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The reading room includes articles and videos of potential interest to consumers and medical professionals. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the NC Medical Board, its members and staff. Note: Some links may require subscriptions.

In U.S., physical health plummets after the pandemic

December 14, 2023
Key physical health metrics have notably worsened since before the COVID-19 pandemic, including obesity, diabetes and eating habits. The percentage of U.S. adults whom Gallup classifies as obese has reached an estimated 38.4%, up 6.0 percentage points since 2019 and just shy of the record high of 39.9% measured in 2022. A new high of 13.6% of respondents say they have been diagnosed by a medical professional with diabetes, up 1.1 points since 2019. The most recent results, obtained Aug. 30-Sept. 8, 2023, are based on 5,316 U.S. adults surveyed by web as part of the Gallup Panel, a probability-based panel of about 100,000 adults across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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Rise in U.S. life expectancy is ‘good news,’ but gains aren’t enough to wipe out COVID losses

November 29, 2023

Life expectancy in the United States rose in 2022, the first increase since the COVID pandemic began, according to new federal data. But those gains were not enough to compensate for the years of life lost to the virus, which remains one of the nation’s top causes of death.

From birth, the average American can expect to live 77.5 years, according to preliminary 2022 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. That rise, based on information culled from death certificates, marked an increase of 1.1 years from the year before. Researchers found that fewer deaths linked to COVID buoyed much of the increase in U.S. life expectancy.

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Duke Researchers Discover Our Eyes and Ears “Talk” to Each Other Through Subtle Sounds

November 28, 2023
It’s a well-known fact that the body is interconnected, but a new study is magnifying just how closely eyes and ears work together. Publishing their findings last week, Duke University scientists discovered that they can pinpoint where someone is looking simply by listening to their ears. “You can actually estimate the movement of the eyes, the position of the target that the eyes are going to look at, just from recordings made with a microphone in the ear canal,” professor and study senior author Jennifer Groh said in a press release. Similarly, the team found that by knowing where someone was looking, they could predict the waveform of the subtle ear sound.

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What to know about ongoing eye drop recalls

Medpage Today
November 20, 2023
Advocates are cheering FDA’s recent actions around problematic over-the-counter (OTC) eye drop products, arguing the issue has been neglected far too long. “Historically, nobody cared about over-the-counter drugs,” Rebecca Petris, president of the Washington state-based Dry Eye Foundation, told MedPage Today. Petris added that FDA’s recent actions have given advocates hope that the industry will be more strictly scrutinized going forward. “The good part here is we know the FDA is working really hard on eye drops now,” she said.

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New treatment restores sense of smell in some people with long COVID

Medical News Today
November 20, 2023
A novel treatment could restore a normal sense of smell and taste in people with long COVID who have not responded to other therapies, a new study suggests. Alterations or outright loss of taste and smell are common COVID-19 symptoms, affecting about half of everyone who gets the novel coronavirus. Most of the time, these symptoms clearTrusted Source after four weeks, but for some people it takes months. And for some people with long COVID, distortions in the sense of smell and taste — called phantosmia and parosmia, respectively — related to COVID-19 can last far longer.

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Respiratory viruses, thrown out of whack by Covid, appear to be falling back into seasonal order

November 20, 2023
In the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, something strange happened: For a year or two, illnesses that used to emerge like clockwork when fall and winter arrived — flu, RSV, and the myriad viruses that cause colds — did not sicken us. The cause now appears clear: The measures we took to avoid the new disease, including isolating and social distancing, muscled most other respiratory pathogens out of the cold-and-flu-season picture.

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