Nysha Recent News

Eczema or not, flu vax should be muscle-injected: study

January 30, 2017        

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

A study of 336 people compared flu immunity of people who got the flu shot injected deep into muscle tissue to people who had it injected just under the skin. 

Just over 200 participants had the common skin condition eczema, with the remainder not.

The study found that with 47 percent of those who received an injection into the muscle—regardless of eczema or not—had developed protection against the strain of flu targeted by the vaccine a month later, while only 11 percent of those who received an injection in the skin did.

The study was originally intended to find out which form of flu shot is better for people with eczema, the most common chronic skin disease in the U.S., affecting over 15 percent of children.  The condition also persists into adulthood for about half of them.

The cracked, dry skin of eczema patients is often colonized by Staphylococcus bacteria, and for a number of reasons, the presence of staph in the skin seems to dampen the immune response to the flu vaccine—if the shot is given into the skin.

As such, people with eczema should especially get the intramuscular, not intradermal, flu shot, researchers at Denver’s National Jewish Hospital now say.

The study was published Feb. 13 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Concussion symptoms persist longer

People who suffer concussions should probably wait longer before getting back behind the wheel, a small University of Georgia study suggests.

The study tested 14 college-age participants on a driving simulator within 48 hours after they no longer felt the effects of their concussions.  Despite feeling like they had recovered from their head injuries, the patients were still likely to drive erratically.  At times, their skill levels were similar to driving after drinking, according to researchers.

If not treated immediately and effectively, concussions can lead to lifelong balance and other problems.

The study was published recently in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

New back-pain Rx: No Rx first!

New recommendations for low back pain from the American College of Physicians (ACP) now say that people with the common condition should try drug-free remedies, from simple heat wraps to physical therapy, before resorting to medication.

Low back pain is among the most common reasons that Americans visit the doctor, according to the ACP’s new Feb. 13 guidelines.  The guidelines emphasize more than ever that powerful painkillers like OxyContin should be used only as a last resort in some cases.

Also, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is no longer recommended—with recent research finding it ineffective for low back pain, according to the ACP.

The good news, according to the ACP, is that most people with shorter-term nonspecific low back pain improve with simple measures like heat and changes in activity—with nonspecific defined as low back pain when the patient is unsure what’s causing the pain, and which has been occurring for less than 12 weeks.

Such nonspecific low back pain, the ACP now says, should be given such non-drug treatments during the first 12 weeks as heat wraps, massage, acupuncture or even spinal manipulation.

If pain lasts over 12 weeks, the ACP now suggests exercise therapy; acupuncture; “mind-body” therapies like yoga, tai chi, mindfulness-based stress reduction and guided relaxation techniques; and cognitive behavioral therapy.

As for actual medication, the ACP now advises starting with ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) if necessary.

The recommendations were published online Feb. 13 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

In a related study (actually a review of 12 earlier studies), a University of Maryland professor found that yoga was better for low back pain than just physical therapy or patient education.  The review was published recently in the journal Cochrane Library.

Older parents lose sleep over adult kids

A study by Penn State University (York) looked at data on 186 older couples in their late 50s with two or three adult children—finding that both husbands and wives lost sleep due to worrying about supporting grown kids.  The study was published recently in The Gerontologist.

Laser hair-loss baseball caps now FDA-approved

The FDA recently approved the Capillus product, an otherwise conventional baseball cap whose inside is studded with up to 272 laser-firing diodes to treat alopecia, or hair loss.  The costly laser-technology headgear (the highest-end cap costs $3,000) is designed to be worn three times a week for 30 minutes at a time to treat alopecia.

In related news, researchers at Scotland’s University of Edinburgh analyzed genetic data from over 52,000 men and have now identified close to 300 genetic regions tied to severe hair loss.

Many of the identified genes are associated with hair structure and development.  The genes could provide targets for the development of drugs to treat baldness someday, researchers said.

The findings were published Feb. 14 in the journal PLOS Genetics.

Man dies of tooth infection reaching lungs

A Northern California man died in late January after a tooth infection spread to his lungs. 

Vadim Anatoliyevich, a 26-year-old long-distance trucker, left California in mid-January for New York complaining of a toothache.  He stopped in Oklahoma for treatment, where a dentist cleaned an infected tooth and prescribed antibiotics.

Mr. Anatoliyevich’s infection initially improved before it got worse.  On the way back from New York four days later, he was checked into a Utah hospital, where the bacterial infection was found to be out of control, having spread to his lungs.  The man died on Jan. 30.

With regular daily and professional dental care, such infections are extremely rare.

Study probes brain electric shocks to treat bulimia

A small study finds an association between electrical brain stimulation and reduction in bulimia.  The British study of nearly 40 adults with bulimia, or overeating disorder, found that those undergoing 20-minute sessions of transcranial direct current stimulation later reported less desire to eat.

Transcranial direct current stimulation delivers a tolerable electrical charge to the brain. In this study, the stimulation targeted the brain’s reward processing and self-regulation areas.

Common symptoms of bulimia include binge-eating (often large amounts of high-calorie foods, usually in secret), followed by purging to prevent weight gain.  Purging may include excessive exercise or using laxatives or diuretics (water pills).

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of talk therapy, is the gold standard for bulimia treatment—but as many as half of patients who undergo it relapse, the study authors said.

The findings were published recently in the medical journal PLOS One.

Prototype nano-machine unloads antibiotics inside stomach

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) researchers in nano-engineering, or the building of microscopic objects, have invented a prototype “submarine” that one day may deliver antibiotics and other drugs directly inside human stomachs.

The tiny device, about one-fifth the width of a human hair, is shaped like a tiny pill—and is self-propelled and carries a tiny load of antibiotics that is released into the stomach once it gets there.

The experimental micro-machine has currently only been tested on mice, where it does not seem to have produced any side effects. 

Researchers invented the device as a potential way to get around a common problem in taking oral antibiotics: natural acids in the stomach can break down and deactivate antibiotics, rendering the pills largely useless. 

However, the drug-delivering nano-machine contains magnesium that first reduces stomach acid.  Then, once acid is neutralized, the device releases its onboard antibiotics into a stomach that now won’t destroy them, keeping them from ever reaching the bloodstream.

The device isn’t ready for use in humans yet, but preliminary testing in lab mice shows that it’s safe and effective, at least there.