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Reading Room

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.

A brand new Parkinson’s trigger has been found – and it begins far earlier than thought

Science Alert
September 25, 2023

The difficult work of trying to understand Parkinson’s disease continues, with a new study showing that the condition might be triggered earlier than had previously been thought.

Researchers from the US and Canada analyzed neurons from patients with Parkinson’s, discovering a previously unknown culprit for symptoms of the disease that may begin before any of the others.

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FDA: Common Over-the-Counter Decongestant Doesn’t Work

NBC News
September 8, 2023
Does a common ingredient used in many over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines actually work to get rid of nasal congestion?

That’s the question the Food and Drug Administration will pose to a panel of outside advisers during a two-day meeting next week to re-evaluate the effectiveness of the ingredient, phenylephrine, which is found in many decongestants.

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Chipping away at the ‘epidemic of loneliness,’ one new friendship at a time

September 11, 2023
On a typical morning, Jason Silverman lounges at home in his bed for hours, with the TV on and the volume turned up. Sometimes, this daily regimen can get lonely.

So he looks forward to the days his friend, Melissa Mills, picks him up and takes him to a gym in Framingham, Massachusetts, where they exercise together.

Silverman, 38, has Down syndrome. Talking is difficult for him, but he communicates by smiling, sighing and leading Mills by the arm. She’s become familiar with his routine: Usually they hit the treadmill first, then bike a bit before a lunch break and finally, a swim in the pool.

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A lullaby to take the sting away for the littlest ones

Reported in STATNews
August 30, 2023
A newborn getting a heel prick to draw blood is an iconic image of an infant’s first days of life. The soundtrack of pitiful squalls is also familiar, but a study in Pediatric Research suggests another way. A blinded clinical trial studying 100 infants suggests playing a Mozart lullaby might lessen the babies’ pain.

Researchers assessed their pain while wearing noise-canceling headphones that blocked the Mozart but couldn’t hide the grimaces, crying, breathing, limb movements, and alertness (no pacifiers or comforting allowed).

Just over half of the newborns heard Mozart for 20 minutes before and during the heel prick and for five minutes after. The other babies heard no music. All the babies felt some pain, as measured by the observers, but the Mozart babies appeared to feel less — and only during the heel prick itself. Three minutes later all the infants were fine.

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This Protein Could Be Responsible For The Exhaustion in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Science Alert
August 16, 2023
Scientists have just found a protein that might underpin one of the most baffling illnesses there is: myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome or ME/CFS. Baffling perhaps to medical doctors who have long dismissed ME/CFS, but not so much to researchers who have steadily been building a picture of what triggers this debilitating illness, nor to those who live with its unrelenting exhaustion every day. Inside every cell are energy-making machines, the mitochondria, which power our cells, replenish our brains, and keep our muscles moving. Now a new study from a team of US researchers adds evidence to a growing theory that malfunctioning mitochondria might be one potential cause of energy-limiting illnesses such as ME/CFS and long COVID.

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Covid Eris: What to know about new variant EG.5 dominating U.S. cases

August 14, 2023
COVID infections and hospitalizations are on the rise in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Health officials are pointing at the EG.5 “Eris” coronavirus, a subvariant of the Omicron lineage that originally emerged November of 2021.

The World Health Organization (WHO) classified EG.5, which has been nicknamed by some as “Eris”, as a “variant of interest,” indicating that it should be more closely watched than others because of mutations that might make it more contagious or severe.

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