Review Category : Health

Why Super Potent Synthetic Opioids Are ‘Crazy Dangerous,’ DEA Says

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — As the opioid epidemic has continued to grow in multiple parts of the country, extremely potent synthetic forms of the painkillers — especially fentanyl and carfentanil — have become more common among everyday users, according to U.S. authorities.

Last week, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) issued a public warning to law enforcement about the safety risks of taking or interacting with synthetic opioids, especially carfentanil and fentanyl. The agency warned the drugs can be deadly, even in very low quantities.

“Carfentanil is surfacing in more and more communities,” DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg said in a statement on Friday. “We see it on the streets, often disguised as heroin. It is crazy dangerous. Synthetics such as fentanyl and carfentanil can kill you. “

In Ohio, rates of opioid overdoses have been growing and one public health official issued a public health warning after police linked carfentanil to opioid overdoses in August and September.

“Fentanyl and heroin have already killed 300 people this year and we are headed for double the number of fatalities as 2015,” Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson said in August. “The detection of carfentanil here is a very disturbing development in the ongoing illegal opiate crisis. This drug is intended for use as an anesthetic in large animals and veterinarians take special precautions just handling it. Small amounts are rapidly fatal.”

This past weekend, seven fatal drug overdoses were reported in Cuyahoga County, leading Gilson to issue another public health warning, although the cases have not been connected to a particular drug.

“This cluster of deaths is deeply concerning. Although there is no clear link between the individuals, this number clearly raises the possibility of a very deadly drug in our community,” said Gilson in a statement Monday.

When synthetic opioids are introduced, they create a tranquilizing effect by attaching to certain brain receptors, according to Dr. David Edwards, Clinical Service Chief for Chronic Pain Service at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. An overdose can occur because the same receptors also affect basic survival functions.

“The opioids are acting on these opioid receptors, they’re reducing your brain’s perception of pain,” Edwards explained.

“But these same receptors are controlling your breathing and controlling your transit of food through the GI tract,” he added, which “blocks transmission to the brain’s receptor and stops the drive to breathe.”


Fentanyl is used primarily in operating rooms and is thought to be 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin. It’s a synthetic opioid first created in the 1950’s and used as an intravenous anesthetic, according to medical literature.

When used intravenously, the drug starts working in one minute compared to five minutes for morphine, according to a 2011 published review in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health.

Edwards explained that since it works so quickly, fentanyl can cause a potentially fatal overdose much faster than other opioids.

“Morphine takes 20 to 30 minutes to peak,” in the bloodstream said Edwards. Fentanyl, “it peaks in your blood within five minutes.”

Edwards said he’s heard of drug dealers warning users to not experiment with fentanyl since it’s so dangerous in such a small amount.

Ray Isackila, an addiction and recovery services specialist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, said synthetic fentanyl is cheaper to make than heroin. Drug dealers or users sometimes mix it with heroin to reduce cost or give more punch to lesser quality heroin, creating “tainted” batches.

“People started mixing fentanyl in with not-so-pure heroin to make it more powerful,” said Isackila. He said that drug users are usually unaware of when the drugs have been tainted with fentanyl, so they may not know how the drug will affect them.


Carfentanil is a variation on fentanyl developed for animal, not human, use. It was developed as an anesthetic for large animals, including elephants, and its potency is thought to be “2,500 times more than heroin,” according to the Cuyahoga County public health commissioner.

“It is suggested to be 10,000 times stronger than morphine,” said Isackila. “It takes a microscopic amount of this drug to kill a person.”

The drug is so dangerous the DEA warned law enforcement last week to take protective measures if they think they have encountered synthetic opioids, especially carfentanil, since the drug can be absorbed through the skin.

“Carfentanil and other fentanyl-related compounds are a serious danger to public safety, first responder, medical, treatment, and laboratory personnel,” the DEA said on its website. “These substances can come in several forms, including powder, blotter paper, tablets, and spray –- they can be absorbed through the skin or accidental inhalation of airborne powder.”

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Why One Blogger Mom Says Parents Should Become More ‘Average’

ABC News(NEW YORK) — One mom is advocating for a laid back approach to parenting, calling out “free-range” and “helicopter” parents and suggesting that moms and dads drop the labels and embrace being average.

Blogger Ilana Wiles stopped by Good Morning America Tuesday to discuss her new book, The Mommy Shorts Guide to Remarkably Average Parenting and shared her tips for letting go.

“I think there’s so much pressure to be a perfect parent today that a lot of moms actually feel like bad parents, so I think embracing remarkably average is actually inspirational,” said Wiles. “You know, you see all these pictures of perfect parenting on Instagram and things like that and those people are just good photographers and good art directors–they’re not necessarily having a different experience than anybody else.”

She added: “I do it, I post perfect pictures.”

Wiles suggests having low expectations and a selective memory, meaning taking the positive out of every parenting situation.

“I took my kids to the amusement park and we had a fabulous time the whole day and at the end, my oldest daughter flipped out because we were leaving,” Wiles said. “She had a total meltdown and I can choose to remember that day as the meltdown that happened at the end or I can remember her beautiful smile when we were on the roller coaster for the first time and everything was great. It’s kind of up to me what I take away from that day.”

The Mommy Shorts Guide to Remarkably Average Parenting is out now.

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In High-Risk Women, Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy May Mean Lower Risk of Pregnancy Loss

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms in pregnancy, affecting up to 80 percent of pregnant women. Some studies have suggested that these symptoms, as unpleasant as they are, may be good news for the pregnancy.

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine evaluated the relationship between symptoms such as nausea/vomiting and pregnancy loss in high risk women who had already experienced one or two past pregnancy losses. Researchers analyzed previously collected data on a total of 797 pregnant women, 188 of whom ultimately experienced another pregnancy loss.

They looked at symptoms such as nausea and vomiting that these women experienced, based on the required diaries these women kept. The study revealed that in women with nausea, the risk of pregnancy loss was slashed in half. Women with both nausea and vomiting had a 75 percent lower risk.

The findings seem to suggest that having nausea and vomiting is linked to a lower risk for pregnancy loss, at least in these high-risk women.

It is important to note that these plausible findings likely exaggerated the effect of nausea and vomiting on pregnancy loss, given that the study is done on this group of particularly high-risk women. In this study alone, the rate of pregnancy loss in this particular group was as high as 23.6 percent.. The study also does not control for many factors such as whether these women took any medication to alleviate these unpleasant pregnancy symptoms.

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Physical Inactivity in High School Could Continue into Adulthood, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — High school students who get little physical activity continue not to move enough as they become young adults, according to a new study published in Pediatrics.

Researchers followed the physical activity levels of more than 500 10th grade students for four years using accelerometers – devices that measure participants’ daily movement. They found that less than 9 percent of students got the recommended 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day, and that those students who got little exercise in 10th grade continued to have low levels of physical activity after graduation.

Students who reported planning to exercise were more likely to be physically active, and adolescents were more active during weekdays than they were on weekends. Students whose Body Mass Index (BMI) increased over time had lower levels of physical activity, suggesting that interventions to promote physical activity may be most important for this group.

Following the adolescents over time, the researchers found that low levels of physical activity in 10th grade were predictive of low levels of physical activity later on, suggesting that exercise patterns start to solidify during high school.

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Grandmother Clutches Photo of Late Husband on Her Birthday

Courtesy Alicia Salas(RICHMOND, Texas) — One grandmother in Texas always celebrated her birthday with a mariachi band. But after her husband passed away seven years ago, there were no more mariachi bands — until this year.

Josie Reza, of Richmond, Texas, turned 85 last Monday and celebrated with dozens of family and friends. This birthday was even more memorable for Reza.

“At her birthday parties, she would always have a mariachi band,” her granddaughter Alicia Salas told ABC News. “This year … it was the first time she had [a band perform] since my grandfather passed away.”

“When the mariachi band first came out, my grandmother pulled my uncle to the side and she asked him to go inside the house,” Salas, 18, recalled.

Reza asked him to retrieve a portrait of herself with her late husband, Phillip. They were married for 45 years before he died 2009.

Salas explained that her grandmother wanted “a little piece of him. It was a bittersweet moment because she was sad but happy at the same time.”

The teen took two photos of her grandmother clutching the portrait and shared them on Twitter. The photos quickly went viral.

Along with inspiring the internet, Salas said her grandparents’ love has also inspired her.

The teen told ABC News that the moment reminded her “that there’s someone out there for everybody.”

“Their love still goes on even if one of them is not here,” Salas added. “I think that’s so beautiful to me.”

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12-Year-Old Transgender Student Delivers Powerful Speech to School Board to Fight Transphobic Rhetoric

Courtesy Alisa Bowman(MACUNGIE, Pa.) — A 12-year-old transgender boy from Pennsylvania recently received a standing ovation and an “overwhelming amount of support” after delivering a powerful speech to his school board in an effort to counter what he saw as hateful and ignorant rhetoric about trans students, according to his mother.

Alisa Bowman told ABC News Monday that her son, Ari, gave the speech on Sept. 12, just a few weeks after a fellow student allegedly said she would rather fail gym class than change with transgender students in the locker room.

“Ari and I really felt like if we didn’t speak … this ignorance and hate would end up winning,” she said. “It was incredibly important for my son and I to set the record straight and explain who transgender people are.”

Bowman recorded Ari’s speech to the board on video and uploaded it to Facebook, where it has since gone viral, with 40,000 views as of Monday.

“Hello, my name is Ari. I’m transgender,” Bowman’s seventh-grader begins in the video. “You might not know that from the look of me, but I enjoy normal things. I play soccer, I like video games — just like anybody else.”

Ari later explains in the video that “the hate the transgender community has been receiving recently has been terrible.” He adds that “people say things without an open mind and as if we’re not human beings like they are.”

Ari also addresses the the bathroom and locker room controversy, saying that he changes in the boys’ locker room and that he has “seen zero genitalia.”

“If you think that genitalia will make someone uncomfortable, then think of the story I told earlier about the girls not letting me use the bathroom,” he adds, referring to a time in first grade when girls didn’t want to let him use the girls’ bathroom.

“They didn’t care that I’ve had female genitalia,” he says. “They cared that I looked masculine and was male at heart. They didn’t care about my body parts. What made them uncomfortable was my looks.”

Toward the end of the speech, Ari says that his life “doesn’t revolve around me being transgender. It revolves around my family, my friends, everything I love.”

“As my mom likes to say, people are afraid of the things that they don’t understand,” he adds. “I hope you understand what being transgender means. It doesn’t make me any less or any more. It make me me, and no one can change that.”

After the speech, Ari got a “loud standing ovation,” Bowman told ABC News. She added that she was “really touched” when the superintendent came over to Ari and shook his hand.

“It was really so beautiful to watch, like watching a baby bird flying out of their nest,” Bowman said.

Lower Macungie Middle School wrote on Facebook that it was “[s]o proud of our own 7th grader Ari Bowman who spoke with our school board Monday night!”

East Penn School District did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for additional comment.

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Report: Falls Are Top Cause of Injury and Death in Older Americans

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Do you have an older loved one you’re doing your best to keep safe and healthy? Then do whatever you can to eliminate their chances of falling.

A new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds falls are the number-one cause of injuries and deaths from injury among older Americans. They experienced 29 million falls in 2014 alone, causing seven million injuries.

It’s costly to taxpayers, too — annual Medicare costs to treat fall-related injuries are an estimated $31 billion.

And it’s only going to get worse as more than 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day.

Increased inactivity, more severe chronic health conditions, reduced muscle strength and increased use of prescription medications are risk factors for falls among older Americans.

The CDC recommends a few common-sense steps to take to reduce the risk of falls, including eliminating obvious fall hazards. But some medications can also increase the risk of falling, so a chat with your doctor is also in order. Same goes for your eyes — get them checked at least once a year, to ensure you can see where you’re going.

And lastly, exercise as much as you can. The stronger you are, the less likely you are to fall, or to be injured if you do.

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Your Body: Nasal Flu Vaccine Not Recommended for Kids

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

Unfortunately for children and parents, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has announced it is not recommending the nasal mist form of the flu vaccine for kids this flu season.

This comes on the heels of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that found the mist form of the vaccine was not effective in preventing influenza.

To be crystal clear here, the AAP is still recommending that every child above the age of 6 months gets the injectable form of the flu vaccine.

My medical take on this: It’s a good thing that our country’s top doctors are always reevaluating data. In doing so, we can continue to learn in medicine and in science.

Please talk to your children’s pediatrician about the flu vaccine for this season.

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Cafeteria Manager Sheds 100 Pounds Eating Kids’ Menu

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A nutrition manager at a Texas elementary school lost more than 100 pounds by simply eating the same foods she encouraged her students to consume for breakfast and lunch.

“I was 260 pounds and I got a job as a nutrition manager but then I realized I wasn’t very nutritious so I decided to make a change,” Tammy McRae said Monday on Good Morning America. “That’s what made me want to lose the weight — for my kids that I had to inspire to eat better.”

She added, “I thought, well, let me join them.”

McRae said she started eating breakfast and lunch from the cafeteria menu at Carver Elementary School in Baytown, Texas, every single day.

“I just stuck to the menu at our school,” McRae said when asked if she made any other lifestyle changes to lose the weight.

McRae started out as a dishwasher at the school before being promoted to a manager. It took her around one year to lose the weight and she said it is life-changing.

“I am now part of my own life,” she said. “I go fishing. I mow my own lawn.”

McRae’s advice to others looking for weight loss inspiration?

“I just say, for anyone else out there that is thinking of making a change, go for it,” she said. “Be a part of your own life.”

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‘Anti-Vaxxer’ Mom Changes Mind After Her Three Kids Fall Ill

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — Kristen O’Meara chose not to vaccinate her young daughters as she was a big believer in anti-vaccination research. That changed when all three were stricken with a case of rotavirus, which causes acute stomach distress.

“It was awful and it didn’t have to happen because I could have had them vaccinated. I felt guilty, I felt really guilty,” she told ABC News.

O’Meara and her husband also fell ill.

O’Meara, a teacher living outside Chicago, added that she had “scoured everything” about why vaccines might be harmful and had become “pretty convinced.” She chose not to vaccinate based upon the results of her research, but had only read the materials that cast doubt.

“I put my kids at risk,” she said. “I wish that I had taken more time to research from both sides before my children were born.”

Her three children — all under the age of seven — are now fully vaccinated after an aggressive regimen to bring them up to date on recommended shots.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends vaccinations for practically every child, but in a study published last month the group says the number of parents who are refusing to vaccinate their children appears to be on the rise. In 2013, 87 percent of pediatricians surveyed had encountered patients who refused a vaccine for their child, up from 75 percent in 2006, according to their research

Among the most common reasons cited by parents for their refusal to vaccinate their children was their belief that vaccinations were unnecessary, the report said. Parents also cited a purported link between vaccinations and autism — a link that has been repeatedly disproven because the research it was based on was proven fraudulent.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and dozens of other public health groups have stressed for years that vaccines are safe and necessary. They also say that the large majority of children must be immunized from diseases such as measles, mumps and chicken pox in order to protect both individuals and communities with so-called “herd immunity.”

After her frightening wake-up call, O’Meara is now encouraging others to vaccinate their children.

“I’m here because I wanted to share my personal story … and if it does help someone change their mind, then that’s great,” she said.

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