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Archive for the ‘Consumer Health’ Category

New Mexico Sees Four Cases of Whooping Cough

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Untitled by Mindy Olson P is licensed under CC0.

close up of eye

New Mexico is seeing its largest cluster of whooping cough cases in infants since 2013. So far, four infants from Eddy, Curry, Rio Arriba and San Juan have a confirmed case. The cases have all been reported in infants under six months old.

“Whooping cough is very contagious and can cause serious cough illness―especially in infants too young to be fully vaccinated,” said Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher in a New Mexico Department of Health news release. “Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent your child from getting it.”

Whooping cough, scientifically known as pertussis, is highly contagious. It is characterized by uncontrollable, violent coughing, which often makes it hard to breathe, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. After a bout of coughing, the person often has to take large, deep breaths, creating the “whooping” sound. Anyone can get whooping cough, but it is extremely dangerous and can be fatal to those less than a year old.

Whooping cough is spread by coughing or sneezing, and those who are infected can be contagious for up to two weeks after the cough starts.

Whooping cough is best prevented by getting the vaccine. Infected persons can be treated through antibiotics—early diagnosis and treatment is very important.

To read more about whooping cough in New Mexico and how to prevent it, please visit the New Mexico Department of Health’s website.

To read more general information about whooping cough, please visit the CDC’s website.

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Consumer Health & Tech Roundup

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of all that’s going on. Here are some of the headlines you may have missed this past month:

Sushi Lovers, Beware: Tapeworm Now Found in U.S. Salmon [MedlinePlus]

Smartwatches could soon tell you when you’re getting sick [TechCrunch]

Quick fact sheets on key trends in digital technology now available [Pew Research Center]

Food Safety Tips for Your ‘Tamalada’ []

CES 2017: Smart Cane Gives Users a Boost [Health Tech Insider]

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January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Untitled by Liam Welch is licensed under CC0.

close up of eyeDid you know more than 3 million people in the U.S. are affected by glaucoma? Do you know what glaucoma is?

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve, the part of the eye that connects it’s to the brain. When damaged, it can cause vision loss, and in fact, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, according to MedlinePlus.

Everyone is at risk for glaucoma, but there are certain groups of people who should be more aware of potentially contracting the disease—mainly seniors. Those over age 60 should get an eye exam every two years. Additionally, African Americans over age 40 and those with a family history of glaucoma should also get checked regularly, as they are more at risk.

Glaucoma symptoms vary, and those with the disease may experience none. But over time they may notice a loss of peripheral vision, tunnel vision, eye pain, nausea, blurred vision, halos around lights and/or reddening of eyes.

There is no cure for glaucoma, but it can usually be controlled, especially when caught early on. Current treatments include prescription eye drops and surgery.

This January, recognize National Glaucoma Awareness Month by considering getting an annual eye exam.

To read more about glaucoma, please visit “Glaucoma Resources for Special Populations from National Library of Medicine,” and/or MedlinePlus.

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Tuberculosis Diagnoses Increase for First Time in 23 Years

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

“Photo” by WikiImages is licensed under CC0.


While you may not think tuberculosis (TB) is a concern for yourself and your family, many people in the U.S. suffer with it, and for the first time in 23 years, the U.S. saw an increase in diagnosed cases in 2015. There were 9,557 cases total and it affected 27 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

This increase calls for a more comprehensive public health approach to curbing TB, according to the CDC’s report. Suggested strategies according to the report are:

  • “Increased testing and treatment of latent (showing no symptoms) TB,
  • Greater efforts to reach populations most affected by TB, and
  • Reducing TB transmission through effective diagnostic and treatment strategies.”

TB is a bacterium that usually affects the lungs but can affect any part of the body. It is usually spread through the air when a person throat coughs, speaks or sings and another person breaths it in. But not everyone who becomes infected will become sick, which is called latent TB infection. This occurs when your body is able to fight off the bacteria.

Primary TB symptoms include a cough that last as for three weeks or longer, pain in the chest, and coughing up blood. Others may also include weight loss, fatigue, no appetite, chills, fever and sweating at night.

To read more from the recent CDC report, please visit “Burden of TB in the United States.”

To read more general information about TB, please visit the CDC’s website.

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Start the New Year Right with Healthy Eating

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

“Photo” by Kaboompics is licensed under CC0.


Two of the most common New Year’s resolutions every year are losing weight and staying fit and healthy. Key to keeping both of these resolutions is following a healthy eating plan, like the one outlined in Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The Guidelines are released every 5 years with the goal of providing recommendations for components of a healthy and nutritionally adequate diet that promotes health and prevents chronic disease for current and future generations.

Highlights of the latest Guidelines describe a health eating plan that:

  • Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
  • Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
  • Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars
  • Stays within your daily calorie needs

Need more help creating a healthy diet plan? Check out the Center for Disease Control’s Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight. The site includes resources for meal planning and cutting calories, as well as links to healthy recipes, and gives suggestions for creative ways to design a diet after the Guidelines.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up your favorite comfort food to be healthy; just remember to use moderation and create balance with healthier foods and more physical activity!

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Written by Sarah Miles, Health Professions Coordinator, NN/LM SCR

Resources for Flu 2016

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

“Flu vs Cold” from CDC.

Flu vs. Cold ChartWith flu season really starting to kick in, we wanted to share some resources on the disease to help you get through fall and winter!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that every person aged six months and older get an annual flu vaccine by the end of October. Something important to note is that only injectable flu vaccines are recommended this year. Previously, the flu vaccine was also available through a nasal spray known as FluMist.

To further protect yourself, the CDC recommends staying away from people who are sick—people who are sick with the flu should stay home from work or school to prevent spreading the disease. Additionally, the CDC recommends consistent hand washing to get rid of germs.

Flu 2016 symptoms include:

  • fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • vomiting or diarrhea in some cases

The CDC also has a chart that shows the difference between cold and flu symptoms.

If you suspect you have the flu, you should visit your doctor for a diagnosis and to be prescribed antiviral prescription drugs. This treatment works best when started within 48 hours of getting sick, so you should see a doctor right away if you experience symptoms.

To read more about the 2016 flu, please visit the CDC’s flu page.

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Extra Fat in Different Areas of the Body Associated with Higher Risk of Heart Disease

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

“Photo” by PublicDomainPictures is licensed under CC0.

Woman Measuring WaistMost of us may have some “problem areas” on our bodies that we want to fix. But new research shows that carrying extra weight on certain parts of your body may be more dangerous to your health than others.

A recent study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that carrying extra belly fat, particularly in the gut area, often referred to as a “spare tire,” causes a person to have a higher risk of heart disease, especially when compared to the heart disease risk for a person’s fat elsewhere, like in the hips, often called “love handles.”

Reasons for this higher risk are not entirely known yet, but Dr. Greg Fonarow, cardiology professor at University of California, Los Angeles explained to MedlinePlus that belly fat is known to be associated with abnormalities like high triglyceride levels, low levels of HDL (good cholesterol), high blood pressure and risk of diabetes.

It’s important to stress, however, that there is no definitive proof that belly fat causes heart disease, only that there is a higher risk associated with it.

To read more about fat and heart disease, visit “‘Spare Tires’ May Be Tougher on Your Heart Than ‘Love Handles.’”

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The Digital Shift of Libraries

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

“Photo” by Fabian Irsara is licensed under CC0.

Laptop KeyboardNational Network of Libraries of Medicine, South Central Region – the name is a bit of a mouthful, and what is it exactly? The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) is a network of libraries, information providers, public health agencies, community organizations and more, focused on improving public health by providing U.S. health officials and the U.S. public with equal access to health information.

Specific to the NN/LM SCR, our objectives are to assess, educate, increase access, and advocate. In order to carry out these objectives, NN/LM SCR has been striving to shy away from the traditional thought that a library is a brick and mortar facility and instead is something that can be accessed digitally, anywhere and anytime.

The Library Journal recently published an article about how the library world is shifting – most libraries are trying to add a digital arm if they don’t have one already. In the article, Rachel Fewell, central library administrator at the Denver Public Library, described two groups of people: those who use the library, and those who don’t even think about the library.

“Making libraries more visible on the web has two benefits,” reports the Library Journal. “Improving the service for the ones who are already committed to the library—they use search engines, too—and giving libraries the opportunity to reach those who never—or only sometimes—think about the library.”

Putting library materials online surely won’t hurt any library. If anything, it will make it more successful. It gives people who do use libraries the choice on how they prefer to use it, and it gives those people who wouldn’t physically visit a library the ability to use it from anywhere. Additionally, creating digital libraries is extremely beneficial to those who live in rural communities and may not have immediate access to a physical library.

Digital libraries are especially smart when it comes to increasing access to health information. While the public may not physically visit a library to gain knowledge on health issues affecting them, they are definitely searching the web and reading the news. The NLM has created extensive online databases and repositories available for consumers, clinicians and scientists.

To read more about the digital shift of libraries, please visit: “Making Libraries Visible on the Web.”

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Brain Responds Differently to Food Cues in Severely Obese Women

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Photo by Henrique Félix licensed under CC0.

Woman Eating SoupA recent study by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center has shown that severely obese women who have just eaten will continue to respond to food cues even though they are no longer hungry. On the contrary, leaner women who have just eaten will not receive these cues from their brain.

The study compared 15 severely obese women to 15 lean women. Researchers took MRI images of the participants’ brains before and after eating. When any person is hungry, their brain will react in a certain way when shown images of food. The study found that once full, the lean woman’s brain no longer reacted to those images—the MRI scans showed the appeal of the food images dropped 15 percent. Obese women’s brains, however, were still excited when viewing those images—the appeal dropped only 4 percent.

“These findings may explain why some people with severe obesity report an underlying drive to eat continually despite not feeling hungry,” said Dr. Puzziferri, who specializes in bariatric and weight loss surgery, in a news release. “In contrast, lean women when full will either stop eating or just sample a food they crave. It’s just not a level playing field – it’s harder for some people to maintain a healthy weight than others.”

To learn more about the study, please visit “Brain activity and response to food cues differ in severely obese women.”

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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Funds Study Linking Gene to the Disease

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

“AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. Takes ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” by AFGE
is licensed under CC BY 2.0

ALS Ice Bucket ChallengeDo you remember seeing videos of people dumping a bucket of water on their head last year or the year before? Chances are if you were on Facebook, you saw at least one. For those who don’t remember or were unaware, those videos were a part of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which went viral on social media. Users tagged each other to take the challenge within 24 hours or donate to the ALS Association.

The challenge raised awareness and money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS (also commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). But why dump a bucket of ice water on yourself? One of the common symptoms of ALS is muscle weakness, which can also lead to a feeling of numbness in a patient’s limbs. By pouring a bucket of ice water over yourself, you are meant to be simulating the numbness that many ALS patients feel.

During the challenge’s popularity peak, it was often criticized that while it raised awareness for the disease, it was unclear if the challenge was doing much good raising money: “The challenge even seems to be suggesting that being cold, wet, and uncomfortable is preferable to fighting ALS,” wrote Time Magazine news editor Jacob Davidson.

While the amount of donations might have been unclear at the time, the ALS Association announced last week that money raised during the challenge funded the study that found the NEK1 gene is linked to the deadly disease. The study looked at the histories of more than 1,000 families and involved more than 80 researchers in 11 countries, ultimately determining a connection between the gene and the disease.

For more information about ALS, the Ice Bucket Challenge or the new discovery, please visit the ALS Association or “’Ice Bucket Challenge’ Funds a Boon to ALS Research.”

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