Daily Archives: March 1, 2016

7 Things About Going Vegan That Have Really Surprised Me

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There are a lot of things that have surprised me about being a vegan, but the most fundamental one has got to be that I’m a vegan in the first place. I used to judge vegans as either hipsters or animal rights nuts who were malnourished and thought they were better than me. That wasn’t who I wanted to be, and the fact that vegans were so devoted to animals when there is so much human suffering in the world kind of pissed me off.

And yet. I was never comfortable eating meat, even as a kid. I had no rationale for why I ate it anyway, besides peer pressure and a mumbled idea of there being a “food chain.” I knew I wasn’t living in accordance with my values, but it wasn’t like that was anything new. I also bought clothing produced in sweatshops and often willfully ignored homeless people. “Why even try when everything’s so f*cked up” was my go-to rational.

It wasn’t until I finally made the leap to becoming a vegetarian that I felt an immense weight lift. It was a relief to stop eating animals, like I had stopped living a lie I didn’t even realize I was lying about. Months later, I finally felt ready to watch the movie Earthlings, which shows real footage of all the ways animals are used for food, clothing, and our entertainment. After I finished, I realized there was no way I could continue eating and wearing some animal products and not others. I made the leap to veganism, though the label continued to make me squirm.

Since then, many things have surprised me about being vegan, but perhaps none more than the seven things on this list.

1. People Get Much More Aggressive With Vegans Than They Do With Vegetarians

As a rule, I don’t bring up my veganism out of nowhere, not even with close friends. I don’t want them to feel like I’m judging them or preaching — plus, I never need to. People always bring it up with me first, and often in a very antagonistic way.

Interestingly, my being a vegetarian was almost never questioned. People never got angry about it or asked me to explain myself unless we were already having an in-depth conversation about the choice to eat animals. Once I became a vegan, however, it was as though everyone, from family members to strangers, demanded proof that I wasn’t an elitist asshole who was losing her mind. Not eating animals, we get. But not eating their secretions or wearing their skin? Too far, you crazy snob! Too far!

In the past year, I’ve learned that this defensive reaction to my personal dietary choices is actually a good way to delicately open up a conversation. When I calmly explain that I’m actually a vegan because of my feminism and fundamental belief in all beings’ right to autonomy over their own bodies, people are confused, but they want to know more.

I don’t eat this way because I find the label “vegan” glamorous or superior — far from it. Usually, it seems to make people presume things about me. I’m vegan simply because since I saw it, I can’t get the images of cows locked into milking machines, pumped full of hormones and crying for their newborn babies, out of my head. But I’m not judging you for eating dairy or meat. That’s because I was you, just a year ago.

2. I Don’t Really Get Stuffed Or Bloated Anymore

One of the weirdest, nicest things about going vegan is that a constant complaint I once had — “feeling bloated” — isn’t really an issue anymore. Yes, occasionally when I’m PMSing I will feel a hint of it, but even that’s seemed to have improved by my eating vegan.

What’s even weirder is that even when I eat a huge meal, I also don’t really ever feel “stuffed” anymore. I feel full and satisfied, absolutely. But stuffed? I can’t explain it, but that just doesn’t tend to happen now that I’m not eating meat or dairy. Sure, sometimes I can overdo it on vegan cookies, but even then, the feeling isn’t so much one of being bloated as it is just one of eating a bunch of sugar.

This is likely because I’ve cut out some of the hardest foods for our body to process, and because, like most of us, I had a harder time digesting dairy than I realized. Since I eat a healthy vegan diet — not just cereal and soy milk — when I eat a big meal, it’s often just a lot of delicious veggies, whole grains, and other stuff that your body can usually break down much more easily. Sure, a ton of Brussels sprouts can make you gassy, but the feeling just isn’t the same.

3. I Don’t Miss The Foods I Thought I Would

But don’t you miss cheese? To my own surprise, I don’t, actually. As I’ve written about before, much of what we find appetizing is about our associations with it. Because I’ve changed my association with animal products by viewing videos of how they’re actually made, I truly don’t find them appetizing in the same way anymore. The only way I can explain it is if you’ve ever thrown up a food and found yourself with a strong aversion to it from thereon out. It’s not quite that intense a feeling of revulsion; just an absence of desire when I see the food.

It also helps that I feel like my culinary world has actually expanded since going vegan. It’s been a great excuse to try new restaurants and foods. Who knew nutritional yeast was the healthiest, tastiest alternative to Parmesan ever? Or that coconut milk yogurt is actually totally delicious and doesn’t make me feel bloated? Or that New York City has a whole world of gourmet vegan restaurants I now have a great excuse to try? I’m eating more new foods now than I was before I cut out animal products. I haven’t even had to say goodbye to my favorite cuisines; it turns out that pretty much all the Indian, Ethiopian, and Asian dishes I loved were all already vegan. If anything, I feel more culinarily adventurous.

3. It’s Been Shockingly Hard To Find A Warm, Ethically-Made Vegan Sweater Under $100

Since I became a vegan, I’ve had to revamp my winter wardrobe, which was mostly made out of animal suffering in the form of wool, angora, and cashmere. Because for me, being a vegan is about living more in line with my own morals, I’ve also made it a point to only buy ethically-made or recycled clothing from here on out. After all, what good is a sweater made of cotton if children in a sweatshop assembled it?

Mostly, finding new vegan winter clothes has been really fun. But what’s surprised me is just how tough it’s been to find sweaters that are warm, ethically-made, vegan, cute, AND under $100. Seriously, animal people, we need to get on this. Or if I’m missing something, please tweet me your recommendations. I’m chilly.

5. People Ask Me About Honey Like It’s A Litmus Test For How Crazy I Am

… But you eat honey, right? This question is usually asked by vegan sympathizers, people already in the know who perhaps already try to curb their animal intake, but who haven’t fully cut it out. It seems to be a way of saying, That’s cool and all, but you’re not, like, crazy about this are you? My answer — that I’m not so strict about asking about honey in desserts at restaurants, but try to avoid buying or eating it — seems to make them think I’m one of the “unreasonable” vegans. I get it. Bees? Who cares about bees? They’re just doing their thing, it’s not like they get hurt, right?

Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case, and the fact that most honey is made by confining bees in their equivalent of a factory farm goes against my core principle that I should not participate in the slavery of others, or make them do anything with their bodies that they haven’t volunteered to do. I honestly don’t know how much bees suffer, but why decide not to care about them when I don’t need or miss the honey? So yes, I try to avoid it. But no, I’m not “crazy” about it. I’m just trying to be consistent. But like any animal product, I know there are times I’ll eat it unknowingly, and I’m not stressing or militant about it.

6. It’s Completely Changed My Relationship With Food

Before I became a vegan, I ate in a way that was often based in fear. At one point, I feared that gluten would make me sick, even though that turned out not to be the case. I often labeled certain foods “bad” or “unhealthy” in my mind, and how I decided what to eat was based entirely on what those foods might do to me and my body. When I became a vegan, a part of me was concerned that I could trigger even more of this thinking by deeming so many foods prohibited.

As it’s turned out, going vegan has been one of the most healing things I could do for my relationship with food. My dietary choices are no longer just about me, and they are based in love instead of fear. It’s completely changed the way I relate to food and my diet, even to what “healthy” really means. I now realize that the need I had before to feel control over my body and what I put in it was misplaced.

Eating vegan, I feel the sense of consistency I think so many of us crave in our diets, but I almost never have to think about it — my “diet” is simply to follow my ethics, and it’s actually pretty simple and healthy. When I say “no” to a food now, it’s hardly ever out of a concern of what that food will do to me — it’s out of a desire not to participate in what it did to other beings.

As a result, I eat with less guilt and self-denial than ever before. I have more appreciation for food than ever, and feel a sense of abundance rather than lack. I feel privileged every day that I’m able to eat such a rich vegan diet without feeling that I’m denied anything. I feel grateful for my food, and lucky that I don’t have to eat suffering in order to feel satisfied. I feel full.

7. I Feel More Compassion For Humans Now

Like I said, for me, being a vegan is and isn’t about the animals. It is fundamentally about the realization that all oppression of the “other” — whether that be women, minorities, immigrants, or animals — is based on the same logic that things are just different for “them” than it is for “us.” By refusing to participate in that logic when I eat and get dressed, I get to reaffirm for myself every day my core belief that I believe in the freedom and rights of all living beings.

What’s surprised me is how much that decision has made me see the vulnerable animal in all of us. Sometimes, I’ll see a baby clinging to its mother’s chest and think of a baby orangutan and its mother. Other times, I’ll look around the subway car at all the tired, sad faces on their way to work and get a flash of scared cows on dairy farms, hooked up to milking machines, forced to participate in a system that they must feel powerless against. Finding more empathy for animals has helped remind me that we humans are also just animals who need love, shelter, food, compassion, and freedom.

I care more about humans now, even more reaffirmed in my belief in a woman’s right to choose. Before I became a vegan, I thought it would mean declaring myself an “animal person” — someone who somehow cared more about animals than people. I feel excited to find out that it’s just the opposite. There is no finite “Love And Caring Pie” that you can run out of slices for. In fact, the more you love and care, the more you realize just how much everyone deserves a piece.

Another Study Blames Dating Apps For Rise In HIV Rates

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UNICEF has just released a study called “Adolescents Under the Radar in the Asia-Pacific AIDS Response,” which suggests that dating apps are partially to blame for rising rates of HIV prevalence among young people in Asia and the Pacific. After a decade of declining HIV prevalence, young sexually active people have grown less vigilant about prevention, causing an uptick in transmission rates. The study focused especially on the epidemic among young men who have sex with men, young sex workers, young people who inject drugs, and young transgender people.

Says UNICEF study of men who have sex with men (MSM):

Bangkok’s intensifying HIV epidemic among young MSM is largely a result of extensive sexual risk-taking, a higher number of partners, overall increased biological vulnerability through unprotected anal sex with an HIV positive partner, low uptake of HIV testing, and an earlier age of first sex — frequently in the low to mid-teens. All of these phenomena are common to other cities in and outside of Thailand. The explosion of smart phone gay dating apps has expanded the options for casual spontaneous sex as never before — mobile app users in the same vicinity (if not the same street) can locate each other and arrange an immediate sexual encounter with a few screen touches.

This isn’t the first time someone has tried to blame dating apps for the rise in STD rates. But the truth is, dating apps are just as important to LGBTQ+ health as good sex education. Queer folks don’t exclusively use dating apps to date, hook up, etc. Just as common is using them simply to connect with other queers and find community. But sex and dating is more difficult, too, when you’re living on the margins of sexual and gender identity, and dating apps are a huge step forward in helping queer people find love, companionship, validation, and acceptance. To vilify these apps for a rise in HIV prevalence is an extremely narrow view of their effects on the queer community.

A more complete picture of the reason behind the rise in HIV prevalence would include shoddier sex ed, more apathy toward preventative measures since the disease is much better controlled than 30 years ago, and the financial barrier against preventative measures experienced disproportionately by economically disenfranchised queer folks — a problem here in the United States as much as it is in developing countries.

Says UNICEF study of men who have sex with men (MSM):

Bangkok’s intensifying HIV epidemic among young MSM is largely a result of extensive sexual risk-taking, a higher number of partners, overall increased biological vulnerability through unprotected anal sex with an HIV positive partner, low uptake of HIV testing, and an earlier age of first sex — frequently in the low to mid-teens. All of these phenomena are common to other cities in and outside of Thailand. The explosion of smart phone gay dating apps has expanded the options for casual spontaneous sex as never before — mobile app users in the same vicinity (if not the same street) can locate each other and arrange an immediate sexual encounter with a few screen touches.

This isn’t the first time someone has tried to blame dating apps for the rise in STD rates. But the truth is, dating apps are just as important to LGBTQ+ health as good sex education. Queer folks don’t exclusively use dating apps to date, hook up, etc. Just as common is using them simply to connect with other queers and find community. But sex and dating is more difficult, too, when you’re living on the margins of sexual and gender identity, and dating apps are a huge step forward in helping queer people find love, companionship, validation, and acceptance. To vilify these apps for a rise in HIV prevalence is an extremely narrow view of their effects on the queer community.

A more complete picture of the reason behind the rise in HIV prevalence would include shoddier sex ed, more apathy toward preventative measures since the disease is much better controlled than 30 years ago, and the financial barrier against preventative measures experienced disproportionately by economically disenfranchised queer folks — a problem here in the United States as much as it is in developing countries.

‘ANTM’ Contestant With Vitiligo Called A ‘Panda’ By Show Mentor — Why That’s Not OK, Even If Chantelle Young Wasn’t Offended

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Here’s a groundbreaking idea: How about we just start calling people by their actual names, instead of thinking it’s totally fun and endearing to refer to them by animal pet names that they could actually — gasp — be offended by? This is a concept America’s Next Top Model consultant and photographer, Yu Tsai, apparently can’t fully grasp. In a recent episode of ANTM, Tsai continually called contestant Chantelle Young a “panda,” apparently fitting due to the fact that the model has vitiligo, a skin abnormality that causes depigmentation, resulting in pale blotches on one’s skin. To recap, Chantelle’s mentor appointed her an animal nickname because of her skin color and chronic condition. Oh, this should be good…

Chantelle has been a fan favorite since it was announced that the unconventional beauty would be appearing on the show back in August. Even my mother, who also happens to deal with vitiligo, was excited to see someone with her skin condition represented on the show. This, however, isn’t exactly what people were expecting.

During a photo shoot on episode 13 of the reality competition, Tsai is filmed calling Chantelle a “panda bear.” The model later confronts him, stating that his comments could send the wrong message to viewers. Tsai of course had some excellent explanantions behind the reasoning for his name calling. Here, I’ve helpfully broken down the grossness into an easy-to-digest list.

1. “I didn’t call you a cow.”

Because calling someone with blotchy skin a panda bear is just so much better…

2. “I don’t work for you.”

Apparently it’s only necessary to show respect to your employer. Sorry, I forgot.

3. “It’s a little, soft nickname! I’ll call you porcupine from now on!”

In Tsai’s mind, calling Chantelle by the name of a cute, cuddly animal (that also happens to have two-toned skin), was the most logical way to get her to soften up during her photo shoot. Duh.

The first-time ANTM mentor attempts a half-assed apology to Chantelle later in the episode, but for a show that markets itself as being so progressive, the entire incident was particularly offensive and ignorant. Since the airing of the episode, both ANTM fans and individuals with vitiligo are none too happy, creating an online petition demanding Tsai’s removal from the show. I wouldn’t be too worried about Chantelle, though. I mean, have you seen the girl’s gorgeous Desigual ads? Definitely beats any ANTM Covergirl campaign…

Ireland Wants To Legalize Supervised Heroin Use

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Decriminalizing drugs is a hot topic these days, with the blue touch-paper having been lit last month by Richard Branson’s leaking of a UN report that criticized the current criminalization policy adopted by most governments. Though the document was eventually blocked before it could be officially released, its sentiments are being adopted by a number of countries, with Ireland the latest to propose the legalization of supervised heroin use.

An image of drugs

If voted in by parliament, it is hoped that the measures could lead to a reduction in overdose deaths and cut the spread of infections through the sharing of contaminated needles. At the same time, however, opponents of the idea fear that it could lead to an increase in drug use. Yet Ireland would not be the first country to implement such a policy, which means it’s now possible to debate the issue using evidence obtained from previous examples.

The most striking case is that of Portugal, where in 1999 around 1% of the population was addicted to heroin, while the spread of viruses such as HIV and hepatitis B and C was on the increase. In what was seen as a drastic move by many at the time, the Portuguese government decided to decriminalize the possession of all drugs in 2001, allowing users to seek treatment instead of being prosecuted. On the whole, the results have been extremely positive. For instance, toxicology reports indicate that the number of deaths attributed directly to drugs decreased from around 80 in 2001 to 16 in 2012. Over the same period, the number of drug users diagnosed with HIV per year fell from 1,016 to 56.

When it comes to overall drug use, the picture is a little murkier, with some pointing to the fact that lifetime drug use – meaning the number of people who have used drugs at any point in their life – has in fact increased from 8% to 10% during the same timeframe. However, the number of people using drugs per year has decreased, as has drug use among 15- to 24-year-olds – the group most at risk of initiating narcotic use.

While other countries may not have gone quite as far as Portugal in their harm reduction policies, several have introduced safe injection rooms for heroin users. Among them is Spain, where the number of overdose deaths decreased from 1,833 in 1991 to 773 in 2008, while the percentage of new HIV infections among clients of these facilities fell from 19.9 percent in 2004 to 8.2 percent in 2008.

On top of all this, a report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictionfound no evidence that decriminalizing drugs leads to increased use, or that the introduction of sterner punishment produces a decrease. In light of this and other data, the leaked report from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime argued that the criminalization of drugs in fact produced “negative consequences for safety, security and human rights.”

However, while much of the evidence suggests that decriminalization can have positive effects, it is important to note that drug-related problems are also influenced by a wide range of other factors. For instance, a study by Alex Stevens of the University of Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research found that the rate of drug injection among a certain population is greatly impacted by the level of social welfare provided by that country’s government.

World’s first dengue vaccine now available in Philippines

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MANILA, Philippines – The world’s first ever dengue vaccine is now available in the country, and doctors in several private hospitals are providing the vaccine against the potentially deadly dengue virus, the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) reported yesterday.

Sally Gatchalian, PIDSP president, said the vaccine could be given to any healthy individual aged nine to 45 “unless they are immune-compromised.”

“That is why children and adults should visit their doctors first so they could be assessed prior to vaccination,” Gatchalian said.

Chit Santos, Sanofi-Aventis Philippines country manager, said the first shipment of dengue vaccine has arrived in the country and is ready for the market.

“The shipment arrived last week and we have already distributed the vaccine to some private medical practitioners so children can visit their doctors and get the dengue vaccine,” Santos reported.

Santos said the Philippines is the first country in the world to have access to the vaccine, although Mexico was the first to have it licensed for the market.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the distribution of the dengue vaccine in the country last December.

Rose Capeding, chief of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine’s department of microbiology, gives a briefing on the dengue vaccine at the Zuellig Pharma Corp. laboratories in Pasay City yesterday. EDD GUMBAN

Gatchalian said medical experts are encouraging the public to get vaccinated so they could protect themselves from the devastating disease.

“The price of the vaccine is reasonable and affordable considering the cost of hospitalization, aside from the trauma and psychological impact of dengue,” Gatchalian noted.

Rose Capeding, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine department of microbiology chief, said the annual economic cost of dengue is P16.7 billion in the Philippines.

Capeding further noted that 3.9 billion people worldwide live in dengue-endemic countries and 390 million of them get infected with the virus annually.

The dengue vaccine, according to her, was developed after more than 20 years of studies and clinic trials involving 40,000 people in 15 countries, including the Philippines. Those who participated in the trials were monitored for 25 months and have not manifested any dangerous side effect, except for the minimal effect common to other vaccines.

Capeding said studies are continuing to determine if it could provide lifetime protection from the illness.

Cecilia Montalban, Philippine Foundation for Vaccination president, said there is no vaccine that could provide 100 percent guarantee of protection from an illness, “but having dengue vaccine can provide huge benefits.”

Rose de los Reyes, Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Disease president, said the Department of Health (DOH) would be providing free dengue vaccines to public school students in three regions.

Diazepam used for anxiety, insomnia and muscle spasms.

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Diazepam is a type of medicine called a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are used for their sedative, anxiety-relieving and muscle-relaxing effects.

What is Diazepam used for?

  • Short-term (two to four weeks only) treatment of severeanxiety that is disabling or subjecting the individual to unacceptable distress.
  • Short-term (two to four weeks only) treatment of severeinsomnia that is disabling or subjecting the individual to extreme distress (oral forms of diazepam only).
  • Relieving anxiety and causing sedation before surgery or medical procedures (pre-med).
  • Managing symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol (used in combination with other treatment for alcoholism).
  • Controlling convulsions (fits) caused by poisoning (intravenous and rectal forms of diazepam only).
  • Controlling repeated fitting with no recovery of conciousness between seizures (status epilepticus)(intravenous and rectal forms of diazepam only).
  • Controlling fitting associated with fever (febrile convulsions).
  • Controlling muscle spasms, for example due to tetanus or poisoning.

How does Diazepam work?

Diazepam is a type of medicine called a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are used for their sedative, anxiety-relieving and muscle-relaxing effects.

Diazepam works by acting on receptors in the brain called GABA receptors. This causes the release of a neurotransmitter called GABA in the brain.

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are stored in nerve cells in the brain and nervous system. They are involved in transmitting messages between the nerve cells. GABA is a neurotransmitter that acts as a natural ‘nerve-calming’ agent. It helps keep the nerve activity in the brain in balance, and is involved in inducing sleepiness, reducing anxiety and relaxing muscles.

As diazepam increases the activity of GABA in the brain, it increases its calming effect and results in sleepiness, a decrease in anxiety and relaxation of muscles.

Diazepam has several uses. Firstly, it can be used to calm severe anxiety and agitation. For example, benzodiazepines such as diazepam are effective at quickly reducing the symptoms of anxiety and agitation that occur in a manic episode of the psychiatric illness, bipolar affective disorder. A benzodiazepine may be given as part of the initial treatment of a manic episode, though they are not licensed specifically for this purpose. Benzodiazepines help calm the individual while the main medicines for this condition (mood stabilisers) begin to take effect.

Oral forms of diazepam are also used for short-term treatment of severe anxiety associated with insomnia. Diazepam decreases the time taken to fall asleep and wakings during the night, as well as increasing the total amount of time spent sleeping. However, it is only suitable for short-term treatment of insomnia and anxiety as it has a high potential for dependence and addiction. As diazepam remains active in the body for many hours, drowsiness may also last into the next day.

Diazepam is also given for its sedating and anxiety-relieving effects as a pre-med before surgery or medical investigations and procedures, and to alcoholics during acute alcohol withdrawal (‘cold-turkey’).

The second main use of diazepam is in controlling convulsions, for example associated with poisoning, or seizures associated with fever in children (febrile convulsions). It is particularly useful for controlling repeated epileptic fits when the person doesn’t recover conciousness between fits (status epilepticus). Diazepam helps control convulsions because the increased activity of GABA that it causes in the brain helps to calm the excessive electrical nerve activity that is responsible for causing seizures.

A further use of diazepam is in controlling muscle spasms due to tetanus or poisoning.

How do I take Diazepam?

  • Diazepam may be taken as tablets or syrup, or given by injection or rectal solution (enema), depending on what condition is being treated and how fast a response is needed.
  • Diazepam tablets and syrup can be taken either with or without food.
  • Always take the medicine as directed by your doctor. Do not exceed the dose prescribed by your doctor.

Things you should know before taking Diazepam?

  • This medicine causes drowsiness and muscle weakness and impairs concentration and alertness. These effects may continue into the following day and are made worse by drinking alcohol. If you are affected you should not drive or operate machinery.Do not drink alcohol while taking this medicine.
  • From March 2015 a new ‘drug driving’ law comes into force, which makes it an offence to drive with certain drugs or prescription medicines above specified limits in your body. The list includes diazepam, which means it may be an offence to drive while you are taking this medicine. The new law will allow police to use roadside drug tests to check for the presence of the prohibited drugs in a driver’s saliva. There are very low limits for illegal drugs, but higher limits for prescribed medicines. This should mean that most people taking diazepam as prescribed will not be breaking the law, provided they are not driving dangerously. If you are found to be above the limit for diazepam there is a medical defence if you are taking the medicine as prescribed, as long as your driving is not impaired. If you are taking a high dose of diazepam it may therefore be sensible to carry your prescription with you when driving, in case you are asked to take a test by the police. However, if you are driving dangerously while taking this medicine you will be breaking the law. You should not drive if you think this medicine affects your ability to drive safely, for example if it makes you feel sleepy, dizzy, unable to concentrate or make decisions, or if you have blurred or double vision.
  • This medicine is generally only suitable for short-term use. If it is used for long periods or in high doses, tolerance to and physical and psychological dependence upon the medicine may develop, and withdrawal symptoms may occur if treatment is stopped suddenly.
  • Treatment with this medicine should usually be stopped gradually, following the instructions given by your doctor, in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms such as rebound insomnia or anxiety, confusion, sweating, tremor, loss of appetite, irritability or convulsions.

Diazepam should be used with caution in

  • Children.
  • Elderly people.
  • Weak or debilitated people.
  • Decreased kidney function.
  • Decreased liver function.
  • People with disease affecting the airways or lungs (respiratory disease).
  • People with a history of alcoholism or drug abuse.
  • People with personality disorders.
  • Depression.
  • It is important to tell your doctor if you have recently suffered a loss or bereavement, for example the death of a close friend or relative, before taking this medicine. Benzodiazepines such as this one can affect the way you adjust psychologically to events like this.
  • Who should not take Diazepam?

    • People who are allergic to other benzodiazepines.
    • People with a sudden worsening of any underlying lung disease (acute pulmonary insufficiency).
    • People with slow, shallow breathing (respiratory depression).
    • People who suffer from sleep apnoea syndrome, which is a problem involving short spells when breathing stops during sleep.
    • People with abnormal muscle weakness due to the conditionmyasthenia gravis.
    • Long-term psychotic illness.
    • Phobias or obsessional states.
    • People who are very restless or hyperactive.
    • Severely decreased liver function.
    • Breastfeeding.

    This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.

    If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.

    Can I take Diazepam while pregnant or breastfeeding?

    Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy orbreastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.

    • This medicine may be harmful to a developing baby and it should be avoided during pregnancy unless considered essential by your doctor. This is particularly important during the first and third trimesters of pregnancy and before or during labour. Regular use during pregnancy should especially be avoided, as the baby could become dependent on the medicine and then suffer withdrawal symptoms after the birth. If this medicine is used in late pregnancy or during labour it may cause floppiness, low body temperature and breathing or feeding difficulties in the baby after birth. Ask your doctor for further information.
    • Significant amounts of this medicine may pass into breast milk. It should not be used by breastfeeding mothers as it may be harmful to the nursing infant. Seek medical advice from your doctor.

Fibromyalgia now considered as a lifelong central nervous system disorder

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Fibromyalgia is the second most common rheumatic disorder behind osteoarthritis and, though still widely misunderstood, is now considered to be a lifelong central nervous system disorder, which is responsible for amplified pain that shoots through the body in those who suffer from it. Daniel Clauw, M.D., professor of anesthesiology, University of Michigan, analyzed the neurological basis for fibromyalgia in a plenary session address today at the American Pain Society Annual Scientific Meeting.

“Fibromyalgia can be thought of both as a discreet disease and also as a final common pathway of pain centralization and chronification. Most people with this condition have lifelong histories of chronic pain throughout their bodies,” said Clauw. “The condition can be hard to diagnose if one isn’t familiar with classic symptoms because there isn’t a single cause and no outward signs.”

Clauw explained that fibromyalgia pain comes more from the brain and spinal cord than from areas of the body in which someone may experience peripheral pain. The condition is believed to be associated with disturbances in how the brain processes pain and other sensory information. He said physicians should suspect fibromyalgia in patients with multifocal (mostly musculoskeletal) pain that is not fully explained by injury or inflammation.

“Because pain pathways throughout the body are amplified in fibromyalgia patients, pain can occur anywhere, so chronic headaches, visceral pain and sensory hyper-responsiveness are common in people with this painful condition,” said Clauw.

“This does not imply that peripheral nociceptive input does not contribute to pain experienced by fibromyalgia patients, but they do feel more pain than normally would be expected from the degree of peripheral input. Persons with fibromyalgia and other pain states characterized by sensitization will experience pain from what those without the condition would describe as touch,” Clauw added.

Due to the central nervous system origins of fibromyalgia pain, Clauw said treatments with opioids or other narcotic analgesics usually are not effective because they do not reduce the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain. “These drugs have never been shown to be effective in fibromyalgia patients, and there is evidence that opioids might even worsen fibromyalgia and other centralized pain states,” he said.

Clauw advises clinicians to integrate pharmacological treatments, such as gabapentinoids, trycyclics and serotonoin reuptake inhibitors, with nonpharmacological approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise and stress reduction.

“Sometimes the magnitude of treatment response for simple and inexpensive non-drug therapies exceeds that for pharmaceuticals,” said Clauw. “The greatest benefit is improved function, which should be the main treatment goal for any chronic pain condition. The majority of patients with fibromyalgia can see improvement in their symptoms and lead normal lives with the right medications and extensive use of non-drug therapies.”

Lyme disease–carrying ticks are now in half of all U.S. counties read now

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The ticks that transmit Lyme disease, a debilitating flulike illness caused by Borrelia bacteria, are spreading rapidly across the United States. A new study shows just how rapidly. Over the past 20 years, the two species known to spread the disease to humans have together advanced into half of all the counties in the United States.

Lyme disease cases have tripled in the United States over the last 2 decades, making it the most commonly reported vector-borne disease in the Northern Hemisphere. The disease now affects around 300,000 Americans each year. If diagnosed early—a rash commonly appears around the site of the tick bite—Lyme can be effectively treated with antibiotics, but longer term infections can produce more serious symptoms, including joint stiffness, brain inflammation, and nerve pain.

To get a comprehensive map of where the two species—the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) and the western blacklegged tick (I. pacificus)—were living, Rebecca Eisen and colleagues from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Fort Collins, Colorado, combined data from published papers with state and county tick surveillance data going back to 1996. They counted reports of tick sightings in each of the 3110 continental U.S. counties to determine whether those counties hosted an established population or just a few individuals. Ticks were considered “established” when sightings of at least six ticks, or two of the three life stages, had been reported in a year.

Their results, published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, show that the blacklegged tick has undergone a population explosion, doubling its established range in less than 2 decades. It is now reported in 45.7% of U.S. counties, up from 30% in 1998. Blacklegged ticks are found in 37 states across the eastern United States. The rarer western blacklegged tick, restricted to just six states, has shown only modest increases in established populations, from 3.4% to 3.6% of counties. Combined, these two Lyme disease vectors are now found in half of all U.S. counties.

“Since the late 1990s, the number of counties in the northeastern United States that are considered high-risk for Lyme disease has increased by more than 320%,” Eisen says. “The tick is now established in areas where it was absent 20 years ago,” she adds.

Tick map

The distribution of tick sightings across the United States between a) 1907–1996 and b) 1907–2015.

(Top t o bottom): D. T. Dennis et al.,J. Med. Entomol. (1998); R. J. Eisen et al., J. Med. Entomol. (2016

Perhaps most worrying, the tick-dense northeast is where Lyme disease is most common. Although the blacklegged tick is found from Florida to Minnesota, 95% of confirmed cases come from just 14 states in the northeast and upper Midwest. “Although our map shows a wide distribution … the risk of people getting Lyme disease is not equal across areas of the country,” Eisen says.

A study published in PLOS ONE last year might hold the answer. Parasitologist Isis Arsnoe from Michigan State University in East Lansing and colleagues found that populations of blacklegged ticks behave differently in the north and the south of the United States. Nymphs of the blacklegged tick in the north are bolder and more active in seeking out hosts, a behavior known as questing. Arsnoe and her team found that that tick nymphs originating from Wisconsin and Rhode Island were 20 times more likely to emerge from leaf litter, putting them in the path of passing humans, than nymphs from Tennessee and Florida. “Questing behavior is a key factor affecting the risk of tick bites,” Arsnoe explains. “Ticks that stay buried in the leaves are not likely to have an opportunity to bite passing humans—and unless they bite they cannot transmit disease.” Arsnoe is concerned that the ticks found in the north may also expand into southern states, taking their questing behavior with them.

But despite the wide distribution of the vectors, a tick’s chances of coming into contact with a human are still relatively low. Avoiding areas of thick vegetation, using a strong repellent, and bathing after hiking are usually enough to avoid contact, CDC says. Eisen says that the most important thing now will be to carefully monitor the spread of the blacklegged tick, so that that people can educate themselves about the potential disease vectors in their area and take steps to protect themselves.

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome lose more weight when they take two drugs

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Women with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, lost significantly more weight when they took two drugs that are traditionally used to treat diabetes, rather than either drug alone, a study from Slovenia demonstrates. The results will be presented Monday at The Endocrine Society’s 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

PCOS is the leading cause of infertility among women. In the United States, the disorder affects approximately 5 million women, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health. This translates to 1 in 10 to 20 women, overall, who are affected. The disease probably is genetic, although the exact causes are still unknown.

In PCOS, the ovaries produce excessive amounts of male sex hormones, or androgens. The name of the disease derives from small cysts that form on the ovaries, which do not produce enough of the hormone that triggers ovulation. When this occurs, the ovarian follicles, which have filled with fluid in preparation for ovulation, remain as cysts when ovulation fails to take place. In addition to infertility, symptoms include excessive hair growth in areas that usually are relatively hairless; obesity; menstrual irregularity; thinning or balding hair on the scalp; prediabetes or diabetes; and anxiety or depression. Weight loss in these women leads to higher chances of conception, improved pregnancy outcomes and improved metabolic profile.

Treatment varies depending upon the severity of the disease, and includes lifestyle modifications and drug therapy. Some of the same medications that are used to treat diabetes also improve PCOS symptoms. One of these medications, metformin, works by regulating the hormone insulin and by suppressing androgen activity, which, in turn, helps control blood-sugar levels and has beneficial effects on ovarian function. The problem with metformin, however, is that it does not always aid with weight loss.

Because of this, investigators examined different drug combinations to see which ones caused the most weight loss. In addition to metformin, they administered another diabetes medication called liraglutide, both alone and in combination with metformin, to determine which approach led to the greatest amount of weight loss.

They found that patients who took the combined drugs lost 6.5 kilograms (kg), or about 14 pounds, on average, compared to about 4 kg, or almost 9 pounds, on liraglutide alone, and 1 kg, or about 2 pounds, on metformin alone. Furthermore, 22 percent of participants on the combined treatment lost a significant amount of weight, defined as 5 percent or more of their body weight, compared to 16 percent of those on liraglutide. No one in the metformin group achieved this amount of weight loss. In terms of body-mass index and waist circumference, the combined-treatment group saw greater improvements than either of the single-medication groups. For both of these measurements, liraglutide alone outperformed metformin alone.

“The effect of metformin on weight reduction in polycystic ovary syndrome is often unsatisfactory,” said study author Mojca Jensterle Sever, MD, PhD, who served as lead author with Andrej Janez, MD, PhD, a fellow consultant at the University Medical Center in Ljubljana, Slovenia. “Short-term combined treatment with liraglutide and metformin appears better than either metformin or liraglutide alone on weight loss and decrease in waist circumference in obese women with PCOS who had been previously poor responders regarding weight reduction on metformin alone.”

The main side effect was nausea, which occurred more often with liraglutide than with metformin. The nausea did improve with time, however, and was not associated with weight loss.

Study participants comprised 36 women with PCOS who had lost less than 5 percent of their body weight on a six-month course of metformin preceding the study. Their average age was 31 years. Investigators randomly assigned them to one of three treatment groups for the 12-week study, including metformin alone, liraglutide alone, and both medications.

Model With Vitiligo Surprises 10-Year-Old Fan Who Has the Same Condition

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Winnie Harlow could be a role model for anyone who needs a lesson in confidence, but for 10-year-old April Star, she’s a particularly special influence.

Harlow and April both have a skin condition called vitiligo. Despite facing horrible bullying in high school, Harlow went on to find international modeling success and most recently appeared on the cover of Ebony magazine’s September issue.

On Thursday’s episode of “The Real,” April, an aspiring model, told the show’s co-hosts that the most confident person she knows on Instagram is Harlow. April keeps her own Instagram account called “redefinemybeauty,” where she shares photos of herself to inspire others to embrace their differences. Co-host Jeannie Mai then calls Harlow on speakerphone, but it turns out the superstar is actually backstage.

Below you can watch the tearjerking exchange that then ensued between Harlow and April.

“The confidence I have now, I had none of at her age,” Harlow says in the clip. “So when I see her all over the Internet and social media, I see the little girl that I wish I could have been.”