NPR Health

Tried And True Tricks For Beating A Cold

Nov 29, 2012

Earlier this week, we talked with chefs about global folk cures for a cold. Now Melissa Block reads some recommendations from listeners for methods of easing the sniffles.

Before Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton passes the reins to her successor, she's got a few loose ends to tie up. One of them is mapping out the U.S.'s continuing efforts to combat AIDS around the world.

So today she unveiled a "blueprint" for what she called an "AIDS-free generation."

Now Clinton isn't talking about ending the HIV pandemic altogether. Rather, she hopes to prevent most new infections from occurring in the first place and to stop HIV-positive people from developing AIDS.

Salad producers haven't succeeded in banishing E. coli and other dangerous microbes from fresh greens, though they've tried hard. As we've reported before, it's a major challenge to both growers and the environment. But one scientist thinks he's making progress – with a spinach spa that zaps bad bugs with ultrasound.

Yesterday, in the Bronx, Chris Veres took his grandfather to see Dr. Bob Murrow. He was worried about his grandfather's heart. Dr. Murrow talked to the family and ordered a cardiogram, which came back normal.

It was a pretty routine visit. But what happens next for the doctor — getting paid by Medicare, the government-run health insurance program for the elderly — is suddenly sort of a big deal.

Whenever the discussion turns to saving money in Medicare, the idea of raising the eligibility age often comes up.

"I don't think you can look at entitlement reform without adjusting the age for retirement," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on ABC's This Week last Sunday. "Let it float up another year or so over the next 30 years, adjust Medicare from 65 to 67."

Sofas and other cushy furniture often contain chemicals intended to reduce the risk of fire. But those chemicals may pose health risks of their own, and some researchers are trying to build the case for getting them out of the house altogether.

Eighty-five percent of couches tested in a new study contained at least one flame-retardant chemical in the foam cushioning.

Whooping cough went on a tear in California back in 2010.

There were more than 9,000 pertussis infections in the state, a 60-year high. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of the disease across the country.

Why?

Preparing For The Looming Dementia Crisis

Nov 28, 2012

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The number of us affected by dementia, nearly five and a half million for Alzheimer's alone, can only go up as the huge cohort of baby boomers ages. Doctors and researchers have thus far made more progress toward early diagnosis than to any effective treatment, but institutions, from long-term care facilities to state and federal agencies to doctors' offices, seem unprepared for what science reporter Stephen Hall describes as the dementia plague.

After a two-month hiatus, the mysterious coronavirus that killed one man and hospitalized another is back on the scene. This time it has infected members of the same family.

The new cases raise the known total to six, including two deaths.

Scientist are trying to figure out if the involvement of a family says something new about the virus.

It's a startling trend: Many women with cancer in one breast are choosing to have their healthy breast removed, too.

But a study being presented later this week says more than three-quarters of women who opt for double mastectomies are not getting any benefit because their risk of cancer developing in the healthy breast is no greater than in women without cancer.

The latest data on HIV rates in American teenagers and young adults offer a sobering message.

While the number of new infections in the U.S. is relatively stable — at about 50,000 people each year — HIV is on the rise in young people under 25.

From chicken noodle soup to alcohol-spiked drinks, everyone has a preferred remedy for cold symptoms. Since she was feeling a little under the weather, Melissa Block, host of All Things Considered, asked some foodies for their tried and true remedies from around the globe. Their suggestions range from the gentle to the pungent, but each bears a timeworn seal of approval.

Chinese Rice Porridge And Mustard Greens

Grapefruit sprinkled with a little sugar has just the right amount of kick for a morning meal. But when the bitter fruit is mixed with medication, things can get a bit tricky.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an influential and often controversial panel of doctors, is moving toward a recommendation for testing that could apply to all baby boomers.

The group issued draft advice to doctors saying they should consider giving a hepatitis C test to people born between 1945 and 1965, regardless of their risk factors for having the disease.

The way some doctors see it, asking patients whether they own a gun is no more politically loaded than any other health-related question they ask.

So when a Florida law that prohibited them from discussing gun ownership with patients passed last year, they moved to fight it. A federal judge issued a permanent injunction blocking enforcement of the law in July.

Some people are allergic to peanuts, others to shellfish, fruits, or wheat. But this rare allergy is a carnivore's worst nightmare: A tick bite that can cause a case of itchy red hives every time you eat meat. Yup, get bit by one of these buggers and you may be saying farewell to your filet Mignon.

For some people around the country, this is no nightmare, it's a reality – and it may be coming to your neck of the woods.

Renee Montagne talks with Dr. Atul Gawande about the life and work of Dr. Joseph E. Murray, who performed the first successful organ transplant in 1954. Murray died Monday at age 93.

Most people try to avoid ticks. But not Tom Mather.

The University of Rhode Island researcher goes out of his way to find them.

He looks for deer ticks — poppy seed-sized skin burrowers — in the woods of southern Rhode Island. These are the teeny-tiny carriers of Lyme disease, an illness that can lead to symptoms ranging from nasty rashes to memory loss.

The nation's largest group of pediatricians is urging its members to write prescriptions in advance to enable teenagers to have fast access to the so-called morning-after birth control pill.

For the growing number of teenage girls who are incarcerated each year, detention may be the only time they get health care.

But the care provided to girls in juvenile detention is often a poor match for their needs.

One reason: It's a system that was designed for boys.

For centuries, European mothers who felt they were incapable of caring for a newborn could leave the baby in a "foundling wheel," a rotating crib set up at the entrance to a convent or a place of worship.

Today, there's a debate over the modern version of the practice: the baby box.

At least 11 European countries, as well as Russia and India, now have baby boxes, sometimes known as baby windows or hatches.

If your kids absolutely must jump around at their next birthday party, an inflatable moonwalk or bounce house may be a safer bet than a backyard trampoline. But only a little safer.

The wildly popular mosh pits for the school-age set have become a common source of injuries that send kids to the hospital.

In 1974, Phillip Kunz and his family got a record number of Christmas cards. In the weeks before Christmas they came daily, sometimes by the dozen. Kunz still has them in his home, collected in an old photo album.

"Dear Phil, Joyce and family," a typical card reads, "we received your holiday greeting with much joy and enthusiasm ... Merry Christmas and Happy New Year's. Love Lou, Bev and the children."

Albert Einstein was a smart guy. Everybody knows that. But was there something about the structure of his brain that made it special?

Scientists have been trying to answer that question ever since his death. Previously unpublished photographs of Einstein's brain taken soon after he died were analyzed last week in the journal Brain. The images and the paper provide a more complete anatomical picture and may help shed light on his genius.

Study Questions Mammograms 'Overdiagnosis'

Nov 22, 2012

New analysis in The New England Journal of Medicine finds mammography screenings overdiagnosed breast cancer about a third of the time. The study says that although mammograms have greatly increased the detection of cancer in its early stages, they haven't had much impact on reducing deaths from breast cancer. Renee Montagne talks with Dr. Len Lichtenfeld of the American Cancer Society about implications for screening.

Mixed Martial Arts Helps Some Veterans With PTSD

Nov 22, 2012

Mixed martial arts is a cross between kickboxing and wrestling. It isn't a replacement for PTSD therapies but it is a coping mechanism. And while one psychiatrist says mixed martial arts is not therapy, he adds it could be therapeutic.

The endless debate over routine mammograms is getting another kick from an analysis that sharply questions whether the test really does what it's supposed to.

Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, coauthor of the analysis of mammography's impact, which was just published in The New England Journal of Medicine, tell Shots that the aim was to "get down to a very basic question."

Why people yawn is a mystery. But yawning starts in the womb.

Past studies have used ultrasound images to show fetuses yawning, but some scientists have argued that real yawns were getting confused with fetuses simply opening their mouths.

So Nadja Reissland, a researcher at the University of Durham in the United Kingdom, used a more detailed ultrasound technique to get images of fetal faces that could distinguish a true yawn from just an open mouth.

LGBT Housing Helps Seniors Stay Connected

Nov 21, 2012

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, the duo of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis is breaking down barriers in rap. They talk with us about their music and its message in just a few minutes.

New HIV infections have dropped more than 50 percent across 25 developing countries since 2001, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS reported on Tuesday. And, transmission of the virus from mothers to infants has decreased by 24 percent in just the past two years.

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