Review Category : Health

Everything You Need to Know About ‘Foreign Accent Syndrome’

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — What if you woke up one day suddenly speaking with a Southern twang or French lilt or British accent? In rare cases, this happens to people when a brain injury leads to a rare condition called Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS).

Lisa Alamia, of Rosenberg, Texas, woke up from jaw surgery in December with an unexpected side effect: a new British accent. She has received nationwide attention for her rare FAS diagnosis.

“I was very shocked,” Alamia told ABC News. “I didn’t know how to take it. I was very confused. I said ‘Ya’ll’ all the time before the accent. Once I got the accent, I started noticing I’d say, ‘You all.'”

The syndrome usually develops after neurological damage such as stroke. There are only about 100 documented cases of FAS, which was first described in 1907. A famous case involved a Norwegian woman shunned in her community when she developed a German accent after a traumatic brain injury during the Nazi occupation of Norway in World War II. A Scottish case published last month in Practical Neurology describes another instance of a woman who, like Alamia, developed FAS after a minor dental procedure, trading her Scottish accent for a German one.

Approximately 86 percent of cases are linked to neurological damage in the speech centers of the brain, from strokes, trauma, or other diseases like multiple sclerosis, according to a study published earlier this year in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. These patients usually don’t take on a specific accent — for example, they don’t have a true German accent — but the general changes in their prosody, or speech, can be mistaken for a specific foreigner.

A second type of FAS is not associated to any brain changes at all. These cases are often psychological in nature — for example, anxiety, depression or emotional trauma can change aspects of how the brain interprets information and can cause someone to change their speech patterns, according to the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal. This can happen even though there is no physiological trauma to the brain that can be detected. However, this does not mean a patient is “faking it,” it just means changes have happened in their brain on a subconscious level.

“It’s such a rare condition that neurologists don’t believe that this is a real condition,” said Dr. Toby Yaltho of Houston Methodist Sugar Land Neurology Associates, who treated Alamia. “The big thing is to know that she’s not faking it.”

FAS is treated in a variety of ways, from behavioral therapy to speech therapy to anti-anxiety medications, and some patients do recover their natural speech, according to medical literature.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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CDC Recommends Giving Up Nasal Flu Vaccine in Favor of Shots

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Get ready to roll up your sleeves this flu season.

Nasal flu vaccinations are no longer being recommended by federal health officials after they were found to be less effective than traditional flu shots.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, changed its recommendations Wednesday on flu vaccines after the nasal flu vaccine was deemed relatively ineffective at preventing the virus over the past three flu seasons.

CDC officials reported during the most recent flu season that they could find no measurable protective benefit in children between the ages of 2 and 17 who were given the nasal spray.

The change means that both adults and children who are frightened of needles will no longer have another option that is less invasive.

The American Academy of Pediatrics backed the CDC’s recommendation, while acknowledging that many parents and medical providers preferred to give children the nasal spray over a shot.

“We do understand this change will be difficult for pediatric practices who were planning to give the intranasal spray to their patients, and to patients who prefer that route of administration,” AAP CEO-Executive Director Dr. Karen Remley said in a statement Wednesday. “However, the science is compelling that the inactivated vaccine is the best way to protect children from what can be an unpredictable and dangerous virus.”

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Super Simple Child Safety Tip for Crowded Places Going Viral

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Parents, by and large, watch their kids like hawks in public places.

But things happen, and big crowds at popular summer places like theme parks and state fairs mean a child can get lost in the time it takes to reach for a camera.

A police department in California is getting big praise on social media for a super-simple child safety tip they posted last week. They suggest parents write their phone number on the child’s wrist and cover it with liquid band aid, in case the child is lost or separated from them.

This post has been shared 14,000 times — and it’s the second time the Clovis Police Department has shared the tip. The first time was a few months ago when it was “one of the most popular ever” tips they’ve shared.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Your Body: Dense Breast Mammogram Results

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Women with dense breasts have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, and this density can make detecting breast cancer through mammography more difficult.

Now, a new study shows that while many states are trying to inform women of these risks, they may be failing. Currently, 24 states require that women receive a notification of how dense breasts can affect their mammogram results.

Here’s what you need to know about how to interpret your mammogram:

Ask you doctor if your mammogram reveals you have dense breasts.

Ask if a breast ultrasound is appropriate for you.

Remember that a mammogram is not a perfect screening test but it is important for women’s health, so talk to a doctor about breast cancer screening.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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NY Woman Diagnosed with Zika Warns, You ‘Think That It’s Not Going to Happen to You’

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Fresh off a five-day trip in tropical paradise, Harper’s Bazaar senior digital editor, Chrissy Rutherford, returned home with one scary souvenir.

“You sort of think that it’s not going to happen to you,” Rutherford of New York City told ABC News.

She was on a train heading to a wedding three days after arriving home from her Jamaican vacation when she first really started to notice her systems.

“I’m sitting on the train and I start taking a selfie as one does as they’re on a train by themselves on the way to a wedding,” she said of the alarming experience. “When I saw my skin, my heart just started pounding.”

Her face had broken out in a rash, a symptom that appeared after she had already been experiencing two days of leg soreness and joint stiffness.

“A light bulb I guess just went off in my head and I thought, ‘I think I could have Zika virus,’” Rutherford recalled.

After a Google search of Zika symptoms and two trips to the doctor, a urine test confirmed her fears. She had contracted Zika.

More than 750 people in 45 states have reported cases of Zika, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus spreads through mosquito bites and can be transmitted through unprotected sex, which presents risks for pregnant women, including links to birth defects for their unborn babies.

With no prescription treatment to cure Zika, Rutherford spent the next 10 days suffering through her illness.

“I was just feeling so lifeless, my body so achy and I knew that even once I got up on my feet, it was going to be painful,” she explained.

Now, nearly two weeks later, Rutherford said she’s finally starting to feel like herself and ready to share her experience with her readers at Harper’s Bazaar.

“A lot of people aren’t aware what it’s like to have this virus,” she said.

Rutherford admits she did not wear bug spray while on her trip, which is something experts strongly recommend.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Texas Mom Wakes Up from Jaw Surgery with a British Accent

ABC News(HOUSTON) — A Texas woman went into jaw surgery to correct an overbite and while she got her new smile, she got something she did not plan for: a British accent.

Lisa Alamia was diagnosed with foreign accent syndrome, an extremely rare speech disorder that alters the person’s speech so that a person appears to speak with a “foreign” accent.

When the mother of three underwent the lower-jaw surgery in December 2015 and came home with a British accent, her children thought she was kidding.

“I was very shocked,” Alamia told ABC News. “I didn’t know how to take it. I was very confused. I said ‘Ya’ll’ all the time before the accent. Once I got the accent, I started noticing I’d say, ‘You all.'”

Doctors estimate the speech disorder has affected fewer than 100 people in 100 years worldwide. The condition is most often caused by a brain injury, but Alamia’s neurologist said everything came back normal after a full range of tests.

“It’s such a rare condition that neurologists don’t believe that this is a real condition,” Dr. Toby Yaltho of Houston Methodist Sugar Land Neurology Associates told ABC News. “The big thing is to know that she’s not faking it.”

Alamia said, “I’ve never been outside of the country, except for a mission trip to Mexico. That’s not where my accent came from.”

There is no known cure for the condition and while the accent can diminish over time, it can also be permanent.

Alamia, who feared people wouldn’t believe her, is planning to start speech therapy, and says she’s come to realize that the accent doesn’t define her.

“In the beginning, that was my fear: ‘Oh, is she lying?’ I said, ‘You know what, Lisa? You’re still you. You are who you are,'” she said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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The Shrink Who Combines Freud and Buddha

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Buddhist psychiatrist and author Dr. Mark Epstein has for years written about the overlap between Western psychotherapy and Eastern Buddhist philosophies.

As a therapist practicing in New York City, Epstein talks with patients about how Mindfulness meditation can help separate their emotions and what’s going on in their minds from uncomfortable and traumatic experiences.

Epstein sat down with ABC News’ Dan Harris for his podcast, “10% Happier,” in which he talked about the impact meditation can have on the mind, both positive and negative, for those looking for an escape from suffering. He also went deep into the Buddhist concept of the “no-self” – or the belief that living things have no soul – and whether Enlightenment can be reached, and what it might look or feel like. He has written numerous books on these topics, his most recent being, “The Trauma of Everyday Life.”

“When people are bringing emotional experience to me that they’re uncomfortable with, that there’s a way we can be with emotional experience and as well as the stories we’re telling ourselves as well as the physical sensation of just being in a body,” Epstein said. “There’s a way to be with all of that … where it’s all a part of us. It’s not like they’re different parts. We’re only one person, but it’s all happening and in meditation we can sort of fall back and experience things that way, but it’s possible in therapy and in life as well.”

Epstein said people can obtain a “sense of freedom” when they separate themselves from emotional experiences for a moment instead of instantly reacting, whether it’s dealing with an issue at work with the boss or at home with the kids.

“I think the freedom is when your boss is giving you a hard time, or your daughter is making you feel bad or you’re having a fight with someone close to you, that you don’t have to respond the way you normally do,” Epstein said. “You start to see other people locked into their various conceptions of who they are, what they’re capable of, what they’re angry about, what’s holding them back, what they’re ashamed of, and you can see everyone way burdened in a way that maybe they don’t need to be.”

But he cautioned that meditation isn’t for everyone, and won’t work for those looking for a “quick fix” to dealing with their issues.

“Psychotherapy is not a quick fix. Meditation is not a quick fix,” he said. “It might not even be the right thing for people to see that they are struggling with their minds.”

Epstein first discovered meditation in college and one of the “breakthroughs” he said that made the practice click for him happened while he was learning to juggle. Epstein said he was attending a Buddhist summer camp in the ’70s and roomed with twin brothers whose parents owned a fruit store.

“One of them was already a good juggler, so I would practices with the oranges on the couch in between classes,” Epstein said. “And once I got the three oranges in the air, my mind had to relax in order to keep it going and I understood, ‘Oh yeah, this is what they’re trying to teach me in mediation,’ so that helped.”

Before he found meditation, Epstein said he was a very anxious person who worried all the time. Now after practicing meditation for more than 40 years, Epstein said he wouldn’t know what he would be without it.

“It’s given me inspiration in my life that hasn’t gone away,” he said. “I think that idea of refuge, like a refuge inside of myself. It’s less what I get out of, than that it gives me a place to go. So it’s nice to have a place to go.”

Over the years, Epstein said he stopped “being religious” about how often he meditates, and just does it when he finds the time. “I just sit until I’m ready to get up, and I watch my breath,” he said.

“I’ve seen very clearly over the years is that meditation is a real thing. It’s not a fake thing. If you really do it, stuff happens,” he said. “Meditation has a momentum that brings you places, shows you things.”

Watch or listen to the full interview and download the “10% Happier” podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music and TuneIn.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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How Swapping Chores Can Help Your Marriage and Sex Life

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Cooking, cleaning and yard work are the never-ending chores that keep a happy home in order, but how you divide the to-do list for those chores could also hold the secret to a happy marriage.

A paper presented this week to the Council on Contemporary Families found that when couples shared similar household tasks instead of adhering to traditional, gender-stereotyped roles, they had a deeper desire for each other.

“Contemporary couples who adhere to a more egalitarian division of labor are the only couples who have experienced an increase in sexual frequency compared to their counterparts of the past,” wrote the paper’s author, Cornell University professor Sharon Sassler.

Meredith Rollins, the editor-in-chief of Redbook magazine, seconded the idea that couples who change their chores up are happier.

“In relationships you tend to get stuck in a routine,” Rollins told ABC News. “You always do this. I always do that, so mixing things up just keeps things fresh.”

Rollins added, “The other person in the partnership is probably doing a lot more than you’re giving them credit for so by trying it out and doing it yourself, you can maybe appreciate what they’re doing a little bit more.”

ABC News’ Good Morning America recruited a couple, Heather Whittenburg and Travis Linquist, to give the chore swap a try.

The couple, parents to a 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old and 2-year-old sons, changed up the “traditional” chores they each did on a daily basis. For Whittenburg, that meant doing yard work and getting their daughter ready for school, while Linquist packed their daughter’s lunch, cooked breakfast, mopped and did laundry.

“It’s interesting to kind of get out of your comfort zone a little bit and go and do something completely different,” Linquist said after the chore swap.

“You really do see what they go through in order to get it done, even though it may look easy,” Whittenburg said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Teen Dies After Contracting ‘Brain-Eating’ Amoeba

iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — A young woman died this week in Ohio after being infected by Naegleria fowleri, commonly called a “brian-eating ameoba.”

Officials from the Franklin County Public Health Department confirmed that the 18-year-old died from “amebic meningoencephalitis,” where the covering around the brain and spinal cord swells because of the infection from the ameoba.

The Franklin County resident was on a white-water rafting trip in North Carolina when officials believe she contracted the ameoba infection. Naegleria fowleri is a naturally occurring organism that lives in freshwater throughout the United States. While harmless if ingested, the organisms can be fatal if they travel through the nasal cavity to the brain.

“The deceased’s only known underwater exposure was believed to be when riding in a raft with several others that overturned at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte,” according to a statement from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

There are zero to eight infections in this country from parasitic amoebas each year and nearly all are fatal, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC advises people to take steps to avoid getting water up their nose when out in fresh water lakes or ponds. Swimmers can keep their head above water, use nose clips, or hold their nose shut when going underwater.

In rare cases, people can become infected if they use contaminated tap water when they use sinus rinsing devices. The CDC advises people to either filter or boil water before using the devices.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, explained in an interview last summer that officials can’t screen entire bodies of water for the organism.

“The amoeba are in small numbers everywhere,” Schaffner said. “They go hibernate in the winter time. They’re part of natural environment.”

Schaffner also pointed out cases are extremely rare and people shouldn’t fear going to fresh water lakes or feel they can only stick with going into the ocean or chlorinated pools.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Baby Born with ‘Incompatible With Life’ Condition Alive and Thriving

Sierra Yoder(BOSTON) — When Bentley Yoder was born, his parents arrived at the hospital with nothing but an outfit to bury him in. After all, Sierra and Dustin Yoder said they’d been told for months their son would not live long after birth. In fact, they said doctors were shocked he’d made it to birth at all.

Sierra Yoder told ABC News that Bentley was diagnosed in utero with encephalocele, a neural tube defect that keeps the skull from fully closing, and as a result, leaves the brain protruding from the head.

“It was a very dark time,” Yoder said. “There was no hope he would survive.”

But survive he did. Though his mom had not dared to hope — and in fact she said she had scheduled an abortion at the advice of doctors and then changed her mind — Bentley being a survivor was something she felt all along.

“They [the doctors] would tell me that when I felt him moving inside, it wasn’t real,” Yoder said. “That it was just twitching. But that didn’t sit right with me. I pushed, he pushed back. I played music, he would flutter.”

Since Yoder was in no danger and Bentley had a normal heartbeat, the Tuscarawas, Ohio, couple decided to push through and prepared to say goodbye. They prepared their 3-year-old son Beau to do the same.

Bentley was born and handed to his parents. After about 10 minutes, the couple tried to bottle feed him. It worked. Three days later, they left the hospital with Bentley. “I was scared to sleep,” his mom said, thinking he would die at any moment. But a week later, when Bentley was still alive — and thriving — the Yoders decided to seek out another opinion.

Trips to hospitals in Columbus, Ohio and Cleveland didn’t give the Yoders what they were looking for. Typical procedure in an encephalocele case is to cut off the part of the brain outside of the skull and then close the skull. Frequently, the brain tissue growing outside the head is non-functional. But in Bentley’s case, it seemed that he was using what was up there. They were referred to Boston Children’s Hospital, where Dr. John Meara, plastic surgeon-in-chief, and Dr. Mark Proctor, interim neurosurgeon-in-chief, regularly treat extremely complex encephalocele cases.

“We wanted to give him a chance,” Yoder said. “He was slowly meeting milestones.”

Though Drs. Meara and Proctor are renowned experts in their fields, Bentley’s case was still “severe,” Dr. Proctor told ABC News. “But we did not want to make the assumption the brain tissue was non-functional.” Surgery had to be done to prevent rupture or infection.

So they had one thing they could do: Put Bentley’s brain back in his skull. In order to prepare, they used a 3D model of his brain and outside tissue.

“Bentley was a unique case,” Dr. Proctor said.

Dr. Meara said having the model was “huge,” allowing him to perform mock surgery to prepare for the big day. “I then sent it back to the simulation lab where it was analyzed; I was able to know how much brain volume I added back and then make adjustments prior to surgery, rather than having to make those decisions in the OR.”

“Except for one small sliver, we were able to return it [the brain tissue] to the cranium,” said Dr. Proctor. Bentley will live, that much is certain, he said.

It’s been nearly a month since Bentley’s surgery and he is, by all accounts, doing well.

“If he smiled any bigger it would probably cover his whole face,” his mother said. He’s grabbing at things, and holding on to his mom’s hand. He’s mimicking sounds, she said.

“Doctors are amazing,” Yoder said, “but some of them don’t know what they are talking about,” referring to the many medical professionals who she said told her Bentley’s condition was incompatible with life. “As a mother, you have to trust your gut. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have my son right now.”

But she has nothing but praise for Drs. Meara and Proctor.

“How do you say thank you to someone for saving your child’s life?” she wondered.

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