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The itch nobody can scratch

“It’s just like something from science fiction. It’s something that you’d see in a movie or in a book on aliens from another planet. It’s out of this world.” [closeup images of human skin that may be disturbing] Morgellon's disease [no images] is the topic of this week's Stuff You Should Know podcast. [no transcript] A CDC study could not identify a cause, and the medical community's consensus is that it is a form of delusional parasitosis, but conspiracy theories abound [images]. (previously)
posted by desjardins on Aug 3, 2014 - 58 comments

A few alternatives to Dr Google

Dr Google always thinks it's cancer, except when it's lupus. So how do you find reliable health information online? The (US) National Institute on Aging has some good rules of thumb, and the National Library of Medicine has a simple tutorial. Many of us, though, might prefer a list of general trustworthy resources. Here are some of my favorites, including some Australian and UK resources that American MeFites might not know. [more inside]
posted by gingerest on Jul 31, 2014 - 21 comments

considering & rethinking bathrooms

Why the modern bathroom is a wasteful, unhealthy design (The Guardian):
"Piped water may be the greatest convenience ever known but our sewage systems and bathrooms are a disaster" [more inside]
posted by flex on Jul 22, 2014 - 181 comments

Rube Goldberg wept

A Republican panel of the D.C. Circuit has ruled [.pdf opinion] in the case of Halbig v. Burwell that a drafting error in the Affordable Care Act provides subsidies exclusively to state-based exchanges and not to federally-facilitated ones, even while subjectively intending to provide subsidies in both cases. The ruling threatens to take away federal subsidies for insurance sold on Obamacare exchanges in 36 states.
posted by T.D. Strange on Jul 22, 2014 - 104 comments

Cross-cultural experiences of schizophrenia

A new study by Stanford anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann and others found that voice-hearing experiences of people with serious psychotic disorders are shaped by local culture – in the United States, the voices are harsh and threatening; in Africa and India, they are more benign and playful. This may have clinical implications for how to treat people with schizophrenia, she suggests.
posted by Rumple on Jul 19, 2014 - 24 comments

How lucky are we

Sorry You Were Tricked Into a C-Section What disapproving friends don’t understand about cesarean births
posted by ThePinkSuperhero on Jul 9, 2014 - 134 comments

“With animals, we often don’t know the reason for a behavior,”

Zoo Animals and Their Discontents [New York Times]
posted by Fizz on Jul 4, 2014 - 20 comments

egg donation: a journalist's personal story

Justine Griffin, a reporter for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, decided to become an egg donor. She documents her journey in a three-part feature, The Cost of Life: "This began as a way for me to honor a childhood friend who passed away and a hopeful account of my experience with the fertility industry. But it devolved into a tangle of broken promises, scary science and questionable experiences — ending with a ruptured cyst on my ovary and a fear that my future reproductive health may be in jeopardy." [more inside]
posted by flex on Jun 28, 2014 - 11 comments

PPD

"Postpartum depression isn’t always postpartum. It isn’t even always depression. A fast-growing body of research is changing the very definition of maternal mental illness, showing that it is more common and varied than previously thought." ‘Thinking of Ways to Harm Her’ and "After Baby, an Unraveling". [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 18, 2014 - 60 comments

US health care ranked last among 11 developed countries

How the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally - "The United States health care system is the most expensive in the world, but this report and prior editions consistently show the U.S. underperforms relative to other countries on most dimensions of performance. Among the 11 nations studied in this report—Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States—the U.S. ranks last, as it did in the 2010, 2007, 2006, and 2004 editions of Mirror, Mirror. Most troubling, the U.S. fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the U.S. is last or near last on dimensions of access, efficiency, and equity." [full report (pdf)] [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jun 17, 2014 - 71 comments

nothing is broken; you can go home now.

hit by a car, an emergency doctor experiences firsthand the shortcomings in ER care
posted by and they trembled before her fury on Jun 13, 2014 - 133 comments

A month without sitting

"If you sit down more than 11 hours a day, one study suggests, you’re 40 percent more likely to die in the next three years than I am. I’m standing up. I’ve been standing up all day. I’ll be standing up all month, in fact, without a break. I expect at the end of that month I’ll be sore but triumphant, glowing with smug enlightenment..."
posted by John Cohen on Jun 9, 2014 - 73 comments

Bathing in bacteria

Spray on some friendly bacteria and skip the soap? (NYT) Plenty of people have tried the 'no-poo' method to switch from shampoos, but what about skipping everything, and adding some bacteria instead? We bathed without soap for a long time and antibacterial soap is really bad for us. AOBiome wants you to think Bacteria is the New Black.
posted by viggorlijah on May 22, 2014 - 112 comments

"in the United States, how it spread, who got it, and why"

Why Did AIDS Ravage the U.S. More Than Any Other Developed Country?
Solving an epidemiological mystery
posted by davidstandaford on May 18, 2014 - 77 comments

I don't care who started it.

Schoolyard bullies may worry that their victims are free to be sniveling, cowardly worms with almost zero repercussions. But, fortunately, they'll get their comeuppance when they grow up and die of heart disease or cancer. "Bullying Is Good For Your Health." (Being bullied is bad for it.)
posted by grobstein on May 13, 2014 - 89 comments

Save the Microbes

Humans have co-evolved with the resident microbes that call us "home", known as the microbiota, consisting of trillions of cells that colonize our bodies. The microbiota carry out many beneficial functions, such as producing vitamins, aiding in digestion, and protecting against invading microbes, but disruption from antibiotics or delivery by Caesarian section may have consequences for human health. Recently, antibiotic use has been linked with obesity and asthma. Using both human studies and experimentally observed mice, we are beginning to understand how antibiotics may lead to the disappearance of microbes and to identify key microbes that impact our health.
Save the Microbes
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on May 8, 2014 - 24 comments

15 points for Grandma, but only 5 for her already snot-nosed grandkids

Similar in form to Boomshine but way grosser, play Sneeze and infect the world with your germs.
posted by jacquilynne on May 3, 2014 - 5 comments

Bounty Mutiny

"If an NHS trust proposed today that it was going to introduce Viagra sales reps into men's genitourinary wards, or reps for walking aids to orthopaedic wards, the very least you'd expect would be some stout resistance. It is a measure of the strength of the association between "motherhood" and "buying stuff" that the presence of commercial representatives on maternity wards has been tolerated for so long."
[more inside]
posted by Catseye on Apr 23, 2014 - 29 comments

"Thank you for letting me watch."

Post-operative Check: "It's okay that you don't remember me. My name is Shara, and I'm part of the surgical team. I'm checking to see how you're doing after your surgery. Do you know where you are right now?" [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 18, 2014 - 21 comments

Why Most Brazilian Women Get C-Sections

In many parts of the world, women are having more Cesarean sections than medically necessary. Recent abuses of pregnant women in Brazil have sparked a small, vocal movement of activists who want mothers to have more say in the delivery room. (SLATLANTIC)
posted by beisny on Apr 14, 2014 - 55 comments

Researchers Use Stem Cells to Regenerate Muscle Nearly as Strong

Scientists Progress in Quest to Grow Muscle Tissue in Labs - "The researchers are now working on optimizing the growth of human muscle tissue, including finding a way to get blood flow to the tissue, the best source of cells and the best growing medium for the cells."
posted by kliuless on Apr 8, 2014 - 5 comments

Inequality Kills

For nearly two hundred years America was one of the healthiest and longest-lived countries, but today, over thirty countries have better health by many measures. What happened? "If the culprit of the decline in health is not health care, are individual health-related behaviors, often blamed for the high death rates in some groups, causing our low ranking in health? Apparently not." [more inside]
posted by MisantropicPainforest on Apr 3, 2014 - 77 comments

At least I won't hear Wii Fit make that disappointed noise again.

What the Next Generation of Health & Fitness Software Can Learn from Wii Fit.
posted by Kitteh on Mar 21, 2014 - 26 comments

Work Makes You Sick: Speed Ups on the Academic Assembly Line

Mental health problems are on the rise among UK academics amid the pressures of greater job insecurity, constant demand for results and an increasingly marketised higher education system. [more inside]
posted by eviemath on Mar 7, 2014 - 22 comments

live to your last day

Last Day for Last Abortion Clinic in the Rio Grande. “Honestly, I think they’ll go south of the border, if they have to,” said a 23-year-old woman who was one of the last patients to be seen at the clinic and who traveled to San Antonio for her abortion last month. “It’s cheaper and it’s closer. To go to San Antonio is so much more of a hassle and costs a lot more.”
posted by four panels on Mar 6, 2014 - 81 comments

We have the technology

A new 3D printed membrane acts like an artificial pericardium to continuously monitor and regulate the heart's beating
posted by T.D. Strange on Mar 2, 2014 - 23 comments

Big Oil, Bad Air

Here's a multi-media webpage (text and photos, plus scroll down for the enlightening and well-made video) that spells out what's going on right now down Texas way: Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Feb 19, 2014 - 36 comments

You Can't POP Your Cherry (HYMEN 101)

Informative article and hilarious videos concerning myths about female virginity.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Feb 9, 2014 - 30 comments

I had a stroke. I’m a healthy 30-year old woman and I had a stroke.

My right arm seemed no longer a part of my body. I couldn’t control it; it was limp at my side, like the worst dead arm you can imagine, but completely out of nowhere.
posted by rcraniac on Feb 4, 2014 - 24 comments

There's no such thing as purple urine.

Hypochondriacs unite! Here is a handy infographic about diagnosing yourself with your own urine!
posted by Kitteh on Jan 9, 2014 - 41 comments

Healthy cities: public health and urban planning

A new Report on the State of Health + Urbanism (pdf) from MIT looks at the relationship between urban planning and public health, with some surprising findings. The cities covered are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. [more inside]
posted by gingerbeer on Dec 31, 2013 - 52 comments

Is the Contraceptive NuvaRing Killing Thousands?

"Danger in the Ring." According to Karen, a doctor in the emergency room asked her over the phone: “Was your daughter using birth control?” Karen said, “Yes, NuvaRing.” He removed the device and said, “I thought so, because she’s having a pulmonary embolism.” [more inside]
posted by blue suede stockings on Dec 28, 2013 - 103 comments

Keeping Little Breaths Flowing

The trachea, or windpipe, of a young child is about the width of a drinking straw, and if food or a small object is inhaled instead of swallowed, it can block the airway. Even when something is swallowed and becomes lodged in a child’s throat or esophagus, it may compress the trachea enough to impair breathing. After just four minutes without oxygen, a child’s brain can be permanently damaged. - A NYTimes piece gives useful advice on preventing and responding to a young child's choking
posted by beisny on Dec 16, 2013 - 31 comments

The Obesity Myth.?!?

Study may bust myth of 'fat and fit' healthy obesity. Being healthy and obese is a myth, researchers say. People who are obese and have normal blood pressure, cholesterol and blood-sugar readings will still be unhealthy and die sooner compared with people who have a normal body weight, according to researchers. [more inside]
posted by MisantropicPainforest on Dec 6, 2013 - 226 comments

Which Came First, the Depression or the Insomnia?

Insomnia causes depression as much as depression causes insomnia: Three surprising points from a fascinating episode of KQED Forum [audio, no transcript] with guest Dr. Michelle Primeau of the Stanford School of Medicine. For those averse to audio (like me, normally), the NYT also covered the research in print:
  • First story: Treating Insomnia to Heal Depression,
  • Follow up a couple of days later: Double Effectiveness of Depression Treatment by Treating Insomnia,
  • Two readers (both psychiatrists) respond, and
  • A NYT editorial.
  • [more inside]
    posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail on Dec 5, 2013 - 22 comments

    Will Play for Root Canal

    The O+ Festival in San Francisco offers artists an opportunity to barter their services for dental and health treatment. "The O+ Festival in San Francisco this weekend would seem a typical indie arts event, with performances by local musicians and displays of funky art. But in a twist that highlights a longstanding problem in the creative economy, the artists involved will be paid not in cash but rather in something they may need just as badly: health care." [more inside]
    posted by semaphore on Nov 15, 2013 - 17 comments

    What No One Tells You About Losing Lots of Weight.

    What No One Tells You About Losing Lots of Weight. For at least some newly thin people, there’s a meta-dissatisfaction in feeling that significant weight loss has made life anything other than perfect: Any discomfort you may feel with your body is compounded by a sense of shame at not feeling unmitigated pride at a moment you expected to be triumphant. [more inside]
    posted by Drinky Die on Nov 11, 2013 - 178 comments

    Find out your 'fitness age' and get fit

    Using the results of a study of 4,260 adults, the Cardiac Exercise Research Group (CERG) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) has developed an online fitness calculator which outputs your 'fitness age'. If the results alarm you, they've also provided a 7-week fitness program.
    posted by paleyellowwithorange on Nov 5, 2013 - 43 comments

    The Pills of Last Resort

    How Dying Patients Get Access to Experimental Drugs
    posted by Blazecock Pileon on Nov 1, 2013 - 16 comments

    Doctor No

    What doctors would not do
    posted by paleyellowwithorange on Oct 24, 2013 - 53 comments

    "This moustache is a Movember moustache."

    To kick off the men's health awareness project Movember, Nick Offerman presents, How to Grow a Moustache and Great Moments in Moustache History.
    posted by quin on Oct 24, 2013 - 58 comments

    Behind the A.D.H.D. Epidemic

    To be clear: Those are correlations, not causal links. But A.D.H.D., education policies, disability protections and advertising freedoms all appear to wink suggestively at one another. From parents’ and teachers’ perspectives, the diagnosis is considered a success if the medication improves kids’ ability to perform on tests and calms them down enough so that they’re not a distraction to others. (In some school districts, an A.D.H.D. diagnosis also results in that child’s test score being removed from the school’s official average.) Writ large, Hinshaw says, these incentives conspire to boost the diagnosis of the disorder, regardless of its biological prevalence. - SL NYTimes
    posted by beisny on Oct 16, 2013 - 152 comments

    This Is the Average Man's Body

    This Is the Average Man's Body
    posted by anazgnos on Oct 14, 2013 - 138 comments

    And so in 1632 seven men were left in Smeerenburg to wait out the winter

    We tend to think now of scurvy as mainly a punch line, if anything—“scurvy-ridden rats” is the kind of popular pirate epithet that appears in even the most G-rated family fare. Partly this is because now, fully understanding its mechanism, it seems a particularly ridiculous problem. But ask anyone who's suffered from it: it is a singularly horrid and terrible way to die.
    - The Spoil of Mariners, Colin Dickey, Lapham's Quarterly.
    posted by Rustic Etruscan on Sep 29, 2013 - 28 comments

    Game behind gamed: your narrative programming for the day

    How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio[1] actually makes a case against austerity[2] and for redistribution, but also for money printing (and, arguably, for bailouts), while stressing the need to keep making productivity-improving public and private investments. However, it could be equally entitled: How The Industrial Age Political-Economy Doesn't Work Anymore, viz. Surviving Progress (2011)... [more inside]
    posted by kliuless on Sep 25, 2013 - 28 comments

    The Surprising Science Behind Napping

    "Over the years, napping has gotten a bad rap, becoming a sign of laziness or weakness, especially during the workday. Yet, according to a growing body of scientific research, napping can actually be a very good and very smart thing to do. How so? Napping can help refresh the mind, make you more creative, boost your intelligence, and even help you live a longer, healthier life. Studies over the past decade have confirmed all of this and more, and napping is slowly gaining acceptance as a part of a healthy lifestyle, even in some corporate offices. Whether you're ready to jump on the nap-happy bandwagon or just learn more about the research being done on the practice, read on as we share the science behind the need to nap, interesting research into napping, and a scientist-approved method for taking the ideal nap."
    posted by paleyellowwithorange on Sep 17, 2013 - 59 comments

    “It just got very, very old and all of us felt that we were whores."

    More than half the population of small, rural Madras, Oregon (population: ~6059) and its surrounding community is served by one clinic: Madras Medical. At the beginning of 2006, the clinic's doctors and nurses decided to ban pharmaceutical reps from visiting their practice. No more free lunches. No more free drug samples. No more gifts. And yet.... "It's made us better doctors." (Via) [more inside]
    posted by zarq on Aug 27, 2013 - 40 comments

    I Keep My Bipolar Disorder Secret at Work

    The most frustrating part of my situation is that I can count on one hand the number of people who know about my mental illness. The stigma that surrounds mental health is suffocating, and I don’t feel comfortable talking about it with most of my friends and family, and certainly not my boss or colleagues. Writer opens up about mental illness stigma in the workplace.
    posted by rcraniac on Aug 23, 2013 - 35 comments

    'Paying Till It Hurts': Why American Health Care Is So Pricey

    NPR's Fresh Air interviews Elizabeth Rosenthal about her year spent investigating the high cost of health care.
    "Every part of the system needs to rethink the way it's working. Or maybe what I'm really saying is we need a system instead of 20, 40 components, each one having its own financial model, and each one making a profit." [more inside]
    posted by arcticseal on Aug 11, 2013 - 105 comments

    Red Before Bed: Better for Your Head

    The night shift is a reality for about 10% of the American labor force, offering both opportunity for rumination and a panoply of health problems. One of them may be easily mitigated, though: new research indicates that the color of light one is exposed to at night can affect one's mood.
    posted by psoas on Aug 7, 2013 - 26 comments

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