Review Category : Health

Google Improves Its Medical Symptoms Search Results

Google(NEW YORK) — Google has improved its symptoms-searching capabilities for the millions of people turning to the Internet to diagnose their health conditions.

The new algorithm gives users a list of related conditions when they search their medical symptoms. Google will also give an overview description for individual symptoms and self-treatment options, the tech giant explained in a blog post. Medical terminology is also translated into simpler terms for non-health professionals to understand.

“We know that people are searching for their medical symptoms on Google, so we wanted to provide people with clear and useful information about possible conditions to explain their symptoms,” a spokesperson for Google told ABC News.

“For example, you can type in ‘my tummy hurts,’ and don’t need to know that doctors usually refer to that as abdominal pain. We then combine that with specific and high quality medical knowledge from our Knowledge Graph, that we built with the help of doctors, including the Mayo Clinic,” a Google spokesperson said. “The way we build the condition lists is a new algorithm but does not alter search results in any way.”

The feature is currently only available in English in the U.S. on the Google app for Android and iOS and on the mobile web, according to Google. The company plans to add the feature internationally in time.

In a statement, the Mayo Clinic said the information provided by Google “is not intended to be medical advice or a diagnostic tool, and it is presented for informational purposes only.”

“Google worked with teams of physicians to review individual symptom information, and expert clinicians at Mayo Clinic evaluated related conditions for a representative sample of searches to help improve Google’s lists,” according to Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Paul A. Testa, MD, a chief medical information officer at the NYU Langone Medical Center, told ABC News Wednesday that Google’s new search tool “is an absolute step in the right direction.”

“This only improves what people are already doing,” Testa said. “It is curated so we know they are not off on some random blog that has an agenda.”

Testa emphasized though that Google cannot replace a doctor.

“Where it could go wrong is when people defer medical care because they feel comforted,” Testa explained. “Machines don’t diagnosis people, doctors and people diagnosis people, but this improves information.”

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Bethenny Frankel Opens Up About Fibroids Issue, Surgery

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Bethenny Frankel has revealed it was a fibroid issue that forced her to scale back her screen time on this season of The Real Housewives of New York City and undergo surgery last month.

“The bleeding was so excessive and I was so weak and I felt like I looked so haggard and had such black circles under my eyes that I had to take care of it ,” Frankel, 45, said Wednesday on Good Morning America. “I just felt zoned out.”

The Naturally Thin author and Skinnygirl brand founder said she spent three days in the hospital in May after undergoing a myomectomy, a surgical procedure to remove uterine fibroids, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Frankel, the mother of a 6-year-old daughter, had spoken previously about facing a women’s health issue” and in a recent Real Housewives episode revealed she was suffering from heavy bleeding.

“It was part of the show and it was affecting the way I was acting during the show,” she said, adding that her doctors removed “gigantic” fibroids. “When you’re iron deficient and you’ve lost so much of your blood, you just feel depleted.”

Frankel, who previously suffered from endometriosis and cysts and had a miscarriage, said she is using her food background to heal.

“Everyone thinks because I have a brand called Skinnygirl that I’m all focused on health all the time and I’m not. I’m stressed. I’m a mom, just like anyone else,” Frankel said. “But since the surgery I was drinking green juices and eating more vegetarian foods and trying to just eat healing foods.”

“I did go to school for food and healing so I’ve tried to really exercise that,” she added. “I think that’s why the recovery’s been more quick than my doctors said.”

The reality TV star has been locked in a multiple year divorce with estranged husband Jason Hoppy. Frankel told ABC News in April she is hopeful her divorce will be finalized soon.

On Wednesday she said she feels like she is “coming out on the other side.”

“I feel happier than I’ve felt in such a long time,” Frankel said. “I’m so blessed with my daughter and my career but I’ve had a couple of difficult years in my personal life.”

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American Woman Who Underwent Female Genital Mutilation Comes Forward to Help Others

Olivia Smith/ABC News(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) — When “Sarah” first told her story, she did not want to show her face or give her real name. The American-born woman underwent female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting (FGC), when she was 7 years old.

In 2015, ABC News interviewed Sarah, obscuring her face for privacy, and giving her a pseudonym.

“I remember feeling pain,” Sarah had told ABC News. “I was crying, so I was scared during it because it hurt.”

In 2016, the 33-year-old decided to reveal herself publicly on camera.

“It’s definitely scary to come out with my face on camera,” Mariya Taher told ABC News. “I don’t want to be judged for having undergone female genital cutting, or viewed as a victim.”

There are four types of FGC/M, according to the World Health Organization. They range in severity, from removing parts of a woman’s genitals to sealing closed the vaginal opening (also known as infibulation). According to the organization, side effects range from bleeding and infections to complications with childbirth and increased risk of death for newborns.

The origins of FGC/M are unclear. But experts say the ancient practice is not officially linked to religion in any way. It’s done for a variety of reasons, with supporters saying it carries on tradition, protects a woman’s honor and ensures she will stay a virgin until marriage. In some places a woman can’t get married unless she has undergone the procedure.

“This is something that is viewed as child abuse, and it’s something that is happening to a girl that doesn’t have the capacity yet to consent to it,” Taher said.

Taher lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is “trying to work to stop the practice of female genital cutting from continuing.”

As a child, Taher underwent what is called “vacation cutting,” which is the act of sending a child abroad to have FGC/M performed. Taher was visiting her relatives in Mumbai, India, with her family when her mother took her to have the procedure done.

“I remember being taken to an old-looking building and going up a flight of stairs and going into the apartment building,” Taher said. “I remember being put on the ground and my dress was pulled up, and I remember something sharp cut me.”

FGC/M is not just occurring abroad. This year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that the number of women and girls who may have undergone the procedure in the past, or may be at risk for undergoing the procedure in the future, more than tripled in the U.S. from 2000 to 2013. The agency found more than 500,000 women and girls in America may be at risk in their lifetime.

“[That is] three-fold higher than the last time we did a similar estimate in the ‘90s, and in fact, four-fold higher in girls under the age of 18,” said Dr. Thomas Clark, a medical epidemiologist within the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health.

Officials from various organizations attribute the increase in the U.S. to a combination of factors: an influx of female immigrants who were cut in their homelands, American born females sent abroad for “vacation cutting” and others who undergo the procedure on American soil.

Performing FGC/M on U.S. soil has been illegal since 1996. A 2013 federal law banned sending children overseas for the procedure.

Taher said her sister underwent FGC/M on U.S. soil.

“I remember her crying. I didn’t see her until after she got it done. At that point I was still in the innocent area like, ‘This is something that happens to all of us, and now it’s happened to my sister,’” she told ABC News in 2015.

Shelby Quast, policy director of Equality Now, a legal advocacy organization that fights to protect and promote the human rights of women and girls around the world, said, “In terms of domestic policy [and awareness], there has been some work [done], but there’s still a long way to go.”

Quast said child protection services and U.S. educators need to learn how to recognize when girls are at risk of FGC/M.

As a social activist, Taher started an organization called Sahiyo, which works to empower communities to fight female genital cutting through education, collaboration and community engagement. She is also on the Massachusetts Female Genital Cutting Task Force, which is working on legislation at the state level to ban the practice.

“The importance of having a state law is that when something happens in the state, and there’s a crime that happens here, the state has a better ability to deal with it, to prosecute its residents to deal with the health, safety and welfare of its residents,” said Katie Cintolo, an attorney who is also on the task force.

“I wish I hadn’t undergone it, but I think because I did undergo it, I have this passion for gender violence issues that I’m able to be in a place where I can talk about it, I can do research on it…I have an insider’s perspective,” Taher said.

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Marathon Runner Describes Traumatic Bear Attack Within Miles of Finish Line, N.M.) — A bear confronted a marathoner Saturday just a few miles short of the finish line.

Officials say a female black bear attacked Karen Williams in the Valles Caldera National Preserve in northern New Mexico after the woman unintentionally startled the mother bear and her three cubs.

Williams suffered several bites and scratches and sustained non-life-threatening injuries to her head, neck and upper body.

“She was ripping at my upper arms. I had my hands over the head and I screamed because that hurt,” Williams told ABC News.

She added that the bear didn’t like her screaming so “she gave me a whack on the side of the head with her left paw.”

The bear then bit Williams’ neck and “started shaking me,” Williams recalled. Realizing that her only hope for survival was to play dead until the bear left, she said, “I pretended I was dead and she kept glancing over at me.”

About 30 minutes after the attack, Williams was discovered by fellow runners and airlifted to an Albuquerque hospital with serious injuries.

William’s described her facial injury, saying “I have a nice chunk out of my eyebrow that I will probably have to get a bit of plastic surgery on.”

Doctors have said Williams will make a full recovery.

Because the bear attacked a person, state law requires the bear to be euthanized and tested for rabies. The bear’s cubs will be sent to a wildlife refuge.

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One-Pound Preemie’s Emotional Journey Hits Home for ‘Finding Dory’ Creator

Courtesy Maureen Azize(LITTLE COMPTON, R.I.) — A Rhode Island mom and dad are facing the challenges of their son’s premature birth head-on with encouragement from none other than the director of Finding Dory, Andrew Stanton.

“Andrew Stanton himself was born premature and didn’t have much of a chance of survival,” mom Maureen Azize of Little Compton told ABC News Tuesday. “It was inspiring to hear how thankful he was to his parents for giving him a chance. It confirmed it was the right choice to give Francis a chance.”

When Francis William Azize was born on Jan 13, 2015, he weighed just 1 pound, 9 ounces. He was 17 weeks early, arriving at 23 weeks. Doctors gave him a 15 percent chance of survival and he spent 118 days in the NICU at the Ronald McDonald House in Providence, Rhode Island, his mother said.

“It was a lot of ups and downs,” Azize said of her now 1-year-old son. “They say it’s a roller coaster and it definitely is. Some days it derails, but he received a lot of prayers and a lot of love from everyone and he is thriving. The staff, nurses, doctors — they’re such unique people on the front lines of fragile lives.”

She added: “Developmentally, he’s right on track of where we want him to be. He’s currently in the process of wanting to walk. He’s not there yet, but he wants to be. I think one of the doctors said, ‘You have to have spunk to be born at 23 weeks,’ and I think that described him very well … he’s just a real little gift.”

Charles Kinnane, Azize’s brother and Francis’ uncle, shared a video with the family featuring an inspiring speech delivered by Stanton at the 2012 Ted Talk conference.

Stanton is the creative force behind Disney & Pixar’s Finding Nemo and the newly released sequel, Finding Dory.

But it was what he said at the end of the conference that the Azize family said brought them to tears.

“When I was born, I was born premature — that I came out much too early and I wasn’t fully baked,” Stanton said in his speech. “I was very, very sick and when the doctor took a look at this yellow kid with black teeth he looked straight at my mom and said, ‘He’s not going to live.’”

He added: “I was in the hospital for months. I lived. Whatever I ended up being good at, I would strive to be worthy of the second chance I was given.”

The Azizes, along with Kinnane, created a video titled, “Just Keep Swimming,” which correlated Stanton’s speech with Francis’ journey.

The footage, posted on June 17, was viewed 6.2 million times on Francis William’s community Facebook page.

“It’s a little no overwhelming, but not in a bad way,” Azize said of the video’s popularity. “We’ve received so many other stories from people who have premature children. Some are still in the NICU and have appreciation for life after watching it. I think ultimately that’s been the greatest thing about sharing the video is this appreciation on life.”

In February 2015, while Francis was still in the NICU, Kinnane was stunned to be sitting next to Stanton on a flight from LAX to Oakland.

“I said, ‘Mr. Stanton, I don’t want to bother you, but my sister and brother-in-law have a son that’s in the NICU and your TED Talk really inspired us,'” Kinnane of San Francisco Bay said of the encounter. “I showed him some photos [of Francis] and he couldn’t have been nicer. After seeing some photos he said, ‘Us preemies need to stick together.'”

Can’t stop crying. “Profoundly moved” is an understatement. #GoFrancis

— andrew stanton (@andrewstanton) June 20, 2016

As Kinnane deplaned, Stanton handed him a note for his nephew. It read, “To Francis William, Just Keep Swimming. -Andrew Stanton.”

“I think it’s a really cool story and connection between the events,” Azize said.

In response to the “Just Keep Swimming,” Stanton shared the video on Twitter writing: “Can’t stop crying. ‘Profoundly moved’ is an understatement. #GoFrancis”

“‘Just keep swimming’ and that’s what Francis did,” Azize said in the video. “He just kept swimming throughout the NICU and he continues to ‘just keep swimming’ and thriving. We wanted to give him a chance.”

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC News.

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Dad Gets Tattoo to Match His Son’s Surgery Scar

Courtesy Josh Marshall(WICHITA, Kan.) — A father’s effort to mitigate his son’s insecurity after a cancer surgery left him with a scar on his head is gaining attention across the internet.

Gabriel Marshall, now 8 years old, was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer called anaplastic astrocytoma in March 2015. Surgeries to remove his tumor left him bald with a scar on the right side of his head, according to his father, Josh Marshall.

“My son was very self-conscious after he got his surgery. He felt like a monster,” Marshall told ABC News.

In August 2015, Marshall decided to get a tattoo mimicking his son’s scar. “I said, ‘You know what, I’ll get your scar tattooed. That way, if people want to stare at you, then they can stare at both of us.’”

Gabriel loves his dad’s tattoo and tells people he and his father are like twins.

Marshall’s decision has not only boosted his son’s confidence, but also received an outpouring of praise after he entered a picture to the St. Baldrick Foundation’s #BestBaldDad competition, in which 55 dads who shaved their heads in support of their children with cancer submitted photo entries. Marshall’s picture was captioned: “Me and my son at this year’s St. Baldrick’s event in Wichita, Kansas. Got my son’s scar tattooed to help his self-confidence.”

Marshall and his son received more than 5,000 votes and won first place.

“I never intended for it to be this big,” he said of the attention his photo has received. “It was just a friendly competition between fellow cancer dads and people showing support for their loved ones who have fought cancer.”

Gabriel is doing well, Marshall told ABC News. Though a small portion of the tumor still remains, it hasn’t grown. He receives scans once every three months, with his next MRI scheduled for next week.

Though he could never have anticipated the response, Marshall expressed his gratitude.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “I’m glad that I can kind of spread awareness for the childhood cancer community.”

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What We Know About the First Zika Vaccine Trial by Inovio Pharmaceuticals

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A U.S. company has announced the first clinical trial of a Zika vaccine intended to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals announced on Monday it will start a Phase I safety trial of their potential vaccine in the next few weeks. Here’s what we know about this first vaccine candidate.

How does a Phase I trial work?

Inovio Pharmaceuticals has gained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test the safety of the vaccine in 40 volunteers, according to a statement from the company.

The first trial will be a Phase I trial, which means the goal is to ensure the vaccine is safe to use. The volunteers who get the vaccine will not be exposed to the Zika virus, but researchers will take note of any side effects they develop from the vaccine itself.

“Small groups of people three or four or five in a group are usually [given] different doses in a vaccine,” by researchers, Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News. Researchers, “then test their blood afterwards to see what their response is.”

How does it work?

This type of a vaccine uses a dead version of the virus to prime the immune system to build up a resistance and create specific proteins that target the virus. Part of the virus’ DNA will be injected into the volunteers in the vaccine.

If the vaccine is deemed safe to use from this early trial, it will be expanded to a Phase II trial. It’s during the Phase II and Phase III trial that researchers will look to see if the vaccine is effective at preventing a Zika virus infection.

How long will it take to get results?

The company expects to start administering the vaccine candidate in the next few weeks. The results of this initial study will likely be known later this year.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Health, explained Monday at WTOP Radio that Phase I trial results “usually takes maybe four months or so to see if it is safe.”

“This is good news,” Fauci said, speaking about the possibility of finding an effective and safe Zika vaccine.

Schaffner explained it will likely take years before a Zika vaccine can go through the necessary testing to be fully approved.

“It’s still a long tunnel that we get to before we get to any vaccine and one that’s safe,” he explained.

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Some Frozen Vegetables Voluntarily Recalled over Listeria Concerns

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A limited quantity of frozen peas and mixed vegetables are being voluntarily recalled by the National Frozen Food Corporation over fears they could be contaminated with listeria.

Frozen peas and mixed vegetables with the name “Not-Ready-To-Eat” were distributed between Sept. 2, 2015 and June 2, 2016. The National Frozen Foods Corporation detected possible contamination during a sample test, the company said in a statement on Friday. No one has been reported sick as a result of listeria contamination, according to the company.

A full list of the products affected by the recall can be found here. Consumers are recommended to check the date codes on their items and return them for a full refund.

Listeria is a bacteria that can sicken people who consume it through food. It usually causes fever, headache, nausea and diarrhea. In people with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly or those under the age of 5, the bacteria can cause dangerous and sometimes fatal infections. Pregnant women who contract the infection are at risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.

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After Orlando Shooting, First Responders Grapple with Psychological Toll

iStock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO) — When EMT Julio Salgado arrived at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in the early morning hours of June 12, he saw rows of wounded bodies as law enforcement officers dragged victims out of the building — later telling ABC News he’s “never been on a scene like this before.”

There were no medics or emergency personnel allowed inside the nightclub at that time, because the gunman was still firing. So Salgado and his EMT crew approached the injured victims outside with a backboard and stretcher, ducking down behind a shotgun-wielding officer.

“It was like a war scene,” Salgado said. “It was load and go. Just get them out of there.”

First responders train for mass casualty events like the Orlando shooting that left at least 49 people dead, making it the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history and the deadliest attack in the country since 9/11. Despite their training, some struggle with the psychological impact that follows.

Police officers who responded to the shooting were immersed in utter chaos and darkness when they first entered Pulse. The only light came from a spinning disco ball that revealed a dance floor covered in blood, bodies and bullet casings, the officers told ABC Orlando affiliate WFTV.

Screams and gunshots echoed inside the nightclub as they looked for survivors and tried to stop the shooter. Patrons were running out of the building with open wounds, trying to escape. The officers told WFTV they went through the club “going one-by-one, pulling (victims) up and checking for pulses.”

Once the Adrenaline Wears Off

Survivors, family members and friends are all at risk of emotional trauma following a mass shooting like the one at Pulse. For first responders, and the nurses, doctors, and surgeons who raced to the hospital to treat victims, that psychological impact can be especially intense, experts said.

“Once that adrenaline wears off and the muscle memory goes away, how do you deal with the effects of that?” Jason Marquez, President and CEO of First Response Training Groups in Orlando, which offers EMT and paramedic certification programs, told ABC News.

Marquez’s school for EMTs and paramedics sent more than 40 students and even more alumni to the scene of the Pulse shooting. Many of the students were dispatched specifically to tend to the families of victims in the immediate aftermath of the shooting — doing everything from bringing them pizza to offering prayers and someone to communicate with.

“We assigned one student to each family,” Marquez said. “If they want to sit there in silence, we’ll sit in silence. If they want us to pray to whatever God you want to pray to, we’ll do that.”

Recognizing that his students would need this type of support as well, he explained that his school held a gathering the day after the tragedy to provide a forum for people to talk and listen and process their experiences. He said communication is key to manage stress following such an event.

Dr. Daphne Simeon, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, stressed that “everyone has to process in their own way,” adding that no one should be forced to participate in structured group interventions.

“The major predictive factor is social support — it is incredibly effective,” said Simeon. “So, part of the acute interventions is discussing [one’s] social network and enhancing it.”

The Long View

Dr. Louise Buhrmann, a psychiatrist in Orlando, is helping coordinate counseling efforts for the Pulse shooting with the Florida Psychiatric Society. She has been referring patients to the Zebra Coalition, a local LGBT-plus organization, where mental health volunteers are offering counseling.

So far the calls have come primarily from local residents who observed the shootings or have been following them on the news, but Buhrmann said she believes they will hear from more victims and first responders as time goes by.

“There will still be the people who were more involved [in the rescue]; they have been too busy to care for themselves,” she told ABC News. ”Problems can crop up at any time, people with previous trauma events can be reactivated.”

Tony Colombrito, a professional counselor and American Red Cross disaster mental health volunteer, echoed this sentiment that reactions emerge over time. Colombrito was deployed to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, within hours of the December 2012 mass shooting there. He spent about a week providing support to first responders, victims’ families, and residents in the town.

He said some first responders wanted an ear to listen, while others needed a hug.

“Most didn’t want to talk about what they saw,” he told ABC News. “There’s the shock, but afterwards is when I think the real encounter with what happened starts to manifest.”

Dr. Matthew Levy, an emergency medicine physician at Johns Hopkins, said stigma may prevent first responders from seeking care. Levy was a first responder during the 2014 Columbia mall shooting, as well as serving as a paramedic on 9/11 and during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Levy said the most effective way of helping first responders is to train them to recognize distress in their peers.

“They are not alone. There may invariably be a moment when they feel like they are alone but they are not,” he told ABC News.

David Caplan, chief professional officer at American Counseling Association and a former first responder, said emergency personnel are trained to put their feelings aside in order to do their job and save lives. The problem, he said, is allowing themselves to feel after they have done their job so that they can process the experience and heal from it.

“I can tell you from my experience, the absolute most difficult thing was seeing a dead person,” Caplan told ABC News. “The first overwhelming feeling I had was the need to go home and take a shower, that I just needed to go home and wash it all off me.”

Not all first responders will need counseling or will suffer from psychological disorders after responding to a mass casualty event like the Orlando shooting. Dr. Patricia Watson at the National Center for PTSD said most emergency personnel will recuperate mentally on their own over time.

“They might be exhausted and they might be shaken, but it doesn’t mean they need treatment or that they’re going to go on to have a disorder,” Watson said. “These are people who are trained to go toward danger.”

But it’s important for their peers to remain vigilant in offering support months down the road, while also providing options and giving them control over their recovery.

“It’s very, very important for them to feel in control of what happens next,” Watson said. “If they feel like it’s better for them to be on the job, then that should be respected.”

Salgado, the Orlando emergency medical technician, said he doesn’t know whether the two victims he transported to the hospital survived the shooting at Pulse because he never got their names. Wiping tears from his eyes, he told ABC News he’s had trouble sleeping since that night.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Salgado said. “This is what we work for and train for.”

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Your Body: Regaining Lost Weight

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

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you know it could be an up and down battle. This is likely why so many winners of weight loss shows wind up putting the pounds back on.

It’s a concept called metabolic adaptation — or as some people call it, “the defense of fatness.” It means there are actually hormonal and metabolic reasons that people regain lost weight.

It’s not meant to be an excuse, or remove personal responsibility. But it does mean that people who regain their weight are not lazy or undisciplined.

Since becoming board-certified in obesity medicine, I practice a pyramid approach to treating obesity. This means aggressive attention to diet and exercise for everyone, FDA-approved use of weight loss medications for some and bariatric or weight loss surgery for a few.

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