Arts & Culture / Mosaic / April 29, 2009

Health Beat: Swine flu, ADHD, weather and mood

Swine Flu

As you have already heard, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised its pandemic alert level to five yesterday, which is one step below a pandemic regarding the swine flu. This strain has never been seen before in humans, so no one seems to be immune to it and there is no vaccine. Countries are trying to remain on alert for unusually high counts of influenza-like illnesses and pneumonia.

A lot of people are determined to figure out if they have swine flu or the regular flu. Even an average flu is nothing to sneeze at. The typical symptoms are fever, headache, sore throat, nasal stuffiness, cough, and a sore body. People with the swine flu often experience diarrhea or vomiting which is unusual because adults usually do not get that with the flu.

Whether it’s the flu or a simple cold, there are very basic precautions. It seems silly to repeat them again and again, we are supposed to be in college and know all this already, yet every day people completely ignore these basic steps. Remember to wash your hands. Cough and sneeze into the inner-elbow because sneezing or coughing into your hand just contaminates the next thing you touch. Cover your mouth or nose when you sneeze or cough. Take care of your body with warm liquids, soups, and lots of rest. One study had a volunteer touch a door handle contaminated with a virus, then shook hands with other volunteers and ended up spreading the virus to six people. Think about when SARS hit in 2003. When people practice good hygiene, the incidences of not only SARS but other diseases also dropped dramatically.

ADHD drugs = higher test scores

Research done at the University of California, Berkeley tracked math and reading scores among 600 fifth graders (and younger) taking drugs for ADHD and compared them to scores of students who were not taking ADHD drug therapy. Taking the medicine was associated with higher math scores equivalent to a fifth of a year in extra schooling. The reading scores bumped as high as about a third of a school year’s improvement.

Source: NY Times

Weather & Mood

Jaap Denissen at Humboldt University in Berlin conducted research testing the weather’s affects on mood. According to the study, temperature, wind, sunlight, precipitation, air pressure and how long the days were didn’t affect positive moods.

The study found that negative moods are affected by temperature, wind and sunlight, sunlight affects fatigue levels, and that wind had a negative effect in spring and summer compared to fall and winter. When days are shorter, people actually seemed to feel more positive feelings, but those who seemed to be sadder during shorter days were high risk for seasonal affective disorder.

Though the study is not all-inclusive, it is an excellent starting point.

Source: WebMD

Sara Koehnke

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