Health

Health
4:24 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Breast-Feeding Is Still Difficult For Many Moms

Amber Medel weighs her 3-week-old baby, Elijah, as lactation consultant Carol Chamblin takes note. Medel had problems breast-feeding and Chamblin encouraged her to use a breast pump to get the milk flowing more easily.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 10:19 am

When Elizabeth O'Connell was expecting her first child, she knew she wanted to breast-feed. And, she says, she sort of expected it to just happen, naturally.

That's not quite how it panned out. "I was experiencing very tremendous pain," she says.

At first she figured that was normal — but soon it became too much to handle. "I was devastated," she says. "The reality is nursing is a wonderful bonding experience, but when you're in pain, you aren't really thinking about that."

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Health
8:03 am
Fri August 1, 2014

Caffeine Gives Athletes An Edge, But Don't Overdo It

Peter Kennaugh of SKY Procycling enjoys an espresso ahead of first stage of the Tour de France 2013, in Corsica.
Scott Mitchell teamsky.com via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 10:19 am

After winning the Tour de France last Sunday, Vincenzo Nibali was tested for a bunch of performance-enhancing substances. But Nibali and his fellow competitors were welcome to have several cups of coffee (or cans of Red Bull), before their ride into Paris; caffeine is not on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list.

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Health
6:19 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

As Ebola Surges, CDC Sends Aid And Warns Against Travel

Red Cross volunteers prepare to bury the body of an Ebola victim in Pendembu, Sierra Leone, early this month.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Originally published on Fri August 1, 2014 11:59 am

For the second time this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has raised the travel alert for three West African countries, as the death toll in the Ebola outbreak increased at an alarming rate.

"The bottom line is that the multiple outbreaks in West Africa are worsening right now," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden told NPR on Thursday. "This is the biggest, most complex and the most difficult outbreak of Ebola that we've had to deal with."

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Health
4:57 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Amid Smoking Decline, Look Who's Still Lighting Up

Tobacco giant Reynolds American is buying Lorillard and acquiring Newport, a popular menthol cigarette. In a shrinking market, Newport is one of the few U.S. brands gaining market share. It is particularly popular among African-American smokers.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 10:18 am

Robin Koval is making a career of her changed tobacco habit.

"I'm a child of a smoker — my father was a heavy smoker," Koval says. "Really typical to the way the story goes, I started smoking when I was 15."

Now she is president and CEO of Legacy, a foundation devoted to preventing tobacco use.

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Health
5:12 am
Thu July 31, 2014

What Somebody's Mummy Can Teach You About Heart Disease

Eduard Egarter-Vigl (left) and Albert Zink (right) sample Italy's mummified iceman for genetic analysis in November 2010. Previous research suggests he, too, was predisposed to heart disease.
Samadelli Marco/EURAC

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 2:47 pm

We think of heart disease as a modern scourge, brought on by our sedentary lifestyles and our affinity for fast food.

But a few years ago, a team of researchers discovered something puzzling — CT scans of Egyptian mummies showed signs of hardened, narrow arteries. Further scans of mummies from other ancient civilizations turned up the same thing.

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Health
1:54 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Problem Drinking In Midlife Linked To Memory Trouble Later

How much is too much?
Robert S. Donovan/Flickr

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 2:58 pm

To ward off big memory problems in your 70s and beyond you may want to cork the bottle more often now.

In a study of 6,500 people published this week, adults with a midlife history of drinking problems were more than twice as likely as those without alcohol problems to suffer severe memory impairment decades later.

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Health
12:36 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

2 Americans Catch Ebola In Liberia, As Nigeria Reports First Case

Dr. Kent Brantly (right) of Samaritan's Purse gives orders to treat Ebola patients through the doorway of the isolation ward in Monrovia, Liberia.
Courtesy of Samaritan's Purse

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 9:09 pm

News about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to go from bad to worse.

Last week a doctor leading the fight against the outbreak got sick in Sierra Leone. Now two American aid workers have tested positive for the virus in Liberia, and the outbreak has likely spread to a fourth country, Nigeria.

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Health
12:17 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Getting Hospice Care Shouldn't Have To Mean Giving Up

Patients who get the comforts of palliative care as well as disease treatment live longer, studies show, than those who only get treatment for the disease.
Annette Birkenfeld iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 2:31 pm

It's a painful dilemma for seriously ill Medicare patients: To receive the extra support, counseling and care provided by the program's hospice benefit, they have to agree to stop receiving curative treatment for their disease.

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Health
4:40 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Taliban In Pakistan Derail World Polio Eradication

A health worker gives a child the polio vaccine in Bannu, Pakistan, June 25. More than a quarter-million children in Taliban-controlled areas are likely to miss their immunizations.
A. Majeed AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 10:46 am

Last January Salma Jaffar was shot while she was going door to door in Karachi, giving children drops of the polio vaccine.

"Even when they took out the pistol, I couldn't understand why he was taking out the gun," Jaffar says of the two men who pulled up on a motorcycle and started shooting at the vaccination team.

"But when he opened fire, that is when I thought it was the end of the life," she says. "My first thought was that I won't be able to see my children again."

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Health
5:00 am
Mon July 28, 2014

New York Debates Whether Housing Counts As Health Care

Lissette Encarnacion in her apartment at The Brook, a supportive housing complex in the New York City borough of the Bronx.
Natalie Fertig WNYC

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 1:52 pm

Standing outside her sixth-floor apartment in the Bronx, Lissette Encarnacion says she sometimes forgets the place belongs to her.

"I'm thinking I'm at somebody else's [house]," she says. "I'm ringing my own doorbell."

Encarnacion used to have a career in banking, and lived in a real home with her son and husband. Then one night everything changed, she says, when her husband came home drunk and angry, and threw her off a balcony.

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Health
5:00 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Why We Think Ignorance Is Bliss, Even When It Hurts Our Health

Lucinda Schreiber for NPR

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 1:52 pm

Medical tests are rarely a pleasant experience, especially if you're worried that something could be seriously wrong. That's true even though we know that regular screenings and tests often help doctors catch issues early.

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Health
5:00 am
Mon July 28, 2014

People Who Feel They Have A Purpose In Life Live Longer

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 7:37 pm

We know that happiness and social connection can have positive benefits on health. Now research suggests that having a sense of purpose or direction in life may also be beneficial.

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Health
4:45 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

How Well Does A Drug Work? Look Beyond The Fine Print

Traditional warning labels on medicine boxes tend to be long on confusing language, critics say, but short on helpful numbers.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri August 1, 2014 12:31 pm

Anybody who has ever seen a drug advertisement or talked over the pros and cons of a medicine with a doctor can be forgiven for being confused.

Sorting out the risks and benefits of taking a medicine can be complicated even for professionals.

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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 Wed July 23, 2014 4:57 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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