Colleen Stinchcombe

How to Make Sure Your Migraines Don’t Totally Derail Your Holiday Plans

How to Make Sure Your Migraines Don’t Totally Derail Your Holiday Plans

All of that is to say: There are options out there beyond lying down in a dark room (although if the “Silent Night” treatment works for you, great.) It’s best to start a medication plan sooner rather than later since it can take some trial and error to find a treatment that works for you.2. Try to stick to your routine as much as possible.Depending on how your family and friends celebrate, holidays could mean lots of traveling, staying up late, getting up early, or skipping meals (maybe in anticipation of one large smorgasbord later in the day).Unfortunately, these elements can be a recipe for migraine attacks. For example, skipping meals or going long periods of time between eating can be a major trigger for many people with migraine, according to the American Migraine Foundation. Getting too little sleep and getting too much sleep can also trigger migraine attacks, the Mayo Clinic notes.That’s why sticking to your usual routine as much as you can is key. “It is essential to keep a consistent schedule for meals, sleep, and aerobic exercise,” Dr. Zhang says. “It sounds simplistic, but it is very effective.” Regular exercise—not always the easiest thing to get during the frantic holiday season—can also help keep symptoms in check for some people, according to the Mayo Clinic. (No need to make your Turkey Trot a marathon, though: Going a bit too hard with exercise can have the opposite effect and actually trigger episodes for some people.)3. Keep your other triggers in mind too.Migraine triggers are as unique as snowflakes, but there are some common ones to keep on your radar, according to the Mayo Clinic. These include alcohol (especially wine), strong smells (hello, candles), loud sounds, certain foods like aged cheeses and cured meats, and food additives like aspartame and MSG, among so many others. So the next time you leave a festive party that had a delicious charcuterie spread, plenty of boozy drinks, and loud music and laughter, you may be able to anticipate a headache coming on.If you know of a trigger that is a no-go for your migraine, plan for how you can avoid it, if possible. If wine is a problem, for example, BYOB that doesn’t set off your pain to the holiday party, or bring a fun booze-free beverage to share if alcohol just isn’t your thing. The same advice applies to food: The more the merrier, so bring a dish you know you can enjoy and want to share with others. If strong smells can hurt your head, alert your host (if you feel comfortable enough), and ask if they can avoid scented candles or opt for having gatherings in well-ventilated or outdoor spaces.That said, if you’re not entirely sure what your triggers are, you’re not alone. “It’s often hard to pinpoint triggers,” Dr. Zhang says. And they’re not always a surefire way to ward off a migraine headache. “Triggers are usually partial and additive,” she says. So it’s rare that loud sounds on their own will trigger a migraine—but loud sounds after a stressful day at work on too little sleep? Not a great combination.4. Surround yourself with supportive people.Not everybody gets what it’s like to live with migraine—or will respect the steps you have to take to be as pain-free as possible. So try to choose a holiday circle that does get it. “Embrace the people who understand,” Natalia Murinova, MD, the director of the University of Washington Medicine Headache Center, tells SELF.

How to Take Care of Yourself If You Get Migraines During Your Period

How to Take Care of Yourself If You Get Migraines During Your Period

Ah, menstruation—giver of stained underwear, unrelenting cramps, and for some people, migraine attacks. If you feel a vice-grip around your skull right around the time your uterus decides it’s time for a deep cleaning, it’s probably not a coincidence.“Menstruation is a very common trigger of migraine attacks in women,” Addie Peretz, MD, clinical assistant professor in the department of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, tells SELF. Migraine is a complex neurological condition that essentially makes your brain really sensitive to certain triggers, which can lead to painful (and potentially debilitating) attacks. For some people, migraine triggers include certain foods, a lack of sleep, or stress. For others, the drop in estrogen that occurs right before their period starts can bring on an attack, she says.If you have menstrual migraine attacks, you already know they really suck. “Migraine attacks associated with menstruation tend to last longer, be more disabling, and are less treatment-responsive than non-menstrual migraine attacks,” Dr. Peretz says.So, what can you do about it? Menstrual migraine treatment can be broken up into three general buckets: acute treatment, for when you’ve already got a migraine and are trying to get relief; mini preventive treatment, which focuses on preventing a migraine in the days before your cycle; and continuous preventive treatment, which might be appropriate if you have attacks at other points during the month or if your migraines aren’t responding to mini prevention.“The overall goal is to decrease the intensity and the frequency of the migraine attacks so they have as little impact on your day-to-day functioning as possible. That’s a universal goal of migraine treatment, but especially true during the menstrual cycle,” Mason Dyess, DO, a neurologist and headache medicine specialist at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, tells SELF.Ready to get some relief? Here’s what you can do—because PMS is already bad enough on its own.Track your menstrual cycle and your migraine symptoms.It’s important to figure out exactly when in your cycle you’re experiencing migraine attacks, how bad they tend to be, and whether they’re also happening outside of your period week. “Being able to pick up on patterns about when your migraine attacks are happening most often during the month is extremely powerful for headache providers,” Dr. Dyess says. “That can help us get a treatment strategy together that’s uniquely crafted to you and your triggers.”Consider tracking your menstrual cycle and headache cycle, whether that’s with a physical calendar, a period app, or the Notes app on your phone. The sky’s the limit for how much information you can record, but there are a few key things to cover. “At a minimum, I would suggest tracking whether you had a headache each day, the severity of the pain, whether you took medication to alleviate your pain, and when your period started and ended,” Dr. Peretz says. This can help you and your doctor confirm if attacks coincide with typical hormone dips during your monthly cycle.If you need contraception, some birth control can help reduce menstrual migraine symptoms.Since a change in estrogen levels can trigger a migraine attack, one strategy is to try to minimize that hormonal dip. If this is the case for you, the pill, vaginal ring, patch, and other hormonal contraceptives may help change your migraine patterns. “Some patients go on birth control to make their menstrual cycles more predictable, or to eliminate them, which can sometimes reduce overall migraine burden,” Dr. Dyess explains.

How to Tell When Your Sweaty Hands and Feet Are Actually a Problem

How to Tell When Your Sweaty Hands and Feet Are Actually a Problem

Repeat after us: Sweating is normal. Everybody sweats. Of course, some of us sweat a little more than others, and often at inopportune times. Like when you’ve just been called into a meeting with your boss, and suddenly you’ve got sweaty hands so slick you can’t turn the doorknob. Or you go to shake a new colleague’s hand, only to realize your palm is dripping.Of course, sweat can be a good thing. The body uses sweat to cool itself and keep our body temperature in a healthy range—somewhere between 97 and 99 degrees, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It’s also possible that sweating could help clear the body of toxins (though some experts disagree with this claim),1 keep bacteria in balance,2 and keep the skin hydrated,3 but more research is needed on all accounts. In other words, we need sweat to keep us healthy, but excessive sweating—especially the kind that feels out of control or causes skin issues—might actually be a medical condition.The name hyperhidrosis may be new to you, but if you have it, you know something’s up. People who suffer from hyperhidrosis sweat a lot. “In some people, it may be as high as four to five times the normal level of sweat,” Marlyanne Pol-Rodriguez, MD, a dermatologist and hyperhidrosis expert at Stanford Health Care, tells SELF, adding that millions of people have this condition. In fact, it’s estimated that 3% of the U.S. population sweats excessively, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).Ahead we’ll explore what actually constitutes a sweaty hand problem, and tips on how to keep your palms and feet feeling fresh and dry.How can you tell if your sweaty hands and feet are “normal” or overkill?The hands and feet have more sweat gland density than any other part of the body. So, if you find that these areas sweat more (but not excessively) than other parts of your body, it could be due to simple biology. Sweat can be triggered by plenty of things, like stress, anxiety, heat, or exercise. Imagine you have to give a presentation at work, and you notice your hands are sweating—maybe the paper you’re holding gets damp. That’s within the realm of normal.There’s not a super firm line about when sweaty hands go from an annoyance to a condition. Two of the biggest factors are how much you sweat, and how much it affects your life. “The simplest definition of hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating that is beyond what would be expected from whatever the trigger of the sweating is,” Dr. Pol-Rodriguez explains. Basically, for someone with hyperhidrosis, the same triggers—stress, heat, exercise—cause a whole lot more sweat.Imagine not being able to hold on to a steering wheel while driving, or slipping across a tile floor when barefoot. The sweating with hyperhidrosis is severe enough that it “impairs your normal activities,” S. Max Vale, MD, a dermatologist at UW Medicine, tells SELF. That could mean that sweat is visible even when you’re not exerting yourself—something a doctor will be checking for. The excess moisture can also cause the skin to feel extra soft or peeled. Frequent issues with skin infections like athlete’s foot can even become a problem.Back to topWhat causes sweaty hands and feet?For some people, the cause of excess sweatiness is a health condition—like menopause or diabetes—or it could even be the side effect of a medication. That’s called secondary hyperhidrosis. (Worth noting: Some people believe that high blood pressure can cause sweating, but that’s a myth, according to the American Heart Association. High blood pressure rarely has symptoms.) But many people have primary hyperhidrosis, which has no known cause. One thing that we do know is that the sweat glands themselves are not the problem. They’re not bigger or more plentiful; rather, something is causing them to be hyperactive, Joyce Fox, MD, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California and practitioner at Cedars-Sinai, tells SELF.

Some Rapid Tests May Not Detect Omicron Effectively, Dr. Fauci Says

Some Rapid Tests May Not Detect Omicron Effectively, Dr. Fauci Says

Some rapid antigen tests may not be able to detect the omicron COVID-19 variant effectively enough, according to Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “​​We’re getting preliminary information that not all of the [rapid] diagnostic tests will be accurate with omicron,” Dr. Fauci said in a virtual conversation with the Chamber of Commerce Foundation on Thursday.That’s a problem, as rapid tests have been a significant—though imperfect—tool for detecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus. “Some, and many of the commonly used ones, appear to pick up and detect omicron quite well,” Dr. Fauci said. “We’re in the process of doing large screening to determine which of these antigen point-of-care rapid tests still maintain their accuracy of diagnosis. But clearly, there are some that do. We’re trying to find out those that don’t reflect an accurate result. And if we do, make sure that those tests are not used to diagnose omicron.”Even at their best, rapid antigen tests haven’t been as accurate as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which are the gold standard for diagnosing COVID-19, as SELF has reported. According to a Cochrane review of 64 studies and more than 24,000 testing samples, rapid antigen tests managed to detect COVID-19 in 72% of symptomatic COVID-19 cases pre-omicron. In positive people without symptoms, they were only about 58% accurate. On the other hand, PCR tests are generally estimated to be around 98% accurate at detecting COVID-19 infections when used correctly. But rapid tests can come back in as little as 15 minutes at home, where PCR tests must be sent to a lab and take a few hours at minimum for results—and often take days.Another major blow is that omicron has significantly reduced the effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies, one of few COVID-19 treatments. Monoclonal antibodies are lab-made antibodies delivered intravenously to high-risk people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “When you look at the rather large number of mutations on the omicron variant, it is predictive and has shown in reality to evade certain immune parameters, such as monoclonal antibodies, many of which are no longer effective against this virus,” Dr. Fauci said.The omicron variant has over 50 mutations from the original virus, including more than 30 on its spike protein, which helps the virus enter our cells, as SELF has explained. Many antibodies we generate from vaccination and infection (and most of the lab-made monoclonal antibodies) target these spike proteins—so when they change, it can make immunity and antibody treatments less effective.So, what does all of this mean if you were hoping rapid tests could be a core part of your protection strategy during holiday travel or gatherings? According to public health experts, they still can be. “Folks will travel, see family/friends this holiday season,” Ashish K. Jha, M.D., MPH, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, wrote on Twitter. “Use of rapid tests can make things safer.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) specifically recommends considering rapid testing before getting together indoors with anyone you don’t live with. But that shouldn’t be the only precaution you take. “Ugh. Omicron is bad news. Get vaccinated if you haven’t been yet. Get boosted if you’re eligible. Wear masks. Avoid crowds. Ventilate if you can. Rapid test if available. Stay home if you don’t feel well,” Angela Rasmussen, Ph.D., virologist at Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security, wrote on Twitter. And, importantly, she ended with a reminder that individual and community health very much go hand in hand during this pandemic: “Advocate for global vaccine equity. We have the tools. We must use them.”Related:

Charlie Puth Has Breakthrough COVID-19—Here’s How He’s Feeling

Charlie Puth Has Breakthrough COVID-19—Here’s How He’s Feeling

Singer Charlie Puth has announced that he’s tested positive for COVID-19. The singer, who had shared that he was fully vaccinated back in May, isn’t feeling great physically—though he does at least believe he’s now on the mend. “I’m not feeling amazing but I think the worst is behind me,” Puth, 30, wrote on Twitter. “I write you this update, feeling like complete ass, in hopes that you will be safe and careful this holiday season.”Twitter contentThis content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.Puth is one of several celebrities to test positive for the virus recently—and many are even on their second bout of the illness. Earlier this week, Doja Cat had to pull out of several performances after testing positive for COVID-19 for a second time. In November, Khloé Kardashian got the virus a second time despite being fully vaccinated, as did Dancing With the Stars competitor and Peloton trainer Cody Rigsby in October.The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, chills, cough, fatigue, muscle and body aches, headache, sore throat, congestion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and loss of taste and smell, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In severe cases, people can experience difficulty breathing, chest pain, loss of color to the lips, inability to wake or stay awake, and confusion—all signs to seek immediate emergency attention.It’s not clear which variant Puth has. As SELF previously reported, delta remains the dominant variant in the U.S. for the time being, according to comments by CDC director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., MPH. But the omicron variant is spreading rapidly in many areas, and public health experts are predicting yet another surge of infections.Experts have also learned that the two-dose mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, reportedly have a significantly reduced ability to protect against omicron infection. According to preliminary data, they offer around 33% protection against infection with this variant. However, mRNA vaccines seem to still be much more effective (around 70%) against severe illness and death, based on what we know so far—and a booster shot might improve protection against symptomatic infection to about 75%. (At press time, Puth hadn’t publicly shared whether he’d received a booster shot.)It’s definitely disheartening to see that the latest worrisome variant is spreading like wildfire and able to evade immunity to a concerning extent. All we can do is make sure to protect ourselves—and each other—from omicron as much as possible, and that still includes getting vaccinated and boosted.Related:

There’s a Nationwide Pepperoni Recall for Toxin-Producing Bacteria

There’s a Nationwide Pepperoni Recall for Toxin-Producing Bacteria

There’s yet another big pepperoni recall making the news. Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp., which brands itself as Margherita Meats, is recalling 10,990 pounds of ready-to-eat pepperoni over concerns it may contain Bacillus cereus bacteria.The pepperoni in question is the 8-oz package of ready-to-eat unsliced pepperoni labeled Margherita Pepperoni. Check the label for the lot code P1931C and a “use by date” of 12-14-2021. USDA Food and Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has a handy photo of the label—and where these numbers are located—here. The products were shipped to stores all across the U.S., so the recall is nationwide.The issue was discovered when the Department of Defense conducted routine testing, according to FSIS. Bacillus cereus is common bacteria in the environment that creates two different toxins. One (called an emetic toxin) can result in diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps that can hit as soon as an hour after eating, while the other (an enterotoxin) typically leads to diarrhea several hours later that lasts for a full day. Food poisoning is unpleasant for everyone but can be serious for people with compromised immune systems, according to FSIS.Luckily, FSIS says no one has reported getting sick from the products yet, but the agency is concerned people may have the pepperoni sitting in their pantries or refrigerators. If that’s the case for you, throw it away or return it to the place of purchase for a refund.If you do find yourself sick after eating the pepperoni (or any other potentially contaminated food), know that most people with food poisoning will feel better on their own within a few days, according to the Mayo Clinic, which has some helpful tips for easing foodborne illness symptoms, including:Try to stay as hydrated as possible even when it’s hard to keep anything down. Sucking on ice chips or taking smaller sips of water than usual may be helpful.Until symptoms subside, avoid items like dairy, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and very fatty or spicy foods.When you’re able to start eating again, stick to easy-to-digest options that don’t have a ton of flavor, like toast, bananas, and rice.If your foodborne illness lasts longer than a couple of days or is particularly intense, you may need treatment like over-the-counter meds or antibiotics. In the most severe cases of foodborne illness, people might need to be hospitalized if they can’t stay hydrated.Smithfield isn’t the only company dealing with a pepperoni recall lately (along with other kinds). As SELF previously reported, Alexander & Hornung, a subsidiary of Perdue Premium Meat Company, had to recall more than 234,000 pounds of ham and pepperoni products earlier this month due to listeria concerns. And DiGiorno recalled their Pepperoni Crispy Pan Crust back in September after the boxes were mislabeled, potentially missing major allergens like soy protein.Related:

There’s a New Warning About the Omicron Variant You Need to Hear

There’s a New Warning About the Omicron Variant You Need to Hear

The omicron variant of COVID-19 appears to be more transmissible than any variant so far, including delta. “Omicron is spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, M.D., director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said on Tuesday in a media briefing. Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agrees. “Looking at what’s going on in South Africa, which has the most data, it looks like that its doubling time is clearly less and shorter, which means it transmits more rapidly than delta and very likely other variants,” he told CBC earlier this week.For weeks, experts have been trying to figure out whether omicron spreads more rapidly than previous variants, whether it can evade immune protection brought on by vaccines, and whether the variant makes people sicker than previous iterations of the virus. On Wednesday, during a White House COVID-19 update, Dr. Fauci said that vaccine protection against infection has definitely diminished.Dr. Fauci cited results from a preliminary analysis of data from South Africa showing that protection against omicron infection with two-dose vaccines like Moderna and Pfizer has dropped to 33%. “Obviously, this is significantly down, but there is the maintaining of a degree of protection against hospitalization,” Dr. Fauci said. (The vaccine was still 70% effective against hospitalization from omicron based on the data, which has not yet been peer-reviewed.) And, importantly, boosters may increase protection against symptomatic COVID-19 from omicron to about 75%, Dr. Fauci said. “At this point, there is no need for a variant-specific booster,” Dr. Fauci said.The least clear aspect right now is whether omicron is less severe than previous variants, although so far the answer seems hopeful. “It looks like it might be that the level of severity is less with omicron than it is with delta,” Dr. Fauci told CBC, based on information from South Africa and the U.K. “So hopefully that holds true as we get more data.”However, the WHO has cautioned against relying too much on a mild presentation of the virus. “Even if omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said at the Tuesday news briefing. “Surely, we have learned by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril.”Nearly 80 countries have reported cases of the omicron coronavirus variant to date—but it’s probably in most countries, according to the WHO. It’s already the dominant variant in South Africa, where scientists first discovered omicron, and it’s expected to be the dominant variant in London within days, according to the U.K.’s health secretary.The omicron variant first sparked concerns back in November because it has over 50 mutations from the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, including at least 30 on its spike proteins, which help the virus enter the body’s cells, as SELF previously explained. When we create antibodies due to vaccination or prior infection, many of them are specifically targeted at the spike proteins—which means that if the spike proteins change, as they have with omicron, the virus may be better at evading our immune systems.

Billie Eilish on Starting to Watch Porn at 11 Years Old: ‘It Really Destroyed My Brain'

Billie Eilish on Starting to Watch Porn at 11 Years Old: ‘It Really Destroyed My Brain'

Much of the above research centers on adults. But what about when it comes to porn consumption specifically in teenagers, or kids even younger than that, as Eilish was when she first started watching pornography?There isn’t a ton of concrete data about the average age people are first exposed to porn, and studying the effects of porn on kids and adolescents can be understandably tricky territory. But what research has been done commonly estimates that boys tend to first be exposed to porn when they’re around 11 to 13 and girls when they’re around 13 to 17. Those numbers may be trending down since the internet’s evolution is making it increasingly easier to find pornography whether or not you’re looking for it. And since it’s just the average, it means there are people who first got exposed at ages higher or lower than that, like Eilish.In any case, some research has found a potential association between boys first seeing porn at a younger age and being more likely to want power over women as men. Other research has found a possible association between girls being younger when they first see porn and having a higher likelihood of being sexually abused. Some research has even found that the younger a person is when they first see violent porn, no matter their sex, the more likely they may be to be either a perpetrator or victim of teen dating violence. But each of these studies has its own limitations, and more broadly, it’s in no way guaranteed that someone is destined for any of these outcomes because they watch porn, even of a violent nature, when they’re young.There’s a whole movement to create ethical and even feminist porn to reduce its potential harms on viewers and those in the actual videos. (And, of course, there’s an accompanying debate over whether it’s possible for porn to ever be ethical and/or feminist.) But traditional porn is much, much more common than any made with these aims, and Eilish is far from the only person who’s had a terrible experience with it.Since porn is clearly here to stay (and for kids to find), some sex educators, psychologists, and public health experts are encouraging porn literacy in adolescent sex education, the APA says. One program, the Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships initiative at the Boston Public Health Commission, teaches young people about “the history of pornography and obscenity laws, sexual norms, and gendered double standards, and the research on pornography and compulsive use,” according to the APA. (Without showing the participants actual pornography.) It also examines how porn scripts are often unrealistic. But the program isn’t exclusively focused on porn, but rather giving teens tools for healthy relationships and reducing teen dating violence.“I don’t know how you can ignore the fact that pornography really is available and easy to access and that so many teenagers have seen it,” Emily Rothman, Sc.D., a professor of community health sciences at Boston University who helped develop the Start Strong curriculum, told the APA. “To not address it in any way as part of sex education seems like a real oversight.”Like so many other things, watching porn (especially at a young age) won’t be a good or healthy experience for everyone. Some people do just fine with it. Others don’t. If you feel like porn has warped your view of your body, sex life, or anything else in a way you’re really struggling with, that’s a great thing to talk about with a therapist, whether or not they specialize in sex therapy.Related:

Here’s How Much Pfizer's Anti-COVID Pill May Reduce the Risk of Hospitalization and Death

Here’s How Much Pfizer's Anti-COVID Pill May Reduce the Risk of Hospitalization and Death

There’s some potentially good news on the COVID-19 front: Pfizer’s anti-COVID pill, Paxlovid, may be as much as 89% effective at reducing hospitalization and death among high-risk unvaccinated people with the illness, according to a new analysis from the company. And the company said the pill seemed to work against the omicron variant in laboratory studies.Last month, Pfizer released interim data suggesting its oral medication regimen was around 89% effective at this goal compared to a placebo. That number was based on a study of around 1,200 unvaccinated people. The final analysis today included an additional 1,000 people, and nobody in the trial who received the anti-COVID pills died. Twelve people from the placebo group died in the same timeframe.The company also released early data from a second clinical trial that looked at 673 adults who had tested positive for COVID-19 and were either unvaccinated and at standard risk of severe illness or vaccinated with at least one risk factor for severe illness. A little over half (338) received the Pfizer anti-COVID pill and the rest received a placebo. Early results found that the pill reduced hospitalizations by around 70% compared to placebo, and no deaths were reported.“This underscores the treatment candidate’s potential to save the lives of patients around the world,” said Albert Bourla, Pfizer chairman and CEO, in a statement.The company also said that the drug appears effective against the omicron variant in laboratory tests, and they expect it to remain effective. There’s a good reason why. The main concern around variants so far has been about the spike proteins on the virus. That’s because antibodies generated by both vaccination and natural infection rely, at least in part, on defenses built against COVID-19’s spike proteins. When those spike proteins change as new variants emerge, it can make it more difficult for our bodies to recognize and mount an early defense against the virus. The omicron variant’s many mutations to the spike protein are what have sparked significant concern among experts, as SELF previously explained.But the Pfizer drug is meant to work by inhibiting the virus’s ability to break into smaller pieces and replicate itself by dulling an enzyme called protease—not by battling spike proteins. A course of the drug is 30 pills over five days, some of which are Paxlovid and some of which are an antiviral called ritonavir, which helps keep Paxlovid working in the body for longer.The company said they sent their final data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) where it will need to be approved before it becomes available to the public. Pfizer’s chief scientific officer, Mikael Dolsten, said he expects it to be authorized for high-risk patients soon, and that it may not need an FDA advisory panel meeting. “We’re in very advanced regulatory dialogues with both Europe and the U.K., and we have dialogues with most of the major regulatory agencies globally,” Dolsten said in an interview.The Pfizer drug’s effectiveness appears to be a significant improvement over the anti-COVID pill from Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. The Merck pill, which doesn’t affect protease but instead introduces mutational errors through an enzyme called polymerase, initially showed a 50% reduction in hospitalization and death in high-risk unvaccinated people with mild or moderate COVID-19. After final review, its effectiveness dropped to 30%, and experts had concerns that Merck drug’s intentional mutations could even affect other enzymes in the body. But the FDA voted to recommend the drug at the end of November, though it is still not authorized for patient use.We’ve seen how quickly aspects of this pandemic—including data—have changed as time passes, so even promising results like the ones from Pfizer aren’t necessarily set in stone. (And, of course, they’re not the same as independent analysis from an official third party.) But this news does certainly offer a potential bright spot as the COVID-19 era continues.Related:​​

Sherri Shepherd Shared a Health Update After Her Emergency Surgery This Weekend

Sherri Shepherd Shared a Health Update After Her Emergency Surgery This Weekend

Sherri Shepherd had to miss her spot guest-hosting The Wendy Williams Show on Monday after she had emergency surgery over the weekend. The 54-year-old came down with appendicitis, which was announced on the show by her replacement host, actor Michael Rapaport.”So Sherri was supposed to host today. Unfortunately, she had appendicitis,” he told The Wendy Williams Show audience. “She’s fine. She is fine. She had to go to the hospital last night for some emergency surgery. She’s feeling fine today and she is rested. Get well soon, Sherri. Everybody loves you!”Shepherd also confirmed the surgery on various social media accounts, where she posted a video clip from her hospital bed. “I just had an emergency appendectomy,” she says. “I don’t know where it came from, all of a sudden I was in a great deal of pain. I came in here to get some Metamucil and they said, ‘We gotta take out your appendix right away.’ So they removed my appendix.”The star clearly had her sense of humor still, because she said that the drama of the day was that her wig went missing. “I just found my wig. We started off, I went into surgery with the wig, I came out bald-headed looking like Ludacris,” she said. “But we have found my wig.” She also thanked the staff at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue for removing her appendix.Twitter contentThis content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.She’s expected to return as a guest host today and posted the photo of what would have been her hosting outfit that she decided to change up because her stomach is still swollen. “My stylist is frantically shopping for loose & flowing dresses right now!” she wrote.Instagram contentThis content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.The appendix is a finger-like tube attached to the large intestine—it’s a working part of the immune system in children, but stops doing this as an adult, Johns Hopkins Medicine explains. Appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix caused by a blockage—this can happen due to various viruses or bacteria, trapped stool, or even tumors. Once it’s blocked, it becomes sore and swollen, and then blood flow to the appendix starts to diminish. The appendix can start to die, and holes can start to develop or it can even burst, all of which allows stool, mucus, and infection to get inside the abdomen, leading to a serious infection called peritonitis. Appendicitis is most common in people between the ages of 10 and 30 but can happen at any age, according got the Mayo Clinic.

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