Tag Archives: health

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On ventilators

I’m not a ventilator expert, but I am curious as to what it takes to get more to patients who are sick due to COVID-19. This will give you some answers as to what it takes to get more out there: Why U.S. hospitals don’t have enough ventilators – The Washington Post

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Five ways to think about flattening the curve and other things related to COVID-19

Chances are you’ve seen this chart: it’s strongly related to the justification for all the dramatic changes that have been happening. Now there’s some counterarguments that it will not work: Squashing the curve? | plus.maths.org

First off, the chart is a model, and like all models, it makes assumptions. For COVID-19, the first  assumption it makes is that the outbreak will rise and then drop off. I am not sure this is true, and I don’t know if anyone else is certain either. There are good reasons to make this assumption, but certainty will come later.

Another big assumption this chart makes is that social distancing will bring the cases down so that there is enough health care capacity to handle it. I think social distancing will bring things down, but the health care capacity could still be overwhelmed.

Is social distancing useless then? I think that is the wrong question, and the wrong way of thinking about things. So how should you think about things?

First: think skeptically. I would say you should keep an open mind but be skeptical about information on the Internet. Things are changing all the time, and there is so much we don’t know. Be doubtful of anyone with strong certainty about this.

Second: think optimistically. My thinking was pessimistic before, but I think I am changing to being optimistic about how we deal with the disease. There are lots of positive signs out there and there are many people working to get more resources thrown at this.  It will make a difference.

Third: think maximally.  Continue to wash yourself with soap often. Continue to practice social / physical distance. Continue to do anything that a recognized authority says will help. More action is better than little or no action. Some action may be no better than eating chicken soup, but you don’t know. Just make sure you are following a recognized authority.

Fourth: think practically. You have to make tradeoffs. Some people have to travel outside to get to work or get groceries.  Try to minimize them. But don’t beat yourself up either. Do the best you can. Be cautious, but don’t panic.

Fifth: think and act healthy. The better you take care of your health, the better off you will be. There are other ways to get sick besides COVID-19 that could also land you in the healthcare system. That won’t help.

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How to wash your hands better


The number one thing you can do to stay well is wash your hands often, and chances are you are doing it wrong by missing spots. For more on how to do it right, see: Map of Areas Most Often Missing During Handwashing

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How should you exercise as you get older?

Like nutrition advice, exercise advice seems to change as often as clothing fashion changes. It can be hard to keep up, and easy to get skeptical that any advice is solid. However, if you want to keep up and are not skeptical, read this: How Smart Exercise Keeps You Younger for Longer.

My take, which is a variation of this, is simple: do a range of exercises, from cardio, to strength, to stretching to balancing. A fitness routine that includes all this is better than a fitness routine that just focuses on one or two areas. And any fitness routine is better than no fitness routine.

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What is pink noise and why you might need it if you have trouble sleeping or relaxing

I was aware of white noise, but I didn’t realize there is a range of noises associated with colour:

Both pink and white noise are members of an entire color family of sound including black and brown noise. Sounds are assigned these colors based on how energy is distributed over several frequencies, according to Healthline.com. White noise, for example, is comprised of energy that is equally distributed across all audible frequencies. Brown noise, sometimes called red noise, consists of higher energies at lower frequencies—think thunder and deep, roaring sounds.

Pink noise, on the other hand, is a shade deeper than white noise. It’s similar to white noise in that it includes all audible frequencies; however, unlike white noise, energy is not distributed equally among them.

I have found that the rain sounds I listen to are more pink noise than white noise, and I prefer it for sleeping. If you are having trouble sleeping or relaxing, try listening to some pink noise.

For more on it, see: Pink Noise Sleep Benefits | Apartment Therapy

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Is warning people about how much exercise it takes to work off a meal a good idea?

According to this, it is: ‘Four hours to walk off pizza calories’ warning works, experts say – BBC News. For example, if you were to buy a pizza or a chocolate bar, they argue that…

Appreciating it would take four hours to walk off the calories in a pizza or 22 minutes to run off a chocolate bar creates an awareness of the energy cost of food, they say.

That’s true. But it’s also not a great comparison. It’s pretty much a given that exercise is not a great way of losing weight, so most foods will come across as requiring a lot of exercise to work off the food. And it may be a lot more exercise than most people do. This will just end up shaming more people than it benefits.

I think a better approach would be to highlight what percentage of your recommended caloric allowance a selection of food is. I believe this would be much better. Foods have something similar already: they tell you what percentage of vitamins, fibre, etc. a selection of food provides for your diet. They could do the same thing with calories. Hey, on some days when you hadn’t had much to eat, something that provides you 50% of your daily calories may be fine.

No matter what, providing health guidance is never simple. But if I had to decide, I’d go with percentages.

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How to make your brain healthier

Easy. Follow these five tips:  ‘I’m a neurologist, and these are the 5 things I do to keep my brain healthy’ | Well+Good

Some of them are easy and obvious, some not. And some are a 2 fer: exercise your body and you help your brain, too.