Men under 50 who smoke cigarettes are increasing their risk for a stroke, researchers warn. And the more they smoke, the greater their stroke risk, reported the University of Maryland investigators. The bottom line: quit. But if you can’t, smoking fewer cigarettes may help reduce your risk, the researchers said. “We found that men who smoked were 88 percent more likely to have a stroke than men who never smoked,” said lead researcher Janina Markidan, a university medical student. At the lower end, men who currently smoked fewer than 11 cigarettes daily were 46 percent more likely to have a stroke than those who never smoked, she said. But heavier smokers — those with a two-pack-a-day or greater habit — were nearly five times more likely to have a stroke than those who never smoked, Markidan said. These findings are particularly important because ischemic strokes among younger adults are increasing. And tobacco use among young adults is also on the rise, she said. Markidan’s team’s prior research identified a strong link between smoking and stroke in young women, but less was known about the relationship in younger men, the researchers said in background notes. Ischemic strokes — the most common kind — occur when blood supply to the brain is blocked. Stroke is the leading preventable cause of disability, according to the American Stroke Association.…  read on >

Women are more likely than men to suffer a knee injury called an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. But — surprisingly — the injury occurs the same way in both genders, a new study reveals. Prior research suggested women are two to four times more likely to suffer ACL tears due to differences in how this type of injury occurs in the sexes, researchers at Duke University, in Durham, N.C., noted. But that theory is wrong, according to the results of a new study of 15 women and 15 men with torn ACLs. Those prior studies were based on slow-motion replays of injuries, while the new work relied on scans and other advanced techniques. “Based on watching videos of athlete injuries, previous researchers have suggested that females may have a different mechanism of injury than males. But it’s difficult to determine the precise position of the knee and the time of injury through footage,” said study leader and biomedical engineer Louis DeFrate. “We used MRI scans taken within a month of the ACL rupture and identified bruises on the surface of the two large bones that collide when the ACL tears — the femur and the tibia — then used 3-D modeling and computer algorithms to reconstruct the position of the knee when the injury occurred,” he explained in a Duke news release. “Our results…  read on >

For most, playing online video games is largely a harmless hobby. But a new review finds that some fall prey to what experts call “internet gaming disorder.” The concept that gaming could become an addiction first gained traction in 2013 when the disorder was included in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM). At the time, the disorder was only listed as a “condition for further study.” Now, a broad review of prior research has done just that. The new review looks back at more than 40 investigations conducted worldwide between 1991 and 2016. It concludes that — like other types of addiction — internet gaming disorder is a complex condition that arises when fun morphs into a loss of control, turning into an obsession. “Excessive gaming may lead to avoiding negative moods and neglecting ‘normal’ relationships, school or work-related duties, and even basic physical needs,” review author Frank Paulus said in a statement. Paulus is the head psychologist in the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at Saarland University Hospital in Homburg, Germany. Still, the investigators stressed that internet gaming addiction remains the exception among players rather than the rule. They note that “for most individuals, computer gaming is an enjoyable and stimulating activity.” The reviewers also point out that the way in which the disorder is defined varies widely among studies…  read on >

If you have asthma, it may help to reduce your exposure to allergens. Previous research has shown that roughly two-thirds of all people with asthma also have an allergy, allergy experts say. “What many people don’t realize is that the same things that trigger your seasonal hay fever symptoms — things like pollen, dust mites, mold and pet dander — can also cause asthma symptoms,” said Dr. Bradley Chipps, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “If you have allergies, and you are wheezing or coughing, see an allergist to find out if you also have asthma,” he advised in an ACAAI news release. “Allergists are also specialists at treating asthma and can put together a treatment plan to help you deal with both allergies and asthma,” Chipps added. Allergic asthma — where allergies trigger asthma symptoms — is the most common type of asthma. As many as 80 percent of children with allergies also have asthma. Also, 75 percent of asthma sufferers aged 20 to 40, and 65 percent of those with asthma aged 55 and older, have one allergy or more. “Effective treatment of allergic asthma includes identifying and avoiding allergens that trigger symptoms. After diagnosing asthma, we usually move on to using drug therapies and developing an emergency action plan to deal with severe attacks,” Chipps said. “If…  read on >

Anger isn’t just an emotional reaction — it can affect you physically, too. It’s been shown to raise your risk for heart disease and other problems related to stress — like sleep trouble, digestion woes and headaches. That makes it important, then, to diffuse your anger. Start by figuring out what it is that makes you angry. Researchers from George Mason University, in Virginia, studied just that, and identified five common triggers: Other people. Distress — psychological and physical. Demands you put on yourself. Your environment. Unknown sources. Anger was more intense, the investigators found, when people were provoked by issues with other people or by influences that couldn’t be pinpointed. Once you’ve identified the sources of your anger, take steps to change how your deal with it, the researchers suggested. Decades ago, people often were encouraged to let their anger out. Primal screams and pounding pillows were suggested tactics. Today? Not so much. Studies have shown that therapies that involve letting anger out in a rage don’t really help. They might even make you more angry. Still, it’s important to not keep anger bottled up. But, managing it can keep you from saying or doing things you might regret once the anger has passed. What to do? Start by becoming a calmer person in general. Practice a relaxation technique every day — yoga or…  read on >

If you suffer from allergies, you already know that pollen is in the air — even in the parts of the United States with unseasonably cool temperatures. So what kind of allergy season can we expect this year? Will we see a return of the pollen vortex? Might we have a blooming bombogenesis of pollen? Don’t scoff: There is some evidence that climate change and increasingly warm temperatures may lead to more pollen each year. “Just like weather forecasting, it’s hard to know eventually what climate change will do to pollen counts. But what we’ve seen is unpredictability. The winters haven’t been as cold, and pollens may not become as dormant, so the allergy season might last longer,” said Dr. Punita Ponda, assistant chief of allergy and immunology at Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y. Or, as some areas of the country have seen this year, fluctuations between warm and then cold weather can lead to “shorter, but more impactful pollen seasons,” Ponda said. And some of what people experience as the “worst allergy season ever” may be a matter of perception, she said. “In situations like New York has had this year — [with cold and warm weather alternating instead of a gradual progression to warmer temperatures] — trees will bloom because they’re dependent on the light cycle, not the temperature,” Ponda explained. “But…  read on >

Something like this has happened to most of us: You wake up, wide awake, only to discover that it’s 3 a.m. Suddenly your mind fills with worry about how hard tomorrow will be if you don’t get more sleep. The problem is, you toss and turn and can’t get back to sleep. What to do? First, don’t keep your eyes trained on the clock. That just adds to your distress. Instead, clear your mind and relax your body. Tighten a muscle for a few seconds and then release. One by one, try this with a few muscle groups — your feet, legs, stomach, for instance. Focus on how relaxed your body is becoming. If you’re still awake a few minutes later, though, get up and out of bed. In fact, leave the bedroom. Go to another room to listen to soothing music or read a boring book — not a heart-racing thriller. If you start to feel drowsy, return to bed. If not, be productive and do a chore you’ve been putting off. You might feel tired later on, but you’ll have a sense of accomplishment about completing the task. One night of disrupted sleep is not uncommon — it’s something most everyone has experienced. But if insomnia becomes a pattern, it’s time to correct lifestyle habits. Are you drinking too much caffeine? Using electronics…  read on >

(HealthDay News) — If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you’ll probably feel very tired during the day. And you may not feel alert and refreshed when you wake up. While everyone has a sleepless night now and then, chronic lack of sleep can lead to a host of medical problems and should be discussed with your doctor, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says. Here is the agency’s list of issues you should mention to your physician: How long you’ve had trouble sleeping and how often it occurs. How long it typically takes you to fall asleep, how often you wake up at night, and how long it takes you to fall back asleep. Do you snore loudly or wake up gasping or feeling out of breath? Do you feel refreshed when you wake up, or are you tired? How often you doze off or have trouble staying awake during everyday tasks, especially driving.

Hay fever sufferers often choose the wrong medication for their seasonal sniffles, new research suggests. With flowers, trees and grasses springing back to life, folks with allergies will start to complain of sneezing, runny noses, and watery, itchy eyes. More often than not, though, they’ll head to the allergy aisle of their nearest drug store without advice from a doctor or pharmacist, the new study found. Only 63 percent of people who visit their community pharmacy to purchase treatment for their hay fever have a doctor diagnosis, said study senior author Sinthia Bosnic-Anticevich. “This is despite the fact that a vast majority of them are experiencing moderate to severe hay fever symptoms, which impact on their day-to-day living,” she added. Moreover, 70 percent select their own hay fever medication without consulting the pharmacist. And of those who reported wheezing, only 6 percent chose the correct medication, the study found. “Only 17 percent [choose allergy drugs] appropriately,” added Bosnic-Anticevich, a professor at the University of Sydney in Australia, who specializes in the use of respiratory medicines. It’s estimated that hay fever affects 30 percent of the world’s population, the researchers pointed out. Although this study was done in Australia, Bosnic-Anticevich said she has heard anecdotally from U.S. colleagues that the results would likely be similar if it had been done with American allergy sufferers. So what…  read on >

Medical care costs in the United States can be so overwhelming that Americans fear the cost of treatment more than the illness itself, a new poll shows. “It’s shocking and unacceptable that medical bills strike more fear in the hearts of Americans than serious illness,” said Shelley Lyford. She is president and CEO of West Health Institute, a San Diego-based research group that teamed up with NORC at the University of Chicago to conduct the nationwide poll. More respondents (40 percent) feared the cost of treating a serious illness than feared becoming ill (33 percent). The poll, of more than 1,300 adults, also found that 44 percent had not gone to the doctor when they were sick or injured within the past year, and 40 percent had skipped a suggested medical test or treatment because of the expense. Nearly half of the respondents said they also went without a dental checkup or cleaning in the past year, and 4 out of 10 said they didn’t see a dentist when they needed care. Thirty percent said they had been forced to choose between paying for medical bills or necessities such as food, heating or housing in the past year. About one-third said they had not filled a prescription or took less than the prescribed dose to save money. And respondents who said they didn’t get a…  read on >