How does diabetes affect children and teenagers?

Diabetes comes with various challenges, especially for young people. But, with early detection, children and teens can learn to manage diabetes and stay as healthy as possible. Early signs in children can include increased thirst and urination.

The National Diabetes Statistics Report 2020 states that around 210,000 children and teenagers under the age of 20 years in the United States have diagnosed diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is much more common in young people than type 2 diabetes. However, the rates of both types in young people are increasing.

In 2014–2015, doctors diagnosed type 1 diabetes in around 18,291 young people aged 10–19 years and type 2 diabetes in around 5,758 young people.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that, each year, rates of type 1 diabetes are rising by 1.8%, and rates of type 2 diabetes are rising by 4.8%.

Young people who develop diabetes have a higher risk of health challenges throughout their life.

This article will provide an overview of diabetes in children and teenagers, including the symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are different conditions, but they both affect the body’s use of insulin. Although type 1 is more common in young people, both types can affect children and teenagers.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes in children, previously called juvenile diabetes, occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin.

Without insulin, sugar cannot travel from the blood into the cells, and high blood sugar levels can occur.

People can develop type 1 diabetes at any age, from early childhood to adulthood, but the average age at diagnosis is 13 years. An estimated 85% of all type 1 diagnoses take place in people aged under 20 years.

Treatment involves lifelong insulin use and blood sugar monitoring, as well as diet and exercise management, to help keep blood sugar levels within the target range.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is less common in young children, but it can occur when insulin is not working correctly. Without enough insulin, glucose can accumulate in the bloodstream.

The chance of developing type 2 diabetes increases as people get older, but children can also develop it.

The rates of type 2 diabetes are increasing along with increases in childhood obesity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that obesity affected around 18.5% of children and adolescents aged 2–19 years in the U.S. in 2015–2016.

Over 75% of children with type 2 diabetes have a close relative who has it, either due to genetics or shared lifestyle habits. Having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes is linked with an increased risk.

Sometimes, the person will need medication. However, people can often manage type 2 diabetes by:

  • changing the diet
  • getting more exercise
  • maintaining a moderate weight

The symptoms of diabetes are similar in children, teenagers, and adults. Some symptoms are common in both types of diabetes, but there are some differences to help tell them apart.

The symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children tend to develop rapidly over a few weeks. Type 2 diabetes symptoms develop more slowly. It may take months or years to receive a diagnosis.

Type 1 diabetes

The main symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children and adolescents include:

  • increased thirst and urination
  • hunger
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • a fruity smell on the breath
  • blurred vision

Weight loss is a common symptom before diagnosis. Yeast infections in females can also be a symptom of diabetes.

Some people will be experiencing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) at the time of diagnosis. This occurs when the body begins to burn fat for energy due to a lack of insulin. This is a serious condition that requires treatment.

People may be able to get a diagnosis before DKA develops by recognizing the four main symptoms of type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes U.K. urge people to be aware of the “4 Ts” in children:

  • Toilet: The child might be using the bathroom frequently, infants may be having heavier diapers, or bedwetting may be occurring after being dry for some time.
  • Thirsty: The child may be drinking more fluids than usual but feeling unable to quench their thirst.
  • Tired: The child may be feeling more tired than usual.
  • Thinner: The child may be losing weight.

The video below provides more information on the 4 Ts:

Type 2 diabetes

The main symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • urinating more often, especially at night
  • increased thirst
  • tiredness
  • unexplained weight loss
  • itching around the genitals, possibly with a yeast infection
  • slow healing of cuts or wounds
  • blurred vision as a result of eye dryness

Another symptom of insulin resistance is the development of dark, velvety patches of skin, called acanthosis nigricans.

Polycystic ovary syndrome is another condition frequently associated with insulin resistance, though it is not a sign of it, per se.

Parents and caregivers should take their child to the doctor if they notice any of the above symptoms.

According to a 2012 survey from Diabetes U.K., only 9% of parents were able to identify the four main symptoms of type 1 diabetes in their children. By 2013, this figure had increased to 14%.

Some children do not receive a diagnosis until their symptoms are already severe. Receiving such a late diagnosis could prove fatal.

Do not miss the symptoms

Children and adolescents with diabetes usually experience four main symptoms, but many children will only have one or two. In some cases, they may show no symptoms at all.

If a child suddenly becomes more thirsty or tired or urinates more than usual, their parents may not consider diabetes a possibility.

This might also be the case for doctors, since diabetes is less common among very young children. They may attribute the symptoms to other, more common illnesses. For this reason, they may not diagnose diabetes straight away.

It is important to be aware of the possible signs and symptoms of diabetes in children in order to get a diagnosis and treatment plan as soon as possible.

One of the most serious consequences of undiagnosed type 1 diabetes is DKA. The sections below will look at this, and other complications, in more detail.

DKA

If a child does not receive treatment for type 1 diabetes, they may develop DKA. Type 2 diabetes can also lead to DKA, but this is rare.

DKA is a severe and life threatening condition that requires immediate treatment.

If insulin levels are very low, the body cannot use glucose for energy. Instead, it begins to break down fat for energy.

This leads to the production of chemicals called ketones, which can be toxic at high levels. A buildup of these chemicals causes DKA, wherein the body becomes acidic.

Early diagnosis and effective management of diabetes can prevent DKA, but this is not always possible. DKA is more common among children with an incorrect, and therefore delayed, diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.

One 2008 investigation found that among 335 children under the age of 17 years with new onset type 1 diabetes, the initial diagnosis was incorrect in more than 16%Trusted Source of cases.

Instead, they received the following diagnoses:

  • respiratory system infection: 46.3%
  • perineal candidiasis 16.6%
  • gastroenteritis: 16.6%
  • urinary tract infection: 11.1%
  • stomatitis: 11.1%
  • appendicitis: 3.7%

Type 2 diabetes complications

Without treatment, type 2 diabetes appears to progress faster in young people than in adults.

Younger people also seem to have a higher risk of complications, such as kidney and eye disease, earlier in life.

There is also a greater risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, which increase a person’s risk of blood vessel disease.

Type 2 diabetes in children often occurs with obesity, which may contribute to these higher risks. Obesity affects the body’s ability to use insulin, leading to abnormal blood sugar levels.

Because of this, early detection of type 2 diabetes and attention to managing overweight and obesity in younger people are crucial.

This may include encouraging children to follow a healthful diet and get plenty of exercise.

Any child with signs or symptoms of diabetes should see a doctor for screening. This may consist of a urine test to look for sugar in the urine or a finger-prick blood test to check the child’s glucose levels.

The National Institute for Health Care and Excellence recommend testing children for diabetes if they:

  • have a strong family history of type 2 diabetes
  • have obesity
  • are of Black or Asian family origin
  • show evidence of insulin resistance, such as acanthosis nigricans

The outcomes for children with type 1 or type 2 diabetes improve greatly with early detection.

It is not currently possible to prevent type 1 diabetes, but type 2 diabetes is largely preventable.

The following steps can help prevent type 2 diabetes in childhood:

  • Maintain a moderate weight: Overweight increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as it increases the chance of insulin resistanceTrusted Source.
  • Stay active: Keeping physically active reduces insulin resistance and helps manage blood pressure.
  • Limit sugary foods and beverages: Consuming lots of foods that are high in sugar can lead to weight gain and problems with insulin function. Eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet — with plenty of vitamins, fiber, and lean proteins — will lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes rates in childhood and adolescence are rising. Type 1 diabetes is much more common in young people than type 2 diabetes, but the rates of both are increasing.

In most cases, people can manage the symptoms of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes with a healthful diet, regular exercise, and medications.

When they control the condition well, people with diabetes can live full and healthy lives.

Why exercise is key to living a long and healthy life

What should we do in order to live healthier lives for longer? Research shows there are a few lifestyle interventions that can effectively prolong our life and health span. One of these is exercise, but what kind, and in what combinations, and why does it help add years to our lives? 

Seemingly since times immemorial, humankind has been, metaphorically speaking, seeking the path that leads to the “Fountain of Youth” — that is ways to ensure a longer, healthier life.

And while we may not yet benefit of any “miracle” medicines or technologies to prolong our life spans well over the hundred-year mark, many recent studies have provided strong evidence in support of the notion that simple, achievable lifestyle changes can help us stay healthy for longer and decrease our risk of premature death.

Research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2023, for example, suggested that eight healthy habits can slow down biological aging by as much as 6 years.

These habits are related to diet, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco, maintaining good sleep hygiene, managing cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure, and, no less importantly, staying physically active.

Dr. del Pozo Cruz is principal researcher in Applied Health Sciences at the University of Cadiz in Spain, and adjunct associate professor in the Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics at the University of Southern Denmark.

In collaboration with other researchers, Dr. del Pozo Cruz has conducted various studies exploring the link between different forms of exercise and the risk of death from different causes.

Dr. Brocklesby has gained fame under the nickname “Iron Gran,” as at the age of 72, she was the oldest British woman to complete an Ironman Triathlon. She is also founder and CEO of Silverfit, a not-for-profit organization promoting lifelong fitness.

What types of exercise lower death risk?

In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in August 2023, Dr. del Pozo Cruz and his colleagues analyzed data from 500,705 participants followed up for a median period of 10 years to see how different forms of exercise related to a person’s mortality risk.

The study looked at the effect of moderate aerobic physical activity, such as walking or gentle cycling, vigorous aerobic physical activity, such as running, and muscle-strengthening activity, like weight lifting.

Its findings indicated that a balanced combination of all of these forms of exercise worked best for reducing mortality risk.

More specifically, around 75 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, plus more than 150 minutes of vigorous exercise, alongside at least a couple of strength training sessions per week were associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality.

When it came to reducing the risk of death linked to cardiovascular disease specifically, Dr. del Pozo Cruz and his collaborators suggested combining a minimum of 150–225 minutes of moderate physical activity with around 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, and two or more strength training sessions per week.

Dr. Brocklesby, who goes by “Eddie,” is herself an example of the importance of combining different forms of exercise. Indeed, training and participating in a triathlon — which is an endurance multisport race where participants compete in swimming, cycling, and running — involves achieving a balanced “diet” of moderate and vigorous exercise, as well as strength training.

How little exercise is enough?

But what about people who are not nearly as athletic? What is the minimum “amount” of exercise that could help fend off some of the conditions that pose the highest threat to health?

Dr. del Pozo Cruz and his team may also have found an answer to this question. In December 2022, they published the findings to a previous study in the European Heart Journal.

This research suggested that engaging in vigorous exercise for only 2 minutes a day could help slash the risk of death related to cancer or cardiovascular events.

The researchers found that study participants who never engaged in vigorous exercise had a 4% risk of dying within 5 years, but introducing less than 10 minutes of vigorous activity weekly halved this risk. Moreover, their risk of death halved again for those who engaged in at least 60 minutes of exercise per week.

Is any physical activity good?

In our podcast, Dr. del Pozo Cruz emphasized that almost any amount of any form of exercise is better than none, a point reinforced by a new study arguing that any activity at all is better for heart health than a sedentary lifestyle.

However, he also cautioned that physical activity related to chores or to one’s job, as opposed to exercise in a leisure context, may sometimes do more harm than good.

Once again, his idea is supported by recently published research, which found a link between physically demanding occupations and a higher risk of cognitive impairment.

Some of the most common occupations linked to intensive physical activity cited in this research were in nursing and care, retail, and farming, where individuals are on their feet a lot, and often having to deal with stressful situations.

So while all forms of exercise can be good for health, strenuous or intensive physical activity in a work environment could end up compounding the risk of various health conditions.

And even exercise for leisure can affect aspects of physical health — such as joint integrity — particularly later in life. In our podcast, both Dr. del Pozo Cruz and Eddie emphasized the importance of consulting a trusted healthcare provider, who can advise on the best forms of exercise to engage in on an individual basis.

To find out more about how and why different forms of exercise can support longevity, and to hear the story of how Edwina became “Iron Gran,” listen to our podcast episode in full below or on your preferred streaming platform.

Swapping meat for plant-based foods may lower diabetes and heart disease risk

Can going plant-based help slash metabolic and cardiovascular risk?

  • Analyzing over 30 studies, German researchers found that swapping meats for plant-based alternatives may drastically reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality.
  • Evidence showed that replacing 50 grams (1.8 ounces) of processed meat with plant-based foods on a daily basis lowered cardiovascular disease risk by 25%.
  • Substituting processed meats was associated with a 21% lower risk of death from any cause.

The Western diet is replete with red and processed meats and other animal products. Experts worry that this eating pattern strains natural resources, triggers negative climate change, and contributes to an array of noncommunicable diseases.

The environmental and health burdens associated with the Western diet are increasingly supporting the case for promoting plant-based dietary alternatives.

Some studies have suggested that plant-based foods may help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and overall mortality.

So far, however, research has not considered the full cardiometabolic implications of switching out meats for plants in a systematic review and meta-analysis.

To address this deficit, researchers from institutions in Germany collaborated on a paper exploring the topic. Their systematic review and meta-analysis article was published in BMC MedicineTrusted Source.

“Our findings indicate that a shift from animal-based (e.g., red and processed meat, eggs, dairy, poultry, butter) to plant-based (e.g., nuts, legumes, whole grains, olive oil) foods is beneficially associated with cardiometabolic health and all-cause mortality,” the authors reported.

First review of its kind

The research team ran a systematic literature search on MEDLINE, Embase, and Web of Science.

They included studies that used substitution analyses of animal-based food with plant-based foods. The studies consulted also discussed health outcomes such as cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality.

Furthermore, the studies were prospective observational studies conducted among the general healthy population.

Each study underwent a risk of bias assessment with the Risk of Bias in Non-Randomized Studies of Interventions (ROBINS-I)Trusted Source tool. The team evaluated the certainty of evidence for each association using the Grading of Recommendation, Assessment, Development, and Evaluations (GRADE)Trusted Source protocol.

The research team narrowed their search down from 1,216 to 32 studies for final inclusion in their analyses. Hand searching yielded another five studies, for a total of 37 meta-analyses.

According to the authors, their work “is the first systematic review and meta-analysis that summarized the associations between the substitution of animal-based with plant-based foods with a wide range of cardiometabolic outcomes, such as cardiovascular disease mortality; incidence of [cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and type 2 diabetes]; diabetes mortality, and all-cause mortality.”

Swapping animal- for plant-based foods for health

The researchers observed a “moderate certainty of evidence” that replacing one daily egg with nuts correlated with lower cardiovascular disease mortality. Substituting butter with olive oil yielded similar results.

Switching 50 grams (g) of processed meat with 28 g of nuts daily was associated with a lower coronary heart disease incidence. Replacing poultry or seafood with nuts or legumes was not.

There was only a low certainty of evidence for associations of reduced coronary heart disease risk with replacing red meat with nuts or legumes.

Replacing butter with olive oil, red meat with nuts, or one egg daily with nuts, was inversely associated with type 2 diabetes frequency, the researchers also found.

Finally, the research team noticed a moderate certainty of evidence for a lower risk of all-cause mortality when switching red meat with nuts or whole grains. Replacing processed meat with nuts or legumes, or unprocessed red meat with nuts also reduced this risk.

Substituting dairy or one egg daily with nuts or legumes, or butter with olive oil, was associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality.

These findings agree with a prior review suggesting that replacing red meat with plant-based foods lowered the risk of coronary heart disease and all-cause mortality.

This work also supports other studies tying higher meat consumption with coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality.

Review highlights ‘vital’ role of plant-based foods in health

The present study was the first meta-analysis of its kind. Validated food frequency questionnaires were used to collect dietary information. The mean follow-up duration among the cohorts was 19 years.

Most of the studies included males and females, with a few gender-specific exceptions.

Medical News Today discussed this study with Eva De Angelis, a registered dietitian nutritionist. She was not involved in the research.

De Angelis considered the investigation “quite a fascinating systematic review that further highlights the vital role plant foods can have on our overall health, and how too many animal foods can have the opposite effect.”

She was impressed that the study used many diverse prospective studies, which “provide a higher quality of evidence.”

The focus on multiple health outcomes was another strength, Ms. De Angelis told MNT.

How does the review fall short?

Nevertheless, the research team also acknowledged several limitations to their study, stressing that their “findings should be interpreted with caution.”

Many of the studies analyzed used theoretical food substitutions. Moreover, portion sizes differed among studies, resulting in unequal comparisons of dietary substitutes.

Using only prospective observational studies presented the potential for residual confounding and measurement inaccuracies.

Furthermore, the limited number of studies in the final analysis did not allow for subgroup assessments. For instance, dairy products were assessed as one group. The authors noted that “dairy includes a wide range of different products (e.g., milk, yogurt, cheese) with different associations with cardiometabolic outcomes.”

De Angelis commented: “Among the weaknesses, I would mention that the information only allows us to make associations, and not causality, because many of the analyzed studies were observational. This means we don’t know for sure if any other factors may have been involved in the outcomes.”

The review authors felt that more research was needed to support the existing evidence. They expressed their hope that future work would explore new interconnections and highlight meat and dairy replacements.

Better dietary choices for our bodies and the planet?

MNT also discussed this study with registered dietitian nutritionist Sara Chatfield. She was not involved in the research.

Chatfield pointed out that transitioning to more plant-based foods can reap significant benefits to the planet, because animal production is so resource- and land-intensive.

In fact, both of the nutritionists interviewed by MNT agreed that focusing more on whole plant foods can only help the Earth and its inhabitants.

Chatfield referred to research suggesting that shifting to plant-based dietary patterns could reduce diet-related land useTrusted Source by 76% and greenhouse gas emissions by 49%.

De Angelis shared a similar view, saying that:

“There is no denying that following a mainly plant-based diet has been proven beneficial not only for our overall health but also for the planet as we reduce our carbon footprint by choosing such foods.”

Both nutritionists cautioned, however, that a fully plant-based diet may not be the best option for some, depending on an individual’s health conditions, preferences, and food accessibility.

Still, De Angelis emphasized that “trying to add more plant foods to your diet can be an easy and simple step for better health.”

What is depression and what can I do about it?

Depression is a mental health condition that causes a chronic feeling of emptiness, sadness, or inability to feel pleasure that may appear to happen for no clear reason.

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

It can undermine a person’s relationships, make working and maintaining good health very difficult, and in severe cases, may lead to suicide. In fact, depression contributes to nearly 40,000 suicides in the United States each year.

It can affect adults, adolescents, and children. This article examines what depression is and what causes it, as well as types of depression, treatment, and more.

Depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, and loss of joy. It is different from the mood fluctuations that people regularly experience as a part of life.

Major life events, such as bereavement or the loss of a job, can trigger depression. But depression is distinct from the negative feelings a person may temporarily have in response to a difficult life event.

Depression often persists in spite of a change of circumstances and causes feelings that are intense, chronic, and not proportional to a person’s circumstances.

It is an ongoing problem, not a passing one. While there are different types of depression, the most common one is major depressive disorder. It consists of episodes during which the symptoms last for at least two weeks.

Depression can last for several weeks, months, or years. For many people, it is a chronic illness that gets better and then relapses.

While there is no cure for depression, there are effective treatments that help with recovery. The earlier that treatment starts, the more successful it may be. Some people may never experience depression again after a single period of it. Others will continue to have relapses.

Many people experiencing depression recover after a treatment plan. Even with effective treatment, however, a relapse may occur. About half  of people do not initially respond to treatment.

To prevent relapse, people who take medication for depression should continue with treatment — even after symptoms improve or go away — for as long as their doctor advises.

Find tips to help prevent depression from returning here.

Depression can cause a range of psychological and physical symptoms, including

  • persistent depressed mood
  • loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • changes in appetite and body weight
  • unusually slow or agitated movements
  • decreased energy or fatigue
  • difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • excessive feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

If a person experiences five Trusted Sourceor more of these symptoms during the same 2-week period, a doctor may diagnose them with depression.

Depression may also cause other symptoms, including irritability, restlessness, chronic pain, headaches, and digestive issues.

There are several forms of depression. Below are some of the most common types.

Major depression

A person living with major depression experiences a constant state of sadness. They may lose interest in activities they used to enjoy.

Treatment usually involves medication and psychotherapy.

Persistent depressive disorder

Also known as dysthymia, persistent depressive disorder causes symptoms that last for at least 2 years.

A person living with this disorder may have episodes of major depression as well as milder symptoms that do not meet the criteria for major depressive disorder.

Postpartum depression

After giving birth, some people experience a brief period of sadness or heightened emotions that some people call the “baby blues.” This usually goes away in a few days to a few weeks.

Postpartum depression, or postnatal depression, is more severe.

There is no single cause for this type of depression, and it can persist for months or years. Anyone who experiences ongoing depression after delivery should seek medical attention.

Major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern

Previously known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), this type of depression usually occurs during the winter and fall months, when there is less daylight. Less commonly, it may follow other seasonal patterns.

It lifts during the rest of the year and in response to light therapy.

This condition seems to particularly affect people who live in countries with long or severe winters.

The medical community does not fully understand the causes of depression. There are many possible causes, and sometimes, various factors combine to trigger symptoms.

Factors that are likely to play a role include:

  • genetic features
  • changes in the brain’s neurotransmitter levels
  • environmental factors such as exposure to trauma or lack of social support
  • psychological and social factors
  • additional conditions, such as bipolar disorder

Interactions between various factors can increase the risk of depression. For instance, a person with a family history or a genetic risk of depression may experience symptoms of depression following a traumatic event.

The symptoms of depression can include:

  • a depressed mood
  • reduced interest or pleasure in activities that a person previously enjoyed
  • a loss of sexual desire
  • changes in appetite
  • unintentional weight loss or gain
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • agitation, restlessness, and pacing up and down
  • slowed movement and speech
  • fatigue or loss of energy
  • feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or an attempt at suicide

Find out more about recognizing the hidden signs of depression here.

In females

Depression is nearly twice as common in females than males, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Researchers do not know why depression appears to be more common in females. However, a 2021 study proposes that the difference may be due to disparities in reporting. Researchers found that females were more likely than males to report and seek treatment for depression symptoms.

Some research suggests that exposure to gender discrimination increases the risk of depression.

Also, some types of depression are unique to females, such as postpartum depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

In males

According to data from the National Health and Nutrition study, which relies on self-reports of mental health symptoms, 5.5% of males report depression symptoms in a given 2-week period, compared with 10.4% of females.

Males with depression are more likely than females to drink alcohol in excess, display anger, and engage in risk-taking as a result of the disorder.

Other symptoms of depression in males may include:

  • avoiding family and social situations
  • working without a break
  • having difficulty keeping up with work and family responsibilities
  • displaying abusive or controlling behavior in relationships

Learn more about the symptoms of depression in men.

In college students

Time at college can be stressful, and a person may be dealing with other lifestyles, cultures, and experiences for the first time.

Some students have difficulty coping with these changes, and they may develop depression, anxiety, or both as a result.

Symptoms of depression in college students may include:

  • difficulty concentrating on schoolwork
  • insomnia
  • sleeping too much
  • a decrease or increase in appetite
  • avoiding social situations and activities that they used to enjoy

In teens

Physical changes, peer pressure, and other factors can contribute to depression in teenagers.

They may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • feeling irritable
  • restlessness, such as an inability to sit still
  • withdrawing from friends and family
  • difficulty concentrating on schoolwork
  • feeling guilty, helpless, or worthless

In children

The CDC estimate that, in the U.S., 4.4% of children and teenagers aged 3–17 have a diagnosis of depression. This figure has risen in recent years.

Depression in children can make schoolwork and social activities challenging. They may experience symptoms such as:

  • crying
  • low energy
  • clinginess
  • defiant behavior
  • vocal outbursts

Younger children may have difficulty expressing how they feel in words. This can make it harder for them to explain their feelings of sadness.

Learn more about mental health in trans people here.

In historically marginalized groups

Research shows that the prevalence of major depression among African Americans has been around 10.4%, compared with 17.9% among people who are white.

However, 56% of African Americans experience depression more chronically, compared with 38.6% of people who are white. This implies that though fewer African Americans may experience depression, those who do may experience it for longer. In addition, less than half of these African Americans have sought treatment.

Other research indicates that African Americans may have depression less frequently than non-Hispanic people who are white, but this may be due to the fact that many African Americans often do not have a proper diagnosis.

Triggers are emotional, psychological, or physical events or circumstances that can cause depression symptoms to appear or return.

These are some of the most common triggers:

  • stressful life events, such as loss, family conflicts, and changes in relationships
  • incomplete recovery after having stopped depression treatment too soon
  • medical conditions, especially a medical crisis such as a new diagnosis or a chronic illness such as heart disease or diabetes

Find out more about depression triggers here.

Some people have a higher risk of depression than others.

Risk factors include:

  • experiencing certain life events, such as bereavement, work issues, changes in relationships, financial problems, and medical concerns
  • experiencing acute stress
  • having a lack of successful coping strategies
  • having a close relative with depression
  • using some prescription drugs, such as corticosteroids, certain beta-blockers, and interferon
  • using recreational drugs, such as alcohol or amphetamines
  • having sustained a head injury
  • having a neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s
  • having had a previous episode of major depression
  • having a chronic condition, such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or cardiovascular disease
  • living with chronic pain
  • lacking social support

Depression can also occur as a symptom or comorbidity with another mental health condition. Examples include:

Psychotic depression

Psychosis can involve delusions, such as false beliefs and a detachment from reality. It can also involve hallucinations — sensing things that do not exist.

Some people experience depression with psychosis. A person living with psychosis, which is a serious psychiatric illness, may experience depression as a result.

Alternatively, a person living with depression may have a severe form of the condition that also includes psychosis symptoms.

Bipolar disorder

Depression is a common symptom of bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder experience periods of depression that may last weeks. They also experience periods of mania, which is an elevated mood that may cause a person to feel very happy, aggressive, or out of control.

What does bipolar disorder involve, and what types are there? Find out here.

Depression is treatable, though the treatment may depend on the exact type a person is living with.

However, about 30.9% of people do not respond to treatment or respond poorly. About 4 in 10 people achieve remission of their symptoms within 12 months, but depression can come back.

Managing symptoms usually involves three components:

  • Support: This can range from discussing practical solutions and possible causes to educating family members.
  • Psychotherapy: Also known as talking therapy, some options include one-to-one counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
  • Drug treatment: A doctor may prescribe antidepressants.

Medication

Antidepressants can help treat moderate to severe depression. Several classes of antidepressants are available:

  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • atypical antidepressants
  • tricyclic antidepressants
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

Each class acts on a different neurotransmitter or combination of neurotransmitters.

A person should only take these medications as their doctor prescribes. Some drugs can take a while to have an impact. By stopping taking the drug, a person may not experience the benefits that it can offer.

Some people stop taking medication after symptoms improve, but this can lead to a relapse.

A person should raise any concerns about antidepressants with a doctor, including any intention to stop taking the medication.

Learn more about antidepressants and how they can help here.

Medication side effects

SSRIs and SNRIs can have side effects. A person may experience:

  • nausea
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • low blood sugar
  • weight loss or weight gain
  • a rash
  • sexual dysfunction

Find out more about the possible side effects of antidepressants here.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires manufacturers to put a “black box” warning on antidepressant bottles.

The warning indicates that, among other risks, these medications may increase suicidal thoughts or actions in some children, teenagers, and young adults within the first few months of treatment. While there is an increase in risk, the absolute risk remains low.

Natural remedies

Some people use natural remedies, such as herbal medicines, to treat mild to moderate depression.

However, since the FDA does not monitor herbal remedies, manufacturers may not be truthful about the quality of these products. They may not be safe or effective.

In a 2018 systematic review of herbal remedies for depression, 45% of studies reported positive results from herbal treatments, including fewer side effects than standard antidepressants.

The following are some of the more popular herbs and plants that people use to treat depression:

  • St. John’s wort: This is not suitable for people who are or may be living with bipolar disorder. Learn more here.
  • Ginseng: Practitioners of traditional medication may use this to improve mental clarity and reduce stress. Find out more about ginseng here.
  • Chamomile: This contains flavonoids that can have an antidepressant effect. For more information about chamomile, click here.
  • Lavender: This may help reduce anxiety and insomnia. Learn more about lavender here.

It is essential for a person to speak with a doctor before using any type of herbal remedy or supplement to treat depression. Some herbs can interfere with the action of drugs or otherwise make symptoms worse.

Supplements

A person may take the herbs above as supplements to treat symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Other types of supplements can also help treat these symptoms.

It is important to remember that the FDA does not monitor supplements to ensure that they are effective or safe.

Nonherbal supplements that may help treat depression include S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) — a synthetic form of a natural chemical in the body. They also include 5-hydroxytryptophan, which can help to boost serotonin, the neurotransmitter in the brain that affects a person’s mood.

Some research has suggested that SAMe may be as helpful as the prescription antidepressants imipramine and escitalopram, but more investigation is necessary.

Learn more about how herbs and supplements may help relieve depression here.

Food and diet

Some research suggests that eating a lot of sugary or processed foods can lead to various physical health problems and poor mental health. Results of a 2019 study suggest that a diet that includes many of these types of food can affect the mental health of young adults.

The study also found that eating more of the following foods helped reduce depression symptoms:

  • fruit
  • vegetables
  • fish
  • olive oil

Can other foods worsen or improve depression symptoms? Find out here.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, or talking therapies, for depression include CBT, interpersonal psychotherapy, and problem-solving treatment.

For some forms of depression, psychotherapy is usually the first-line treatment, while some people respond better to a combination of psychotherapy and medications.

CBT and interpersonal psychotherapy are the two main types of psychotherapy for depression. A person may have CBT in individual sessions with a therapist, in groups, over the telephone, or online.

CBT focuses on helping a person identify the connection between their thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. They then work steadily to change harmful thoughts and behaviors.

Interpersonal therapy aims to help people identify:

  • emotional problems that affect relationships and communication
  • how these issues also affect their mood
  • how to improve relationships and better manage emotions

Exercise

Aerobic exercise raises endorphin levels and stimulates neurotransmitters, potentially easing depression and anxiety. A 2019 paper states that exercise may be especially helpful with treatment-resistant depression.

Exercise offers the greatest benefits when a person combines it with standard treatments, such as antidepressants and psychotherapy.

Brain stimulation therapies

Brain stimulation therapies are another treatment option. For example, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation sends magnetic pulses to the brain, and this may help treat major depression.

If depression does not respond to drug treatment, a person may benefit from electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Doctors do not fully understand how ECT works.

During the procedure, a person is asleep, and a doctor uses electricity to induce a seizure. This may help “reset” the brain, correcting problems with neurotransmitters or other issues that cause depression.

If a person suspects that they have symptoms of depression, they should seek professional help from a doctor or mental health specialist.

A qualified health professional can rule out various causes, ensure an accurate diagnosis, and provide safe and effective treatment.

They will ask questions about symptoms, such as how long they have been present. A doctor may also conduct an examination to check for physical causes and order a blood test to rule out other health conditions.

What is the difference between situational and clinical depression? Find out here.

Tests

Mental health professionals often ask people to complete questionnaires to help assess the severity of their depression.

The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, for example, has 21 questions. The scores indicate the severity of depression among people who already have a diagnosis.

The Beck Depression Inventory is another questionnaire that helps mental health professionals measure a person’s symptoms.

National hotlines provide free, confidential assistance from trained professionals 24 hours a day. They may benefit anyone with depression who wants or needs to talk about their feelings.

Some of the support hotlines available include:

  • Samaritans: This nonprofit organization offers emotional support to anyone who has feelings of depression or loneliness or who is considering suicide. Call or text 877-870-4673 (HOPE).
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273- 8255 (TALK) to speak with someone from this national network of local crisis centers.
  • Lifeline Chat: This is an online chat service of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
  • Postpartum Support International: Call 1-800-944-4773. This organization helps people struggling with postpartum depression, as well as other mental health issues that are related to pregnancy, birth, and new parenthood.

A person with a parent or sibling who has depression is about three times more likely than other people to develop the condition.

However, many people with depression have no family history of it.

A recent study suggests that susceptibility to depression may not result from genetic variation. The researchers acknowledge that while people can inherit depression, many other issues also influence its development.

Learn more about whether depression has a genetic link here.

Depression is the leading cause of disability around the world, according to the WHO.

In the U.S., the Social Security Administration considers depressive, bipolar, and related disorders to be disabilities. If a person’s depression prevents them from working, they may qualify for social security disability insurance benefits.

The person must have worked long enough and recently enough to qualify for disability benefits. For more information, visit the administration’s website.

According to the CDC, about 11% of physician office visits note depression on the medical record. The figure is similar for emergency department visits.

Also according to the CDC, 4.4% of children and adolescents between the ages of 3 and 17 years — about 2.7 million people in the U.S. — have a diagnosis of depression.

The CDC also note that 4.7% of American adults have regular feelings of depression.

Here are some common questions about depression.

What does depression do to the brain?

Depression can lead to changes in levels of neurotransmitters, which are molecules that transmit messages between nerve cells. In the long run, it may also cause physical changes to the brain, including reductions in grey matter volume and increased inflammation.

Does depression change your personality?

Research has turned up mixed results about whether or not depression can actually change a person’s personality.

However, according to one review of 10 studies, depressive symptoms may be associated with changes in several specific aspects of personality — including extraversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness — which could be temporary or persistent.

Does depression affect your thinking?

Depression can alter concentration and decision-making. It may also impair attention and cause issues with information processing and memory.

Depression is a serious, chronic medical condition that can affect every aspect of a person’s life. When it causes suicidal thoughts, it can be fatal.

People cannot think their way out of depression. Depression is not a personal failing or a sign of weakness. It is treatable, and seeking treatment early may increase the chances of recovery.

Because depression can be challenging to treat, it is important for a person to see a doctor with expertise in depression and to be willing to try several different treatments. Often, a combination of therapy and medication offers the best results.

Any activity is better for your heart health than sitting – even sleeping

Researchers say sitting for prolonged periods is detrimental to heart health. 

  • Researchers report that any activity is more beneficial to heart health than sitting, including sleeping.
  • Experts say daily activity can help with blood pressure, glucose levels, and muscle strength.
  • They say that even taking 5-minute walking breaks during the workday can be beneficial.

That’s the theme of a new study that states any activity — even sleeping — is better for the heart than sitting.

Supported by the British Heart Foundation and published today in the European Heart Journal, the study’s authors say their research is the first to assess how different movement patterns throughout the 24-hour day are linked to heart health.

The researchers say it’s the first evidence to emerge from the international Prospective Physical Activity, Sitting and Sleep 

— all diseases of the heart and circulation — is the number one cause of mortality globally, the researchers point out. In 2021, it was responsible for one in three deaths (18 million) worldwide, with coronary heart disease the single biggest killer.

How the exercise and heart health study was conducted

In their study, University College London scientists analyzed data from six studies, encompassing 15,246 people from five countries, to see how movement across the day is associated with heart health.

Each participant wore a device on their thigh measuring their activity throughout the 24-hour day and had their heart health measured.

Heart health was measured using six outcomes: body-mass index (BMI), waist circumference, HDL cholesterol, HDL-to-total cholesterol ratio, triglycerides, and HbA1c.

The study identified behaviors making up a typical 24-hour day, with time spent doing moderate-vigorous activity providing the most benefit to heart health, followed by light activity, standing, and sleeping. All were compared with the adverse impact of sedentary behavior.

The team modeled what would happen if an individual changed various amounts of one behavior for another each day for a week to estimate the effect on heart health for each scenario. They reported that when replacing sedentary behavior, as little as 5 minutes of moderate-vigorous activity had a noticeable effect on heart health.

How activity helps cardiovascular health

The researchers said for a 54-year-old woman with an average body mass index of 26.5, a 30-minute change translated into a 0.64 decrease in BMI, which is a difference of 2.4%.

Replacing 30 minutes of daily sitting or lying time with moderate or vigorous exercise could also translate into a 2.5 cm (2.7%) decrease in waist circumference or a 1.33 mmol/mol (3.6%) decrease in glycated haemoglobin.

“The big takeaway from our research is that while small changes to how you move can have a positive effect on heart health, intensity of movement matters,” Jo Blodgett, PhD, the study’s lead author and a researchers at the UCL Surgery & Interventional Science and the Institute of Sport, Exercise & Health, said in a statement.

Blodgett added that the most beneficial change the team observed was replacing sitting with moderate to vigorous activity, which could be a run, a brisk walk, or stair climbing.

“Basically any activity that raises your heart rate and makes you breathe faster, even for a minute or two,” she said.

Although the authors said the findings can’t infer causality between movement behaviors and cardiovascular outcomes, this research does contribute to a growing body of evidence linking moderate to vigorous physical activity over 24 hours with improved body fat metrics.

They also said more long-term studies will be crucial to better understanding the associations between movement and cardiovascular outcomes.

How to increase your daily activities

Researchers said that although time spent doing vigorous activity was the quickest way to improve heart health, there are ways for people of all abilities to benefit. It’s just that the lower the intensity of the activity, the longer the time is required to start having a tangible benefit.

They said using a standing desk for a few hours a day instead of a sitting desk, for example, is a change over a relatively large amount of time but is also one that could be integrated into a working routine fairly easily.

The least active subjects were also found to gain the greatest benefit from becoming more active.

“A key novelty of the ProPASS consortium is the use of wearable devices that better differentiate between types of physical activity and posture, allowing us to estimate the health effects of even subtle variations with greater precision,” Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD, the joint senior author of the study and a professor the Charles Perkins Centre and Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney, said in a statement.

Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, an interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Structural Heart Program at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in California, told Medical News Today there are many simple ways to add more steps to one’s day.

“Take scheduled breaks throughout the day to take a short five-minute walk, either around the house or around the office; taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther from the store and walking, and walking more briskly when shopping,” he advised.

Chen said using stairs has multiple positive effects.

“Walking upstairs is harder exercise than walking on level ground. That’s because not only are you moving your body, you’re moving it against gravity, and you’re essentially pushing yourself up and out,” he said. “You are also building your muscles in your lower body, strengthening your core, and your lower back.”

“Climbing stairs is more difficult, you’re doing more exercise, and more exercise is better for you and your heart. We think that climbing stairs actually gives you three times as much exercise as the same amount of time walking on the ground,” Chen noted.

Activity helps blood pressure and blood sugar

Dr. Yu-Ming Ni, a cardiologist and lipidologist at MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in California, told Medical News Today that more activity leads to better blood pressure control. That, in turn, puts less strain on the heart over time and can prevent the development of heart failure or a heart attack.

“Muscles are also an important consumer of blood sugar and physical activity improves blood sugar levels and can reduce the risk for diabetes,” Ni said. “Since diabetes is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes, any effort to prevent diabetes will ultimately lead to less risk of heart disease.”

Ni noted that the study shows even small improvements in physical activity can impacts blood sugar and blood pressure.

“Remember that small changes done over years can have a lasting impact on health,” Ni said. “It may not seem like much to walk 5 minutes every hour of desk work, but this can add up over the work day. In an 8-hour work day, this amounts to 40 minutes of physical activity. Add in a 15-minute walk during your lunch break and you suddenly have almost an hour of additional physical activity each work day.”

Research is important for the United States

Dr. J. Wes Ulm, a medical researcher and bioinformatics expert who works as an analyst for the National Institutes of Health, told Medical News Today the research “at first glance may not appear to point to much in the way of groundbreaking recommendations,” it’s signifcant. Especially for people in the United States.

“The U.S., unfortunately, has borne the brunt of a slow-burn health crisis particularly over the past decade, with a trend of steadily declining life expectancy that markedly accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic but — unlike most of the rest of the world — has failed to right itself,” he said.

Ulm said the United States now has one of the lowest life expectancies for any developed nation, along with worse outcome measures for a variety of other core public health metrics.

He added that more movement helps, especially with chronic disease.

“The prevalence and severity of such chronic illnesses, in turn, are profoundly exacerbated by physical inactivity, obesity, and poor diet, the first (and by implication the second) of which is specifically addressed by the research reported in this study,” Ulm said.

How technology can help with daily activities

Dr. Bradley Serwer is a cardiologist and chief medical officer at VitalSolution, a company that offers cardiovascular and anesthesiology services to hospitals nationwide.

Serwer told Medical News Today that the study’s findings reaffirms why we see so much technology tracking movement.

“We have seen many updates and advancements over the years. Smart watches which track movement, steps, flights of stairs, heart rate, heart rate variability, etc. have been a valuable tool. Not only do they track your statistics, they also can serve as a reminder when you are sedentary for too long,” he said.

Serwer added that standing desks have become popular to promote constant movement.

“Exercise throughout the workday can help decrease professional burnout, can improve mood and help with mental clarity,” he said. “My tips for long term success include finding a physical activity that you enjoy that you will stick to. Find an exercise partner to help motivate you. Record your workout either on a smart watch or an old fashion written log. These tips will help motivate and encourage you to continue with permanent lifestyle changes.”

How Infections Spread

Germs are a part of everyday life and are found in our air, soil, water, and in and on our bodies. Some germs are helpful, others are harmful. Many germs live in and on our bodies without causing harm and some even help us to stay healthy. Only a small portion of germs are known to cause infection.

How Do Infections Occur?

An infection occurs when germs enter the body, increase in number, and cause a reaction of the body.

Three things are necessary for an infection to occur:

  • Source: Places where infectious agents (germs) live (e.g., sinks, surfaces, human skin)
  • Susceptible Person with a way for germs to enter the body
  • Transmission: a way germs are moved to the susceptible person

Click on a tab below to learn more.

  • Source
  • Susceptible Person
  • Transmission

Source

A Source is an infectious agent or germ and refers to a virus, bacteria, or other microbe.

In healthcare settings, germs are found in many places. People are one source of germs including:

  • Patients
  • Healthcare workers
  • Visitors and household members

People can be sick with symptoms of an infection or colonized with germs (not have symptoms of an infection but able to pass the germs to others).
Germs are also found in the healthcare environment. Examples of environmental sources of germs include:

  • Dry surfaces in patient care areas (e.g., bed rails, medical equipment, countertops, and tables)
  • Wet surfaces, moist environments, and biofilms (e.g., cooling towers, faucets and sinks, and equipment such as ventilators)
  • Indwelling medical devices (e.g., catheters and IV lines)
  • Dust or decaying debris (e.g., construction dust or wet materials from water leaks)

Susceptible Person

A susceptible person is someone who is not vaccinated or otherwise immune, or a person with a weakened immune system who has a way for the germs to enter the body. For an infection to occur, germs must enter a susceptible person’s body and invade tissues, multiply, and cause a reaction.

Devices like IV catheters and surgical incisions can provide an entryway, whereas a healthy immune system helps fight infection.

When patients are sick and receive medical treatment in healthcare facilities, the following factors can increase their susceptibility to infection.

  • Patients in healthcare who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and organ transplantation are at increased risk for infection because often these illnesses decrease the immune system’s ability to fight infection.
  • Certain medications used to treat medical conditions, such as antibiotics, steroids, and certain cancer fighting medications increase the risk of some types of infections.
  • Lifesaving medical treatments and procedures used in healthcare such as urinary catheters, tubes, and surgery increase the risk of infection by providing additional ways that germs can enter the body.

Recognizing the factors that increase patients’ susceptibility to infection allows providers to recognize risks and perform basic infection prevention measures to prevent infection from occurring.

Transmission

Transmission refers to the way germs are moved to the susceptible person.

Germs don’t move themselves. Germs depend on people, the environment, and/or medical equipment to move in healthcare settings.

There are a few general ways that germs travel in healthcare settings – through contact (i.e., touching), sprays and splashes, inhalation, and sharps injuries (i.e., when someone is accidentally stuck with a used needle or sharp instrument).

  • Contact moves germs by touch (example: MRSA or VRE). For example, healthcare provider hands become contaminated by touching germs present on medical equipment or high touch surfaces and then carry the germs on their hands and spread to a susceptible person when proper hand hygiene is not performed before touching the susceptible person.
  • Sprays and splashes occur when an infected person coughs or sneezes, creating droplets which carry germs short distances (within approximately 6 feet). These germs can land on a susceptible person’s eyes, nose, or mouth and can cause infection (example: pertussis or meningitis).
    • Close range inhalation occurs when a droplet containing germs is small enough to breathe in but not durable over distance.
  • Inhalation occurs when germs are aerosolized in tiny particles that survive on air currents over great distances and time and reach a susceptible person. Airborne transmission can occur when infected patients cough, talk, or sneeze germs into the air (example: TB or measles), or when germs are aerosolized by medical equipment or by dust from a construction zone (example: Nontuberculous mycobacteria or aspergillus).
  • Sharps injuries can lead to infections (example: HIV, HBV, HCV) when bloodborne pathogens enter a person through a skin puncture by a used needle or sharp instrument.

Breast Cancer Awareness

Wondering when to start or how often to get screening mammograms? 

Ask your doctor when you should get a mammogram.

Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms.

Kinds of Breast Cancer

The most common kinds of breast cancer are—

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma. The cancer cells begin in the ducts and then grow outside the ducts into other parts of the breast tissue. Invasive cancer cells can also spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body.
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma. Cancer cells begin in the lobules and then spread from the lobules to the breast tissues that are close by. These invasive cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body.

What Are the Symptoms?

There are different symptoms of breast cancer, and some people have no symptoms at all. Symptoms can include—

  • Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
  • Pain in any area of the breast.
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood).
  • A new lump in the breast or underarm.

If you have any signs that worry you, see your doctor right away.

How Can I Lower My Risk?

You can do things to help lower your breast cancer risk.

  • Keep a healthy weight and exercise regularly.
  • Choose not to drink alcohol, or drink alcohol in moderation.
  • If you are taking hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills, ask your doctor about the risks.
  • Breastfeed your children, if possible.

Fast Facts About Breast Cancer

  • Each year in the United States, about 240,000 women get breast cancer and 42,000 women die from the disease.
  • Men also get breast cancer, but it is not very common. About 1 out of every 100 breast cancers diagnosed in the United States is found in a man.
  • Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women.

How is a mammogram done?

You will stand in front of a special X-ray machine. A technologist will place your breast on a plastic plate. Another plate will firmly press your breast from above. The plates will flatten the breast, holding it still while the X-ray is being taken. You will feel some pressure. The steps are repeated to make a side view of the breast. The other breast will be X-rayed in the same way. You will then wait while the technologist checks the X-rays to make sure the pictures do not need to be redone. Keep in mind that the technologist cannot tell you the results of your mammogram. Each woman’s mammogram may look a little different because all breasts are a little different.

What You Can Do to Protect Youth From the Harms of Vaping

Parents and educators—including teachers, administrators, and coaches—can play an important role in protecting youth from e-cigarettes, also known as vapes. As students go back to school, it’s the perfect time to educate them about the dangers of vaping.

E-cigarettes are electronic devices that heat a liquid and produce an aerosol, or a mix of small particles in the air. This aerosol is breathed into the lungs of the person using the device. E-cigarette aerosol can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances. While use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for everyone, this is especially true for kids, teens, and young adults.

E-cigarettes, or vapes, are known by many different names. They are also called “e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape pens,” “tank systems,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).” E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes. Some are made to be recharged, some to be refilled, and some to be thrown away (disposable).

E-cigarette Use Among Youth

E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. middle and high school students.

  • In 2022, about 1 in 10 or 2.55 million U.S. middle and high school students used e-cigarettes at least once in the past 30 days, including 3.3% of middle school students and 14.1% of high school students.

Disposable e-cigarettes are the most commonly used device type among U.S. middle and high school students who vape. In addition, nearly 85% of middle and high school students who used e-cigarettes reported using flavored e-cigarettes. Many e-cigarettes come in kid-friendly flavors—like candy, desserts, other sweets, mint, and menthol. This makes them more appealing to youth.

  • Among middle and high school students who currently used any type of flavored e-cigarette in 2022, the most commonly used flavors were fruit (69.1%), candy, desserts, or other sweets (38.3%), mint (29.4%), and menthol (26.6%).

Health Risks of Vaping for Youth

CDC: Educators: What Are the Health Risks of Vaping for Youth?

From a US national health authority

Vaping can have health risks for youth. Most vapes have nicotine in them, which is highly addictive. Nicotine use in adolescence:

  • Can harm brain development, which continues until about age 25.
  • Can impact attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.
  • May increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.

Not only can nicotine in e-cigarettes pose health risks for youth, but youth who vape may also be more likely to go on to use regular cigarettes.

In addition to nicotine, e-cigarette aerosol can contain other harmful and potentially harmful substances. These substances include:

  • Cancer-causing chemicals
  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Ultrafine particles
  • Flavorings that have been linked to lung disease
  • Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead

Nicotine Addiction Can Be a Source of Stress

When a person is dependent on (or is addicted to) nicotine and stops using it, their body and brain must get used to not having nicotine. This can result in temporary symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. People might keep using tobacco products, like vapes, to try to make these symptoms feel better. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Feeling anxious or depressed
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Problems concentrating
  • Craving nicotine

Youth might turn to vaping to try to deal with stress or anxiety. This can create a cycle of nicotine addiction, which can also be a source of stress.

Youth vaping and cigarette use have also been linked to mental health symptoms, such as depression.

What is the difference between a cold and flu?

Influenza (flu) and the common cold are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Flu is caused by influenza viruses only, whereas the common cold can be caused by a number of different viruses, including rhinoviruses, parainfluenza, and seasonal coronaviruses. Seasonal coronaviruses should not be confused with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Because flu and the common cold have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are typically more intense and begin more abruptly. Colds are usually milder than flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose than people who have flu. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu can have serious associated complications.

How can you tell the difference between a cold and flu?

Cold vs Flu

Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Special tests can tell if a person is sick with flu.

What are the symptoms of flu versus the symptoms of a cold?

The symptoms of flu can include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue (tiredness). Cold symptoms are usually milder than the symptoms of flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems.

All signs point to a rise in Covid

Covid hospitalizations, deaths and wastewater data — among other indicators — are all increasing as the U.S. heads into fall.

Signs in the U.S. continue to point to a rise in Covid activity as fall approaches.

Hospitalizations are rising. Deaths have ticked up. Wastewater samples are picking up the virus, as are labs across the country. 

“Every single one of those things is showing us that we have increased rates of Covid transmission in our communities,” said Jodie Guest, a professor of epidemiology at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta. 

While individual cases have become more difficult to track as states are no longer required to report numbers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and at-home test use has increased, experts have turned to other tools to track the virus. 

Hospitalizations, for example, are “a very good indicator of severity of Covid disease,” Guest said. 

The number of hospitalized Covid patients has continued to rise after hitting an all-time low in late June. The week ending Aug. 26, the most recent date for which data is available, there were just over 17,400 people hospitalized with Covid, up nearly 16% from the previous week, according to the CDC.

The increase comes even as hospital testing protocols have changed. At the height of the pandemic, every patient admitted to the hospital was tested for Covid, whether they had symptoms or not. 

“We’re now only testing people who are symptomatic,” said Guest, who added that this makes it difficult to directly compare hospitalization numbers to what was seen previously in the pandemic. Current numbers may be missing asymptomatic cases and therefore be lower than earlier ones. 

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said that at his hospital system, 21 patients are hospitalized with Covid. Earlier in the summer, it ranged from 10 to 15 patients, he said, so while the numbers have gone up, it’s nothing like what the hospital saw last winter, when more than 100 patients were hospitalized with Covid. 

Emergency room visits with a Covid diagnosis in the U.S. have been on the rise since early July. The week ending Aug. 19 saw 2.3% of ER visits with a Covid diagnosis, up from 0.5% the week ending July 1, according to the CDC.

Wastewater samples are also showing an increase in Covid. 

“The wastewater is giving us a pretty clear picture that there has been, you know, quite an uptick in cases in these communities that we’re monitoring recently,” said Marlene Wolfe, an assistant professor of environmental health at Emory University and program director for WastewaterSCAN, which monitors 171 wastewater treatment sites in 34 states.

“We are in a period of higher levels of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater right now, and that’s associated with an increase in the number of cases in the community,” Wolfe said, referring to the virus that causes Covid.

Deaths appear to be up slightly, after a summer in which weekly totals hovered under 600 — and occasionally dipped below 500 — for much of June and July. The week ending Aug. 19 saw 636 deaths, according to the CDC

Other signs of increased Covid activity are easy for the general public to spot.

“When you know multiple people who are currently experiencing symptoms of Covid or tested positive of Covid, that’s another great marker to recognize how much of it there is in your community,” Guest said. “We also see Covid tests being absent on their shelves in Walgreens and CVS and other places as well, because people have more transmission right now.”

Is the BA.2.86 variant to blame?

Experts say no. While there are a slew of variants in circulation in the U.S., BA.2.86 remains very rare. As of Aug. 30, the CDC said that the variant had been detected in four states: in Michigan, New York, Ohio and Virginia.

Instead, the current increases in cases and hospitalizations are likely due to the XBB subvariants, the CDC says. Those include subvariants called EG.5 (which accounted for 21.5% of new cases for the week ending Sept. 2) and FL.1.5.1 (14.5% of new cases). 

What’s more, the BA.2.86 variant — dubbed “Pirola” by some on social media — may not be as bad as scientists initially feared.

“Just looking at the virus, structurally, it looks scary with all the mutations compared to XBB.1.5, which the vaccine was based on,” Chin-Hong said. XBB.1.5 is the subvariant that the new boosters, coming out later this month, were designed to target.

But new research shows that people who had been infected with an XBB subvariant in the past six months performed well against BA.2.86, Chin-Hong said. That suggests that the new boosters would be able to fend off this variant, even if it does become dominant, he added. 

How can people protect themselves and others?

The advice to protect against Covid remains the same, including masking, staying home when sick, getting tested for Covid if exposed or symptomatic, and staying up to date on vaccines. 

“If you’re in a crowded situation, recognizing the odds are that someone in that room probably does have Covid-19 at this point in time and so masking is a great way to protect yourself and to protect others that you’re going to be around later,” Guest said.

Chin-Hong advised carrying around a mask and bring it out for risky situations, like while using public transit or at the airport.

He also suggested that people have a plan to get therapies like Paxlovid or remesdivir if they test positive, particularly older or immune-comprosmised individuals who are at higher risk for complications. 

The CDC also notes that improving ventilation indoors can help protect against infection. That can involve opening windows, turning on fans and using air filters to clean the air. 

The Food and Drug Administration and the CDC are expected to sign off on new Covid boosters in the next few weeks, which target one of the XBB variants. 

Guest said people should wait for the new boosters to become available. “But we want people to get that booster when it comes out,” she said. 

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