NPR Health

BuzzFeed host Tracy Clayton recently asked her Twitter followers to share a picture that they had uploaded to social media — one in which they looked great, but were actually going through a very difficult time.

The tweet went viral. An outpouring of smiling snapshots, accompanied with heart-wrenching behind-the-scenes anecdotes.

Mankaprr Conteh is one of the hundreds who responded. She remembers when the picture she shared was taken, two years ago, when she was 22. She was in the Caribbean.

Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo has announced that she is stepping aside as CEO after some 12 years at the helm.

Nooyi plans to stay on as chairman until early 2019. The company's board announced Monday that it elected Ramon Laguarta, president of the company since 2017, to succeed her as CEO. PepsiCo prides itself on tapping its leadership from within — every other chief executive has come from its own ranks.

Have you ever been on a diet but didn't hit your goal weight? Your gut bacteria may be part of the explanation.

New research suggests the mix of microbes in our guts can either help — or hinder — weight-loss efforts.

"We started with the premise that people have different microbial makeups, and this could influence how well they do with dieting," explains Purna Kashyap, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The first prescription medication extracted from the marijuana plant is poised to land on pharmacists' shelves this fall. Epidiolex, made from purified cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound found in the cannabis plant, is approved for two rare types of epilepsy.

Its journey to market was driven forward by one family's quest to find a treatment for their son's epilepsy.

There are 18 wildfires now blazing across California, which means many of the state's residents are waking up to the smell of smoke and hazy skies. The Carr fire near Redding has scorched at least 145,015 acres and killed seven people, and three fires in Mendocino County are all less than an hour away from Santa Rosa — where some neighborhoods burned to the ground last year.

It's 'Shark Tank' For Global Health Inventions

Aug 4, 2018

What would happen if global health innovators appeared on "Shark Tank," the reality TV show that judges business concepts from straightforward to zany?

President Trump has consistently declared that the Affordable Care Act — commonly referred to as Obamacare — is a broken mess, and after several unsuccessful attempts to repeal the national health care law, he has eagerly anticipated that it will "fail" and "implode."

Planned Parenthood Federation of America told NPR on Thursday it will be joining officials in a growing number of states to oppose a Trump administration proposal to withhold federal funds from family planning clinics that provide information about or refer women seeking an abortion.

The latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo comes just a week after the last outbreak there was declared over. Making things worse for Congolese health officials, this new cluster of Ebola cases is in the volatile North Kivu province, where heavily armed militants have driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

Mental Illness: [Enter Stage Right]

Aug 2, 2018

With guest host Celeste Headlee.

In “Dear Evan Hansen,” the hit Broadway musical, we see a main character who struggles with severe social anxiety. “Fun Home,” another Tony Award-winner, digs deep into paralyzing depression.

Musicals about mental illness are a lucrative artistic trend in theatre. And these productions are breaking new ground with their honest, entertaining portrayals of disorders that 1 in 5 Americans live with.

In the early 2000s, hospitals across Australia began installing more hand-sanitizer dispensers in their rooms and hallways for staff, visitors and patients to use. Research showed these alcohol-based disinfectants helped battle staph infections in patients and certain kinds of drug-resistant bacteria. And rates of these infections went down.

But other infections didn't drop when people started using the sanitizer stations. In fact, certain infections went up.

Leaders can have many different styles — just compare President Donald Trump to Malala Yousafzai to your boss or the coach of your kid's soccer team.

With the country on course to expand the rights of transgender Americans, college student Wren Vetens introduced herself as a woman for the first time in January 2016, at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society. After being raised as a boy and grappling with her gender identity for years, she says it felt liberating to be referred to as "she."

Getting Micro: The Deal With Stem Cells

Aug 1, 2018

Stem cells represent an exciting frontier with a lot of potential to change science and medicine.

From The San Francisco Chronicle:

Embryonic stem cells are the starter cells of the human body. They are undifferentiated, which means they have not matured and specialized, and they are able to become any other kind of cell in the body.

Let's Talk About Sex

Aug 1, 2018

Talking about sex can be hard — even unthinkable. Often, it's easier to have it than discuss it.

So, in this upcoming series, NPR's All Things Considered is going to try talking — candidly and unself-consciously — about how sex shapes our self-perception, relationships and culture. We want to know from you: What's missing from conversations about sex?

Your responses may be used in an upcoming story, on air or on NPR.org. A producer may reach out to you to follow up on your response.

People who don't get insurance through their jobs will now be able to buy short-term policies that may be cheaper than Affordable Care Act coverage. These plans won't have to cover as many medical services and are exempt from covering people with pre-existing conditions.

The departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury announced new rules Wednesday that make it easier for consumers to replace ACA insurance with these short-term policies.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Blue tarps still dot rooftops, homes lack electricity needed to refrigerate medicines, and clinics chip away at debts incurred from running generators. Yet despite these residual effects from last year's devastating hurricanes, Puerto Rico is moving ahead with major cuts to its health care safety net that will affect more than a million of its poorest residents.

Each year, more than 100,000 Americans are shot. And the wounds to bone and tissue caused by specially designed bullets also are getting more severe, according to surgeons.

Award-winning actor Alan Alda has revealed that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. "I'm not angry," he said.

"It hasn't stopped my life at all. I've had a richer life than I've had up until now," Alda said as he made the announcement Tuesday on CBS This Morning.

The U.N. has an incredibly ambitious goal of wiping out HIV transmission by the year 2030.

But global health experts say they can't execute that plan without a cheaper way to monitor the health of millions of HIV patients.

The Clinton Health Access Initiative, along with several other development agencies, has brokered an agreement to make routine HIV tests more accessible. They're aiming to make HIV viral load tests available for $12 a piece, slashing the price in some markets by more than 50 percent.

A group of Democratic senators have introduced a bill on Tuesday that would require the U.S. census and the country's largest survey to start directly asking about sexual orientation and gender identity.

If the Census Equality Act becomes law, sexual orientation and gender identity questions would have to be added to forms for the census by 2030 and for the American Community Survey — a survey that about 1 in 38 households are required by federal law to complete every year — by 2020.

Heading May Be Riskier For Female Soccer Players Than Males

Jul 31, 2018

The first rule of soccer is pretty obvious: don't use your hands. But soccer's signature move, heading the ball, can cause a detectable impact on players' brains. And according to a study published Tuesday in Radiology, female players are more sensitive to the impact than males.

For Many College Students, Hunger 'Makes It Hard To Focus'

Jul 31, 2018

As students enter college this fall, many will hunger for more than knowledge. Up to half of college students in recent published studies say they either are not getting enough to eat or are worried about it.

Alarms go off so frequently in emergency rooms that doctors barely notice — until a colleague is wheeled in on a gurney, clinging to life. All of a sudden, that alarm becomes a deafening wake-up call.

For Dr. Kip Wenger, that colleague, a 33-year-old physician, was also his friend.

Wenger is regional medical director for TeamHealth, one of the country's largest emergency room staffing companies, based in Knoxville, Tenn.

We all hope for a little peace at the end of life, for ourselves and for our loved ones. Hospice services can play a big role, relieving pain and providing spiritual and emotional support. But a federal report published Tuesday synthesized patient and Medicare payment data going back to 2005 and found that, while patients generally can count on hospice to relieve their suffering, some hospice providers are bilking Medicare and neglecting patients.

Was it hard to concentrate during that long meeting? Does the crossword seem a little tougher? You could be mildly dehydrated.

A growing body of evidence finds that being just a little dehydrated is tied to a range of subtle effects — from mood changes to muddled thinking.

When Cayti Kane delivered a baby boy via cesarean section last year, her team of doctors was prepared.

Kane had been diagnosed with placenta accreta, a condition that increased the likelihood of a dangerous hemorrhage during delivery. When that happened, she had an emergency hysterectomy. Kane and her son went home healthy.

Etinosa Yvonne Osayimwen's goal is to get inside her subjects' heads.

The self-trained, 28-year-old documentary photographer does just that by using a double-exposure technique. She takes portraits of Nigerian survivors of violence and terrorism — then superimposes it with an image of something that reminds them of how their lives have changed.

For the past three weeks, students across India's capital have been attending a radical new course: happiness.

The Delhi government introduced "happiness classes" in an effort to shift the country's academic focus from student achievement to emotional well-being. In a country that uses standardized testing to determine student success, offers a limited number of seats in top universities and sets high expectations, educators have been seeing mental health consequences.

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