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Eye drop bottle hazard

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA] has issued a warning about eye drop bottles with loose plastic safety seals or tamper-evident rings below the bottle cap.

The FDA has received six reports of adverse events associated with loose safety seals on eye drop bottles. The safety seals – also known as tamper-evident rings, collars or bands – should stay connected to the bottle neck but in some cases are coming loose when the bottle is squeezed to dispel eye drops, presenting the risk for eye injury.

The FDA currently is in the process of identifying all relevant products and plans to require a change in packaging design.

In the meantime, FDA officials said, consumers who have the products should not attempt to remove the ring or seal because there is a potential to contaminate the dropper tip.

Risky napping

A large study linked long daily naps and excessive daytime sleepiness with increased risk of metabolic syndrome, which raises the risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

A large study linked long daily naps and excessive daytime sleepiness with increased risk of metabolic syndrome, which raises the risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

Taking long naps or experiencing excessive fatigue during the daytime appears to be linked to an increased risk for developing metabolic syndrome, a combination of factors that raises the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

Researchers analyzed data from about 20 studies involving more than 300,000 people and found that people who reported taking daily naps lasting fewer than 40 minutes had no increased risk for metabolic syndrome, but for those who said they napped longer than 40 minutes a day, there was a significant increase in risk. Taking a 90-minute nap or being excessively sleepy during the day appeared to raise the risk of metabolic syndrome by as much as 50 percent.

Among those who reported taking brief daily naps of 30 minutes or less, a slight decrease in metabolic syndrome risk was observed.

“Short naps might have a beneficial effect on our health, but we don’t yet know the strength of that effect or the mechanism by which it works,” said Tomohide Yamada, who led the study.

According to the National Institutes of Health, metabolic risk factors include having a large waistline and either having or being on medication to treat a high triglyceride level, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure or high fasting blood sugar. A person must have at least three metabolic risk factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

Yamada said more studies are needed to determine the connection between long naps/excessive daytime sleepiness and metabolic syndrome and also to pinpoint potential cardiovascular health benefits of short naps.

At press time, the study was slated for presentation at the American College of Cardiology’s annual meeting.

More protein, better sleep

Eating fewer calories to lose weight does not need to result in going to bed hungry.

Researchers at Purdue University discovered that protein can help dieters get a good night’s sleep.

“Most research looks at the effects of sleep on diet and weight control, and our research flipped that question to ask [about] the effects of weight loss and diet – specifically the amount of protein – on sleep,” Wayne Campbell, a professor of nutrition science, said in a Purdue news release. “We found that while consuming a lower calorie diet with a higher amount of protein, sleep quality improves for middle-aged adults. This sleep quality is better compared to those who lost the same amount of weight while consuming a normal amount of protein.”

Study findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Couples’ caffeine 

If a woman and her partner consume more than two caffeinated drinks a day during the weeks leading up to conception, the woman’s risk for miscarriage is increased, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Ohio State University researchers found.

“Male preconception consumption of caffeinated beverages was just as strongly associated with pregnancy loss as females’,” said Germaine Buck Louis, of the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The study found also that a woman who has more than two caffeinated drinks a day during the first seven weeks of pregnancy is at increased risk of miscarriage.

On the other hand, women who take a daily multivitamin prior to conceiving and throughout early pregnancy are at lower risk of miscarrying, researchers found.

Telemedicine for dermatology

The American Academy of Dermatology [AAD] is advising patients to exercise caution when using dermatology websites and apps to obtain healthcare consultations.

Telemedicine can be a valuable tool for getting healthcare advice from a remote location, and as AAD spokesperson Carrie Kovarik, M.D., pointed out, since dermatology is such a visual field, dermatologists were among the first specialists to utilize the technology.

Nonetheless, patients should bear in mind that not all remote service providers offer the same level of dermatological care.

“Remote consultations are a great option for patients, especially those without easy access to in-person dermatologic care,” Kovarik said in an AAD news release. “However, it’s important for patients to understand that there are a wide variety of tele-dermatology services available, and some of them are better than others. Before engaging in a remote consultation, patients should evaluate the tele-dermatology service to ensure they’ll be receiving quality care.”

If possible, Kovarik said, when seeking a remote consultation, use the health system you use for other medical care.

If that is not possible:

• Know your provider. Only receive a consultation from a board-certified dermatologist who is licensed in your state. Ask for the provider’s credentials, and do not use a service that will not provide those credentials.

• Use only those services that allow you to select the dermatologist of your choice for your consultation.

• Make sure to share. A quality tele-dermatology service should give you the opportunity to share your medical history and obtain a record of your consultation to share with your doctor.

• Before undergoing a remote consultation, ensure the service provider has a plan in place to arrange for an in-person visit to a dermatologist in your area if the issue cannot be resolved remotely. Make sure the visit would take place in a doctor’s office – not in an emergency room.

Roughly 20 percent of patients receiving a remote consultation require in-person follow-up.

Finally, Kovarik said, when in doubt, make an appointment to visit a doctor in person.

Fewer ear infections

Infant ear infections are not as common as they were in recent decades, according to a study published in Pediatrics.

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researchers analyzed data on ear infections among babies in their first year of life in 2008-2014 and compared it to data gathered in similar studies conducted in the 1980s and 1990s. They found the rates of ear infections fell from 18 to 6 percent in 3-month-olds, from 39 to 23 percent in 6-month-olds and from 62 to 46 percent in 1-year-olds.

In addition to the incidence of ear infections, the study included information on family history of ear infections, cigarette smoke exposure and whether the babies were breast-fed or formula-fed.

“We clearly showed that frequent upper respiratory infections, carriage of bacteria in the nose and lack of breastfeeding are major risk factors for ear infections,” said study leader Tasnee Chonmaitree. “Prolonged breastfeeding was associated with significant reductions in both colds and ear infections, which is a common complication of the cold. It is likely that medical interventions in the past few decades, such as the use of pneumonia and flu vaccines and decreased smoking helped reduce ear infection incidences.”

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