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Four months after having her second baby, Jessica Porten started feeling really irritable. Little things would annoy her, like her glider chair.

"It had started to squeak," she says. "And so when I'm sitting there rocking the baby and it's squeaking, I would just get so angry at that stupid chair."

A few weeks ago, our family gathered for a meeting that we hope will save my sister's life. Our goal was to demonstrate to a hospital social worker that we could take care of her should she get a heart transplant.

File photo
Flickr Photo/Modes Rodríguez (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)https://flic.kr/p/jqyZJE

At the end of 2017, we posed a question to KUOW listeners on Facebook: Have you experienced increased anxiety or depression this year due to world events and stories in the news?

The responses poured in.

Listen up, night owls: If you're sleeping six or fewer hours per night, you're not doing your health any favors.

A new study finds that getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night may help you tame your sweet tooth.

Tita Begashaw is famous for her laugh. It even got her on the TV show 'America's Got Talent' last year.
KUOW Photo/Casey Martin

The news these days just doesn't seem to lighten up and sometimes we need a laugh.

That's the specialty of Tita Begashaw, a laughter coach at Harborview Medical Center.

Now, there is ample reason for you to cover your nose when you sneeze. It's flu season, after all, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made it quite clear it doesn't want you spreading your germs with reckless abandon.

But let's not go overboard here, people.

When Arline Geronimus was a student at Princeton University in the late 1970s, she worked a part-time job at a school for pregnant teenagers in Trenton, N.J. She quickly noticed that the teenagers at that part-time job were suffering from chronic health conditions that her whiter, better-off Princeton classmates rarely experienced. Geronimus began to wonder: how much of the health problems that the young mothers in Trenton experienced were caused by the stresses of their environment?

At the start of the new year, parents may encourage their teens to detox from social media, increase exercise, or begin a volunteer project. While kids may bristle at the thought of posting fewer selfies, surveys indicate 55 percent of adolescents enjoy volunteering. And according to a recent study, when it comes to helping others, teens may benefit psychologically from spending time helping strangers.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants state lawmakers to declare the opioid epidemic a public health crisis.

On average, two people die each day in Washington from opioid overdoses. That includes deaths from prescription and synthetic opioids, as well as heroin.

In the world of streaming workout videos, Shawn T is like Jay-Z or Mick Jagger. He's a superstar. Millions of people have done his workout programs. One is called "Insanity." Another, "Focus T25," aims to get you in shape in just 25 minutes a day without leaving your house.

In our ever more digital world there are all kinds of apps and other quick ways to fit fitness into your life. But you still have to do the exercise. And in his new book, T is for Transformation, Shaun T tells the story of his life and the lessons he's learned about finding that motivation.

The United States appears to be in the midst of an unusually severe flu season, officials at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

The flu season started early, which is never a good sign, and the flu is already widespread throughout the country, the CDC's latest report shows. Half of states are reporting especially intense flu activity.

The thinking about problem drinking and alcoholism has changed. It's no longer considered a black-and-white, you have it or you don't condition.

"We now know that there's a full spectrum in alcohol use disorder," says George Koob, the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcohohlism, part of the National Institutes of Health. You can have a mild, moderate or severe problem.

It's just a cold. But even though I know I'm not horribly ill, I feel this overwhelming need to skip work, ignore my family and retreat to the far corner of the sofa.

I'm not being a wimp, it turns out. Those feelings are a real thing called "sickness behavior," which is sparked by the body's response to infection. The same chemicals that tell the immune system to rush in and fend off invading viruses also tell us to slow down; skip the eating, drinking and sex; shun social interactions; and rest.

What kind of year will 2018 be?

Our blog covers global health and development, so we're not going to make any predictions about North Korea or Middle East peace or who will design Meghan Markle's dress.

What we do have to offer: prognostications about a variety of issues, including the fight to wipe out polio, the dark side of drones and the #MeToo movement.

Wild polio will be finished by June, but cases caused by vaccine won't

The Associated Press is reporting today that of the 100 largest public universities in the country, more than half don’t keep track of student suicides. That includes the University of Oregon, which the AP says either does not keep or does not consistently collect the data.  

When Bella Doolittle heard her diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's last February, she sat in the car outside the doctor's office and cried. "He said, 'Well, we figured out what's going on with you and this is it.' And I'm like, 'No, it's not.' "

Doolittle's husband, Will Doolittle, sits next to her on the couch, recalling how she grilled the doctor. "You asked, 'How long does this take? How long do I have?' And he said, 'On average, eight years.' That really upset you."

Activist Erica Garner has died, after suffering brain damage following a heart attack. She was 27 years old.

The Mayo Clinic is building its future around high-tech approaches to research known as "precision medicine." This involves gathering huge amounts of information from genetic tests, medical records and other data sources to ferret out unexpected ideas to advance health. But one longtime scientist at the Mayo Clinic isn't playing along.

FILE: Flu vaccine
Flickr Photo/Government of Alberta (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Medical researchers have for years wanted to develop a longer lasting flu vaccine. A more effective version would mean people wouldn't need to get immunized every year.


The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Swedish Health Services for allegedly refusing surgery to a transgender man.

The wildfires that burned through the Pacific Northwest this past summer caused hazy skies throughout Washington and Oregon. Air pollution from tiny particles released by fire is a known health hazard.

New research from Colorado State University is trying to quantify the effect on human health.

10 months later: 'There's hope after a cancer diagnosis'

Dec 26, 2017
Dr. Alexes Harris, sociology professor at the University of Washington and cancer survivor
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Ten months ago, Alexes Harris' health was precarious. She'd just had a stem cell transplant in the hopes of combating a rare form of leukemia.

The sociology professor at the University of Washington wasn't sure what the future held.

Leah Bahrencu's kidneys and liver shut down. Samantha Blackwell spent a month in a coma. Cindel Pena suffered heart failure. Heather Lavender lost her uterus.

If the Space Needle can make it through winter, hopefully we can too.
Flickr Photo/Great Beyond (CC BY 2.0)/flic.kr/p/5G8RJ7

The winter solstice was this morning at 8:28 a.m. – if you’re reading this, you’re through the darkest point of the year. But we know it may not feel like it. What to do to beat the winter blues in Seattle? Host Marcie Sillman spoke to some experts to help us answer that question.

Updated at 4:17 p.m. ET to include comment from homeopathic pharmacists.

The Food and Drug Administration said it plans to crack down on the sale of some homeopathic products.

The agency unveiled a new, risk-based approach to regulating homeopathic treatments Monday that aims to protect the public from dangerous products.

Older brains may forget more because they lose their rhythm at night.

During deep sleep, older people have less coordination between two brain waves that are important to saving new memories, a team reports in the journal Neuron.

Some of the microaggressions noted by KUOW listeners.
KUOW Illustration

On the night of Dr. Roberto Montenegro’s dissertation defense celebration, he went out to dinner at a fancy restaurant with his wife and colleagues. He felt like he was on top of the world at the end of the night.

Until, as he stood in line waiting to claim his car from the valet stand, a woman walked up and handed him her keys. She assumed that because he was Latino, he was there to park her car.

Two pills to wipe out hookworm could cost you 4 cents. Or $400.

It just depends where you live.

The 4 cents is in Tanzania. That'll cover the two pills it takes to knock out the intestinal parasite. But in the United States, where hookworm has re-emerged, the price for two 200 mg tablets of albendazole can cost as much as $400.

On a melancholy Saturday this past February, Shalon Irving's "village" — the friends and family she had assembled to support her as a single mother — gathered at a funeral home in a prosperous black neighborhood in southwest Atlanta to say goodbye.

When climate change makes it hard to breathe | terrestrial

Dec 5, 2017
Estefany Velasquez, 13, manages her asthma with medication but research shows that for every one emergency room visit for asthma made in our nation every year, there are 10 to 15 missed school days.
WAMU Photo/Tyrone Turner

Climate change isn’t just contributing to drought, super-storms, sea level rise and flooding. It’s also making it harder for many people to breathe, like 13-year-old Estefany Velasquez. Her family faced a tough choice because of her asthma.  

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