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WELLNESS- Getting Better by Feeling Worse PDF Print E-mail
Written by Scott Lafee, Creative Syndicate   
Thursday, 19 April 2012 02:30

You're on the mend, finally getting better after a bout of illness. So why do you feel so bad? Biologists at the universities of Tennessee and New Mexico posit an explanation in the last issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology.

Edmund LeGrand and Joe Alcock blame it on our immune system, which often makes us feel worse while trying to make us get well. In particular, they point to a component of the system called the acute-phase response, a series of changes in things such as blood protein levels and metabolic function that can occur when bacteria, viruses and other pathogens invade. The response puts a lot of stress on healthy cells and causes many of the symptoms we associate with being sick.

The acute-phase response creates stress in several ways. It raises body temperature and causes loss of appetite and mild anemia. At the same time, certain vital nutrients like iron, zinc and manganese are partially sequestered away from the bloodstream.

LeGrand and Alcock describe it as "immune brinksmanship." It's a gamble, said LeGrand, that the immune system's "systemic stressors will harm the pathogens relatively more than the host." In other words, the invaders will be killed before you feel like asking someone to kill you.

BODY OF KNOWLEDGE

Unless you're already folliclechallenged, the average person loses 60 to 100 strands of hair (out of the 100,000 or so you have) each day. The rate of loss varies with season, pregnancy, illness, diet, age, and genetics.

GET ME THAT. STAT!

Married adults who undergo heart surgery are more than three times more likely to survive the next three months than single people after the same surgery, according to Emory University researchers, who attribute the difference to improved postoperative care by spouses.

NUMBER CRUNCHER

A serving of hush puppies (5 pieces, 78 grams) contains 257 calories, 104 from fat. It has 11.6 grams of total fat or 18 percent of the recommended total fat intake for a 2,000-calorie daily diet.

It also contains 135 milligrams of cholesterol (45 percent); 965 mg of sodium (40 percent); 34.9 grams of total carbohydrates (12 percent) and 4.9 g of protein.

STORIES FOR THE WAITING ROOM

A firm grip when shaking hands is a good barometer of future mental health, report some neu-roscientists after following nearly 2,500 men and women for more than a decade. They said having a stronger grip was associated with a 42 percent lower risk of stroke in people over age 65 compared with other study participants having flimsier grasps.

While hardly conclusive, the researchers said a firm handshake is a sign of not just confidence, but good health and a healthy brain. The idea is that if your grip is particularly weak, it could be a sign that your overall cardiovascular health isn't in the best shape, either — and your brain isn't enjoying maximum blood supply, said study author Erica Camargo of the Boston Medical Center.

DOC TALK

Granuloma — a tumor

PHOBIA OF THE WEEK

Scopophobia - fear of being looked at or stared at

NEVER SAY DIET

The Major League Eating speed-eating record for giant cabbage is 6 pounds, 9 ounces in 9 minutes, held by Charles Hardy.

BEST MEDICINE

Thanks to tremendous strides in medicine, people are living longer, which gives them more time to pay their medical bills.

OBSERVATION

"The operation was a complete success, but the patient died of something else."

— English humorist John Chiene

CURTAIN CALLS

Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov became the first person to die during a space mission after the parachute on his capsule failed to deploy following re-entry in 1967.

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