NPR Health

Guillermo does not exist — on social media at least. He has a Facebook account, but he doesn't publicly use his real name. He doesn't have a profile picture, doesn't show his location, and never posts a single thing. He mostly logs in to read about sports.

Guillermo asked that his last name be withheld — he worries about his family. They still live in Venezuela. Amid political and economic chaos, over a million Venezuelans have left the country in the last two years.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Santa Rosa Beach, in Florida's Walton County, is a quiet place with sugar-white sand, a pleasant surf and signs warning visitors to stay out. The largely rural county on Florida's Panhandle is at the center of a battle over one of the state's most precious resources: its beaches. Most of the 26 miles of beaches are already privately owned. As of July 1, homeowners with beachfront property in Walton County can declare their beach private and off-limits to the public. The new law has sparked a standoff between wealthy homeowners and other local residents.

Around the world, people are struggling for access to drinking water. All Things Considered is examining the forces at play in separating the haves from the have-nots — from natural disasters to crumbling infrastructure and corruption.

In Korangi, a slum neighborhood of Karachi, a sprawling port city of some 16 million people in Pakistan, there's no running water.

So how do people get the water they need to drink, to cook, to wash up and to clean their homes?

When Linda Tock heard her 5-year-old telling her he was going to be sick, she moved quickly. She sprinted for a trash can, ready to run upstairs to help her son, with her husband, Simon, close behind her. Then it happened: a rain of vomit from the balcony above. "I put the trash can over my head," Tock recalls. "We just got showered." Puke splashed onto every surface — and even into her unlucky husband's open mouth.

Matt Arteaga, 51, is one of about 500 people who got sick this summer in an outbreak linked to McDonald's salads. The cause was a parasite, cyclospora.

Arteaga fell ill on a Thursday afternoon in June. He was in his office in Danville, Ill., when he says the symptoms came on quickly. "The chills, and body aches, severe cramping, sharp pain in my stomach," Arteaga recalls.

When Drew Calver had a heart attack last year, his health plan paid nearly $56,000 for the 44-year-old's emergency hospital stay at St. David's Medical Center in Austin, Texas, a hospital that wasn't in his insurance network. But the hospital charged Calver another $108,951. That sum — a so-called balance bill — was the difference between what the hospital and his insurer thought his care was worth.

Though in-network hospitals must accept previously contracted rates from health plans, out-of-network hospitals can try to bill as they like.

Dr. Leslie Norins is willing to hand over $1 million of his own money to anyone who can clarify something: Is Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia worldwide, caused by a germ?

By "germ" he means microbes like bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. In other words, Norins, a physician turned publisher, wants to know if Alzheimer's is infectious.

When you go through airport security, you might wish you had a pair of gloves on like the TSA agents do.

Researchers have evidence that the plastic trays in security lines are a haven for respiratory viruses. The trays likely harbor more of these pathogens than the flushing button on the airport toilets, researchers reported last week in BMC Infectious Diseases.

Eww.

The U.S. is in the middle of a steep and sustained increase in sexually transmitted diseases.

So how are public health officials responding?

In northwest Oregon's Clackamas County, health officials have decided to ask anyone who comes in with an STD who their sexual partners are — and then track those partners down.

As drug-related deaths rise to record numbers, at least a dozen U.S. cities are considering opening supervised injection sites, where people can use illicit drugs with trained staff present, ready to respond in case of an overdose.

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Dying Well.

About Emily Levine's TED Talk

Writer Emily Levine has stage IV lung cancer. But instead of fearing the inevitable, she decided to embrace her new reality, and face death with humor and gratitude for a life well-lived.

About Emily Levine

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Dying Well.

About Michelle Knox's TED Talk

How can we better cope with grief? After observing funerals around the world, banker and travel blogger Michelle Knox suggests we talk about death with our loved ones — especially when we're healthy.

About Michelle Knox

Michelle Knox works in Finance Transformation for Westpac Banking Corporation in Sydney Australia.

Do you think that the private thoughts in your head could influence how other people — or creatures — act? The answer is "Of course not," right? Because to say yes would be to admit you believe in mind control or telekinesis or some other phenomenon usually reserved for superhero comic books.

I can feel the warmth from the wood-burning oven just over my shoulder and catch myself intermittently gazing off into a heat-induced trance from the blaze.

Despite the place feeling crowded (probably another reason for the heat), it's eerily quiet inside: My table of five occasionally lowers our voices as if we were in the library. But a library this is not: Mozzeria is one of the most talked-about pizzerias in the heart of a vibrant San Francisco neighborhood, where wait times on Saturday nights can extend as long as two hours.

Sometimes IV bags are hard for hospitals to come by. Other times it's injectable folic acid to treat anemias. Right now, the tissue-numbing agent lidocaine is in short supply.

Shortages of commonplace generic drugs have plagued hospitals in recent years. And with short supplies and fewer suppliers for key drugs, there have been price increases.

Here's a bold idea to fight back against bacteria that can't be stopped by antibiotics: Go after them with germ-eating microbes. That reasoning lies behind an intriguing line of research that might also be put to use in the event of a germ-warfare attack.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

To talk more about what this lawsuit could mean for health care, we turn to Julie Rovner, chief Washington correspondent for Kaiser Health News. Good to see you, Julie.

JULIE ROVNER: Nice to see you, Ari.

Copyright 2018 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

What Kills 5 Million People A Year? It's Not Just Disease

Sep 5, 2018

In the global health world, giving people access to health care — even if they're just basic services — has long been a top priority.

But what if that approach is wrong?

A new report published in The Lancet on Wednesday finds that when it comes to health, quality — not quantity — seems to be more important.

The explosion of deaths related to opioid misuse has underscored a pressing need for better ways of treating pain, especially chronic pain.

Duquesne University pharmacology associate professor Jelena Janjic thinks she's on to one. It involves using a patient's own immune system to deliver non-opioid pain medication to places in the body where there's pain.

Theranos — the Silicon Valley blood-testing startup whose former top executives are accused of carrying out a massive, years-long fraud — is shutting down.

Updated at 1:33 p.m. ET

Health and safety officials are investigating an illness that struck people on an Emirates Airline flight from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday morning.

Seven crew members and three passengers were taken to the hospital, Emirates Airline said. It added that Wednesday's return flight from New York to Dubai would leave three hours late.

Senior medical student Giselle Lynch has plenty of accomplishments to list when she applies for a coveted spot in an ophthalmology residency program this fall.

But one box she won't be able to check when she submits her application is one of the highest academic awards medical students can receive, election to the honor society Alpha Omega Alpha.

Can Anyone Fix A Rigged Economy?

Sep 4, 2018

A key component of political stump speeches is summed up in this longstanding idea: “The economy is rigged.”

Two new books have indicted the super-wealthy as a source of major societal ills — even when they mean well.

Anand Giridharadas is a former columnist for The New York Times, and Steve Hilton is the host of Fox News’ “The Next Revolution.”

In July 2017, I wrote a story about two young Nigerians who quit their office jobs to start an informal school for kids in a camp for displaced people in Abuja, the country's capital. How's the project going?

Wednesday is looking like yet another pivotal day in the life-or-death saga that has marked the history of the Affordable Care Act.

Copyright 2018 Nashville Public Radio. To see more, visit Nashville Public Radio.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Tomorrow, a judge in Texas hears a request to suspend the Affordable Care Act nationwide. Blake Farmer of WPLN met a woman with a stake in the outcome.

Consumers who buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act markets may be pleasantly surprised this fall as average premiums are forecast to rise much less than in recent years.

The price of a 2019 policy sold on the ACA exchanges will increase less than 4 percent, according to an analysis of preliminary filings from insurers in all 50 states by ACASignups.net, a website and blog run by analyst Charles Gaba that tracks ACA enrollment and insurer participation.

And those insurers are expanding their offerings.

Walking through the woods alone can be a scary prospect for a kid, but not for 7-year-old Matthew of Portland, Oregon. He doesn't have much of a backyard at his condo, so the woods behind his house essentially serve the same purpose. He spends hours out there: swinging on a tire swing, tromping across the ravine to a friend's house, and using garden shears to cut a path. He lays down sticks to form a bridge across the small stream that flows in the winter.

And he does all of this without any adult supervision.

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