InHealth

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Teens, smartphones and depression, experts recommend parenting books, and reasons to consider supplements

Posted By on Thu, Aug 10, 2017 at 1:19 PM

"Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy," according to a new article in The Atlantic.
  • "Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy," according to a new article in The Atlantic.

Feeling gloomy? Put down the phone!
The Atlantic features a story in its September issue (also available online) on the perils of smartphones in the hands of teens and younger kids. The conclusions are grim: "Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen [young people born between 1995 and 2012] as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones ... The results could not be clearer: Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy. There’s not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness."

Before throwing the phones into the lake, read about ideas for moderating screen time in InHealth.


Time to hit the books, parents
One this is clear: all this smoky air has curtailed our outdoor fun. While the kids reluctantly zero in on those summer reading assignments, parents can also learn some new tricks of the trade. Check out parenting books recommended by experts right here in the Inland Northwest in the latest issue of InHealth.


Should you take vitamin and mineral supplements?
Americans spend more than $30 billion on supplements each year, according to the latest research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many of those supplements aren't useful; some may even be harmful. But there are reasons to consider a supplement. The team at the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter offers some advice.
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Thursday, August 3, 2017

New issue out now, West Nile virus arrives in North Idaho, and (surprise!) marijuana helps you mellow out

Posted By on Thu, Aug 3, 2017 at 2:43 PM

The first case of local transmission of West Nile virus has occurred in Kootenai County, according to officials with the Panhandle Health District. "The virus was likely acquired through local mosquitoes,” says the PHD's Dave Hylsky.
  • The first case of local transmission of West Nile virus has occurred in Kootenai County, according to officials with the Panhandle Health District. "The virus was likely acquired through local mosquitoes,” says the PHD's Dave Hylsky.

New issue on stands now!
Ready to take on a challenge and learn something new? Read about Taking the Plunge and shaking up your routine in this issue of InHealth.


West Nile virus arrives in Kootenai County
The first-ever case of local transmission of West Nile virus has been recorded in Kootenai County, say officials with the Panhandle Health District. “While several cases of West Nile virus are reported each summer, all previously reported human cases have been directly related to travel outside the region. "In this case, the virus was likely acquired through local mosquitoes,” Dave Hylsky, PHD staff epidemiologist, explained in a news release. “It’s imperative that people take extra precautions to protect themselves.”

That includes using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and using window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of living areas.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: What you need to know about West Nile virus.


Marijuana mellow

A WSU study has confirmed what many may already have surmised: using marijuana blunts the body’s stress response.

In a study of 40 daily marijuana users and 42 non-users, the non-users showed increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva when subjected to a laboratory-simulated stressful situation, while regular users showed no such increase.

“How do researchers provoke stress?” you may ask. Here’s how: They had subjects place their hands in ice cold water and count backward from 2043 by 17s, all the while giving them “negative verbal feedback” and showing the whole scenario live on a video screen.

So is the lack of a stress response good or bad? Researchers don’t yet know.

“Cannabis might have benefits in conferring resilience to stress, particularly in individuals who already have heightened emotional reactivity to stressful situations,” according to a WSU news release. Or it could be detrimental, when the body needs to mobilize its resources and deal with actual threats.
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Friday, July 28, 2017

More help, not more stuff; Medicaid director's husband doesn't accept it; aiding local women and children in crisis

Posted By on Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 12:17 PM

Dr. Seema Verna, right, the top U.S. official overseeing Medicaid, doesn't have to look for to find a doctor who won't accept Medicaid payments — her husband, Dr. Sanjay Mishra, left, a child psychiatrist in Indiana.
  • Dr. Seema Verna, right, the top U.S. official overseeing Medicaid, doesn't have to look for to find a doctor who won't accept Medicaid payments — her husband, Dr. Sanjay Mishra, left, a child psychiatrist in Indiana.

Help wanted

More stuff doesn’t seem to make people happier. But buying time just might. A Harvard study found that “paying to delegate household chores like cleaning and cooking is linked to greater life satisfaction.”

Read more about local families embracing the concept of fewer material possessions, and finding greater life satisfaction in the process.


Kids struggling
The current director of Medicaid, Seema Verma, has up-close knowledge of health care since her husband is a doctor. A child psychiatrist in Carmel, Indiana, Dr. Sanjay Mishra’s practice treats plenty of patients, just not any who are receiving Medicaid. Some kids in his hometown in need of help have had to travel long distances to find a provider willing to accept Medicaid payment.

Nationwide, there’s a shortage of mental health care providers, particularly for children, and a substantial percentage of them turn down Medicaid patients, saying reimbursement is too low, leading to long wait times and lengthy travel for children who are already suffering, according to Kaiser Health News.

“It would be better if Seema Verma’s husband were to accept Medicaid, not just for the appearance of supporting the program his wife oversees, but to increase access by one more provider,” said Paul Gionfriddo, CEO of Mental Health America, an advocacy group.

Read more about the shortage of mental health providers for children in the Inland Northwest in InHealth.


Win-win!

Drop off some much-appreciated toiletries and hygiene items at the Helping Hands Fundraiser at North Church Spokane, 8303 N. Division, on Saturday from 8:30 am to 4 pm. The items are destined for the Union Gospel Mission Women’s and Children’s Crisis Shelter. Bonus! There’s a yard sale, raffle, and more than 40 vendor booths for some fun shopping while you’re there.
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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Strategies to delay dementia, more benefits of fruits and veggies, and checking out Camaros for a good cause

Posted By on Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 1:11 PM

New research shows that people who ate two additional servings of fruits and vegetables per day experienced "a boost in motivation and vitality."
  • New research shows that people who ate two additional servings of fruits and vegetables per day experienced "a boost in motivation and vitality."

Remember this!

For the first time, scientists are endorsing some health strategies to reduce the risk for dementia and age-related cognitive decline. The catch? People should ideally start doing these things in their 40s, long before any signs of trouble. So what are the recommendations? 1) Control high blood pressure. This is more effective in preventing Alzheimer’s than age-related memory decline; 2) Get enough exercise. How much and what kind is still being debated, but walking 20 minutes a day may be enough to do the trick; and 3) Strive to get ongoing mental stimulation. “There’s growing evidence that the ways in which your brain is challenged all through your life matter,” says one researcher.

What’s out? There’s no evidence that supplements containing ginkgo biloba, vitamin E, or computer-based cognitive games or apps are effective deterrents.


Wanna get motivated?
Spend the next two weeks upping your daily intake of fruits and veggies, and you just might get a little more oomph in your step. Research shows that people who ate two additional fruit and vegetable servings per day experienced “a boost in motivation and vitality” in just 14 days. The study was conducted on 171 18-to-25-year-old students who were either told to eat their normal diet; personally handed two additional servings of fruits and vegetables each day; or given prepaid purchase vouchers and texted reminders to eat more fresh stuff.

Only the group that was physically handed more fruit showed improved psychological well-being; they were also the only group that actually consumed the most additional fruit and vegetables. No group showed improvement in depression or anxiety measures. Two cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables are the USDA's current daily diet recommendation.

Check out great veggie recipes in the current issue of InHealth!


Cars and good causes
Head out to Mirabeau Park Meadows in Spokane Valley on Saturday to see a lot of shiny Chevy Camaros in one place. This year’s Inland Northwest Camaro Club Open Auto Show celebrates the club’s 50th anniversary and marks the show's 27th year. It’s free to look, $20 to enter a car. Proceeds benefit Spokane Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant, Coats4Kids, Hospice of Spokane and the Spokane Humane Society.

13500 Mirabeau Pkwy., Saturday, July 22 from 9 am to 4 pm.


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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Spokane hantavirus death, hot times for your doggies and more

Posted By on Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 1:47 PM

It's the season for preventing heat-related injuries to your dogs.
  • It's the season for preventing heat-related injuries to your dogs.

Hantavirus death

The Spokane Regional Health District announced Thursday that a Spokane County man in his 50s died from complications of hantavirus, the disease spread by deer mice excrement and saliva. “We want to acknowledge how tragic this unexpected death must be for this man’s family and friends,” said Dr. Bob Lutz, Spokane Regional Health District health officer in a statement. “Although the reality is this type of death is rare in our area, we need to balance it with a message of precaution.”

The man is suspected to have come into contact with the virus in an Adams County barn. Health officials say precautions should be taken when cleaning or working in barns, sheds, warehouses and “summer cabins that have not been occupied.”

The health district has detailed instructions on cleaning up mice poop. Here’s the gist of it: Vacuuming is a no-no as it may make the virus airborne; to be really safe you have to open windows to air out the space for at least 30 minutes. Then don a half-face H.E.P.A.- filter air-purifying respirator, long sleeved work clothes and rubber gloves. Spray the affected area with a diluted bleach mixture, wait 30 minutes and clean up the droppings using paper towels and rubber gloves.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Playing it safe around the water this summer, new doctors face challenges, and solving a magical mystery in mother's milk

Posted By on Thu, Jun 29, 2017 at 4:08 PM

Play it safe this summer: Keep an eye on your kids when it comes to kiddie pools, big pools, lakes — even bathtubs. - SWIMMINGPOOL.COM
  • SwimmingPool.com
  • Play it safe this summer: Keep an eye on your kids when it comes to kiddie pools, big pools, lakes — even bathtubs.

Swim safely this summer!

Sunny skies, perfect temperatures, and the weekend is in sight. Nothing sounds better than a day of boating, floating or swimming under cloudless skies. But for all the thousands of Pinterest-worthy summer outings, there are inevitably a few stories — and even one is too many — of summer fun gone desperately wrong. Drowning is the most common cause of death among 1-to-5-year-olds, writes Dr. Matt Thompson in a recent issue of InHealth. "What does that mean for parents? Be paranoid when it comes to bathtubs, kiddie pools, big pools and lakes. Use life jackets liberally and make sure they keep your kid afloat, should he or she lose consciousness."

The Spokane Regional Health district offers a coupon for a 25 percent discount on life jackets at area Big 5 sporting goods stores, as well as all kinds of tips on swimming safety. Remember: Drowning can be silent and swift, occurring in as little as 30 seconds.


New docs on call
The big day is almost here. On July 1, new interns will take to the halls of hospitals across America. These newly minted doctors will face many challenges — from breaking bad news to patients to battling insurance companies. And often, they'll be doing it all on very little sleep. New guidelines allow interns to work up to 28 hours in a row. Read about the wisdom behind the system in InHealth.


Magical mystery milk
Why in the world would human mother's milk contain multiple, highly specific, energy-filled compounds, called human milk oligosaccharides, that babies aren't even able to digest? Scientists puzzling over this mystery have reached a surprising answer, says the New Yorker. The compounds — which are the third-most abundant ingredient in breast milk, after lactose and fats — aren't there to directly nourish the baby at all; they're there to nourish one particular gut microbe called B. infantis. It's an interaction that may have long-term impacts on the baby's immune system and brain development.

Read more in the latest issue of InHealth.
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

ProPublica exposes Big Pharma ripoff, Complete Eats rewards healthy choices, and dealing with hoops-related injuries

Posted By on Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 3:43 PM

Washington's Department of Health and Safeway have teamed up on a new program, called Complete Eats, that rewards healthy food choices by offering $5 rebates on $10 qualifying purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables. - WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
  • Washington State Department of Health
  • Washington's Department of Health and Safeway have teamed up on a new program, called Complete Eats, that rewards healthy food choices by offering $5 rebates on $10 qualifying purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Ripped off by Big Pharma
Say you’re a big pharmaceutical company looking for a way to make some fast cash. How about combining two over-the-counter medications, available to consumers for about $40 a month, into a new “specialty” medication that gets billed to insurance at more than $3,000 for a month’s supply? It happened, and the drug earned the company, Horizon Pharma, $455 million in sales. You won’t want to miss this installment in ProPublica’s series on wasteful spending in health care.


Healthy eating rewards
Safeway is teaming up to offer $5 rebates on $10 qualifying purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables for participants in the Washington State Department of Health's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The new program, called Complete Eats, is aimed at rewarding healthy choices. “We are pleased to partner with Safeway to help our most vulnerable kids and families get fresh, accessible and healthful foods,” said state Secretary of Health John Wiesman in a statement. “Complete Eats exemplifies how much we can achieve when government and private industry work together.”

Read more about helping kids get a healthy diet in the current issue of InHealth!


Hoopin’ it up

As the ballers take to downtown Spokane's streets this weekend, there will be a lot of fun, but also some unfortunate ankle sprains, finger jams, and cuts. Here are tips on how to cope.


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Friday, June 16, 2017

Investigating the 'wanderlust gene,' a perfect storm for allergies, and the return of Summer Parkways

Posted By on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 at 11:35 AM

Summer Parkways returns to Manito and Comstock Parks on Wednesday, June 21. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak photo
  • Summer Parkways returns to Manito and Comstock Parks on Wednesday, June 21.

Traveling genes
Ever feel an near-unstoppable urge to hit the highway? To take that freeway exit for no good reason other than to see where it goes? A desire to explore faraway lands? That almost primal call to travel may actually be in your genes. A “wanderlust gene” — DRD4-7R — has been identified in about 20 percent of the population, and is more prominent in North and South American populations; in other words, people whose ancestors have immigrated to new lands. In a report in Conde Nast Traveler, biologist Dawn Masler notes that the wanderlust gene affects dopamine levels in the brain: “Dopamine is the 'liking' hormone, and when you want to get more, it doesn’t sate you — you get hooked.”

Taking advantage of the ever-expanding knowledge of our genetic make-up is the goal of a new form of medicine being dubbed “scientific wellness.” How does knowledge of our DNA impact the way health care is delivered now, and what does the future hold?

Read about it in the new issue of InHealth.


Gesundheit!
Our weird spring weather has created a perfect storm for allergies: tree pollens were delayed by the cool, wet spring, and are now overlapping with grass pollens. “For people who aren’t allergic, this means a gritty sensation in the eyes, nose and throat. For those who are allergic, they’ve got an intense concentration of tree and grass pollen giving them cold-like symptoms,” says Tim Kohlhauff of WSU’s extension program in Spokane. A WSU news release reports the situation may start to improve when tree pollinating ends in late June; grass pollination continues through mid-July.


Summer Parkways returns

Mark your calendar for next Wednesday’s Summer Parkways in Manito and Comstock parks, a glorious, once-a-year glorious when roads are closed to traffic and filled with bikes, skaters and other human-powered transportation. Neighbors enjoying al fresco dining on their front porches, as well as information booths lining the route, add to the festive atmosphere.
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Friday, June 9, 2017

Our new issue is out now! Get your fruits and veggies on, and enjoy a 'free day' at Washington State Parks

Posted By on Fri, Jun 9, 2017 at 12:16 PM

Think you're getting enough vegetables (and fruits) in your diet? You're probably not. - FULL CIRCLE
  • Full Circle
  • Think you're getting enough vegetables (and fruits) in your diet? You're probably not.

Veg out!
Diet science is always evolving. Remember 2014’s 10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse? Happily, that's behind us (no pun intended). But there is one thing scientists overwhelmingly agree on: Fruits and veggies are the foundation of a health diet, and we don't eat enough of them. Why is that? Find out in our new cover story, and also check out enticing, meat-free summer grilling recipes and tips.


Under pressure
A new study shows that blood pressure may be better controlled, with fewer side effects, by using small doses of two, or even four, medications. Worldwide, nearly 90 percent of people who are aware they have high blood pressure are treated with medication, yet only a third are able to get good control of their hypertension. Among the takeaways from a new Australian study that reviewed 42 other studies involving more than 20,000 people?

Taking a one-quarter dose of two meds may be as effective as a single full dose of a single med; four quarter-doses of four medications were nearly twice as effective as a single drug at a standard dose. Research is still preliminary, so don't go changing your meds without talking to your doctor.

From our archives: a blood pressure primer.


Free parking for a day
Just three days a year are “free days” at Washington State Parks, and this Saturday, June 10, is the first for 2017. (The other free days, when a Discover Pass isn’t required to use the parks, are Aug. 25 and Sept. 30.) Consider a day trip to Palouse Falls, especially spectacular in the spring and early summer, with water cascading nearly 200 feet. Be aware that the parking lot at the Falls can fill up quickly on busy weekends.

If you want a real workout, try the strenuous Three Peaks Loop, taking in Mt. Kit Carson, Day Mountain, and finishing, after nearly 13 miles, with a spectacular view of from the top of Mt. Spokane. If you've got other plans for Saturday, annual Discover Passes cost $33 and a one-day pass will set you back $11.

For more health-related information, check out the new issue of InHealth.
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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Study: Music can make you nicer to be around; plus, pushback against opiates and a cautionary health-care tale

Posted By on Thu, Jun 1, 2017 at 12:25 PM


It's Volume weekend!
It's the new Issue! Look for our June/July issue of InHealth, on stands soon!
  • It's the new Issue! Look for our June/July issue of InHealth, on stands soon!

Need an evidence-based excuse to invest in a wristband and attend the Inlander’s jam-packed Volume Music Fest this weekend? Try this one: Listening to music you like lights up areas of the brain involved in “internally focused thought, empathy and self-awareness.” That’s right: Music that you enjoy — whether rock or Bach — may just make you a nicer person to be around.

Meanwhile, New York magazine reports on research that shows sex, drugs and music all activate the same brain circuits, suggesting an “evolutionary origin for music.” What more do you want?


Medication malfeasance?
"This pain population with no abuse history is literally at no risk for addiction,” stated a letter from a respected Boston physician that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine almost 40 years ago. That reassurance, cited in more than 600 subsequent papers, gave skeptical doctors the confidence to begin prescribing opioids for all varieties of aches and pains. According to an NBC News story, "It's difficult to overstate the role of this letter," said the University of Toronto's Dr. David Juurlink, who led the analysis. "It was the key bit of literature that helped the opiate manufacturers convince front-line doctors that addiction is not a concern.”

On Wednesday, Ohio’s attorney general announced that the state is suing opiate manufacturers because they "helped unleash a health care crisis that has had far-reaching financial, social, and deadly consequences in the State of Ohio.”


Learning from history
As Congress grapples with repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the Los Angeles Times offers a cautionary tale from our own state. Washington was a pioneer in health care reform in the early 1990s; those efforts culminated in the Health Services Act, signed into law by Governor Mike Lowry in May 1993. It guaranteed coverage for everyone and required employers to offer health insurance. By 1995, problems enforcing the law’s requirements led to a hasty GOP-led repeal, which sent the insurance market into a downward spiral that lasted five years. “Many state leaders, including former insurance executives, caution that congressional Republicans rushing to roll back Obamacare risk sowing the same kind of chaos that crippled Washington state’s insurance market two decades ago.”

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