New Device Could Help Treat Sleep Apnea and Blood Pressure

Snoring man

A recent French study has found a remedy that may be able to help sleep apnea while also treating high blood pressure.

The study was published as a research abstract in the Journal of Dental Sleep Medicine. Researchers monitored 299 patients, 77 of whom had high blood pressure in addition to sleep apnea, and had them use an oral appliance over the course of nine months.

The device looks like a mouth guard and is custom fit by a dentist for each individual. It is worn while the patient sleeps, and it keeps their mouth open to leave an unobstructed airway.

The study analyzed how the treatment worked with each patient, looking at their oxygen levels, sleep apnea symptoms, and quality of life.

Researchers found that the oral device lowered blood pressure. In 59% of the patients, by using the device to treat sleep apnea, they normalized their blood pressure at the same time.

Most adults can tell when they haven’t had a good night’s sleep and can see it in friends and family as well. The signs are all the same: tiredness during the day, moodiness, and lack of focus, among other symptoms of poor sleep. However, serious sleep issues such as sleep apnea can pose many other health risks in addition to mood swings and lack of energy.

According to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects about 25 million Americans. OSA is caused by the tongue and the soft palate collapsing into the back of the throat as a person sleeps, effectively blocking their airway. OSA is a well-documented disease, and has been linked to other health issues such as hypertension, otherwise known as high blood pressure.

This new device used in the French study can be used every once in a while in place of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask, also sometimes referred to as sleep apnea machines. CPAP masks are the traditional treatment method for sleep apnea and have worked with patients for years. This oral device, however, can provide a break from wearing the mask every night while not sacrificing treatment.

Because this new treatment is custom fit by a dentist, it works by keeping the lower jaw moved forward and therefore keeping the airway open.

These devices are light, easy to travel with, and are highly effective for those with mild or moderate sleep apnea, according to the study. However, they have not yet been proven as a long-term solution for those with severe sleep apnea.

New UK Study is a Victory for E-Cig Users Everywhere

Handsome man vaping

Vape away, lads. A recent study from a credited source in the UK has found that early reports of electronic cigarettes being “dangerous” have been greatly overstated.

According to The Hill, a report published by Britain’s Department of Health has found that electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, are 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes and can help smokers finally kick the habit once and for all.

The study was commissioned by Public Health England (PHE). It also found that there is no evidence to suggest that e-cigs could be considered a “gateway” to smoking for children or teens.

E-cig users everywhere are rejoicing at the news, but it is being celebrated even more in America, where there is still ambiguity towards the relatively new industry.

Americans are well aware of the dangers of cigarettes and are desperate for a healthy alternative. And it’s no wonder why: over 8.6 million people in the U.S. have some sort of serious illness that is directly related to smoking.

“E-cigarettes are not completely risk free but when compared to smoking, evidence shows they carry just a fraction of the harm,” said PHE’s Director of Health and Wellbeing Kevin Fenton.

“The problem is people increasingly think they are at least as harmful and this may be keeping millions of smokers from quitting. Local stop smoking services should look to support e-cigarette users in their journey to quitting completely.”

Fox 4 in Kansas City, MO, notes that researchers found that nearly all of the UK’s 2.6 million e-cig users are either current or former smokers, dispelling the myth that they are somehow creating a bigger market for traditional cigarettes.

E-cigs are known for their unique ability to be customized to a person’s specific wants and needs. There are some e-liquids with high levels of nicotine and some with no nicotine at all, depending on user preferences and whether or not they plan to ultimately quit smoking.

The new devices are also renowned for the endless amounts of flavors available to users. Smoke shops everywhere are carrying hundreds of flavors, and some even make their own.

The report is the first official piece of evidence that disproves the negative hype around e-cigs, and it’s giving vape fans everywhere hope for the future.

American e-cig users can only hope that the U.S. comes around sooner or later. As new regulations are being proposed to crack down on the industry, there is finally concrete proof that e-cigs help a lot more people than they hurt.

Study Links Teen E-Cigarette Use With Smoking Later in Life

Electronic cigarettes

Over the last several years, e-cigarette use has skyrocketed — particularly among teens and young adults. However, use of e-cigarettes during one’s teenage years may lead to a higher likelihood of smoking tobacco cigarettes, a new study has found.

According to LiveScience.com, researchers observed a group of teens who had just entered ninth grade and found that those who regularly used e-cigarettes were more likely to report experimenting with tobacco products both six months and one year afterward than their classmates who didn’t try vaping.

“The study found that 14-year-olds who had used e-cigarettes for recreational purposes were four times more likely to start smoking at least one harmful tobacco product — including regular cigarettes, a hookah tobacco water pipe and/or cigars — over the next year,” explained Adam Leventhal, associate professor of preventive medicine and psychology at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and one of the study’s co-authors.

The news may be troubling to some, given e-cigarettes’ stratospheric rise in popularity. Annual sales of these devices rose from just 50,000 in 2008 to an amazing 3.5 million in 2012. It’s now estimated that one in five adult smokers has tried e-cigarettes.

Currently, the sale of e-cigarettes, whose liquid normally contains nicotine, is not prohibited to anyone under 18 years of age on a national level. Last year, the FDA proposed new regulations that would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, but these rules haven’t been passed. Some states have already enacted bans on these devices for teens, however.

And while e-cigarettes are typically considered a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes, this study suggests there is a danger for using them as a teenager, said Dr. Nancy Rigotti, director of the Tobacco Research and Treatment Unit at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“(The report) is the strongest evidence to date that e-cigarettes might pose a health hazard by encouraging adolescents to start smoking conventional tobacco products,” Rigotti said.

Still, there’s no definitive proof that e-cigarette use is a direct cause of later use of tobacco products, according to U.S. News and World Report. Leventhal said more research will be required to determine if e-cigarettes are truly the culprit behind tobacco use.

Crash Test Dummies: Wal-Mart Auto Center Totals Woman’s Car During Routine Oil Change

Here’s your weekly reminder to take nothing for granted when it comes to finding quality car repair services; not even an oil change.

According to WFFA News in Dallas, TX, local woman Roberta Slayton took her car in to the Wal-Mart auto center in Midlothian for a routine oil change. Only a few minutes later, she received some troubling news.

The worker who was pulling Slayton’s SUV into the area where its oil would be changed claims that the throttle hung, causing the vehicle to accelerate into a wall and completely totaling it in the process.

To make matters worse, Slayton claims that the manager of the auto center told her she would have to pay to get it towed from the premises and investigation of the incident would take at least two weeks.

“Their deal was ‘get a hold of your insurance have somebody come tow it away,’” Slayton recalled. “And I said, ’I didn’t do anything wrong. Why should I have to do that?’”

According to NBCDFW.com, the mild-mannered florist said she never had any problems with her SUV prior to the incident and relies on her vehicle to make flower deliveries.

This is the last thing any driver expects to happen when they drop off their car for service. While some 19% of vehicle owners may be told that their air filters are dirty when they go for a car checkup, events like the one this grandmother of 13 encountered are virtually unheard of.

A spokesman for Wal-Mart told NBCDFW.com, “We are investigating to determine what caused this accident, and we’re working directly with Ms. Slayton to resolve this as quickly as possible.”

Until the issue is resolved, Slayton has been forced to loan an SUV from a local funeral home to do her job. Now that the story has gone viral, it’s a safe bet she will be driving something a little fancier once the investigation is complete.

Obama Permits Arctic Drilling, Political Controversy Ensues

obama

Earlier this week President Obama gave the go-ahead to the Royal Dutch Shell corporation to begin preliminary drilling in the Arctic region, according to The Christian Science Monitor. It didn’t take long for one 2016 Presidential candidate to come out in opposition.

“The Arctic is a unique treasure. Given what we know, it’s not worth the risk of drilling,” Hillary Clinton tweeted on Tuesday.

Many of the other Democratic candidates have already stated their opposition to drilling in the Arctic region, while candidates on the Republican side are lining up in support. An article from Foxnews.com reported that Republican hopeful Jeb Bush replied to the tweet: “Wrong. Being more-anti energy than Obama is extreme. We should embrace energy revolution to lower prices and create US jobs.”

However, nothing substantial will be decided for years to come. Although Royal Dutch Shell have been permitted to start some drilling, it’s in a very limited capacity and under strict guidelines. Experts across the field seem to agree that substantial oil extraction is at least 10, if not closer to 30, years away.

The excitement for those in support of the drilling is in the potential. The Christian Science Monitor reported that the Arctic is estimated to hold approximately 20% of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas. Offshore oil production already accounts for 30% of all the oil in the world, and regular drilling in this region would create unknown expansion.

According to the regional news source Barents Observer, those numbers could be huge. Citing the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, they estimate that there are over 20 billion barrels of recoverable oil in U.S. controlled locations.

The potential in jobs, energy independence, and price of oil are all factors that will be debated and discussed in the coming election. If the process can be done safely and efficiently, there’s no telling the overall impact it could have on the U.S. economy and society.

Tianjin Explosions are a Result of Lax Safety Procedures

tianjin explosion

Tianjin, China is now recovering from an explosion in its port on Thursday. The explosion was so strong that even residents miles away from the site felt it and thought there was an earthquake. The death toll has since risen to 50 people; 12 of whom were firefighters, over 700 more were injured and 71 are in serious condition.

Authorities say that there were two explosions, which devastated the area around them. Fireballs shot into the sky, leveling numerous warehouses and residential areas. The search through the wreckage has begun, though there has not been a number given for how many people are missing.

So far, no cause for the blast has been found, though firefighting on-scene was halted to allow for a chemical team to inspect the origin and make sure there were no other hazardous materials posing a threat.

More than 16 hours after the blasts, as the sun rose over Tianjin, it was apparent just how bad the town was destroyed. Smoke still hovered in the air, but destruction was clear: leveled homes, shattered glass, building collapses, just to name a few. There were also numerous shipping containers throughout the surrounding area, moved with the force of the explosions.

“We haven’t got any formal announcement from local government,” local resident Tang Lei told NBC News. “All the information we got so far is from media or friends who are working in the field.”

“I felt the ground shaking and my door was making a big noise,” he said. “I thought it was an earthquake. Then I went to the window and saw a very huge cloud about [over one mile] from my house. Several minutes later, the second explosion happened and we could feel it very strongly. The cloud was as high as a 20-floor building.”

The origin of the blasts were two shipping containers sitting in a warehouse by the port, waiting for transport. The warehouse is owned by Ruihai Logistics, and there are numerous types of hazardous chemicals, such as flammable petrochemicals, sodium cyanide, and toluene diisocyanate. The manager of that company has been taken into custody by local police. The company was not abiding by the proper packaging standards when it was inspected by safety officials two years ago. The blasts were likely caused by the same malpractice.

Witnesses described the force of the blasts; the first of which was equivalent to three tons of TNT, the second of which was equal to 21 tons.

“At first I felt quakes on the bed and then I heard wind rushing into my room, my windows exploded. The door was shaking,” Wendy Zhou, a 26-year-old primary school teacher, relayed to NBC News. She was more than six miles away from the explosions.

“It was like what we were told a nuclear bomb would be like,” truck driver Zhao Zhencheng, who slept in the cab of his truck after the blasts, told the Associated Press. “I’ve never even thought I’d see such a thing. It was terrifying, but also beautiful.”

The air is also a concern in the area, since the blasts left traces of numerous chemicals in the air, surpassing national limits. Other than this data and witness accounts, there is not a lot to go on at this time. True to China’s history, they are keeping a lid on much of the information surrounding the tragedy.

Universal Preschool Programs Being Developed For Low Income Families

Kindergarten Preschool Classroom Interior

As the 2016 presidential election nears, presidential candidates turn to the issues of preschool programs in their educational agendas. The debate over whether or not preschool programs should be made available to all children, no matter their social or financial status, is one of the most important issues for voters who are also parents.

Research has shown that kids who attend preschool do 21% better on math and reading tests in kindergarten than those who had no involvement in early education programs. As the cost of education rises, it becomes increasingly difficult for low-income families to afford quality educations. New massive open online courses, or MOOCs, have been developed as a way to get around these issues.

CBS News takes a look at the long-running children’s television show Sesame Street to understand the basic ideas behind what an MOOC should be. A recent research report by economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research found that “In essence, Sesame Street was the first MOOC.

The research was an attempt to monitor MOOCs and examine their affect on educational performance. Sesame Street is a perfect example of learning made available to the masses.

“Although MOOCs differ in what they entail, Sesame Street satisfies the basic feature of electronic transmission of online educational material,” said the report’s authors.

The researchers wanted to test their hypothesis that children who were unable to watch Sesame Street wouldn’t do as well in school as those who did. In their research, they found a significant level of positive educational outcomes in those areas that had access to the program.

While the effects of the learning curve tend to even out during the elementary school years, the research suggests that MOOCs appear to work. Researchers will continue to seek a way to mass produce education through the cheapest and most readily accessible resources available.

Children Do Worse When Punished For Poor Grades, U-M Study Says

Boy, drawing a picture for fathers day

Study after study has been dedicated to figuring out what children need to succeed in education.

For example, a past study showed that kids who attend preschool are more likely to perform up to 21% better on subjects such as math and reading, as compared to children who do not attend preschool.

More recently on the educational study front, researchers at the University of Michigan are now saying that laying down the law with punitive action doesn’t exactly encourage your children to succeed.

Rather, the more harsh and punishing a parent’s reaction to poor grades is, the worse the child will do in school. The study reports that parenting tactics such as lecturing and the restriction of activities can lead to lower achievement within the next five years.

Instead, researchers encourage parents to react to their struggling children with warmth, and to make their home a space that is both welcoming and educationally stimulating.

According to the study, parents who fill their homes with educational toys and books and who regularly engage with their children foster an environment that statistically leads to higher levels of achievement.

So why doesn’t punishment work? The answer lies in the effect of punishment.

Punishment doesn’t give children any alternative tools or educational avenues to explore in order to seek improvement.

In contrast, addressing your child’s school troubles with understanding provides more avenues for growth and improvement, and helps children to feel as if their struggles are a part of a process, rather than simply an end result.

Sandra Tang and Davis Kean, the two authors behind the study, stress that parents should seek the source of the poor academic performance before taking action, namely, if it’s a behavioral issue or a learning issue.

Parents can also look to teachers, researchers say, in order to discern the root of their children’s academic struggles.

Why Americans Are Buying Beer With Higher Alcohol Content

beer

There’s no denying that craft beer has quickly become the fastest-growing segment of the beer industry. In 2014 alone, sales of craft beer skyrocketed by 22%, reaching $19.6 billion. As a result, a major shift in Americans’ beer-drinking tastes is taking place.

According to an August 10 Fox News report, American tastes are gradually shifting from long-beloved light lagers like Budweiser’s Bud Light to hoppier, more flavorful craft beers.

A growing number of these craft beers boast higher alcohol by volume (ABV) to satisfy these shifting tastes, consumer research firm Mintel recently found. Throughout 2013 and 2014, one out of four new beers introduced worldwide had an ABV of 6.5% or higher. In 2014, remarkably, 12% of new beers had an ABV of more than 8%.

“Drinkers today have more sophisticated palates than drinkers generally did years ago and they’re constantly looking to explore unique, high-quality beers,” Jim Koch, founder of Sam Adams’ Boston Beer Co., told CNBC.

Because today’s beer drinkers view craft beers as more sophisticated and trendy, many people also view higher ABV as a sign of higher quality.

“There will be some people that will just look at the beer list and look for ABV,” said Bob Grande, a bartender at the Wurstkuche beer garden in Los Angeles.

The typical 12-ounce beer has a 5% ABV, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Moderate alcohol consumption is about one of these beers a day for women, and two for men — but with higher alcohol content, the number of beers it takes to reach this level falls significantly. As a result, these beer drinkers get buzzed much faster.

By drinking beers with higher alcohol content, Americans may be inadvertently putting themselves at risk for alcohol dependency and alcoholism, conditions that can often only be controlled by undergoing a treatment program.

“Higher content in alcoholic beverages could cause individuals with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism myriad issues,” says Arnold Hesnod, Clinical Outreach, Clear Sky Recovery. “Ibogaine treatment is remarkably effective for helping those suffering from alcohol dependence.”

Still, when enjoyed in moderation, there’s no reason why craft beers shouldn’t be a staple in any beer enthusiast’s fridge.

Is Reading To Young Children A Must?

Father reading to his sons

Reading aloud to children now has proven scientific benefits. According to a recent study published in Pediatrics, “MRIs revealed that children from more stimulating home reading environments had greater activity in the parts of the brain that help with narrative comprehension and visual imagery,” the Huffington Post reports. In addition to building stronger language and reading skills, the brain scans prove that reading to young children also helps them form memories and new connections. The study shows concrete, biological evidence of what educators and researchers have long suspected: reading offers tangible, long-lasting benefits for young Americans.

Now that parents have scientific proof that they can directly foster children’s literacy, they can also help reverse a disturbing trend. According to “a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education and National Institute of Literacy in 2013… 14% of the population couldn’t read, more than 20% of adults read below a 5th grade reading level, and 19% of high school graduates had low literacy,” ThinkProgress.org writes. Having caretakers regularly read to children and having books in homes not only improves literacy, it also is directly linked to higher academic performance.

The benefits do not end there, however. Researchers add that parents or guardians who read to children also have stronger relationships with their kids, and these kids tend to form stronger social relationships with other people as well.

With all of this in mind, the next logical question is: When should parents start reading to their children? Kids are never too young. For maximum benefits and proficiency in reading later in life, parents should start reading to children from birth. Whether it’s sharing picture books during a quiet moment with toddlers or finding great novels for middle school students, parents need to spend some time helping foster a love of literature in their kids.

Only 20% of high school seniors read on a day-to-day basis, but — with a little extra time dedicated to reading aloud and better parenting — we can change that.

“I have personally seen the positive benefits of reading at an early age,” says Scotty Sanders, Author, “Quest of the Keys.” “Some friends of mine made reading a part of their family life, strongly encouraging their kids to read the classics. The kids are all readers today, continuing in the lifestyle that was modeled for them by their parents.”