Here's a really good reason to get a virus--if you have hearing loss. Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital and the Harvard Medical School have found a way to use a virus to reverse deafness. That's quite an irony, given that viral infections such as mumps are among the most common triggers for sudden hearing loss, but in fact, scientists successfully restored hearing to profoundly deaf lab mice using a virus, and they're hopeful that the discovery will lead to human treatments by 2025.1
Hearing loss is the most common of all neurodegenerative diseases, with about 48 million in the US suffering from hearing loss in one ear and 30 million in both. That's about 20 percent of the population. Of those, 8.5 percent of adults aged 55 to 64 have hearing loss so severe that it's disabling, as do a quarter of seniors up to age 74 and half of those older than 75.2
The rodents in the study were completely deaf--in other words, they wouldn't hear loud noises right next to them--and their deafness was genetically based. About 50 percent of childhood deafness comes from genetic causes, and it's these DNA-based defects that the virus can counteract. Unfortunately, it can't do anything to correct rock-n-roll ears or other types of hearing loss that come from external causes or disease. But 50% is still a large number.
The mice suffered from two types of genetic deafness that bring about hearing loss by early childhood, both caused by mutations in the TMC1 gene. There are between 70-100 other types of genetic deficiencies that lead to deafness, but TMC1 mutations are among the more common. These mutations provoke defects in miniscule hairs within the ear that translate sound into electrical impulses. The mutations render the hairs ineffective.
To reverse the mutation, the researchers combined healthy TMC1 genes, sans mutation, with virus cells for a common cold, and then injected the brew into the inner ears of the mice.3 The idea was that the virus would spread and "infect" the inner ear with the healthy TMC1 genes in the process.
After about a month, half the mice "jumped" when they heard loud noises, a sure sign that their hearing was at least partially restored. The experiment succeeded only in altering the DNA of the inner ear hairs, which control loud sounds, but not the outer hairs, which allow for increased sensitivity so that more subtle sounds can be discerned. Even so, the scientists were jubilant.
"It's amazing that it works. It was one of those ‘Eureka!' moments," said Dr. Jeffrey Holt, one of the researchers. "One day this might be a simple outpatient procedure."4
Dr. Holt tempers his excitement, indicating that the findings are preliminary: "We're very excited about it, but we're also cautiously optimistic as we don't want to give false hope. It would be premature to say we've found a cure."
The treatment wore off after a few months, and so it's back to the drawing board to perfect the technique. The medical community shares Dr. Holt's excitement as hopeful comments around the globe indicated. Right now, the options for deafness are severely limited, with cochlear implants and hearing aids the extent of it. Cochlear implants require surgery and hearing aids annoy most wearers since they increase the volume of all ambient sounds as well as the sound the wearer wants to discern. Plus, these devices simply amplify sound. They don't actually repair the ear's ability to discern sound as this technique may be able to do, eventually.
Apparently, certain animal species, including birds and fish, can self-regenerate the hairs in the ear all on their own.5 According to Lloyd Stickler, who works for the pharmaceutical company Novartis, a partner in the earlier trials, "We're just trying to tweak the mammalian system a little bit to do what a lot of other species do naturally."
Earlier studies last year at the University of Kansas Medical School also had some success restoring hearing to mice, and went one step farther in launching human trials. In that case, the researchers focused on a different gene, Atoh 1, and they tested the method on humans who suffered hearing loss as a side effect of drugs or other environmental impacts.
Although those trials were initiated last October, no reports have been highlighted in the press, perhaps signaling that the experiment was not an overwhelming success. Results had been expected within two months of trial initiation. At least one participant, Robert Gerk, was quoted in the New York Times as saying that although he didn't have hearing restored, "I have incidents where I think I'm hearing a new sound or hearing sound differently than I did before."6 At least that's something. The bottom line is that when it comes to certain types of deafness, finally, there is reason to be hopeful about the future.
Written by: Beth Levine
The Baseline of Health Foundation
We all know how important getting regular exercise is for our health. And we've talked a number of times now about the dangers of sitting too much. But what can you do if you are stuck at a desk all day working with barely a break to eat lunch, much less make it to the gym? Many people just complain and go about their day. But another option is to stand up and walk around the office for two minutes every hour. That may not seem like it could possibly do any good, but according to new research, it just might be enough to counteract those long days of prolonged sitting.
The study, which took place at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, found that taking a steady walk for a two-minute period every hour may help undo some of the harmful effects associated with sitting for hours at a time. The subjects were more than 3,200 men and women involved in the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Each of them wore a device that recorded the duration and intensity of any physical activity, and they were tracked for three years.
Over the course of the trial, 137 of the participants died. When all of the data was compiled and analyzed, the scientists were able to assess the relative health benefits of very low-intensity activity, such as standing up for an extended period of time. They also evaluated any potential benefits of slightly more vigorous but still light-intensity exercises, such as walking.
The findings showed that standing up, even for a lengthy duration, does not appear to provide any protection from the detriments of sitting for hours. However, small two-minute breaks that involve activities such as walking, cleaning, and gardening were found to increase longevity in those who spend most of the day seated. In fact, spending those two minutes an hour doing some type of light activity rather than sitting was associated with a 33 percent lower risk of early death.
Now, of course, if you are pretty much sedentary all day, every day, those two minutes per hour are not going to get you fit and healthy. They might reverse a little of the damage prolonged sitting can do, but they are not going to be any kind of magic bullet to ward off disease. Then again, a 33 percent lower risk of early death is nothing to sneeze at. But keep in mind that sitting all day long was linked in a 2011 study at the American Institute for Cancer Research with a greater likelihood of developing cancer. And another 2011 study at the University of Queensland in Australia found that people who moved the least during working hours had the most risk factors for both heart disease and diabetes.
The point of the current research is that getting up and walking for two minutes an hour may help counteract some of the negative effects of sitting for so long. But it is no panacea. If you are in a job that has you sitting at the computer or poring over paperwork at a desk all day, by all means take that hourly walk. Set an alarm on your phone if you must to remind yourself. It will get your blood circulating, stretch your muscles a little, and, if the studies are correct, provide some health benefits. Just don't make the mistake of believing that this is enough.
To truly be healthy, we need lots more exercise than two minutes per hour. So find time--whether it is early in the morning, during a lunch break, or in the evening after work--to get in a real workout. Go for a walk, jog, bike ride, or swim. Any type of cardiovascular activity will help you lose weight and lower your risk of all kinds of illnesses. Interval training is even better. And set aside a little time for strength training and flexibility routines for a well-rounded approach to fitness. Shoot for a total of 30 minutes each day--not a lot to ask to help you greatly improve your odds of living a long and healthy life.
Lights, music, family, boughs of holly -- the holidays are known for many pleasant sights and sensations. Unfortunately, seasonal stress, odd schedules and overindulgence in rich foods can mean an upset stomach, heartburn and indigestion for some celebrants.
Take steps to make the holidays more pleasant on your stomach:
• Seek balance: Eating a balanced diet is a key factor in preventing indigestion, constipation and other digestive problems, but accomplishing this goal may be a bit trickier during the holiday party season.
Drink plenty of water, hit the veggie tray before the cheese tray, and be sure to incorporate fruit, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and low-fat dairy into your other, less festive meals.
• Enjoy slowly: With so many terrific foods on the menu, why rush? Enjoy meals slowly. You'll be more likely to practice portion control this way. Additionally, digestion will be easier if you don't make your body process too much at once.
• Reduce stress: Stress can manifest itself through the digestive system in the form of heartburn. So avoid letting the holidays become an added source of stress. Carve out a few moments daily throughout the season to relax.
• Cook smart: Certain herbs are well known to aid digestion or settle an upset stomach. Counteract the effects of all those rich foods and drinks by incorporating basil, dill, mint, cilantro and ginger into holiday cooking.
• Listen to your body: Symptoms are usually an expression of the body's attempt to correct an imbalance. Instead of masking symptoms such as acid indigestion, upset stomach, nausea, heartburn or a hangover, try a homeopathic medicine that works with the body to alleviate discomfort.
For example, Boiron makes dissolvable pellets called Nux vomica for symptomatic relief. The sweet-tasting pellets melt in your mouth without water, and won't bother an already upset stomach. Be attentive to the body's signals and use it at the first sign of symptoms. For a natural indigestion remedy or natural hangover remedy, try it after too much coffee, alcohol, spicy or rich food, or when feeling drowsy after a big meal. More information can be found at www.BoironUSA.com.
• Kitchen cabinet remedies: Your kitchen cabinet contains an arsenal of remedies, say experts.
"Take two tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar before eating to help with digestion. You can also try drinking a cup of organic herbal tea, such as chamomile, dandelion or burdock, with fresh lemon juice after meals to help with liver detox and promote relaxation," says celebrity chef and culinary nutritionist Amie Valpone, HHC, AADP.
More healthy eating tips from Valpone can be found at www.TheHealthyApple.com.
• Exercise: Regular exercise benefits a healthy digestive system, so get plenty of it. Just be sure to avoid anything strenuous directly after a heavy holiday meal, which can actually put digestion on hold by redirecting blood away from your digestive tract to support the heart and muscles, according to Harvard Medical School.
This holiday season, keep your body in balance with natural remedies to treat and reduce common digestive symptoms.
Okmulgee County Emergency Medical Services will be offering CPR classes to anyone who would like to learn. This class is for NON-HEALTH CARE WORKERS. If you work for a day care, home health agency, long term care facility, hospital, or any pre-hospital agency this class is not for you. (We do offer those classes please call for pricing we offer BLS, ACLS, and PALS for Health care workers).
This class is intended for individuals who work outside of the health care field, and want to learn how. The first class will be in September with a max of 20 people. The class will last about 4-6 hours, and will cover Adult, Child, and Infant CPR. We will also cover basic first aid, and the use of an AED.
The class will cost 10 dollars a person to help cover the cost of equipment. For more information on the class please call 918-756-8563 Monday-Friday 8am- 5 pm
At a time when rural hospitals across the country are closing their doors, an Oklahoma facility is thriving.
McAlester Regional Health Center just finished its fiscal year more than $3 million in the black. This is the third profitable year following years of major losses. The favorable trend, despite the challenges of the Affordable Care Act and reductions in reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid, has allowed the hospital to again offer pay raises for employees and reinvest in its infrastructure. The turnaround has also allowed the hospital to successfully establish a Family Medicine Residency Program and recruit specialists in Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Pulmonology, Urology, Ophthalmology and Cardiology.
How did hospital accomplish these successes?
"MRHC has a talented team of executives and employees with a passion for excellence, and a visionary board of trustees – all a recipe for success," said CEO David Keith.
Keith and the rest of his executive team developed a strategy of identifying areas for improvement. For instance, patient and employee surveys helped the team define the most evident elements of service and infrastructure that could be improved upon. As a result, cafeteria hours were adjusted and a remodel is now under way; heating and air-conditioning units are being replaced, and executive administrators routinely make rounds on each hospital floor to meet with employees and patients.
Other improvements were expedited or continue to be tackled. For instance, the city-owned facility was often impeded by a 1970s funding mechanism in the city charter that limited borrowing to $500,000. A ballot measure set for late August asks voters to raise that limit to a less cumbersome 5% of assets, which is expected to ramp up growth even more.
McAlester Regional is more than just a hospital. Its portfolio - serving all of Southeast Oklahoma - also includes an Urgent Care Center, Health and Wellness Center, Outpatient Physical Therapy program, Sleep Center, Dialysis Centers in McAlester and nearby Eufaula, and a Doctor's Building that houses primary care practitioners and specialists. MRHC recently expanded its imaging services to include a Diagnostic Imaging Center in downtown McAlester, with plans to move its Women's Center to the same location. A Wound and Hyperbaric Center opened at the facility in June.
The progress has not gone unnoticed. CEO Keith and his team have received accolades from peers and several organizations; the hospital itself was voted as the "Best Place to Work" by readers of the local newspaper, and Partner of the Year by the local vocational school. Employees and staff are consistently recognized for their work both for the hospital and for the community.
"The culture at MRHC is changing to one of enthusiasm and innovation," Keith said. "MRHC will continue to provide services to Southeastern Oklahoma for a very long time."
School-age children, from preschoolers to college students, need vaccines. But...
People of all ages need vaccines
Getting vaccinated is an easy way for people of all ages to protect themselves from illness. Take the time to make sure that you and your loved ones have received all of the vaccinations you need. By making sure your vaccinations are up to date, you can help prevent harmful diseases from affecting you and your family.
Getting vaccinated is important for people of all ages. Here’s some information about vaccines that people need throughout their lives:
Parents can protect infants and children from 14 serious childhood diseases by age 2. Learn more about immunizations for infants and children.
Preteens and teens need vaccines too! Getting adolescents vaccinated will also protect their friends and their family members. Find out about the vaccines preteens and teens need.
Adults: not sure if your immunization schedule is up-to date? Take this online quiz to see which vaccines you need, and use the Vaccine Finder tool below to find a location near you where you can access vaccines.
Seniors may need one or more vaccines, even if they received vaccines as a child or as a younger adult. Find more information about vaccines for seniors here.
Autumn is a great time to get vaccinated
Grandmotther, mother, and daughter who have all the vaccinations they need to stay healthy. Find out more at www.vaccines.gov
Vaccines protect you all year round, but fall is a great time to get vaccinated.
As summer winds down, it’s a good time for you and your family to get the flu vaccine. Getting the vaccine early can help prevent you and your family members from getting the flu throughout all of flu season. You can learn more about the flu and flu vaccine at Flu.gov.
When taking yourself and your family for your flu shots, you can also ask your health care provider about other routinely recommended vaccines you might need. For example, you should make sure that the whole family is up-to-date on their DTap/Tdap and MMRV boosters, each of which protects against several serious diseases:
DTap or Tdap: tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough)
MMR or MMRV: measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox)
Finally, HPV vaccines help prevent girls and boys from getting cancers later in life that are caused by HPV. If you have questions about the HPV vaccine, read our FAQ, and ask your healthcare provider for more information.
There are many routinely recommended vaccines for people of all ages. These are some examples of vaccines you can discuss with your healthcare provider. Make sure that you and your family are up-to-date on all recommended vaccines.
Vaccines: Our best defense
Vaccines are the best defense we have against these and other serious diseases, and it’s important to make sure that you’re up to date on all recommended vaccines. When you get your flu shot, use that opportunity to make sure that all your vaccinations are current. Talk with your healthcare provider about what vaccines you and your family need, and keep putting your healthiest foot forward!
Tarpon Springs Surgeon Debunks This & Other Myths About Robots in the O.R.
Robotics-assisted surgery has become enormously popular, with physicians around the world performing 1.5 million procedures – from hysterectomies to heart valve repairs – in 2011.
"But myths and misconceptions about robots in the operating room still abound," says physician Dr. Keith Chisholm, MD, a Board Certified General Surgeon on staff at Florida Hospital North Pinellas, (www.fhnorthpinellas.com ).
"One is that the robot performs the surgery – 'a robot operated on my hernia,' " says Dr. Chisholm. "Technically, it's not a robot because it can't perform surgery without someone controlling it – it's actually computer-assisted surgery. The surgeon guides all of the movements using finger-manipulated controls."
He and other robotics surgeons use the da Vinci Surgical System, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved for minimally invasive surgeries in 2000. Nine years later, the da Vinci was being used in 80 percent of surgeries to remove cancerous prostates, according to its maker, Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
"The benefits of robotics-assisted surgery are numerous", says Dr. Chisholm, who performs several different procedures using da Vinci and became the first Pinellas-Pasco physician to use it for a single-incision cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal).
"The robotic arms hold miniaturized surgical instruments, so we can get in through very small incisions," he says. "That means there's less chance of infection, less pain, much less scarring and a quicker recovery time. Because the arms have 'wrists' that can rotate more than 360 degrees, we have far more maneuverability than we do with laparoscopic surgery, and we can get into hard-to-reach areas."
"One of the robotic arms holds a magnified 3D high-definition camera, which gives us a much better view of the surgical site than we would have with just our own two eyes."
In a 2013 FDA survey, surgeons experienced with da Vinci said their patients have less bleeding, fewer complications, much quicker recovery times and less time in the hospital – 24 hours on average. Interestingly, those who used da Vinci to remove advanced cancer in the tonsils region of the throat said half of their patients were able to avoid chemotherapy.
What are some other myths and misconceptions?
• Myth: Robotics-assisted surgery costs much more than traditional surgery.
A study published in July 2013 found that half of the minimally invasive procedures reviewed, including robotics-assisted and laparoscopic surgeries, cost insurance providers less than the same surgeries performed in the traditional manner. Four of the six minimally invasive surgeries also resulted in fewer lost work days – sometimes several weeks fewer.
"The robotics technology is expensive and the whole surgical team has to be trained, which can add to the cost," says Dr. Chisholm. "But there's also a tremendous savings compared with traditional surgery because the patient is out of the hospital more quickly and there are fewer complications."
(Study conducted by University of Pennsylvania health economist Andrew J. Epstein and published in JAMA Surgery.)
• Myth: Robotics-assisted surgery is riskier than traditional surgeries.
Any surgery has certain risks, but in many ways, robotics-assisted surgeries have fewer overall, Dr. Chisholm says.
"Many times, the robotics-assisted procedures can be done much more quickly, so there's less risk simply because the duration of the procedure is shorter," he says. "You also have the smaller incisions, less bleeding, etc. that reduce the risks."
In addition, the Tampa Bay area is fortunate to have the cutting-edge 2-year-old Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) operated by the University of South Florida.
"Our surgical teams have easy access to training, practice with simulators and continuing education, so we're extremely well-prepared," Dr. Chisholm says.