Health

Health
11:32 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Globe-Trotting Virus Hides Inside People's Gut Bacteria

We are all Russian nesting dolls: Our intestines house many bacteria, which house many viruses. These so-called bacteriophages are likely as important for our health as the bacteria they live in.
Lisa Brown for NPR

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 1:34 pm

New viruses are a dime a dozen.

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Health
7:57 am
Thu July 24, 2014

A Simple Way To Reduce Stroke Risk: Take Your Pulse

Sure, your doctor can do this. But you can, too. And for stroke patients, it could be a lifesaver.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 6:02 pm

An irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation is a big cause of stroke, especially for people who have recently had a stroke. But it's not something that most people can feel.

Doctors test for atrial fibrillation by hooking people up to an electrocardiogram machine at the office, or having them wear a Holter monitor for a day or a week. There are also implantable monitors to check for afib, but they aren't widely used.

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Health
10:20 am
Wed July 23, 2014

California Nurses Union Braces For Contract Battle

Members of the California Nurses Association say they rallied in Sacramento in May to raise public awareness of their concerns about patient care in California hospitals.
April Dembosky KQED

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 7:51 am

Going to a union meeting of nurses is a little bit like going to an evangelical church service.

"We all have to stand up, and it's a struggle," says Veronica Cambra, a nurse reporting a grievance at Kaiser Hospital in Fremont, Calif., as though she's giving testimony. "And we will overcome this, OK?"

The rest of the nurses respond with the passion of a devout congregation, humming "Mmm hmmm," and "That's right," through the series of speeches.

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Health
7:29 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Many Kids Who Are Obese Or Overweight Don't Know It

Fun hikes offer health benefits for kids of every shape and size.
Annette Birkenfeld annedde/iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 11:07 am

Kids can be cruel, especially about weight. So you might think overweight or obese children know all too well that they're heavy — thanks to playground politics. But that's not necessarily so, according to government data covering about 6,100 kids and teens ages 8-15.

About 30 percent "misperceived" their weight status (underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese), according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. (The CDC bases those categories on body mass index, adjusted for gender and age.)

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Health
3:17 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Rumor Patrol: No, A Snake In A Bag Did Not Cause Ebola

Eerie protective suits and shiny body bags have fueled rumors about the origins of Ebola. Here, a burial team removes the body of a person suspected to have died from the virus in the village of Pendembu, Sierra Leone.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 8:17 pm

"A lady had a snake in a bag. When somebody opened the bag, that made the lady die."

That's the beginning of a story that Temba Morris often hears about the origins of Ebola. Morris runs a government health clinic in a remote village near Sierra Leone's border with Guinea. According to the story, somebody else then looked inside the bag.

"And the one who opened the bag also died," is what Morris hears next. The snake escaped into the Sierra Leone bush.

So there you have it: Ebola is an evil snake that will kill you if you look at it.

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Health
7:41 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Son's Mental Illness Prompts Billionaire's Big Donation To Psychiatric Research

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 4:43 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Health
7:10 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Experimental Cocktail May Speed Up Cure Of Drug-Resistant TB

An Indian woman takes tuberculosis pills at a clinic in Mumbai. More than 700 Indians die from TB each day. That's one death every two minutes.
Pal Pillai AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 7:14 pm

It's been a long time coming — nearly a half century. But the world is finally close to gaining a new weapon against a growing problem: drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Over the past few decades, TB has quietly evolved into dangerous forms that can't be stopped with traditional antibiotics. Now nearly a half million people around the globe are infected with these deadly strains of the bacteria.

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Health
4:45 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Ebola Is A Deadly Virus — But Doctors Say It Can Be Beaten

Sylvester Jusu is a volunteer who works with the Red Cross burial team in Sierra Leone.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 8:34 pm

Saidu Kanneh was given a hero's welcome last week when he walked into a community meeting about Ebola in a tiny village of mud huts in the Kissi Kama region of Sierra Leone. Kanneh was diagnosed with Ebola early in July, was treated for 12 days in a Doctors Without Borders hospital and overcame the disease.

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Health
5:06 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

What The Odds Fail To Capture When A Health Crisis Hits

Brian Zikmund-Fisher with his wife, Naomi, and daughter, Eve, in 1999, after he had a bone marrow transplant. He says he made the decision to have the treatment based on factors he couldn't quantify.
Courtesy of Brian Zikmund-Fisher

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 2:44 pm

How well do we understand and act on probabilities that something will happen? A 30 percent chance of this or an 80 percent chance of that?

As it turns out, making decisions based on the odds can be an extremely difficult thing to do, even for people who study the science of how we make decisions.

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Health
12:47 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Straightening Sisay's Spine: A Twist Of Fate Saves A Boy's Life

Andrew Dickinson Andrew Dickinson for NPR

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 2:24 pm

One dewy morning back in May 2013, a dozen children gathered in an elementary school courtyard to play soccer in Addis Ababa. Seven-year-old Sisay Gudeta stood alone on the balcony above them.

Sisay poked his head through the arms of a rusty, blue guard rail, staring down at his classmates as they kicked an empty plastic bottle across the pavement. The kids rarely ask him to play, Sisay says. They are afraid to touch him, afraid of the bump on his back that stretches out his neatly pressed school sweater.

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Health
3:36 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Head Scientist At CDC Weighs Costs Of Recent Lab Safety Breaches

The CDC's director, Tom Frieden, testified before a congressional subcommittee Wednesday regarding a recent anthrax incident and lab safety improvements he is instituting.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun July 20, 2014 10:40 am

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is on the hot seat.

It all started in mid-June, when the CDC announced that dozens of its scientists might have accidentally been exposed to anthrax.

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Health
2:00 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Feeling The Heat, Burning The Suits: Reporting On Ebola From Sierra Leone

Construction workers repair the roof inside the isolation area at the Doctors Without Borders treatment center in Kailahun.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 5:36 pm

NPR's Jason Beaubien is in Sierra Leone, covering the Ebola outbreak that began in March in Guinea and has spread to neighboring countries. When we spoke Thursday, he had just toured the treatment center built by Doctors Without Borders in the town of Kailahun. With 64 beds, it's the largest Ebola isolation ward ever built. Currently there are 31 patients.

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Health
3:31 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Skimping On Sleep Can Stress Body And Brain

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 8:58 am

"The lion and calf shall lie down together," Woody Allen once wrote, "but the calf won't get much sleep."

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Health
12:44 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Dialing Back Stress With A Bubble Bath, Beach Trip And Bees

Avi Ofer NPR

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 8:58 am

Standing in the middle of a swarm of bees might not be your idea of stress relief, but it works for Ray Von Culin. He's a beekeeper in Washington, D.C., and he says caring for bees is one of the most relaxing things in his life.

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Health
4:28 am
Mon July 14, 2014

To Make Children Healthier, A Doctor Prescribes A Trip To The Park

Zarr with Kellsi Aguilar and her father, Felipe, in Zarr's Washington, D.C., office.
Sam Sanders/NPR

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 1:08 pm

When Dr. Robert Zarr wanted a young patient to get more exercise, he gave her an unusual prescription: Get off the bus to school earlier.

"She has to take a bus to the train, then a train to another bus, then that bus to her school," says Zarr, a pediatrician at Unity Health Care, a clinic that serves low-income and uninsured families in Washington, D.C. So the prescription read: "Walk the remaining four blocks on the second bus on your route to school from home, every day."

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Health
3:36 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Why HIV Spreads Less Easily In Heterosexual Couples

HIV particles (red) invade a human immune cell. When HIV is transmitted through sex, only the strongest versions of the virus establish long-term infection.
Chris Bjornberg/ScienceSource

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 7:07 pm

HIV is sexist.

A woman is twice as likely to catch the virus from an infected partner in a heterosexual relationship than a man is.

And homosexual men are at even greater risk. They're more than 20 times as likely to get infected from an HIV-positive partner than partners in a heterosexual relationship.

Now scientists at Microsoft Research and the Zambia-Emory HIV Project have a clue about why these disparities exist.

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Health
3:27 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Bingeing On Bad News Can Fuel Daily Stress

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 3:34 pm

If you're feeling stressed these days, the news media may be partly to blame.

At least that's the suggestion of a national survey conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Health
3:32 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Like All Animals, We Need Stress. Just Not Too Much

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 12:09 pm

Ask somebody about stress, and you're likely to hear an outpouring about all the bad things that cause it — and the bad things that result. But if you ask a biologist, you'll hear that stress can be good.

In fact, it's essential.

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Health
3:37 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Stress Causes Health Problems, Which Then Cause More Stress

Staci Moritz and her son Aidan, 11, play at a park in their neighborhood in Portland, Ore. Caring for three children and her injured husband exacerbated her health problems.
Beth Nakamura for NPR

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 12:38 pm

Stress is bad for your health. And bad health causes a lot of stress.

Poor health and disability are common among people who say they suffer from a lot of stress, according to a national poll by NPR, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

And it's not just those whose own health is poor. Serious illness and injury often impose enormous stress on entire families.

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Health
4:07 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

The Secret History Behind The Science Of Stress

Camel marketed smoke breaks at work as time spent relaxing instead of stressing. Camel, 1964.
Stanford University

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 3:47 pm

The modern idea of stress began on a rooftop in Canada, with a handful of rats freezing in the winter wind.

This was 1936 and by that point the owner of the rats, an endocrinologist named Hans Selye, had become expert at making rats suffer for science.

"He would subject them to extreme temperatures, make them go hungry for long periods, or make them exercise a lot," the medical historian Mark Jackson says. "Then what he would do is kill the rats and look at their organs."

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