Pandemic Stress Worsens Eating Disorder Symptoms

March 17th, 2021

Teen girl sitting with head in hands against wallThe stress and isolation brought on by the pandemic has led to worsening symptoms among those with eating disorders.

Covid-19 and Eating Disorders

A new study found that a lack of structure and more time spent in a triggering environment, among other lifestyle factors associated with the pandemic, were linked to worsening eating disorder symptoms and increased the likelihood of relapsing, for those in recovery.

The study analyzed the early effects of the pandemic on people with eating disorders in the United States and the Netherlands.

Issues brought on by the pandemic which could worsen eating disorder symptoms, include:

  • COVID weight gain: The discussion surrounding gaining weight during quarantine can be problematic.
  • Food hoarding: Americans took to hoarding food in the beginning of the pandemic. This was an issue for individuals who relied on eating certain foods as a way to manage their eating disorders and now had difficulty accessing those foods.
  • Food insecurity: Food insecurity levels have risen in the U.S. during the pandemic which can be triggering to individuals who binge and purge.
  • Stockpiling: Stockpiling food can create an unsafe environment for those with bulimia or binge eating disorder, who are now trapped in a place where a temptation to overeat is ever present. 

Also of note, calls to the National Eating Disorders Association helpline jumped 40 percent since March 2020.

Isolation and lack of frequent social contact is a perfect storm of negative factors for individuals with eating disorders or those in recovery.

Types of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a group of conditions marked by an unhealthy relationship with food. There are three main types of eating disorders:

  1. Anorexia nervosa: This is characterized by weight loss often do to excessive dieting and exercise, sometimes to the point of starvation. People with anorexia feel they can never be thin enough and continue to see themselves as “fat” despite extreme weight loss.
  2. Bulimia nervosa: The condition is marked by cycles of extreme overeating, known as binging, followed by purging or other behaviors to compensate for the overeating. It is associated with feelings of loss of control about eating.
  3. Binge eating disorder: This is characterized by regular episodes of extreme overeating and feelings of loss of control about eating.

For some people, a preoccupation with food becomes a way to gain control over one aspect of their lives.   

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FDA Warns Against Homemade Formula

March 11th, 2021

Baby bottleThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics warn against using recipes to make homemade infant formula. Using homemade infant formula can lead to serious health problems for your baby.

Homemade Formula Sends Infants to ER

Two unrelated infants were admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit at a Delaware hospital within a span of five days. Both had been fed vegan baby formula and were suffering from hypocalcemia (blood calcium levels that are too low) with cardiac and nervous system problems from the nutritional deficits.

The FDA then issued a warning to parents and caregivers after receiving reports on these incidents.

The FDA regulates commercial infant formulas to make sure they meet minimum nutritional and safety requirements.

What Infants Need

A baby’s nutritional needs are very specific, especially in the first year of life. Homemade infant formulas may contain too little or too much of certain components, such as vitamins and minerals.

Homemade infant formulas may also have an increased risk of contamination, which could lead to the baby getting sick or developing an infection.

For those parents wishing to have their children lead a vegan lifestyle, it is possible without the use of homemade formula. Soy formula is the only option for vegan infants who are not being breastfed, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The FDA regulates commercial baby formulas, including soy-based options.

When choosing an infant formula:

  • Make sure it is not expired
  • Make sure the container is sealed and in good condition

While no brand of infant formula is best for all babies, you should pick an infant formula that is made especially for babies.

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Chronic Heartburn Could Lead to Higher Cancer Risk

March 3rd, 2021

Heart wearing stethascopePeople with chronic heartburn may be twice as likely to develop throat and esophageal cancers as those without the condition, according to a new study.

Heartburn and Cancer

The new study links gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD to a second type of esophageal cancer, called squamous cell carcinoma—as well as laryngeal cancer, which arises in the voice box.

For this study, researchers at the National Cancer Institute examined data on 490,605 adults enrolled in the National Institutes of Health –AARP Diet and Health Study, a survey of 3.5 million AARP members. Participants were age 50 to 71.

Based on Medicare claims data, about 24 percent of the study participants had a history of GERD, the data showed.

Over a period of 16 years, 931 participants developed esophageal adenocarcinoma, 876 participants developed laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma and 301 developed esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. People with GERD had a two-times higher risk of developing these types of cancer.

Experts stress that the risk is low. The majority of people with GERD will never develop the cancers, all of which are fairly rare.

Signs and Symptoms of GERD

GERD, a gastrointestinal disorder that affects approximately 20 percent of all adults in the United States, occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus where it can cause tissue damage. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn) usually after eating which might be worse at night
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation of food
  • Sensation of a lump in your throat

The esophagus is not use to caustic substances dwelling in the stomach and small intestine, including acids and digestive enzymes.  The long-standing theory around adenocarcinoma is that chronic exposure to those substances may damage the esophageal tissue in a way that occasionally leads to cancer.

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New Skin Patch can Help Monitor Health

February 24th, 2021

Apple sitting next to small weightsScientists have developed a new skin patch that can provide all in one health monitoring capabilities.

New Skin Patch

The skin patch can track the wearer’s heart rate and blood pressure, as well as glucose levels. It can even measure the amount of lactate, alcohol or caffeine in the wearer’s blood.

The new patch is thin, flexible and worn around the neck. It is the size of a postage stamp.

To build their wearable device, researchers embedded several different tiny sensors in a thin sheet of stretchy polymers.

At the center of the patch lies the blood pressure sensor, which features a pair of small ultrasound transducers. The two transducers bounce ultrasound waves off an artery and measure the rebounding waves to calculate blood pressure.

A pair of screen-printed electrodes works as chemical sensors. One of the sensors uses a drug called pilocarpine to induce sweating, allowing it to measure levels of lactate, caffeine and alcohol in the sweat released by the skin beneath the patch.

The other electrode sensor uses a tiny electric shock to induce the release of interstitial fluid, which is used to measure glucose.

The researchers are next working to shrink the electronics on the current patch, in addition to developing new biomarker sensors to add to an even more comprehensive patch that can monitor biomarkers associated with even larger variety of disease.    

Monitor Your Health

This tool could be helpful for people with underlying medical conditions to monitor their own health on a regular basis. It is helpful for remote patient monitoring, especially during the pandemic.

In addition to monitoring chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as pinpointing the onset of sepsis, the patch could help predict people at risk of becoming severely ill with COVID. 

Doctors could collect a variety of information with this one wearable device and do so in a non-invasive way, without causing discomfort. 

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CDC Recommends Double Masking

February 17th, 2021

FacemasksWhile a single mask has been the latest health/fashion accessory this past year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are recommending that people add an additional mask to their daily outfit.

Double Masking

Double masking, or wearing a cloth face covering over a medical procedure mask, increases a person’s protection against exposure to COVID-19 virus particles by more than 90%, according to an analysis released February 10 by the CDC.

Additionally, when two people in close contact are both double masking or wearing properly fitted medical procedure masks, protection against coronavirus transmission increases by more than 95 percent, the data showed.

For the analysis, CDC researchers performed multiple experiments to assess two methods designed to improve medical procedure mask performance: double masking and knotting and tucking the medical procedure mask for a closer fit.

In the first experiment, the researchers evaluated how effectively various mask combinations reduced the amount of particles emitted during a cough, by simulating a person coughing and producing airborne droplets from a mouthpiece. They tested the protection offered by a three-ply medical procedure mask alone, a three-ply cloth mask alone and the three-ply cloth mask covering the three-ply medical procedure mask (double masking).

In the second experiment, they evaluated how effectively knotted and tucked medical procedure masks reduced exposure to airborne particles emitted during a period of breathing. A knotted and tucked mask brings together the corners and ear loops on each side, knotting the ear loops together where they attach to the mask and then tucking in the extra mask material to minimize the side gaps.  A modified simulator was used to simulate a person’s exposure to aerosols produced by another person coughing.

Results from the first experiment demonstrated that the unknotted medical procedure mask alone blocked 42 percent of the particles from a simulated cough and the cloth mask alone blocked 44 percent.

However, the combination of the cloth mask covering the medical procedure mask blocked 93 percent of the cough particles, the researchers said. Adding a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask reduced the cumulative exposure for an unmasked person in close contact by 82 percent, the data showed. 

When two people in close contact are both fitted with a double mask or a knotted and tucked medical procedure mask, cumulative virus particle exposure was reduced by 96 percent, the researchers said.

The findings highlight the importance of a good fit to maximize overall mask performance, the CDC researchers said.

Proper Mask Wearing

To ensure proper mask wearing, the CDC recommendations include:

  1. Choosing a mask that has two layers of washable, breathable fabric.
  2. Putting the mask over your nose and mouth and securing it under your chin.
  3. Knotting the ear loops of a surgical mask, where they attach to the mask and then tucking them in and flattening the extra material close to the face.
  4. Fitting the mask snugly against the sides of your face and slipping the loops over your ears or tying the strings behind your head.

If you continually have to adjust the mask, it doesn’t fit properly and you might need to find a different mask type or brand.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants to keep you up-to-date on the world of health. Stay tuned to this blog to learn more. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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