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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

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It’s been a long time since I saw a Covid patient in the ER, and I couldn’t be happier

Photo: Camilo Jimenez/Unsplash

I’m an emergency room doctor in New York City, and I haven’t seen a Covid-19 patient in weeks. It feels great having my old job back.

In March 2020, Covid flooded our ERs. At first, it was just a dribble — one or two Covid patients per day. But within a week, the virus had taken over every body in every bed. Every shift in the emergency room brought an endless stream of patients, one after another, all struggling to breathe and in desperate need of oxygen.

The swiftness of Covid’s arrival in our emergency rooms took us by surprise…


Age Wise

Several strategies can help prevent a downward spiral — they all start with reaching out

Photo: Leon Liu/Unsplash

This is the second in a three-part series on preventing depression, a serious and growing mental disorder that can strike at any age and, if untreated, persist and worsen.

Rainy days often get me down. Even a little overcast can put me into a funk. Sometimes I just get moody for no good reason. That’s all normal. But when feelings of sadness persist day after day, any of us — me, you, a family member, or a friend — runs the risk of plunging into debilitating depression. There is no immunity. There are, however, effective prevention strategies.

“There is ample…


The longer the wider world remains unvaccinated, the greater the risk that a devastating new variant will emerge

Photo by Yolanda Sun on Unsplash

In a letter recently obtained by The Guardian newspaper, more than 100 former presidents and heads of state urged the leaders of the world’s wealthiest countries to do much more — to commit more money, in particular, but also more aid and resources — toward making and distributing vaccines across the globe.

“No one anywhere is safe from Covid-19 until everyone is safe everywhere,” the letter’s signatories wrote, according to The Guardian.

That’s not just lofty talk, and it’s not just a plea for the sake of the unvaccinated. That is cold reality.

Apart from the deadly threat that the…


Despite the rise in gut health awareness, treatments for IBS have barely changed in decades

Photo: Jonathan Borba/Unsplash

You probably know the drill: you see a new doctor and have to answer a long checklist about your condition. For me, it’s a new gastroenterologist, and the long history bit is exhausting. Yes, I have flare ups — yes, they are painful. I suffer from IBS-C, which is slightly more polite than saying “irritable bowel syndrome with constipation.” Embarrassing, right?

Essentially, my digestive system goes paralytic. It just…stops. But of course, bacteria don’t stop; they continue doing the work of digesting things and creating byproducts that take up space. A lot of space. …


What the pandemic revealed about scientific publishing

Image: athree23/Pixabay

I was reading my umpteenth news story about Covid-19 science, a story about the latest research into how to make indoor spaces safe from infection, about whether cleaning surfaces or changing the air was more important. And it was bothering me. Not because it was dull (which, of course, it was: there are precious few ways to make air filtration and air pumps edge-of-the-seat stuff). But because of the way it treated the science.

You see, much of the research it reported was in the form of pre-prints, papers shared by researchers on the internet before they are submitted to…


Age Wise

Self-care strategies to use before depression gets the best of you

Photo: Sasha Freemind/Unsplash

This is the first in a three-part series on preventing depression, a serious and growing mental disorder that can strike at any age and, if untreated, persist and worsen.

Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open — precipitated by “huge waves of anxiety” the 23-year-old feels over obligatory press events and the “long bouts of depression” she says she has dealt with since 2018 — highlights the reality of the shadowy world of depression, an increasingly common condition that can sneak up on any of us, at any age, for reasons obvious or mysterious.

Osaka’s decision to “exercise self-care,” as…


The unusual history of whiskey surgery and cocaine tooth drops

Photo: National Library of Medicine

There once was a time without pain killer. We had no aspirin, no ibuprofen, no anesthetic for surgery. How did we manage pain in the past? What led to the first breakthroughs in pain management? Can it help us confront chronic pain today?

It can be difficult to imagine a life without pain medicine. Just this morning, I awoke with a pressure headache due to an incoming storm front. I took a few ibuprofen and went on with my day. Most of us have passing pains like these: a stiff back from garden work, sore muscles from an overzealous romp…


The Nuance

Few of us fully appreciate the role of social comparison in our well-being

Photo by Marcel Strauß on Unsplash

For a 2012 study in PLOS One, researchers invited a young woman into a laboratory at Ohio University.

The woman learned that she would be taking part in an “aesthetic judgment” experiment. The researchers took a photograph of her face and then asked her to sit at a table that held two objects: a computer monitor and a mirror.

On the monitor, the woman viewed a series of headshots of what the study termed “attractive professional models” — all of them women. Following this barrage of beautiful faces, the woman’s own photograph appeared on the screen. But it wasn’t just…


Girls need to learn that a period is natural, not shameful

Photo: wuestenigel/Creative Commons

In her new book, “Period. End of Sentence.” (Scribner, 2021), New York Times bestselling author and award-winning journalist Anita Diamant sheds light on the ways in which menstrual injustice threatens the education, health, and dignity of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Riding the wave of the Oscar-winning documentary of the same name, the book is both eye-opening and inspiring. Through a series of essays and interviews featuring doctors, teachers, and activists, Diamant challenges the silence surrounding menstruation and highlights the organizations and everyday heroes fighting against the stigma.

Dedicating her book to the young people “making the change,”…


We’re fully vaccinated but our kids aren’t — can we still have fun?

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

Let’s be honest — we all deserve a vacation after the year we’ve just endured. But the people who might need a vacation the most, namely parents who’ve been cooped up with young kids throughout the pandemic, may feel the least comfortable taking one right now.

Even if Covid-19 cases are plummeting as more people get vaccinated (which itself lowers the risk to unvaccinated children), the pandemic definitely isn’t over in the U.S. and unvaccinated kids are still at risk.

Although children 12 and older are eligible for Covid-19 vaccines, younger children won’t be eligible until fall at the earliest…

Elemental

Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

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