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The Recovery Room: News beyond the pandemic

August 7 — The coronavirus pandemic has dominated the headlines, and our daily lives, for most of this year. Medical News Today have covered this fast-moving, complex story with live updates on the latest news, interviews with experts, and an ongoing investigation into the deep racial disparities that COVID-19 has unmasked.

However, this has not stopped us from publishing hundreds of fascinating stories on a myriad of other topics.

This week’s most popular article looked at the reasons why a person may experience bloating and nausea. Another article on how high blood sugar levels may diminish the benefit of exercise was hot on its heels.

We also offered advice on topics as varied as hand exercises for people with arthritis, lucid dreaming, and stretching before going to bed. If you have ever wondered whether human brains are better connected than those of other mammals, we have news on that, too.

Here are 10 recent stories that people may have missed amid all the COVID-19 fervor.

1. What causes a bloated stomach, nausea, and tiredness?

When are a bloated stomach and feeling sick symptoms of overeating, and when are they a sign of an underlying health condition? That was the question that Medical News Today answered in the most popular new article over the past week, with nearly 25,000 readers and counting.

We look at the symptoms and possible causes, as well as the remedies that you can prepare at home. However, if bloating persists for 2 weeks or more, or it occurs alongside severe pain, blood in the urine or stool, loss of appetite, or other changes, you should see your doctor.

Learn more here.

2. High blood sugar may limit aerobic exercise capacity

Could having high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) make it more difficult to build up your capacity for aerobic exercise? That was the suggestion in a new study that we reported on this week.

The researchers carried out the study in both mice and humans, finding that blood sugar, rather than obesity or the effects of insulin, is responsible for this diminishing return from exercise. Our article covering this study is on track to be the most popular story published so far this month.

Learn more here.

3. How does the respiratory system work?

Click on the interactive Bodymap below to move around the model and read more about the respiratory system.

Readers spent an average of nearly 10 minutes learning more about the respiratory system. This article covers how it works, what it looks like, and some diseases and conditions that can affect it.

In common with our recent articles on how the intestines work and the location of the human heart, we’ve illustrated this topic with an interactive BodyMap diagram. It appears that many readers enjoyed spending their time zooming in and out, flying around the body, and finding out more about specific parts of each organ system.

Learn more here.

4. Researchers map anxiety in the brain

What does anxiety look like in the brain? This is the question that new research at the University of Trento in Italy tackled, which MNT covered.

The study found that people with chronic anxiety do exhibit changes in their brain activity relating to an area called the default mode network. The researchers, who distinguish between short-term “state anxiety” and more persistent “trait anxiety,” identified an area of the brain with permanent anatomical differences in those with the more persistent type.

Learn more here.

5. 8 hand exercises for arthritis with pictures

In this article, we recommend eight hand exercises for arthritis, complete with instructions and animations that demonstrate each technique.

Our data indicate that many readers have returned to this article a number of times, so it looks set to become a valuable resource for people experiencing pain and stiffness in their hands due to arthritis.

Learn more here.

6. What to know about sleep deprivation

Here in the United Kingdom, we’re experiencing something of a heat wave, and it’s making sleeping difficult for many people. For most people, normal sleep patterns resume as the temperature falls, but for others, a chronic lack of sleep can harm mental and physical health.

In this article — one of our five most popular this week — we look at how much sleep is necessary, the effects of getting too little, and tips for better sleep (such as those in our next article).

Learn more here.

7. 10 stretches to try before bed

If you’re having difficulty falling asleep, you may find our new article on stretching techniques to try before bed useful. It includes animated step-by-step instructions for 10 exercises that may help you drift off.

We also look at other forms of light exercise that research has shown to improve sleep quality. Our next article looks at an interesting phenomenon that you might have experienced while sleeping.

Learn more here.

8. Lucid dreaming: Controlling the stories of sleep

In this Discover article, we explore lucid dreaming, which is the phenomenon of being aware that you are dreaming while you are doing so. It’s not as uncommon as you might think: One survey in Brazil indicated that as many as 77% of the 3,427 participants had experienced it at least once.

We explain what it is, what to do to achieve it, and whether or not it has any risks.

Learn more here.

9. Human brain is not more efficient than other mammals’ brains

It has long been believed that the human brain is uniquely complex and has greater connectivity between its regions than the brains of other species. However, recent research that MNT reported on this week suggests that this is not, in fact, the case.

Researchers mapped the brain connectivity of 123 mammalian species, including rodents, monkeys, and dolphins. They concluded that the degree of connectivity is equal across mammal brains, regardless of size.

Learn more here.

10. Novel neurotransmitters effectively cross the blood-brain barrier

MNT are always looking out for breakthroughs on the frontiers of medical science. This week, we reported on a technique for modifying drugs to allow them to cross the blood-brain barrier — something that is usually very difficult to accomplish safely. Existing techniques rely on creating physical pathways — essentially, holes — in the barrier to deliver drugs, but these methods can damage the brain.

So, we were excited to report the results from a new study using mouse models. The researchers used a class of “door-opening” neurotransmitters to carry drugs selectively across the blood-brain barrier into the brain. One of the paper’s authors, Qiaobing Xu, says: “The power of our method is that it is extremely versatile and relatively nondisruptive.”

Learn more here.

We hope that this has provided a taste of the range of stories that we cover at MNT. We will be back with a new selection next week.

Coming soon: A sneak preview of what’s in our drafts folder

We publish hundreds of new articles every month. Here are some upcoming articles that may pique our readers’ interest:

  • Naps and cardiovascular health: The pros and cons
  • How do cannabinoids affect the activity of other drugs?
  • What happens to our immune system as we age?

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  • Posted on August 7, 2020