Review Category : Health

Your Top Three Flu Questions Answered

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting a brutal flu season underway, Americans are wondering about the best ways to protect themselves from the illness.

Below, your top questions to ABC News about the flu answered by the experts:

Why was the vaccine so ineffective?

This year’s vaccine is only 33 percent effective in preventing the flu because the virus started to “drift” and mutate after the vaccine was already manufactured, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC News.

“The one thing about the flu that you can be sure, it’s really unpredictable,” Fauci said.

Though this year’s vaccine is not a strong match for the most prevalent strain of the flu, experts still recommended people get vaccinated because different strains of the virus will come into play as the season progresses. The shot may be a better match for the subtypes that dominate later in the year.

“There may be some level of cross-protection,” Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News chief health and medical editor, said. ” But we won’t know until March or so until we look back.”

.@joegooding Another early flu season. Started in SE => MidWest. High risk: >65yo, <5yo, pregnant, Med probs. If sick + high risk, call doc.

— #Richard Besser (@DrRichardBesser) January 3, 2015

Can I build immunity to a strain of the flu that’s been around before?

When the H1N1 strain hit in 2009, a lot of people got sick, explained Patsy Stinchfield, the director of infection prevention and control with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

“Since then, everyone got sick or was vaccinated against that particular strain so you hardly see it going around,” she said.

Immunity may not be life-long though, Strinchfield added. And even though having any kind of flu can help mitigate future bouts regardless of the subtype, some protection is not total protection.

.@shannonmholmes While you are right that most people will fight it off, each year thousands die from the flu. I take it very seriously.

— #Richard Besser (@DrRichardBesser) January 5, 2015


Other than hand washing, what’s the best way to avoid the flu?

According to the CDC, the single best way to prevent the flu is immunization. Frequent and thorough hand washing can also help prevent the spread. You should also steer clear of sick people when you can, and stay home yourself when you don’t feel well. Because the influenza virus is airborne, take care to cover coughs and sneezes.

.@MBEsposito Good hand washing very important. People who are sick should stay home. If norovirus, may need to disinfect bathrooms as well.

— #Richard Besser (@DrRichardBesser) January 3, 2015

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Some Obese People Avoid Ill-Effects of Overeating

iStock/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) — Have we all been scammed about the dangers of overeating?

Washington University School of Medicine scientists aren’t willing to go that far but an experiment they conducted with 20 obese people is raising some eyebrows.

The study involved the participants consuming an extra 1,000 calories a day for several months, primarily by dining on fast food.

The point of the research was to see if their health would be damaged by adding an extra six percent to their body weight.

What happened was that a quarter of the people who tacked on 15 more pounds to their girth suffered no ill-effects such as insulin resistance, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and excess liver fat.

These results were similar to conclusions of other studies that 25 percent of obese people are not prone to metabolic complications that result in heart problems, stroke and diabetes.

However, the Washington University scientists did note obese participants with metabolic complications who put on extra weight made their existing problems worse.

The simple explanation, according to researchers, is that obese people with abnormal metabolisms do not have the same fat-regulating genes as those with normal metabolisms.

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One Family’s Method to Kick Their Kid’s Soda Habit

iStock/Thinkstock(LIVINGSTON, Mont.) — Jonathan Sarisky proved that all it takes to avoid the lure of cold sugary beverages is the promise of cold hard cash.

The 11-year-old Livingston, Montana, boy made $500 by eschewing soda, juices and energy drinks for a full year and opting instead for only milk and water.

It was his mother Renee Shifley, stepfather Rick Shifley and father Jason Sarisky who made the offer to Jonathan to swear off sugary drink for the entire year.

Actually, Jonathan could have made $100 right away, like his brother Andrew did, and spent 2014 sipping the sweet concoctions that health experts have blamed on childhood obesity crisis and all the health problems associated with it.

But he opted for the bigger cash prize and managed to complete the challenge without cheating.

Jonathan’s mom said that waitresses in restaurants admired his willpower.

As for what happens now, Jonathan said he might indulge in a sugary drink once in a while but swears he won’t overdo it.

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Fauci: 2015 Will be ‘Bad Year’ for the Flu

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Flu season has hit the U.S. particularly hard this year and the widespread outbreak has officially been declared an epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. High flu activity is reported in 22 states, with increased hospitalizations across the country.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said today that Americans are in for a rough flu season.

“If you look at the trajectory, it’s not going to be a good year. It’s going to be a bad year,” Fauci told ABC’s Martha Raddatz on This Week. “How bad it’s going to be will depend on how it actually evolves.”

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Children, people over age 65, and those with weak immune systems are especially vulnerable to the flu. So far this year, 15 children have died from flu complications, while dozens more flu deaths have been reported nationwide.

Fauci told ABC News that the spread of the virus is “difficult to predict,” but that experts track “patterns” of influenza cases across the country.

“The one thing about the flu that you can be sure, it’s really unpredictable,” Fauci said when asked how widely the flu could spread. “At the end of the day, it just devolves and it’s difficult to predict.”

Fauci said this year’s vaccine is only 33 percent effective in preventing the flu because the virus started to “drift” and mutate after the vaccine was already manufactured.

Though this year’s vaccine is not a strong match for the most prevalent strain of the flu, Fauci still encouraged people to get vaccinated.

“Even though it isn’t a good match to what’s circulating… getting vaccinated can give you cross protection. It could be the difference between getting very sick or just being mildly sick, the difference between being hospitalized or not,” Fauci said. “So we strongly recommend people getting vaccinated.”

Despite the 67 percent ineffectiveness rate of this year’s vaccine, Fauci recommended that those at high risk — such as children and the elderly — seek treatment if they feel ill.

“Particularly people at high risk … should get an anti-viral drug. They should see their physicians, because the anti-influenza drugs can be very, very helpful for people, particularly at high risk,” Fauci said.

Unfortunately, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel for those hoping to avoid the flu this year: Flu season peaks between December and February and can last as late as May.

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Busy Lives, Work Lead Couples to Honeymoon Solo After the Wedding

fatchoi/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — First comes love, then comes marriage, and then comes two plane tickets to far-flung destinations for rest and relaxation. But for some newlyweds, those boarding passes may not lead to the same departure gate.

Conflicting schedules and demanding jobs are causing a number of recently married couples to take unimoons, a post-wedding retreat spent without one’s spouse.

Author Bill Powers wrote about his own experience choosing the unimoon path in his new book New Slow City: Living Simply in the World’s Fastest City.

“Even as Melissa and I married in a small ceremony with family and close friends, our overworking led us to join the disquieting ‘uni-moon’ trend,” Powers wrote. “Instead of a honeymoon trip together in the busy weeks after our wedding, we each took separate, individual vacations without each other–uni-moons, or what amounted to a few days of free time at the end of separate work trips.”

While Powers’ wife spent a few days solo in the sunny Dominican Republic, he wandered the romantic streets of Paris alone. The trip ultimately inspired the author to reflect on whether he and his wife had become too wrapped up in their careers, and how they could share more meaningful time together.

Travel writer Ann Abel didn’t initially set out to vacation without her husband, but felt compelled to extend her stay beyond their trip so she could advance her byline.

“My solomoon in Southeast Asia came about because of work,” she told ABC News. “I extended my trip beyond our two weeks together because editors started saying ‘Oh, you’re in the neighborhood, could you go here and write about this for me?’ I was just starting as a freelancer then and eager to make money and build my brand.”

After 16 days together, Abel’s husband returned home. But she continued on for another two weeks.

“My fiancé was incredibly understanding every time I told him I was adding to the trip. I was anxious when I asked him about each one,” she said. “He would have loved to join me, but had an office job he had to get back to.”

Abel is no longer married, but she doesn’t attribute the breakup to her extra island time. Still, she doesn’t champion it either.

“I wouldn’t have done it if I wasn’t a travel writer and can’t say I recommend it,” she said.

Powers echoed those sentiments and went so far as to caution against taking a unimoon.

“Couples might ask themselves this: Why take an individualistic first step in the wonderfully communal journey of marriage? Might that be oxymoronic?” he told ABC News, adding that the uni-moon trend plays in to a “work-and-spend” pattern.

“On one of the several real honeymoons we took after the disasterous unimoons, we took a stay-cation in our Greenwich Village neighborhood, lowering the carbon footprint associated with traveling long distances and sinking into the beauty right around us,” he said.

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CrossFit Vacations Take Your Burpees to the Beach

Ammentorp Photography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — After spending months getting in shape for a long-awaited beach vacation, you all too often find that hard work undone within days because of high-calorie drinks, indulgent meals and zero workouts.

But what if you could maintain your edge while enjoying paradise? That’s the inspiration behind a new series of CrossFit vacations hosted in exotic locales with built-in workouts and no-guilt cuisine.

It’s heaven, for a certain brand of a health nut.

“They’re doing all kinds of things right now,” said Stephanie Vaughan, head coach at CrossFit Giant in Englewood, New Jersey, and Edgewater, New Jersey. “Lots of [locations] are organizing vacations to attend the CrossFit Games for inspiration or to different tropical islands or to use it as a challenge, like, ‘How fit can you get while you’re away?'”

Based on a health regimen developed by Coach Greg Glassman, CrossFit training circuits are typically performed inside minimalist gyms called “boxes.” But, sometimes, an athlete needs to get outside the box and take in the scenery, say proponents of the high-intensity retreats.

“Life needs balance and at Destino you’ll find that we have brought together everything that our community values. Be ready to drink hard, laugh hard and WOD hard,” Destino Retreats founder Ty Texidor said on the website. “Destino is the culmination of wanting to engage others in learning about the capability of their bodies, share with others incredible destinations around the world, and wanting to raise a glass to toast life in the presence of good company.”

Destino Retreats takes its clients to destinations including Mexico, Arizona, Mammoth and Hawaii, combining stunning outdoor surroundings with two workouts of the day (WODs), plus meals that hew to the paleo diet.

Another CrossFit excursion company, StayFit Travel, takes its athletes even farther from home, with trips ranging from Los Angeles to Belize to London.

“StayFit Travel offers full vacation packages with all the usual ‘tourist highlights’ of the area, but will also include visits to local boxes for a WOD every day,” StayFit Travel founder JD writes. “You’ll get the chance to work with different coaches on their home turf who will motivate you to lift heavier, run faster and work harder.”

If all of this leaves you feeling like you need to book a plane ticket, you’re not alone.

CrossFit Giant has previously hosted day trips and three-day ski strips, but Vaughan said she is in the early stages of planning an extended tour out to the West Coast.

“It’s a very community-oriented group,” Vaughan said of her athletes. “The people who start it and continue, we definitely are like-minded.

“So planning a trip somewhere for the summer, we know we can enjoy doing the things we like to do with people who are all supportive of one another.”

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CrossFit Vacations Take Your Burpees to the Beach

Ammentorp Photography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — After spending months getting in shape for a long-awaited beach vacation, you all too often find that hard work undone within days because of high-calorie drinks, indulgent meals and zero workouts.

But what if you could maintain your edge while enjoying paradise? That’s the inspiration behind a new series of CrossFit vacations hosted in exotic locales with built-in workouts and no-guilt cuisine.

It’s heaven, for a certain brand of a health nut.

“They’re doing all kinds of things right now,” said Stephanie Vaughan, head coach at CrossFit Giant in Englewood, New Jersey, and Edgewater, New Jersey. “Lots of [locations] are organizing vacations to attend the CrossFit Games for inspiration or to different tropical islands or to use it as a challenge, like, ‘How fit can you get while you’re away?'”

Based on a health regimen developed by Coach Greg Glassman, CrossFit training circuits are typically performed inside minimalist gyms called “boxes.” But, sometimes, an athlete needs to get outside the box and take in the scenery, say proponents of the high-intensity retreats.

“Life needs balance and at Destino you’ll find that we have brought together everything that our community values. Be ready to drink hard, laugh hard and WOD hard,” Destino Retreats founder Ty Texidor said on the website. “Destino is the culmination of wanting to engage others in learning about the capability of their bodies, share with others incredible destinations around the world, and wanting to raise a glass to toast life in the presence of good company.”

Destino Retreats takes its clients to destinations including Mexico, Arizona, Mammoth and Hawaii, combining stunning outdoor surroundings with two workouts of the day (WODs), plus meals that hew to the paleo diet.

Another CrossFit excursion company, StayFit Travel, takes its athletes even farther from home, with trips ranging from Los Angeles to Belize to London.

“StayFit Travel offers full vacation packages with all the usual ‘tourist highlights’ of the area, but will also include visits to local boxes for a WOD every day,” StayFit Travel founder JD writes. “You’ll get the chance to work with different coaches on their home turf who will motivate you to lift heavier, run faster and work harder.”

If all of this leaves you feeling like you need to book a plane ticket, you’re not alone.

CrossFit Giant has previously hosted day trips and three-day ski strips, but Vaughan said she is in the early stages of planning an extended tour out to the West Coast.

“It’s a very community-oriented group,” Vaughan said of her athletes. “The people who start it and continue, we definitely are like-minded.

“So planning a trip somewhere for the summer, we know we can enjoy doing the things we like to do with people who are all supportive of one another.”

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New Beauty Service Give You Thicker, Fuller Eyebrows

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Eyelash extensions have made waves since breaking into the beauty service scene. Now, experts are helping you channel your inner Cara Delevingne with the latest in trends — eyebrow extensions.

“I think the fashion industry definitely influenced the trend with models having thicker brows,” says Courtney Buhler, owner of Lash Affair, a full service eyelash and eyebrow lounge in Canada. “We’ve been wanting to get away from the days in our teens where we’d over-tweeze. Plus the fuller the eyebrow, the more youthful you’ll look.”

Eyebrow extensions begin with a consultation where an expert works with you to see what shape best suits your face.

“We typically judge it by looking at the hair on a customer’s head,” says Buhler. “If the hair is thick, you’ll usually want thicker brows.”

The extensions (which are similar to synthetic lash extensions) are then applied with one of two latex-based adhesives, depending on how much hair need is needed.

“There’s a skin safe adhesive and a hair safe adhesive,” Buhler says. “The skin adhesive is FDA regulated and can be applied directly to the skin. It was developed for women who had gone through chemo, or with alopecia who didn’t have any brows at all.”

For women that simply want to thicken their brows, the extensions are applied onto the base of the existing hair.

Customers can choose from five colors, length, and level of thickness.

The extensions last from six to eight weeks, according to Buhler. Those needing full brow replacement could see a two-to-three week lifespan.

Prices range from $50 to $200 depending on level of restoration.

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Possible Measles Exposure at Kids’ ‘Please Touch Museum’

John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) — Health officials in Pennsylvania are worried that a person likely infected with measles may have spread the disease this week during a visit to the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia and in a nearby pharmacy.

The alert comes as health officials have already recorded 20 outbreaks of measles over the past year.

It’s not clear if anyone has contracted the disease from the latest patient because the virus could incubate for two weeks. But officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Health said that a person “who likely has measles may have exposed other people to the disease” at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia on Monday from 3:30 to 5 p.m. They did not say whether the person was a child or an adult.

“Infected droplets and secretions can remain contagious on surfaces for up to two hours,” according to a health department statement. The measles virus can also spread through the air and can remain airborne for a few hours.

Health experts are particularly concerned about the person’s visit to the museum because many of the museum’s visitors may be too young to have had their MMR vaccine, which protects them from the measles. Admission to the museum is free for children under a year old.

“We vaccinate children between 12 and 15 months of age,” said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. “There’s a lot of time for children from birth to 15 months of age to be susceptible.”

Others at risk include people who have been withheld from getting vaccinated against the measles, those traveling from countries that don’t comprehensively vaccinate against the disease — usually in Europe, Israel and the Philippines — and people who are immunocompromised.

The Please Touch Museum did not return calls for comment.

The person who “likely has measles” may have also exposed people to the virus at a Wayne, Pennsylvania, CVS Pharmacy on Sunday.

Despite the concern, Schaffner said the risk of transmission is low, and the Pennsylvania health department is still trying to determine whether the person suspected of having measles is actually infected, according to department spokeswoman Aimee Tysarczyk.

Symptoms take between one and two weeks to appear after exposure, and they begin with a runny nose and a high fever before progressing to a rash, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Serious complications can include inflammation of the brain, pneumonia and miscarriages or premature delivery in pregnant women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 610 measles case in 20 separate outbreaks in 2014 alone, which is more than triple the number of cases in any single year since 2001. The agency suggested that a large outbreak in the Philippines may be partially to blame.

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Look at the Obese Dachshund That Lost 43 Pounds

WSYX-TV(WEST COLUMBUS, O.H.) — Dennis the Dachshund is starting the new year off with a new, slim body.

The dachshund was much bigger than he should have been — a whopping 56 pounds — after his owner picked him up from a relative’s house who had been feeding him human food and an excessive amounts of treats.

Now, after more than a year of a strict diet and exercise regime coupled with a skin removal surgery, Dennis is down to a svelte 13 pounds.

“He now can go up and down the steps,” owner Brooklyn Burton told ABC News affiliate WSYX-TV. “He never used to be able to do that. Run, even faster. He thinks he rules the house.”

The physical transformation is remarkable, but not over. He will still have another skin removal surgery later this month at Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital.

His owner is being very diligent about keeping him on track, but she told WSYX-TV that he still has the same passion for food that got him into trouble before.

“He loves when it’s chow time,” she said. “He does a little dance.”

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