Work Hard, Play Hard, Sleep Hard

We’ve all heard the typical sayings used to motivate and comfort an athlete: “You can do it if you put your mind to it!”, “Eyes on the prize!”, and “Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard!” However, a crucial piece of advice that athletes should be reminded of more often and not take lightly is to get a good night’s rest.  It’s funny to think that how well you perform can depend partly on how well you sleep and for how long. Whether it is observing changes in activity from sleep deprivation or sleep extension, multiple studies strongly suggest good sleep for improved athletic performance.

A study at Stanford University was done on the men’s varsity basketball team during the National Collegiate Athletic Association seasons from 2005 to 2008. Data was recorded during the basketball player’s normal sleeping hours and was used as a baseline to establish a sense of normal physical performance. The baseline was approximately 6.8 hours and was maintained for 2-4 weeks.  A period of extended sleep was then initiated and lasted for 5-7 weeks. Researchers compared free throw shots and field goal shots made by each participant after a specific number of attempts during baseline sleeping hours and during extended sleeping hours and found an increase in mean shooting percentage for the latter. Extended sleeping hours were also associated with decreased sprint times, faster reaction times, and lower self ratings of fatigue.

Another study focuses on both the effects of lack of sleep. A meta-analysis study described in the article “Sleep, circadian rhythms, and athletic performance” analyzed up to 113 already published articles related to sleep and exercise. Several articles indicated that sleep deprivation ranging from 30 to 60 hours did not affect certain muscle strengths and movements such as knee flexion torque, elbow flexion or extension strength. Endurance of the knee flexors and extensors was also not affected in 40 meter dashes. Although there were exceptions to some muscle movements, the data overall supported that activities of high power output for a short period of time are not affected by sleep deprivation of a couple nights or less. A possible explanation for these outcomes across different research studies is that sleep decreases motivation. Although the tasks mentioned require motivation, they do not require a high level of it. Therefore, sleep deprivation does not come in effect in short but high power activities.

The effect of sleep deprivation on activities of longer duration is another story however. One study from the meta-analysis reported that activities such as sprinting and 50 minute exercises of repeated deep squats were negatively affected by 30 hours of sleep deprivation. Additional studies showed that two to three nights of sleep deprivation decreased treadmill walking distances as well ergometer cycling distances. The decrease in distance coverage proposes that sleep deprivation leads to accelerated exhaustion and thus, has a significant effect on long duration physical performance.

All of the studies mentioned do not come without their flaws and limitations. There are other factors to consider such as the athletes’ training regimen, diet, and age as well as the sleep debt of the participants and time of day the activity is performed. What can be confirmed is that optimal sleep can help obtain optimal athletic performance. Who knew sleep could have so much power?


Mah, Cheri D., et al. “The Effects of Sleep Extension on the Athletic Performance of Collegiate Basketball Players.” Sleep, vol. 34, no. 7, 2011, pp. 943–950., doi:10.5665/sleep.1132.

Thun, Eirunn, et al. “Sleep, Circadian Rhythms, and Athletic Performance.” Sleep Medicine Reviews, vol. 23, 2015, pp. 1–9., doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2014.11.003.

Rachanne Nabong
Stem Cell Transplant for Hair Restoration

Androgenic alopecia, commonly referred to as pattern baldness, is the most common form of permanent hair loss in men and women. According to the American Hair Loss Association, roughly 60% of men notice some degree of thinning before the age of 35, and 85% of men have a significant level of hair loss by the time they are at the age of 50. Of those affected by androgenic alopecia, 40% are women – most of whom have already experienced menopause. Despite being concomitant to the aging process, androgenic alopecia often has a negative impact on one's self-esteem. Because we usually associate voluminous hair with youth, attractiveness, and healthiness, it’s unsurprising to notice depression and anxiety in balding individuals.

The ubiquitous nature and the emotional effects of androgenic alopecia demonstrates the exigency for hair loss treatments. In 2018, the Hair Loss Treatment Manufacturing Industry made 4 billion dollars in revenue and grew by 4.3%. Currently, the most common treatments for androgenic alopecia are minoxidil, finasteride, and hair transplants. Minoxidil and finasteride are both FDA-approved drugs that minimize the levels of Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) produced in the scalp. DHT is a chemical derivative of testosterone produced during androgen metabolism that is heavily linked to hair loss in men and women. Although helpful in slowing down hair loss, the results diminish once one stops taking the drugs. Therefore, minoxidil and finasteride are not long-term solutions in treating androgenic alopecia.

Hair transplantation is a surgical technique that involves removing hair follicles from a region of the scalp and transplanting them to the balding areas of the scalp. After many months, the transplanted hair would eventually grow back. Although this solution is a long-term solution to treating androgenic alopecia, an individual is limited by the amount of hair they have left. Also, depending on the surgeon and the quality of the procedure, the results can sometimes look unnatural.

However, using regenerative medicine as an approach seems to provide an answer to the drawbacks that arose using the previous methods. The idea behind stem cell therapy involves renewing ones dead hair follicles and adding growth factors to promote hair regrowth. Stem cells possess the potential to develop into many types of cells in the body. Such cells are responsible for creating new cells such as erythrocytes, cardiomyocytes, and neurons. However, in cases such as hair follicles, our body may not always replace them. Certain stem cells have the unique ability to revive old/damaged cells in the body. Exploiting this feature, scientists were able to develop a procedure similar to a regular hair transplant, but instead of transplanting individual follicles, stem cells are transplanted. It begins by taking a donor region with the hair follicles, reproducing them, and then implanting them back in the balding regions.

Researchers have been experimenting with methods to culture hair follicles for many years. Hair follicles are developed from unipotent epithelial stem cells and multipotent mesenchymal stem cells. By replicating this process in-vitro, these researchers were able to grow new hair follicles. However the yield wasn’t high enough to be able to restore a patient's full head of hair. Japanese researchers were able to improve upon this method by introducing an oxygen-permeable-mini-chip to dramatically increase the yield in harvesting follicles. This chip is a small polymer than has wells in it. The follicles in these wells are covered with a collagen mesh layer and then transplanted into the balding regions of the scalp. When transplanted into the skin of immunodeficient mice, regrowth was observed in only 18 days. An obstacle was that the mice had to be immunodeficient in order for this to work because their bodies would otherwise recognize the stem cells as foreign invaders and attack them. Doing this to a human would have been unwise because it would increase the likelihood of developing an infection. However, by harvesting stem cells from the patient themselves, this would no longer be an issue.

The results seem promising and we already possess the technology necessary to carry out this procedure. Scientists are still working out the smaller details but say that treatments should be ready by 2020. Estimates for this procedure range from 3,000 to 10,000 dollars depending on the patients level of hair loss. If successful, this can change the current state of the hair restoration market and the way people view modern medicinal techniques.


Kieran Bissessar
Overcoming Motion Sickness

The idea of traveling can be a negative one if you are someone who is affected by motion sickness, even if the effects are not extremely severe. Whether it is traveling by car, train, airplane, or boat, for some people, motion sickness can suddenly and easily kick in. Fortunately, however, there are many tips that one can implement to overcome motion sickness, both medically and non-medically.

It is suggested that one tries out the non-medical remedies before taking medication, which should be done only for severe motion sickness. A common tip is to be careful of what one consumes before a trip-- foods that are heavy, spicy, rich in fats, or have strong odors are generally suggested as foods to avoid. In addition, excessive alcohol and smoking are also not recommended for traveling. On the other hand, consuming ginger, water and clear beverages, crackers, toast, bananas, and applesauce are recommended for combating nausea. Waiting to eat something delicious after traveling instead of before may be a better decision to make! However, one should not travel on a completely empty stomach either. A 2004 study from Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics showed that a light meal with protein reduces the effects of motion sickness.

Other suggestions are based on the specific situation one is in. For example, some find that they do not suffer from motion sickness if they are driving the car. Rather, they experience it when they are in the passenger seat. If one is sitting in a train, it may help to pick a seat that faces the forward direction instead of one that faces the back of the train, or a seat that is closer to the front than the rear, which tends to be bumpier. If one is on a ship, it may also help to move closer to the front. A change in position, if possible, may be helpful-- some find lying down to be better, while others find standing up to be better. If possible, fresh air may help with the motion sickness, but if not, fans and air vents may provide the same assistance. Other sources of motion sickness symptoms include reading, watching movies, or playing games on a smartphone. This is due to the sensory disconnection that forms between the eyes and the inner ear, as our eyes do not perceive movement but the inner ear does. An alternative option would be to listen to an audiobook or to music.

A remedy that may help makes use of the acupuncture pressure P6 (nei guan), which is located three fingers below the wrist of the inner forearm. It should be found in the depression between the two wrist tendons, and by applying firm pressure for four to five seconds, it may help alleviate nausea and dizziness. There are wrist bands that one can wear, which has the same purpose of applying pressure on this pressure point. There have been studies performed to study the role of P6 in alleviating nausea and dizziness for both pregnant women and post-operative patients (Werntoft, E. et al. Werntoft E, Dykes AK. Effect of acupressure on nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. A randomized, placebo-controlled, pilot study. J Reprod Med. 2001;  Nunley, C. et al. The effects of stimulation of acupressure point p6 on postoperative nausea and vomiting: a review of literature. Perianesth Nurs. 2008.)

If natural and non-medical remedies fail, one may turn to medicine for motion sickness. Common brands include Bonine, Antivert, Meni-D, and Antrizine. Depending on the medication, it can be taken before traveling to prevent motion sickness. However, like many other types of medicines, it does not come without side effects and so it should be taken with caution. Side effects such as drowsiness and tiredness are extremely common for these anti-motion sickness medications.

There are many options that one can take to overcome motion sickness, and if it is not completely overcome, it can at least be alleviated. Motion sickness should not be a reason to dread traveling or to not travel long distances, especially when there are many available remedies. It comes down to finding the most effective method, which is on an individual level. Hopefully, traveling can become enjoyable again!


Stephanie Chan
Is White Noise Good for You?

Have you ever heard of white noise? You might have heard of it when someone was describing their learning environment, what they used for sleeping, or what they used for relaxing. Newborn parents claim that it is a lifesaver for putting their baby to sleep. Students claim that it is the reason they can concentrate for hours at a time.  White noise is a random broadband noise that makes a continuous sound at all frequencies. It’s basically a constant “sh” noise that is proven to provide a quiet environment. It can also be described as an anti-noise.

White noise can be found everywhere! It can be the buzzing of people in a coffee shop, it can be the noise of rain drops on your window sill, it can be the breathing of someone sleeping next to you, or it can be the whirring of a fan. White noise is such a prevalent feature of modern society that there are machines that can be purchased for the sole purpose of emitting different frequencies and levels of sound. There are even apps dedicated to different types of white noises.

Personality of the listener is a factor in whether white noise may work for you. If you like loud music in the background, studies show that it is because you crave a distraction from boring work. If you need pin drop silence, studies also show that it is because a distraction takes your mind off a task. White noise can help both types of situations. It provides a signal that masks a novel signal that might arise around you. It is sort of like a shield that takes you into a focused state of mind. However, some people can thrive or be negatively affected by white noise.

You might claim that noise or silence helps you with learning. White noise can actually help you more because it can change the activity of your midbrain. The midbrain is important for motor movement, eye movement, and auditory and visual processing. It can help you improve your memory and is linked to reward pathways. White noise triggers dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to rewards, and enhances the network between brain regions to improve memory. White noise can be especially beneficial to those with attention deficits. This exposure to a consistent background noise can improve cognitive abilities. White noise can even help with sleep! It creates a routine and blank cover that blocks you from startling noises.

There are many reasons to want to use white noise in your daily routine now but there are also reasons on why not to use it. According to past studies, white noise can even affect brain cells over a long period of time. This is why white noise can cause tinnitus, which is a constant ringing in your ears. This can be prevented by turning down the volume of which you are playing white noise. Anything under 120 decibels should be your go to! Over 120 decibels can damage hair cells inside your ear and in the long term, cause permanent loss of hearing. So remember to be aware of what white noise you are using and how loud you may have the white noise playing.

If you think that white noise is too much of a risk for you, try pink noise or brown noise or blue noise. There are no definitive studies that compare these different noises and it all comes down to personality or preference. White noise encompasses all sound frequencies just as white light encompasses all colors of the rainbow. In particular, pink noise is the alternative that most people use instead of white noise because it is louder and powerful at lower frequencies. Pink noise is often used to help put someone in a deeper and longer sleep state.

So, is white noise actually good for you? There are beneficial reasons to start experimenting with white noise and you should try it! It could be what takes your learning, focus and memory to another level. It can be the added factor for a good night's rest. However, you must also be aware of the possible detriments to your ears.


Radhika-Alicia Patel
Are You Feeling S.A.D. ?

Winter rolls around and it seems like your day to day life has taken a turn for the bleak. You feel sluggish, you're sleeping too much or too little, it’s becoming difficult to do the activities that once gave you enjoyment, and the world looks and feels bleak. But why do you feel like this? You may have S.A.D. Although somewhat unfortunately named, S.A.D. is a real mental disorder that impacts around 5% of the U.S. population in a give year. Commonly passed off as the“winter blue”, S.A.D. can be very dangerous and detrimental to a population and a person. There can be very serious symptoms and issues that come with these “winter blues” indicators.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that is related to the change of seasons. Those impacted tend to feel hopeless, fatigued, unenergized, and most notably- feeling depressed. This disorder is mostly prevalent in women, so much so that 4 in 5 cases of S.A.D. are of  women. Although the disorder is mostly associated with the dreary winter season, people may also experience S.A.D. during the summer - although this account is less documented.

Even though the symptoms can be easy to tell, the causes of S.A.D. are still unknown. There seems to be a correlation between lower levels of sunlight and the amount of serotonin that a person’s neurotransmitters makes. Lower levels of serotonin have been found in people who were diagnosed with depression and related illnesses. It could also be that the Sun’s rising and setting disturbs a person's circadian rhythm which has been linked to depressive thoughts. Along the same train of thought, when the Sun is out for fewer hours in the day, more melatonin can be produced. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for sleeping, with fewer hours of sunlight, more melatonin is produced which may unsync a person's biological clock. The correlation between the amount of hours the Sun is out is also directly related to one's geographic location, meaning that those who live farther away from the equator are at a higher risk of developing S.A.D.

Scientists may not know the exact cause behind S.A.D. but there are treatments that have been found to help those with the ailment. The most common treatment is Phototherapy- in other terms, it means that one uses special lights or lamps to decrease the amount of melatonin that the body produces. This has been found to work for many people who are impacted by the disease and the method  has been used since the 1980s. Similarly, medication that blocks the production of serotonin has been found to have positive impacts as well. However, this can come with side effects.

Seasonal Affective Disorder can be incredibly dangerous and it can have serious implications on one's  day-to-day life. Although it isn’t as widely known as other mental illnesses, it is still very serious and it is important to reach out to medical professionals if you believe you suffer from S.A.D. It is also important to try and get as much sunlight as possible especially in the winter months when the Sun is out for fewer hours and other illnesses may be causing trouble. Simply spending more time outside, exercising, taking supplemental vitamins, and even increasing the amount of lights you have in your home can help reduce your risk of S.A.D.


Carlos Martinez-Mejia
How Does Prolonged Screen Time Affect Your Vision?

Growing up, we’ve heard our parents tell us not to watch TV for too long because it’s “bad” for our eyes. But what does that mean? Does prolonged screen viewing cause damage to our eyes? Or is there no effect at all? In this generation, technology has increasingly become a part of our everyday lives, making us more reliant on it. In fact, 97% of classrooms in the United States have at least one computer for children to use, and smart devices are becoming readily available and given to kids less than five years old. As screen time rises, parents worry about the harmful effects of increased screen exposure and indeed, extensive electronic use can cause eye strain when looking at the screen for too long.

Eye strain is a repetitive strain injury caused by insufficient rest to the muscles. Glare from the amount of light that shines into your eyes and the position of the computer can also lead to muscle fatigue. Dry Eye syndrome, a condition where a person’s eye doesn’t produce enough tears to keep the eye lubricated, is often mistaken as an effect to screen exposure. Tears are necessary for the eye to maintain a healthy front surface to provide clear vision. Those with Dry Eye Syndrome tend to experience a burning sensation of the eye, irritation, sensitivity to light, redness, watery eyes, and blurry vision. Common causes of this syndrome are aging, medical problems like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorder, Vitamin A deficiency and more. Studies have shown that our eyes blink on average 12 times per minute. So the dry eyes, irritation, tears, and all symptoms similar to Dry Eye Syndrome, do not equate to the syndrome itself, but rather, it is us as humans forgetting to blink a sufficient amount when looking at a screen. Similar effects can also develop when straining your eyes to read a book.

In today’s generation, studies have shown that increased screen exposure to children at young ages result in higher frequency of myopia, or nearsightedness, due to a child’s habit of holding electronics very close to his or her face and the lack of outdoor activities to allow the eyes to exercise short and long distance vision.

The most important thing in alleviating eye strain is to rest your eyes. It is crucial to deliberately blink frequently if you are at your computer for extended periods of time so that the tears used to lubricate your eyes do not evaporate. Positioning your computer correctly, about 18-30 inches away from your face in a 10 to 15 degree slant can aide with minimizing eye strain. Lowering the glare will help with excessive use of your eye muscles as well. You can also use the “20-20-20 rule” to rest your muscles. Stop looking at your screen every 20 minutes and focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Closing your eyes for a few minutes every 30 minutes also provides the same effects.

For adolescents, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has revised their recommendation for childhood screen time. They recommend little to no screen exposure to kids 18 months or younger. For children between 18 months to 2 years old, screen time should be limited and supervised, and topics of screen time should be educational since children learn at an accelerated rate in the first few years. For children between the ages of 2 to 5 years old, screen time should be limited to one hour a day, and the same limits should still be in place for children 6 years and older. It is crucial to make sure that electronics do not inhibit a child’s every day activity.


Bhola, R., Dr. (2017, August 23). The Effects of Too Much Screen Time on Children's Vision. Retrieved from

Cashin-Garbutt, A. (2018, August 23). Does looking at a computer damage your eyes? Retrieved from

Computer vision syndrome: Is your computer affecting your vision? (2018, Sep 17). Hamilton News, Mountain Edition Retrieved from

Walida Ali
Overdose: Inside Your Body

In recent years, many cities around the country have come to realize a certain commonality in deaths in their communities: those caused by overdoses. States like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware, and Rhode Island have a drastic number of overdose mortality rates, and even within New York City, we can see that the number has steadily increased since 2014. What was once an estimation of 200 deaths per quarter in the year 2014 has risen to over 350 per quarter by 2017. Opioids are largely the cause, with Fentanyl currently being part of over half of the overdose deaths.

But what exactly is an overdose? An overdose occurs when the body has taken too many drugs or other substances to handle. The body itself has a limit and an overdose is reached once this limit is trespassed. Symptoms of an overdose depend on the type of drug(s) taken.

Depressants include everything from opioids, medical depressants, and alcohol. As their name suggest, these drugs work to depress the body’s system, slowing down the nervous system, heart rate, breathing, but can also work to relieve pain. Opioid death is really common not only because they are highly addicting, but also because they slow down one's heart rate and breathing until they both stop and the person dies. Loss of consciousness is one of the most common signs of opioid overdose.

The human body naturally contains what are called endogenous opiates that are in charge of controlling regular body functions. These endogenous opiates bind to opiate receptors in the body that are able to inform the body to calm down. Opioids have the same shape as endogenous opiates but typically produce stronger reactions. They are able to turn off the same neurons that are sending pain signals from the place of harm to the brain, relieving one's pain, and increasing dopamine production which rewards the brain and makes one happier, with this result being an increase to one's desire to take even more opioids. Antagonist drugs such as naloxone, often used by paramedics and other medical staff, help by blocking off the receptors so that the opioid isn’t able to bind to them and produce extreme reactions. This is a crucial drug for patients experiencing an overdose.

Alcohol poisoning can occur when one is  drunk in too high a concentration in too short of a time. This combination prevents the body from functioning normally by leading to  loss of coordination, low body temperature, disorientation, irregular and slow breathing, and seizures. Opioids include drugs such as fentanyl, morphine, and heroin. They have a similar chemical structure to opium, from which the name is derived. Benzodiazepines, or medical suppressants, include Valium, Xanax, and Serepax (all market names), and are used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Although overdoses from these alone are uncommon, they should not be mixed with any other drugs or alcohol.

Stimulants, on the other hand, include amphetamines, cocaine and methamphetamine and they affect particularly the brain and the heart, increasing dopamine production. Overdoses can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and seizures. Signs of overdose also include hallucinations, headaches, chest pains, and very high body temperatures.

When determining the chances of an overdose, it is important to keep in mind the body’s ability to tolerate the specific drug as well as the drug’s half-life. If a person takes a particular drug constantly, their tolerance to it will build up and they’ll find that they need more of that drug to give the same effect they once had. Overdoses are common when people stop using a drug for a period of time, decreasing their tolerance, and then they go back and take the same amount they used to take originally. They think their body can handle this sudden high intake, but it cannot and so they soon experience an overdose. The half-life of a drug refers to the length of time it takes for the drug to lose its potency and decompose. Certain drugs have a longer half-life, like benzodiazepines, and a person taking the same amount for multiple days will find that a large part of the drug taken a day before is still in their system. This can increase chances of overdose because people aren’t aware of how much they should be taking and overdo it.

Overdose is not something to be taken lightly, and if you or someone you know is having trouble controlling their drug intake or is in danger of an overdose, contact a health provider or emergency services. Their life may be at risk.


“Unintentional Drug Poisoning (Overdose) Deaths Quarters 1 ...”, New York City Health , Oct. 2017,

“National Center for Health Statistics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Jan. 2018,

“Overdose Basics.” International Overdose Awareness Day, .

“A Look at the Physical Anatomy of an Overdose.”, 27 July 2016,

“Opioids and the Body: The Science of an Overdose.” Opioids and the Body: The Science of an Overdose | UA College of Medicine MD/PhD Program, 5 Jan. 2017,

Naile Ruiz
Chronic Pain and Physical Therapy

We often hear of physical therapy being used to help patients with rehabilitation, many times after a surgery or any traumatic experience. However, it’s hard for many people to think that physical therapy can actually be used to treat chronic pain as well. In fact, did you know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) actually recommends physical therapy and other non-drug options for chronic pain? For those of us that aren’t fully aware, chronic pain is defined as pain lasting more than 12 weeks and affects over 116 million Americans yearly. Even though the condition is often lumped into one category, it is important to keep in mind that chronic pain often varies greatly and can be treated in many different ways. As such, it’s common for patients to be put in multidisciplinary treatment programs. While seeking for medical advice on treatment is important, there are also some key things to keep in mind.

Recently, there’s been a growing national issue with the use of opioids that has subsequently carried over into their use in the treatment of chronic pain. There are many risks to opioid use and the rise in overdose deaths has become a national concern. In many cases, doctors have been seen to use opioids as a go-to treatment that may result in drug abuse or reliance in the medicine, not focusing on treating it long-term at all. In reality, opioids should be used only in the case of a strong need to function, such as cancer treatment or palliative care. Because of this, the CDC recommends non-drug options for treatment of chronic pain as they are believed to be cases where the benefits don’t outweigh the risks. According to the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain - United States, 2016, there is a large amount of evidence that points towards physical therapy being an effective treatment for chronic pain in both pain and function management.

In using physical therapy to treat chronic pain, you should expect multiple sessions and possibly practicing exercises at home for maximum effect. The sessions might include a mixture of low-impact aerobic training exercises that increase heart rate but go easy on the joints, strengthening exercises that might focus on core muscles or other parts of the body, pain-relief exercises that target pain areas, or stretching. These exercises are targeted to relieve pain and manage body function, but rarely hurt the patient. Physical therapy treatment of chronic pain is believed to be more thorough because not only can therapists treat patients with flexibility exercises, posture awareness, and body mechanic instructions, but they can also help them understand the primary cause of their pain. Additionally, having someone to instruct them on what helps their pain and what doesn’t, how to work with their pain, and repeating words of encouragement throughout is a understandably longer-lasting treatment than opioids.

Physical therapy has been found effective in reducing pain and improving function for at least 2-6 months. According to the CDC Guidelines, physical therapy should be chosen for pain management over a variety of situations. This includes, but isn’t limited to cases such as when the risk of opioid use outweighs the rewards, when patients want to do more than simply reduce pain, when the pain or function problems are related to areas such as the lower back, hip, knee, or fibromyalgia, and when pain lasts 90 days. If you’re struggling with chronic pain, any of these situations could be you, so next time you’re talking to your doctor about treatment for your chronic pain, remember that physical therapy may be a better and safer option than opioids.



Naile Ruiz
How Having Pets can Potentially Better your Quality of Life

Many people who own pets can generally agree that they enjoy their pet’s company. According to the 2017-2018 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, it is found that around sixty eight percent of American homes have a pet of some sort, with the most prominent being dogs. An interesting survey conducted by Houzz, which surveyed 10,000 pet owners in eleven different countries, found that seventy one percent of the people surveyed from France and ninety percent of those from the United States said that one of the best aspects of owning a pet is how happy they made their owners. While we pet owners may sacrifice an arm and a leg to pay their veterinary fees, our pets may actually be helping us reduce our medical bills, even if by a little. Before I begin, I want to address that this article is not referring to service animals, who have specific duties related to their owners.

Referring back to the Houzz survey, people surveyed also said that the second top benefit of owning a pet is that they help their owners to deal with stress. Another potential correlation with the reduction in stress is the fact that pets also help improving their owners' cardiovascular health. One study that was endorsed by organizations such as the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation found that people who own dogs have a lower risk of heart disease as well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol. For individuals who had already been diagnosed with some sort of cardiovascular illness, canines still had health benefits, helping owners to be four times more likely to be alive after a year in direct contact with a pet and to have a higher likelihood of surviving a heart attack. It has also been discovered that cats do have a similar impact to that of dogs. A separate ten year study found out that those who owned cats, either currently or beforehand, were forty percent less likely to have a heart attack and thirty percent less likely to die from other cardiovascular diseases.

To millions of people, having a pet means having a friend. Roughly nine out of ten people say that their pet is part of the family, as shown by The Harris Poll, which surveyed 2,194 adults in May 2011. This is evident through many things we let our pets do, including sleeping on the bed with us. There are many stories in which a pet, whether it be bird or a dog, has helped people mentally, often when they are going through a rough patch in life. A survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation in partnership with Cats Protection in 2011 uncovered that of the six hundred participants, some who had cats and others who did not, eighty seven percent of the individuals believed that owning a cat had a positive impact on their well-being, while another seventy six percent said that having a cat allowed them to deal with life easier. Clearly, there are both physical and mental benefits a pet can potentially provide. While I previously addressed that this article does not include service animals, many people may regularly purchase or adopt  animals with the intention of benefiting either their physical or mental health.

In addition, there are many pet specific benefits. For example, owning a dog helps certain people keep track of their physical life, but that is not to say that owning a cat cannot help its owner exercise more. There are so many more benefits that can be discovered through online searching. However, just like most things, owning a pet may not be for everyone. You know yourself best and if you already had bad experiences with pets, maybe owning one is not for you. For some people, being near animals may actually worsen their quality of life. If you are unsure, depending on your previous experiences with animals, you may potentially want to foster a pet and try out the new experience.


Cherry Lam
Headaches: Various Types and How to Manage Them

Approximately one in seven Americans report recently experiencing severe headaches. In fact, in hospital settings, headaches and head pains together are the fourth most common reason for visits to the emergency department. Even if you have never had a headache severe enough to warrant a trip to the doctor’s office or receive a formal diagnosis, it is likely that you have experienced a lesser headache at least once in your life. What is the difference? How can we best manage the ensuing pain? In this article, we will take a brief look at the different kinds of headache and proven strategies for dealing with them.

The first way headaches are classified is by whether they are “primary” or “secondary.” A primary headache is a medical condition in its own right, rather than a symptom of something else. If another condition or situation is causing the pain, it is a secondary headache. Migraines and cluster headaches belong to the primary category. The secondary classification covers many potential causes: dehydration, allergies, high blood pressure, even caffeine withdrawal. Note that a headache of either classification can be either episodic (i.e. short in duration and infrequent) or chronic in nature. In the case of a chronic primary headache, it may be necessary to start a pain management plan with your physician. With chronic secondary headaches, however, it is usually sufficient to identify and treat the underlying problem.

As the underlying causes of primary headaches are not yet fully understood, treating them requires work with a physician. Those who suffer from migraines may find that there are certain foods, stress levels, or other triggers that make it more likely they will experience an attack. Identifying these triggers and avoiding or reducing exposure to them over time is one way to make living with the condition easier, but there are also medications made specifically for treating migraines. If over-the-counter pain medications are insufficient, a physician may prescribe you a triptan to take during attacks. Triptans (e.g. sumatriptan/Imitrex, rizatriptan/Maxalt) are anti-inflammatory drugs that can provide relief whereas over-the-counter drugs may not.

Secondary headaches, on the other hand, are fairly well characterized and can often be remedied at home or with basic over-the-counter medications. Staying well-hydrated will naturally reduce the occurrence of dehydration headaches – and if you are ever unsure of the cause of a headache, drinking some water is always a good first step. In addition, because caffeine affects the circulation of blood in your brain, routine users may experience headaches if they do not get their regular “fix” when their brain expects it. Just as too much caffeine can be a bad thing, too little can also be bad if one’s brain has adjusted to a regular dosage! It is for this reason that many over-the-counter headache treatments include a small amount of caffeine.

Severe allergies can cause headaches centered around the sinuses, which can be cleared out by taking decongestants. However, a persistent sinus headache that resists such treatment could indicate a sinus infection, which may require antibiotics in addition to decongestants. Regardless of the mode of action, clearing the sinuses should provide relief from the headache.

References: - Burch, R.C. et al., 2015. The prevalence and burden of migraine and severe headache in the United States: updated statistics from government health surveillance studies.

Jonathan Arthur
Zocdoc and Anti-Kick Back Laws

With the increasing number of people seeking doctors each year, the process of finding a suitable physician and scheduling an appointment has become more and more difficult. We not only have to check for the doctor’s availability, but also whether he or she is covered by our insurance plan. On numerous occasions, we have been asked to wait over a countless number of phone calls as the individuals on the other side confirm whether or not they can accept our medical insurance. There are also numerous forms we have to fill out before finally walking in and having the doctor examine us. It was tiring procedures like this that spurred the appearance of services like Zocdoc, an online medical appointment booking service.

Zocdoc enables patients to search for doctors based on their location and insurance plan. The service displays each doctor’s availability, user ratings, and allows users to fill out any waiting forms online beforehand. These services enabled both the patient and doctor to work through the appointment process more smoothly. For the healthcare providers using the service, Zocdoc charged them an annual subscription fee, regardless of the number of patient referrals the doctor received through Zocdoc. However, as it was recently announced, this pricing model is about to change. Rather than charging doctors a flat rate fee, doctors would now be charged based on a per patient referral basis – meaning that doctors would be charged for each booking they receive through the service. For users registered with the service, ZocDoc has stated on its website that the new pricing model is intended to “fairly reflect the number of bookings each practice receives from Zocdoc,” but this has not sat well with all doctors. When Zocdoc was reached out for a comment on the situation, they replied with, “We take compliance with federal and state laws, including New York’s, seriously. For more details on our new pricing model’s compliance, please read our FAQ:” On their website, the company writes, “... we worked closely with the governor’s office and regulators at the New York State Department of Health (DOH), as its Office of Professional Misconduct (OPMC) is responsible for enforcing the laws and regulations that govern the practice of medicine by physicians and most other similarly licensed professionals… After careful review, DOH agreed that our new pricing complies with the relevant state laws and regulations governing the practice of medicine and professional licensure, including the State Education and Public Health Laws, as Zocdoc's Marketplace does not make ‘referrals’ and our new pricing model does not constitute a ‘fee-splitting’ arrangement with licensed providers, as these terms are understood under these laws.”

Physicians at Highline Orthopaedics have expressed that the new pricing model is against the the Anti-Kickback State law and that it is unethical to charge on a per appointment basis. Below is a written statement from the physicians at Highline Orthopaedics expressing why the new pricing model will not work:

To most laymen, tech developers and their platforms are mystifying. The value of technology platforms, is determined by the users that populate it (the exposure or reach they have). The greater number of users, the more valuable. One group of developers, set up in New York’s trendy SoHo neighborhood, has decided they are above Federal Law, and can swindle unknowing doctors, taking advantage of the disorganization in the healthcare industry, by charging doctors a commission for each patient they bring in. Like club promoters counting heads.

In July of 2007, the medical appointment-scheduling platform ZocDoc was a gift to both physicians and patients. As a patient, I didn’t want to log onto my insurance website (or worse, call), enter the password I definitely forgot, find my plan, scroll through a list of doctors who seem to be in no particular order, find a phone number, call it, wait on hold, maybe get an appointment, maybe not, they have an opening for two (2) weeks from today. I’ll see if other doctors are available sooner, I’ll call back, then call around, no one is. Call back the first office only to be told that that appointment was taken. Make one for a later date. Show up and find that they don’t take my insurance plan. No. With ZocDoc, you saw the physicians credentialed through your insurance plan, their specialties, schedule and availability, and reviews, all in one place, and could easily schedule and get seen right away.

Somehow, instead of advancing and expanding this platform, ZocDoc decided it was switching gears and began implementing a commission-based business model. What does that mean? Instead of charging physicians an annual fee as they were--in their so-far-successful 11 years--they will be charging PER APPOINTMENT. In the middle of last year, but confirmed last week, providers were sent an email saying ZocDoc would be changing their business model. ZocDoc would begin taking a piece of every single appointment. OpenTable has a similar policy, they charge one ($1) dollar per diner. What does ZocDoc feel is fair? $80. EIGHTY, yes.

The 1988 Ethics in Patient Referrals Act: The Stark Law and the Practice of Medicine, based entirely on the American Medical Association’s Code of Ethics, describes a violation as: “a medical referral of a patient between physician and at least one other ‘outside’ entity; such as a physician and a hospital, or two physicians not in the same group practice, where a prohibited financial, or compensation arrangement exists between them.

A commission-based business model does not work for healthcare. Would it be wrong to refer a patient to a doctor I knew was bad, simply because he paid me to refer patients to him? It is also illegal. Recently, the Seventh District Court of Appeals ruled on a case involving a physician who was referring his patients who required homecare to a specific homecare company that was paying him for the referrals. When a physician or entity is a “gatekeeper” to care and payment. Even with no formal record or contract (all payments were made in cash), Dr. Patel was fined over $30,000, 200 hours of community service, and faces eight (8) months in prison. Let’s hope ZocDoc’s executives are ready.

Originally, ZocDoc’s emphasis was on Value-based-Care (vs. Fee-for-Service model), which encouraged professionals to engage with patients, offer care that’s apposite for the individual, invest in technology, and incentivize providers for coordinated and effective care services.  It also presented a centralized way of pairing physicians with patients who needed care. They charged physicians a yearly fee of several thousands of dollars and that was that. They seemed to be expanding nicely; slow and steady wins the race. Apparently, too slow, and too steady.

After 11 years, far from their first $3 million Series A in 2008, the founders are likely tired and want to sell. Traditionally, we operate under the assumption that the more products you sell, the more money you make. And while this is technically true, more product output doesn’t always equal better long-term profitability. This is especially true for tech startups. Most (not ZocDoc) have a culture that prioritizes platform development over product innovation. Think UBER. An product is very limited in what it can do, a platform’s value is determined by the users that populate it and can easily be morphed into something else down the road. Its value is how many users it has. Every physician they alienate devalues the company more and more until you have few patients and even fewer physicians and become irrelevant.


Sherry Chow
Blood Pressure Basics

Blood pressure is one of the most crucial aspects of a clinical checkup. And rightly so– an abnormality in regular blood pressure may be indicative of larger, more serious conditions. You may recall having a black cuff wrapped around your arm during your visits to the clinic and feeling it tighten as the doctor or nurse inflated it with air. While the process may seem simple, measuring blood pressure enables doctors to screen for hypertension, assess whether an individual is suitable for a certain sport or occupation, determine whether a medical procedure should be performed on a patient, and much much more.

Most people know that blood pressure should be maintained at certain levels, but what exactly? To understand more about blood pressure, first it is essential to know what the normal range is. Normal blood pressure is generally described to be 120/80 mm Hg. In this format, 120 is the systolic pressure and 80 is the diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure refers to the pressure that the blood exerts on the walls of arteries as the heart beats, and diastolic blood pressure refers to the pressure that blood exerts against the walls of the artery between beats.

Generally, most people are concerned when blood pressure levels go beyond the normal range. According to the American Heart Association, elevated blood pressure is when systolic blood pressure is 120-129 mm and diastolic blood pressure is less than 80. However, this condition is likely to develop into high blood pressure if necessary precautions are not taken. Anything beyond the scope of high blood pressure is then known as Hypertension, which comes in two stages. Hypertension Stage 1 is systolic blood pressure of 130-139 or diastolic pressure of 80-89. At this stage, doctors often inform patients about necessary changes to their lifestyle and may consider medication. Hypertension Stage 2 is then systolic pressure of 140 or higher or diastolic pressure of 90 or higher. At this stage, doctors are likely to prescribe both blood pressure medication and lifestyle changes. In even more severe conditions, an individual enters hypertensive crisis, where systolic blood pressure is greater than 180 and diastolic pressure is greater than 90. Individuals at this stage must seek immediate medical attention. If you diagnose yourself with 180/120 blood pressure, it is recommended to wait 5 minutes then test again to see if blood pressure readings are consistently high. If so, you should contact your doctor immediately. Individuals with hypertensive crisis may be experiencing organ damage. Symptoms of this include nosebleed, headache, shortness of breath, back or chest pain, weakness, changes in vision, and difficulty speaking.

Oftentimes, high blood pressure comes with no noticeable symptoms, which is why it is often regarded as a silent killer. The damage may slowly progress in the body years before symptoms come to awareness. High blood pressure causes damage to arteries and to the heart, as excessive blood flow puts stress on these structures. Perhaps less known is that high blood pressure can cause damage to the brain, including mild cognitive impairment and dementia as a result of deprivation of blood within the brain. Furthermore, high blood pressure affects the kidneys, which are the organs necessary in excretion of fluid and waste from the body. However, these functions are dependent on functional blood vessels. As such, high blood pressure could lead to kidney failure, kidney scarring, or kidney artery aneurysm. Even the eyes are susceptible to damage, as high blood pressure may damage the small, fragile blood vessels that deliver blood to the eyes. This could cause retinopathy, choroidopathy, or optic neuropathy – more simply known as eye blood vessel damage, fluid buildup under the retina, and nerve damage. Other less known possible dangers include bone loss, sleep apnea, and sexual dysfunction. Although there may be no direct causal relationship, there are also a variety of symptoms that may be indirectly associated with high blood pressure. These include blood spots in the eyes, facial flushing, and dizziness.  

A less well known condition is hypotension, or low blood pressure. A blood pressure reading of less than 90/60 is defined to be low blood pressure. For many people, low blood pressure does not have any negative symptoms. However, individuals with abnormally low blood pressure may suffer from dizziness and fainting, and for some, it can be fatal. Major symptoms also include nausea, blurred vision, fatigue, and lack of concentration. Extreme hypotension can result in cold and clammy skin, shallow breathing, a weak and rapid pulse, and confusion. Low blood pressure can happen to anyone. However, people who take certain medications, such as alpha blockers, have a higher risk. People who also suffer from other diseases, such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, and some heart conditions may have a higher risk of low blood pressure.

However, it is important to know that there is a large deal of individual variation in blood pressure. What may be considered low blood pressure to you may be normal for another person. As a note, sudden changes in blood pressure are almost always dangerous, as it abruptly changes the amount of blood supplied to various regions of the body. As with all medical conditions, it is important to consult a medical professional and not rely on self-diagnosis. This is especially true with blood pressure complications because blood pressure has a great deal of individual variation, making it difficult to analyze one’s own blood pressure. It is important to know the warning signs so you can promptly receive necessary medical attention and be on your way to a potentially swift recovery.


Mary Yoshikawa
How do we Develop Social Skills as Children?

To live a healthy life, one must make sure that they are healthy not only physically, but mentally as well. One major component of one’s psychological health is their social skills. Social skills refer to our general ability to communicate and interact with other individuals. Such social skills develop at a young age, and are critical to our development as adolescents and to our mental health throughout our entire lives. Without proper social skills, one can end up feeling antagonized, or isolated, and may find it difficult to make friends, find spouses, or otherwise have a better quality of life. In this article, we will discuss how these social skills develop in children, and how you can ensure the proper development of such social skills in your kids.

A child typically develops their social skills throughout the first few years of their childhood. This is due to the rapid development of the child’s brain as it learns the various behaviors relevant to its life. During these years, they learn various social cues both by observing the behavior of those around them, as well as through interaction with other individuals. Said social cues include one’s ability to understand language, to express themselves, as well as to recognize and emulate various facial and bodily gestures. By learning all these social cues, the child will be able to properly interact with other individuals, and, in the future, will be able to find friends with relative ease. This also helps children learn more efficiently, as they are able to communicate more easily with their teachers.

Interaction with other children is especially critical to the development of social skills, as such interaction allows the child to practice speaking to other people. Such practices allow the child to become more comfortable with interacting with others and makes future interactions much easier. Thus, while your child is still very young, it is best to have them regularly interact with other children around their age. Ideally, one should arrange frequent playdates with other children, as this gives the child sufficient practice with interacting with others to give them good social skills.

Speaking with your children often is also another way to improve your child’s social skills, as this gives your child a larger vocabulary and gives them more experience with understanding language and expressing themselves. Adults should also commentate on what they are doing, or what is happening around them, as it helps children better understand the meaning of certain words. One can also supply children with various props, such as toys, which can help stimulate a conversation between them regarding the prop. Finally, it is important to ensure your children are able to speak to a variety of people about a variety of subjects. Having your child speak to only a few people (such as their parents) can stunt child development, as it deprives said children of experience with peer-to-peer interaction, which may make it difficult for them to make friends in the future.

Overall, it is important for a child to develop social skills while they are young, as this is when their brain is the most flexible and thus is best able to absorb the knowledge of the social cues needed to properly interact with different people. It is thus critical to make sure that your child can get the amount of social interaction they need to develop these skills. By ensuring that your child frequently interacts with others, both with their parents and with other children, you can give your child excellent social skills which will make them more comfortable interacting with others in the future.


“FPG MTBT.” 10 Ways to Promote the Language and Communication Skills of Infants and Toddlers | FPG MTBT,

The Importance of Communication Skills in Young Children.

CSEFEL: Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning,

George Galanis
How Genetics Affects Pain Tolerance

It is said that nobody experiences pain the same way. To some, a light punch in the shoulder can feel like almost nothing. To others, such a punch may sting for the rest of the day. For this reason, pain is very difficult to quantify, as there is no objective method for measuring pain (and for that matter, pain tolerance). This is why, when a doctor is assessing the amount of pain their patient is in, they will often ask the patient to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 10, or use a similar scale which allows the patient to subjectively rank their discomfort. But one must wonder: why is it that some people can tolerate more pain than others? The answer may lie in their genetics.

The fundamental purpose of pain is to let your body know when something is wrong. It helps prevent you from seriously injuring your body, or further damaging any injured body part. The sensation of pain is caused by a series of neural pathways located throughout the peripheral nervous system, designed to detect damage to nearby tissue and send signals to the brain in response to such damage. Most forms of pain are detected by neurons located throughout the skin, muscle, and viscera of the body. These neurons have specialized nerve receptors designed to translate a variety of “noxious stimuli” (i.e. pain) into electrical signals, which are then sent to the brain. While most of these receptors are polymodal (meaning they can detect most forms of pain), some are designed only to detect one “type” of pain. For instance, there are nerve receptors designed chiefly to detect pain caused by heat, pain caused by cold, pain caused by tissue damage, etc. Once these nerve receptors have been stimulated, the damage will be transmitted to the brain via the spine through a series of ion channels. Unlike other senses, such as vision or hearing, pain does not have a specific region in the brain that is meant to process it. Rather, pain is processed via a “pain matrix,” a complex network of neural pathways located throughout the brain. These different biological process all combine to generate the sensation of pain.

Because pain is a very complicated sensation, with many different parts of the body ultimately contributing to the sensation, transmission, and processing of the pain, there are naturally many different genes whose presence (or lack thereof) can significantly alter the way one experiences pain. The primary parts of the body responsible for pain detection include nerve receptors which detect pain, the neural pathways which transmit pain, and the neurons within the pain matrix which process the discomfort. Thus, the genes responsible for the formation and maintenance of these parts of the body will be the genes which have the greatest effect on one’s pain tolerance. For example, the gene TRPV4 plays a significant role in the sensation of mechanical pain (pain felt from a force striking the body). A mutation that prevents this gene from being expressed would thus cause someone to feel significantly less mechanical pain than someone without the mutation. Because of the complexity involved in generating pain, there are over 50 different genes which affect pain tolerance, the mutation of any of which can result in a significant reduction in pain sensation.

There are many other factors which affect one’s pain tolerance. For instance, studies have shown that women tend to feel less pain than men, due to their higher levels of estrogen (which acts as a natural painkiller in the body). Psychology may also factor into how one processes pain. In one study, where all participants stuck their hands in an ice bucket until the pain overwhelmed them, one group was asked to imagine fantasies of a sexual nature while doing so, while another was asked to imagine fantasies of a neutral nature, and another was given no instructions. It was found that the positive emotions generated from the sexual fantasies resulted in a significantly higher tolerance to pain than those who did not experience such emotions. This supports the idea that one’s emotional state can affect the way they feel pain.

Ultimately, pain is a complex sensation. The number of different factors which can affect pain tolerance, genetic or otherwise, is too large to list in this article. Regardless, we are always looking for new, better ways to reduce pain, both chronic and acute. The only way we can do this is to understand the mechanisms through which pain emerges. Only then can we truly begin to treat our patients.                                                                                                                         


Foulkes , Tom, and John N Wood . “Pain Genes.”,;jsessionid=A05064094B968054D8630B2A92E1D823?doi=  

“Why Does Pain Tolerance Differ Among People?” The Role of Sisterhood in the Goblin Market | Serendip Studio,

“Staten Island University Hospital Pain Management Education Tool.”, Staten Island University Hospital,

George Galanis
What Kills It Also Makes It Stronger

By Gregory Belizaire

Humans and bacteria have had a complex relationship throughout history. Some bacteria are vital to a person’s health and digestive processes, while others may wreak havoc upon that same individual’s internal organs. But when Alexander Fleming observed a petri dish contaminated with the fungus Penicillin notatum, the evolutionary pendulum took a massive swing in favor of mankind. Antibiotics have proven to be incredibly effective at disrupting the growth and manifestation of many forms of bacteria, essentially eliminating many threats that they once posed. However, as evolutionary theory suggests, all species are in a transient state, and there is evidence that the pressures induced by modern medicine may push bacteria to a form that is no longer vulnerable to the methods previously used to eliminate them.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “When infections can no longer be treated by first-line antibiotics, more expensive medicines must be used.” An increase in treatment cost is often an overlooked consequence of antibiotic failure. The price of antibiotics have aided in their accessibility and availability to people in all sorts of medical emergencies. If they become ineffective however, other methods that may be needed to protect against infection would likely be more difficult to implement and more costly to obtain.

In addition to the financial costs of new antibacterial approaches are the added physical costs of care in general. As the WHO states, “Organ transplantations, chemotherapy and surgeries such as caesarean sections become much more dangerous without effective antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections” (“Antibiotic Resistance”). Although Fleming’s miraculous error was just a century ago, the use of antibiotics since then has been widespread. From wisdom teeth removal to C-sections, medical procedures rely on the application of antibiotics to defend against potentially life-threatening bacterial infections.

The mechanism behind the growing antibiotic resistance is natural, but is exasperated by its constant usage. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “Overuse and misuse of antibiotics allows the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Every time a person takes antibiotics, sensitive bacteria (bacteria that antibiotics can still attack) are killed, but resistant bacteria are left to grow and multiply” (“Antibiotic Resistance Questions and Answers”). When antibiotics are used to kill bacteria, it does not necessarily destroy all traces of the population. The bacteria that may survive can multiply and form a new population that the antibiotic is no longer effective against. This can leave people unknowingly yet extremely vulnerable to this newly resistant form of bacteria. In the words of an article by the Microbiology Society, “[M]odern medicine would be set back decades…and many of the more complex surgeries doctors now perform may not be possible” (“What are Antibiotics”).

While it is certainly in the best interest of human beings to scale back the frequent prescription and usage of antibiotics, all hope is not necessarily lost. Modern medicine is constantly making strides towards better methods of improving the health and quality of life for individuals. And while many of these efforts are intentional, perhaps we are all just another Fleming-like accident away from discovering an entirely new way to combat our bacterial nemeses.


“Antibiotic Resistance.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 5 Feb. 2018,

“Antibiotic Resistance Questions and Answers.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 May 2018, .

“What Are Antibiotics And How Do They Work.” Microbiology Society, Microbiology Society, 2018,

Gregory Belizaire
How to Care for Family Members with Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is one of the more well known progressive diseases and it is unfortunately the most common type of dementia. It is typically defined by characteristic problems in memory and cognition, which often leads to changes in behavior. Having a family member who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can be tragic and very difficult to accept. Taking care of a family member with Alzheimer’s is also very difficult, especially in the later stages when everyday tasks become increasingly onerous for the person. An individual with Alzheimer’s has such a large effect on his or her family members that primary caregivers are often referred to as “invisible patients” themselves.

Taking care of family members with Alzheimer’s requires a lot of patience, flexibility, and the understanding that “love” takes a much more active role in your new relationship. There are some things to keep in mind that would help both you and your loved one with Alzheimer’s maintain a good relationship. However, it is important to remember that there is no “perfect way” to interact with someone with Alzheimer’s, and that caregiving techniques work differently for different people.

People with Alzheimer’s can become frustrated when they can no longer perform actions that they used to be able to do with ease. To help your loved one to have less agitation, you should set yourself on a constant schedule that you follow every day. For example, set a specific time in the day when you help them take a bath or eat dinner together. By setting up a routine, it becomes easier for individuals with Alzheimer’s to feel more calm and relaxed. Another key point is to be patient. Individuals with Alzheimer’s often take more time doing everyday tasks, and caregivers should take that into account when planning their schedules so they don’t have to rush their loved ones.

Also important is to allow your loved one to do things by themselves as much as physically possible. Some medical research indicate that keeping your mind active and engaged helps to combat the progression of dementia and decline in cognitive skills. This means that it is good for people with Alzheimer’s to be mentally engaged. This can mean everyday tasks, like cooking dinner together with them, cleaning the house, or doing laundry. Arts and crafts also are a great way for people with dementia to spend their time, as they require using their brains and hands, which can help to calm tremors and fidgeting. There have been cases in which withdrawn patients start talking with others after taking up knitting, making them feel more positive and happy.

However, such tasks may become more arduous as dementia progresses into its later stages. In these times, caregivers must take a more active role in the lives of their loved ones. This could include removing dangerous objects from their reach, such as knives and car keys, and using GPS or home monitoring apps to ensure that he or she is doing well while the caregiver is away. It comes increasingly important for caregivers to be patient. This means making your sentences shorter and slower, and giving them more time to do tasks. It also means establishing limitations -- for example, giving them two shirts to choose from rather than a full wardrobe, or minimizing distractions by turning off the radio when you are having a conversation with them so it is easier for them to focus.

Caregivers should never be afraid to ask for help. Although some people are resistant because it feels like they are giving up on them, it is important to know that caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s in a suboptimal manner is detrimental, both for the caretaker and the patient. Individuals with Alzheimer’s are in good hands in a treatment facility, where workers are trained professionally to treat individuals such as your loved one. A hired nurse is a good option if caregivers need a few hours of assistance. Hospitals and senior homes are a more long-term solution. It is crucial to understand your own limitations as a caretaker, and that to maintain a healthy relationship with your loved one, you may need professional help. In addition, caregivers must realize that they deserve a happy life as well. Therefore, they should also prioritize their own physical and mental well-being, as pessimistic as that may sound. In doing so, they will be able to provide better care for their loved ones.

Caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s is very difficult. It requires patience, effort, and a lot of devotion. Caregivers should never be afraid to ask for help and reach out if they feel they cannot take care of their loved ones by themselves. If not, they may be hurting both themselves and the ones they are trying to care for.


Mary Yoshikawa
Allergic Reactions

Whenever we fill out medical forms, it is common to see a question asking if we have any allergies. Allergies can range in severity, as not everyone has the exact same response to a particular substance. No matter so, they are still important to be aware of. Even if you lack such a condition, it is probable that you know someone who has them. Common allergies include pollen, animal dander, nuts, eggs, fish, penicillin, and the list goes on. In fact, ninety percent of food allergies are composed of these eight foods-- milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Since these are foods that may be rather common in our diets, they are definitely worth paying attention to.

Before looking into the symptoms of allergies, it is worth noting that being allergic and being intolerant to foods are quite different. While they share similar symptoms such as stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea, allergies are generally more serious and may be life-threatening, while intolerance is not. In addition, food intolerance may occur only if the food is consumed in a large amount or is constantly being consumed. The major factor differentiating the two comes down to the reason why allergic reactions occur. Allergies take place when one’s immune system recognizes these allergens as harmful and foreign, causing what we refer to as an allergic reaction in attempts to fight against this substance. On the other hand, intolerance refers to a food that causes irritation to the stomach or increases difficulty in digesting it. A typical example is lactose intolerance, which is when a person is lacking the lactase enzyme that facilitates the breakdown of lactose.

The symptoms for allergic reactions are on a spectrum, ranging from mild to severe. Mild symptoms include hives, a rash, being itchy, nasal congestion, a scratchy throat and watery eyes. More severe symptoms include abdominal cramping and pain, diarrhea, difficulty swallowing or breathing, nausesa, tightness in the chest, and swelling of the face, eyes, and tongue. Most severe of all is anaphylaxis, in which the symptoms include a rash, low pulse, and shock. To combat anaphylactic shock, epinephrine is a commonly used solution to minimize the reaction. In the worse case, blood pressure will immediately drop and airways will narrow, leading to fatal complications and potentially death. Allergies can cause a wide range of effects on the human body, and therefore for those with allergies, it is important to note how extreme reactions can potentially be. This is particularly crucial as allergic reactions can become more severe over time, especially if there is increased contact with the allergen.

There are three methods that can be used to diagnose allergies-- skin tests, challenge (elimination) tests, and blood tests. Skin tests involve applying a small amount of the suspected allergen on the skin, and observing that area. The allergen can be applied as a patch test (taped to skin), skin prick test (pricked into skin), or intradermal test (injected under the skin). Skin tests are mainly used for diagnosing allergies to foods, pollen, penicillin, and venom. Challenge tests are more limited in that they are used to diagnose food allergies, since it requires one to remove the suspected food from one’s diet for a few weeks. After this test period, one should consume the food again and see if there are any changes. Lastly, blood tests are used to check if there are antibodies in the blood that are against a certain allergen. Blood testing is used when a skin test has proved to not be helpful or is not possible.

While we can not completely get rid of our allergies, there are over-the-counter medications available for those with mild reactions, such as Benadryl, Allegra, and Claritin. For those with more severe reactions, it would be best to avoid these allergens, and if necessary, carry an EpiPen. Consultation with a doctor may be necessary if the reactions are severe and life-threatening. Allergies are one of the most prevalent conditions in society and therefore, it does not hurt to understand them better, especially if you or a loved one has one.


Stephanie Chan
Has Evolution Set Us Up For Chronic Pain?

It is hard to overstate the toll that lower back pain takes on affected individuals and the communities in which they live. Most of us have experienced some sort of back pain, no matter the level of intensity. We may have woken up with our backs feeling awkward or stood up after sitting for too long with our backs needing a good stretch. However, some of us may experience more serious back pains. According to the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Survey, such pain, whether chronic or acute, is one of the ten most common conditions that leads to disability. Sixty to seventy percent of people living in industrialized nations will experience lower back pain at least once in their life, and the prevalence increases with age as intervertebral discs deteriorate over time. Though some incidences of lower back pain have an obvious source (e.g. traumatic injury), not all cases are so easily explained. Some recent studies, however, present an interesting potential culprit: evolution. In the transition to walking on two legs, has evolution set us up for chronic pain?

Our non-human primate relatives suffer from spinal diseases at a much lower rate than we do, prompting researchers to look into a possible reason. One prominent hypothesis that was proposed is that the increased stress placed on our vertebrae by our bipedal motion is to blame. To test this idea, researchers examined vertebrae from humans (bipeds), chimpanzees (knuckle-walking quadrupeds), and orangutans (primates that use all four legs to climb). Significant structural differences were present when comparing the three, indicating that the shape of vertebrae and methods of locomotion are related. Additionally, the researchers found that human vertebrae with visible spinal disease symptoms were closer in shape to chimpanzee vertebrae than healthy human vertebrae were. This suggests that there may be a correlation between vertebrae shape and susceptibility to spinal disease – if so, it could explain the discrepancy between occurrence in non-human primates and humans.

Yet another factor to blame beyond just our means of walking and the shape of our vertebrae is our modern lifestyle. In the industrialized societies where lower back pain is so prominent, we have access to amenities and resources our hunter-gatherer ancestors could never have imagined. We sit in chairs or on couches, often for hours at a time. We have comfortable beds to lay on when we sleep. When it comes time to acquire food, we rarely have to travel far and almost never have to hunt down prey to fill our stomachs. All of these factors encourage a more sedentary lifestyle, which lead to weaker bodies overall but especially weaker backs. This, combined with the increased stress that sitting places on our spines, could explain our increased susceptibility to lower back pain. Hunter-gatherers, on the other hand, were frequently engaging in moderate exercise and rarely sat for extended periods of time. That behavioral sweet spot was very healthy for the human spine, and it was in that environment that our bodies evolved for thousands of years.

But that environment, of course, is not the environment in which we live today. Even current-day subsistence farmers living outside of industrialized regions engage in more repetitive, heavy-load-bearing activities that are more harmful than helpful to the lower back. This situation facing the modern human back has been described as a “mismatch disease,” where our evolutionary adaptations fail to match the needs of our modern society.

When considering all of this, it may seem that we have been dealt a bad hand by evolution. However, it is important to note that our evolutionary history merely puts us at risk for developing lower back pain – it does not definitively cause it or even guarantee it. Indeed, by getting adequate exercise, one can improve flexibility, mobility, and overall strength for a healthier, less painful back.


Jonathan Arthur
Are There Negative Effects of Heavy Weight Lifting?

By Michelle Yip

If you watch videos online, you may have come across some that give us an inside look into the world of weight lifting, or you may simply be into the sport yourself. Some of the videos even depict the strength of such athletes by showing them having the ability to pull small airplanes by their waist. Weight lifting has been one of the most popular competitive and non-competitive sports out there. There are various famous faces of athletes who are recognized for their high levels of muscle mass and are world champions for their abilities to train and lift heavy weights. It is well known that completing about thirty minutes of aerobic exercise a day with balanced meals is vital for a well-rounded lifestyle. Videos showing the lifestyle of a heavy weight lifter often depict extremely high levels of protein and calorie in-take, along with physical stress and excursion to the body to attain new highs on the body. So what does this stress do to the body long term? Can over-exercising, such as body building, lead to medical problems later in life? If something such as overeating can lead to diabetes and high blood pressure, what can over-exercising do?

As an example, Arnold Schwarzenegger is famous for his bodybuilding career, in addition to his filmography and his political career. In his bodybuilding career, he has won many first places and several second places. He was a dedicated athlete who was passionate to sculpt his body, to say the least. That being said, his day to day life was focused on weight training and eating. According to an interview given to Schwarzenegger, the athlete trained twice a day, the first session being very early in the morning before the sun rose (typically 7am.). Many times, he would also train at the Muscle Beach during this time, an outdoor gym by the beach that allowed him to tan at the same time he trained. He had a few training partners and friends, including Franco Columbu. Those two would reminisce about how they ate more than three meals a day, where each meal contained everything you can think of. A typical person’s plate would show one meat or poultry group whereas, their plates contained multiple meat or poultry groups. Schwarzenegger trained again at the end of the day, aiming for improvement for his competitions.

Evidently, the regimen of a bodybuilder involves a lot of strain. So what is the biology behind bodybuilding? According the Built Lean, a website dedicated to bodybuilding, the three components to muscle growth include muscle tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress. Muscle tension refers to increasing efforts and mass over time to build the ability and stamina of the muscle. Muscle damage refers to lactic acid production, inflammation due to excursions, and the release of what is known as “satellite cells.” Such cells allow for regeneration and regulation of muscles and muscle groups. Finally, metabolic stress refers to the response of the body and its cells to cell stress and an excess level of excursion. Although this sounds detrimental and overall daunting, it is not. All three are experienced by everyone. For example, a person who typically runs two miles a day will undergo muscle tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress if they decide to run three or four miles. A person who typically bench presses ninety pounds will undergo all three if they begin to bench press a hundred pounds. Any increase, even the slightest, will lead to such a result.

With everything that is both necessary and unnecessary in life, the recommendation is moderation. We eat in moderation, we sleep in moderation, we take leisure (or we should) in moderation. This ideology goes the same with exercise. An article written by Darwinian Medicine, a site that strives for using and understanding genetics to better health and medicine, suggests that body building habits can cause “suboptimal gene expression.” Many body builders rely on eating very large amounts of food along with using supplements such as protein to help their work in training. The writer suggests that similar to how the body has a limit for everything, the body also has a limit to how much exercise it can handle and what is considered actually healthy. Placing large amounts of strain onto the body can lead to damage to the systems of the body including immunity and cardiovascular. The writer stems this belief based on studies and conclusions done on stress on the body along with understanding evolution. The diet and habits are also considered extremely different when compared to early people. Nomadic humans underwent long periods of time with constant exercise (running, walking, hunting, building, etc.) but such physical labor is not comparable to what a body builder does. There are also studies that support mental health and bodybuilding. A person can become obsessed with body image and develop a bad body image over time.

Body building has been a largely enjoyed competition filled field that both the consumers and competitors enjoy. Famous people such as Arnold Schwarzenegger have dedicated a majority of their lives to bodybuilding and entering competitions. Even today, social media is full of body builders. The Instagram Explore Page will contain a few bodybuilding users showing off their abilities. Although this lifestyle is full of excruciating hard work, such work may not be exactly healthy to the body. An excess intake of a certain substance will lead to negative result in the end. For example, an excessive intake of a high fat diet can lead to high cholesterol later in life and even elevated risks to strokes and heart attacks. An excessive intake of sugar can lead to diabetes later in life along with other health hazards. A regular diet is in need of sugar and fats, but the important part of bringing such macromolecules into the body is in moderation. This idea can be applied to exercise. A healthy lifestyle incorporates exercise but over-exercising leads to high levels of stress to the body. In the end, the research behind bodybuilding is limited. But it is seen that over stress to the body has the potential to lead to damage to the systems of the body. In addition, physical training aside, the abnormal intake of factory made protein supplements and other supplements to enhance results can also cause excessive strain on the body.


A Day In Arnold's Life: The Perfect Routine To Build The Perfect Body. (2018). Retrieved 24 March 2018, from

Leyva, J. (2018). How Do Muscles Grow? The Science Of Muscle Growth. BuiltLean. Retrieved 24 March 2018, from

Yin, H., Price, F., & Rudnicki, M. (2013). Satellite Cells and the Muscle Stem Cell Niche. Physiological Reviews, 93(1), 23-67.

Cherry Lam
Can Your Diet Affect the Way You Feel Pain?

It is no secret that the foods we eat directly affect our health. As we are almost three weeks into the new year, we can look back at some of the resolutions that we have made. One of the most common resolutions that people make is changing the way that they eat. Sometimes we do this because we wish to lose weight, other times we simply just want to become healthier. Either way, there are times in which we are enticed by fad diets. Fad diets are those in which are popular for a short period of time and often promote a certain gimmick, with one example being the promise of losing weight very quickly. Examples include celery juicing, which is what it sounds like, or the atkins diet, which promotes a low carbohydrate way of eating. Why fad diets are popular is understandable, as most of us want the best possible results in the shortest amount of time.

Generally, the main complaints with fad diets are that they are difficult to follow for long periods of time, that the weight you do lose may easily be gained again, or that they are simply not healthy and do not include all the essential nutrients we need. Therefore, it may not be wise to follow them. Rather than that, knowing simply the correct foods as well as creating proper health habits may be good enough. Some foods are better for certain situations. The example that we will write about is what foods to eat to minimize inflammation. While medications are often prescribed to prevent inflammation, it is also possible to reduce it by adjusting your diet. By eating certain foods, while avoiding others, you can potentially strengthen your body’s immune system.

Carbohydrates are important for the body, as they provide energy which the body needs to function. They are also important for your digestive system, as they feed the bacteria which live inside of it. The human digestive system contains many beneficial bacteria, collectively called “gut fauna,” which are not only vital to the process of digestion (they break down food our stomachs cannot), but also help bolster our immune system by outcompeting harmful bacteria. Thus, in order to prevent inflammation, you have to not only feed yourself, but the bacteria inside of your gut. The best way to consume carbohydrates is through whole grain, nuts, and legumes. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also an excellent source of carbohydrates, as they also provide vital nutrients which are not  found in normal grains. Fruits and leafy greens, in particular, contain antioxidants and polyphenols, substances which help prevent inflammation.

Proteins perform many functions within your body, though they are especially important for the maintenance of muscle tissue. The best sources of protein for your diet are those found in seafood. Seafood, particularly from cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, herring), will not only provide protein for your diet, but are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These substances metabolize into compounds vital for various bodily functions, such as blood clotting and the contraction of blood vessels. While cold water seafood is the best protein source for reducing inflammation, other light meats, such as poultry, are also acceptable substitutes.

Lipids, commonly known as fats, help the body store energy and produce certain hormones. While the human body does not need as much fat as it does carbohydrates and proteins, it still needs a regular source of fat. It is best for one to consume unsaturated fats. There are two types of unsaturated fat: monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat. The best sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, avocados, peanut oil, and most nuts. Polyunsaturated fats, including the healthy omega-3 fatty acid, can be sourced from cold water fish, as well as walnuts, flaxseed, and canola oil. Sources of fat which should be avoided include margarine, shortening, lard, and any fried food. Such foods often contain saturated fats and trans-fats, which contribute significantly to the development of heart diseases and often cause excess inflammation.

By following this dietary advice, once can potentially reduce or even prevent excess inflammation in their body, reducing the chronic pain which they feel as a result. In addition to eating right, exercise is also important. Therefore, rather than following fad diets, consuming the correct foods that are best for the results that you want may be the way to go. You should also make sure to continue to commit to eating healthy for longer periods of time.


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  2. “Fighting Inflammation with Food.” UW News,

  3. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.” Obesity Prevention Source, 4 June 2018,

  4. Harvard Health Publishing. “The Truth about Fats: the Good, the Bad, and the in-between - Harvard Health.” Harvard Health Blog,




George Galanis