(HealthDay News) — Snoring is not only an annoyance, but also a potential health concern. Chronic snoring may be associated with sleep apnea, which can lead to sleep deprivation and potential heart issues. The National Sleep Foundation says certain exercises may strengthen muscles surrounding the airways and help prevent snoring: Push the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth and slide the tongue backward. Repeat 20 times. Suck your tongue upward so that the entire tongue lies against the roof of your mouth. Repeat 20 times. Force the back of your tongue downward against the floor of your mouth while keeping the tip of your tongue in contact with your bottom front teeth.
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(HealthDay News) — Not all snacks are bad for you, so it’s a good idea to avoid foods that are loaded with sugar and have virtually no nutritional value. The U.S. National Institute on Aging offers these healthier snack suggestions: Have an ounce of cheese with some whole-grain crackers, a container of low-fat yogurt or some low-fat popcorn. Gather a bowl of fruit for the kitchen or your living room coffee table. Keep a container of raw vegetables in the fridge. If you want some chips or nuts, don’t eat from the bag. This will avoid portion control issues.
Patients used to see doctors as kindly-but-firm professionals — experts who knew what they were talking about and whose advice should be heeded, even if it wasn’t necessarily welcome. But these days, people have become demanding health care consumers, and they don’t respond well when a doctor disagrees with them, a new study shows. The researchers found that two-thirds of patients arrive at their doctor’s office with a specific medical request already in mind — seeking a drug or a test or a referral. When their doctor turns down that request, they’re more likely to be offended and to trash the doctor on a patient satisfaction survey. Satisfaction scores plummet when doctors deny patients’ requests for nearly anything, but especially when patients have asked for a drug prescription or a referral, the study found. The problem for doctors is that their pay has become increasingly tied to their patient satisfaction scores, said the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Anthony Jerant. He’s a professor of family and community medicine with the University of California, Davis School of Medicine. “A lot of physicians are tempted to just acquiesce and give them the pain medication or give them the test, even though they know it’s really not that likely to be helpful,” Jerant said. “We really need to rethink reimbursing physicians partly on their satisfaction scores.” For this study,… read on >
Weight loss from dieting can slow the progression of knee arthritis in overweight people, according to a new study. But losing pounds from exercise alone will not help preserve those aging knees, the researchers found. Obesity is a major risk factor for painful knee osteoarthritis — degeneration of cartilage caused by wear and tear. Weight loss can slow the disease, but it wasn’t clear until now if the method of weight loss made a difference. Apparently, it does. “These results add to the hypothesis that solely exercise as a regimen in order to lose weight in overweight and obese adults may not be as beneficial to the knee joint as weight loss regimens involving diet,” said lead author Dr. Alexandra Gersing. Gersing made her comments in a news release from the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). She’s with the University of California, San Francisco’s department of radiology and biomedical imaging. The study included 760 overweight or obese adults who had mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis or were at risk for it. The participants were divided into a “control group” of patients who lost no weight, and a group who lost weight through either a combination of diet and exercise, diet alone, or exercise alone. After eight years, cartilage degeneration was much lower in the weight-loss group than in the control group. However, that was… read on >
Motorcycle crashes are far costlier than car accidents, both in lives lost and in medical expenses, a new study shows. Canadian researchers found that the death rate from motorcycle crashes was five times greater than from car crashes, and the rate of severe injury was 10 times greater. That came with a six times greater cost to the health care system. Though the findings stem from an analysis of traffic accidents in the Canadian province of Ontario, the researchers said that similar patterns would likely be seen elsewhere. One reason: Motorcycles are inherently more risky because motorcycles lack the protections that cars provide. “It’s clear that it’s much more dangerous to ride a motorcycle than to ride in a car,” said lead researcher Dr. Daniel Pincus. But the study isn’t saying that motorcycles should be taken off the road. “A lot of people enjoy riding motorcycles, so we’re not saying the answer is to ban them from doing it,” said Pincus, who’s with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, in Toronto. Riding simply should be made safer, he said. Kara Macek, a spokesperson for the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), agreed. Universal helmet laws are one way, she said. In the United States, only about half of states require helmets for all motorcyclists, according to the GHSA. “Just telling people to wear helmets is not… read on >
There’s no evidence to support the notion that people who get the flu vaccine every year somehow “weaken” their immune system over time, researchers say. In fact, annual vaccination seemed tied to stronger immune cell activity, according to the Norwegian research team. That’s even true for years where the flu shot is a poor match for flu viruses actually circulating, as happened in the 2016-2017 season, the findings suggest. The study was led by Rebecca Cox of the University of Bergen’s department of clinical science. Her group tracked the immune system health of 250 health care workers. Some of the participants got the flu shot beginning in 2009 and then every year thereafter, while others only got the shot in 2009, but then no shot between 2010 and 2013. Immune system antibodies that showed activity against the flu “persisted above the protective levels in [the] repeatedly vaccinated adults,” the team reported. Specifically, immune system CD4 and CD8 T-cells — which target viruses — had more disease-fighting capability “after multiple annual vaccinations” than those in people who didn’t get the yearly flu shot, the investigators found. The research team noted that even though the flu shot has been in use for more than half a century, there have been very few studies that have tracked the immune system health of recipients in such a rigorous way.… read on >
Men who compete in triathlons could be putting their hearts at risk, a new study contends. The finding results from an examination of 55 male triathletes who averaged 44 years old, and 30 female triathletes, with an average age of 43. All participated in triathlons, which involve sequential endurance competitions of swimming, cycling and running. The researchers found that 18 percent of the men had evidence of scarring of the heart, known as myocardial fibrosis. None of the women had signs of the condition. Myocardial fibrosis usually affects the pumping chambers and can progress to heart failure. “The clinical relevance of these scars is currently unclear [but] they might be a foundation for future heart failure and arrhythmia [irregular heartbeat],” the study’s lead author, Dr. Jitka Starekova, said in a news release from the Radiological Society of North America. The study was to be presented during the group’s annual meeting, Nov. 26 to Dec. 1, in Chicago. Though regular exercise has been proven good for the heart, previous studies have found myocardial fibrosis in elite athletes. “Although we cannot prove the exact mechanism for the development of myocardial fibrosis in triathletes, increased systolic blood pressure during exercise, the amount and extent of race distances and unnoticed myocarditis could be co-factors in the genesis of the condition,” Starekova said. She’s with the department for diagnostic and… read on >
Though foodborne illness can put a quick end to Thanksgiving festivities, that need not be the case, food safety experts say. That’s because ensuring that homemade holiday meals are not only delicious but germ-free is within the grasp of not just experienced chefs, but rookie cooks as well. Food safety starts while you’re grocery shopping for ingredients, said Brian Ulshafer, executive chef at Penn State Health’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. For instance, “keep any raw meat or seafood away from other foods in the cart,” Ulshafer said in a medical center news release. “You don’t want to put a raw turkey on top of your lunchmeat.” Keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot is also essential when it comes to preventing foodborne illnesses such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria. Bacteria grow quickly at temperatures ranging from 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. “Bacteria can double in a 20-minute period, so that’s how fast it can grow,” Ulshafer said. He noted that people can get very sick or even die from foodborne illnesses. Roughly 1 in 6 Americans gets such infections each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms of a foodborne illness may include: Belly pain. Nausea or vomiting. Diarrhea. Fever. Chills. Fatigue. Headaches. Muscle pain. Bloody bowel movements. Sometimes, the warning signs of a foodborne illness are… read on >
Men who have trouble conceiving may have the air they breathe to blame, a new study by Chinese researchers suggests. Microscopic particles in the air called particulate matter (PM2.5) may affect the quality of sperm, which in turn can make it difficult to fertilize a woman’s egg, the researchers said. PM2.5 stands for particulate matter with a diameter 2.5 micrometers or less. That’s about 3 percent of the diameter of a human hair. “Air pollution is associated with a significant drop in normal sperm shape and size, which may result in a significant number of couples with infertility,” said lead researcher Xiang Qian Lao. He is an assistant professor in the School of Public Health and Primary Care at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Lao cautioned, however, that this study can’t prove that PM2.5 causes the damage to sperm, only that the two are associated. “You cannot conclude it is a causal relationship in this study, but existing evidence from toxicology and other studies support that the relationship is potentially causal,” he said. Exactly how air pollution might affect sperm isn’t clear, Lao said. Many components of fine particulate matter, such as heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, have been linked to sperm damage in experimental studies, he said. The effect of air pollution on sperm is small, Lao said, but because pollution is… read on >
(HealthDay News) — Getting a pet can improve not only your emotional outlook but your physical health as well, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. The CDC says furry companions have been shown to trigger these health improvements: Decreased blood pressure. Decreased cholesterol. Decreased triglycerides. Reduced feelings of loneliness. Greater exposure to social activities and interaction. Increased likelihood of regular exercise.