Do you ever take a look at the notes your doctor or health practitioner writes during a medical visit? If not, it's worth considering checking them out. These medical notes are usually filled with valuable information about your health and reminders of the recommendations that were discussed. Medicalese is a language that includes difficult-to-pronounce illnesses, medications, and technical terms.

You may be surprised to find inaccurate information or unexpected language, tone, or even innuendo in your medical records. Was your past medical history truly "unremarkable"? Did you truly "deny" drinking alcohol? Did the note describe you as "unreliable"?

Here's how to decode unfamiliar jargon, comprehend some unexpected descriptors, and flag any mistakes you discover.

Have you ever read your medical record? Here's why you should
Photo by CDC
What is included in a medical note?

A standard medical note contains several sections. These include:

* A description of the patient's current symptoms
* Past medical problems
* A list of medications taken
* Family medical history
* Social habits, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or drug use
* Details of the physical examination
* Test results
* A discussion of the overall picture, along with recommendations for further evaluation or treatment.

Notes for new patients or annual exams are often more comprehensive. Follow-up notes may not include all of these points.

What may be confusing about medical notes?
Medical notes are not usually written in plain language because they are not primarily intended for a lay audience. As a result, you're likely to come across:

Medical jargon: You had an upset stomach and a fever. Doctors may say "dyspepsia" (upset stomach) and "febrile" (fever).

Complex disease names: Have you ever heard of "multicentric reticulohistiocytosis" or "progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy?" These are just two of many examples.

The use of common language in unusual ways: For example, your medical history may be described as "unremarkable" and test results as "within normal limits" rather than "normal."

Abbreviations: You might see "VSS" and "RRR," which stand for "vital signs stable" and "regular rate and rhythm," respectively.

If you are having trouble understanding a note, your health issues, tests, or recommendations, contact your doctor's office for clarification. The more you are informed about your health and your treatment options, the better.

Grab your gym clothes and walking shoes because your friend is probably right. While there haven't been many studies on exercise protecting against infections, the few that exist all suggest it does.

The biggest study on this, done by Harvard Medical School, was published in JAMA Network Open in February 2024.

The study tracked almost 62,000 adults aged 45 and above from before the COVID pandemic started in early 2020 until the end of 2022. Researchers gathered information on factors like chronic diseases, income levels, and lifestyle habits that might affect the risk of infection. They also kept an eye on who got COVID-19 and how severe their symptoms were.

Out of all the participants, 69% were considered "sufficiently active," meaning they did moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 150 minutes every week. Another 11% were "insufficiently active," and 20% didn't exercise at all.

The results showed that those who kept up with enough physical activity were 10% less likely to get COVID-19 and 27% less likely to be hospitalized because of the virus compared to those who didn't exercise. This protective effect was especially clear among women. Interestingly, people who exercised a little (but not enough to meet the recommended amount) didn't see much better results than those who didn't exercise at all. These findings suggest that a good amount of physical activity is needed to protect against COVID-19.

Do you need a little extra push to increase your daily steps? According to a study published online on April 7, 2024, by Circulation, reminders or rewards might help. In the study, researchers asked over a thousand people (average age 67) to wear activity trackers, walk daily, and set step goals. They were then randomly placed into one of four groups, each receiving different encouragement to exercise: the chance to win game points, earn money, get both money and game points, or receive a daily text message with their previous day's step count. After one year, all groups increased their daily steps by at least 1,500.

In contrast to the message-only group, participants in the money or game points groups walked over 500 more steps daily, while those in the combined incentives group walked nearly 900 more steps daily. Would you like to give this a try at home? Use a walking app that gives game points and incentives, and set a phone reminder to work out.

Photo by Boys in Bristol Photography

Q. It's happening again: every summer, I get bitten by mosquitoes far more than my family and friends. Why does this happen?

Why do mosquitoes bite me so much? People with Type O blood tend to attract more mosquitoes.

People with Type O blood tend to attract more mosquitoes

A. You're not imagining it. Some people are naturally more attractive to mosquitoes than others. Scientists are still trying to understand why, but they believe it has to do with each person's unique scent, which is created by a variety of molecules throughout the body. This scent, unlike underarm odor, is not something you can change, so there's no need to worry.

Other factors, such as blood type and breathing patterns, also seem to influence mosquito attraction. For example, people with Type O blood tend to attract more mosquitoes. Additionally, breathing heavily, like after exercising, releases more carbon dioxide, which mosquitoes find appealing.

To reduce the chances of getting bitten, try a few simple strategies. When spending time outdoors, use fragrance-free personal care products and wear long, light-colored sleeves and pants. Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. Additionally, using a fan, especially around your feet and ankles where mosquitoes tend to gather, can help keep them away.

Photo by Jimmy Chan
Microplastics found in arterial plaque are linked to a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes, a new study reveals. Researchers analyzed plaque from the neck arteries of 257 people, finding tiny plastic particles in 58% of the samples. Those with microplastics had a significantly higher rate of heart attack, stroke, and death over nearly three years. While the study can't definitively link microplastics to these health issues, it highlights the potential health risks of plastic particles entering the body through food and water.

Concerns about the health effects of microplastics continue to rise. A new study reveals that individuals with microplastics in the plaque blocking their neck arteries are significantly more likely to experience a heart attack or stroke compared to those with plastic-free plaque.

Researchers analyzed plaque from the neck arteries of 257 individuals and discovered tiny plastic particles, mainly polyethylene and some polyvinyl chloride, in 58% of the samples. After nearly three years, those with microplastics in their plaque had a 4.5 times higher rate of heart attack, stroke, and death compared to those without.

While these findings are observational and cannot definitively link microplastics to these health issues, other unmeasured factors may also contribute. This study was published in the March 7, 2024, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Polyethylene, used in making plastic bags and bottles, slowly breaks down and can be found in food and water, potentially explaining how microplastics enter the body.
When it's hot, hazy, and humid outside, be cautious with outdoor activities to safeguard your heart.

Take care of your heart during the hottest days of summer.

During the summer of 2023, record-breaking high temperatures scorched many regions of the United States. Unsurprisingly, emergency department visits for heat-related illnesses also increased during that period, according to the CDC. This concerning trend is expected to continue as climate change leads to longer, hotter, and more frequent episodes of extreme heat. 

Individuals with underlying health issues, particularly cardiovascular disease, are more susceptible to the dangers of high temperatures. Air pollution, another risk to heart health, can also be problematic during the summer months. 

Why Heat is Hard on the Heart
People with or at risk for cardiovascular disease should be more cautious when exercising outside in hot weather. When temperatures rise, exercise becomes more demanding because the heart has to pump extra blood to both the muscles and the skin to help dissipate excess heat. However, when the air temperature nears body temperature (around 98°F), this cooling process becomes ineffective. Sweating helps cool the body by turning liquid sweat into water vapor, but high humidity levels above 75% make evaporation more difficult. 

Hot-Weather Tips
It's still important to exercise during warm weather, but you may need to lower your intensity. Here are some additional tips for exercising safely during heat waves: 

Avoid outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day: Temperatures usually peak between noon and 3 p.m., so consider exercising in the early morning or early evening, away from traffic-heavy areas. 

Choose the right attire: Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing made from sweat-wicking material to stay cooler. 

Stay hydrated: Drink water throughout the day, especially when active outdoors. For exercise lasting more than an hour, sports drinks are better as they contain electrolytes like potassium, sodium, and magnesium, which replenish what you lose from sweating. People on blood pressure medications, particularly diuretics, should be extra careful to drink plenty of water. Exercise in water or air-conditioned spaces: 

On extremely hot days, consider swimming, doing water aerobics, or working out in an air-conditioned fitness center. 
Does the smoke from wildfires aggravate eczema flare-ups and other skin conditions?

Are you dealing with itchy, irritated skin that you can't stop scratching? Or have you noticed that your child's eczema has suddenly gotten worse and is hard to manage? More and more evidence suggests that wildfires, which are becoming more intense and frequent, are making skin problems like eczema worse.

Are you struggling with itchy, irritated skin or worsening eczema? Wildfires, becoming more frequent and intense, are linked to increased skin problems like eczema flare-ups. Learn how air pollution from wildfires impacts your skin and discover effective tips to protect yourself. Understand eczema, its triggers, and why it's getting worse during summer. Get expert advice on managing eczema and maintaining healthy skin despite poor air quality. Visit AirNow.gov for real-time air quality updates and protect your skin with recommended practices.
Photo by Sippakorn Yamkasikorn

What is eczema?

Eczema is a common, long-lasting skin condition that affects about one in 10 people in the US. It causes red, dry, and itchy patches of skin. The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis, which often runs in families and usually starts in childhood. In the northern hemisphere, it typically gets worse in the winter when the weather is cold and dry. However, experts are now seeing this pattern change. For example, at Massachusetts General Hospital, one dermatologist noticed a big increase in eczema flare-ups last summer.

Why is eczema getting worse during summer?

In 2023, Canada had over 6,000 wildfires that burned more than 16 million hectares of land — an area larger than the entire state of Georgia. Although the fires were far away, the smoke traveled across the US and more than 2,000 miles in Europe. The poor air quality from these distant wildfires caused eye and throat irritation and made it hard to breathe.

In Boston, Dr. Arianne Shadi Kourosh, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, also noticed skin problems. Usually, dermatology clinics would see fewer than 20 people during a summer month for eczema, including atopic dermatitis. Suddenly, that number jumped to 160. Her research showed that the number of visits for these skin complaints matched the level of air pollution. Other studies have also found more eczema and psoriasis flare-ups linked to wildfire pollution. But why is this happening?

Researchers think that pollutants in the air might trigger a series of reactions in the body by causing oxidative stress, which damages the skin and leads to inflammation. This process may also play a role in the development of eczema.

What can you do to protect your skin?

Air pollutants from wildfire smoke can harm many parts of your body, including your skin. So, when the air quality is bad due to wildfires, limiting your exposure can help reduce health risks. This is also true for industrial air pollution, but wildfire pollution might be worse because it has more toxic particles.

Here are some tips to protect your skin:

- Seek help if you're itching: If you think wildfire smoke or other air pollution is affecting your skin, check with a dermatologist or your healthcare provider.

- Check local air quality: AirNow.gov provides real-time local air quality information and activity guidance. When recommended, stay indoors if possible. Close doors, windows, and any outdoor air vents.

- Protect your skin: When you're outdoors, wear a mineral-based sunscreen containing zinc or titanium. These sunscreens form a barrier that reflects UV rays and reduces the amount of pollutant particles reaching your skin. Wearing sunscreen also protects against skin cancer.

- Wash up: After being outside, cleanse your skin and apply a hypoallergenic moisturizer to keep it healthy. If you have eczema, use cleansers and moisturizers recommended by your dermatologist or healthcare provider.

By following these tips, you can help protect your skin from the harmful effects of wildfire smoke and other air pollutants.
Walking more than 2,200 steps a day may extend your life, according to research we're following.

Although walking 10,000 steps a day is associated with the best health outcomes, a recent study found that walking as little as 2,200 steps a day is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and early death.

The investigation, which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in March 2024, assessed information gathered by the UK Biobank from almost 70,000 adults, ages 53 to 69. For seven days, participants' levels of exercise were monitored via an accelerometer they wore. In the ensuing seven years, 6,190 major cardiovascular issues, such as heart attacks and strokes, were documented, and 1,633 individuals passed away.

Researchers found that walking between 9,500 and 10,500 steps a day reduced the risk of a heart attack or stroke by 21% and the risk of dying young by 39%. Regardless of how long a person spent being inactive each day, the odds of heart disease and early mortality were reduced by any amount of daily steps above 2,200. As individuals increased their daily step count, their health results improved even more.

Cicadas are approaching, as you have undoubtedly already heard. Or wait, they're here already.

And how very are they? It is anticipated that billions of cicadas will emerge in the US by the end of June, primarily in the Midwest, as a result of an uncommon overlap of the life cycles of two varieties (or broods) of cicadas.

Follow them here if you want to know where they have already landed. Read on to determine for yourself how enticing and safe it is to nibble on cicadas if you're wondering if this cicada-palooza could assist with grocery expenditures. The advantages and disadvantages can alter your perspective on the approaching swarm.

Information regarding cicadas
Fear not—most cicadas pose no threat to people. As an inexpensive source of protein and calories, their emergence is actually welcomed in areas where people frequently eat them.

Up to two billion people are thought to consume insects on a regular basis, primarily in South and Central America, Asia, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. When available, cicadas are among the most well-liked insects. And in case you believed that nobody in the US ate cicadas, watch this clip from a baseball game in May 2024.

Do you want to consume cicadas?
Cicadas are not a preferred food for a large number of people. The thought of consuming insects as food still bothers some people. That makes sense because our upbringing has a big impact on what we think is appropriate when it comes to diet. Eating snakes is a prevalent practice in China and Southeast Asia, which may bother some Americans. Meanwhile, several parts of normal Western cuisine (such as processed cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and root beer) are unpalatable to individuals outside of the US.

However, some people should avoid eating cicadas due to potential health risks.

What makes eating cicadas a good idea or not?
In many regions of the world, eating cicadas is common since they are

Healthy: I've been told that cicadas are affordable or free, include a lot of protein, have a minimal fat content, and taste good. They also contain several important amino acids. Their flavor has been described as nutty, lemony, smoky, and somewhat crunchy.

Recipes for meals that incorporate cicadas also appear in years when cicadas first appear.

However, there are a number of valid reasons not to include cicadas in your diet, such as the following:

There's really no getting over the "ick" factor. Some people cannot see anything other than horror in the concept of eating cicadas, yet adventurous eaters can be open to the idea or even welcome it.

You don't like the consistency or taste.

They call you "cicada intolerant." If they consume too many cicadas, some people experience nausea, diarrhea, or upset stomachs.

You have a little child, are pregnant, or are nursing. It has been suggested that these cultures avoid eating cicadas due to concerns about even minute amounts of pesticides or other contaminants in them. This implies that the rest of us should avoid them as well, doesn't it? At least as of right now, there isn't any proof that the poisons found in cicadas are harmful to people's health.

There is one more crucial item on this list, though: cicadas shouldn't be consumed by anyone who is allergic to shellfish. Strange, huh?
No matter if it's in the form of cereal (like your childhood favorite, Cap'n Crunch), snack foods (like Cheetos), entrees (like hot dogs), or desserts (like Twinkies), Americans are obsessed with ultra-processed food. Yes, eating a Mediterranean-style diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, and healthy oils improves heart and brain health. Is eating ultra-processed food detrimental to the health of your brain, though?

What this new study's findings mean
According to a recent study, there is a clear correlation between consuming highly processed meals and an increased risk of stroke and cognitive decline.

The REGARDS (Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke) project, a longitudinal study of non-Hispanic Black and White Americans aged 45 and older, provided data for this well-designed observational study. Initial enrollment for the study took place between 2003 and 2007. Upon receiving a series of questionnaires, participants were asked to rate their health, nutrition, exercise, body mass index, education, income, usage of alcohol, mood, and other parameters. Furthermore, memory and language exams were given on a regular basis.

Based on the quality of the information from the questionnaires and tests, data from 20,243 and 14,175 participants, respectively, were deemed to be used to analyze the risk of stroke and cognitive impairment. Of the sample, about one-third identified as black, and the other two-thirds mostly identified as white.

Say no to ultra processed food

Parents find it difficult to discuss sex with their teenagers at any age. Many parents are reluctant to discuss it because they believe that doing so would be equivalent to endorsing it. Yet, 30% of high school students nationwide who participate in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) report having had sex by the end of their studies.

Learn effective strategies for parents to discuss sex and STI prevention with teenagers. This comprehensive guide covers essential tips for promoting healthy relationships, understanding common STIs, and ensuring your teen's health and safety. Discover how to approach this critical conversation confidently and responsibly.

Finding out for sure if your adolescent has had sex might be challenging. Even if they haven't, it's probable that they will eventually, so they should be prepared with knowledge to help maintain their health and safety.

Information that parents should be aware of regarding STDs

STIs, or sexually transmitted infections, are exceedingly prevalent. They can be transmitted through all forms of sex and may be brought on by bacteria, viruses, or other microbes. Even though the majority of STIs are curable, they can still impact a person's ability to conceive, harm a developing fetus, and occasionally result in serious difficulties or a permanent infection. Teens should be aware of them because of this.

Basic information about some of the most prevalent infections is provided below, including their causes, potential symptoms, and available treatments.


The most common bacterial STI in the US to be reported is chlamydia; however, there may be more instances than we know because many of them are asymptomatic.

If symptoms are present, they may include pain when urinating, discharge from the penis or vagina, or—in rare cases—pain and swelling in the testicles. It can be diagnosed by a urine test or by taking a swab from the affected area. Antibiotics can treat it. Infertility can result from it if left untreated; this is more frequent in women than in men.


Another STI brought on by bacteria is gonorrhea, which can likewise have no symptoms. When they manifest, the symptoms closely resemble those of chlamydia. For both men and women, gonorrhea can also result in infertility. Although curable, certain infections have shown resistance to the common medications used, necessitating further testing and care.

Trichomonas infection

A protozoa is the cause of trichomoniasis. This STI also has the potential to be asymptomatic. In most cases, drainage, itching, and irritation are the symptoms. Medication can be used to treat it.


The incidence of syphilis has increased. When an infection first appears, the site of entry is typically a solid, circular, painless sore. Usually present for three to six weeks, the sore may go undiagnosed due to its lack of pain.

The second stage is characterized by a more widespread rash, which may be subtle and go undiagnosed, as well as general symptoms of illness, including fever, sore throat, exhaustion, enlarged lymph nodes, or weight loss.

Syphilis can persist in the body for years and occasionally impact organ systems, including the brain, if it is not treated. Antibiotics can treat it, but the damage it might cause could be irreversible if it is discovered too late. Pregnancy can make this infection more dangerous.
Have you recently exfoliated?

What benefits can exfoliation-promoting skin care products offer your skin?

Social media has a way of making the banal seem exciting and original. One example would be exfoliation, which is the removal of dead skin cells from the epidermis. Anyone who was browsing TikTok recently may be convinced that this traditional method of skin treatment can rejuvenate even the most aged skin, such as our aging epidermis.

However, a dermatologist from Harvard says that's asking too much.

"I don't think exfoliation is going to fix anybody's wrinkles," says Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center interim dermatology chair Rachel Reynolds, MD. Exfoliation has certain advantages, but if you don't perform it carefully or use instruments or chemicals that your skin can't handle, it can also irritate and inflame the skin.

How do you exfoliate?
Exfoliation can be done mechanically or chemically. Every person has unique benefits.

Mechanical exfoliation, also known as physical exfoliation, involves physically removing dead skin cells from the skin with a brush, loofah sponge, or scrub that contains abrasive particles. "Mechanical exfoliation can improve skin luster by taking off a dead layer of skin that can make it look dull," explains Dr. Reynolds.  "And it can help unclog pores a bit, which can reduce some types of acne."

Chemical exfoliation liquefies dead skin cells by using chemicals, most often salicylic acid or alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids.  "Chemical exfoliant's work on a micro-level to help dissolve excess skin cells and reduce uneven pigmentation sitting on the surface of the skin," she continues.  "They also restore skin glow, improve acne, and give the skin a little more shine."

Why is exfoliation encouraged by skin care products so frequently?
According to Dr. Reynolds, there are probably hundreds of commercially available skin care products that are marketed as exfoliating, including face masks, cleansers, and body washes. She questions, though, why so many different products highlight this aspect so strongly.

"It's advantageous for a cosmetics company to sell consumers more products in a skin care line," she says. "But it's buyer beware, because this is a completely unregulated market, and cosmetic companies can make claims that don't have to be substantiated in actual clinical trials."

Does our skin need to be exfoliated?
No. "Nothing happens if you don't exfoliate—you just walk around with bumpy or slightly dry skin, which is inconsequential except for cosmetic reasons," explains Dr. Reynolds.

"No one has to exfoliate, but it can be helpful to exfoliate the arms and legs," she continues. "As we age, these areas get drier than other parts of the body, and people notice they build up a lot more flaking skin and an almost fish-scale appearance."

Even people who are not in the direct line of fire are at risk of health problems due to smoke from nearby wildfires.

More people and our communities are in danger of injury if wildfires grow more common as a result of climate change and drier circumstances. Here are some tips to help you get ready and safeguard your loved ones.

How is air quality impacted by smoke from wildfires?

The smoke from wildfires significantly degrades the air we breathe. Similar to the pollution caused by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas, wildfires release toxic gases and respirable particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5, and PM0.1) in the form of microscopic particles. There are other poisons found in wildfire smoke that originate from burning houses.

Smoke carried by jet streams and weather patterns can reach far-off places.

What health effects can smoke from wildfires have?
The most hazardous to human health are the tiny particles found in wildfire smoke. These particles have the ability to enter the bloodstream occasionally and go deep into the lungs when inhaled.

Smoke from wildfires can cause breathing difficulties, coughing, wheezing, and eye irritation. Additionally, the smoke may make respiratory diseases like COVID-19 more likely. Strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure are other potentially dangerous health consequences.

Who should exercise extra caution?
The most vulnerable groups to the dangers of wildfire smoke include youngsters, the elderly, outdoor laborers, expectant mothers, and people with heart or lung issues.

You should discuss the potential effects of smoking on any chronic health conditions you may have with your doctor. Find out which symptoms require a visit to the doctor or a change in your medication. This is especially important if you have heart or lung issues.

What steps can you take to be ready for a wildfire?
If you reside in a region where wildfires are a threat or where the heat and dry weather increase the likelihood that they may occur:
More data suggests multivitamins can delay cognitive decline.

Taking a daily multivitamin tablet could help prevent reductions in certain elements of cognition, at least for a few years, based on the sufficient research that has already been published on the topic. However, I was also aware that more extensive and superior research was almost finished and would probably offer a more reliable response. They have now. The latest study you're referring to was most likely organized at Harvard and involved medical centers across the country. A randomized controlled trial was the ideal sort of study for assessing the efficacy of a treatment: some patients were randomly assigned to take the multivitamin pill, while others were assigned to take an identical-looking placebo. And, until the study's conclusion, neither the subjects nor the research team knew who had taken the multivitamins.

The latest study, published in the January 2024 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, included participants aged 60 and up. In many ways, it outperforms previous investigations. It included more people (almost 5,000), monitored participants for longer periods of time (more than two years), and tested cognitive capacities more precisely—both before and after they began taking multivitamins. Two components of cognition known to predict the later development of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia were assessed: global cognition and episodic memory. Because both of these indicators naturally drop with age, the study sought to determine whether people who took multivitamins experienced a slower decline than those who took a placebo.

Indeed, those taking multivitamins had lower declines in both of these cognitive tests over two years than those taking a placebo. This was observed consistently in all groups of people, regardless of age, gender, race or ethnicity, weight, diet, or pre-study cognitive ability. There were no side effects reported from using multivitamins.

Based on the findings of this study, taking a daily multivitamin pill delays age-related cognitive loss for at least two years in people aged 60 and up. However, many essential questions remain unanswered. Will this benefit continue if people take multivitamins for more than two years? Do regular multivitamins lessen the chance of developing dementia? How do multivitamins achieve their beneficial effects? The tablet used in this study comprised more than 20 vitamins and minerals; are only a few of them responsible for the beneficial effect? These questions can only be solved through research. We need the answers.


A strain of bird flu that started spreading in 2020 is still changing both locally and globally in the US. If you're unsure about what this implies, knowing the fundamentals of bird flu can be helpful. These include what it is, how it spreads, whether or not foods are safe, and protection advice. As scientists discover more, additional details will become available, so stay tuned.

1. How does bird flu spread, and what is its definition?
Avian flu, sometimes known as bird flu,is a disease that develops spontaneously. Type A influenza viruses frequently propagate among wild birds, much like some flu viruses do among humans. The H5N1 virus strain is now in circulation and is named after two proteins found on its surface.

The bird flu is extremely contagious. Shore birds like plovers and sandpipers, as well as wild water birds like ducks, geese, and gulls, are frequently the first to contract the infection. The viruses are expelled in their feces, mucus, and saliva and are carried in their intestines and respiratory tract. Domestic fowl, including ducks, turkeys, and chickens, are easily infected by wild birds.

Ducks are among the bird species that can transmit the illness without showing symptoms. Bird flues are more likely to sicken and even kill domestic flocks. But not every bird flu virus is equally dangerous.
  • In domestic poultry, low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) may result in no symptoms at all or in moderate symptoms like fewer eggs or ruffled feathers.
  • Poultry infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has higher rates of mortality and more severe disease. As of right now, the H5N1 virus is classified as an HPAI.

2. Can people contract the avian flu?

Yes, however, it doesn't generally work like this.

Flu viruses have the potential to spread from their initial hosts, birds, to humans and other animals through mutation. As of this writing, there have been two documented cases of bird flu in humans in the United States since 2022.

The mouth, nose, or eyes can all be entry points for the infection. One could breathe in viral part 4. What are the experts' concerns regarding the avian flu outbreak?

It may seem strange that bird flu has been the subject of so much news coverage and alarm recently. Bird flu has been around for a while, after all. It has long been recognized to occasionally infect animals other than birds, such as humans.

However, there are a few reasons why the present outbreak is distinct and concerning:
For instance, that are in the form of dust, tiny aerosolized particles, or droplets in the air. Or they could come into contact with a virus-contaminated surface and then touch their nose or eyes. Human bird flu usually manifests as fever, runny nose, and body aches, just like seasonal flu.

3. Which animals are impacted by the avian flu?
The animals afflicted by the current H5NI bird flu epidemic are surprisingly numerous and include:

Wildlife, including dairy cows in nine states as of this writing, chickens, ducks, geese, and other domestic and commercial fowl in 48 states and more than 500 countries. Wild creatures like foxes, skunks, and raccoons; some domestic animals like farm cats; and marine species like seals, sea lions, and even dolphins.

4. What are the experts' concerns regarding the bird flu outbreak?
It may seem strange that bird flu has been the subject of so much news coverage and alarm recently. Bird flu has been around for a while, after all. It has long been recognized to occasionally infect animals other than birds, such as humans.

However, there are a few reasons why the present outbreak is distinct and concerning:

Quick and expansive spread. Numerous sub-Saharan African nations, the US, Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and even Antarctica have all reported cases of the virus.

There are numerous afflicted species. Previously unaffected species—including those found in our food chain—have been impacted.

Economic implications. There could be a significant financial impact on farmers, agriculture-related businesses, and the economy of the affected countries if a significant number of dairy and beef cows, as well as poultry, become unwell or need to be slaughtered in order to manage outbreaks. The grocery store may charge more as a result of this.

Possibility of death. Since 2003, severe bird flu viruses have caused H5N1 illnesses in around 900 individuals across 23 countries. Of these documented incidents, over half were deadly. Remember that the arithmetic is not simple. Lethality of bird flu is probably overstated because many more human cases are probably out there, but those who had little or no symptoms or were not tested were not counted.

New mutations. It's unlikely, but not impossible: The H5N1 avian flu could become the next human pandemic if mutations allow for effective person-to-person transmission.

There are opportunities for exposure. The more humans are exposed to bird flu, the greater the likelihood that the virus will mutate to make it easier to transfer to humans, even though there have only been two recorded cases of human infections in the US in recent years, both of which involved individuals who worked with animals.
Hospitalizations for heart problems are associated with weather and air pollution.

A study published in the June 2023 issue of JACC Advances suggests that a model that accounts for air pollution and meteorological conditions may be able to predict future cardiac issues.

In order to develop the model, scientists examined climatic and meteorological data along with hospital admissions for heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure across a ten-year period. They examined information on almost 24 million Canadians, who were split up into five age groups that went from 18 to 70 years old. A higher risk of hospitalization for one of the major cardiovascular illnesses has been associated with lower temperatures, higher wind speeds, atmospheric pressure, higher levels of precipitation, and higher pollution levels, especially in the elderly population.

The scientists suggest that one day, the environmental characteristics they found may be utilized to estimate the prevalence of cardiovascular issues, allowing for more effective planning during times of high risk. Additionally, during periods of bad weather and low air quality, people should be reminded to stay indoors and exercise particular caution.

Photo by Pixabay
How to protect yourself from falling outside your home?

Even with precautions taken at home, the external environment is fraught with potential dangers leading to hazardous falls. Given that falls contribute significantly to fractures, head trauma, and injury-related fatalities, especially with advancing age, it's crucial to understand how to navigate safely beyond your doorstep. Here are strategies to prevent falls in various public settings.

In stores, smooth floors can pose a slip and fall risks. Wear footwear with nonslip soles and consider using support aids if balance is a concern. Supporting yourself with a shopping cart, store-provided electric scooter, or rollator can provide stability and opportunities for rest during shopping trips. When reaching for items, maintain caution, as reaching above shoulder height may compromise balance. Utilize techniques like standing with one foot forward and one foot back or seek assistance when needed.

In bustling places like airports, malls, concert halls, or theaters, you might find yourself amidst crowds, increasing the risk of collisions that could lead to a fall. To protect yourself, consider walking with a partner or using a rollator for stability. The rollator can also serve as a warning to others to be cautious around you and give you space,

When visiting parks or playgrounds for a stroll, jog, or with children, be wary of uneven terrain that heightens the risk of falls. Watch out for areas where different surfaces meet, such as the transition from a parking lot into a mulch playground. Ensure you wear appropriate footwear, such as sneakers with deep treads or sturdy hiking boots.

Regarding public staircases, if you feel unsteady on stairs, it's advisable to avoid them and opt for an elevator if available. If stairs are unavoidable, proceed with extra care, considering they may not match the dimensions you're accustomed to at home. Always grasp the handrail, move slowly, and in dimly lit areas, use a portable flashlight or smartphone with a flashlight app to illuminate your path.
Three eye illnesses are associated with an increased risk of falls.

In the journals

Having your eyes tested for common age-related eye problems can also help minimize your chance of falling. According to a study published online by JAMA Ophthalmology on December 28, 2023, older people with cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), or glaucoma are more likely to fall than those without these eye illnesses.

For four years, researchers tracked 575,000 people with cataracts, AMD, or glaucoma, as well as three control groups of people without these eye illnesses. During that time, 30% of those with cataracts fell, compared to 14% of controls; 37% of those with AMD fell, vs. 21% of controls; and 25% of those with glaucoma fell, compared to 13% of controls. People with eye problems were also at a higher risk of fractures, though it was unclear how many of these fractures were due to falls.

The study did not investigate why these eye problems would raise the risk of falls; it just demonstrated a relationship. Other research, however, has identified a number of variables, including issues with eyesight and balance, as possible culprits. Illness may also be a factor. According to the research, there was a higher likelihood of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis in those with eye diseases.

Photo by Dominika Roseclay
Exposure to noise may increase the risk of cardiovascular issues.

According to a recent study, long-term exposure to the noise produced by cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The Harvard-led examination of three decades' worth of data from 114,116 women involved in the Nurses' Health Study was published online by Environmental Health Perspectives on December 4, 2023. Researchers evaluated the relationship between noise levels where participants lived and their incidence of cardiovascular disease using a geospatial noise model developed by the National Park Service. This model estimates noise levels in different locations using data gathered from monitoring sites across the United States.

Researchers discovered that participants' long-term risk of cardiovascular illness increased with the amount of transportation noise they were exposed to. There was a 4% rise in cardiovascular issues such coronary artery disease and stroke for every four dB increase in noise above a baseline level. The authors of the study noted that prior research has similarly connected noise exposure to transient alterations in circulation, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and blood vessel narrowing.

This research it still being watched.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
What constitutes a drought? A drought is an extended period of dry weather lacking rainfall. In recent decades, there has been a global increase in the frequency of drought occurrences. With the onset of climate change, elevated temperatures are exacerbating aridity, not only within the United States but also worldwide. Recognizing the detrimental effects of drought where you reside and taking appropriate measures to safeguard your well-being is crucial.

How to stay healthy during a drought

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