Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pets should make you healthier, not sick

I find my irritating little brain turning more and more to wanting another pooch. I sneak over to Craigs sometimes. I watch live cams of puppies growing up.

But then I read about things like a recent Ohio State study going over the literature on all the things pets can give people--diseases, not satisfaction and fun. (Canadian Medical Assn J--Apr 20)

Salmonella, E. coli, roundworms--there are 20 ickies people can get from pet animals. Different species carry different diseases.

The key, the docs said, is to get the right pet for the right person.

Also--vets and people docs should discuss the possibility of such infections with their patients.

This is especially important for people with a compromised immune system.  These people should:

--Wear protective gloves to clean aquariums and cages.
--Wash hands after contact.
--Discourage face licking.
--Cover playground sand boxes unless kids are using them
--Disinfect cages and bedding
--Only get a new pet if the person has improved his or her immune system
--Schedule regular vet visits

Also--pets can get human diseases such as MRSA and C. diff and pass them to other humans.

Yoh-boy--these people are no fun. How about a big Hazmat Suit with a picture of the animal on it?
Happy now?

Monday, April 20, 2015

How to get a kid to eat veggies

Let's face it, some vegetables have a bitter taste--the better to ward off destructive insects. But this also wards off some people, especially children. Although pureed pees and beans may be among the first "solid" foods, graduating to Brussels sprouts can be a leap.

Actually, my old child loved them--so you never know!

Instilling good eating habits, says Tanda Kidd, assoc professor of human nutrition at Kansas State in Manhattan, KS, is worth it. No parent, she says, wants their child to be overweight or sick.

The key is to start early. Give a variety of food options--kids know when to eat and when to stop.

Make the choices rich in nutrition, not just calories. This lets out soda.

Foods crammed with "empty" calories, such as sweets and hot dogs and reghular ground beef contribute 40% of daily calories for kids 2-18.

Other ideas?

--Do not use food as a reward for good behavior.

--Be a good example--parents should eat their veggies.

--Eat with your children so they can see what you eat.

--Check out what kids eat away from home.

--Limit screen time--watching TV means mindless eating. Chomp. Chomp.

Do not put your child on a "diet," even if they appear chubby. Instead, encourage exercise.


--Take kids to the store, discuss choices, loop them in.

--Plant a garden, cook together.

I agree--and the Orange Hollandaise my child's dad made for artichokes did not hurt, either.  A little dipping sauce can cut bitterness and is fun.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Boo! Why darkness scares us

Lecia Bushak, Medical Daily, Apr 16, 2015, tackles the subject of why so many people are afraid of the dark.

As soon as it gets dark, she says, her senses go on alert for weird sounds or sights. If she hears something, her blood turns to ice.

We are instinctively afraid of what the darkness hides. And it's not just little kids.

This is our evolutionary urge to remain safe talking. (Or whispering.)

First, the lack of light impairs our ability to see clearly--snatching away control. Humans don't have good night vision.

We are also hard-wired to avoid predators at night. For instance, one study showed that lions in Tanzania were 60% more likely to attack humans at night. This ancient possibility is locked into our brains.

We fear walking home alone in the dark--yet crimes happen pretty much around the clock.

Modern people lie in the dark and while a lion attack is probably not in the cards, we go deeper and deeper into our subconscious. All our "demons"--sadness, fears--creep out.

Freud said this is because our parents left us in a dark room and went away at night. Voila--nightlights!

The minute lights go on, we feel silly, we regain perspective.

But this is real and was baked in long ago.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Does acetaminophen flatten emotions?

I take Tylenol for knee pain. Yes, I saw the study recently that said it had limited use for that--but I tried stopping it and could tell a big difference.

Now comes a study at Ohio State that seems to indicate that acetaminophen, which has been used for more than 70 years in the US and is contained in 600 medicines (23% of Americans take it), may tamp down psychological pain as well as physical discomfort.

It reduces how much users feel positive and negative emotions, but mostly positive, the researchers contend.

You can check this out in the online version of Psychological Science if you want.

The scientists said acetaminophen users did not know they were acting differently.

Basically, the researchers had some college students take 1000 mg of acetaminophen, the others a placebo, and then after a period for it to take effect, they showed the kids pictures from a database called the International Affective Picture System. These ranged from unpleasant to neutral to pleasant.

Then they rated how positive or negative the photo was.

Both studies seemed to show the acetaminophen takers rated the photos less extremely--positive or negative.

They concluded that the "takers" didn't feel the same highs or lows as the placebo people.

But then they thought maybe the takers affected how people judge "magnitude"--so they did another study--in this one, the participants also reported how much of the color blue they saw.

Again, the positive and negatives were blunted in the takers--though the perception of the color was the same for both.

I am not sure what to make of this--seems like a lot of holes in it--such as people in pain (and even with acetaminophen there is some) may have a more negative view.

I am not the one to judge--my perceptions are crap, apparently.

PS Don't forget--emotions aside, if you take this, keep it under 4 gr a day--the liver, you know.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Nurse Jackie--and some other nurses

Do you watch Nurse Jackie on Showtime? She is a tough-talkin', rule-breaking, drug-addicted, unfaithful, lying woman--fascinating to watch but I would think hard to live and work with. Yet, her coworkers remain loyal--or did--until this season.

Anyway, I have been hospitalized several times and have no idea if my nurses were hot messes or not. Most, for me anyway, made the sojourn bearable. They are the people you talk to, who try to intervene with arrogant doctors, who come when you are in need (even if it takes a while).

Nurses are close to the action. Therefore, I am not surprised to learn that critical care nurses in 42 hospitals nationwide initiated changes that saved institutions $42 million a year.

This came as a result of the Clinical Care Investigator Academy, a 16-mo leadership and innovation program funded by the Am Assn of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).

The nurses in the program had ideas involving healthcare-associated infections, pressure ulcers, delirium, early mobility, falls, and patient handoffs. In Indiana, Mass, NY, NC, PA, and TX:

--Stays in intensive care decreased by 1 day
--Days on mechanical ventilation decreased by about a day
--Infections and complications--down 50%
--Patient falls--down 50%
--Pressure ulcers--down 40%
--Catheter urinary infections--down 70%
--Positive scores for confusion--up 14%

These are frontline nurses, at the bedside, seeing what they see, observing what they observe.

Nurse Jackie may break the rules to help patients--these nurses make them!

I remember being hospitalized once and my veins kind of collapsed from sticks--they called in the floor supervisor, saying she was the woman, she could always insert IVs. She did! Years later, I was admitted to the same hospital and she came in the room. I said, "I remember you!"

Patients do not forget this stuff.