Review Category : Health

Your Body: Diagnosing Endometriosis

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

Actress Daisy Ridley took to Instagram last month to reveal she’s been suffering from endometriosis since the age of 15. The disorder can cause chronic and severe pain, especially during a woman’s period.

In gynecology, we don’t know why some women get endometriosis but we do know that it can affect about 1 in 10 women, including teenagers.

Though the diagnosis is made during surgery, there can be some symptoms that hint at its presence. If menstrual pain is not relieved by a low-dose birth control pill and non-steroidal medication like ibuprofen, there’s a good chance of having endometriosis.

Making a diagnosis is key, so find a gynecologist whom you love that can help you with long-term management of endometriosis.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Zika Mystery: Elderly Patient Transmits Virus to Caregiver

iStock/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) — A caregiver of an elderly Zika patient in Utah has been diagnosed with the disease, leaving health officials stumped about how the virus was transmitted from patient to caregiver.

The Utah Department of Health said it does not know how the caregiver, a family member of the patient, was infected with the Zika virus.

The unnamed patient died while infected with the virus and had an underlying condition, and it was unclear if the virus contributed to the death, according to the health department.

The virus has been known to spread only via mosquitoes or directly from person to person through sexual contact. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating how the caregiver could have contracted the virus even if the caregiver did not go to a country with ongoing Zika virus transmission and did not have sex with a person known to be infected with the virus.

The CDC has reported at least 1,133 cases of Zika infections in the U.S. In virtually all those cases, people traveled outside the U.S. and became infected by mosquitoes abroad. In a small number of cases, the virus was transmitted through sexual contact in the U.S.

There have been no cases of people being infected from mosquitoes in the continental U.S.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Psychology Experts on How Police Cope With Fear, Stress

moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A spate of violence in recent weeks both by and against police officers has put a spotlight on the unique stressors police face across the country.

In Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a total of eight officers were killed in two separate incidents in less than a week. Just prior to those shootings, the deaths of two black men by officers in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights, Minnesota, put scrutiny on police amid increased tensions between law enforcement officials and the communities they serve.

The scrutiny and violence have unnerved police across the country, with many police departments now having officers patrol in pairs or take other steps to protect themselves. Police psychologists say it also has drawn attention to the psychological toll of being an officer in the U.S.

Police psychologists are trained to work with law enforcement to ensure the police officers are mentally fit for duty and help them cope with the high-stress jobs. They explained that officers have to grapple with complicated work that can be emotionally taxing.

“Policing is one of the most complex jobs in the world — they have to a be a priest, an athlete, a cop, an officer, a lawyer and an enforcer,” Ellen Kirshman, a clinical psychologist who has been working with police officers for 30 years, said. “I wish the public understood what policing really entails.”

Kirshman said that police have to cope with not just violence, but the pain of seeing graphic scenes or seeing grief-stricken families, which can lead to long-term symptoms.

“Police officers and the nature of what they do and what they are exposed to are vulnerable to PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder],” said Kirshman. “Anytime you can identify with a victim you are called to, that narrows the emotional and social distance and it makes you more vulnerable to become symptomatic.”

Kirshman said incidents like Dallas where officers are targeted or anything involving grotesque images have a bigger impact on officers.

“What makes it worse? Forms of betrayal — they are feeling betrayed by the communities they work so hard to protect,” she said. “You can also be betrayed by your department. You can feel personally betrayed by a fellow officer. Or by your family when they don’t understand what it is you do, or they aren’t interested in what they do.”

To cope, Kirshman recommends peer support and talking to families or others about the stress and anxiety associated with the job. She said police face the difficult task of being compassionate when dealing with a tragedy but not overly identifying with the victim.

“Cops are enormously self-critical — they have high standards from themselves, ‘If I had just not turned left on Elm Street, then so and so wouldn’t have happened….'” she explained. “They suffer from a lot of self-blame.”

Laurence Miller, a Florida-based psychologist, works with officers after a shooting or other major incident to determine if they are fit to return to duty. He said most officers get a few weeks off and mental health counseling after an incident.

“In most cases, it’s a nonfatal shooting. Most officers return to work, sadder, wiser, but fit to go back,” he said.

Miller said that officers’ stress at home can also impact how they cope with a job, all of which can put them under tremendous pressure.

“You’ve got to understand the personality of public safety officers: High performance, excellence, you’re only as good as your last screw-up,” he said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Kansas Mom Gives Birth to Third Set of Twins in 2 Years

Courtesy Danesha Couch (KANSAS CITY, Kan.) — In a rare occurrence, a mom has given birth to her third set of twins.

Danesha Couch, 20, of Kansas City, Kansas, welcomed two daughters, Darla and Dalanie, on June 17. The girls arrived less than one year after their twin sisters, Delilah and Davina, who were born May 29, 2015.

“I was surprised on my second time because me and their dad were discussing it, jokingly,” Couch told ABC News, recalling when she learned she was carrying her second set of twins. “I said, ‘This is not happening right now. Pinch me.’ [My fiance] pinched me, and it was reality.”

Couch gave birth to her first set of twins, boys named Desmond and Danarius, on April 13, 2014. Sadly, Desmond died shortly after birth from a placental abruption, which deprived the baby of oxygen, she said.

“It’s been pretty tough,” Couch said of the loss of her child. “I tend to cry about it one minute, and then I am happy again. I do hope one day [Danarius] doesn’t tell me he feels empty and alone (without his brother).”

All three sets of twins are fraternal, and Couch said she had all of her children without the use of fertility drugs. She had a cesarean section with each pregnancy. Doctors warned her that because she drops more than one egg at a time she would have a greater chance of conceiving multiples, she said.

Dr. Marjorie Greenfield, the obstetrics and gynecology chief at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, told ABC News that although Couch’s situation is rare, having multiple sets of twins occurs partly for genetic reasons.

“It’s partly statistical and it’s partly genetic,” Greenfield said. “She probably doesn’t release two eggs every single month, but there are people that are genetically prone to releasing two eggs. The way you get fraternal twins is by releasing two eggs. Identicals are not formed by releasing two eggs. If you release more eggs, therefore, you have a greater chance of having twins.”

“Having that hit three times gets unusual,” but not impossible, Greenfield said.

Couch’s fiance and the father of her children, Jeffrey, has no twins on his side of the family.

But, Couch said, “His mom had nine kids. My mom had 12 kids, so we are both from pretty large families.”

Couch said she goes through 35 diapers a day. She breastfeeds her newborns, but also spends $100 on formula each week for her two 1-year-olds, she said.

“I feel blessed that I can even have babies,” Couch said. “When I talk to women that can’t have kids, I consider donating my eggs. I would just have to speak with my spouse about it. I would be 100 percent OK with it.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Pediatrics Group Issues Warning About ‘Virtual Violence’ and Children

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Rising levels of “virtual violence” and its possible impact on children has led the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to call for action to protect children from exposure to excessive amounts of onscreen violence.

In a new policy statement released by AAP, the group called on doctors and lawmakers to take action to limit children’s exposure to “virtual violence,” which includes “first-person shooter games and other realistic video games and applications.”

The group pointed out that violence is pervasive on prime-time television shows and even in G-rated movies.

The average American watches about five hours of TV a day and a typical hour can consist of an average of six different violent exchanges, according to a 2009 study. Furthermore, about 70 percent of children’s programs contain violence, the study found. And 91 percent of video games that are labeled as appropriate for 10-year-olds are violent, the study found. And despite a “mature” labeling, many children in grades 4-12 play video games that can have significant graphic violence.

The group is calling for a “national discussion” on the topic and asking pediatricians to ask about a child’s “media diet,” for parents to be mindful of what their child watches and what games they play and for government policy makers to consider legislation that would prohibit easy access for minors to view violent media.

“A sizable majority of media researchers both in pediatrics and psychology believe that existing data show a significant link between virtual violence and aggression,” the group wrote in the statement.

Additionally, the AAP made multiples requests that the entertainment industry take steps to not “normalize” violence. Their requests included avoiding glamorizing violence, stop using humans or other living targets in video games, and if violence is used on screen “it should be used thoughtfully as serious drama, always showing the pain and loss suffered by the victims and perpetrators.”

“The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to be concerned about the impact that virtual violence has on children, and we know that parents are also concerned, because it’s a question that pediatricians often receive during wellness exams,” Dr. Dimitri Christakis, lead author of the policy statement said. “Pediatricians can let parents know that there are ways to mitigate the impact of media violence, by co-viewing games and movies with their kids, making a media plan for their family and protecting children under age 6 from all violent media.”

In an accompanying editorial, pediatric researchers from Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Stanford University, among others, said the rise of smartphones and tablets have given children “unprecedented” access to scenes of violence both real and fictional.

“Now youth can produce, view, and share problematic content, including images of community violence, school violence, sexual violence, and police violence on their smart, portable devices,” the researchers said. “Some social media feeds even provide unsolicited and unwelcome exposure to acts of actual terrorism, gender violence, and war.”

The study authors said they are concerned that exposure to real-life violence may give children additional feelings of distress, victimization or fear that can be shared among social groups. They advise pediatricians to help families navigate the effects of virtual violence on children by raising awareness among parents.

“With the advent of smart phones and apps like Snapchat and Instagram, children can capture, view and share violent acts in ways that are new to millennials and centennials,” said Dr. Rhea Boyd, a member of the executive committee of the AAP Council on Communications and Media and lead author of the commentary. “Nearly three out of four teenagers have access to a smart phone, and exposure to real-world violence via these devices, often without parental knowledge or control, can create feelings of distress, victimization and even fear.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Mom with Colon Cancer Turns Chemotherapy Sessions Into Elaborate Photo Shoots

Courtesy: Karen Walsh(NEW YORK) — Karen Walsh, a 40-year-old actress and mom of two, spends anywhere from two to five hours every other week undergoing chemotherapy sessions for the stage 4 colon cancer she was diagnosed with last September.

Instead of just wasting that time away, the New York City woman and her family and friends have turned the chemo sessions into as much fun as possible by staging elaborately themed photo shoots.

Walsh and her band of actor and mom friends have dressed up as everything from “Star Wars” characters to the cast of “The Breakfast Club” to “Forrest Gump.”

“A friend who is a director and choreographer came to visit, and I said, ‘You have to take a picture,’ and he said, ‘Well, if we’re going to take a picture we have to make it fun,’” Walsh recalled of how the photo shoots began. “From then on, I said to friends, ‘If you come can you bring some props?'”

“It became something that people started pitching ideas to me for different photo shoots,” said Walsh, who posts the photos on Instagram.

Walsh, the mom of a 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son, has undergone 22 chemotherapy sessions so far for her inoperable cancer. She said the photo shoots have been healing for her and helpful for friends who want to help but often don’t know how.

“Everyone wants to do something and sometimes it’s very hard to figure out how to answer that question,” Walsh said. “I’ve had trouble accepting all the generosity and my social worker said a gift I can give other people is giving them a task, something specific that they can do to help put some order into the chaos.”

“And for me, I need and thrive on community and needed to be around friends and family so I wasn’t sitting around by myself in a room for four or five hours watching TV,” she added.

Walsh said the doctors and nurses at the New York hospital where she is being treated have gotten into the spirit, too, often taking the group’s photos and encouraging her to share the photos to help spread cheer to other cancer patients too.

“It’s fun as far as cancer goes,” said Walsh, who has set a goal to celebrate her 90th birthday in the U.S. Virgin Islands. “But let’s be clear, I would rather not be doing this.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Kim Kardashian West Reveals Weight Loss Secrets, Fitness Inspiration

Timothy White/E!(NEW YORK) — Reality star and mother of two Kim Kardashian West has shed nearly 70 pounds since giving birth to her son Saint in December.

Kardashian West revealed in an exclusive interview with People magazine that her fitness inspiration is her younger sister Khloe.

“I saw her naked two days ago changing…and I was, ‘Oh my God. You are my body icon.’ She’s never been more on fire,” Kardashian West told People.

Fitness fanatic Khloe, 32, has been very open about her weight loss and vocal about her newfound love for the gym on social media.

The Keeping Up with the Kardashians star posted a video to Instagram on Friday of herself doing an intense ab workout with with personal trainer Don Brooks with the caption “If I can do it. You can do it. It all starts with day 1! It’s a lifestyle now.”

Kardashian also shared a video on Snapchat running a trail in a sauna suit. After completing the workout she said in another video, “That was so hard today, but Don and I made it back safe.”

In her own weight loss journey, Kardashian West revealed that she has trimmed down through the Atkins 40 Plan, a low-carb diet in which she consumes 1,800 calories a day, including lots of fish and turkey.

The 35-year-old mom emphasized that food and fitness go hand-in-hand. “I think dieting is so important to weight loss, whereas, I didn’t really ever think that before,” she explained.

While her workouts don’t include a sauna suit like her sister, Kardashian West says she hits the gym at 6 a.m. before her children even wake up.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Teen Female Athletes Who Don’t Eat Enough Risk Reproductive, Bone Problems

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Adolescent female athletes are more likely to experience significant reproductive and bone health problems if they don’t follow a healthy diet, a new study suggests.

The study was published this month in the journal Pediatrics.

Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, appeared on Good Morning America Monday to explain the findings. He said adolescence is a critical time for building bones, adding that 90 percent of bone mass is gained during that time. Girls who exercise vigorously without taking in enough calories run the risk of developing permanently weak bones.

Besser advised that parents be watchful for the so-called “female triad”: the risk of having an eating disorder, weaker bones and an irregular menstrual cycle. The athletes most at risk are those who participate in sports with endurance, weight restrictions or that emphasize appearance or leanness. This includes gymnastics, dance, figure skating, cheerleading and long-distance running, he said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Your Body: Obesity Rates in US Teens Growing

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

Teens in the U.S. are big and getting bigger.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association examined over 40,000 children and adolescents and found an increase in the rates of obesity in Americans 12 to 19 years old. Furthermore, extreme obesity rose from about 2 percent in 1998 to 9 percent in the year 2013.

Obese children and young adults face a greater risk of high blood pressure and elevated sugar levels, and a social stigma with a lower quality of life.

Here’s what I learned while getting recently board-certified in obesity medicine: Treating obesity is not as simple as eating less and moving more. It really requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, including a safe diet and exercise program, and possible medication and surgery.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Treating PTSD with Virtual Reality Therapy: A Way to Heal Trauma

ABC News(NEW YORK) — When U.S. Marine Chris Merkle returned from his last tour of duty in Afghanistan, his family was thrilled to have him back.

But for Merkle, the welcome home was also accompanied by some dark problems. He couldn’t sleep. He was irritable and had anger issues. He would avoid certain stressful situations, like driving in traffic. And he would stay on high alert in the classroom.

“And then soon, they’re like, ‘You’re not the same,’” Merkle recalled of what his family told him. “They start to notice that you’re not really enjoying the parties of our friends. You only get really excited when you’re going to visit former Marines and the people you used to hang out with.”

Merkle served three tours in Iraq and four in Afghanistan. Re-adjusting to being a civilian was tough, he said, and he was finding it difficult to function.

“There was almost 5, 10 years of deploying back and forth back and forth — there was this void, this monster in the room that’s not talked about until finally it came out. It was like, ‘You need to see somebody. Something is going on with you,'” he said.

While Merkle was a patient at the VA, he heard of a clinical psychologist named Skip Rizzo at the University of Southern California Institute of Creative Technologies. Merkle was trying traditional one-on-one therapy and said that at the time, “it wasn’t really taking that well.” He was looking for an alternative and heard about Skip’s research that used a new and unexpected way to treat post-traumatic stress disorder — with virtual reality.

Nearly eight million adults suffer from PTSD during a given year, according to the National Center for PTSD. The condition can occur after someone has been exposed to a significant stressor and often includes symptoms such as avoidance, hyper-vigilance, anger issues and mood swings.

One common method for treatment is called “exposure therapy.” The patient recounts their trauma, visualizing it in their imagination, and narrates it to a clinician. By repeatedly confronting and processing the trauma, the brain can start to reduce the level of anxiety and response to those memories.

That’s exactly the approach Rizzo uses with virtual reality therapy.

“My mission is to drag psychology kicking and screaming into the 21st century,” Rizzo said, noting that virtual reality offers a unique opportunity for clinicians and clients alike: to be immersed in the environment that evokes the original trauma, rather than relying on the patient’s imagination.

Rizzo has created 14 virtual “worlds” for patients, and clinicians can add custom elements, including helicopters, clouds, small-arms fire and missiles.

“The first thing to keep in mind is that we are never going to replicate an exact simulation of what the patient went through,” Rizzo said. “But we really don’t need to.”

Merkle explained how the virtual reality experience works: “Your brain assumes, ‘OK, this must be where we’re at,’ and it fills in the blanks. And as you’re talking through it, you feel like you’re physically there.”

Each session lasts for about an hour and a half, and the patient speaks about their experience with a clinician as they go through the virtual simulation.

For Merkle, virtual reality allowed him to start unlocking memories and work through his trauma.

“So, it really allowed me to open the door and begin my healing process,” he said. “I’m still a work in process obviously but I’m so far forward, leaps and bound beyond where I would have been without virtual reality.”

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