After being infected with COVID-19, how long are you protected with antibodies and when could you get the virus again? The omicron variant has led to a major shift in “natural immunity,” with many who had previously been infected susceptible to reinfection with the new version of the virus. According to the Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner, data has shown that most people infected with COVID are protected from the virus for about one to three months after. A recent study from Northwestern Medicine showed that many so-called COVID “long-haulers” continue to experience symptoms including brain fog, tingling, headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, tinnitus and fatigue and average of 15 months after the onset of the virus. Public officials recommend that even those who contract COVID remain up-to-date with their vaccinations and booster shots.
The work done by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine faculty members (and even some students) is regularly highlighted in newspapers, online media outlets and more. Below you’ll find links to articles and videos of Feinberg in the news.
Keeping your bedroom dark not only helps you get a good night’s sleep, but may significantly lower your odds of developing three major health problems, a new study suggests. Older women and men who used night lights, or left their TV, smartphone or tablet on in the room were more likely to be obese, and have high blood pressure and diabetes. “Maybe even a small amount of light at night is not so benign, it can be harmful,” said Dr. Minjee Kim, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Chicago and suburban Cook County were shifted from “high” risk to “medium” risk for COVID-19. The change, announced Thursday by the Chicago Department of Public Health, is based on the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and reflects a decrease in new cases and hospitalizations in the region. However, COVID shots may become a new annual routine. David Zich, health system clinician of emergency medicine, said COVID will most likely circulate every year. He mentions that it’s become clear you can catch COVID over and over again, even if you are fully vaccinated. Vaccination, however, does strongly reduce the likeliness of hospitalization or death. The big question remains, will the infected individual suffer from long COVID sympoms including fatigue, brain fog and headache. According to Zich, “We’re hoping with new technology that we’ll be able to package it [COVID-19 vaccine] with the influenza vaccine. The current one has four different strains and we can add the COVID vaccine to that as well.
Northwestern scientists support an independent panel’s new guidelines that state there is “insufficient evidence” that taking multivitamins, paired supplements or single supplements can help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer in otherwise healthy, non-pregnant adults. “Patients ask all the time, ‘What supplements should I be taking?’ They’re wasting money and focus thinking there has to be a magic set of pills that will keep them healthy when we should all be following the evidence-based practices of eating healthy and exercising,” said Dr. Jeffrey Linder, chief of general internal medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. however, the new guidelines do not apply to people who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, said Dr. Natalie Cameron, instructor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
The pandemic is believed to accelerated the trend [abortion]. The FDA began allowing abortion pills to be mailed to patients in April 2021, waiving a long-standing requirement that they be dispensed only in health-care settings, and the Biden administration made the change permanent months later. According to Cassing Hammond, an OB/GYN and associate professor at Northwestern University’s medical school, “What we’ve been watching over the 10 years is medical abortion increasing and increasing and increasing.”
Vitamin, mineral and multivitamin supplements aren’t likely to protect you from cancer, heart disease or overall mortality. According to Dr. Jeffrey Linder, “Lifestyle counseling to prevent chronic diseases in patients should continue to focus on evidence-based approaches, including balanced diets that are high in fruits and vegetables and physical activity…Rather than focusing money, time and attention on supplements, it would be better to emphasize lower-risk, higher benefit activities…following a healthful diet, getting exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding smoking.” However, select populations do need certain vitamins. Pregnant women should take a daily supplement containing 0.4 to 0.8 milligrams of folic acid to prevent neural tube birth defects. Some seniors may need additional supplementation of vitamin B12 and B6 as absorption of those vitamins from food fades as we age.
The record-breaking heat that’s scorching much of the United States this week poses significant heart dangers, and you need to take steps to protect yourself, the American Heart Association (AHA) says. This is especially true for older adults and people with high blood pressure, obesity or a history of heart disease or stroke. “Some medications like angiotensin receptor blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and diuretics, which affect blood pressure responses or deplete the body of sodium, can exaggerate the body’s response to heat and cause you to feel ill in extreme heat,” said Donald Lloyd-Jones, a professor of heart research, preventive medicine, medicine and pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Further, “Staying hydrated is key. It is easy to get dehydrated even if you don’t think you’re thirsty,” said Lloyd-Jones.
According to Dr. Javier Guevara, the largest health concerns he sees in his practice with Latino men includes stroke, heart disease, diabetes with complications, kidney disease and heart attacks. Because of the lack of trust with physicians, many Latino men do not see their primary care specialist regularly. This may be in part to language barriers and biases Latino men feel caretakers may have against them. Guevara suggests that physicians work to develop the trust of the Latino community. This could include reaching out to Latino communities and places of worship and try to organize events where screenings and education can happen. Further, diet and nutrition are essential to reducing these health concerns. Guevara says the best way to do this is cutting down on carbs, increasing protein and being active for at least 150 minutes a week.
The vaccine advisory panel of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has voted unanimously to support clearance to use Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children six months through four years, and it endorsed Moderna’s vaccine for children six months through five. The next step to young children becoming vaccinated will be full FDA approval. Many pediatric healthcare providers are eagerly awaiting approved emergency-use authorizations. Northwestern University pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Bill Muller said that, despite some delay in getting the youngest of children signed off on, “This still represents a very rapid rollout. But at the same time, no corners were cut. It’s something we’ve been looking forward to for several months. And it’s really a milestone.”
Socioeconomic differences are the main reason for heart disease disparities. According to Nila Shay, MD, MPH, professor of cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Black women are 2.5 times more at risk than white women. Social determinants such as socioeconomic position, neighborhood and physical environment, access to care, literacy and community safety are all major factors that result in different health outcomes. Further, racial differences in cardiovascular disease are not biological. The issues are not related to underlying genetic difference, but other barriers. The conception of why disparities exist is really inaccurate. Barriers to transportation, affordable medicine and overall resources account for health disparities.