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Monday
Aug192019

10 common sleep myths: Put bad habits to rest and wake up a better sleeping routine

Adene Sanchez/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Ah, sleep. Why is our most precious recharging resource so scarce in our busy, modern lives?

We all know the excuses: demanding schedules, social lives and screen time. Sometimes it's subconscious, but we're all making decisions to do these things instead of getting the sleep we need.

ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jen Ashton walked us through some of the most common myths about sleep to set the record straight:

Myth 1: I can function just fine on 5 to 6 hours of sleep, so I don't need to change my habits

FALSE: 95% of adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.

Getting enough sleep, is a "massive problem in this country," according Ashton.

"Sleep has a PR problem. I think we look at sleep like it's a luxury, but it's actually a medical necessity," she said. "Just because you can function on less sleep doesn't mean you should function on less sleep."

Myth 2: If I don't get enough sleep during the week, I can make it up over weekend

FALSE: "Our body's circadian rhythms are finely tuned and connected to regular sleep behavior. And our hormones, our metabolism, all kinds of neurotransmitters, are all tied into those circadian rhythms and when we're sleeping," Ashton said.

Weekend schedules often vary from our weekdays, but it's best to not alter your sleep schedule by more than an hour on either end.

"Locking down a sleep schedule is not just important for infants and babies; it's really important for adults as well," Ashton said.

Myth 3: I might be tired the next day, but there are no long-term effects of not getting enough sleep

FALSE: "People who consistently get insufficient sleep are at increased risk for neurocognitive decline, dementia, poor concentration, mood disorders like depression and anxiety -- and that's just from the neck up," Ashton said.

Poor sleep affects our ability to efficiently metabolize food, and puts us at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer, Ashton added.

Myth 4: It's OK and faster to fall asleep with the TV on

FALSE: "Don't fall asleep with the TV on," Ashton said. "You might think you're asleep, but your brain is registering that light, and it's actually stimulating your brain and helping to prevent good, quality sleep."

On that note, any light that's visible to you -- even a street lamp in the distance or a hall light under the door -- is affecting your sleep. Blackout curtains are your best friend.

Myth 5: You get better sleep when your bedroom is cold

TRUE: If you often get up in the middle of the night, it might be your body waking you up because you're sweating or too hot.

Ashton keeps her room at a cool 66 degrees year-round for a restful and undisturbed night of sleep, but you can adjust your levels to whatever feels comfortable for you.

Myth 6: Bedtime starts when you get in bed

FALSE: You should unplug an hour before you want to go to bed. Put your phone down, turn off the TV and get off the computer. Even dimming the lights in your house will signal to your brain that it's time to go to sleep.

Treat yourself to a warm bath or shower, drink chamomile tea or read a good book.

Then by the time you get into your bed, "Your brain should say I'm here to sleep," Ashton said.

Myth 7: Getting exercise during the day will help you get better sleep

TRUE: If you exercise for 30 to 60 minutes during the day, you'll be more tired by the time you get into bed.

Ashton also recommends meditation at some point in the day as another way to ensure you fall asleep more easily.

Myth 8: It's OK to use sleeping pills

FALSE: "I can't emphasize this enough -- there are no prescription sleeping pills that are approved for long-term use," Ashton said.

While they can be safe and effective in the short term, they affect your brain chemistry and are harmful to use long term.

Myth 9: You can't get too much sleep

FALSE: Too little or too much sleep is bad for you.

"Too much sleep sends different messages to our body ... maybe we're sick, maybe we're injured," Ashton said.

"It disrupts our circadian rhythms, our metabolisms. Don't be lured into this false sense of security that more is better -- when it comes to sleep, that's not true," she added.

Myth 10: Naps disrupt your sleep

FALSE: Nappers, rejoice! A quick, 20-minute power nap can help your body recharge and won't impact your sleep.

For all of us who often find ourselves taking non-optional naps during the day, remember: A nap longer than an hour is too much, and you can't nap in lieu of getting the full seven to nine hours you need.

"When you hear the recommendation of seven to nine hours a night," Ashton said, "that refers to continuous sleep."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug192019

Potential links to lung illnesses and e-cigarettes under investigation: CDC

Paolo_Toffanin/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Federal health officials are investigating potential links between lung illnesses and e-cigarettes amid the soaring popularity of so-called vaping among young people.

Since June 28, there have been at least 94 cases reported across several states involving people with "severe pulmonary disease" possibly tied to vaping, with the majority of those affected being teenagers and young adults, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At least 30 of those cases were reported in Wisconsin, the CDC said in a statement Friday.

The CDC said it is working with health departments in Wisconsin, Illinois, California, Indiana and Minnesota to investigate a potential link between breathing problems and the use of e-cigarettes, which are thought to be healthier than traditional means of smoking.

"Additional states have alerted CDC to possible (not confirmed) cases and investigations into these cases are ongoing," the statement said. "There is no conclusive evidence that an infectious disease is causing the illnesses."

While some cases in each of the states are similar and appear to be linked to e-cigarette product use, more information is needed to determine what is causing the illnesses, the CDC said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also is investigating reports of seizures among e-cigarette users.

Seizures are a potential side effect of nicotine toxicity, but a recent uptick in "reports of adverse experiences with tobacco products that mentioned seizures occurring with e-cigarette use (e.g., vaping) signal a potential emerging safety issue," the FDA said in April.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Aug182019

4 back to school tips for parents of children with ADHD

iStock(NEW YORK) -- For parents of the 6.1 million American children with ADHD, going back to school can be a major source of anxiety.

Many children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) struggle with school performance, making friends and their general sense of well-being.

Medication is frequently a part of ADHD treatment, but along with medications, there are many proven lifestyle and behavioral changes parents can use at home.

Impulsivity -- that is, not thinking through the consequences of an action -- is a central feature of ADHD. A new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that children who sleep more than nine hours a night and spend less than two hours on screen time are less impulsive.

With children heading back to school, now is the perfect time to work on strategies like getting more sleep and less screen time to set your child on the road to success this school year.

There are many proven lifestyle and behavioral changes parents can implement at home to set their child with ADHD, or any child, on the road to success this school year.


Here are a few tips to get started:


Tip 1: Take care of yourself

The demands of parenting a child with ADHD are both physically and emotionally exhausting. This is a parenting marathon, not a sprint.

Do not underestimate the amount of extra energy that goes into parenting a child with ADHD. Self-care is an essential skill for effective parenting, which includes taking “child-free” breaks when you are feeling overwhelmed.


Tip 2: Breakfast and calories

Focusing while hungry is hard for anyone. Children with ADHD have a hard enough time without their tummy rumbling in first period.

A breakfast high in protein should be eaten every morning before they go to school. Studies show this improves concentration throughout the day.

Kid-friendly breakfasts that are quick and easy to prepare include meals like oatmeal with peanut butter topped with banana or eggs on toast and fruit smoothies made with yogurt.

Further, you can ask your doctor whether the ADHD medication your child is on is an appetite suppressant. If it is, keep a close eye on how much your child is eating and whether they’re losing weight.

For the child who takes ADHD medications twice a day, giving them a snack later in the evening when the drug “wears off” can help make up for the calories they missed throughout the day.

Tip 3: Keeping it positive

Try to maintain a positive attitude when parenting your child. Children with ADHD are often on the receiving end of a lot of negativity for their “bad behavior.”

Remember that your child’s behavior is related to a disorder; most of the time, they are probably not trying to be bold or careless.

“Catch them being good,” said Dr. Paul Simmons, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician with more than 45 years of experience treating children with attention disorders, in an interview with ABC News. “Praise them for any improvements made ... especially in areas where they struggle.”

Tip 4: Organizational tips for home


Eliminate the morning pre-school struggle by establishing a bedtime and morning routine.

At night, have your child pick out their clothes for the following day. Make sure they have all their homework, books and sports gear packed and ready for the morning.

Have an alarm clock in their room that they set every night rather than setting an alarm on a phone. An hour before bed, all devices should be turned off and handed over to a parent -- and be prepared for a lot of excuses and push back from tweens and teens on this one -- and enforce it by only having the device chargers in your bedroom.

Showering at night helps kids wind down and also saves time in the morning. For the 15 to 30 minutes before lights out they should be in their room.

Lighting should be limited to a lamp with the overhead light turned off and they should be engaging in an activity that they find relaxing. Try to go through this routine at the same time and in the same way every night.

Again, children should get at least nine hours of sleep a night.

You should aim for your kids to wake up at more or less the same time every school morning. Give them five minutes to get out of bed after the alarm goes off before you start getting them up.

Depending on your child's age, give them 5 to 20 minutes to get ready and 15 minutes for breakfast before it’s time for school. Only when your child is fed, dressed and heading out the door to school should they be given back their smartphone.

During weekends, supervise them cleaning out their school bag and repacking it with everything they will need for the upcoming week. This is a lot more helpful than it sounds.

Simmons has this advice for homework, too.

“For a child with ADHD, have them do their homework in an area with no distractions. An adult should loosely supervise them. No homework in bedrooms because they will get distracted," he said. "Every 15 to 20 minutes let them take a break for two to three minutes.

"But make sure breaks aren’t too long," he added, "or they will have trouble staying engaged.”

For older children with more homework, make sure to remind them of activities, like football practice or social engagements, they have coming up so they can plan when to study.

If you or your child’s teacher become concerned that your child is displaying excessive hyperactivity, impulsivity or inattention see your child’s pediatrician for help.

This article was written by Dr. Áine Cooke, senior pediatric resident at Washington University in St. Louis and a member of the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug162019

New guidelines on prescribing fewer opioids could have massive impact: Study

WoodysPhotos/iStockBY DR. NITHIN PAUL

(NEW YORK) -- Surgeons in Michigan are prescribing fewer opioid medications after operations, but here's the kicker: Their patients are not complaining.

A new study further explores whether too many opioids were being given to patients and how new guidelines can help surgeons curb usage without affecting pain relief.

In the study, opioid dosages often were decreased to 18 pills from 26 pills, with "no clinically important changes in pain scores."

"The results here are promising," said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, co-author of "The Opioid Epidemic: What Everyone Needs To Know" and professor of practice at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Most [physicians] prescribe by routine, and changing those routines is hard. This shows that some changes are possible."

Cop In the seven months after the guidelines were released, the number of prescriptions for fewer pills almost tripled, to 59% from 20%, according to the study. Many physicians prescribed about eight fewer pills, and patients consumed about three fewer.

The Michigan Surgical Quality Collaborative and the Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network reviewed data on how 50,000 patients took opioids for pain management. New guidelines were developed for surgeons on how to prescribe opioids for nine common surgeries including hernia repair and gallbladder removal.

About 12,000 patients were tracked across 43 hospitals. When more than half of those patients were interviewed about their pain levels, most didn't report feeling an increase in them and were satisfied with their care.

This study comes at an important time.

Opioid medications, which are highly addictive, are causing an epidemic in this country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that about 130 Americans die every day from overdosing on opioids.

Dr. Joceline Vu, one of the study's authors and a surgical resident at University of Michigan, thinks that these new guidelines can be a part of the solution.

"For healthy people, surgery may be the first time they are exposed to opioids," she told ABC News. So if people unfamiliar with taking opioids are given more than required, that person could become dependent on them, she added. Or the pills could find their way into the community.

Sharfstein agreed with Vu, adding that this is one part of a large and complex problem.

Before these guidelines, Vu said there wasn't a systematic way for surgeons to determine how many pills to give to patients when they're released from the hospital. Many physicians, Vu added, worried that prescribing too few pills could mean their patients feel more pain and consequently report lower satisfaction scores, which are used to judge a hospital's success.

Vu went on to say that not only have the guidelines been useful in preventing prescriptions of too many pills but that patients never felt their pain or concerns were ignored.

"It is important that this study be read, and people realize that changes are possible," said Sharfstein, adding that in fighting the opioid epidemic on several fronts, evidence-based recommendations could prove crucial.

Nithin Paul, M.D., M.P.H., is a family medicine and preventive medicine resident physician at Medstar and Johns Hopkins University writing for ABC News' Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug162019

Potentially toxic ‘miracle cure’ touted by fringe ‘church’ is back on FDA's radar

Doug Nash(NEW YORK) -- Reports of health problems from a dangerous so-called “miracle cure” marketed widely online in recent years as a mineral solution known as “MMS” -- whose promoters tout it as a treatment or cure everything from HIV/AIDS and cancer to autism and fibromyalgia –- are back on the rise, according to a new warning issued by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

In a statement released earlier this month, FDA officials warn that ingesting MMS is “the same as drinking bleach” – a warning that was echoed by medical experts, toxicologists and chemists contacted by ABC News in a new probe of the mixture and its promoters.

"Product directions instruct consumers to mix the sodium chlorite solution with citric acid -- such as lemon or lime juice .... before drinking," the warning FDA notes. "When the acid is added, the mixture becomes chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleaching agent."

Meanwhile this month, the founder of a fringe healing "church" known for marketing the mixture -- who changed course and declared in a church newsletter that "MMS cures nothing!" after being featured in an earlier 2016 ABC News investigative report -- is back to hawking MMS as the solution to "whatever ails you."

FDA spokesman Jeremy Kahn said the statement was issued in part to combat the product’s increasing web presence.

“We’ve seen an uptick in social media traffic and searches all over the web,” Kahn told ABC News. “We’re hoping to remind folks that this product is still out there, it’s dangerous, and to beware.”

The FDA has documented at least 20 reports of MMS poisonings, Khan said, including the hospitalization of a child. FDA records on the agency's website document the April, 2015 hospitalization of a 10-year-old girl with autism after ingesting MMS.

But the FDA is only relying on self-reported incidents, according to Kahn, and does not as a practice follow up with people after they report symptoms of MMS poisoning.

“I can guess there are cases from 2019 that are still processing in our system,” he said. “There are probably many cases that we just don’t receive notice of.”

'The vision of her face'

Marketed under names like “Miracle Mineral Solution,” “Master Mineral Solution,” “MMS” or “CD protocol,” the potentially toxic mixture was ingested by Sylvia Nash, 56, shortly before her death in 2009, according to her husband, Doug Nash, a planetary geologist and former investigator for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA's) Apollo Lunar Sample Analysis Program.

"She had decided to try MMS because she succumbed to the arguments of its proponents that MMS could aid in protecting the two of us against malaria in our [then] current travels on our sailboat in the western Pacific Islands," he told the FDA in a report he submitted to the agency about his wife's death. While doctors who performed the autopsy did not conclude a cause of death, Nash is convinced it was MMS.

Nash said that she initially suffered diarrhea, nausea and vomiting -- but those were all symptoms that proponents of MMS say are not uncommon and can be an indication that the treatment is working, Nash said at the time.

"But it didn't get better," he said. "It got worse and worse."

The couple had planned to sail around the world, beginning in late 2004 and take their time heading south from California and then west. Sylvia had been a crewmate at the start, but Nash said that just six months into the trip, they were "connected."

"And eventually, we married," he said.

After sailing off South America, followed by a two-year spell in New Zealand, they made their fateful stop in the Vanuatu islands in August 2009.

Nash said his wife wanted to take measures against malaria, but hadn't liked the medicine she had taken once before. Instead, she met fellow travelers on one of the islands selling something else.

Nash told ABC News in 2016 that his late wife died in his arms, slumped over with her eyes rolled back in her head, just hours after ingesting MMS.

"The vision of her face, just inches away from mine, and those eyes suddenly de-focusing on mine,” said Nash. “That’ll haunt me for the rest of my life.”

In 2016, ABC News took a closer look at religious leader Jim Humble, founder of the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, which at one point was based in Angleton, Texas. Humble pedaled the elixir, claiming that he had treated more than 5,000 cases of malaria using only MMS. He claimed to have discovered the solution while mining gold in South America.

Nash had told ABC News that his wife was in excellent health prior to ingesting two drops of MMS mixed in lime juice, the initial dose recommended in Humble's protocol -- and that 12 hours later she was dead, according to the 2011 report he submitted to the FDA.

'They might as well be selling Clorox'

U.S. officials and medical experts have told ABC News that MMS is just a kind of industrial bleach.

"They might as well be selling Clorox,” said Ben Mizer, who as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch unit prosecuted four people for MMS sales in 2013. "You wouldn't drink Clorox, so there is no reason to drink MMS,” Mizer told ABC News in 2016.

That same year, ABC News tracked Humble down in a small village outside Guadalajara, Mexico, where in an interview he defended his claims that MMS is a universally effective cure-all.

“Many women with breast cancer have been cured,” Humble told ABC News. Asked whether he believes himself to be a con man, Humble replied, “Well, I don’t think so.”

Yet after he was featured on ABC News’ 20/20, Humble changed his tune about MMS -- recanting his praise for the mixture and telling his followers that he no longer believed in the healing powers of MMS.

“For lack of a better way to express things at the time – or because others put words in my mouth, in the past I have stated that MMS cures most of all diseases. Today, I say that MMS cures nothing!” Humble wrote in a 2016 Genesis II newsletter.

'For whatever ails you'

But now Humble is back to marketing MMS.

“Whatever the problem, there is a great chance that if MMS is used properly it will help one recover their health,” Humble wrote in a blog post earlier this month. In the post, he touts a self-published 2016 “MMS Recovery Guidebook” as containing a plan to cure a raft of serious illnesses with MMS.

“This plan IS for whatever ails you,” he writes in the post. "In other words, it is the protocol for Lyme, or Parkinson’s, or cancer, or fibromyalgia, herpes, Alzheimer’s, hepatitis A, B and C, liver disease etc. etc. etc. you name it, the list goes on.”

ABC News reached Humble this week via email, and in a written response to questions about his marketing of MMS, the preacher once again defended the mixture.

MMS "cannot harm the human body in any way unless one takes way, way too much which is exactly the same as any other substance including simple things like salt and sugar, even drinking too much water can cause harm," Humble wrote in an email to ABC News. "When MMS is taken according to instructions, one is 99.99% safe."

Humble also included a long list of U.S. patents for medical treatments containing chlorine dioxide -- the powerful bleaching agent produced when MMS is combined with citric acid.

Yet a close review of those patents indicates that in many of them, the chlorine dioxide concentration ranges between 0.1 and 2% of the total solution. Websites that tout MMS describe it as containing a 28% concentration of sodium chlorite, according to the FDA's most recent warning.

Dr. David Constable, science director of the non-profit American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute said that adding citric acid to a mixture that is 28% sodium chlorite and 62% water could dilute the concentration of the subsequent compound, chlorine dioxide, depending on the amount of citric acid added.

“But just converting it to chlorine dioxide is not a good thing,” Constable said. “The key message here should be that no one should ingest chlorine dioxide under any circumstances. This is not a cure. No responsible chemist would ever recommend this.”

As of this week, MMS remains available for purchase directly from the church's website, which is run through Swiss and Icelandic proxy servers.

Kahn said this week that the FDA has learned of several groups meeting recently to strategize a push to market MMS online.

“We try to track any online sellers and bring companies and individuals to [the attention of] appropriate law enforcement agencies.”

Still, Kahn said, the most recent criminal case brought against an MMS seller was in 2015, when Louis Daniel Smith was convicted of conspiracy, smuggling, selling misbranded drugs, and defrauding the United States.

Years earlier, Nash had launched his own personal investigation into his wife's death, and said that he traced the bottle of MMS she had ingested the drops from to a Carson City, Nevada company called Project Greenlife, which was operated by Smith, according to federal prosecutors. In 2011, Nash filed a detailed report about his wife's death with the FDA, only to learn that federal authorities was already on the trail of some MMS proponents. In 2013, prosecutors indicted and eventually convicted Smith.

He was sentenced to a 51-month prison sentence and fined $13,000, court records show. Federal Bureau of Prison records indicate that he remains under supervised release after being released from prison in January.

While Smith was not charged with Sylvia's death, during court proceedings, the government alleged that "Mr. Smith's actions have posed a risk of danger to others, including contributing to the death of at least one individual." Nash said in 2016 that he believes they were referring to Sylvia.

'Flat out dangerous'

Attempts to reach Smith this week were not immediately successful, but in a blog post critical of ABC News' 2016 reporting on MMS, Smith questions whether MMS caused Nash's death, whom Smith refers to in his blog post by her maiden name, Sylvia Fink.

He calls ABC News' reporting a "hit piece" and claims without citation or evidence that "MMS has been used in over 160 countries by hundreds of thousands of people." He goes on to contend that "Doug Nash has not been truthful with the world, and it's time for the world to know. I would be remiss to allow Mr. Nash to continue this charade that has served only to insulate himself from further investigation, while leaving a scarlet letter on the MMS movement that I know from personal, first-hand knowledge has saved countless lives."

In 2016, the year after his conviction, Smith was warned in a letter from the FDA not to market sodium chlorite for human consumption, citing his 2015 conviction.

"You were managing member of PGL International, LLC (PGL) a Nevada corporation which marketed and sold various health-related products, including Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) a mixture of sodium chlorite and water, through the website projectgreenlife.com," the letter warns Smith. "Sodium chlorite cannot be sold for human consumption and suppliers of the chemical include a warning sheet stating that it can cause potentially fatal side effects if swallowed.

Each of a half dozen independent toxicologists contacted this week by ABC News about sodium chlorite and chlorine dioxide all offered the same conclusion.

"Sodium chlorite and chlorine dioxide in very low concentrations can be used safely to disinfect drinking water," said one of them, Dr. Stephen M. Roberts, director of the Center for Environmental & Human Toxicology at the University of Florida. "Like most other things, the concentration matters. There is no credible evidence that sodium chlorite can be used for medicinal purposes to treat disease."

Another, Dr. William Sawyer, a toxicologist with the non-profit American Board of Forensic Medicine, said that "from a medical standpoint, there's no advantage to using [sodium chlorite], only toxicity."

"There's no therapeutic possibilities with drinking diluted sodium chlorite with citric acid," he said. "This is flat out dangerous."

Nash did not immediately respond this week to ABC News requests for comment on Humble's blog post or the new FDA warning.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug162019

New guidelines on prescribing fewer opioids could have massive impact: Study

Moussa81/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Surgeons in Michigan are prescribing fewer opioid medications after operations, but here's the kicker: Their patients are not complaining.

A new study further explores whether too many opioids were being given to patients and how new guidelines can help surgeons curb usage without affecting pain relief.

In the study, opioid dosages often were decreased to 18 pills from 26 pills, with "no clinically important changes in pain scores."

"The results here are promising," said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, co-author of "The Opioid Epidemic: What Everyone Needs To Know" and professor of practice at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Most [physicians] prescribe by routine, and changing those routines is hard. This shows that some changes are possible."

In the seven months after the guidelines were released, the number of prescriptions for fewer pills almost tripled, to 59% from 20%, according to the study. Many physicians prescribed about eight fewer pills, and patients consumed about three fewer.

The Michigan Surgical Quality Collaborative and the Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network reviewed data on how 50,000 patients took opioids for pain management. New guidelines were developed for surgeons on how to prescribe opioids for nine common surgeries including hernia repair and gallbladder removal.

About 12,000 patients were tracked across 43 hospitals. When more than half of those patients were interviewed about their pain levels, most didn't report feeling an increase in them and were satisfied with their care.

This study comes at an important time.

Opioid medications, which are highly addictive, are causing an epidemic in this country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that about 130 Americans die every day from overdosing on opioids.

Dr. Joceline Vu, one of the study's authors and a surgical resident at University of Michigan, thinks that these new guidelines can be a part of the solution.

"For healthy people, surgery may be the first time they are exposed to opioids," she told ABC News. So if people unfamiliar with taking opioids are given more than required, that person could become dependent on them, she added. Or the pills could find their way into the community.

Sharfstein agreed with Vu, adding that this is one part of a large and complex problem.

Before these guidelines, Vu said there wasn't a systematic way for surgeons to determine how many pills to give to patients when they're released from the hospital. Many physicians, Vu added, worried that prescribing too few pills could mean their patients feel more pain and consequently report lower satisfaction scores, which are used to judge a hospital's success.

Vu went on to say that not only have the guidelines been useful in preventing prescriptions of too many pills but that patients never felt their pain or concerns were ignored.

"It is important that this study be read, and people realize that changes are possible," said Sharfstein, adding that in fighting the opioid epidemic on several fronts, evidence-based recommendations could prove crucial.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug162019

Woman says she was told by doctor to lose weight, then diagnosed with cancer

Jen Curran(LOS ANGELES) -- A California woman who gave birth six months ago says seeking a second opinion after one doctor told her to lose weight may have saved her life.

Jen Curran, 38, of Los Angeles, said her blood pressure was high and her OBGYN detected a high amount of protein in her urine during the second trimester of her pregnancy, which was her first.

She was quickly diagnosed with the pregnancy complication preeclampsia and put on bed rest.

"My reaction was, 'Let me stay relaxed because of this baby,'" Curran told ABC News' Good Morning America. "I definitely put it out of my mind."

Two months after Curran gave birth to her daughter, Rose, Curran's doctor observed her protein level was even higher than it had been before pregnancy. Curran's blood pressure was back to normal.

Curran, co-founder of The Ruby LA, a comedy theater and school, said the doctor told her to lose weight.

"It was like a slap across the face," Curran recalled. "As someone who's been overweight on and off for most of my life, it hasn't been a health issue for me, but I didn't feel like I should argue with her."

Curran's gut instinct told her that her medical issue was not one that could be solved by weight loss. She sought a second opinion and was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer.

"Completely shocking," Curran said of the diagnosis. "I have this memory of him telling me that I have bone marrow cancer, but I can't I don't feel like I'm in the same room with him."

Curran shared her story on Twitter to encourage other people, especially women, to be their own advocates when it comes to their health.

"Lose weight if you want to. But if you think something is seriously wrong with your body, and a doctor tells you weight loss is the key to fixing it, get a … second opinion," she tweeted.

Curran began chemotherapy on Tuesday.

Her intuition served her well again right after her cancer diagnosis when she asked her doctor is she would be able to freeze her eggs. When that doctor was against it, Curran once again sought a second opinion and was told by a fertility doctor it would be safe to freeze her eggs.

She had her eggs retrieved and now plans to continue to grow her family once her cancer goes into remission.

"So many of us are so afraid to stick our neck on the line, [to] question authority," Curran said. "When it's for our kids we will much more readily do it, but do it for yourself because your kids need you around. Your family needs you around."

"And women are so brilliant and intuitive. Women know their bodies," she said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug162019

Three ways to stop the dreaded 'Sunday scaries'

Just_Human/iStock(NEW YORK) -- It's 5:00 on Sunday night and a familiar feeling of dread starts to set in, as the weekend slips away.

Sunday scaries, Sunday night blues and Sunday depression are all terms used to describe the anticipatory anxiety for the week ahead.

It's a phenomenon that has become commonplace, experienced by 81% of Americans, according to a survey by The Sleep Judge, a mattress review website.

It's also become an extremely popular hashtag, with more than 160,000 #sundayscaries posts on Instagram.

The good news for those suffering from Sunday night anxiety is that there are ways to ease the dread in order to both enjoy Sunday and start the week off well.

Here are three tips to try from Michelle Bombacie, L.Ac., Healthy Monday Adviser and program coordinator for the Integrative Therapies Program/Center for Comprehensive Wellness at Columbia University Medical Center:

1. Get off your technology

Bombacie recommends staying away from your cellphone, emails and computer throughout the weekend, or at least set limits.

"Try to resist the urge or maybe set a time commitment," she said. "Commit to powering down by 5 p.m. so that you allow relaxation time on Sunday."

"If we don't give ourselves that opportunity to relax and reboot we're not going to be as functioning on Monday we can," she added.

It can also be helpful to set a routine to improve sleep habits as you enter the work week, according to Bombacie, who suggests using blackout curtains or eye masks and ear plugs, setting the blue light filter on your smartphone, putting your smartphone out of sight and turning the TV off about one hour before bed.

2. Practice a deep-breathing exercise

A simple breathing exercise recommended by Bombacie starts with placing one hand over your chest and the other over your lower belly.

Then, breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Focus on your breath while breathing in for four counts and exhaling for four counts.

"You can do this laying down in bed, or when you wake up in the morning instead of reaching right for the cell phone take a few minutes to just start with breathing because it will help you ground," she said.

3. Get a new perspective

Bombacie recommends thinking of every Monday as a chance to start over, as if you have "52 mini-resolutions," a new chance each week of the year.

"We have to change our perspective on Monday," she said. "Instead of looking at it as a day to dread, we look at it as an opportunity to restart and refresh."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug162019

New product line is helping people embrace their baldness

Courtesy Comprehensive Cranium Care(NEW YORK) -- Kylie Bamberger was diagnosed with alopecia areata, also known as patchy hair loss, at age 12.

By her 15th birthday, as her condition become more severe, Bamberger said she decided to shave her head.

"I really wasn't comfortable with my bald head at all," Bamberger told ABC News' Good Morning America. So for years, she hid behind a wig full-time and didn't face her hair loss head-on.

But ultimately, she accepted her journey and learned to embrace her baldness.

"I found my tribe, and once I became comfortable with myself ... I was able to embrace who I am," she said.

Now bald and proud, Bamberger was introduced through her work with The Children's Alopecia Project to a line of products from Comprehensive Cranium Care made just for her and others who are bald.

"I think it's a cool way to help people who maybe aren't feeling very confident with their hair loss to have something that makes them feel like, hey this is for me," Bamberger said. "Like, you people with hair can't use this, this is specific for me."

The company makes personal care products just for bald, shaved and buzzed heads, so people can embrace their baldness. It's the first product line in this space.

"We are driven by the desire to empower our community and promote a message of bald positivity," company co-founder Adam Fitting told Good Morning America.

The Chicago-based company is trying to help everyone embrace their baldness by using the hashtag #OwnYourDome on social media to spread awareness.

Fitting said he started the company after not being able to find a product that worked well for his shaved head.

"I simply couldn't find any grooming products that worked well for my shaved head, and I knew I wasn't alone in this frustration," said Fitting, who passionately set out to create a "clean" product that he would use himself.

The company has gained a following among communities ranging from people with alopecia and pattern baldness to those fighting cancer.

Like Bamberger, Keya Trammell told GMA that having a custom product created for her is empowering.

"It's special for me because when I was younger I didn't have anything specifically for my head and I wasn't even comfortable sharing my head," said Trammell, who also has alopecia. "But now that I am, it's like something is made just for me."

A portion of Comprehensive Cranium Care's sales benefits The Children's Alopecia Project, and the company also donates products to events around the country that raise money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation to fight childhood cancer.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug152019

FCC proposes 3-digit number, similar to 911, to combat national 'suicide epidemic'

releon8211/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The Federal Communications Commission is moving forward with a plan to create a new three-digit hotline number, similar to 911, to enable quick access to national suicide prevention resources.

In a report sent to Congress earlier this week, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau and Office of Economics laid out its recommendation to designate 988 as the three-digit dialing number to quickly access the nationwide suicide prevention and mental health hotline, the agency said on Thursday.

"The Lifeline has become the nation’s mental health and suicide prevention safety net," the report said. "In many communities the only immediately available resource for a suicidal person would be an emergency room or the Lifeline and its network of crisis centers."

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the services are already provided by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), but he said a three-digit number could help combat the country's growing "suicide epidemic."

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline counselors answered more than 2.2 million calls and 100,000 online chats last year, according to the FCC's report, which was mandated under President Donald Trump's National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018. The hotline receives an average of about 188,000 calls and 9,000 crisis chats per day, according to the report.

The new number would be the same hotline that would offer 24/7 free and confidential support for anyone in distress and best practices for professionals, but with a simple and easier-to-remember number.

“There is a suicide epidemic in this country, and it is disproportionately affecting at-risk populations, including our Veterans and LGBTQ youth,” Pai said in a statement. “Crisis call centers have been shown to save lives."

"This report recommends using a three-digit number to make it easier to access the critical suicide prevention and mental health services these call centers provide," he added.

Pai said he plans to push forward with a rule-making proceeding. The proposal will be subject to a period of public comment and a final vote among the agency's commissioners before it can go into effect.

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