Unique Health Tips for LGBTQ+ Women

Despite sharing many of the same health concerns as heterosexual, cis-gender women, those who identify as LGBTQ+ women face unique health-care challenges. Unfortunately, inclusive health-care education is lacking, so many people simply grow up without knowing the relevant aspects about safer sex. But this article is here to help inform everyone on some LGBTQ+ health-care tips!

Accessing Healthcare

LGBTQ+ women may face additional barriers to accessing healthcare because LGBTQ+ people in general are disproportionately low-income. If you relate to this, consider the following alternative resources:

  • Low-cost and community health centers may offer sliding scale or free health services.
  • Your local city or state LGBTQ+ advocacy organization may have suggestions, so call them up!
  • You can also find substantially cheaper medication online through international and Canadian pharmacy referral services. These websites link American patients to licensed pharmacies located in countries where drug prices are more strictly regulated.
Two Woman Wearing Blue and Red Sport Shirts and Sunglasses Lying on Brown Surface

General Healthcare

Sadly, LGBTQ+ women are at increased risk for a number of medical conditions. This may be because, put bluntly, it’s stressful to be part of an oppressed minority. When you deal with discrimination every day, taking care of yourself can fall off the priority list.

Be aware that LGBTQ+ women are more at risk for:

  • Breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and gynecological cancers
  • Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse
  • Obesity and inactivity

To avoid these health concerns, ask your health-care provider about health screenings, and remember to get yourself checked up on a regular basis. The CDC provides a comprehensive list of LGBTQ+-friendly health clinics across the country here.

Wait, pregnancy?!

When you think about LGBTQ+ women’s health issues, pregnancy concerns may be furthest from your mind. After all, two women can’t conceive, right? However, do note that trans women are women too, and they may still possess the equipment necessary to make someone pregnant.

Also, just because a woman identifies as LGBTQ+, doesn’t mean they don’t have sex with cis-gender men. Therefore, a woman who has intimate relationships with someone who may be able to get her pregnant should take the same precautions as cis-gender, straight women. This may mean taking hormonal birth control pills, using condoms, or getting an IUD device.

LGBTQ+ women can get STIs too!

There has been much focus on gay men and the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 80s. While health education for gay men is immensely important, sadly, less focus has been put on LGBTQ+ women’s health.

Some women assume that by having sex with other women, less bodily fluids are exchanged and therefore the risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is low. Unfortunately, this is not true. For example, HPV is common among women who have sex with women, as this virus can spread through skin-to-skin contact. Bacterial vaginosis is also more common among women who have sex with women than women who have sex with men. Untreated bacterial vaginosis may increase your risk of other STDs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and even HIV.

To help prevent these diseases from spreading, apply the following safer sex habits:

  • Use barriers like dental dams and gloves.
  • Put condoms on shared penetrative sex toys.
  • Wash sex toys thoroughly before sharing them, and wash your hands as well.
  • Get screened for STIs frequently.
  • Let medical staff know you have sex with women.

Trans Healthcare

Trans women have unique health needs that may require specialized care. For example, the hormones they use to transition can interact harmfully with medications, and what’s more, trans folks are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

Furthermore, transitioning itself is a complex medical process that requires a lot of time, care, and often times, money. Unfortunately, not transitioning can be extremely distressing.

If you identify as trans, it’s important that you find a health-care provider you trust to discuss this issue openly. You can learn more about health insurance and trans health here. Be aware that some insurance providers do not cover services related to trans healthcare and that you have the right to report discrimination to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Woman Wearing Blue Mortarboard Cap Standing Near Woman Wearing Blue Jacket

Mental Healthcare

Systemic discrimination can put an immense strain on the mental health of any LGBTQ+ individual. Moreover, many LGBTQ+ individuals come from other minority groups. They are people of color, have disabilities, or deal with limited financial resources.

Furthermore, as an LGBTQ+ woman, you’re not exempt from problems that plague everyone else. This includes moving out for the first time, toxic or abusive relationships, and mental illness.

Social isolation is another problem. Those who are estranged from homophobic or transphobic family and friends can lack important social supports.

A Word about Domestic Violence

The stereotype that women don’t fight physically like men creates the wrong belief that women-only relationships don’t experience domestic violence. In fact, health-care providers may fail to ask about this. So if you have an abusive partner, be aware that you too can access women’s shelters, and make sure your health-care provider knows.

If you’re struggling, you deserve mental health support, even if it’s just a chat with a compassionate ear. Good places to start include the LGBT National Help Center hotline or the LGBT National Youth Talkline. The Association of LGBTQ+ Psychiatrists can also help you find an LGBTQ+-friendly mental health professional.

We’ve come a long way.

Despite the obvious shortcomings still pervasive in the health-care system, LGBTQ+ women’s health and women’s health in general has improved drastically in recent decades. From Sappho to Stonewall, we’ve come a long way. Hopefully, more positive changes will come at the other end of the rainbow.

Person Holding Multicolored Heart Decor
The title "Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up: Serving Up Food for Thought" is overtop a table covered in breakfast foods and a newspaper.

Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up: Serving Up Food for Thought

Hungry to learn more about the latest medical news?

Then, join me as I tuck into some of the most recent juicy details.

A plant-based diet may help you fight against gingivitis.

Vibrant, veiny green leaves from a cabbage are in full view.

Ever wanted to keep your teeth nice and healthy? Well, recent research indicates that you might be able to do just that by changing your diet!

This research comes directly from a randomized trial published by the Journal of Clinical Periodontology. During the four-week trial, researchers took 30 participants and split them into two groups. One group kept their original diet. And the other group changed their diet to one low in processed carbohydrates and animal proteins, but rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin D, antioxidants, plant nitrates (i.e., plant chemicals), and fibres. Both groups were subjected to interdental cleaning, and at the end of the trial, researchers discovered that the group with the changed diet were able to significantly reduce gingivitis.

So, consider taking on a similar diet! Your teeth might thank you.

For more information about the studied plant-based diet, click here.

Breast milk could impact how childhood obesity is handled.

A baby in a bear-head-shaped hat is holding on to their mother's shoulder.

If you’re a mother to a newborn baby, you’re probably more interested in protecting the weight and diet of your child.

Well, science has something for you too. From The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a study was recently published on breastfeeding children. The study focused on differences between mothers under 25 kg/m2 who were breastfeeding and mothers who were breastfeeding while over 25 kg/m2. And researchers soon discovered mothers with obesity who breastfed their children were providing those children with different metabolism substances that may make the children more prone to childhood obesity.

While this study only shows the possibility of a connection between breastfeeding and childhood obesity, it could be an important one to be aware of as you care for your baby. But before you take any extreme measures, talk with your doctor. They’ll have a better idea if there is a great risk to you and your baby.

You can also take the time to learn a bit more about breastfeeding and childhood obesity by clicking here to read directly from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’s study.

Eggs are the breakfast of champions for diabetics.

Several eggs are on a tray frying over a fire next to some frying bacon.

Another study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that eggs might actually benefit people who have type 2 diabetes. More specifically, research from the study shows that if type 2 diabetics eat a breakfast high in fat and low in carbohydrates, they seem to have better control over their blood sugar levels for the rest of the day.

Luckily, eggs fit the bill for a high-fat, low-carb meal. So, if you happen to have type 2 diabetes, consider making your morning meal more eggcellent.

To learn more about the impact of such a meal, take a look at the study’s summary here.

Seasoning your food with salt may be unhealthy, but you might still be able to keep the taste.

A salt shaker is in the foreground against the background of a dining place.

If you’re looking for a way to season your breakfast, afternoon, or dinner meals, salt might be one item you think about. More specifically, you probably think of the most common blend of salt: sodium chloride. While it certainly can create a savory flavor, consuming too much sodium chloride can be problematic. If enough excess sodium chloride is consumed, you can end up stiffening your blood vessels, which can eventually lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.

But science is here to offer a solution!

As part of a study in the Journal of Food Science, researchers looked at different salt blends to see how they could keep the salty flavor while lowering the amount of sodium chloride. So far, the most optimal blend of salt that they found consisted of 96.4% sodium chloride, 1.6% potassium chloride, and 2% calcium chloride. But they may very well find an even better blend at some point in the future.

So, look forward to new and improved salt with the same flavor, but with less of a negative impact on your health!

Take a look at more of the salty details here.

Against a brick wall background, two hands are holding up a sign with an angry face on it.

Anger and Anxiety: A GAD-Awful Combo

For those of you who deal with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), your lives are likely filled with persistent, excessive worry.

Each day, you’ll end up spending time dealing with a number of worries, and they don’t even have to relate to one another. They can range from an excessive focus on keeping up with financial needs to constantly planning schedules around any and all what-if scenarios.

But you might feel like you should hold on to that anxiety. And you’re not the only person with GAD to think that! Many with GAD believe that their worrying helps them avoid negative consequences, so they don’t actually want to get rid of their condition. After all, doesn’t anxiety push you to plan and do things as effectively as possible?

While it can, GAD does have its own dark side: irritation. This feeling is not a healthy one, often leading to intense anger. So here’s why you might want to consider at least minimizing the hold that GAD has on you.

Irritability is a main diagnostic factor for GAD.

When professionals look to diagnose people with GAD, one of the main factors they look for is irritation. And as many know, this feeling can be considered a mild form of anger or frustration.

While most anxiety disorders are likely to cause irritability, GAD is the only one that lists it as a defining part of its criteria.

To find out why, let’s learn a little bit more about GAD and how it connects to anger.

What is GAD?

GAD is an anxiety disorder characterized by a tenaciously exorbitant worry over any number of issues. As the word generalized in the name of this disorder shows, people with GAD don’t have a specific set of worries. Instead, they just remain worried about almost anything and everything throughout the day.

What connects it to anger?

The worry-induced anxiety that comes from GAD often feels impossible to control, and it can lead to feeling trapped and frustrated. The worry never truly seems to go away, but that natural, anxious fight-or-flight response demands you do something to get rid of it all. And if you can’t seem to flee, your brain will feel the need to fight.

In fact, according to the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy journal, this fight response is particularly strong in those who have GAD. Looking more into the details of the study, the website ScienceDaily notes that among 381 participants, 131 of those with GAD expressed high levels of trait anger and internalized anger. The study’s revelation seems to indicate that heightened levels of anger — and in particular, internalized anger expression — might be a strong predictor for those who will have or who already have GAD.

But that factor needs more research.

Sadly, one of the main researchers reported to ScienceDaily that more research is needed to determine what connects GAD to anger. For now, the exact connection between GAD and anger remains unknown.

What can you do about anger and GAD?

Feeling constant worry, irritation, and anger isn’t good for your well-being. It creates a mentally miserable environment that leads you to thinking and feeling the worst. It can disrupt your life, give you chronic physical pain, and lead to other poor health conditions.

So, while GAD might help you schedule plans and avoid potential disasters, the negative emotions surrounding the condition, when left unchecked, can cause a number of problems.

But you can manage GAD. You just need the right tools.

Seek therapy.

One of the best tools to help you manage GAD is therapy. With therapy, you can learn techniques to help you change how you think about things and how you adapt to situations. It can offer you effective ways of coping with anxiety and all the stress that it brings.

There are a number of effective therapies for you to try:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you address negative thinking patterns and distortions.
  • Mindfulness meditation teaches you to sit comfortably, relax on your own, and think in the present instead of worrying about future problems.
  • Biofeedback allows you to see how your body responds to certain stimuli and what you can do about it.

For more information on GAD-related therapy, talk to your doctor. They’ll have a better idea of what treatments are available near you and what might help you best.

Consider pharmaceutical assistance.

In addition to therapy, your doctor may also suggest you take prescription drugs. For instance, they might offer you sertraline. Taking medication like sertraline alongside therapy is a common treatment, and it could help you further reduce your GAD symptoms.

You might think it’s a bit costly, though, and you’d be right. In America, prescription drugs are quite expensive. Adding therapy into the mix only makes that cost higher.

But there is a way to reduce how much you pay for prescription drugs! Simply look for an authentic international or Canada pharmacy referral service like Canada Med Pharmacy, and order your medication from there. You’ll be able to order from licensed pharmacies outside of the United States where prescription prices are regulated more strictly, allowing you to purchase your medication at a more affordable rate.

Most importantly, don’t bottle up your feelings.

You might think it’s easier to minimize GAD’s impact on your life just by bottling up how you feel. But you’d be wrong. While hiding how you feel will prevent people from noticing your GAD symptoms right away, it can actually exacerbate your feelings. Feelings do need to be expressed eventually, and hiding yours will only make it easier for negative emotions to get the better of you when you least want them to, causing potentially ugly outbursts. And it can even lead to other negative consequences, such as poor social support, reduced closeness with others, and social dissatisfaction.

You’re better off acknowledging that you do, in fact, have these feelings and that you need to do something about them. So give therapy, medication, or both treatments a try, and stay in touch with those closest to you. It will remind you that you’re not alone in trying to deal with GAD and that there are people out there who care about how you feel.

Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up: Newfound Scientific Advantages

From Skrillex ruining the days and nights for mosquitoes to birth control you can wear on your ears, plenty of exciting stuff has been happening in the medical world lately. Let’s check out some stories.

Electronic music repels mosquitoes.

brown mosquito

Remember this one for your summer camping trip! According to one study, it turns out that blasting electronic music — in this particular study, Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” — reduced feeding behavior in the female Aedes aegypti mosquito. The study also noted that adult mosquitoes kept in an environment with music copulated less.

Why does music like that of Skrillex affect mosquitoes? Well, it appears that sound disrupts the low-frequency vibrations insects use to communicate with each other. This is an exciting finding, given how most of us vehemently hate getting bit by mosquitoes. It’s also exciting that the particular species studied, Aedes aegypti, carries the dengue virus. This virus can cause dengue fever in humans, a flu-like illness with no known treatment. So playing Skrillex could be a literal life-saver.

For more information, take a look at the original abstract here.

Midnight toilet trips are linked to hypertension.

Do you frequently get up in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom? If so, you might want to get your blood pressure checked out.

Scientists in Japan, a country with a relatively high salt intake, have found a link between nocturia — the need to urinate at night — and high blood pressure. However, the researchers did note that although getting up to urinate at night meant subjects had a 40% higher chance of having hypertension, it didn’t mean there was a causal effect between the two. But it’s good to know that previous studies have associated high salt intake with nocturia. So if you have been dealing with frequent midnight toilet trips, you may want to consider cutting down on the ramen noodles.

You can check out the original press release for this news here.

High-tech pajamas could help you sleep better.

Toddler Sleeping While Sucking Pacifier

When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep? Like most people in the helter-skelter modern world, you probably don’t get enough quality sleep. Well, a new technology aims to help you change that.

The Phyjama contains textile patches of sensors that can monitor a sleeper’s heartbeat, breathing, and sleep position. This data can give both ordinary sleepy Joes and medical professionals valuable, unobtrusive insight into sleeping habits. The team of inventors estimates that the Phyjama can be available to buy within two years. And it’s not super expensive either; it could cost between $100 and $200.

See the original press release about this exciting new product here. This research will be presented at the American Chemical Society meeting.

The future could soon include fashionable, wearable birth control.

Woman in Silver Framed Eyeglasses and Red Top

You may soon be able to go out stylish and safe thanks to wearable birth control. Scientists are testing a transdermal patch that can be attached to earrings and worn by women. This patch can be attached to the backs of jewelry pieces like earrings where it will then release the contraceptive through the skin.

Transdermal patches for other medical purposes have been around for some time, but they have never been incorporated into jewelry. Scientists are hoping that by doing so, contraception would be more appealing and discreet for women. This technology may also be useful in areas where long-term birth control devices like implants and IUDs are harder to access.

Learn more about this product here.

The future might also even let you grow babies from outside your body!

white land animal

If you’re wondering if we can grow babies outside our bodies and save on some labor pains, we’re not there just yet. But scientists are a step closer now. As a result, we are better able to support extremely premature babies on the border of viability (i.e., 21–24 weeks). Scientists have even been able to create an artificial womb that has successfully maintained preterm lamb fetuses at an age equivalent to 24 weeks of human gestation.

This technology is being hailed as a four-minute mile break in the field, and you can learn more about it here.

Don’t Get Your Dander Up about Adult-Onset Pet Allergies

Pets are family members — even when you have allergies.

As a pet owner, you know all about the benefits of owning a pet. Whether it’s your companion’s unconditional love or the stress relief they bring, your pet has brought you joy over the years.

So, why do you suddenly feel itchy and irritated around your animal companion?

Sadly, it sounds like you’ve developed a pet allergy. Yes, allergies can develop in adulthood. But don’t fret! Take the time today to learn all about your newfound allergy and how you can keep it from coming between your animal companion and you.

Why would you develop an allergy now?

While you might not have had one before, allergies can develop at any point in life. This typically happens once your body starts to view certain allergens (i.e., substances that can cause allergic reactions) as a threat to your immune system. For pet allergies, this might mean your body ends up viewing substances like your pet’s dander, saliva, or skin flakes as a threat.

To defend your health, your body will produce large numbers of cells to fight off the substances. This defense will then cause a certain physical reaction, depending on the number of allergens encountered and how your body reacts to them. So, you could end up with the following symptoms or more:

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Hives

An allergy can be serious, but it doesn’t mean you need to let your pet go.

Your pet is like another family member. You’ve spent time caring for and playing with them, and in turn, they have given you their trust.

Don’t abandon that trust by letting your pet go just because you have mild or moderate allergies. There are ways to reduce your symptoms.

However, it is understandable and heartbreaking if your reaction is much more severe. If you’ve been dealing with anaphylaxis from your pet allergy, which is not one of the common anaphylactic triggers, you may actually have to think about rehoming your pet. One way to make this act less traumatic is to consider getting a close friend or family member to adopt.

For those with non-life-threatening allergic reactions, try to think of what’s best for you and your animal companion. You’re family members, and presumably, you’ve loved each other’s company, so do your best to reduce your allergic reactions so you two can stay together.

Give these allergen reduction methods a try.

If you are determined to stay with your pet, know that there’ll be a tough road ahead for you two. It’ll take time and testing to determine what reduces your allergic reactions. But for a start, consider following these suggestions.

Turn your bedroom into an allergen-free space.

A bed in blue and white is right next to a white geode lamp in a gray and white room.

You might have enjoyed having your bedroom as a space for both you and your pet to relax. But this lifestyle may have to change.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, your bedroom is usually the one area of your home with the highest amount of allergens. After all, on average, Americans spend a third of their lives in their bedrooms. So it doesn’t take long for allergens to build up.

To avoid this dilemma entirely, turn your bedroom into an allergen-free zone. It can be difficult training your pet to accept that they cannot enter your bedroom anymore, but training is a lot less painful compared to rehoming your pet.

Once you’ve gotten your pet accustomed to not entering your bedroom, you’ll have a space that will be almost completely free from pet allergens. But you’ll also need to get into a regular cleaning routine.

Clean your home regularly.

A vacuum rests near a pair of white shoes against a blue and white carpet.

Cleaning might feel like a chore, but it’s one of the best ways you can reduce the number of allergens your body encounters. After all, cleaning will help you remove any allergens or dirt particles that might be hanging around your home. So get better acquainted with vacuuming and doing the laundry regularly.

Purify the air in your home.

A number of blue-tinted windows from a gray building are facing forward.

Part of your routine cleaning might include directly purifying the air of your home.

To do this, look into getting an air purifier. It’s a cleaning machine designed to remove pollutants from the air. And for extra filtering, make sure the machine you choose is one that has a high efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) filter attached. This filter will help your purifier catch common allergens that like to collect around your home.

Sanitize your pet.

A person is holding a shower head to wash their dog.

Don’t forget to clean your pet frequently, too!

The ASPCA suggests you bathe your pet at least once weekly. Giving your pet a frequent wash will not only keep them clean, but it will also wash away any allergens that might bother your allergies. You can also wipe your pet with products that are designed to prevent dander. And remember: brush or comb your pet regularly.

All this grooming should give you a simple, effective way of reducing both your pet’s allergens and your allergy symptoms.

If you still have harsh enough allergic reactions, consider immunotherapy.

So, you’ve tried out all those suggestions before, and they didn’t work. You don’t feel like you’re having an anaphylactic reaction, but your allergies are still way too frustrating for you. Now, what?

It may be time to consider talking to your doctor about immunotherapy. This method involves injecting the pet allergen directly into your blood stream. While there are risks, this method is generally safe and ensures that your body gets used to being around the allergen. After enough time, your body will stop reacting so harshly whenever it encounters the allergen. And you should be able to enjoy spending time with your pet again without worry!

In short, you and your pet do not need to part ways because of your allergies. Just take the time and effort needed to see what you can do to reduce your symptoms.

A man is reading a newspaper behind a street fruit stand and next to a scale for fruit with the title "Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up" next to him.

Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up: From Electrical Bandages to an Experimental Blood Test

Let’s dive into the wonderful world of medical science once again.

It’s that time! Join me as I take a look at the latest medical news.

A study shows how electrical bandages can heal chronic wounds faster.

A hand is shown against a black background with a bandage covering the palm.

Paving the way for better chronic wound care, electrical bandages have come to be known for their great healing properties. But what about them makes them so great? To find out, we need to dive a little deeper into what defines this type of bandage and what defines a chronic wound.

What is an electrical bandage?

Belonging to a particular type of therapy called electroceuticals, electrical bandages are meant to treat chronic wounds.

How?

They do so with the help of a device that’s attached to them. When the bandage is applied to a chronic wound, this device emits electrical impulses. These impulses then eliminate the bacteria found in the chronic wound.

What is a chronic wound?

So, electrical bandages are great at cleansing chronic wounds from infection. But what exactly are chronic wounds?

These types of wounds are typically non-healing ones. The reason for this is that they usually have skin infections coupled with biofilms. And these biofilms form from small groups of microorganisms, which can also include bacteria. These groups are usually held together by fat and protein substances. And both these groups and substances can end up creating a protective barrier for the bacteria.

This protective barrier makes it difficult for traditional treatments like antibiotics to heal chronic wounds. But that isn’t the case for electrical bandages.

Why?

No one’s sure. But researchers at The Ohio State University have discovered new clues that may explain why these bandages have better luck at healing chronic wounds.

When using an electrical device with silk, the university researchers found that the two items created the antimicrobial chemical hypochlorous acid. This chemical was shown to penetrate the biofilm barrier and kill the bacteria inside without harming the healthy skin nearby.

To learn more, you can take a look at a plain English summary here and read through the original study here.

Pregnant women at risk for late preterm delivery may have a new cost-effective treatment.

A pregnant women in all black is standing against a white background.

For years, it has been standard to treat women with prenatal steroids if they were at risk of giving birth before their 34 weeks of pregnancy. After all, this treatment helps fetal lungs mature quickly enough to survive the birth.

Despite the benefit this treatment offers babies, researchers did not initially consider it necessary for women who were going to give birth to their babies during the later part of their preterm stage. But the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network conducted a 2016 randomized trial that proved that there might be a benefit to doing otherwise.

After analyzing this past trial, the journal JAMA Pediatrics has found even more evidence to support that study’s findings. The journal’s analysis showed that late preterm babies from mothers who had been given the prenatal steroid betamethasone had fewer complications with their lungs. And they also had less of a need for respiratory treatments.

With such benefits, women who give birth to late preterm babies could see their medical costs go down.

For more specific information on the benefits of betamethasone, see the original study here. You can also see a plain English version here.

UC Berkeley neurobiologists develop a therapy that could improve sight and delay vision loss.

An open eye is staring.

Over 3.4 million Americans at the age of 40-years-old or older have to deal with vision difficulties. It’s a tough situation to be in that could lead to minor instances of needing to hold reading materials at a farther distance or more severe cases of losing vision entirely.

Sadly, there’s no cure for vision difficulties. But, luckily, neurobiologists at UC Berkeley believe they have discovered a therapy that can at least help.

Conducting a study on mice, the neurobiologists have found that the mice’s eyes, and presumably human eyes as well, have an issue with noise similar to how our ears deal with tinnitus. This noise reduces how well the mice with the genetic condition retinitis pigmentosa can see.

The neurobiologists believe that there may be a drug candidate that could reduce this visual noise to clarify the remaining vision so that people with age-related macular degeneration and other related poor vision conditions can prolong their useful vision and even delay total blindness.

The neurobiologists’ study summary can be seen here.

People unable to take typical cholesterol-lowering drugs may finally have an alternative.

A person in doctor's attire is holding the hand of someone offscreen over a white counter with a folder.

It’s well-known that typical cholesterol-lowering drugs, also known as statins, have side effects that not everyone can tolerate. More specifically, side effects like muscle pain or bad interactions with other medications can pose too great a problem for some. So cholesterol-lowering medications like rosuvastatin aren’t always ideal.

To counter this issue, the New England Journal of Medicine has tested the effectiveness and efficiency of bempedoic acid — a new oral medication that has yet to be approved in Europe. According to the journal’s findings, this medication works like typical statin medications. So, like those medications, bempedoic acid can block an enzyme key to the body’s cholesterol production. And it does so effectively. But unlike your average statin, this medication was shown to be tolerated by most patients.

The medication isn’t out just yet, but when it does come out, if your well-being depends upon it and you live in the United States, you might want to consider checking to see if it’s available at an online international and Canadian pharmacy referral service like Canada Med Pharmacy. This service helps Americans connect with licensed pharmacies from outside the United States, where prescriptions are often offered at more affordable rates.

To find out more about bempedoic acid and its findings, read the New England Journal of Medicine’s research summary here.

An experimental blood test makes it easier to diagnose fibromyalgia.

A needle is taking out a vial of blood.

For a long time, there was no specific way to diagnose fibromyalgia. But now, researchers from The Ohio State University have given us a reasonable way to identify the condition.

According to their study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, researchers have proven that they can detect fibromyalgia reliably within blood samples. Using the technique vibrational spectroscopy, the researchers measured the level of molecules within each sample and came to discern a clear pattern that set fibromyalgia apart from other conditions.

It’s not a cure, but at the very least, those suffering from fibromyalgia will soon be able to avoid undergoing a number of general tests just to find out what condition they have.

You can see the abstract for the fibromyalgia study here.

Why Bird-Watching Is Perfect for Health-Conscious Seniors

(And for Anyone Else Who Wants More Nature Time)

From nature geeks to retired folks, everyone young and old can reap heaps of health benefits from this accessible activity. All you need is an area where birds congregate — which can be anywhere from city parks to untouched wilderness — a little patience, and some knowledge.

Birds are found on every single continent on Earth (even Antarctica!) which makes it possible to chase this hobby anywhere in the world. Plus, it’s free!

Still skeptical? Then, let’s dive into the specific benefits that bird-watching has to offer.

red cardinal
The beautiful Cardinal is a frequent visitor to backyard feeders in the Midwest and along the east coast of North America.

Bird-watching gets you out in nature.

Numerous studies have purported that nature is good for you. The Japanese even have a practice devoted to it called forest bathing, which offers a number of health benefits, such as a boosted immune system, reduced stress, and increased energy.

Many of these benefits are due to the relatively quiet, peaceful, and reflective space that the outdoors offers, unlike the hustle-bustle of urban life. Relaxing in heavily wooded areas where trees breathe out oxygen can also give your lungs a much-needed break from the exhaust-polluted air of the city.

seniors in nature
Getting out in nature is good for you!

Perhaps you consider retirement to be a relatively stress-free time of your life. However, consider your family obligations. Whether you help babysit the grandkids or assist your adult children with their new mortgages, these obligations can still be stressful. And when these duties feel overwhelming, know that you can always go out in nature to observe the birds and enjoy the natural healing benefits that the outdoors can provide.

Bird-watching gets you moving.

Golden eagle
Most people are familiar with the Bald Eagle, but if you venture out a little farther into the wilderness, you may just be able to spot the elusive and majestic Golden Eagle, the only other eagle species in North America.

If you struggle to exercise for exercise’s sake, bird-watching, a goal-oriented activity, can be your way of getting off the couch. Bird-watching requires you to do lots of walking, which may count towards your 150 minutes of recommended weekly exercise.

What’s more, when bird-watching, you might find yourself motivated to move faster. Walk briskly, and you’ll not only burn more calories but also see more birds. To catch sight of a particularly speedy flier, you might even fit in a jog here and there. Plus, the added rugged terrain of forests and mountains forces you to use balancing muscles you may otherwise never get to exercise walking on flat ground.

All this exercise for bird-watching might actually seem a bit overly exhausting, but the great thing about this hobby is that you can tailor all the required exercise to your needs. If you have arthritis, for example, and struggle with painful joints, you can take lots of breaks. Sometimes staying still may even make it easier for you to spot certain birds!

For the more adventurous birders among us, retirement is the perfect time to explore new places, whether it be a local trail you’ve always wanted to visit or the uncharted wilderness where rare birds fly.

Exercise from bird-watching is a natural antidepressant. And it’s free!

feeding chickadee
While some birds, like this chickadee, are naturally curious about humans, feeding wildlife is not recommended unless specifically allowed in your natural park. Habituating wildlife to humans can make them aggressive and endanger them.

Exercise has been shown to significantly improve mood. Unfortunately, clinical depression is something that doesn’t discriminate against age, and seniors can develop it too. The abrupt change from working full-time to retiring, the death of a spouse, or another traumatic event can trigger this illness. If you notice fatigue, difficulty sleeping, irritability, and even confusion, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor, as you may be dealing with clinical depression.

Luckily, a side effect from bird-watching is that you’ll be doing some form of exercise in the hopes of catching sight of a bird or two. Don’t expect to get too far in the hobby if you think it’s just a matter of sitting on a park bench all day!

Bird-watching can be social.

feeding pigeons
The humble yet adaptable Rock Pigeon is not a native of North America. It was introduced from Europe, but can be found almost everywhere in the world.

While many people enjoy bird-watching as a reflective, solo activity, others find community in bird-watching. Retirement may be the best years of your life, but you can’t deny that as we get older, it gets harder and harder to make friends. Finding a community of nature lovers may just be the social refreshment you need.

Team up with other bird lovers in the community to learn a few birdsong recognition skills or borrow a pair of high-power binoculars for the weekend.

Birdwatching is also a highly accessible activity for families, friends, and couples. You don’t have to pay an expensive entrance fee to most natural places. You can simply chat and bond over finding rare birds, and you can even round off the day with a tasty picnic!

Bird-watching may be good for your brain.

hummingbird at feeder
Beautiful, colorful birds are not limited to the tropics! Hummingbirds, such as the Rufous, Ruby-Throated, and Anna’s Hummingbirds, can be spotted in suburban backyards.

“Being intellectually engaged may benefit the brain[,]” says the National Institutes of Health, citing academic studies. “People who engage in meaningful activities, like volunteering or hobbies, say they feel happier and healthier. Learning new skills may improve your thinking ability, too.”

While bird-watching is a relaxed hobby compared to many others, it does require some mental exercise. Serious bird-watchers will read plenty of books about bird behavior and biology. Just identifying birds requires you to remember what many species look like, their behavior, their habitat, and perhaps even songs and calls. Since many birds look alike, knowing other information such as geographical range and preferred habitat (e.g., marsh, open plain, forest) is important to identifying birds correctly.

Bird-watching fosters an appreciation for nature.

Blue Jays belong to the same family as crows and ravens, and can be found in the Midwest and east coast. Their western relative is the darker-blue Steller’s Jay.

Perhaps more than health benefits, this last benefit is probably the most valuable result that comes from bird-watching.

No one can deny that the natural world is in grave danger at this time in history. Climate change, pollution, and environmental degradation are causing at least 10,000 species to go extinct each year.

As humans, we often forget that we, too, are animals that originally came from nature. Too often are we preoccupied with getting better, stronger, faster gadgets that make us superior to nature. And it makes us forget that nature can be just as — if not more — beautiful as our high-tech lives.

Fostering an appreciation for the natural world is humbling. And hopefully, it’ll inspire you to care for it a little more.

Bird-watching is a great activity for seniors, but it’s a hobby for all ages.

Birds are often excellent parents. Many species mate for life and both Mom and Dad share child-rearing duties.

While bird-watching is frequently associated with retired folks and seniors, there’s no rule saying young people can’t join. In fact, once you’ve fallen in love with birds yourself, why not bring the whole family along?

If you have young grandchildren, teaching kids about the natural world can be an enriching and rewarding process. Your grandkids may find it inspiring if their grandparent can identify birds by ear or eye, and they might even end up striving to do the same.

Get started!

So if you’re wondering what to do this weekend, what are you waiting for? Put on your hiking shoes, perhaps borrow a local birding guidebook from the library, and head outside.

While binoculars can certainly help you find birds that don’t like being too close to humans, they’re not required.

Don’t worry if you don’t know many birds in the beginning; bird-watching is a constant learning process. Once you’re familiar with the usual suspects in your area, branch out further to meet other birds and enjoy the benefits this activity offers.