Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Take a Break: Celebrate St. Pat's with Riverdance!

It's definitely a stressful time dealing with Covid-19 so take a break this St. Patrick's Day and watch Riverdance.


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Take a Break: Celebrate Carnival


There is no place like Rio for Carnival! The floats, samba, songs, music and more Wow!

Just as New Orleans is known for Mardi Gras, Brazil has earned the distinction of being “The Greatest Show on Earth.” The Rio Carnival runs the Friday through Tuesday, before Ash Wednesday, the day went Lent begins for Catholics.

The Samba Schools are at the heart of the parades. These started from street bands and eventually became groups and clubs and today have close associations with their host communities.


 



Not interested in today’s activities, try the Take a Break Pinterest Board.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Life with Chronic Conditions: How to Ask for Help


After a fire, with our home and life in shambles, I had no hesitancy to ask for help. However, my husband, who has the old Yankee mentality of “self-reliance,” was dead set against it.

Fortunately, we have a great community and good friends, who showed up and just started pitching in. Several days later, my husband mused, “You know all those extra brain cells we are supposed to get? I think they are really your friends who come and have different ideas about how to do something. A lot of times their ideas are much better than your own.”

The months of fire recovery taught me the critical importance of asking for help when needed and to be there for others when they are in need. The bonding that happened with friends and neighbors is something I’ll treasure forever. It also gave me a boost in believing in the goodness of people.

As far as my husband, he’s improved a bit on this score, but he still doesn’t like to ask for directions. 

In her book, MayDay! Asking for Help in Times of Need, M. Nora Klaver notes Most people have never been taught how to ask properly. So we do it badly, sometimes using guilt, coercion and blackmail. We solicit pity when we want assistance, or we ask the wrong person. We might have felt humiliated doing it in the past, so we fear doing it in the future.”
Other reasons we don’t ask for help include:
 • Don’t want to appear needy, dependent, weak, or incompetent
• Fear of rejection or losing control
• Don’t want to put others out
• Feeling ashamed
• Don’t want to face the fact that help is needed
• Concerned about the potential energy drain when others are involved
• Don’t know how to ask for help

Not asking when you need help deprives you of assistance but it also doesn’t allow someone the opportunity to be useful. People like to be needed and want to help.

 As Klaver suggests, We can view the intimidating act of asking for help as a gesture of hope and optimism and not one of despair and misery…Calling "Mayday" deepens connections; reduces stress and restores energy; reminds us that we are not alone; gives happiness to others; leads to personal growth; allows the pleasure of surrender; demonstrates that we're worthy of support; lets others shine; clarifies relationships and solves problems. So what's to resist?

Consider the following when asking for help:
Make a list of  people that you know that could be helpful. Consider people who are friends, family, neighbors, community members, support group members, co-workers, medical providers, school groups, and those you think may have specific knowledge that you may not have. For example, if you need home repairs that you can’t afford, your local community action agency may be the place to call. Keep in mind that people who are active in the community, and you know have helped others, are often good resources for what’s available locally. Don’t hesitate to contact them.

• If you have multiple needs, ask someone you trust if they can help organize help. The free website Lotsa Helping Hands is a great way to coordinate such things as rides, dinners, getting kids to school, yard chores etc. I’ve used this site a lot to help families and I find it’s much easier to have a friend or family member be the lead administrator, with the person in need being a co-administrator. One frustration I’ve found is the person in need will say no to a website like Lotsa Helping Hands, which is unfortunate. Other strategies like group e-mails and texts, while certainly easier than a lot of phone calls, takes more time then using an online community care site.

Use friends and family to help you identify and quantify your needs. Make a list.

Match need with strengths. If you have a friend that’s great with paperwork, see if they are willing to help out by handling this once a month.

• Remember you have to ask for help. People can’t read your minds and many are so busy with their own lives, they may not recognize that you need help. And if they do recognize your need, they may be unsure of what is the best way to support you.

If you want a yes, do it in person.  If you can’t get “facetime,” make a phone call. In today’s world, people have specific ways they like to be contacted. Be aware of that and approach them accordingly. Avoid disclaimers, apologies and bribes. Expressions like “I really hate bothering you” makes it an uncomfortable situation for the person.

Watch Heidi Grant’s TED Talk: How to Ask for Help and Get a Yes for more tips.

• Be specific. Provide date and time, where you are going, how long you need to be there etc. The more relevant information you can provide, the easier it is for people to see if they can help you.

• Listen. Pay attention to their response.

•  If you are asking people to drive you, pick up groceries, or some other service that needs to be paid for, having cash on hand will help offset these expenses.

Apply the “three thanks” rule: say thank when they agree to help, when they’ve helped you and at a later date. Sending personal notes, arranging a thank-you lunch are all very nice touches that people appreciate. The more you let them know how their assistance helped you, the better they will feel about helping again.

Other Resources to Check Out

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Life with Chronic Conditions: Covid-10 Prepare Don’t Panic


This past week, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) have advised that American should prepare, not panic, for the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19). In such an event, people should be prepared for the possibility of disruptions to their daily lives which could include closing schools, working from home and delaying elective medical procedures.

With each passing day, more concerns are raised as there are now cases of “community-acquired” Covid-19, meaning they had no known risk factors.

Those affected by chronic and/or life threatening conditions are among the groups most at risk. In view of that, below are measures that can be taken to both reduce risk as well as be prepared in the event you need to quarantine in place

Talk to your employer about working at home.

Have sufficient quantities of the following for two weeks:
• food
• prescription medications, oxygen, over the counter medications and other medical supplies
• incidentals such as toothpaste, toilet paper
• a plan in place for someone who might become ill
• activities to stay occupied, particularly for children

Prevention measures to stop the spread: Because COVID-19 spreads similarly to flu and colds, the biggest risk is contact with someone who is infected. Think Cover & Wash.
• Cover your cough with your arm or tissue not your hand

• Wash your hands throughout the day with soap & water, using hand sanitizer when that’s not available. Hand washing done correctly is one of the best 20 second prevention tools and is the cornerstone of all infection prevention programs. Proper hand washing includes using soap (either bar or liquid), rubbing the backs of hands, between your fingers and under your nails and 20 seconds. To learn the proper way to wash your hands, watch the video below.




 • Stay at home if you are sick. Keep your child out of school if they are sick

• Avoid people who are sick and avoid touching your face

• Skip events that put you in contact with a large group of people. Consider postponing travel.

• Engage in general health behaviors by; Eating healthy, exercising, managing stress, getting adequate sleep and keeping all medical appointments.

• Check to see if you can receive medical care through a telehealth system

Know the Symptoms: If you develop symptoms, contact your medical provider for further instructions. COVID-19 symptoms  are similar to those of the flu:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Sometimes vomiting and diarrhea
  • Aches and pains
  • Complications like pneumonia

Have a Plan: If you should get sick, be it flu or something else, you should have plan in place with family and caregivers so that they know your current health situation, who your medical provider(s) is and any particular wishes you have about your care and treatment.

Monitor Your Local News for Relevant Information: Don’t be obsessed, but stay informed about what is happening in your area regarding Covid-19 and follow instructions provided by your health department.
If you are concerned: Discuss your concerns with your medical provider

Additional Resources

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Take a Break: Engage with a cloud


It’s not quite March, but the winds are picking up-remember the adage March comes in like a lion but out like a lamb-which creates some wonderful cloud formations.

Take a break and enjoy the clouds. While it’s great to be outside sitting on a park bench enjoying them, that may not be possible. Find a place in your house where you can be comfortable and watch the clouds. Take some pictures of your favorite clouds. Do any of them remind you of someone? If so send it to them.

Not interested in today’s activities, try the Take a Break Pinterest Board.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Life with Chronic Conditions: Soap, Water & Hand Washing


With the intense media coverage regarding the coronavirus, one of the primary ways to reduce its spread (plus cold and flu) is proper hand washing with soap and water.

Since we’ve all been washing our hands since before we can remember, you’d think we’d have it down pat. Unfortunately, not so much. Most people do not practice good hand hygiene. This not only refers to when hands are washed, but how and with what type of soap.

You go to wash your hands and you find a choice of bar soap, liquid bottled soap and a third option anti-bacterial soap? Which do you choose? Why?

If you are like many people, who have been influenced by marketing strategies, you may think the liquid or anti-bacterial soap may be best. As it turns out, unless you work in a health care setting, don’t use antibacterial products because their use can contribute to the rise of antibiotic-resistant super bugs. 6 Reasons Why You Should Stop Using Antibacterial Soap 

Before answering the question, which cleans better liquid or bar soap, let’s back track to how soap and water clean hands.

Basically the water, which can be any temperature, will get rid of a fair amount of gunk on your hands by physically rinsing it away. Soap removes the oily stuff that water can’t, as it bonds to both water and skin oils, leaving you with clean skin provided you wash appropriately and for a sufficient amount of time (20 secs). More to follow on proper hand washing and drying.

Liquid or Bar: Which is better?
If a bar of soap is sitting in water it can look pretty disgusting. However, the research indicates that both bar soap and liquid do the same job of getting rid of the bad bacteria, even if that bar of soap looks disgusting.

In spite of mass marketing campaigns to promote liquid soaps over bar, there is a growing trend “back to the bar.” With both being equally effective as far as removing harmful bacteria, liquid has a negative impact on the environment due to production and how it’s packaged, plus it costs considerably more.

When should you wash your hands?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), you should wash your hands
• Before, during, and after preparing food
• Before eating food
• Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
• Before and after treating a cut or wound
• After using the toilet
• After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
• After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
• After handling pet food or pet treats
• After touching garbage

How to Wash Your Hands
The CDC recommends the following 5 steps
1.    Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
2.    Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
3.    Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
4.    Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
5.    Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.



When and How to Use Hand Sanitizer
Soap and water are best, but when not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Note that sanitizers don’t get rid of all types of germs and are not effective with visible dirt and grime. They also don’t remove harmful chemicals such as pesticides and heavy metals.

• Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
• Rub your hands together.
• Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. 
• This should take around 20 seconds.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Take a Break: Make a shirt folding board


Blame it on another Vermont snowstorm, but it's time to try to create a DIY of an “As seen on TV" product. 

 Yes, you can make a shirt folding board for free using cardboard and duct tape. It’s an easy DIY project and it may even inspire you, or other members of your household, to fold laundry

Below is a helpful video, but if you prefer, these are good written directions (lots of pictures).






There are very quick ways to fold T shirts, that don’t require a device, so you may this find video useful.

And if you are a Marie Kondo fan, check out her basic clothes folding methods. Her approach may be the best for space saving and for easy access when stored. 




Not interested in today’s activities, try the Take a Break Pinterest Board.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Journal Watch February 2020





PAIN
 The neuroanatomy of trigeminal neuralgia´s treatment response: Neuroimaging findings suggest that the trigeminal nerve and hippocampus volumes predict surgical treatment success. Cephalalgia

Virtual Physical Therapy Feasible Following Knee Replacement: Virtual physical therapy (PT) with telerehabilitation for skilled clinical oversight significantly lowers three-month health care costs after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) while providing similar effectiveness to traditional PT, according to a study published in the Jan. 15 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

More autonomy at work reduces the risk of low back pain: A team of psychologists has carried out a meta-analysis to identify psychosocial work factors that pose a risk for the development of chronic low back pain (CLBP). Their study clearly indicates that not only physical but also psychological and social factors exert considerable influence on the development of the disease. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 

Proactive Pain Management May Cut Postop Opioid Prescriptions: An enhanced recovery after surgery program complemented by a preemptive pain management program is associated with a decrease in opioid prescriptions at discharge following minimally invasive foregut surgery, according to a study published in the February issue of the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.

 

An ACL Tear Can Affect Your Brain in Addition to Your Knee: A new study
finds a knee injury affects brain structure and can have negative impacts on it. Various types of injuries, and to specific parts of the body, can affect the brain differently, but the effects can be similar. NeuroImage

Back pain: How effective are yoga, tai chi, and qigong? Low back pain affects a substantial proportion of adults. Currently, the treatment options are limited and often fall short. A new review asks if yoga, tai chi, and qigong might prove effective in reducing pain. The latest review concludes that these practices may benefit some people with low back pain. However, because there is so little high quality research, it is currently impossible to reach reliable conclusions. Holistic Nursing Practice,


COMPLEMENTARY & ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Medicinal Cannabis May Not Help with Sleep in the Long Run: A new study found some beneficial effects of medical cannabis on sleep in people with chronic pain, but frequent cannabis use may cause other sleep problems. Researchers found that people who used medical cannabis were slightly less likely to report waking up in the middle of the night compared to non-medical cannabis users. Researchers still aren’t sure how the mechanisms behind the possible sleep benefits of cannabis work. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care

Understand the Link Between Heart Disease and Marijuana: When it comes to marijuana’s health effects on humans, the issue can be as gray and elusive as smoke. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology states that links between heart disease and marijuana are becoming clearer, although as more marijuana-infused products hit the market, its cardiovascular effects are “not well understood.

Cannabis could make people more prone to false memories: New research finds that intoxication with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in cannabis, makes people more predisposed to forming false memories. The findings have significant legal implications. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 Cognitive Behavioral Program Benefits Patients With Diabetes: A peer-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)-based intervention may improve quality of life (QOL) among patients with diabetes and chronic pain, according to a study published in the January/February issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

People with obesity who experience self-directed weight shaming benefit from intervention: in a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at Penn Medicine showed that people who received a new stigma-reduction intervention, along with standard behavioral weight loss treatment, devalued themselves less due to their weight compared to participants who only received the weight loss treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology

FDA ACTION
• Approved Tepezza (teprotumumab-trbw) for treatment of thyroid eye disease

• Approved Tazverik to treat metastatic, locally advanced epithelioid sarcoma

• Approved Palforzia (Peanut [Arachis hypogaea] Allergen Powder-dnfp) to alleviate allergic reactions to accidental peanut exposure,
• authorized marketing of software to assist medical professionals in the acquisition of cardiac ultrasound, or echocardiography, images
• Issued an emergency use authorization to enable emergency use of the CDC’s 2019-nCoV Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel
• Requests Market withdrawal of Blviq (weight loss drug) due to cancer risk
• Recalled MiniMed 600 Series Insulin Pumps made by Medtronic due to a defect that puts users at risk for serious harm or death


PREVENTION: Exercise
How High Energy Music Can Make Your Workout More Effective: A new study from Italy found that listening to high tempo music during exercise can distract you and make your workouts seem less challenging, ultimately making them more beneficial. Frontiers in Psychology

How Playing Golf Can Help Your Health: Researchers found that playing golf regularly, at least once a month, was associated with a lower risk of death. The study authors believe that the social nature of golf is valuable to individuals who may not be able to try a rigorous exercise routine. International Stroke Conference


PREVENTION: Diet/Nutrition
What Nutritionists Think About Starbucks’ 3 New Plant-Based Drinks: Not so much! Starbucks has added 3 new plant-based, dairy-free coffee drinks to their menu: Almondmilk Honey Flat White, Oatmilk Honey Latte, and Coconutmilk Latte. Nutritionists point out that these new drinks are high in sugar and calories and advise they be enjoyed occasionally rather than viewed as a daily coffee option. The 16-ounce or Grande-sized drinks for all 3 new beverages also contain more caffeine than many energy drinks. Healthline 

Low-Carb, Low-Fat Diets Not Tied to Mortality Overall: Low-carbohydrate diet and low-fat diet scores are not associated with total mortality, according to a study published online Jan. 21 in JAMA Internal Medicine. However, unhealthy low-carb diet, low-fat diet associated with higher total mortality. 

To Help IBD Symptoms, Target Your Microbiome with These Foods: People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are often confused about which foods may ease symptoms and which ones may make them worse. Based on medical research, there’s no single plan that definitively offers relief. But a recent study on a new diet called the IBD-AID diet has shown that it may help. The diet focuses on correcting gut bacteria balance with probiotic and prebiotic foods. Healthline

'2–3 oz of walnuts' daily may benefit heart and gut health: A new trial suggests that people who eat walnuts every day may have better gut health and a lower risk of heart disease. Journal of Nutrition

Every Girl Scout Cookie Ranked from Healthiest to Unhealthiest: Shortbread/Trefoils were considered the healthiest while many peoples favorite-Thin Mints-came in a close second. In last place was Girl Scout S’mores. Healthline

With high fiber diets, more protein may mean more bloating: People who eat high fiber diets are more likely to experience bloating if their high fiber diet is protein-rich as compared to carbohydrate-rich, according to a study. Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology

An egg a day not tied to risk of heart disease:An analysis of three large, long-term multinational studies suggests that moderate egg intake, which is about one egg per day in most people, does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease or mortality even if people have a history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Vegetarian diet associated with a 16% lower risk of developing a UTI: Studying Taiwanese buddhists has revealed a link between plant-based foods and a lower risk of urinary tract infections. Scientific Reports

Eating meat was linked to higher risk of heart disease: Researchers looked at the health data of nearly 30,000 adults who had no history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) at baseline and provided follow-up data for up to three decades. Those who ate higher amounts of processed meat, unprocessed meat or poultry, but not fish, were significantly associated with a slightly higher risk of heart disease. People who ate higher amounts of processed and unprocessed meat, but not chicken or fish, were strongly associated with a slightly higher risk of death, according to the new studyTrusted Source in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Eat More Plants, Less Meat, to Lower Your Diabetes, Heart Disease Risk: People with a lower intake of sulfur amino acids were found to have a lower cardiometabolic disease risk score. Cardiometabolic diseases include conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Study participants had a sulfur amino acid intake about 2 1/2 times greater than what’s recommended. It appears that many people could benefit from reducing their protein intake. Eating more plant foods and less meat can help people take in fewer sulfur amino acids. The Lancet

 

Not all in-home drinking water filters completely remove toxic PFAS: A new study  finds that - while using any filter is better than using none - many household filters are only partially effective at removing toxic perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from drinking water. A few, if not properly maintained, can even make the situation worse. "In contrast, the effectiveness of activated-carbon filters used in many pitcher, countertop, refrigerator and faucet-mounted styles was inconsistent and unpredictable. The whole-house systems were also widely variable and in some cases actually increased PFAS levels in the water." Environmental Science & Technology Letters

Alzheimer’s Risk May Be Reduced by Eating Apples and Other Foods Rich in Flavonoids: In a study published in the journal Neurology, researchers say that consuming flavonoids might help fight the advancement of Alzheimer’s disease. Flavonoids are found in fruits, vegetables, chocolate, tea, and wine. Participants who consumed the most flavonoids had a 48 percent lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Experts say a healthy diet, including foods with flavonoids, as well as lifestyle factors like exercise and sleep can help reduce dementia risk.

Cocoa Consumption May Improve Walking Performance in PAD: Cocoa consumption may improve walking performance in individuals with peripheral artery disease (PAD), according to a study published online Feb. 14 in Circulation Research.

 

PREVENTION: Supplements
Online information about probiotics often misleading: As probiotics grow in popularity, a recent study investigates the reliability of online information. They find that the majority of "top" websites provide information that lacks scientific evidence. Frontiers in Medicine.

Algae shown to improve gastrointestinal health: Project is the first to test green algae on symptoms related to human digestion: A green, single-celled organism called Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has served as a model species for topics spanning algae-based biofuels to plant evolution. While algae have been used as dietary nutraceuticals that provide beneficial oils, vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and antioxidants, the benefits of consuming C. reinhardtii were previously unexplored. Researchers have now completed the first study in humans demonstrating that C. reinhardtii helps improve human gastrointestinal problems related to irritable bowel syndrome, including diarrhea, gas and bloating. Journal of Functional Foods

 

Zinc lozenges did not shorten the duration of colds: Administration of zinc acetate lozenges to common cold patients did not shorten colds in a randomized trial. BMJ Open

 

PREVENTION: Other
Belly Fat Linked to Increased Risk of Repeat Heart Attacks: Researchers say belly fat is a major risk factor for repeat heart attacks, even more than BMI readings. Experts say abdominal obesity can increase a person’s risk for a second heart attack even if they are taking proper medication and following other medical advice. They note that a first attack can cause inflammation, stress, and changes in arteries that can lead to a second attack. Healthline

 

Exposure to diesel exhaust particles linked to pneumococcal disease susceptibility: A new study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, shows that exposure to diesel exhaust particles (DEPs) can increase an individual's susceptibility to pneumococcal disease. The bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common cause of pneumonia and meningitis and the leading cause of infectious disease deaths in under-5s and elderly groups worldwide.

Shingles: Does adult exposure to chickenpox lower risk? A new study questions the notion that re exposure to chickenpox in adulthood completely prevents the development of herpes zoster, or shingles. The new findings show that while the risk drops significantly, full immunization is unlikely. As a result, the researchers call for a reappraisal of childhood vaccination policies. The BMJ

Alcohol-related death rates are rising in nearly every age group: According to a recent study, more people in the United States are drinking more alcohol and experiencing the harmful effects. The number of hospitalizations is rising, as are death rates. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

 

New Recommendation to Start Colorectal Cancer Screenings at Age 45: A new study recommends colorectal cancer screenings start at age 45. Researchers say that’s because of the increasing number of colorectal cancer cases in younger adults. Experts say obesity is a major risk factor for colorectal cancer and the country’s obesity crisis makes earlier screening even more important. JAMA Network OpenTrusted Source

U.S. Adult Immunization Schedule Updated for 2020: In a clinical guideline published online Feb. 4 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) outlines its 2020 Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule. Changes include routine annual influenza vaccination for all persons aged 6 months and older without contraindications. No preferential recommendation is made for one influenza vaccine product over another. All persons with HIV aged 1 year or older should be routinely vaccinated with the hepatitis A vaccine. The hepatitis A vaccine is also recommended for persons working in settings of exposure; any person who wants to be protected against the hepatitis A virus infection may be vaccinated. Catch-up human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination is recommended for all adults through age 26 years who are not adequately vaccinated. Shared clinical decision making is recommended regarding HPV vaccination for adults aged 27 to 45 years who are not adequately vaccinated; discussion of vaccination should be considered for those most likely to benefit.

Soldiers With Traumatic Brain Injury at Risk for Mental Illness: U.S. combat soldiers who have suffered a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) are more likely to experience a range of mental health disorders than soldiers with other serious injuries, according to a study recently published in Military Medicine.

Cervical cancer screening saves lives: A new study led by University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center scientists shows that screening every three years instead of annually prevents most cervical cancers. And of the cancers that are found during routine screenings, most are caught before they've had a chance to spread, making them far easier to treat. International Journal of Cancer

Waking to Music (Not a Beeping Alarm) Can Help You Feel More Alert: Australian researchers say the type of alarm you use may affect how easily you wake up. More harsh tones may leave you feeling groggy. More melodic alarms may help you wake up more alert. The study, which was published in PLoS One, involved 50 people.

Link Between Gum Disease and Risk of a Stroke: According to two research abstracts being presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference, gum disease (also known as periodontitis or periodontal disease) was linked to a higher rate of strokes caused by the hardening of large arteries in the brain and also with severe artery blockages that haven’t yet caused symptoms. The studies suggest that treating gum disease (with other stroke risk factors) could reduce risk for stroke.

Shingles Can Increase Stroke Risk. Getting the Vaccine Can Reduce It: A new study concludes that the risk of stroke in people over 50 can be reduced by getting a shingles vaccine. Researchers reported the effectiveness of the shingles vaccine decreases as people get older. International Stroke Conference 2020

TREATMENT
Time of Day for Taking Warfarin Does Not Matter: Time of day for taking warfarin makes no difference on the drug's effectiveness, according to a study published in the January/February issue of the Annals of Family Medicine

5 major advances in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) treatment: Breakthrough research to be presented at the Crohn's & Colitis Congress®, includes: Lymphoma not associated with anti-TNF therapy in pediatric IBD patients; AZD4205, a selective, GI tract-enriched selective JAK1 inhibitor for Crohn's disease: preclinical evidence and Phase I data; Diet as a microbiome-centered therapy for IBD; Thanks to biologics, less ulcerative colitis patients need their colon removed; Siblings close in age may make the best fecal microbiota donor for ulcerative colitis patients.

High-Dose IV Vitamin C Does Not Speed Resolution of Septic Shock: Treatment with intravenous vitamin C, hydrocortisone, and thiamine does not improve the duration of time alive and vasopressor administration-free compared with intravenous hydrocortisone alone among patients with septic shock, according to a study published online Jan. 17 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  

Vitamin C-B1-steroid combo linked to lower septic shock mortality in kids: Treating septic shock in children with a combination of intravenous vitamin C, vitamin B1 and hydrocortisone (a commonly used steroid) is associated with lower mortality, according to a new study. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine

Can lithium halt progression of Alzheimer's disease? Research has shown that, when given in a formulation that facilitates passage to the brain, lithium in doses up to 400 times lower than what is currently being prescribed for mood disorders is capable of both halting signs of advanced Alzheimer's pathology such as amyloid plaques and of recovering lost cognitive abilities. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease

4 FDA Approved Drugs to Treat Flu Symptoms: The flu vaccine can help prevent the flu, but if you do get sick, there are four FDA-approved medications for treating flu symptoms- oseltamivir phosphate (Tamiflu), baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza), peramivir (Rapivab), and zanamivir (Relenza). Meds need to be taken within 24 to 48 hours of onset of symptoms to be effective. Typically, the medications lessen severity of symptoms by preventing the flu virus from multiplying.  The 2019-20 dominant flu strains have peaked at unusual times and are also affecting children and young adults more than usual. Healthline

Blue light may aid recovery after concussion: A study that the United States military funded concludes that blue light can help heal mild traumatic brain injury simply by helping the person sleep better. “Our findings suggest that morning blue light exposure helps reset the normal sleep-wake cycle each day, and this maximizes the ability to get better sleep during the night, thus leading to better recovery from concussion.”  Neurobiology of Disease.

Excedrin Migraine Products May Soon Be in Short Supply — What You Can Do: Production of two of the most frequently used Excedrin migraine relief medications has been temporarily halted. There aren’t expected to be any safety concerns or issues with long-term availability, but there may be shortages of Excedrin Migraine and Excedrin Extra Strength. Experts say people who get migraine headaches may want to talk with a healthcare provider about treatment alternatives. Experts add the shortages might not be such a bad thing, as using a particular medication too frequently can lead to an increase in headaches. Healthline

 

Tramadol Linked to Increased Hip Fracture Risk in Adults Aged ≥50: For older adults, initiation of tramadol is associated with an increased risk for hip fracture compared with initiation of codeine, ibuprofen, and other commonly used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, according to a study published online Feb. 5 in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Diabetes drug may compromise cardiovascular health: New research uses high quality data to find that the type 2 diabetes drug rosiglitazone raises the risk of adverse cardiovascular events by 33%. The BMJ

Viagra Can Cause Vision Problems in Some Men: An eye specialist in Turkey reports that temporary vision problems have occurred in some of his patients who use Viagra. Experts have reported vision issues with Viagra use in the past. They say most of those problems happened in men who took a larger than recommended dose of the erectile dysfunction drug. Men with certain preexisting health conditions can also be more prone to vision problems from Viagra. American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).

Beta-blockers and aspirin may protect the heart during bereavement: New research finds that a combination of low dose aspirin and beta-blockers reduces blood pressure and decreases symptoms of anxiety during bereavement. The findings could materialize into preventive measures that clinicians incorporate into their practices. American Heart Journal

CAREGIVING
Family caregivers are rarely asked about needing assistance with caring for older adults: Most of the surveyed caregivers who interacted with health care workers reported that the latter always or usually listen to them (88.8 percent) and ask about their understanding of older adults' treatments (72.1 percent). A much smaller proportion (28.2 percent) reported that health care workers always or usually asked them whether they needed help in their care of the older adult. JAMA Open Network

Caregivers Are in Need of Better Health Care Coverage, Access: Unpaid adult caregivers are at higher risk for not having insurance and putting off necessary health services due to cost, according to a study recently published in Rehabilitation Psychology.

OTHER
Hot flashes impair memory performance: If you're having difficulty identifying the right word to express yourself clearly or remembering a story correctly, you may blame menopause. A new study suggests that physiologic hot flashes are associated with decreased verbal memory and with alterations in brain function during encoding and retrieval of memory, especially in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Menopause 

Resting heart rate: No such thing as 'normal': A recent study concludes that when it comes to resting heart rate (RHR), “normal” does not exist. Although most people’s RHR is relatively stable over time, from person to person, rates vary by as much as 70 beats per minute (bpm). “A single measurement of heart rate provides very little useful information about the current health of an individual, unless well out of the expected range of normal.” PLOS ONE

1 in 5 Medical Procedures May Lead to Surprise Hospital Bills — Even If You’re Insured: A new study reports that 20 percent of hospital bills can contain surprise charges, even for people who are fully insured. The researchers say many of the higher charges involve “surgical assistants” and other ancillary personnel who aren’t in a patient’s network coverage. JAMA https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2760735