Disease

When Doctors Literally “Blew Smoke Up Your Arse”

smoke-enema-kit

When someone is “blowing smoke up your arse” today, it is a figure of speech that means that one person is complimenting another, insincerely most of the time, in order to inflate the ego of the individual being flattered.

Back in the late 1700s, however, doctors literally blew smoke up people’s rectums. Believe it or not, it was a general mainstream medical procedure used to, among many other things, resuscitate people who were otherwise presumed dead. In fact, it was such a commonly used resuscitation method for drowning victims particularly, that the equipment used in this procedure was hung alongside certain major waterways, such as along the River Thames (equipment courtesy of the Royal Humane Society). People frequenting waterways were expected to know the location of this equipment similar to modern times concerning the location of defibrillators.

Smoke was blown up the rectum by inserting a tube. This tube was connected to a fumigator and a bellows which when compressed forced smoke into the rectum. Sometimes a more direct route to the lungs was taken by forcing the smoke into the nose and mouth, but most physicians felt the rectal method was more effective. The nicotine in the tobacco was thought to stimulate the heart to beat stronger and faster, thus encouraging respiration. The smoke was also thought to warm the victim and dry out the person’s insides, removing excessive moisture.

So how did this all get started? The Native Americans were known to have used tobacco in a variety of ways, including treating various medical ailments, and the European doctors soon picked up on this and began advocating it for treatments for everything from headaches to cancer.

Tobacco_smoke_enema

In 1745, Richard Mead was among the first known Westerners to suggest that administering tobacco via an enema was an effective way to resuscitate drowning victims.

By 1774, Doctors William Hawes and Thomas Cogan, who practiced medicine in London, formed The Institution for Affording Immediate Relief to Persons Apparently Dead From Drowning. This group later became the Royal Humane Society. Back in the 18th century, the society promoted the resuscitation of drowning people by paying four guineas (about £450 today by purchasing power, or $756) to anyone who was able to successfully revive a drowning victim.

Volunteers within the society soon began using the latest and greatest method of reviving such half-drowned individuals, via tobacco smoke enemas. Artificial respiration was used if the tobacco enema did not successfully revive them. In order that people could easily remember what to do in these cases, in 1774 Dr. Houlston published a helpful little rhyme:

Tobacco…

These killer whales exhale sickening germs

killer whales
killer whales

People usually try to give killer whales their space. Getting close to one’s blowhole is especially risky. But Canadian and America scientists got that close — and for a good reason. “We wanted to know what kind of fungi and bacteria they had in their breath,” explains Stephen Raverty, who led the study. His team turned up germs, or microbes, that might cause disease. What they learned may help researchers protect these animals, which are endangered (at risk of extinction).

Raverty is a veterinary pathologist. That’s a scientist who studies animal diseases. He works for Canada’s Ministry of Agriculture in Vancouver, British Columbia. He and his team studied a population of endangered killer whales, or orcas. These are the biggest dolphins on Earth. The group they studied lives off of the West Coast of North America. Scientists call this population the southern resident killer whales. They migrate between California and British Columbia, depending on the season.

As of December 2016, there were only 78 whales left in this group. That’s down from 98, two decades earlier. Scientists hope to keep the population from shrinking even more. Checking the whales’ breath can give researchers a peak into the animals’ health.

The whales hold their breath while diving. When they surface, they exhale in a big burst from their blowholes. Afterward, they inhale fresh air.

The researchers used small motorboats to get within about 6 meters (20 feet) of the whales. By coming at them from the side or back, they didn’t get in the animals’ way or frighten them. When they were close enough, the researchers waved a 5.5-meter pole over a whale’s blowhole as it surfaced.

The pole had five petri dishes attached to it. When researchers twisted the pole’s handle one way, the lids on the petri dishes opened. This allowed them to catch liquid droplets and exhaled breath. When the scientists twisted the pole’s handle the other way, the lids closed again.

droplet collection
droplet collection

The team filled the petri dishes with the exhaled breath from 12 killer whales. In some cases, breaths from the same whale were sampled more than once between 2006 and 2009.

“The whales were very cooperative,” says Raverty. “There was no evidence we scared them.” Still, it took the researchers four years to…

Many of Us Suffer from Mental Disorders but Most Choose to Ignore Them

As time goes on, discussing mental health and the disorders so many of us face has become less and less taboo. With shows like ’13 Reasons Why,’ we seem to all be open to discussion suicide and bullying far more often than we would have just a few years ago.

But the ability to discuss it more freely does not mean mental health is improving. In fact, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience mental health, and as many as 6.9% of adults in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode last year. Of these, only about 41% of adults in the U.S. received mental health services during that time.1 But why? It seems like media is more willing to talk about things like bipolar disorder and depression, but despite it being all around us, many are choosing to just ignore their problems.

Mental health matters and we should face it.

We’ve all seen the commercials about depression. The scene usually involves an attractive young/middle-aged woman lying on her couch or longingly staring out the window. We hear the voice-over comment on how living with depression can make you feel like a prisoner. You don’t want to engage with your friends or family anymore. In fact, you sometimes don’t even want to get out of bed. For some people, that commercial is an accurate representation of their life. But for others, their depression may not look that way. In fact, they may only feel sad or mildly moody a few times a week. To them, that’s their normal. Perhaps that’s why it can be difficult to know you should seek help.

Unfortunately, choosing to do nothing, or failing to recognize you need to do something at all, can have heartbreaking consequences. More than 90% of children who commit suicide were living with untreated mental health issues. More so, those living with mental illness are more likely to develop chronic medical conditions and even die 25 years earlier than others.

While it can sometimes feel embarrassing to seek help for something you may not truly understand, it is never embarrassing to want to help yourself and be healthy. So if you’re thinking you may have a problem, know you aren’t along, and know what to look for.

There are numerous types of mental health disorders. The following lists out the most common ones and summarizes what they are:2

1. Social or general anxiety disorders

People who suffer from these disorders respond to situations with fear and panic attacks. For anxiety sufferers, something as normal as walking out their front door can lead to complete fear and an emotional breakdown. This disorder affects about 1.5% of the U.S. population of those aged 18 and up.3

2. Depression, bipolar and cyclothymic

These are classified as mood disorders, and they typically involve intense feelings of sadness or periods of being super happy followed by being super sad. While anyone undergoing stress can experience mood swings, those with diagnosed mood disorders tend to fluctuate more frequently and intensely. Mood disorders affect almost 10% of the U.S. adult population.4

3. Psychotic episodes such as hallucinations and delusions

Psychotic disorders involve distorted awareness. People who live with psychotic disorders often see things or hear things that are not real. Schizophrenia is a common example of a psychotic episode. 4% of the U.S. adult population has been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder.

4. Anorexia, binge eating and bulimia

While many young girls (and some boys) may think eating disorders are…

5 Simple Tips to Reduce Stress and Stop Anxiety Quickly

Anxiety is a medical condition and people of all ages face this challenge of facing their unknown fears and still move ahead in life.1 It is a tough challenge which often require medical intervention and lifestyle changes to achieve a balance in our personality so that we remain under control in situations which are stressful and unknown to us.

Small changes can actually help to overcome this situation and make it easier to deal with the challenges if one is ready and prepared.

But how to ease anxiety? Here are some important tips for overcoming anxiety easily:

Completing your to do list

Stress and anxiety often occurs when we fail to accomplish what we plan. Office pressure, family commitments, social pressure and life in general puts many things on our to-do lists to complete during the day.

Failing to complete all of them on time creates stress and anxiety.

Try to limit your to do list to 4 or 5 items and if you are unable to do so, make sure you at least time bucket them and get at least 25% to 40% off your list.

It will not only relieve your stress and anxiety but would also allow you to feel empowered and accomplished.

Complete the tasks slowly instead of rushing towards them. Doing things at slow pace would also help you…

Fall Asleep and Wake Up Refreshed On This High-Tech Pillow

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Nutrition, physical activity and sleep are the cornerstones of health. Yet, sleep seems to be the most overlooked, with electronic devices, light pollution, stress, busy schedules, and Netflix all standing in the way. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention an estimated 50-70 million US adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder, and more than a third of adults are getting less than the recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep. People with sleep insufficiency are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity.

Sleep is my greatest enemy.

— Netflix US (@netflix) April 17, 2017

To tackle some of the causes for the reduced quantity and quality of our sleep, a team of LA designers and engineers has created the Sunrise Pillow, a pillow that helps you fall asleep and wake up in the most optimal and natural way.

As the creators of the pillow explain, we have stopped falling asleep and waking up naturally. At night, we stay up late even if we are tired, with blue light beaming from our devices and hindering the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep. In the morning, alarm clocks wake us up abruptly regardless of our sleep cycle and if daylight doesn’t enter our rooms our bodies don’t receive the necessary signals to stop producing melatonin. And during the night, of course, there are…

The Most Debilitating Disease in the World Isn’t Just in Your Head

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a new condition as the leading cause of of poor health and disability around the world, which has seen an 18% spike in diagnoses over the past few years. A condition that most of us have encountered in our lives either through personal experience or the difficulties of a friend or loved one. And, in a new twist, this condition is a mental disorder.

Major Depressive Disorder, more commonly known as depression now affects more than 300 million people across the globe, causing a lack of self-esteem, the inability to enjoy activities that previously brought pleasure, low energy, pain, and in severe cases delusion and hallucination. Between 2-7% of individuals with depression will go on to commit suicide.

Depression infographic by Mental Health Association of AMerica
Infographic by Mental Health America.

While one might suppose this condition would be equal opportunity, rates of occurrence are higher in developed nations than in the developing world, whether or not this is a situation of higher rates of detection or the actual existence of many more cases overall is currently unknown. It has been shown that cases are more common…

Teen Designs Breast Cancer Detection Bra After Almost Losing Mom To The Disease

After nearly losing his mother to breast cancer, a Mexican teen decided to invent something to help women detect the disease during its early stages.

“When I was 13 years old, my mother was diagnosed for the second time with breast cancer,” Julián Ríos Cantú said in a company video for his new invention. “The tumor went from having the dimensions of a grain of rice to that of a golf ball in less than six months. The diagnosis came too late and my mother lost both of her breasts and, almost, her life.”

This experienced pushed the now 18-year-old entrepreneur to design Eva, an auto-exploration bra that helps women detect breast cancer early on. Ríos Cantú is currently the CEO and co-founder of Higia Technologies, a company he established with three close friends when he was 17.

On Saturday, the…

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

A study 1 published in Depression and Anxiety found that social media users are more likely to be depressed. This was just one of the huge number of studies linking social media and depression2 . But why exactly do platforms like Facebook and Instagram make people so unhappy? Well, we don’t know yet for sure, but there are some explanations.

Social Media Could Lead to Depression

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects how you think, feel, and behave. Social media may lead to depression in predisposed individuals or make existing symptoms of depression3 worse explains4 the study above’s senior author Dr. Brian Primack. So, the problem may not be in social media per se, but how we use it.

Signs You’re Suffering From “Social Media Depression”

If you feel like social media is having a negative impact on your mood, then you may be suffering from “social media depression.” Look for symptoms like:

• low self-esteem,

• negative self-talk,

• a low mood,

• irritability,

• a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed,

• and social withdrawal.

If you’ve had these symptoms for more than two weeks and if this is how you feel most of the time, then you are likely depressed. Although “social media depression “is not a term recognized in the medical setting, social media depression seems to be a real phenomenon affecting around 50% of social media users. As explained in a review study5 published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, if a person has a certain predisposition to depression and other mental disorders, social media use may only worsen their mental health.

Social Media Could Crush Self-Esteem

We know that social media and depression are in some way linked, but why is this so? Well, according to Igor Pantic, MD, Ph.D.6, social media use skews your perception about other people’s lives and traits. To explain this further, most people like to portray an idealized image of their lives, personal traits, and appearance on sites like Facebook and Instagram. If you confuse this idealized image with reality, you may be under the false impression that everyone is better than you which can crush your self-esteem and lead to depression. This is especially…

Why People Who Lie All the Times Are Mentally Sick

I went to college with a guy who was always saying things that seemed untruthful. He didn’t say anything remarkable – it wasn’t like he was talking about the time he went unicorn hunting or something, but he just didn’t seem sincere. There were even times I was almost certain he was recycling his roommate’s stories. It was incredibly frustrating for me and anyone who held a discussion with him, because there was a constant feeling of needing to chase down the truth to separate it from the fabrication. It was exhausting!

There’s a good chance you’ve met someone like that, too. I don’t know about you, but I finally went out of my way to avoid that person in order to get out of having to speak to him; I just didn’t have the energy to smile and nod and pretend he didn’t seem like a complete pathological liar. But I always wondered if it exhausted him, too.

Pathological liars lie for the sake of lying.

Pathological lying is a medical condition in which a person lies all the time, seemingly for no reason at all.1 This is different from someone who lies from time to time; that’s called being human. Even clinicians have to rule out other things, like delusions or false memories, before determining someone is a pathological liar.

Pathological lies differ from other lies.

There are white lies, or lies that are told in order to be helpful. There are pathological lies, or lies told constantly as if without thought. And there are compulsive lies. Though pathological lying is compulsive, most experts agree it shouldn’t be confused with compulsive lying.

Compulsive lying is the habit of lying uncontrollably about anything, no matter how big or small. Both pathological liars and compulsive liars may lie habitually due to a history of abuse or other personal damage, but both may also lie for absolutely no reason! In fact, people who lie compulsively may continue to lie, even after being caught in a lie.

Even if you’re honest, you should care.

Some pathological lying can signal emotional disorders.2 One example of this would be in the case of an individual who is abused lying to avoid more abuse. But sometimes pathological liars are dishonest for very different reasons.

Some research suggests that pathological lying is associated with a specific neurological pattern involving minor memory deficit as well as impaired frontal lobes which can negatively effect the way an individual evaluates information. So even though speaking with a pathological liar can be tiring and annoying, it’s helpful to recognize whether something is actually mentally wrong with the individual, or if they simply lie so often they no longer recognize the truth.

Anyone can pick out a pathological liar.

If you’re trying to decide if someone you know is a pathological liar, here are some traits to look for:

  • The lies are elaborate. Earlier when I said it was exhausting to pick apart what was fact and what…

New Test Uses Gene Editing Technology CRISPR to Detect Disease

CRISPR: It’s not just for making weird animals anymore. Scientists have used the genetic technology called CRISPR-Cas9 to create a super-sensitive, fast, and cheap diagnostic process for a range of diseases. They published their results in the journal Science.

Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats—that is, CRISPR—are little chunks of DNA that include repetitive sequences of base pairs.

Thomas Splettstoesser via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

In recent years, scientists have begun exploiting the sequences’ repetitive structure and role in the immune system to edit genomes. This controversial technology, called CRISPR-Cas, has already been used to breed hornless cows, malaria-resistant mosquitoes, and tiny…