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Friday
Mar172017

St. Patrick's Day tales from the emergency room

Ablestock.com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Every March, millions of Americans don green garb, eat green food and drink green beer, all to celebrate a heritage that may not be theirs.

On St. Patrick's Day, emergency room staffers prepare themselves for an uptick in patients, likely with several of them injured themselves in some sort of hilarious calamity. It differs from holidays such as Christmas or New Year's, when patients in need of emergency care often wait a day or two before seeking it, preferring to wait for a more "convenient" time, said Dr. Michael Lynch, a toxicologist and an emergency physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The holiday is on a Friday this year, allowing millions to perhaps take their celebration of Irish heritage to the next — and possibly painful — level.

"It's not a fun day to work because of the number of alcohol-related injuries," said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.

"A lot of these people are law-abiding people, professionals who just got carried away," said Dr. Rahul Sharma, the emergency physician in chief at New York–Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. "Many times, it's embarrassing for them."

Beware of green food coloring


One St. Patrick's Day, Glatter witnessed a group of advertising executives panicking after they had lunch outside the office, he said.

During the meal, they decided to take part in the day's festivities by drinking green beer. The food coloring altered the appearance of not only the beer but the executives' teeth as well — just before an important meeting.

"Four or five of them came to the ER," Glatter said. "They were freaking out because they had to see the client."

The food coloring stained the plaque buildup on their teeth, he said, and getting rid of it was no easy task.

"It takes time," Glatter said. "It doesn't go away immediately."

Even with whitening strips, mouthwash, toothbrush and toothpaste, it can still take up to a week for the coloring to disappear and teeth to return to their normal shade, he said.

"People do stupid things on St. Patrick's Day," Glatter said. "And certainly the novelty of different foods is something that is interesting."

It may not be wise to paint your car green


In Indiana one middle-aged man sought emergency care after attempting to paint his dark-colored Honda Accord, said Dr. Timothy Pohlman, the senior trauma surgeon at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital.

The man used a slippery enamel paint, spilled much of it on his driveway and ended up slipping in it, causing him to bump his head and break a few bones.

When the man got to the hospital, he was covered in so much green paint that doctors could not assess where his injuries were, Pohlman said.

"I saw him, and he was basically a green man," Pohlman said, adding that after nurses cleaned off the patient, staffers determined he sustained a concussion and some broken bones.

Leprechaun costume gone wrong


Pohlman also treated a middle-aged man who inadvertently took an extra dose of his erectile dysfunction medicine on St. Patrick's Day.

The man then decided to don a tight leprechaun outfit, Pohlman said.

The man was suffering from a painful, hourslong erection that was constricted by his costume when he arrived at the hospital, Pohlman said. His appearance sent emergency room staffers into a tizzy.

"Everyone tries to be professional, but you can't help but smile or even kind of laugh and try to do your best for this guy," Pohlman said.

Because of the man's condition, the costume was putting so much pressure on his groin that he couldn't remove it, Pohlman said. Initially, the man did not want doctors to cut the outfit off, because he spent a fair amount of money on it.

"He had to make a choice between his costume and his member," Pohlman said. "Once it was put to him in that way ... he prioritized accordingly."

The emergency room can be a festive place on St. Patrick's Day


Despite the uptick in alcohol-related injuries on St. Patrick's Day, they are usually sustained in an innocent manner — such as tripping or losing balance — rather than in a bar brawl.

The jovial tone of St. Patrick's Day "calms the furies that drive people's violent nature," Pohlman said.

Doctors say they see less trauma from fights or altercations on St. Patrick's Day, and the patients tend to hobble into the emergency room much earlier than on other days, Pohlman said.

"Instead of all the trauma at night we normally see, it happens in the light of day," he said.

On St. Patrick's Day, the emergency room can resemble a sea of green as patients come in wearing their green clothing, hats and necklaces, Lynch said.

In addition to trauma, patients often come in suffering from hypothermia, he added. St. Patrick's Day revelers can spend long stretches outdoors in cool weather, often wearing less than conditions warrant, and alcohol consumption can reduce body temperature.

Lynch even treated one patient who, after consuming hallucinogenic drugs, pranced around the emergency room thinking he was a leprechaun and throwing fake gold at hospital staffers.

One emergency room staple no one looks forward to on St. Patrick's Day: green vomit.

"We have sort of a green patrol going around and mopping up green vomit," Lynch said. "Every year, we know we're going to get at least one or two green vomits."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Mar172017

“Scandal” star Katie Lowes opens up about her personal battle with psoriasis

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Asking questions, being your own advocate and not becoming complacent are just a few things that actress Katie Lowes wants to instill in those suffering from psoriasis, or any other disease for that matter.

The Scandal star, 35, spoke out for the first time on Thursday about her personal battle with the autoimmune disease that may be visible on the skin and publicized in treatment commercials, but something that most people don't know much about — even those suffering from it. In fact, around 7.5 million Americans suffer from some form of the disease, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

"You're not alone," she told ABC News of the disease, which is often characterized by often painful and itchy red blotches on the skin. "It's embarrassing. It's a chronic disease but it affects everyone differently."

Lowes was 28 when she was diagnosed and it interrupted an exciting time in her life.

"It was the best year of my life, I just booked Scandal, I got engaged to my then-boyfriend, now-husband [Adam Shapiro] and I think the stress of that year, planning a wedding and having a high-pressure job, really triggered it," she said.

While some cases can be minor, Lowes said some cases can cover up to 90 percent of a person's body. In her case, psoriasis started on her scalp, went behind her neck and down her back. She felt uncomfortable on red carpets because of pictures, and even in hair and makeup for Scandal, afraid somebody could tell what was going on.

"It can be incredibly painful. It can limit your life and your lifestyle," she said, adding that some of those with the disease can't go to certain places because of the pain or even out of embarrassment.

One of the worst moments came when she had booked engagement photos and "I didn't show up ... that was kind of the straw that broke the camel's back." Right then and there she said she decided to kind of "Olivia Pope fix this situation."

Psoriasis: The Inside Story


With this in mind, Lowes has gotten together with the National Psoriasis Foundation for a campaign "Psoriasis: The Inside Story" to help educate and connect people.

"It's just a place where people can get on the site, further down the road, people will be able to share their own stories, it'll be a place where people can come and see what treatments are working for other people, who are being really brave and outspoken," she said.

Lowes also shared some wisdom from her experience, a yearlong journey, to help others. The first was, "Ask questions."

"I rode my doctor, man," she said, laughing. But on a serious note, she said that she tried creams first to combat the symptoms, but that wasn't enough. So, she says challenge your doctor, so that you can get to an even better place.

If your doctor isn't working out, she says, "be your own advocate."

"Be like, 'I've heard of this other doctor and I'm going to try them out,'" she added. "As somebody who has psoriasis, it's your job to constantly stay on top of these things. Talking to your doctor and talking to your doctor and just being proactive about your specific case."

The actress also eventually found a biologic treatment that works for her and that some foods act as a trigger or flare-ups.

"When I have any sort of diet that's high in sugar or yeast, I would find that my body would be very much out of wack," she added. "For me, it's also weather, it's also water. If you go somewhere on vacation and the water quality is different. But my biggest trigger is stress."

Finally, she said don't put your health second.

"A lot of times, I put my own personal health to the side, focusing on work or family or getting ahead," she said. "At the end of the day, you're just exhausted on your couch and haven't made that doctor's appointment, didn't make that phone call and feel terrible. No matter how small or large your symptoms are, you have to take time out of your day and make this a priority."

Scandal

Though she obviously couldn't reveal any plot points, she shed a little light on what it's like to be on such a high-pressure, successful show.

"I have no idea what the end of this season is gonna bring," she said. "I do know Quinn [her character] is engaged to Charlie, a lot of personal life stuff happening with her, which I find very interesting, because the past couple seasons have been about her work life."

And there's always the fear of losing a character at any time.

"George Newbern, who plays Charlie, and I are constantly are like, 'Please, we'll break up, stay together, we just don't want to die,'" she joked. "I'm on a show where characters die and this is the best job in the world. It's just so scary."

As far as the future tone of the season, the current political landscape in Washington, D.C., may come into play, but not how you would think.

"It did affect our season in that it changed the tone of our season," she said. "The writers were possibly going down and exploring very dark sides of characters and I think they are now more interested in exploring hope. In our political landscape with a lot of ups and downs, people just need a little bit more of a hero. So, it's just changing the tone a bit."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Mar162017

CDC: Native Hawaiians and pacific islanders may be at increased risk of serious health issues

TongRo Images Inc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders may be at increased risk of a number of health hazards, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics said Wednesday.

That group was analyzed as a single category with Asians by the CDC until 1997, and in 2014, the agency put out its first survey focused solely on the health of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

That survey, compared with data from the 2014 annual National Health Interview Survey, found that NHPI adults are more likely to be in fair or poor health than the group the CDC named "single-race Asian adults." NHPI individuals were also more likely to have serious psychological distress, cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes, lower back pain, arthritis, migraines and asthma.

Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders represent about 0.4 percent of the total United States population.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Mar162017

New study raises concerns of ibuprofen's apparent link to cardiac arrest

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Ibuprofen is a common over-the-counter painkiller found in many of our medicine cabinets. But now, a new study is raising a big alarm about the drug.

Danish researchers are calling for restrictions on its sales after linking it to a 31 percent increased risk of cardiac arrest.

Find out more about the study from ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser in the video below:

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Mar162017

Is reversing diabetes possible? 

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Nearly 30 million Americans suffer from diabetes. But now, there might be some hope for them.

A new, small study found that a combination of medication, nutrition and intense exercise reversed the disease in some patients who'd had it for three years or less -- compared to people who went through routine care for diabetes.

Watch the video below to learn more about the findings from ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser:

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Mar162017

Selena Gomez speaks about mental health

Image Group LA/ABC(NEW YORK) -- Selena Gomez has found professional success as a musician and actress, but she's also outspoken about her struggles with mental health.

"Tours are a really lonely place for me," Gomez said in an interview with Vogue. "My self-esteem was shot. I was depressed, anxious. I started to have panic attacks right before getting onstage, or right after leaving the stage."

The former Disney star is also the most followed user on Instagram, where her posts garner millions of likes and comments from her 113 million followers. But despite the love she receives from fans on social media, Gomez said she often feels inadequate.

"As soon as I became the most followed person on Instagram, I sort of freaked out," Gomez said. "It had become so consuming to me. It's what I woke up to and went to sleep to. I was an addict, and it felt like I was seeing things I didn't want to see, like it was putting things in my head that I didn't want to care about."

After taking a step back and participating in therapy for 90 days last year, Gomez felt reinvigorated.

"It was one of the hardest things I've done, but it was the best thing I've done," she said.

She no longer has Instagram downloaded onto her phone, and doesn't even know her own password -- her assistant takes care of that now.

Gomez said therapy should be something more people, particularly young women, embrace.

"I wish more people would talk about therapy," she said. "We girls, we're taught to be almost too resilient, to be strong and sexy and cool and laid-back, the girl who's down. We also need to feel allowed to fall apart."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar152017

Five siblings hoping to be adopted together receive overwhelming response

anyaberkut/iStock/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) --  Five siblings are up for adoption in Kansas, and they hope to find a home together. After the Kansas City Star first reported about their unique situation, the response from the public has been overwhelming.

“Just since Friday, I think we’ve received about 1,300 emails [regarding the siblings],” Theresa Freed, communications director for the Kansas Department for Children and Families, told ABC News. “We’ve identified some possible families who may be a good fit.”

The siblings -- Bradley, 11, Preston, 10, Layla, 8, Landon, 6, and Olive, 2 -- are active in church and have hobbies ranging from hip-hop dance, to collecting Pokemon to soccer and tether ball, the Star reported. They are currently in foster care while the state works to find them a permanent home.

“This is the most attention any single child or sibling set has received since [the agency] can remember,” Freed said.

Freed was not able to disclose information on the children’s parents or the circumstances that led to the siblings’ need for an adoptive family. Due to the overwhelming response, the children's listing has been pulled from the website of Adopt Kansas Kids, which works in conjunction with the Kansas Department for Children and Families.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar152017

Study: 'Low content' nutrition labels are misleading

c-photo/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers say that claims on food labels such as "low-sugar" and "low-fat" may not be significant sources of meaning.

According to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the labels on food and drinks that make such striking health claims often offer no valuable information on the nutritional quality of their contents. After looking at 80 million purchases from 40,000 households, researchers say that 13 percent of food and 35 percent of beverages make a nutritional claim on their label.

The most common claim found was "low-fat," most common in "low-fat" dairy products.

The study found that, when compared with purchases that did not make any nutritional claim, those that did often claimed lower mean energy, lower sugar totals, lower fat and lower sodium.

The catch? Purchases featuring a given claim didn't necessarily offer better overall nutritional product, or even better nutritional profiles of the claimed nutrient, relative to products that made no claim.

The study also found that middle- and high-income households were more likely to purchase both foods and beverages that made a nutritional claim when compared with lower-income households.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar152017

Can children sleep through a smoke detector alarm?

iStock/Zerbor(NEW YORK) -- While smoke detectors are credited with saving thousands of lives each year, some researchers suggest that you cannot always rely on their alarm sounds to wake up sleeping children during an emergency.

A small study conducted in the U.K. by researchers at the University of Dundee found that more than 80 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 13 did not wake up from a standard issue alarm.

The American Red Cross warns home fires are one of the biggest disaster threats in the U.S., with on average seven people dying and 36 people suffering injuries every day as a result of home fires.

"Good Morning America" decided to observe whether a regular smoke alarm would wake up two sleeping children with the McBride family from Connecticut.

Lauren McBride told ABC News that she was curious to see what happened "because our son sleeps through everything."

She added that she and her husband, Pat, have an action plan in place in case there is a fire and have taught their children, Landon, 3, and Noelle, 1, what a smoke detector sounds like.

"He knows the sound," McBride said of her son. "We have a fire ladder in our bedroom and our plan is to get them, get the ladder, and get out."

Firefighter Travis Gluck told ABC News that that one of the most important things families can do is "just making sure your smoke detectors work."

"The code nowadays is to put them in the bedrooms, have them outside the bedrooms, and one on every level specifically near the stairwell," Gluck added, saying that smoke rises and often rises up through the stairwell in a home.

"GMA" set up cameras inside the children's rooms to monitor them after they fell asleep and see if they woke up to the sound of a regular smoke alarm.

Gluck set off a smoke alarm, using a smoke device, in the hallway right outside of the children's rooms with their doors open.

As the alarm continued to sound, the children did not even stir.

"He's not waking up," Pat McBride said, "and she's not either."

"I'm a little nervous," Lauren McBride added. "Because, you know, what that makes me think is like, would we hear it?"

Next we set off the family's smoke alarm system -- it's set up through their phones and alarms are found throughout the house in all the bedrooms, hallway and downstairs.

As the alarm system blared, neither child woke up.

"I truly thought they were going to wake up, like truly," Lauren McBride said.

Pat McBride said that after the test he felt that he really had to react fast when he heard the alarm "because they're not going to hear it."

Lauren McBride added, "I don't really know what to think right now."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar152017

How meditation helps Virginia military cadets be more effective warriors

Lauren Effron/ABC(LEXINGTON, Va.) -- Deep in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, a prestigious military college in southern Virginia steeped in more than a century of tradition has embraced meditation courses as a way for cadets to become more mentally fit.

Dr. Matt Jarman, a psychology professor who focuses on leadership and mental fitness, and Dr. Holly Richardson, a physical education professor who specializes in exercise physiology, both teach courses involving meditation at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia.

“Meditation is not this kind of soft, fluffy thing,” Jarman said. “You’re facing your fears, you’re facing your stresses head-on or leaning into them, and it’s giving you the tools to do that more effectively and not get swept away by them.”

Jarman has made mindfulness practice a centerpiece of his “Modern Warriorship” class. Mindfulness is a series of meditation techniques that are designed to slow the mind, focus on the breath and bring attention back from distraction.

“From my perspective, a warrior is one who … is creating change in a process for the benefit of others,” Jarman said. “And ‘warriorship,’ the way I’m talking about it, is the mental and physical training, the discipline training, to allow you to be a more effective warrior, to allow you to be more mentally and physically able to, when the time comes, to help others.”

Jarman said he has his students practice meditation for 15 minutes every morning and then five minutes before they start homework, as a way to tie the meditation to a habit.

“They have to do work, at some point, right? So if they can tie the meditation to that, then hopefully, even when they leave this class, they still have that cue to prompt this behavior,” he said. “Habits don’t require you to exert willpower because you just do it.”

Richardson teaches a mindfulness class following the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Mindfulness curriculum, which focuses on stress reduction. She introduced meditation on campus as a way to help cadets handle stress better, whether it’s studying for an exam, preparing for a big game or having to go see the commandant of cadets, who oversees the college’s daily military regimen.

“We talk about … when they have to go see the commandant for a demerit, again they have their breath, have that presence to breathe three-five times before going in and [then] having a more productive conversation,” Richardson said.

Many VMI cadets have plans to serve in the military after graduation or some have already served in the military and come to the college as veterans. Jarman acknowledged that there are critics who have raised ethical questions about teaching meditation to soldiers when they may be ordered to kill another person during wartime.

“From my perspective … the mental training allows you to be better at making decisions [while] acting quickly,” he said. “So in my mind, it allows you to do your job better which hopefully results in as few casualties as possible. So I would rather, if someone is in a profession that requires that sort of action, that they be as mentally sound as possible.”

Richardson added that there is science that shows meditation can help soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder because the practice helps them “remain present,” and “reset the channel” instead of “playing the same tape over and over” when they come home from war.

Jarman and Richardson said they have received little pushback from VMI cadets when they have them practice meditation. Richardson said some cadets will say they don’t have time. Jarman added that some cadets have told him their roommates will make fun of them for practicing, but he says he turns that around to show the cadets that practicing meditation can help make them tougher.

“If you can’t do something as simple as meditating and be OK with the fact that others might think that it’s a little weird, then you’re not really getting into the training yet,” Jarman said. “In modern warriorship, part of being someone who can make change when change is necessary means you’re going to be going against a lot of people, so I view that as wonderful practice.”

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