areas (more by now), a proportion that is projected to increase to 66 percent by 2050. By 2045, the report says, more than six billion people will crowd cities.

Atlanta Struggles To Fulfill MLK's Legacy In Health Care

Apr 4, 2018

While public safety commissioner Bull Connor's police dogs in 1963 attacked civil rights protesters in Birmingham, Ala., leaders in Martin Luther King Jr.'s hometown of Atlanta were burnishing its reputation as "the city too busy to hate."

Yet 50 years after the civil rights leader was killed, some public health leaders in Atlanta wonder whether the city is failing to live up to King's call for justice in health care. They point to substantial disparities, particularly in preventive care.

In college, it's hard to learn while you're hungry.

That's a message Temple University higher education policy professor Sara Goldrick-Rab has been getting throughout her career.

She self-identifies as a "scholar activist." She has advocated for free college, and in 2013 she founded the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, which aims to turn research about low-income students into policies that improve equitable outcomes in post-secondary education.

For many Americans, retirement is no longer the long vacation they once imagined. More older adults are in the workforce than ever, either because they want to work or they need the money. Or both.

If you're 60 or older, please tell us about your experience in putting together the puzzle of work and retirement.

You may be contacted by an NPR reporter or producer, and your responses may be used in an upcoming project.

For the 3 million people in America (myself included) with celiac disease — an autoimmune disorder triggered by the ingestion of gluten — culinary life is a series of intricate leaps, accommodations and back-steps. We peer at labels, know the difference between "gluten-free" and "certified-gluten free" and keep a dedicated set of dishes and pots at home to avoid contamination by flour dust, crumbs of bread and bits of pasta indulged in by family members or roommates.

Members of Congress have said they want to loosen rules for health savings accounts. Did they do it in the latest spending bill? Do people who were uncovered for one month in 2017 owe a tax penalty? And how can immigrants who move to the U.S. to retire get insurance? These are the questions I'm tackling for readers this week:

I heard that health savings account rules would be loosened under the new spending bill passed by Congress last month. Did that happen?

No. In fact, the standards have become slightly tighter this year.

Updated at 12 p.m. ET

The same-sex dating app Grindr says it will stop sharing its users' HIV status with other companies, after it was discovered the app was allowing third parties to access encrypted forms of the sensitive data.

Grindr acknowledged that information on users' HIV status, including the date they were last tested for the virus, was provided to two companies, Apptimize and Localytics, that were paid to monitor and analyze how the app was being used.

Have you ever noticed that when something important is missing in your life, your brain can only seem to focus on that missing thing?

Two researchers have dubbed this phenomenon scarcity, and they say it touches on many aspects of our lives.

"It leads you to take certain behaviors that in the short term help you to manage scarcity, but in the long term only make matters worse," says Sendhil Mullaianathan, an economics professor at Harvard University.

The Trump Administration today moved to weaken fuel economy standards for automobiles, saying the current ones are inappropriate and wrong.

The long-anticipated move is a win for auto manufacturers, which had lobbied for lower fuel-economy standards. It's also a rejection of one of former President Barack Obama's biggest efforts to combat climate change by curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

It was mid-morning and many chairs beside the outpatient clinic were uncharacteristically vacant.

"I think people waited because of the rain," Dr. Jacklyn Adella says. It was late January, the height of the Indonesian monsoons, and even the relatively arid island of Sumba faced daily downpours.

Adella settled into a small, air-conditioned room at Waitabula's Karitas Hospital as her first patient entered: a 17-year-old, his foot, stitched from a recent motorbike injury, had become infected.

Every week in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Zibin Guo guides veterans in wheelchairs through slow-motion tai chi poses as a Bluetooth speaker plays soothing instrumental music.

"Cloudy hands to the right, cloudy hands to the left," he tells them. "Now we're going to open your arms, grab the wheels and 180-degree turn."

During a recent walk around the emergency room where I work, I noted the number of patients with bags of intravenous fluids hanging above them. Almost everyone had one.

Our ER in Boston isn't unique. IV fluids are among the most common medical interventions worldwide. Several kinds are available, but one called normal saline is by far the most popular. Over 200 million liters are used every year in the United States.

Our Take A Number series is looking at problems around the world — and people trying to solve them — through the lens of a single number.

In Huntington, W.Va., the number is 10. As in, the rate of babies born with a drug dependency there is 10 times the national average.

It's a number that shows the magnitude of the opioid crisis in this blue collar city. It's also one of the numbers that has prompted two very different people in this community to say, "Enough."

A measure signed into law in Kentucky this past week would prevent federally-certified radiologists from judging X-rays in state black lung compensation claims, leaving diagnoses of the disease mostly to physicians who typically work for coal companies.

The new law requires that only pulmonologists — doctors who specialize in the lungs and respiratory system — assess diagnostic black lung X-rays when state black lung claims are filed.

One spring morning in 2015, Barbara Lipska got up as usual, dyed her hair and went for a jog in her suburban Virginia neighborhood.

But when she returned from a much longer than expected run, her husband Mirek was completely taken aback.

"I was lost in my own neighborhood," Lipska says. "The hair dye that I put in my hair that morning dripped down my neck. I looked like a monster when I came back home."

Research has shown that sharp reductions in the amount of food consumed can help fish, rats and monkeys live longer. But there have been very few studies in humans.

Now, some researchers have found that when people severely cut calories, they can slow their metabolism and possibly the aging process.

The Afghan boy arrived at the U.S. military hospital in Kandahar with severe burns from the chest down. He was about 5.

"I knew as soon as I saw him it was just too much surface area," says Kit Parker, who, at the time, was an Army Civil Affairs officer working with Afghan villagers. "I knew he was going to die."

Even so, Parker and his team sergeant, Aaron Chapman, stayed at the hospital throughout that night in 2003, while military doctors worked to keep the boy alive.

'Beer Girls' Break Up Global Fund/Heineken Party

Mar 30, 2018

The Global Fund is pulling out of a controversial partnership with Heineken but not for the reason most cited by critics.

Public health advocates had been blasting Peter Sands, the new executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, for backing a partnership with Heineken to "fight infectious diseases in Africa." Some activists said it was inappropriate for a health agency to align with a product that can be detrimental to people's health.

Welcome to Invisibilia Season 4! The NPR program and podcast explores the invisible forces that shape human behavior, and we here at Shots are joining in to probe the science of why we act the way we do. In Episode 4, they're asking: are we destined to repeat our patterns or do we generally stray in surprising directions? - a question increasingly relevant in an age when algorithms are trying to predict everything about our behavior. Here's an excerpt from the episode.

Straddled across Ausberto Maldonado's backyard in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, a suburb of San Juan, is a nagging reminder of Hurricane Maria's destructive power.

"See, that tree broke off that branch, which is as thick as a tree — and now it's in my yard," says Maldonado, a 65-year-old retiree.

Rats scurry from under the downed tree, preventing Maldonado from hanging his laundry. To get the tree removed, he must show up in person at a local government office. But the diabetic ulcers on his feet make it painful to walk.

Imagine this: A pesky mosquito sips some of your blood. Hours later, the blood-sucker drops dead, poisoned by the very blood it just slurped down.

A man in the U.K. has contracted a strain of gonorrhea that is resistant to the two main drugs used to treat it, according to British health officials.

This is the latest in a long history of gonorrhea developing resistance to antibiotics – in fact, the World Health Organization has warned that doctors are running out of ways to treat it.

Treading into ethically and legally uncertain territory, a New York end-of-life agency has approved a new document that lets people stipulate in advance that they don't want food or water if they develop severe dementia.

The directive, finalized this month by the board for End Of Life Choices New York, aims to provide patients a way to hasten death in late-stage dementia, if they choose.

Florida beachgoers often imagine a day on the water. Colorful umbrellas peppered across the sand, the sound of waves foaming as they crash onto the shore and the inescapable smell of saltwater nipping at your senses.

Sometimes, instead of this picturesque scene, a sickening odor of dead fish wafts across empty beaches, local restaurants are closed because they can’t prepare seafood, and residents even experience trouble breathing. The culprit is red tide.

A pipe was the only sign of drug use found near Chris Bennett's body in November. But it looked like the 32-year-old Taunton, Mass., native had stopped breathing and died of an opioid overdose. Bennett's mother, Liisa, couldn't understand what happened. Then she saw the toxicology report.

"I'm convinced he was smoking cocaine that was laced," she says. "That's what he had in his system, [it] was cocaine and fentanyl."

A dose of reality has moved two influential food gurus to reassess their preaching and write self-help memoirs on their lifelong meditative journeys.

Opioid Treatment Program Helps Keep Families Together

Mar 28, 2018

Velva Poole has spent about 20 years as a social worker, mostly in Louisville, Ky. She's seen people ravaged by methamphetamines and cocaine; now it's mostly opioids. Most of her clients are parents who have lost custody of their children because of drug use. Poole remembers one mom in particular.

"She had her kids removed the first time for cocaine. And then she had actually gotten them back," she says. But three months later, the mother relapsed and overdosed on heroin.

An Ohio fertility clinic said that the remote alarm system on its storage tank was turned off, so it didn't know that the temperature had fluctuated, and that the consequences were worse than it initially thought — all 4,000 eggs and embryos in the cryofreezer are likely nonviable.

Rural medical clinics that are struggling to respond to an epidemic of a fatal lung disease plaguing coal miners received a 40 percent boost in federal funding with the passage of the omnibus spending bill last week.

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