"Are you allergic to any medications?" I've answered that query dozens of times since a childhood incident when penicillin, taken to treat a minor infection, instead gave me an itchy rash all over my body. So I respond automatically, and call out the common antibiotic. But I recently learned that this diagnosis could be wrong. Penicillin sensitivity can disappear over time, a fact researchers have known for years. So why hasn't my doctor told me to go get an official test? It could be because she doesn't actually know the allergy can fade.
On Wednesday, rapper Albert Johnson—better known by his stage name Prodigy—passed away at the age of 42 from complications of sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder he'd had since birth. Though some medications can help those with sickle cell manage their condition, no cure or real treatment exists to combat the disease. And while better care in the United States has extended the lifespan of those with the disease, they often face a lifelong battle with pain, infections, and extreme fatigue.
Binge and excessive drinking almost always get a bad rap—and for good reason. Heavy alcohol consumption is known to lead to a multitude of problems, including poor brain health. But the effects of moderate drinking on a person's cognitive abilities have gotten less attention. In a study out this week in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), researchers following the brain health of 550 individuals found that subjects who were considered moderate drinkers—those who drank five glasses of wine or four pints of beer a week—showed a reduction in the volume of their hippocampi, an area of the brain associated with memory and learning.
Tattoos are, to use a scientific term, flippin' sweet. And they're increasingly popular: more than a third of U.S. adults ages 18 to 40 have at least one. But side-eye from your old-school boss isn't the only thing you risk when you get new ink: these living pieces of art are open wounds as they heal, which leaves you vulnerable to all sorts of discomfort—and infection.
'FDA approval' has a certain glow of authority to it. To be FDA approved is to be safe, effective, and proven. Or at least, it technically is. Technically, FDA approval is a stringent process that requires a degree of proof. You might like to think that you couldn't get away with claiming something went through that process if it never really did. But you'd be wrong. And if you wanted to, say, market an unproven negative ion bracelet as a treatment for 'harmful' electromagnetic fields that aren't actually harmful, you could totally get away with it.
The vaccines we have today are pretty incredible. They've eradicated smallpox, purged rubella from the Americas, and save millions of people each year from dying of diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and measles. When enough people get vaccinated, infectious diseases can't spread easily and everyone benefits from herd immunity.
This should go without saying, but because it apparently doesn't, here goes: don't stick random items into your vagina. Tampons, certified body-safe sex toys, physician-approved devices, and penises should really be the only things that go in there. And honestly be careful with some of the penises because they're not all as clean as they should be.