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.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Newest gnarly drug to kill you or your kids

Justin Caba, Medical Daily, gives us a headsup on the "N-Bomb," which has resulted in at least 17 deaths since being introduced in 2010.

Although it is a synthetic, which often skate on being classified, the DEA declared this stuff to be Schedule I last November.

Donna Seger, MD, medical director of the Tennessee Poison Center, says it is dangerous and obviously potentially deadly.

N-Bomb is marketed as legal or natural LSD.  It is in the NBOMe class--originally designed to map the serotonin (pleasure) centers in the brain.

It is sold as blotter paper, powder or a liquid that can be ingested, snorted, or inserted places.

If someone is poisoned by N-Bomb, they require heavy sedation to quell aggression as well as cooling (the body overheats).

Quality control on these street drugs is non-existent. You never know what you are getting--and that could be the end of you.

Oh--and the DEA, which is cracking down on synthetics in 25 states, says using these drugs puts money in the pockets of terrorists and criminals in the Middle East and elsewhere.

So don't take this stuff or anything similar someone tells you about at a club. Clubs are supposed to be about fun, not dying.

Monday, April 13, 2015

What's in a disease name?

Writing in Medical News Today, James McIntosh riffed off at considerable length on whether the names of various diseases and disorders influenced how they were treated.

For instance, he says Alzheimer's is so feared, some docs will not utter it as a diagnosis for fear of devastating people.

Last month, the Institute of Medicine proposed a new name for chronic fatigue syndrome.

The name? "Systemic exertion intolerance disease." SEID! Or usually: CFS/SEID.

Of course, it will be a while before we see what affect this has.

How about schizophrenia? First, despite popular perceptions, this does not always manifest as split personality. Also 61% of Americans in one study thought schizophrenics were violent.

In Japan, the term was mind-split-disease, but psychiatrists did not like to use it.

A new term--"integration disorder" was introduced in Japan in 2002. This replaced the old term in 78% of cases. There have been movements to replace the mind-split thing in other countries, also.

In Britain, the disturbing "evacuation of retained products of conception" was changed to "surgical management of miscarriage."

Watch for these changes to creep in. The researchers say they will positively influence funding, too.

Now if we could replace "obesity." How about over-served syndrome?