In a new study, almost a quarter of people with COVID-19 reported symptoms of brain fog, including memory issues, months after their diagnosis.The study, published last week in JAMA Network Open, includes survey responses from 740 people who’d had COVID-19 about their demographics and the cognitive symptoms they still experienced. On average, the participants were between seven and eight months out from their initial COVID-19 diagnosis. Of those participants, nearly a quarter reported having issues with memory recall (23% of participants, 170 people) and memory encoding (24%, 178 participants). Participants also frequently reported having problems with executive functioning, processing speed, and verbal fluency. Many of these issues may be symptoms of what’s colloquially referred to as brain fog, the study authors write. People who experience brain fog may find that they have trouble thinking or processing information clearly. They might have difficulty concentrating or find that it takes them longer than usual to complete certain mental tasks. Brain fog can be the result of mental health issues (such as anxiety, depression, or chronic stress) or certain underlying medical conditions (including multiple sclerosis).This study is relatively small, but its findings are in line with those from previous studies. A study published about a year ago found that the majority of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 experience some sort of neurological issues, including headaches and dizziness but also cognitive problems. And other research published in April found that even people whose illnesses aren’t severe enough to require hospitalization can still experience brain fog-like symptoms after COVID-19. In fact, that study found that a third of people who got the coronavirus developed neurological conditions within six months of their diagnosis. It’s not clear yet why COVID-19 survivors are so likely to experience neurological symptoms, including those that might constitute brain fog. Researchers are still looking into whether it’s the coronavirus directly causing long-lasting cognitive issues or if brain fog might be related to the trauma associated with surviving a new viral illness in the midst of a global pandemic. As this research and other investigations into the mysteries of long COVID continue, we’ll hopefully learn more soon. In the meantime, another recent study showed that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 can significantly help prevent long COVID in the event of a breakthrough infection.Related:
There’s a good chance that younger kids will be able to start getting COVID-19 vaccines early next month, according to Anthony Fauci, M.D. In fact, “It’s entirely possible, if not very likely” that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will become available to children ages 5 to 11 in the first or second week of November, Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said in an interview on ABC This Week on Sunday.Dr. Fauci based his most recent predicted timeline on a promising analysis of the trial data that regulators and experts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will use to help make their determinations on whether to authorize and recommend the vaccine for this age group. “If you look at the data that’s been made public and announced by the company, the data look good as to the efficacy and the safety,” Dr. Fauci told ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos. While Dr. Fauci cautioned that “you never want to get ahead” of the FDA or CDC in their decision-making process, he anticipates that both regulatory agencies will give Pfizer/BioNTech’s two-dose mRNA vaccine the green light in the next couple weeks, making it the first COVID-19 vaccine available to kids under age 12 in the U.S. “If all goes well, and we get the regulatory approval [from the FDA] and the recommendation from the CDC, it’s entirely possible, if not very likely, that vaccines will be available for children from [ages] 5 to 11 within the first week or two of November,” Dr. Fauci said. Dr. Fauci’s comments came two days after the FDA shared a document reviewing the evidence submitted by Pfizer and BioNTech on the safety and effectiveness of their vaccine in this age group. The data suggest that the vaccine produces a robust immune response in kids and is 90.7% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, as well as 100% effective against hospitalizations. There were three cases of COVID-19 among 1,450 participants in the group that received the vaccine, compared to 16 cases among 736 participants in the group that received the placebo shot. (No genetic sequencing data were available so it’s not clear whether these cases were caused by the delta variant, for instance.)When it comes to the safety of the shots, the FDA didn’t find any unexpected side effects or adverse events associated with the vaccine in this age group. The agency also used statistical modeling to predict the potential risk of rare heart problems (myocarditis and pericarditis) that have occurred among other younger groups of vaccine recipients (above age 12), and still found the protection offered by vaccination persuasive. Overall, according to the FDA’s analysis, “the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine 2-dose primary series clearly outweigh the risks for ages 5-11 years.”The next step in the regulatory process starts on Tuesday, October 26, 2021, when the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet to evaluate the evidence. After getting input from that independent panel of outside experts, the FDA will make its final decision on whether to issue an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the vaccine. Then, the FDA will hand over their decision to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), who will offer their clinical recommendations on whether and how the vaccine should be administered. While the timeline here is not set, the panels generally move quickly. For instance, in May of this year, ACIP took two days to make its recommendations after the FDA issued an EUA for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in kids ages 12 to 15.Dr. Fauci’s new timeline for when the first COVID-19 vaccines will become available to children under 12 is a slight adjustment from his last estimate. In late September, the White House Chief Medical Adviser said he thought children could start getting the shots “hopefully, before the end of October,” as SELF reported at the time. But the first or second week of November is still generally in line with expert predictions, including that of an FDA official who said that the vaccines would be available by early to mid-winter. Regardless of the exact day that kids can start getting their shots, it will be a welcome and long-awaited one for families who have unvaccinated children. Related:
Ed Sheeran revealed on social media that he recently tested positive for COVID-19—and apologized to those who may have been expecting to see him perform.“Hey guys. Quick note to tell you that I’ve sadly tested positive for Covid, so I’m now self-isolating and following government guidelines,” Sheeran wrote on Instagram. “It means that I’m now unable to plough ahead with any in person commitments for now, so I’ll be doing as many of my planned interviews/performances I can from my house. Apologies to anyone I’ve let down. Be safe everyone x”The “Shape of You” singer is set to release his new album, Equals (written “=”), this week. But after testing positive, it appears that he’ll have to stick to virtual performances and interviews to support the album’s release—for now, at least.Sheeran did not say whether or not he was vaccinated in his Instagram post. Earlier this year, he reworked the lyrics of “Shape of You” to include lines about the value of getting vaccinated during an appearance on the Late Late Show With James Corden. In England, where Sheeran resides, people who test positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate for 10 days after the first day of noticeable symptoms or the day they test positive, according to the National Health Service. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. offers similar guidelines: People who test positive can be around others again 10 days after their symptoms started (or they received a positive test), provided they’ve gone at least 24 hours without a fever and their other symptoms are improving. Related:
About 281,550 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year—and 43,600 will die from it, according to the American Cancer Society1. When we dig deeper into the numbers, it turns out there are racial disparities at play as seen with so many other health conditions, such as diabetes.White and Black people are diagnosed with breast cancer at roughly the same rate, but Black people are more likely to die from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention2. Between the years 2014-2018, CDC data shows that 27 out of 100,000 Black women died from breast cancer compared to 19 out of 10,000 white women. (The death rate for other groups of color is lower than Black women or white women.)Experts say there are a number of factors at play here, and SELF spoke to Oluchi Oke3, M.D., an oncologist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, to learn more about the harrowing racial disparities in breast cancer. As a Black physician, Dr. Oke understands the importance of closing health care gaps for all patients. SELF: To start, what are the most common racial disparities we see in breast cancer?Dr. Oke: The disparities we see are in the onset of diagnosis—meaning at what stage of cancer people are diagnosed—and also in the overall percentage of people of a certain ethnicity that pass away from breast cancer. We see disparities in the type of breast cancer they get. And the average age for a breast cancer diagnosis is younger in Hispanic and Black individuals4.Black women are also more likely to be diagnosed with what’s called triple negative breast cancer, which can be hard to treat, and has a poor prognosis. It is more aggressive, so it grows faster, and we find it at a later stage. When we find it later, the cancer may have spread to lymph nodes or to another organ too. And so we are seeing more African American women dying from their breast cancer, partly just because they’re getting diagnosed later, and also because they’re being diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.Lack of health insurance is a barrier in receiving timely screening to detect breast cancer early on and is a big reason that we see higher breast cancer death rates in Black women. The most well-known study related to this was published in 2017 by researchers at Emory University5 who reviewed information from over half a million people in the national cancer database. They looked at five factors that may impact the difference in outcome between Black versus Caucasian women with stage 1-3 breast cancer, including demographics, characteristics of cancer, comorbidities, health insurance, and type of treatment. The difference in health insurance was the biggest contributor to the difference in death rate for each group. They showed almost three times as many Black women were uninsured compared to white women, and 35% of the excess risk of death from breast cancer in Black women compared with white women was due to a difference in health insurance. The type of tumor also contributed to the increased risk of death, but not as significantly as the lack of insurance contributed.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) panel voted to approve COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for even more people. A month ago, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended additional doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for some people who had previously received that mRNA vaccine. And this week, following an update to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorizations for the vaccines, the panel voted to recommend boosters for some groups of people who had also gotten the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines originally. Plus, the panel’s new recommendations allow people who are eligible for boosters to mix and match which vaccine they get.For those who may be wondering if they’re eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, here’s what you need to know about the CDC’s new recommendations.If you originally got the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty):You’re eligible to get a booster shot if you are age 65 and older. You are also eligible if you’re at least 18 years old and you have an underlying medical condition (that puts you at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 complications), you live in a long-term care facility, or you live or work in other high-risk situations (such as first responders, grocery store workers, and other essential workers).You should wait at least six months after your initial vaccine doses before getting a booster.If you originally got the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine:In this week’s recommendations, ACIP recommended booster shots for the same groups of people who received Moderna doses originally as those who got Pfizer. So, if your first two vaccine doses were Moderna, you can get a booster shot if you are at least 65 years old. Or, if you’re at least 18 years old, you can get an additional dose provided you also have an underlying health issue, live in a long-term care situation, or live or work in other high-risk environments.Again, you should wait to get your booster shot until it’s been at least six months since you received your first doses. If you originally got the Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine:For those who are at least 18 years old and received the single-dose Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, you can get a booster shot just two months after your original dose. The CDC also echoed the FDA’s authorization for a mix and match vaccination strategy, meaning that those who are eligible for boosters based on the above criteria can get any of the three authorized or approved vaccines as their booster shot—no matter which one they got originally. Some people may want to stick with the same type of vaccine they had before while others may want to get a different one this time, the CDC says. Or, depending on the supply in their area, simply may not be able to match the vaccine they got previously.However, the CDC also emphasized that all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. are still safe and highly effective at preventing severe disease and death due to the coronavirus—even against the delta variant. For those who want or need extra protection, though, booster shots may make sense. If you’re not sure if you should get an additional dose, talk to your health care provider. And, remember, you can get your flu shot at the same time as your booster.Related:
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many people skipped annual health screenings—including mammograms. In a study of more than 1,300 participants published in JAMA, 41% of them reported missing out on medical care during the first months of the pandemic. A significant chunk of respondents also said that financial concerns also kept them from making those crucial appointments.Now more than ever, it’s important to listen to health care professionals. When the medical assistant says, “Please put on your gown—the doctor will be in to see you soon,” you should treat the word gown literally. And as Kaling shows, the very best selfies are taken in gynecology offices and breast cancer screening rooms. Pink flatters all. This is a versatile look that you can wear to a picnic, the office, brunch with friends, a date night…the list goes on. Other great opportunities for a gown photo opp: an STI check! A mole screening! An annual physical! If you have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, mammograms are covered every two years for women after the age of 50. And Planned Parenthood and other women’s health clinics offer reduced rates as needed, including for people who do not have health insurance. (This is one of the many, many ways Planned Parenthood saves lives.) Scroll down the responses to Mindy Kaling’s tweet and you will be treated to a parade of looks—women in hot pinks and Pepto Bismols, semi-sheer fabrics, deep Vs, and high slits. There are stories from cancer survivors and mammogram newbies; there’s gratitude and grief and cheerful grumbling. There is language for breasts that runs from “tatas” to “boobs” to “sloppy bags.” All of it is perfect. Let this be a new trend—our Instagram Explore pages should just be women taking selfies as they wait for their doctor to come back in. With this, I begin to pull together my makeup look my upcoming yearly wellness exam. There really is only one question left: Could you use a speculum as a claw clip? This story originally appeared on Glamour.Related:
Professional wrestler Brandi Rhodes and her husband, fellow All Elite Wrestling (AEW) performer Cody Rhodes, welcomed their daughter Liberty Iris in mid-June. Their first days with Liberty, who is named after Liberty Square in Disney’s Magic Kingdom rather than for her father’s patriotic wrestling gimmick (as fans might assume), were “so precious,” Brandi Rhodes, 38, tells SELF. But Rhodes also had to work through mental health challenges, including postpartum anxiety, as a new mom.Before giving birth, she and her medical team had already decided a scheduled C-section would be the best option for her because of the baby’s positioning. But Liberty came a little early. In fact, Rhodes recalls having contractions “for most of the day,” including during filming for the couple’s reality show Rhodes to the Top and an AEW virtual event before going to the hospital. “I always knew it was going to be sooner than we thought because my body felt very ready,” she explains. “My only prayer was that she was ready too.” Rhodes’ delivery process was surprisingly “quick and easy.” Being awake during her C-section was “a little weird,” she says, but she appreciated that the doctor talked her through the procedure. In the weeks following Liberty’s birth, however, the challenges of being a new mom started to take their toll on Rhodes. “I fully went through a period of postpartum anxiety or maybe a combination of anxiety and depression,” she says. “I lean more towards anxiety because I was so happy, but I was terrified at the same time. It was something I’d never felt before. It was a fear of every unknown possible.” Endless thoughts about something, anything that could go wrong “kept me up at night,” she says, like, “what if the ceiling leaked and broke and landed right in her crib while she was sleeping?”
Keep in mind that your treatment options may change over time based on new research and newly available therapies. Make sure you have ongoing conversations with your doctor about which treatment options may be best for you.Autoimmune diseasesWhen you have an autoimmune disease, like psoriasis, your immune system goes a bit haywire and mistakenly attacks healthy cells4, often setting off mysterious symptoms before you get to the bottom of it. There are more than 80 autoimmune conditions that impact different parts of the body, including everything from multiple sclerosis to arthritis to celiac disease to type 1 diabetes4.And some of these diseases are more likely to affect people who already have psoriasis. For example, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both autoimmune conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract, are more common in people with psoriasis compared to those without it. However, researchers don’t know why this happens, and with many of these conditions, it is impossible to say which came first or if one caused another.“There’s no specific answer to the ‘chicken-and-egg’ question,” Shivani Kaushik5, M.D., an assistant professor at the Rutgers Center for Dermatology, tells SELF. One possible theory, according to Dr. Kaushik, is that many autoimmune conditions, including psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis, may be linked because they all cause inflammation in the body. “For many patients who have extensive psoriasis, there is no doubt that they have inflammation going on inside as well,” she says, as opposed to the inflammation you only see on the outside of the skin.There is no surefire way to avoid developing multiple autoimmune disorders, but keeping your psoriasis in check by regularly taking your medications, such as biologics to target the immune system directly, and getting in touch with your doctor if you have new or worsening flare-ups can help you create a plan to keep inflammation under control.Psoriatic arthritisPsoriatic arthritis (PsA), while technically also an autoimmune condition6, has a more specific connection to psoriasis than other autoimmune diseases. Psoriatic arthritis most commonly shows up 7 to 10 years after the onset of psoriasis symptoms7, and happens when the immune system starts to attack healthy joints and/or tendons causing inflammation, pain, swelling and stiffness in the hands, knees, wrists, ankles and feet.The two conditions are inextricably linked, but the connection isn’t totally clear to experts yet. Having psoriasis doesn’t necessarily cause psoriatic arthritis. Only about 20 to 30% of people with psoriasis are eventually diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis8 and a small number of people with psoriatic arthritis have no preexisting psoriasis symptoms9.“We do know certain kinds of psoriasis patients tend to have higher chances of developing psoriatic arthritis,” including scalp psoriasis and inverse psoriasis, according to Samar Gupta11, M.D., an associate professor at the University of Michigan Medical School and the chief of VA clinical rheumatology and medical education.So, it’s crucial to communicate any joint pain to your doctor if you have psoriasis, since early detection can help you start treatment sooner, which can help prevent psoriatic arthritis-related joint damage.Cardiovascular diseaseThere’s a lot of research showing that chronic inflammation may cause fat and cholesterol buildup, called plaques, in your arteries12. Over time, and if you have a lot of buildup, plaques can burst and eventually lead to a stroke or heart attack. Reducing overall inflammation is really important when it comes to reducing your heart disease risk, Dr. Menter says, and one way you can do that is by controlling your psoriasis with medication.
Simone Biles’s terrifying experience at the Tokyo Olympics this summer continues to impact the way she performs gymnastics to this day. Biles revealed in a new interview that she is “still scared” to do certain moves—but also feels strong and proud of herself for getting through it. On the Today show this week, Biles shared that she still gets the “twisties” when she performs. The phenomenon, sometimes triggered by stress, occurs when an athlete’s mind and body have a disconnect midair, resulting in a potentially dangerous loss of muscle memory and spatial awareness. That danger forced her to pull out of several Olympics events earlier this year—and it’s what prevents her from doing any moves that require twisting in mid-air on the Gold Over America Tour she is currently on. “I don’t twist,” Biles said of her Gold Over America Tour performances. “I do double layout half-outs, which is my signature move on the floor, but that’s never affected me,” Biles explained. “Everything else—it just weighs so heavy. And I watch the girls do it. It’s just not the same.” Biles added, “I’m still scared to do gymnastics.” Biles also spoke about how frustrating it is “to do something that I’ve done forever and just not be able to do it because of everything I’ve gone through,” considering how much she loves the sport. “It’s hard,” she said, tearing up. “I don’t think people understand the magnitude of what I go through. But for so many years to go through everything that I’ve gone through and put on a front, I’m proud of myself.” In the interview, the four-time Olympic champion also revisited what happened in Tokyo, connecting her long-time repression of being sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar with getting the twisties. “Over the years, after suppressing so many emotions and putting up a front on a global scene, I think really all of that came to light,” Biles said. “My body and my mind allowed me to suppress all of that stuff for so many years for as long as it could take. And as soon as we stepped on the Olympics scene, it just decided it couldn’t do it anymore, and it cracked.” Reflecting back on that moment when she realized she wouldn’t be able to perform, Biles said she at first almost blamed herself for the anxiety and mind-body disconnect she was experiencing. “But I knew I couldn’t put that blame on myself,” she said. “And once that happened, all the pieces were put together and I knew exactly what was going on, why it was happening.” Biles believes her experience shows the importance of facing mental health issues head-on. “That’s why taking care of your mental wellbeing and mental health is so important so that something like that doesn’t happen,” said Biles. “I’m grateful that it wasn’t somebody else, and it was me because I know I’m strong enough and I can get back on my feet and I’m going to be OK with the right help,” she continued.
Public health authorities have traced a salmonella outbreak affecting people in 37 states back to whole onions imported from Mexico. Now the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are urging consumers to check where their onions came from and, if the source is unclear, toss them.Specifically, public health agencies identified whole onions from ProSource Inc. (also called ProSource Produce LLC) as a potential source, the FDA says. The affected produce was imported from the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, and includes whole, fresh onions in red, white, and yellow varieties. (If this is starting to sound familiar it might be because there was a massive onion recall due to salmonella contamination about a year ago.)ProSource voluntarily recalled all of its potentially contaminated onions with import dates between July 1, 2021, and August 27, 2021. “Descriptors of these onion types include, but are not limited to, jumbo, colossal, medium, and sweet onions,” according to the FDA release. The onions were sold to both restaurants and grocery stores nationwide, the CDC says.So far, the salmonella outbreak linked to whole onions has sickened 652 people and caused 129 hospitalizations, the CDC says. But no deaths have been reported in relation to the outbreak.The typical symptoms of a salmonella infection—diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever—usually start between six hours and six days of eating the contaminated food, the CDC says. For most people, the infection clears up on its own within a week, the CDC explains. But sometimes a salmonella infection can become more severe. And those who are younger than 5 years old, over age 65, and people with weakened immune systems are most likely to experience more serious salmonella symptoms. For now, the CDC and FDA are urging consumers to check their onions for stickers that indicate where they’re from. If you bought any whole, fresh red, white, or yellow ProSource Inc. onions imported from the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, you should throw them out. If your onions don’t have a sticker on them or you’re not sure where they came from, you should err on the side of caution and dispose of them. You should also wash any surfaces that the onions came in contact with, the CDC says.And if you have severe symptoms (such as diarrhea for more than three days, vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down, or signs of dehydration), you should get in contact with a health care provider.Related: