Health

Updates on healthcare, nutrition, and medical research in Louisiana.

Doctors have gotten much better at diagnosing and treating sports-related concussions, which is a good thing since Americans suffer up to 4 million sports-related concussions a year.

But we're not so good at is following their advice.

Student athletes and parents sometimes balk at doctors' recommendations to avoid play until concussion symptoms are gone, or to cut back on schoolwork. Both have been shown to speed recovery, and getting another hit on a vulnerable brain increases the risk of long-term problems.

HIV is sexist.

A woman is twice as likely to catch the virus from an infected partner in a heterosexual relationship than a man is.

And homosexual men are at even greater risk. They're more than 20 times as likely to get infected from an HIV-positive partner than partners in a heterosexual relationship.

Now scientists at Microsoft Research and the Zambia-Emory HIV Project have a clue about why these disparities exist.

If you're feeling stressed these days, the news media may be partly to blame.

At least that's the suggestion of a national survey conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Ask somebody about stress, and you're likely to hear an outpouring about all the bad things that cause it — and the bad things that result. But if you ask a biologist, you'll hear that stress can be good.

In fact, it's essential.

Four Florida insurers allegedly discriminate against people with HIV/AIDS by structuring their prescription drug benefits so that patients are discouraged from enrolling, according to a complaint filed by health advocacy groups.

Stress is bad for your health. And bad health causes a lot of stress.

Poor health and disability are common among people who say they suffer from a lot of stress, according to a national poll by NPR, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

And it's not just those whose own health is poor. Serious illness and injury often impose enormous stress on entire families.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The modern idea of stress began on a rooftop in Canada, with a handful of rats freezing in the winter wind.

This was 1936 and by that point the owner of the rats, an endocrinologist named Hans Selye, had become expert at making rats suffer for science.

"He would subject them to extreme temperatures, make them go hungry for long periods, or make them exercise a lot," the medical historian Mark Jackson says. "Then what he would do is kill the rats and look at their organs."

Everyone seems to talk about feeling stressed out. But what's the reality of stress in America these days?

NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a nationwide poll in March and early April to find out.

Our questions zeroed in on the effect of stress in Americans' lives. We asked about people's personal experiences with stress in the preceding month and year. We also asked about how they perceived the effects of stress, how they cope with stress and their attitudes about it.

Stress is part of the human condition, unavoidable and even necessary to a degree. But too much stress can be toxic — even disabling.

And there's a lot of toxic stress out there.

A national poll done by NPR with our partners at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health finds that more than 1 in every 4 Americans say they had a great deal of stress in the previous month.

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