Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Binge-watching can be bad for ya

Research at the University of Michigan and the Leuven School for Mass Communication Research in Belgium found that high amounts of binge-watching leads to poorer sleep quality, more fatigue, and more insomnia than regular TV watching.

Binge-watching defined as watching "excessive" amounts of one show in one sitting.

The team surveyed 423 adults between 18 and 25 in 2016. They were asked about sleep, fatigue and insomnia and their frequency of binge-watching.

Most--81%--said they did binge-watch. Of that group, 40% had done it in the last month. Twenty-eight percent said they had done it a couple of times. Seven percent had done it every day during the preceding month!

The subjects slept on average seven hours and 37 minutes. Those who binge-watch reported more fatigue and poor sleep quality.

Too, bingeable shows tend to have plots that keep the viewer tied to the screen. The viewer becomes intensely involved.

This means a longer period is needed to "cool down." Or they may watch "just one more episode." (J of Clinical Sleep Medicine)

I binged on the first season of Breaking Bad--I would say it was disturbing but I don't remember sleep problems.

I guess there is such a thing as an overdose of horrible images.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

We might get rid of the SQUEEZY BP machines

Remember this one?
March of progress!
It's ever so trendy now for the doctor's assistant who "rooms" you to slap on an automatic blood pressure cuff that then, in my experience, squeezes your arm until you scream for mercy and goes down just as slowly. Often, the reading is inconclusive.

Can you tell? I hate these! I often insist on my BP being taken with the manual soft cuff and by a non-sadist.

Now, researchers at the Jerusalem College of Technology and the Shaare Zedek Medical Center have developed a better way to take systolic blood pressure.

Systolic is the top number, diastolic the bottom one. The customary manual or automatic methods can be affected by "white coat syndrome"--the tendency of being the doctor's office creating a higher reading.

Sometimes patients are asked to take their pressure at home to avoid the white coat effect.

Still, the automatic is less accurate than the manual.

An incorrect high reading can lead to the prescribing of meds the patient does not need and which might be harmful.

This team therefore developed a new device using a pressure cuff on the arm and an electro-optic device on the finger. Similar to that finger clamp that measures oxygenation, the finger device sends light through the finger and picks up the pulses of the heart rate.

At the same time, the cuff is inflated. When the cuff pressure increases above systolic blood pressure, the pulses disappear. When the cuff pressure goes below the person's systolic, the pulses reappear.

Anyhow--it works. How soon can we see it in use? Who knows? And will the cuff part be so alarmingly tight?

Maybe it could use some more work...but stay tuned.

Of course, there are many variations on sale now...lower arm cuffs, finger alone, on your phone, etc.

Monday, August 14, 2017

How to avoid a dog bite

I miss my first dog Spencer (poodle/sheepdog) every day of my life. How I loved him...

But I realize not all dogs are exuberant, kissy-face bundles of happiness...My mail man Anthony often says a dog just chased him or nipped.

One day, in her twenties, my daughter came out of her room with a huge ointment-covered bandage on her face--she had leaned over to snuggle a friend's pit bull and the dog, perhaps startled, tried to chew off her upper lip--19 stitches--the ER--and a fight with the insurance company, which wanted to get the money back from the dog owner (we supplied the info--don't know if they ever did).

More than 4.7 million dog bites take place each year--in summer. That is when dogs and children are outside and interact more.

Robert Olympia, MD, pediatric emergency medicine specialist at Penn State's Children's Hospital, says the chance of infection from a dog bite is between 5% and 15%, so antibiotics are a good idea. But before that, clean the bite with soap and water and apply pressure to stop bleeding.

If bleeding won't stop and if the child complains of pain or numbness, go to the ER. They will ask about the dog's rabies vaccine status...If this is not known, rabies shots may be recommended.

Most dogs that bite are known to the children or family, so rabies status is known.

Unprovoked attacks are rare.

Some tips:

--When choosing a dog, find out as much as you can about the dog's background. An anxious dog or one that shies away from humans may not be best. The more social the dog, the less chance of biting.

--Don't approach a dog you don't know. Always ask the dog's caregiver if it's OK to pet.

--Let the dog sniff your closed hand.

--Tell children to be quiet and calm.

--Dogs don't like hugs and kisses as much as we think. Wrapping your arms around a dog is not a good idea.

--If a dog runs at you, stand motionless. They will chase if you run.

--If you are attacked, roll in a ball on the ground.

Gee, this makes dogs sound like monsters...They aren't. But they are living things and have brains and preferences as to how they want to be treated. Don't overload them at first meeting.

That applies to me, too.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Are you giving your kid the wrong idea?

Yes--more on body image. What a fun topic for Friday.

On the website BlackHealthMatters.com, a writer said her daughter had suddenly asked, "Mom, am I getting fat?"

The child was 10 and the author thought, "Who has been putting this in her mind?" The dance teacher? Cheerleading coach? Drama teacher?

Then she realized the messages had been coming from HER.

Do you find yourself saying things like:

--Do you think Mommy looks fat in this dress?

--Mommy is so fat.

--I am so fat.

--I look fat in this.

--I ate so much, no wonder I can't fit into my clothes.

--These jeans make me look fat.

--My butt is too big.

These statements sound innocent and slip out, often in the hearing of young girls.

Believe me, these messages are heard.

I heard much worse things when I was a child--my weight was always a family issue. My dad called me a baby elephant. My three siblings and parents were "normal."

With me, it was my stick-thin mother delicately frowning if I reached for a roll or making a point of saying, "Please put my dressing on the side--it is so fatty, you know."

Some of this can be avoided.

By the way--the woman in the pix put her child--yes, that one--on a diet at age 7.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Protect your health records on the road

Some people travel between homes in winter and summer and others trek around the planet.

When you travel, you may put your identity at special risk.

--Never accept "free" health services or products requiring you health plan ID number.

--Never share insurance numbers on the phone--unless you called them.

--If you take your medical records with you, put them in a locked box or scan them and put them on an encrypted thumb drive or CD.

--Shred old records.

---If you are home or on the road, take labels off prescription bottles before tossing them.

--Make sure your purse or wallet is secure.

--Do not use public wi-fi to log onto health financial sites.

--Monitor your credit reports to see if your medical or financial information has gotten out.

When I traveled, I also purchased temporary travel insurance--I got mine from Amex--that would fly me home if I got sick and cover medical bills abroad.

I also carried a few American hundred-dollar bills--accepted everywhere, I have found. I even had to use one to pay a doctor in Madrid. Nothing like good old cash.