Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Zinc lozenges may shorten common cold duration

From the 16 August 2011 Eureka News Alert

 

Depending on the total dosage of zinc and the composition of lozenges, zinc lozenges may shorten the duration of common cold episodes by up to 40%, says Dr. Harri Hemila from the University of Helsinki.

For treating the common cold, zinc lozenges are dissolved slowly in the mouth. Interest in zinc lozenges started in the early 1980s from the serendipitous observation that a cold of a young girl with leukemia rapidly disappeared when she dissolved a therapeutic zinc tablet in her mouth instead of swallowing it. Since then over a dozen studies have been carried out to find out whether zinc lozenges are effective, but the results of those studies have diverged.

Dr. Harri Hemila of the University of Helsinki, Finland, carried out a meta-analysis of all the placebo-controlled trials that have examined the effect of zinc lozenges on natural common cold infections. Of the 13 trial comparisons identified, five used a total daily zinc dose of less than 75 mg and uniformly those five comparisons found no effect of zinc. Three trials used zinc acetate in daily doses of over 75 mg, with the average indicating a 42% reduction in the duration of colds. Five trials used zinc salts other than acetate in daily doses of over 75 mg, with the average indicating a 20% decrease in the duration of colds.

In several studies, zinc lozenges caused adverse effects, such as bad taste, but there is no evidence that zinc lozenges might cause long term harm. Furthermore, in the most recent trial on zinc acetate lozenges, there were no significant differences between the zinc and placebo groups in the occurrence of adverse effects although the daily dose of zinc was 92 mg. Dr. Hemila concluded that “since a large proportion of trial participants have remained without adverse effects, zinc lozenges might be useful for them as a treatment option for the common cold.”

 

August 17, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

Jailhouse Phone Calls Reveal Why Domestic Violence Victims Recant

Suzanne Perry, Domestic violence victim advocate.

Suzanne Perry, Domestic violence victim advocate (via Wikipedia, public domain image)

From the 17 August Medical News Today article

A new study uses – for the first time – recorded jailhouse telephone conversations between men charged with felony domestic violence and their victims to help reveal why some victims decide not to follow through on the charges. Researchers listened to telephone conversations between 17 accused male abusers in a Washington state detention facility and their female victims, all of whom decided to withdraw their accusations of abuse. For each of the couples, the researchers analyzed up to about three hours of phone conversations…

…After analyzing the calls, the researchers identified a five-step process that went from the victims vigorously defending themselves in the phone calls to agreeing to a plan to recant their testimony against the accused abuser.

Typically, in the first and second conversations there is a heated argument between the couple, revolving around the event leading to the abuse charge. In these early conversations, the victim is strong, and resists the accused perpetrator’s account of what happens.

“The victim starts out with a sense of determination and is eager to advocate for herself, but gradually that erodes as the phone calls continue,” said Bonomi, who is also an affiliate with the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.

In the second stage, the perpetrator minimizes the abuse and tries to convince the victim that what happened wasn’t that serious. In one couple, where the victim suffered strangulation and a severe bite to the face, the accused perpetrator repeatedly reminded the victim that he was being charged with “felony assault,” while asking whether she thought he deserved the felony charge….

“The tipping point for most victims occurs when the perpetrator appeals to her sympathy, by describing how much he is suffering in jail, how depressed he is, and how much he misses her and their children,” Bonomi said. 

“The perpetrator casts himself as the victim, and quite often the real victim responds by trying to soothe and comfort the abuser.” [Flahiff’s emphasis]

Read the entire news article

August 17, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Study Finds That It’s Possible To Be Fat And Healthy

From the 17 August 2011 Medical News Today article 

A study out of York University has some refreshing news: Being fat can actually be good for you.

Published in the journalApplied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, the study finds that obese people who are otherwise healthy live just as long as their slim counterparts, and are less likely to die of cardiovascular causes.

“Our findings challenge the idea that all obese individuals need to lose weight,” says lead author Jennifer Kuk, assistant professor in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health. “Moreover, it’s possible that trying – and failing – to lose weight may be more detrimental than simply staying at an elevated body weight and engaging in a healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity and a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables,” she says.

Read the entire news article

August 17, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Unwashable Places In Produce May Harbor E. coli, Salmonella

Escherichia coli: Scanning electron micrograph...

Image via Wikipedia

From the 17 August 2011 Health News Today article

Sanitizing the outside of produce may not be enough to remove harmful food pathogens, according to a Purdue University study that demonstrated that Salmonella and E. coli can live inside plant tissues.

E. coli 0157:H7 was present in tissues of mung bean sprouts and Salmonella in peanut seedlings after the plants’ seeds were contaminated with the pathogens prior to planting. Amanda Deering, a postdoctoral researcher in food science, said seeds could be contaminated in such a manner before or after planting through tainted soil or water.

“The pathogens were in every major tissue, including the tissue that transports nutrients in plants,” said Deering, whose results were published in separate papers in the Journal of Food Protection and Food Research International….


Proper sanitization would eliminate Salmonella and E. coli from the surface of foods, but not inner tissues, Deering and Pruitt said. Cooking those foods to temperatures known to kill the pathogens would eliminate them from inner tissues. …

Read the article 

August 17, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , | 1 Comment

6 reasons why doctors won’t call patients (with possible solutions)

Conversation between doctor and patient/consumer.

Image via Wikipedia

From the 6 August posting by MARY PAT WHALEY at KevinMD.com

Patients want to know why they can’t get a return call from their doctor’s office – here are six reasons why the calls have increased and physician offices are having trouble meeting the needs of their patients.

 

  1. Medication questions and requests for a prescriptions change. The average number of retail prescriptions per capita increased from 10.1 in 1999 to 12.6 in 2009. (Kaiser Family Foundation calculations using data from IMS Health, http://www.imshealth.com.) Because it is not easy to access prescription cost by payer in the exam room, medical practices get lots of callbacks from patients asking to change their prescriptions once they arrive at the pharmacy and find out how much the prescription costs. Related issue: Many national-chain pharmacies have electronic systems that automatically request a new prescription when the patient is out of refills. Also related: Patients calling to ask for additional medication samples.
  2. Patients are delaying coming to the physician’s office by calling the practice with questions. Patients want to forestall paying their co-pay or their high-deductible by getting their care questions answered without coming to the doctor’s office.
  3. Patients call back with questions about what they heard or didn’t hear in the exam room.They may not remember what the physician told them, they may not have understood the medical jargon, or they may have a hearing problem and were not comfortable asking the physician to repeat something….
Read article and the responses

August 17, 2011 Posted by | health care | , | Leave a comment

The physical and emotional costs of non-compliance

From the 8 August 2011 posting by STEWART SEGAL, MD in KevinMD.com

There are multiple costs to non-compliance, including financial, both personal and societal, and physical-emotional. When patients fail to comply with treatment protocols, fail to get prescribed tests, or fail to stop destructive behaviors, there is a societal cost.

Today, I want to address the physical and emotional costs of non-compliance.  I just read a brilliant article by Roxanne Sukol, MD.  Dr. Sukol’s article discussed the fact that diabetes starts 10 years prior to your doctor making a diagnosis and, if addressed early, often can be avoided.  In her article, Dr. Sukol states, “I like my patient vertical.  Not horizontal.”  Most doctors have favorite sayings.  My favorite is, “May you be so blessed as to never know what disease you prevented.”  I’ll add Dr. Sukol’s to my favorite list.

Another one of my favorite sayings is “There is no such thing as pre-diabetes.  Pre-diabetes is like being pre-pregnant.” …

Read the article

Related article

A 76-Year-Old Man With Multiple Medical Problems and Limited Health Literacy

(readers responses here, along with responses to other cases)

August 17, 2011 Posted by | Health News Items, Professional Health Care Resources | , , , | Leave a comment

Chicago leaders unveil city’s first-ever public health blueprint

From the 16 August 2011 Public Health Newswire blog item by David

While Chicago is known for its deep-dish pizza, sausage and hot dogs, those local delicacies are not likely to be featured on a heart-healthy menu anytime soon. But an ambitious plan unveiled today by city leaders is intended to help transform the health of Chicagoans by addressing everything from the communities in which they live to the food they eat.

Healthy Chicago: A Public Health Agenda for a Healthy City, Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy People and Healthy Homes identifies 12 priorities for action to improve health such as lowering rates of obesity, teen births and infectious disease and improving the infrastructure of the city’s public health system. For each priority area, the plan presents strategies organized into three sections: policies, including regulatory changes and laws that will be pursued; programs and services to be delivered; and education and public awareness efforts to reinforce these policies and programs….

Read the news article

August 17, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , | Leave a comment

Animals in Schools and Daycare Settings

Photo: Girl looking in jar

From the CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Web page

Animals can provide important opportunities for entertainment and learning. However, there is also a risk for getting sick or hurt from contact with animals, including those in school and daycare classrooms.

Animals can be effective and valuable teaching aids for children, but there is a risk of illness and injury from contact with animals. Young children are especially at risk for illness because their immune systems are still developing and because they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths, a behavior that can spread germs. …

Boy washing hands

The page also summarizes

  • Types of diseases animals can spread
  • How to reduce risk of illnesses from animals
  • How to check that animals are healthy
  • Links to further information, for both adults and children

 



August 17, 2011 Posted by | Public Health, Workplace Health | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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