On Passover, we read from the Book of Exodus in the Torah explaining the Hebrew’s years of enslavement and the struggle it took to free them. G-d sent Moses to ask Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II to “Let my people go.” When the Pharaoh refused, the Lord sent down 10 plagues:
Scholars have debated how these occurred and scientists have interestingly found scientific explanations for each. This is what they found:
The water of the Nile turned to “blood”. It was undrinkable. One theory is the red clay could have been washed into the river and tributaries, or “Red Tide”, an algae bloom of Oscillatoria rubescens, for example, turned the water red. Moreover the algae can release toxins that kill nearby fish. Once the water is unlivable……
Frogs swarmed into the towns and homes. One theory suggests that since frogs like to live near the water, the toxicity and smell caused them to move from the waterways to the towns. The quantity of frogs still needs an explanation but how many of us see one spider in our house and claim the whole residence is “infested”……
Infestations occurred as the next plague and could be explained by the above two. The frogs eat insects and keep the populations in control when they hang out by the marshes and rivers. The drought and unlivable water conditions cause the frogs to leave and eventually die, so insects go unchecked.
Swarms of flies encompassed the fourth plague. Scientists explain this from the lack of competing insects and frogs not around to eat them. They, in turn, fed on the dead frogs.
One would think the Pharaoh would have given in by now but he didn’t. The fifth plague caused death of Egyptian livestock. Insects carry disease and swarms of them could have caused the livestock to become diseased. Moreover, water sources were becoming scarce as well.
Egyptians became infected with boils on their skin. Insects carry disease, lack of clean water and food could make one susceptible and pathogens can enter into societies and cause epidemics. One theory suggested a smallpox outbreak occurred. Researchers found small pox scars on recovered mummies and postulated that 3000 years ago an epidemic could have occurred.
The plague of hail and fire must have been a scary one. Many have postulated that hail and fire raining from the sky could have occurred from a nearby volcano. If that’s the case why not make “volcano” the plague. But interestingly, 3500 years ago the Santorini volcano north of Crete in the Aegean Sea, erupted. And for those of us who saw Dante’s Peak, there was ash falling everywhere.
Locusts swarmed the landscape. If a volcano was nearby, I’d head south too.
The ninth plague was darkness. Without light, temperatures drop, work can’t be done, crops won’t grow. Scientists suggest this could have occurred from an eclipse, dust storm, or the plume of smoke from the volcano.
The tenth and final plague was the death of every Egyptian first-born. Scientists have some difficulty explaining this one except for many first born were out the fields helping the adults when the pestilence, boils, etc. ensued. Another theory suggests the grain stores became contaminated and the first born might have had first pick of the grain, becoming sick first.
The Bible is rich with history and lessons and such a work needs no explaining. But there are those who like to mesh science with the Bible. So for all of us celebrating our ancestor’s exodus and freedom from slavery, Happy Passover.
Most of us squirt one pump of hand sanitizer, slap it together in our palms and then dry the rest off on our pants. But researchers say there is a protocol and choreography that must be performed in order to prevent the spread of millions of pathogens that could be lurking on our hands.
The World Health Organization recommends the following steps to be taken when using hand sanitizer:
The process takes about 30 seconds. However, in a study released this week, researchers from the University Hospital Basel found that if all steps were taken but performed in 15 seconds, the same results will be obtained. However, if fewer steps were taken, more bacteria/viruses/pathogens will remain on the hands.
For those who have eczema or sensitive skin, they may not tolerate the alcohol based hand sanitizers and should use soap and water instead.
Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen on HBO's wildly popular Game of Thrones, revealed in an essay published by the The New Yorker she suffered two potentially fatal attacks while filming the popular series.
In 2011, she reports that while she was exercising, she felt a severe headache and then began vomiting violently. An ambulance took her to the hospital and her MRI showed she had a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). She describes the ordeal:
"...Then my trainer had me get into the plank position, and I immediately felt as though an elastic band were squeezing my brain. I tried to ignore the pain and push through it, but I just couldn’t. I told my trainer I had to take a break. Somehow, almost crawling, I made it to the locker room. I reached the toilet, sank to my knees, and proceeded to be violently, voluminously ill. Meanwhile, the pain—shooting, stabbing, constricting pain—was getting worse. At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged..."
Clarke had to undergo surgery and recovered but then suffered another one in 2013, that was found on repeat brain scan.
She in detail describes the painful recovery but fortunately survived and was able to film one the most successful series in TV history and become one of the most beloved characters on the show.
An aneurysm is a “ballooning” or swelling of an artery. Theses may occur where the artery junction weakens. High blood pressure can contribute to aneurysm formation as can smoking. Some aneurysms may have no symptoms at all but others could rupture, causing a hemorrhage in the brain, stroke. Elevated blood pressure, heaving lifting, and trauma could cause these to rupture.
According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, 15% of people with a ruptured brain aneurysm die before they reach the hospital. 40% can be fatal.
Surgery or endovascular coiling is done to prevent further blood flow to the aneurysm.
While we’re still grappling with harsh weather, winter colds and an extended flu season, allergy season is now in full force.
Sneezing, itchy eyes, coughing, asthma flare ups, are just a few of the symptoms that can severely impede our work day and sleep.
Each year the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America publish their list of the hardest hit cities in terms of allergies. They base these rankings on “seasonal (Spring) pollen score, medication use (allergy) and number of allergy specialists.”
Strong winds, a wet winter and early bloom can accelerate a severe allergy season as well as illnesses that result from excessive allergies.
Tree pollens start first in January and then taper off in April. Grass pollen starts to rise in February and March. Finally weed pollens join the party by the Spring and extend through the Summer and Fall.
Here are your questions answered:
Allergies are the result of the immune response to a foreign particulate that our body senses. One could be allergic to pollen, dust, dander, food, insects, mold, metals, transfused blood, grafts, medicine and anything the body senses as a foreign intruder. Even though these may be individually harmless, a hypersensitivity reaction occurs as a result of their intrusion into the body. IgE antibodies find the allergen (intruder) and activate mast cells in the tissue and basophils in the blood. When these cells get activated, they release substances to help protect the body, including histamines, leukotrienes, and cytokines. These help the body attempt to sneeze and cough the allergen out, wall off the antigen, signal more antibodies, or produce tears and nasal secretions to flush it out.
Symptoms of allergies could include any or a combination of the following:
Colds may have very similar symptoms to allergies. However they are different.
The common cold is caused by a virus. When one gets infected by the virus they may feel malaise, fever, and achy. This does not occur with allergies.
Moreover, nasal secretions from allergies are usually clear. In a cold, the mucous could be thicker and with color.
The same holds true with sputum. During an allergy the cough may have little to no mucous and if so, be light-colored. Thick mucus could be a sign of an infection.
An allergic sore throat will seem more dry and scratchy. A sore throat from a cold is more uncomfortable and less easy to soothe.
Allergies may persist or be cyclical. Cold symptoms will usually subside after a few days and rarely persist longer than 10 days.
Yes and no. Allergies should not in and of themselves cause an infection. However they may make one more vulnerable for a virus or bacteria to take over. Hence a bronchitis, sinus infection, or pneumonia could uncommonly follow an asthma attack.
As stated previously, if one is susceptible to colds, an allergic attack could make them vulnerable. Moreover if one suffers from asthma, an allergy attack could incite an asthma attack. Very rarely would we see a life threatening anaphylaxis to an allergen such as pollen.
Avoiding, or decreasing exposure to the allergen is key. We suggest the following:
Local tree, ragweed and grass pollen counts can be obtained here.
Multiple states are reporting cases of a super fungus resistant to the strongest of antifungal medications.
The CDC is now reporting 587 confirmed clinical cases of the fungal infection, Candida auris (C. auris), that unfortunately is resistant to multiple types of antifungal drugs. Moreover another 1056 cases are being monitored who were in contact with those infected. This spike is very worrisome.
States reporting cases include:
The majority of the cases are in New York, Illinois, and New Jersey. It was first seen in 2016 in Illinois ad 60% of those infected that year had died but they had other comorbid conditions, which could have also contributed to their becoming infected with C. auris to begin with.
Please note that this fungus is different from the species, Candida albicans, which causes common yeast infections.
When investigators analyzed the facilities, they found C. auris had colonized mattresses, beds, chairs, counter surfaces, infusion pumps, and window sills. By this, the superbug demonstrates its resilience outside a human host.
The super fungus still has some vulnerability to antifungal medication but its resistance is increasing.
Most hospital disinfectants are currently designed to be antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral. The CDC has urged healthcare facilities to be diligent in their cleaning practices and to be aware of this “super fungus.”
A new study has found the majority of people miss the most vulnerable parts of their face when applying sunscreen.
Published in PLOS One, researchers from the University of Liverpool looked at the sunscreen application habits of 84 men and women with the majority avoiding areas of the face around the eyes.
However, study authors cite the skin around the eyes is the most vulnerable to sun damage and skin cancer. SPF containing moisturizers were used even less around the eyes.
The Sun reports:
My theory: We’ve been told since we were kids to keep things away from our eyes, especially lotions.
Sunscreens use chemicals to disperse or absorb UV rays. Inorganic compounds in sunscreen such a titanium dioxide or zinc oxide attempt to scatter the UV rays. Organic compounds such as PABA and oxybenzone attempt to absorb UV rays so they can’t damage the skin.
UVA rays penetrate deeply into both the epidermis and dermis. They can cause premature aging of the skin, wrinkles, and skin cancer.
UVB rays are shorter and primarily affect the epidermis. They are responsible for causing sunburns as well as skin cancer.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The higher the SPF, the less sun photons enter the skin and cause damage. SPF primarily measures the protection against UVB rays. We multiply the SPF factor by how long it takes one’s skin to burn by the SPF number to determine the protection factor.
In theory, an SPF of 30 suggests your skin, if it burns within 10 minutes without protection, will not burn until 300 minutes has lapsed (30 times 10). However, we find this isn’t always the case. People sweat or swim and the sunscreen dissipates. Moreover many don’t put on the proper amounts (see below.)
So instead we use SPF as a grade to how much protection the product can offer.
An SPF of 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
An SPF of 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays
An SPF of 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays
As we see, the relationship is not linear, however the higher the SPF, the more protection we have against UV rays..
Although the SPF alludes to protection against burning, hence UVB rays, a sunscreen may still protect against both UVA rays and UVB rays if it’s a broad spectrum sunscreen.
Most people apply sunscreen incorrectly or unevenly. Lotion needs to be applied at an amount of 2mg/cm2 of skin or 1 teaspoon per body part (chest, arm, leg, face and neck). It should be applied 15 minutes prior to going out into the sun and needs to be reapplied every 2 hours, or more often if swimming or sweating.
A teacher from Australia claims his 5-6 can a day habit of Energy Drinks blistered and peeled his tongue.
Dan Royals shared a picture of it on Facebook warning others to get off the caffeinated drink habit.
He wrote, “Found out it’s the chemicals in these drinks that are causing it… it literally eats away at your tongue.”
To me it appears he has “geographic tongue” a response to stress, acidity, spicy foods, or no cause at all. The tongue condition itself is benign but could signify other serious health issues.
Energy drink health risks (as explained below) can include:
A 21-year-old student in England dropped out of school when his dentist found a mouth full of rotten teeth due to his energy drink habit.
Vinnie Pyner of Margate, England, told SWNS that he would drink 6 cans of Monster Energy drinks a day to get through school. Eventually his teeth cracked and when he finally showed his mom, she rushed him to the dentist who said it was the worst case of tooth decay she had ever seen.
FOX News reported he had 24 filings and dentures to repair his front teeth and will soon return to college.
Teeth can rot easily when exposed to energy drinks due to their acidity and sugar content. The protective enamel gets eroded and is irreplacible. Moreover people may choose these drinks over healthier options such as water or milk, putting them at higher risk of dental disease.
Years ago, Demi Moore confessed on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that she lost two of her teeth. The 56 year-old actress cited stress as the reason.
Stress could be a factor, however, that would mean all of us would lose our teeth before senior year high school.
What came to mind was a previous report on Moore’s diet.
In 2012, the actress was hospitalized and multiple rumors surfaced as to what caused her collapse. Some reported an energy drink addiction, some cited anorexia, some said it occurred after inhaling the gas from a whip cream canister. Witnesses reported seizure like activity. According to Daily Mail,
A source told Radar: “She collapsed after having an epileptic seizure… she has not taken care of her health at all lately and has lost a ton of weight.” “Demi is in getting treated for anorexia, as well as other issues that caused her seizure.”
After she recovered, it was revealed that her diet included: “Red Bull for breakfast. Red Bull for lunch. Red Bull for dinner, with a lettuce leaf and a tablespoon yes a tablespoon of tuna fish thrown in… That’s it.” as reported by Light987.com.
According to Medical Daily, Moore had been drinking energy drinks for over 10 years.
Three energy drinks a day in the company of a poor diet could wreck havoc on one’s health. But what about teeth?
In 2012 a study from the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine found the acidity of energy drinks to damage tooth enamel, thereby increasing risk of cavities.
Earlier this year, a 28 year old man from New Zealand, who allegedly drank three cans of energy drinks a day, lost multiple teeth and suffered from severe gum disease.
Energy drinks provide little in the type of nutrition gums and teeth require. Our jaws, gums and teeth were designed to chew, face a variety of forces, and then get washed down with water and our own saliva to avoid damage from non-neutral pH compounds. A balanced diet, with food we need to chew, low on sugar and acidity is just what the human mouth needs.
Other causes of teeth loss (edentulism) include:
So not only is it important to brush, floss, water pick and see one’s dentist regularly, but taking care of one’s non-dental health can be just as crucial to keeping our pearly whites.
A study from the University of Texas finds the consumption of energy drinks to have negative effects on the cardiovascular system by narrowing blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood as soon as 90 minutes.
Vessels that supply the heart, which may already be narrowed due to atherosclerosis, could narrow even more.
Moreover the restriction of blood flow to vital organs implies the brain may not receive the optimal circulation it needs.
The study was conducted by scientists who looked at the endothelial lining of blood vessels in 44 healthy non-smoking students and found within 90 minutes of drinking a 24 oz energy drink the vessel dilation dropped from 5.1% in diameter to 2.8% in diameter.
The study was conducted by scientists who looked at the endothelial lining of blood vessels in 44 healthy non-smoking students and found within 90 minutes of drinking a 24 oz energy drink the vessel dilation dropped from 5.1% in diameter to 2.8% in diameter.
Now energy drinks contain various levels of caffeine, as explained below. But they also contain taurine, sugar, vitamins and other ingredients. This study did not look specifically at caffeine but energy drinks, so the authors can’t specify what’s the culprit.
Last year, however, a South Carolina high school student collapsed in class and later died from allegedly consuming an energy drink. The coroner’s report, revealed cited caffeine as the cause. The caffeine induced a cardiac arrhythmia, abnormal heart rhythm, and 16-year old Davis Allen Cripe tragically died within an hour.
What’s shocking is the amount of caffeine he ingested was not very high. According to Richland County Coroner Gary Watts, Cripe drank, within a two-hour period, a large Mountain Dew, an energy drink, and a cafe latte from McDonalds. The teen had no medical problems or family history of heart issues.
A large Mountain Dew contains 54 mg per 12 fluid oz. So a 20 oz drink would be close to 100 mg caffeine.
Energy drinks, depending on the brand, contain approximately 80 mg of caffeine per can.
A cafe latte from McDonalds, medium size, contains 142 mg of caffeine.
This in total would equal approximately 320 mg of caffeine ingested within a two-hour period.
The lethal dose of caffeine in adults range from 150-200 mg/ kg body weight. So a 70 kg adult could consume a toxic level of caffeine at 10 grams (10,000 mg).
So 320 mg of caffeine is well below the toxic level. But what caffeine could do could be the more dangerous part.
Caffeine has been known to induce arrhythmias. It’s a stimulant, hence it can affect the heart’s electrical conductivity that manages the organ’s pumping action. Once the electricity is disrupted, the heart muscle fails to have a predictable, rhythmic stimulation, hence cannot pump effectively.
Caffeine also causes vasoconstriction, so blood flow to the heart could be compromised, potentially inducing a heart attack.
In 2014, researchers from Barcelona found energy drinks to be linked to rare cases of heart attack and arrhythmia.
A cup of coffee averages 95mg of caffeine whereas an energy drink contains 80mg. But the latter is consumed much quicker than a hot cup of Joe that needs to be sipped, hence the consumer takes in a larger load of caffeine in a shorter amount of time. This could be too much too fast for the heart.
The following is a chart of average caffeine content in common drinks:
IN 2016 we learned that a 50-year old man with hepatitis C went into acute liver failure after drinking 4-5 energy drinks a day for a period of a three weeks. The culprit appeared to be the Niacin content in each energy drink (200%RDA) that accumulated over the days and became toxic to the liver. Although this is the first time we’ve heard of this severe a hepatic side effect, energy drinks are not foreign to being hazardous to one’s health.
Depending on the brand, ingredients can include the following:
Sugars such as sucrose, glucose or high fructose corn syrup
Guarana extract- an energy supplement also high in caffeine
Taurine – an amino acid that has health benefits but could strain the kidney
Vitamins B 2, 3, 6 and 12 (and Vitamin A and C in some brands)
and multiple other ingredients and additives (Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng, etc. depending on the brand)
Energy drinks have been known to cause a variety of issues: anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, caffeine withdrawal, a rise in blood sugar…. to name a few.
However the focus of energy drink risks has been on the heart. One study from the Mayo Clinic found blood pressure and adrenaline to rise after drinking an energy drink. In 2011 a case report looked at two teenage boys who went into atrial fibrillation, a deadly heart rhythm. In 2015, doctors blamed energy drinks for a 25 year old man’s heart attack.
We’ve learned that caffeine, though innocent-appearing in coffee and tea, can be deadly not only as a result of quantity but the administration of it. A cup of coffee may have the same amount of caffeine as an energy drink (assuming the Guarana extract isn’t adding more to the total caffeine dose). But a hot cup of coffee is sipped slowly, whereas an energy drink served cold or at room temperature is usually chugged. The huge bolus of caffeine may be too quick-too-much for the body to digest and distribute slowly.
The high sugar content of energy drinks could put one at risk of diabetes. And with the recent case of acute liver failure, we are reminded that ingredients of energy drinks could at high doses cause hepatitis (inflammation of the liver).
Additionally, this week we learned that mixing alcohol with energy drinks, a popular party ritual, caused brain changes in mice similar to those caused by cocaine.
I can’t convince everyone to reach for a piece of broccoli rather than an energy drink when in need of a boost, but at the very least we should deter use by children and teens, and educate those with vulnerable hearts, blood pressure, diabetes, kidney and liver issues that an energy drink may not be the wisest beverage choice.
As kids we were taught to never approach a stranger, and to NEVER get in the car of a stranger. Yet with ride sharing services exploding over the last few years we’ve let our guard down. And the kidnapping and murder of a 21-year-old college student who jumped into the back seat of a car, whom she thought was an Uber diver, shed light on how we as a society need to remind ourselves of stranger danger. So here are some safety tips when considering ride sharing…
For those of us comic book buffs, we might have had to take a deep breath before explaining to non buffs what just happened this year, with both Captain Marvel and Shazam hitting the theaters when they are technically the same person.
In the late 30’s Captain Marvel made his debut and was owned by Whiz Comics and Fawcett Publications. It was a competitor’s response to Superman and the comics did very well.
According to Wikipedia:
But after a series of disputes and lawsuits, Captain Marvel was semi-retired until DC Comics/National in the 1970s licensed Captain Marvel and then purchased him in the 1990s.
Marvel Comics, however, was able to secure the trademark of Captain Marvel, so DC Comics couldn’t use the Captain Marvel name anymore. So in renaming the superhero, DC Comics combined the electrical powers of Captain Marvel with the word used by the wizard’s spell, Shazam!
So rather than Billy Batson becoming Captain Marvel when he cries “Shazam”, he simply becomes, Shazam.
Shazam hits theaters April 5, 2019.
A synthetic alcohol, named Alcarelle, or “Alcosynth,” has been shown to give one the same effects of alcohol without the nasty hangover the next day.
Dr. Professor Nutt, apparently has been working on this for decades, as a PhD student since the early 1980’s. The synthetic alcohol is slated to hit the market in 5 years.
He told the Guardian:
We know where in the brain alcohol has its ‘good’ effects and ‘bad’ effects, and what particular receptors mediate that – Gaba, glutamate and other ones, such as serotonin and dopamine.
“The effects of alcohol are complicated but … you can target the parts of the brain you want to target.”
Alcohol stimulates GABA, a neurotransmitter that can reduce activity of nerve cells making one sluggish. Alcohol also inhibits glutamate which is an excitatory neurotransmitter. But the euphoric feeling one gets may be caused by alcohol’s stimulation of dopamine.
Hence if a drink that acts as ethanol, isn’t actually alcohol, side effects such as drowsiness, stomach upset and liver disease could potentially be bypassed.
Professor Nutt has not revealed the ingredients of his concoction but some resources cite it may be a benzodiazepine derivative, although last year he denied the rumors of using the Valium-like chemicals.
It’s a constellation of symptoms that occur post-partying…..and include headache, muscle ache, nausea, anxiety, moodiness, wanting to avoid light and loud sounds, eye redness, thirst and dizziness, though some hangovers may have many more symptoms.
They could be caused by a variety of factors:
Other theories suggesting lactic acid build up, withdrawal from drinking the night before, and congeners that are compounds that vary in alcohol types (red wine vs vodka).
So how can you cure your hangover?
Hydrate people, hydrate. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you urinate more and lose valuable fluid and salts. Water is the easiest, most tolerable, cheapest way to hydrate. Take it slow so you don’t vomit. And not scotch and water. Just water….
An empty stomach is an irritable one. While most sources say eat a “greasy breakfast,” I would recommend balanced breakfast with protein. Give the stomach acid something to chew on but make it easily digestible. Remember the alcohol irritated your gut so you need to go easy on it. Baby steps, but healthy baby steps
Take a short, brisk walk. The adrenaline gets the blood pumping and can help with the headache. The cool air outside will feel good when you inhale and some endorphins will release. This may help with your headache.
Chinese researchers back in 2013 found Sprite to be the best hangover cure and even though we don’t have many other studies to back it up, the sweet and bubbly it provides makes your head and tummy feel better.
Sports Drinks add the salts you lost from alcohol’s diuretic features. Though many of us don’t like the taste, those who do find it a nice way to hydrate.
Originally it was a treatment to ward off rabies. One would, after being bit by a dog, put a piece of dog hair on the wound. A treating fire-with-fire strategy. It later was used for hangovers. Treating a hangover with a chaser of alcohol was supposed to elevate moods and lessen the withdrawal. To date there is not enough scientific support to recommend hair of the dog.
Want to avoid a hangover? Here’s how:
Firstly, try to avoid getting drunk. Set your limits and stick to it.
Secondly, drink plenty of water throughout the night and once you get home.
Finally, don’t drink on an empty stomach to “speed up the buzz.” Your empty gut will absorb alcohol quicker so eat a good nutritious meal prior to partying.
Avoid popping anti-inflammatories or Tylenol once you get home because your stomach and liver are already irritated from the alcohol and this may make matters worse. But if any of the above “cures” don’t help, you may need to use these as a last resort.