wellness

Six Things to Know About Ticks and Lyme Disease

Jun 20, 2016
Fairfax County/Flickr / Creative Common

This year, 97 percent of blacklegged ticks -- commonly known as deer ticks -- survived the Connecticut winter, and are hungry for blood as temperatures warm.

I'm hanging out with my 4-year-old daughter in the early evening, trying to keep her entertained and pull dinner together, when my phone buzzes.

Normally I'd feel guilty for checking it immediately, and distracted even if I didn't. But this time it's not a Twitter mention or an email from my editor. It's a timely suggestion from an app called Muse.

Here's what it says: "Try playing 'Simon Says' with L, using directional words like: behind, around, between. (ex. 'Simon Says stand between the chairs.')"

The Food and Drug Administration is leaning on the food industry to cut back on the amount of sodium added to processed and prepared foods.

The FDA on Wednesday released a draft of new sodium-reduction targets for dozens of categories of foods — from bakery goods to soups.

Ian Sane / Creative Commons

Most of us have heard that our bodies need eight cups of water every day to stay healthy and hydrated. Some think that's the minimum we should drink to prevent the chronic dehydration that doesn't trigger the usual warnings of dryness, like thirst.  

Thomas Hawk / WNPR

A new report commissioned by two Connecticut organizations looks at the challenges children face when their parents are in prison. This hour, we check in with one of those groups -- the Connecticut Association for Human Services -- to see what they found and how they plan on using the results to guide future policy conversations. We also hear from a college student whose father spent nearly a decade behind bars.

Six years of your life. Or 2,190 days. That's about how long the average woman will spend having her periods.

For some women, that's too many days, too many periods.

More women in their 20s and 30s are choosing contraception that may suppress their menstrual cycles, says Dr. Elizabeth Micks, who runs an OB-GYN clinic at the University of Washington in Seattle. "In general, I think views are changing really rapidly," Micks says. "That need to have regular periods is not just in our society anymore."

A few weeks ago, Dr. James Bale saw a series of MRI images in a medical journal of MRI scans of babies infected with Zika in the womb.

They scans showed something Bale had seen only a few times in his 30-year career: a phenomenon called fetal brain disruption sequence.

As the fetus's brain starts to grow, it creates pressure, which pushes on the skull and causes it to grow. But if something stops brain growth — such as a virus — pressure on the skull drops. And the skull can collapse down onto the brain.

A new report by the Connecticut Coalition To End Homelessness says homelessness in the state is at an all-time low, with fewer than 4,000 homeless people in Connecticut since counts started in 2007.

Every year the Coalition does what’s called a point-in-time count, where they count all homeless people in the state on a given night.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Dr. Gail Christopher has been a crusader for better health outcomes in America, championing an idea that “place matters,” finding that the way people live in some communities puts them at a much higher risk for disease. 

What Feds' Push To Share Health Data Means For Patients

May 9, 2016

Two years ago, when the federal government first released data on how much Medicare paid physicians, the media coverage was widespread. Doctors who earned significant sums were dubbed "Medicare millionaires" and journalists highlighted unusual patterns in how some doctors bill for services.

CarbonNYC [in SF!] / Creative Commons

If your cabinets are filled with leftover prescription drugs, you'll have an opportunity to clean them out on Saturday. 

Casey Fleser / Creative Commons

Physicians, patients, and drug manufacturers are often at the center of discussions about pain and opioid abuse. But what about insurance providers? One Connecticut company said it's found a way to better manage pain, while reducing the number of prescribed opioids. 

A new initiative is working to create a data dashboard that almost any city could use to get a handle on the health of its citizens. City-level health data can be critical when it comes to measures like reducing smoking or deciding where to build new parks and health clinics. Yet most health data is collected at the county, not the city level. That means city leaders looking to improve residents’ health lack a baseline of information to work from.

If you're like most people in North America, you probably spend most of your time indoors. Leave home in the morning, drive to work, stay in your cube all day, head home again. Ninety percent of our lives are spent inside a built environment of some kind – ones that we share with millions of invisible microbes.

Scientists increasingly recognize that rooms and buildings have their own microbiomes, and that those microbial roommates may affect the health of human inhabitants. Those microbes vary depending on what city you're in, according to a study published Tuesday.

Poor people who reside in expensive, well-educated cities such as San Francisco tend to live longer than low-income people in less affluent places, according to a study of more than a billion Social Security and tax records.

Lori Mack

According to the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, there were nearly 11,000 people who experienced homelessness in Connecticut last year. Multiple organizations spend countless hours trying to make a difference -- and now, in New Haven, there’s a new program with a slightly different approach. 

When Architect Matthias Hollwich was approaching 40, he wondered what the next 40 years of his life might look like. He looked into the architecture that serves older adults, places like retirement communities and assisted living facilities, and didn't like what he saw. But what if we changed our habits earlier in life so we could stay in the communities we already live in?

It's one of the most basic things in education: seeing the board. Research has shown, over and over again, that if you can't see, you're going to have an awfully hard time in school. And yet too often this simple issue gets overlooked.

On the sixth anniversary of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the federal health law was back before a seemingly divided Supreme Court Wednesday.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Hartford HealthCare has opened a new addiction treatment center in Cheshire as part of an effort to battle opioid addiction in as many communities as possible. 

Alex Ostasiewicz/AmeriCares

Staying healthy can involve more than just visiting the doctor. Sometimes it means lifestyle changes, and those can be difficult to implement. 

Vermont has become the fifth state in the nation to enact legislation that requires businesses to provide their workers with paid sick leave.

Malglam via Flickr.com / Creative Commons

The first milk bank in the state has opened in Guilford. It's a place where mothers in Connecticut can donate their breast milk.

Kat Northern Lights Man / Creative Commons

If you’re at a crosswalk, do you wait for the walk signal to cross to the other side? Or do you just cross when there's no oncoming traffic? What if you’re with other people, or children? 

That’s what researchers at the University of Connecticut and Manchester Community College are asking in a survey they hope to circulate online. 

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut said he’ll propose a bill that would pay to remove lead from homes and businesses.

Murphy says a tax credit would lower the chances of lead poisoning in Connecticut. In the northeast, lead was commonly used in for paint and pipes in houses built before 1950. The Connecticut Department of Public Health says about 15 percent of buildings in the state might still have lead in their paint or pipes.

Thor / Creative Commons

The CDC this week recommended women between the ages of 15 and 44 not drink alcohol unless they're on birth control. Why run the risk to the baby if there's a chance you could be pregnant and not yet know it?

Some question whether the caution against any alcohol instills a fear that outweighs the risk, while others chafe at the condescension that targets only women, and not the men who get them pregnant. 

New advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aimed at preventing fetal alcohol syndrome has created quite a stir.

The CDC estimates that about 3 million women "are at risk of exposing their developing baby to alcohol because they are drinking, sexually active and not using birth control to prevent pregnancy."

Bayer HealthCare

When Alyson Hannan, 44, decided she was done having children, she chose Essure, a non-surgical permanent birth control option approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The day the tiny metal coils were inserted into her fallopian tubes in her doctor’s office is one that she can’t forget, said Hannan, regional sales director for Met Life who underwent the procedure on September 11, 2014. “I will never forget that date. None of us will.”

Here's a stark fact: Most American children spend more time consuming electronic media than they do in school.

According to Common Sense Media, tweens log 4 1/2 hours of screen time a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. For teens, it's even higher: nearly seven hours a day. And that doesn't include time spent using devices for school or in school.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

DataHaven, a New Haven-based nonprofit organization, recently completed the nation’s largest survey on community well-being. This hour, we take a look at the results and consider what they reveal about health, happiness, and quality of life in Connecticut. 

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