Supplement or Superfluous?

Whether you’re watching TV, listening to the radio or surfing the internet, it’s almost impossible to escape multiple ads for dietary supplements that claim to make you feel healthier, be stronger and have more energy.   90s kids are sure to remember this vitamins jingle Video: Source   But how do you know if they work? And what exactly is a supplement anyway? According to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, a supplement is “a product intended to supplement the diet that contains one of the following ingredients: vitamins, minerals, herb or botanical, and/or amino acid.”  However, dietary supplements are not intended to “treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent or cure disease.” The FTC has ruled that advertising for supplements that claim health benefits must be “truthful, not misleading and substantiated.”   Why does it matter? Recent data estimates that Americans spend over $21 billion a year on supplements, with an estimated 1 in 5 Americans taking some sort of supplement. The makers of supplements must abide by the FDA’s good manufacturing guidelines and accurately identify what their products contain – but that doesn’t always happen. Manufacturers are supposed to report serious adverse effects, and the FDA can pull products found to be unsafe.   What’s the evidence? Daily Multivitamins – If you have a healthy, well balanced diet, there is little evidence that a multivitamin can prevent...

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Field Visits

By Alanna Shaikh Flickr | ILRI Here’s how to get the most out of your field visits: 1) Don’t call them missions. That’s just offensive. It’s a field visit, a site visit, or a trip out to see your programs. Unless you are trying to convert people to the one true faith of your choice, it’s not a mission. Calling it one implies that you’re heading out there to teach the locals what’s what. You are heading out there so the locals can teach you. Don’t forget it. 2) Always keep this in mind: your two primary goals in any trip are to learn more about your programs, and more about the context they operate in. You may have specific tasks to achieve on your trip, but if you fail at those your trip still has value as long as you learn. Flickr | highersights 3) Listen. Talk to people. Talk to your staff. Talk to your beneficiaries. Talk to government officials and community leaders, and taxi drivers. It doesn’t take probing questions, or special insight on your part, just a willingness to sit down and hear what people have to say. Pack your schedule with as many meetings as you can humanly stand. By listening, you learn how your project and organization is perceived, what your community thinks of you, and what your own staff is thinking. You...

6 Ways to Tell You Are/Should be a Pediatrician

There’s no doubt about it, there are certain personalities or habits that lend themselves to certain medical specialties [see Dr. Fizzy’s: The World’s Most Sophisticated Algorithm for Choosing a Med Speciality]. With the primary care shortage, pediatricians are in high demand. So how can you know that pediatrics is right for you? [Note: this article may be renamed “6 ways to tell you are simply a giant child”] 1. Over 50% of your Facebook profile pictures are you as a child. Because children > adults, obviously.   2. When at an ice cream store, the decision undoubtedly comes down to “BIRTHDAY CAKE” versus “COTTON CANDY.”  …whatever the final verdict, sprinkles are a must. Sprinkles are always a must.   3. Your daily protein intake consists of  Purdue “breaded chicken breasts,” aka: “chicken nuggets for grown-ups.”   4. When at a fancy restaurant, you go straight for the “adult mac n’ cheese” (and pick around the lobster/bacon/anything that normal people would find delicious but that you just see as contaminating the perfect simplicity of your fave childhood throwback)   5. When your case-based learning group directs you to speak as if you were going to present to a patient, you blow your cheeks out, widen your eyes and tap your friend’s nose saying “boop boop boop”   6. When AMCAS asks you what languages you speak you check “English,” and “Other”….then...

Treatment Devices for Migraines

This month the FDA updated their consumer information on migraines to include 2 devices approved for the treatment of migraines:   – the Cefaly transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) device, and – the Cerena Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator.   Those who suffer from migraines know the intense throbbing or pulsing pain that can last up to 72 hours, and is often accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and/or vomiting. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 37 million Americans suffer from migraines, and women are three times more likely than men to have migraines.     These devices are great news for migraine suffers because the currently approved migraine medications can often have serious side effects that vary from patient to patient. “Although these migraine drugs are quite effective, they are not for everyone. Some can make you tired, drowsy or dizzy. Some can affect your thinking. And some migraine drugs can cause birth defects, so pregnant women can’t use them,” says Eric Bastings, M.D., an FDA neurologist.   Although TENS treatment for pain has been around for a while, Cefaly was the first TENS device to be approved for use as a preventative measure, before the onset of a migraine. It can be used daily and studies have shown that it reduces the number of days that patients have experienced migraines.   Video: Source   According to...

It’s Not All About Mardi Gras…

Tulane medical students help with the tornado recovery, which is still an ongoing effort. Though Mardi Gras is an extremely important part of New Orleans culture, that’s not all they’re doing down south! Tulane medical students help with tornado recovery from Tulane University on Vimeo.   Featured Image:...

Scalp Cooling Therapy to Minimize Hair Loss From Chemo

Video: Source   Scalp cooling using a cap device worn during chemotherapy for early-stage breast cancer can reduce chemotherapy-induced alopecia by at least 50%, according to 2 separate studies published in JAMA Oncology. Scalp cooling induces vasoconstriction, which reduces both blood flow to the scalp and the amount of chemotherapy delivered to hair follicles, thus reducing hair loss. Scalp cooling is usually carried out for 30 minutes before, during, and for 90-120 minutes after each chemotherapy infusion. Scalp-cooling devices have been used in Europe for decades, but concerns about metastases have slowed their acceptance in the United States.   The Scalp Cooling Alopecia Prevention (SCALP) trial used the Orbis Paxman Hair Loss Prevention System, which is awaiting approval in the United States. Julie Nangia, MD, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, and colleagues conducted the randomized trial, which enrolled 182 women with breast cancer receiving adjuvant anthracycline- or taxane-based chemotherapy. At the end of 4 cycles of chemotherapy, the planned interim analysis showed that 50.5% of patients who received scalp cooling retained their hair, compared with 0% of patients in the control group.   The second study used the DigniCap device, which was approved in the U.S. in 2015. Hope S. Rugo, MD, University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues conducted the prospective cohort study in which 106 women with breast cancer used the cap device and 16 women...

Medical Advancements To Look Forward To This Year #5: Telemedicine

5. Telemedicine The medical field is always at the heels of innovation. There is rarely a dull moment. Some new discovery or invention always grips our imagination and intrigue as passionate followers of this developing art. However, every advancement undoubtedly carries with it a risk of taking away something else. After all, this is human beings we are talking about – the most complex creatures in the world that excel in their ability to think, feel, and rationalize their existence amidst the every-growing complexity around them. Most recently, the concept of telemedicine has invited significant discussion as well as skepticism from the medical community and the world as a whole.     In essence, telemedicine can be simply described as an effort to remove the physical boundaries of medicine and equip healthcare providers with the capacity to deliver care in any corner of the world with the use of communication technologies. While the practice has already been applied in its initial stages in some sectors of medicine (such as dermatology), it is still in its infancy. The benefits are obviously numerous. The immediate access to an advanced level of care has the unique potential to improve outcomes. For instance, if a patient has stroke-like symptoms, a family member can get in touch with a stroke neurologist through a video call. He/she may be able to help determine the emergent...

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