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The Weight Loss Motivation Bible: How To Program Your Mind For Sustainable Fat Loss

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13 Things You Need to Know About the Zika Virus

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By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

What is Zika?

Zika is a virus first discovered in 1947 and named after the Zika forest in Uganda. The first human cases of Zika were detected in 1952, but until last year there had been only isolated outbreaks occurring mainly in tropical locales.

How is it transmitted?

Zika is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected by drinking the blood of a person infected with Zika, and then spread the disease to other people.

A man infected with Zika can transmit the virus through sexual intercourse. Also, people can be infected if they are given a blood transfusion tainted with Zika.

Who faces the greatest health risk from Zika?

Four out of five people infected with Zika do not develop any symptoms. Those who do most often suffer from mild symptoms that include fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes.

The true risk of Zika is to a developing fetus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that Zika can cause terrible birth defects if a pregnant woman is infected with the virus.

What kind of birth defects does Zika cause?

Microcephaly is the most common birth defect caused by Zika, and it involves abnormally small development of the head and brain. Zika also causes other brain-related birth defects, and can result in miscarriage, according to the CDC.

What are the chances Zika exposure during pregnancy will cause microcephaly?

Not every fetus exposed to Zika develops a birth defect. Women infected with Zika have given birth to apparently healthy babies, although health experts can’t guarantee that these babies won’t develop problems later in life. No one knows what the odds are that a birth defect will occur. This is one of the CDC’s ongoing areas of research.

What can a woman who’s pregnant or trying to get pregnant do to protect herself?

Women of child-bearing age who live in an active Zika region should protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, using mosquito repellent when outside, and staying indoors as much as possible.

Women should use condoms or refrain from sex with a male partner if they are living in an active Zika area. They also should follow these precautions for at least 8 weeks if the man has traveled to an active Zika area, or for at least 6 months if the man has been diagnosed with Zika.

What can be done if a pregnant woman is infected with Zika?

There is no cure or vaccine for Zika. Pregnant women infected with Zika will be monitored by doctors, who will closely track fetal development.

Will a Zika infection threaten all future pregnancies?

The CDC has said there’s no evidence that a past Zika virus infection will endanger future pregnancies. It appears that once the virus has been cleared from a person’s bloodstream, it poses no risk to any subsequent pregnancies.

What other illnesses can Zika cause?

Zika has been associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a rare disease of the nervous system in which a person’s immune system attacks nerve cells. The disease causes muscle weakness and, less frequently, paralysis. Most people recover fully, but some have permanent damage and about one in 20 die.

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden has said it is very likely that Zika causes GBS, given that the syndrome also is triggered by a number of different bacterial or viral infections. However, the link has not been confirmed. The CDC is investigating.

Where in the U.S. is Zika likely to become active?

Zika already is active in the territory of Puerto Rico, where one death has been reported, as well as American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Public health officials expect Zika to strike first in the continental United States in Florida, Louisiana or Texas, once the mosquito season gets underway. The A. aegypti mosquito can range as far north as San Francisco, Kansas City and New York City, although health officials have said infections that far north are unlikely.

What can I do to reduce the risk of Zika becoming active in my neighborhood?

People can help reduce their area’s risk by eliminating mosquito habitats from their property. Get rid of any source of standing water, such as buckets, plastic covers, toys or old tires. Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools and potted plants once a week. Drain or fill with dirt any temporary pools of water, and keep swimming pool water treated and circulating, according to the CDC.

Report any mosquito activity in your neighborhood to your local mosquito control program.

What should I do if I think I’ve been exposed to Zika?

The CDC recommends that people contact their health care provider if they are suffering from Zika-like symptoms, particularly if they are pregnant. Tests are available that can confirm Zika infection.

Is there a vaccine for Zika?

No, but the CDC is working with pharmaceutical companies to ramp up research into a vaccine for the virus.


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Newsweek Writer Says Tweet Caused Epileptic Seizure

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There's no question certain tweets can throw you for a loop. But can a tweet actually cause a seizure?

Newsweek senior writer Kurt Eichenwald—who has publicly revealed that he has epilepsy—says a troll sent him a malicious tweet meant to do exactly that, and it worked.

After Eichenwald appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight last Thursday, he wrote a series of tweets referencing his acrimonious interview with the Fox News anchor. Apparently the seizure occurred later that night: Newsweek reports that another user sent Eichenwald an image of a strobe light with the message, "You deserve a seizure for your postings." 

On Friday, Eichenwald announced that he would be taking a break from the social media platform: "I will be spending that time with my lawyers &  law enforcement going after 1 of u…" 

"This not going to happen again," he wrote in another tweet. "My wife is terrified. I am … disgusted."

According to Newsweek, Eichenwald's lawyer has filed a criminal assault complaint with the Dallas Police Department, and plans to file a similar complaint in the jurisdiction of the user once that person is identified.

RELATED: 6 Things That Can Trigger a Seizure Even If You Don't Have Epilepsy

So how could a tweet trigger an epileptic seizure? We asked Derek Chong, MD, director of the epilepsy program and vice chair of neurology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, to explain: "There are some people who are very susceptible to strobes and flashing lights. If you open the message and it automatically plays and you’re really susceptible to it, you could potentially have a seizure." (Dr. Chong is not familiar with the specifics of Eichenwald's experience.)

This would fall into the category of photosensitive epilepsy, one of several reflex epilepsies—epiliepsies where an outside stimulus brings on seizures, Dr. Chong explains. The stimulus can be something in the environment, like a certain smell or noise, or can involve more complex behaviors such as reading, bathing, eating, doing math, or even thinking about certain topics. (Sometimes, a specific type of music can trigger seizures—one woman on Long Island had seizures whenever she heard Sean Hall on the radio, says Dr. Chong.) Reflex epilepsies account for about 5% of all cases of epilepsy; photosensitive epilepsy comprises 3% of total cases. Flashing lights are "a well-known trigger," says Dr. Chong. 

RELATED: 9 Foods That May Help Save Your Memory

Other factors besides an outside stimulus can trigger a seizure. If Eichenwald had already had a stressful day, for instance, and the level of excitability in his brain was already pushed very high, then "this could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Dr. Chong explains. 

Fortunately, Eichenwald seems to be okay. Earlier today, he reiterated his outrage on Twitter, and tried to put the seriousness of the attack in context: "Folks, if a blind man says things you don't like politically, it is not okay to direct him toward the edge of a cliff. Find some humanity."

The writer's metaphor is no exaggeration. Each year, some 50,000 people in the United States die as a result of seizures. In general, people with seizures have up to triple the risk of dying than someone without.

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FDA Issues New Guidelines to Reduce Sodium in Processed Foods

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WEDNESDAY, June 1, 2016 (HealthDay News) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants the food industry to cut back on the salt.

In draft voluntary guidelines issued Wednesday, the agency set both two-year and 10-year goals for lower sodium content in hundreds of processed and prepared foods. The aim is to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke among Americans, according to the FDA.

“Many Americans want to reduce sodium in their diets, but that’s hard to do when much of it is in everyday products we buy in stores and restaurants,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in an FDA statement.

“Today’s announcement is about putting power back in the hands of consumers, so that they can better control how much salt is in the food they eat and improve their health,” she added.

Americans’ average salt intake is about 3,400 milligrams (mg) a day, which is nearly 50 percent more than what experts recommend. High salt intake increases the risk of high blood pressure (“hypertension”), heart disease and stroke.

The voluntary targets are meant to reduce Americans’ daily salt intake to 3,000 mg in two years and 2,300 mg in the next decade, according to the FDA. The guidelines cover a wide swath of foods, from bread to cold cuts, cereals, and snacks.

Some studies have estimated that lowering salt intake by about 40 percent over the next decade could save 500,000 lives and nearly $100 billion in health care costs in the United States.

“The totality of the scientific evidence supports sodium reduction from current intake levels,” said Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

“Experts at the Institute of Medicine have concluded that reducing sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day can significantly help Americans reduce their blood pressure, and ultimately prevent hundreds of thousands of premature illnesses and deaths,” Mayne said.

“Because the majority of sodium in our diets comes from processed and prepared foods, consumers are challenged in lowering their sodium intake themselves,” Mayne added.

The draft guidelines, which are open for public comment ranging from 90 days to 150 days, were welcomed by American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown.

“The American Heart Association strongly supports the draft voluntary sodium targets released today by the FDA, and we call upon the agency to finalize them as soon as possible,” Brown said in a statement.

“These new targets will spark a vital, healthy change in our food supply, a change consumers say they want. These voluntary targets can have a significant impact on the nation’s health,” she added.

“Lowering sodium levels in the food supply could eliminate about 1.5 million cases of uncontrolled hypertension and save billions of dollars in health care costs over the next decade,” Brown suggested.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration outlines how to reduce salt in your diet.


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What to Do If You Catch a Tummy Bug

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There are so many unpleasant procedures (think dentist and ob-gyn visits) that seem like a party when compared to the symptoms of a stomach bug. From stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, to the muscle aches, headaches, and fever, these bugs are just dreadful.

Although the actual vomiting element only lasts a day, but sometimes up to three, a stomach virus can leave you feeling tired, achy, and with digestive and intestinal troubles for up to 10 days after. A stomach bug really wrecks a person, and it can take over a week until you begin to eating your normal diet.

Unfortunately the best thing you can do when downed by a virus is let nature take its course and let your body do what it needs to do. You probably won’t feel much like eating, so stick to clear fluids such as water, seltzer, ginger ale, ginger tea, and ice chips. If you do feel like eating a little, stick to bland foods like bread, crackers, broth, or white rice. Avoid dairy products, caffeine, and alcohol, since they’ll just aggravate your entire digestive system. Rest as much as you can (between visits to the bathroom), and if you’re really feeling awful, taking some Pepto Bismol, Tums, or other over-the-counter stomach-easing remedies may help.

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You do need to watch out for dehydration caused by losing too many fluids. Not only will dehydration make you feel worse with symptoms including dizziness, dry mouth, and fatigue, but it could also lead to seizures or permanent brain damage if left untreated. Be sure to drink clear fluids often — even popsicles help. Sip small amounts, so they’re more likely to stay down. And just keep in mind that with time, you’ll be back to your old self.

Once you experience a stomach virus, you want to do everything in your power to prevent it from happening again. Since these viruses are highly contagious, wash your hands often, especially when you’re touching public items such as door handles and elevator buttons. Also, keeping up with your healthy diet and regular exercise routine will strengthen your immune system, so if you come in contact with a bug, your body can fight it off.

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