3 Strange Treatments Doctors Used to Think Were Good for You

[brightcove:5592343939001 default]

This article originally appeared on Time.com.

The quest for a health is a natural human response to illness, but medical history provides plenty of reason to think twice before you try that miracle cure.

Case in point: medieval doctors would press a sacrificed puppy, kitten, rabbit or lamb on top of a tumor because they thought that cancer was like a “ravenous wolf” that would rather “feed off the sacrificed animal rather than the human patient,” as Dr. Lydia Kang and her co-writer Nate Pedersen put it in their new book Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything.

Sure, some of the stranger examples of old-time medicine would turn out to be useful; while cautery—heating an iron stick on hot coals and then pressing it onto a person’s body—didn’t end up curing broken hearts when the rod was pressed against the patient’s chest, the practice was a forerunner to electric surgical instruments. And while doctors were misguided in prescribing the poison arsenic to treat syphilis and skin conditions, a form of the chemical has been used to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia.

But plenty of other techniques were downright useless, if not dangerous. Early women’s health recommendations included everything from naturalist Pliny the Elder’s insistence that consuming powdered sow’s dung relieved labor pains, to the medieval Italian advice that keeping weasel testicles near one’s bosom was an effective form of contraception. And in American history, misguided medicine ran rampant, especially before steps such as the 1906 Food and Drugs Act, the first major consumer protection law to crack down on misleading food and drug labels, and the formation of the Food and Drug Administration in the ’30s. Even today, despite increased consumer protection, misleading medical claims are still out there.

“We have to be really careful when we’re looking for an easy cure,” Kang tells TIME. “Generally things aren’t that easy, so that should make you a little bit suspicious.”

TIME spoke to Kang about some of the practices once touted as good medicine that are well known to be harmful today.

Tobacco

During a 1665 plague outbreak in London, schoolchildren were told to smoke cigarettes, which at the time were thought to be disinfectants. In addition, “tobacco smoke enemas”—the source of a common idiom about blowing smoke—were developed as a sort of 18th-century version of CPR by members of The Institution for Affording Immediate Relief to Persons Apparently Dead from Drowning. They would drag the victim out of the River Thames, strip him or her down, and use an enema to literally blow smoke into the person, either manually or with bellows. (Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was invented in the ’50s.)

In 1964, a U.S. Surgeon General report would label cigarettes deadly and urge people to stop smoking.

Cannibalism

The phrase “you are what you eat” can apply to this school of thought. Ancient Romans clamored for gladiator blood for strength and vitality, but it was also thought to be a cure for epilepsy. That rationale appeared to be maintained for centuries, based on Englishman Edward Browne’s 1668 observation that people attended executions to collect the blood of the victims. In the early 1600s, one German physician’s suggested cure for a range of conditions was making a jerky of sorts out of the corpses of 24-year-old redheads, chopping up their bodies and mashing the bits in wine, myrrh and aloe, before dry-curing them.

Now that it’s known that blood can carry disease, the risks of drinking it are obvious — but the use of other people’s body parts for medicine would be legitimized through the development of organ donation and transplantation in the mid-20th century.

Radium

In the early 1900s, when people walked into the spa by in Joachimsthal, Czech Republic, they immediately breathed in irradiated air circulating in the lobby. The source of the radiation was a hot spring that emanated radon. Patients soaked in irradiated water and inhaled radon directly through tubes. A few early studies had claimed that radium placed near tumors could shrink the tumors, so doctors at the time thought more was better. “It’s like the difference between treating something with a bomb and treating something with a scalpel,” says Kang.

Radon exposure is now known to be a leading cause of lung cancer. The invention of the Geiger counter in 1928 would help physicians better measure doses of the chemical, paving the way for medical breakthroughs that would enable radiation to be used for cancer treatments today.

Source: Mind-Body

Las Vegas Victim, 27, Wakes from Coma and Takes First Steps After Being Shot in the Head

This article originally appeared on People.com.

A 27-year-old victim of the Las Vegas mass shooting has woken from a coma and taken her first steps — with some help — about two weeks after she was shot in the head during the Oct. 1 massacre at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival, PEOPLE confirms.

Tina Frost was at the outdoor concert on the Vegas strip that Sunday night when a gunman opened fire from his nearby hotel suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino, killing 58 and injuring hundreds of others.

Frost — reportedly an accountant and Maryland native who had relocated to San Diego — was struck in the head and had to have her right eye removed, her mother, Mary Watson Moreland, wrote on a GoFundMe page set up to financially support her recovery.

Frost was in a coma after being hit by the bullet, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

On Friday night, Moreland shared an update that her daughter had woken up.

“She opens her left eye just a lil and looks all around the room at us, taps her feet whenever music is playing, continues to squeeze our hands, and even gives [her boyfriend] Austin a thumbs up when asked,” Moreland wrote.

“She sometimes taps to music and also took her first steps today with the assistance of the nurses – 3 steps to the chair and 3 steps back to the bed,” Moreland continued. “She’s obviously anxious to get her wobble back on.”

Family friend Amy Klinger tells PEOPLE that doctors are encouraged by Frost’s progress.

“There is a 90 percent mortality rate with [gunshots] to the head, and she is a little bit of a medical miracle,” Klinger says. “Initially the doctor was saying they were hoping to see progress in a year, and what she has been able to show us in two weeks is amazing.”

“She is showing signs of awakeness and awareness,” Klinger says of Frost. “She started showing signs of responsiveness the middle of last week.”

Klinger says that late last week, Frost went off her ventilator for a sustained period of time: “She was able to breathe on her own for six hours and that is a big accomplishment.”

What’s more, Klinger confirms, Frost on Friday was able to take “baby steps, with a lot of assistance, from the bed to the chair” about two and a half feet away. Moreland told the Review Journal much the same in an interview on Saturday. She said Frost woke up on Thursday.

While Frost has been responsive to others, she has yet to speak, according to Klinger.

“She has not responded verbally to instructions, but she has been given instructions verbally and has followed those commands,” she says.

Still, Klinger says, “There is no way of knowing what the brain damage is until she is more fully awake.”

The GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $550,000 as of Monday evening, far surpassing its goal of $50,000.

According to the Review Journal, Frost was attending the Route 91 Harvest festival with her boyfriend, Austin Hughes, and several friends. The group was enjoying the show near the front of the crowd when gunfire began around 10 p.m.

They began to run, but it wasn’t long before Frost was hit.

With the help of an off-duty fireman, she was brought to the nearby Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Vegas.

Sunrise’s Dr. Keith Blum told the Review Journal that Frost underwent a three-hour surgery, and he described her survival as “miraculous.”

“She’ll have pieces of the bullet in her brain forever. But her vitals are stable, and she’s breathing on her own a little,” Moreland, Frost’s mother, told the newspaper last week, noting that “sometimes she hears me when I talk and squeezes my hand.”

Klinger tells PEOPLE that Frost was taken by air ambulance to a hospital in Baltimore on Sunday morning. She was accompanied on the plane by her mom and boyfriend, while her dad and younger sister flew separately and met them at the hospital.

“They wanted to find the best location to handle the surgeries, neurological therapies and reconstruction,” she says. “She is a sweetheart, an incredible friend, daughter and girlfriend. She is a hard worker and an incredibly dedicated athlete. She is an all-American girl. She was living a really full life and there is hope with prayers and encouragement that she will be back to that one day.”

Dr. Blum said Frost was awake before she was flown to Maryland, the Review Journal reports.

Efforts to reach her family have been unsuccessful, and Klinger says relatives including her mother have been too focused on Frost’s recovery to speak about what happened.

However, the family has continued to post updates about Frost’s progress on social media.

Late Sunday, Frost’s father, Rich Frost, posted a link to a news story about her being moved to Maryland. He wrote, “Big big hill in her marathon, but once again it was conquered and she continues to be in good hands, and back home by many friends and family.”

“I was told 90 percent of those shot as she was die,” Rich told the Review Journal last week. “Well, it looks like she’s in the 10 percent. … Slowly but surely she’s making progress.”

In a statement to PEOPLE, Tina’s employer, Ernst & Young, said she “has inspired us with her courage and strength.”

“Our EY family across the world has closely followed Tina’s progress,” the statement continued, “and, together with the firm, has committed our support to Tina and her family so they can stay focused on her recovery.”

Source: Mind-Body

Why It's Time to Stop Casually Calling People 'Schizophrenic' and 'Bipolar'

[brightcove:5609716356001 default]

There has been no shortage of insults during the first nine months of the Trump presidency—both those directed at members of the administration, and those dished out by the commander-in-chief and his staff. But one specific insult recently caught the attention of two psychiatrists, who blogged about it on the BMJ website.

In July, in a now-infamous phone call to reporter Ryan Lizza, then-Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci referred to then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus as a “paranoid schizophrenic”—using the name of a legitimate mental health condition as an insult directed at someone who, as far as we know, has no such diagnosis. And while this was a highly publicized event, it’s just one example of a larger problem, says Arash Javanbakht, MD, director of the Stress, Trauma, and Anxiety Research and Clinical Program at Wayne State University and one of the article’s authors.

It's a problem that's evident even without leaving the world of politics. On one side of the aisle, Trump himself has called people "crazy" and "psycho" in recent months. On the other side, psychiatrists have debated whether it's appropriate to question the President's own mental health. At least one psychiatrist says terms like dementia and narcissism are being thrown around without evidence, and are unfair to people who are truly ill. 

RELATED: 10 Signs of Narcissism

Javanbakht, and his co-author Aislinn Williams, MD, weren’t the only people to take issue with what Scaramucci said in July, or the way it was reported in the media. In their post, they reference a Teen Vogue op-ed that also points out “the profound problems” with how news organizations reported the phone call, with most never mentioning “how unacceptable and stigmatizing such a phrase is.”

About 1% of the world population actually has schizophrenia, Javanbakht and Williams note, and the disease affects several million Americans and their families and friends. “They are worthy of respect and should be met with support, but many of our profession’s top journals and the news media at large, remained silent in the face of this onslaught.”

Javanbakht spoke with Health about his blog, and about the larger problem of mental-health illnesses being used in such derogatory ways. “Anytime a medical diagnosis is used as an insult, it is basically an insult to an entire group of people that are not responsible for their condition,” he says. “You wouldn’t insult someone by saying they have diabetes, so why would you insult them by saying the have schizophrenia?”

To get more mental health stories, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

Using mental illnesses as insults can be directly harmful to people living with these conditions, and they can also spread inaccurate perceptions of what they really are, says Steven Meyers, PhD, professor of psychology at Roosevelt University.

For example, people may use the word schizophrenic to describe how someone can alternate between two different states, while the actual symptoms of schizophrenia involve poor reality perception, hallucinations, and confused thinking.

“Accurate information about the symptoms of a disorder can lead people towards diagnosis and treatment,” say Meyers, “while misinformation is more likely to promote stigma or cause us to dismiss or marginalize people.”

RELATED: 12 Signs You May Have an Anxiety Disorder

Javanbakht and Williams note that in recent years, it’s become socially unacceptable to make fun of people with illnesses like cancer, and that a public-relations campaign started by Special Olympics in 2008 has even had success reducing use of the “R-word.”

“As psychiatrists, we need to speak up alongside our patients and help people understand that using mental illness as a pejorative is equally hurtful and unacceptable,” they wrote.

“I’m a neurobiological researcher, and to me there’s no difference between a disease of the brain or a disease of the gut or any other area of the body,” Javanbakht says. “We need to help people see diseases like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder the same way they see diabetes, high blood pressure, or Crohn’s disease.”

RELATED: 8 Celebrities on Their Struggle With Mental Illness

That starts with education, he says. “We know that 30% of the general population deals with some form of anxiety and 20% deal with depression, so chances are you have a family member or friend dealing with a mental health condition,” he says. “If we can talk openly and learn about those conditions, we’ll be able to develop empathy and see them for what they really are.”

Meyers says there’s no widespread agreement about what is an offensive use of a mental health term, and that it always depends on context. “Saying that someone has a ‘crazy’ idea isn’t the same as labeling a person as a paranoid schizophrenic,” he says. But when in doubt, he says, people should think about how their casual use of certain terms could impact others—and if they hear those terms being used incorrectly, they should call it out.

“Derogatory words that were commonly used one or two generations ago in conversation don't appear as often because they have been challenged by friends, family members, professional communities, and the media,” he says. “Slang and joking will continue to occur, but the goal is incremental progress stemming from greater awareness and the elimination of the most insulting or serious misuses of these terms.”

Source: Mind-Body

Kim Kardashian Says She Has Body Dysmorphia, but What Does That Really Mean?

[brightcove:5556380727001 default]

Kim Kardashian is all about a perfectly posed selfie and expertly contoured face. But even she experiences a self-esteem plunge when she hears negative comments about her body. On the most recent episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kim opened up about the toll being in the public eye has had on her body image.

In the episode, unretouched bikini photos of Kardashian went viral online. While dealing with the fallout, she admitted that her body insecurity has increased over the years. “You take pictures and people just body shame you," Kardashian said. "It’s like literally giving me body dysmorphia," she also commented.

RELATED: Kim Kardashian Swears By This $500 Moisturizing Cream. Here’s Why a Dermatologist Says It’s Not Worth It

The term "body dysmorphia" has a buzz to it these days, and it's often thrown around by people who feel a little self-conscious about their appearance. But it's actually a true mental health condition—and nothing to take lightly. Body dysmorphia is "the preoccupation of imagined defects in one's appearance," says Tom Hildebrandt, PsyD, chief of the Division of Eating and Weight Disorders at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. 

A person with body dysmorphia typically sees a specific body part or a group of body parts and thinks, my calves look weak or my face is so ugly and out of proportion. They become obsessed with these thoughts and let them take over their lives. "Obsessed" is not an exaggeration. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, is a type of obsessive compulsive disorder. The International OCD Foundation says BDD affects 1 in 50 people, or between 5 and 7.5 million people in the United States alone.

Based on one episode of her show, it's hard to know if Kardashian has BDD or just doesn't always like the way she looks. What signs can tell you that your body obsession truly is BDD? It's more than being critical of your appearance from time to time. Says Hildebrandt: "For someone with BDD, their entire life's balance hangs on whether they look okay or whether they've camouflaged their perceived flaw appropriately."

To get our best wellness tips delivered to you inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

When a person believes she has body issues and is hyper-aware of them, she may avoid social situations to not draw attention to her so-called flaws. She might also go to extremes to hide the perceived flaw, say by walking around with her hair covering her face or going under the knife. "People with the resources may get plastic surgery and go back repeatedly for more, because it only provides a temporary release from the anxiety about their appearance," explains Hildebrandt.

In KUWTK, Kim says that her body dysmorphia comes from all the body-shaming comments she receives from haters, trolls, and others in the general public. While negative remarks can make BDD worse, they aren't typically the cause of the disorder, says Hildebrandt. 

RELATED: 10 Signs You May Have OCD

The actual cause of BDD isn't known, but it may be similar to what triggers OCD. Hildebrandt says people with certain temperaments and ways of thinking are predisposed to BDD and may show OCD tendencies in other areas of their life. For example, a person who obsesses over her legs may also be obsessed with keeping a spotless home. "[It's] a cognitive style that causes you to prioritize things that are out of place rather than the big picture," says Hildebrandt.

Worried about a friend who displays BDD behavior? Take note of how often she tries to conceal parts of her face or body, or if she constantly seeks reassurance about a specific body region. If you or a loved one think you're suffering from it, talking to a therapist or counselor is a smart option. Treatment includes antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy.

BDD shouldn't be used carelessly as a slang term for someone who isn't 100% pleased with her body. We all have moments when we wished we were slimmer, had more muscle tone, or were taller or shorter. But when a person's entire life is dedicated to hiding and obsessing over perceived flaws, it's a serious mental health issue that needs to be addressed.

Source: Mind-Body

What Does It Mean to Have OCD? These Are 5 Common Symptoms

[brightcove:5599161751001 default]

This article originally appeared on Time.com.

Having obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) isn’t easy. The condition, marked by uncontrollable thoughts and behaviors, strikes about 2% of the general population—a figure that in the U.S. alone means nearly 6.5 million people. If you’ve made it past young adulthood without developing any symptoms, you’re likely in the clear.

You wouldn’t know that to hear people talk, however. In recent years, OCD has become the psychological equivalent of hypoglycemia or gluten sensitivity: a condition untold numbers of people casually—almost flippantly—claim they’ve got, but in most cases don’t. Folks who hate a messy desk but could live with one for a day do not necessarily have OCD. Nor do those who wash their hands before eating but would still have lunch if there was no soap and water nearby. Yet the almost sing-songy declaration “I’m so OCD!” seems to be everywhere.

Some of the confusion is understandable. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)—the field guide to psychological conditions—lists OCD among the anxiety disorders, and nearly everyone has experienced anxiety. The thing is, though, you’ve experienced headaches, too, but that doesn’t mean you know what a migraine feels like unless you’ve had one. Same with the pain of OCD, which can interfere with work, relationships and more.

“The brain is conditioned to alert us to anything that threatens our survival, but this system is malfunctioning in OCD,” says psychologist Steven Phillipson, clinical director of the Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy in New York City. “That can result in a tsunami of emotional distress that keeps your attention absolutely focused.”

No single fear defines the condition. There are familiar obsessions like washing your hands or checking the stove. But there’s also hoarding, hypochondria or a terrible fear you’re going to harm somebody. People with a common type of OCD can even have paralyzing anxiety over their own sexual orientation.

As with any mental illness, only a trained clinician can offer a reliable diagnosis. But here are a few behaviors that experts say can be genuine symptoms of OCD.

Bargaining

It’s common for people with OCD to believe that if they check the stove just once more, or Google just one more symptom of a disease they’re convinced they’ve got, then their mind will be clear. But OCD typically reneges on the deal. “The brain becomes biochemically associated with the thing you fear,” says Phillipson. “Performing the ritual just convinces it that the danger is real and that only perpetuates the cycle.”

Feeling compelled to perform certain rituals

Could someone pay you $10—or $100, or whatever is a relevant sum of money to you—not to do a ritual like checking the front door twenty times before leaving for work? If your anxiety can be bought on the relative cheap like that, you may have an idiosyncrasy—you worry about burglary a little too much, perhaps—but you probably don’t have a disorder, Phillipson says. For the person with OCD, he explains, the brain is signaling what feels like a life and death risk, and it’s hard to put a price on survival.

Being tough to reassure

For people with OCD, the phrase “yes, but” may be a familiar one. (Yes, your last three blood tests for this or that disease were negative, but how do you know they didn’t mix up the samples?) Since absolute certainty is rarely possible, almost no reassurance clears the yes, but hurdle, and that keeps the anxiety wheels spinning.

Remembering when it started

Not all people with OCD can point to the exact instant the disorder first struck, but many can, says Phillipson. OCD is a sort of free-floating anxiety before the initial symptoms strike, but then it alights on a particular idea—the fear you’re going to lash out at somebody with a knife when you’re making dinner, for example. These experiences tend to roll off of most people. But for someone with OCD, the bottom falls out, Phillipson says. “It’s the moment when a panic marries a concept,” he says. Like most bad marriages, it’s hard to end.

Feeling consumed with anxiety

OCD is a matter of degree, especially since there are real-world risks associated with nearly all obsessive-compulsive triggers. Houses do burn down, and hands do carry germs. If you can live with the uncertainty those dangers can cause—even if they make you uncomfortable—you likely don’t have OCD, or at least not a very serious case of it. If the anxiety is so great it consumes your thoughts and disrupts your day, you may have a problem. “The D stands for disorder, remember,” Phillipson says. “OCD causes your life to become disordered.”

There are proven treatments available for OCD. Medications, including certain antidepressants, are often a big part of the solution, but psychotherapy—especially cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)—can be just as effective. One potent type of CBT is a protocol known as exposure and response prevention (ERP). As the name suggests, ERP involves gradual exposure to increasingly provocative situations—under the guidance of a therapist—while avoiding any rituals to undo the anxiety. Begin by touching a doorknob without washing your hands, for example, progress up the ladder of perceived danger—a handrail on a bus, a faucet in a public bathroom—and slowly the brain unlearns the fear.

Source: Mind-Body

Hugh Hefner Had a Drug-Resistant E. Coli Infection. Here’s What You Should Know

Hugh Hefner’s cause of death has been listed as cardiac arrest (which also killed Tom Petty just days later) and respiratory failure. But the week before he died on Sept. 27 at age 91, Hefner had an E. coli infection as well as septicemia, or bacteria in the blood, according to his death certificate, PEOPLE reported.

E. coli, or Escherichia coli, bacteria live in our intestines normally, but certain strains can make us sick. Some cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and other illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What makes Hefner's E. coli alarming, however, is that his death certificate listed it as resistant to antibiotics. Drug-resistant E. coli is particularly troubling because public health officials are running out of ways to treat such infections. “There are some infections that we see that are so resistant to antibiotics, we wouldn’t predict that any antibiotic would be able to work,” says Pritish K. Tosh, MD, a Mayo Clinic infectious disease physician and researcher.

Most people with an E. coli infection in the gut, which would cause diarrhea, get better after a few days of rest and extra fluids to prevent dehydration. But more serious E. coli infections may require antibiotics and could be life-threatening, says Dr. Tosh, especially if first-line antibiotics are not effective. (Dr. Tosh did not treat Hefner.) When E. Coli doesn’t respond to treatment, doctors might use older antibiotics, but those can be less effective and more toxic, he says.

RELATED: 5 Ways to Tell if You Need an Antibiotic

Think of antibiotic resistance as a survival mechanism for bacteria, Dr. Tosh explains. Bacteria developed resistance over time to drugs designed to kill them off so they could keep multiplying. But humans may be making it easier for these so-called superbugs to thrive—in part by taking more antibiotics than we need and not using them as recommended by doctors. “The more antibiotics we use, the more pressure there is on bacteria to survive,” he says. “If we aren’t taking conscious steps, we will find ourselves back in the pre-antibiotic era."

Thankfully, cases of antibiotic-resistant E. coli infections are rare, says Dr. Tosh. The bacteria, which are usually spread through contaminated food, water, or from person to person, first set up shop in the gut. In most healthy people, good gut bacteria keep the bad ones in check. But if you’re already sick or your immune system is compromised, taking antibiotics will reduce your levels of healthy gut bacteria and give drug-resistant bacteria a greater chance of surviving, thriving, and triggering serious illness, he explains.

The cause of Hefner’s E. coli infection was listed on his death certificate as unknown, according to PEOPLE. He also had septicemia, or bacteria in his blood. “Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming response to an infection that leads to organ shut-down,” Dr. Tosh explains. It’s a sign that bacteria infecting another part of the body have infiltrated the bloodstream and provoked a serious, life-threatening reaction.

To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the HEALTH newsletter

While antibiotic-resistant infections of any kind pose a looming public health threat, there are two simple things you can do to help on an individual level: Get your vaccines (so you don't become sick in the first place and badger your doctor to give you antibiotics you don't need) and wash your hands on the regular, according to the CDC, which significantly reduces the spread of bacteria and other bugs.

Source: Mind-Body

7 Things to Know Before You Donate Blood

In the Las Vegas shooting on Sunday night, at least 58 people were killed, and more than 400 others were transported to hospitals. Early this morning, the Las Vegas Police Department tweeted about the need for local blood donors, reminding us that in the wake of this tragedy—as well as the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey—helping out can be as simple as rolling up a sleeve. Last summer, Health spoke with Justin Kreuter, MD, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center in Rochester, Minnesota. Here's what he wants potential donors to know:

Eligibility is always changing

The Red Cross maintains an alphabetical list of eligibility criteria for potential donors—from acupuncture (thumbs up) to Zika (thumbs down)—and can give you the latest information on whether or not you’re good to give.

RELATED: 4 Unexpected Benefits of Donating Blood

The FDA regulates donor blood just as aggressively as it regulates drugs

“It takes a lot of money to do the infectious-disease testing that we do [on donor blood], and when we create blood products out of the donation, that’s done to the same standards as any drug manufactured in this country. The FDA holds us to those same standards, so it’s a very high level of quality and also resources that are invested,” Dr. Kreuter explains. “These tests and high standards are what’s keeping the blood supply safe, so that if my wife or one of my daughters needs a blood transfusion, I can feel assured that I can just sit at their bedside and hold their hand rather than worry about what that might result [in] for them later down the road.”  

You’ll get a mini-physical before you donate

The flip side of donor blood screening (which ensures that it’s safe for the eventual recipient) is confirming the donor’s health (which ensures that the blood draw won’t have a negative effect on them). “We check blood pressure and pulse, we do a pinprick to check red blood cells to make sure they’re safe—we don’t want to make our donors iron deficient,” Dr. Kreuter says. He makes no specific suggestions about what you eat and drink prior to donation; just be sure you have breakfast and lunch under your belt, and take it easy on caffeine. “We all live on our daily espressos and whatnot, but we see donors who show up and haven’t eaten [meals] and they’ve only been drinking coffee, and they’re quite dehydrated. When you donate you’re losing circulating fluid, so the water that you drink before and after your donation is important.”

RELATED: 15 Signs You May Have an Iron Deficiency

You’ll hardly feel a thing—seriously

The needles used to collect blood are a bit larger than those you’d encounter when, say, receiving a flu shot, but the so-called ‘small pinch’ you feel at insertion is, truly, no big deal. “What we feel [at the start of a blood draw] is just on the surface of our skin. These needles have silicone on them, they’re made to glide and be quite comfortable. After that initial stick, you’re not going to feel anything,” Dr. Kreuter says. If needles give you the shivers, look away for the quarter-second in which yours is placed; then ask a staffer to cover up the insertion site for you. Since the "tough" part is already over, you can lie back and spend the next eight to 10 minutes zoning out.

It’s okay to have a cookie after you donate

“What’s healthy is to keep a balanced diet as you go forward in the day [after your donation],” Dr. Kreuter says. “We tend to stock our canteen area with things like water and juice and then salty snacks, because salt helps you retain a little more of the [water] volume that you’ve lost through donation. The cookies are there because [they’re] something the donor culture has grown up in—maybe not the healthiest option, but certainly an expectation. Believe it or not, I have meetings about cookies. I’ve seen shirts before that say ‘I donate for the cookies.’” Bottom line: Rewarding yourself with a treat isn’t going to do any harm, provided that you indulge in moderation.

Your blood could save patients who haven’t even entered the world yet

Though many of us are reminded of the importance of blood donation when tragedies happen, much of what we give does the quiet work of saving people who’ll never show up on the news. Since the need for blood doesn’t go away, the best way to save lives is to contribute regularly. “At Mayo, about 15% to 20% of our blood is going to trauma patients and being used in our ER; a lot of our blood gets used supporting patients through life-saving cardiac or cancer surgeries. Cancer patients [also need blood]—chemotherapy knocks down their ability to make their own red blood cells and platelets—and folks who have medical conditions like autoimmune diseases also need transfusions.”

Donations flow to delivery rooms, too: “If anemia is significant enough in utero we transfuse during pregnancy and sometimes immediately after delivery,” Dr. Kreuter explains. “A lot of kids need blood in the first couple of minutes of life. Sometimes with newborn babies an emergency platelet transfusion in the first few moments of life is absolutely necessary; in their situation the newborn brain is so delicate and fragile that having these platelets immediately available is the name of the game in order to prevent bleeding into their brains, which results in long-term disabilities.”

Note that platelets have a shelf life of just five days, while whole blood can be stored for up to six weeks. The immediate need for platelets—and platelet donors—is constant.

RELATED: 6 Iron-Rich Food CombosNo Meat Required

Donating your voice is vital, too

Those "Be nice to me, I gave blood today!" stickers aren’t merely a cute (and justified) humblebrag: They’re also a benevolent form of peer pressure, not unlike the "I voted" stickers we earn and wear on election days. “Hearing about blood donation from a friend or colleague is very motivating in getting [potential first-timers] to think about taking that next step,” Dr. Kreuter says. “Our donor population [in Rochester] has an older average age, and we’re trying to reach out to the younger generation to start having the same blood donation habits.”

Think about it this way: Taking your kids to see you strengthen your community’s heartbeat at a blood center is just as important as bringing them with you to the voting booth. Donate visibly, donate vocally, and donate as often as you can.

Source: Mind-Body

Woman Attacked By a Venomous Copperhead Snake At LongHorn Steakhouse

[brightcove:5023491040001 default]

This article originally appeared on People.com.

A Virginia resident was bitten by a venomous snake inside a LongHorn Steakhouse before she even made it to her table.

Rachel Myrick and her family were heading into the foyer of the restaurant for dinner earlier this month when she suddenly felt a sharp pain in her foot. “My left foot felt a bee sting, a hornet sting — something similar,” Myrick told Washington’s Top News. “So, I reached down to brush my foot off to keep walking.”

Once she did so, she was bitten a second time and immediately began screaming as she dropped her cellphone, wallet, and let go of her 13-year-old son Dylan’s hand. When addressing the pain between the bites Myrick said, “[The second] was significantly more painful than the first time.”

RELATED: 19 Natural Remedies for Anxiety

After she was bitten a total of three times—twice on her toes and once on the side of her foot—the 8-inch-long copperhead stayed clung onto her foot until she was able to shake free.

“I freaked out,” Myrick told Fredericksburg.com. “I got bit! I got bit!” she recalls yelling out loud.

Her boyfriend, Michael Clem, who was with her at the time, knows a fair share about snakes. “I’ve bred and raised reptiles for 15 years… there was no question what it was,” he said.

Myrick was hospitalized and administered antivenin, morphine and benadryl for the severe swelling and pain.

A spokesman for LongHorn Steakhouse, Hunter Robinson, says the restaurant believes the snake may have come from a nearby retention pond and called the incident a “highly unusual incident.”

RELATED: N.Y.C.’s Trendy Raw Cookie Dough Shop Is Being Sued for Allegedly Making People Sick

“We are working with our facilities team to see how this may have occurred and we are taking steps to prevent it from happening again,” he added.

Myrick estimates it will take her about three months to fully recover.

Source: Mind-Body

Ex-NFL Player Aaron Hernandez Had a Severe Form of Brain Disease CTE

[brightcove:5583091373001 default]

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who committed suicide in April, had a severe form of a degenerative brain disease that has been linked to repeated blows to the head. Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for murder, has joined a growing list of ex-NFL football players, including Jovan Belcher, Ray Easterling, Junior Seau, and Andre Waters, who took their own lives and were later found to have had disease.

CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, occur in four stages and can appear years after an athlete, including high school and college players, experience repetitive brain trauma such as concussions.

Jose Baez, a lawyer for Hernandez, announced during a press conference Thursday that researchers found he had a severe form of CTE. Baez also said that Hernandez’s daughter is suing the NFL and the New England Patriots for $20 million. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Boston on Thursday, ESPN reported.

Hernandez’ case stands out because of the severity of the disease in a young person. Hernandez was only 27 when he hung himself in a prison cell.

Earlier this year, a survey published by a neuropathologist in the The Journal of the American Medical Association found widespread evidence of C.T.E. in former NFL players. Dr. Ann McKee examined 202 deceased players of American football from a brain donation program. CTE was diagnosed in 177 players across all levels of play, including 110 of 111 former NFL players.

McKee, who is the director of the CTE Center at Boston University, found that Hernandez had stage three of the disease and also had early brain atrophy.

Source: Mind-Body