Texting and Driving
People who send text messages from their cell phones while driving are one of the greatest dangers on the road. One out of every four auto fatalities is related to the use of a cell phone or texting, a statistic that tops 10,000 per year. A recent study reveals that driving while texting is just as lethal as driving while under the influence. In fact, you are 23 times more likely to be in an accident if you are texting behind the wheel.Watch the shocking video.
Erin, a college student, confesses that she texts and drives frequently. She agrees to undertake Drive Square’s driving simulation test to see how well she fares behind the wheel while she texts. See the dramatic results.
Morning After Pill and Teens
The morning after pill, or Plan B, is a form of emergency contraception meant to be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected intercourse. It helps prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation and is about 89 percent effective. The morning-after pill will not terminate an existing pregnancy and is not as effective as birth control pills or condoms as a birth-control method. It also does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed Plan B to be sold to 17-year-olds without a prescription, and sales have skyrocketed. "Some people believe that it will lead, especially teenagers, to be more promiscuous," E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says, "because [they may say], 'Hey, I'll just go take a pill tomorrow, and I won't get pregnant."
"It goes back to the fact that we have to educate our kids," OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says. "The morning after pill is not contraception. It is emergency contraception."
HPV Vaccine for Boys
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States, and causes 90 percent of cervical, oral and anal cancers. The Gardasil vaccine, intended to protect against four types of HPV, is currently available for girls and young women. In October 2009, the FDA approved use of the vaccine to help prevent genital warts in boys and men ages 9 to 26.
"The vaccine has been given to women, but women are the ones who will really suffer from cervical cancer, obviously," Dr. Lisa says. "Men don't know they have [HPV], and they can't be tested for it."
HPV can be spread by both men and women.
"You still have to wear condoms, you still have to protect yourself," Dr. Lisa says. "There's still a whole plethora of STDs."
Diabetes is a life-threatening disease that affects people of all ages. The disease occurs when the body does not correctly use or produce enough insulin, causing uncontrolled blood-sugar levels. High glucose levels can damage the kidneys, eyes and heart, as well as increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and dehydration. If left unchecked, high blood sugar degrades blood vessels, nerves and organs. According to a new study, the number of Americans with diabetes is expected to double within the next 25 years, and 44 million Americans will have the disease by 2034.
"The staggering thing is that the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] tells us 95 percent of diabetes cases are type 2," plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon says. "That means the type of diabetes you can take control of."
"More and more kids are getting type 2 diabetes," pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears says. "A lot of the experts say that unless people make changes, one in three kids are going to eventually get diabetes when they grow up."
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
• Exercise — make sure to get at least 30 minutes of activity per day
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Maintain a healthy cholesterol level
• Take a yearly glucose tolerance test
• Take a yearly fasting glucose test
• Eat a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet
• Get involved with research! If you're overweight or pre-diabetic, science needs you. Participants are often financially compensated and are treated with the most medically advanced programs available to date.
Dr. Travis says that his father was put on diabetes medicine nearly a decade ago but has taken control of the disease. "As he increased his activity — and he looks fantastic. He just turned 67 and looks wonderful — I'm going to tell you, he doesn't take diabetes medicine anymore because he changed his lifestyle," Dr. Travis says.
Learn more about diabetes.
Heartburn or Heart Attack?
Have you ever had chest pains so severe that you thought you were having a heart attack, only to find you were suffering from acid reflux? It can be a scary experience and occurs when "the brain mixes up signals from your stomach and your heart, and sometimes that pain is very similar, and that's a big problem," Dr. Travis says. "Even us doctors sometimes can't tell the difference."
"That has to be one of the toughest differential diagnoses to make," Dr. Ordon adds.
To keep heartburn from creeping up on you, it is important to take precautionary measures. The Doctors demonstrate why heartburn occurs and list the foods to avoid to prevent the pain.
Heart Attack Triggers
Some lesser-known situations and stressors can contribute to a heart attack:
• Driving in Traffic
The stress from your commute can triple your likelihood.
Your chances increase 20 percent the first day of the week.
• The Morning
During the early hours of the morning, you're 40 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack than any other time of the day. Several factors contribute to this phenomenon: hormone levels, medication, which may be at a lower or higher level, and dehydration. Severe dehydration will cause the blood to thicken and increase the tendency to clot.
• Speaking at a Podium
Situations such as public speaking ignite the flight or fight response, a physiological stress reaction that elevates heart rate, blood pressure and adrenaline.
• Consuming a High-Fat, High-Carb Meal
"You can think of it as the sludge in your vessels," Dr. Travis says. "Your vessels might be less compliant after a high fat meal."
• Shoveling Snow
The vigorous nature of this winter activity, which is often performed without any warm-up time and by people who are not ordinarily physically active, can triple your chances.
• Having a Bowel Movement
"If you're constipated, and really straining on the toilet, it increases what's called your intra-thoracic pressure," Dr. Travis explains. "That decreases blood returned to your heart and makes your heart work harder."
To keep stool at a healthy viscosity, be sure to add plenty of fiber and fluids to your diet.
ADHD Drugs for Better Concentration
Some college students have been taking attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin to stay focused and study for longer periods, despite not suffering from the condition. Experts say the practice, known as academic doping, is dangerous and can cause dizziness, loss of appetite, heart attack and stroke.
"If you have the diagnosis of ADHD, the medicines can help a lot," Dr. Sears says. "But if you don't have the diagnosis, and you take these medications, they increase your chance of depression later on. They are uppers, and if your body gets used to them, you take a nosedive."
It's not just students who are asking for the drugs, however. Pediatricians say that more parents are encouraging academic doping. "I have some patients whom I could tell weren't being totally honest with me about their symptoms," Dr. Sears says. "[Parents say], 'It's helping his brother. I want him on it, too.'
"When they start running out of their pills too soon, and they're asking for refills too soon, I know they are giving their pills to somebody else," Dr. Sears adds.
"Parents: it's irresponsible. It's dangerous to try to get your kids to take ADHD meds so they do better in school," Dr. Travis says. "[For] a parent, it's unconscionable, to me, to go to a doctor and [say], 'I want my kid on ADHD meds so they can get As in school.'"