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BBC World Service - Health Check

Health Check

Health issues and medical breakthroughs from around the world.

Health Check

  • How the smog in Delhi is harming people’s health
    Air quality in Delhi has been downgraded from severe to very poor – thanks to strong winds which are blowing away some of the city’s smog. Despite this good news hospital admissions are up for people with respiratory problems. The government has handed out 5 million face masks to schoolchildren and car use has been restricted but doctors fear there will be long-term health consequences after exposure to such severe pollution. Teenagers can be mean to each other in order to gain popularity – or they might instead turn on the charm. Psychologists in the United States and Canada wanted to know whether it’s the nice teenagers – boys as well as girls – who others like best. They discovered that a mix of strategies might be the most effective way of becoming popular. A Health Check listener tweeted about how she can’t burp – and whether we could find out if there’s anything that can be done to help her and others who suffer discomfort as a result. (Photo: Children in India wearing face masks. Credit: Sakib Ali/Hindustan Times) Health Check was presented by Claudia Hammond Producer: Paula McGrath

  • How the weather influences pain
    Up to three quarters of people say that painful conditions like arthritis get worse when the weather is turning damp and cold. But up until now it’s been hard to prove they are right. A new study from Manchester in the UK involved people tracking people’s daily pain using an app. This information was linked with local weather conditions and high humidity was found to increase pain levels the most. Many people around the world are lucky enough to be able to turn on the tap and get a clean, safe supply of water. In Kisumu in Kenya special community taps are being installed to clean up the water. They inject just enough chlorine solution to kill harmful microbes – but not enough to spoil the taste. Similar trials in Bangladesh cut the number of cases of diarrhoea in young children by nearly a quarter. Monks in Thailand have become more at risk of developing diabetes, thanks to the tasty religious offerings they are given to eat. News that nearly half the monks monitored were obese, prompted a Health Charter – interventions which help the monks to watch what they eat and do gentle exercise. (Photo: A senior woman with a cane looking out of a window. Credit: PeopleImages/Getty Images) Health Check was presented by Claudia Hammond Producer: Paula McGrath

  • Is drug addiction a criminal or public health issue?
    Experts on drug dependency are meeting in Lisbon this week and are calling for a public health approach to tackle the issue rather than treating addicts as criminals. Researchers say that harm reduction is key – including safer alternative medication for opioid addicts, clean needles and supervised injection centres where medical help is on hand in case of overdose. The medical journal The Lancet has brought together a series of reports by experts including Australian researchers who study opioid addiction and the risks of new psychoactive substances. Children with heart problems across the middle east – from places like Iraq, Gaza and Jordan – might not get the treatment they need because not all hospitals are able to perform the specialised surgery required. A Christian organisation Shevet Akeem which is based in Jaffa and Jerusalem is helping to connect these sick children with hospitals in Israel where they can have tests and treatment. Our reporter Dale Gavlak accompanied a Syrian refugee and her baby son Mohamed as they travelled from Jordan to Jerusalem so his heart could be repaired. In other health news this week: why taking blood pressure medication at night instead of in the morning could halve your risk of stroke and heart attack; advice for footballers to stop heading the ball to protect their brains; and the science behind the technique to correct errors in our DNA that cause disease. (Photo caption: Customer in pharmacy holding medicine bottle. Credit: Tero Vesalainen/Getty Images.) Health Check was presented by Claudia Hammond Producer: Paula McGrath

  • Cheap drug cuts head injuries deaths
    Thousands of lives could be saved thanks to the first drug to treat mild to moderate brain injuries. Tranexamic acid – previously given to accident victims and women bleeding heavily after childbirth – cut the number of deaths in head injury patients in countries like Pakistan and Spain. South Asian women living in the UK have the lowest rates of physical activity – with only half doing the recommended amount each week. The community also faces an increased risk of diabetes and associated conditions, a risk which exercise can help to tackle. The Hop On cycling project in Bradford in the north of England hopes that teaching women how to cycle means the whole family will take part and get fitter together. New research from Sweden has found that dog owners who live alone are more likely to survive after a heart attack than other people who live alone. It’s thought that as well as getting more exercise, dog owners socialise more so are less likely to be lonely. The greatest effect was seen in owners of larger dogs which need a lot of walking which probably aids recovery after a heart attack. Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Paula McGrath (Image: Human brain abstract. Credit: TefiM/Getty Images)

  • Autism: the problems of fitting in
    Many people with autistic spectrum disorder learn techniques to overcome their difficulties interacting with others. The first study that has looked at the consequences of these compensatory strategies reveals some benefits but also significant downsides. The consequences can be stress, low self-esteem, mental illness and misdiagnosis. Claudia talks to lead researcher Professor Francesca Happé from King’s College London and Eloise Stark, a woman with autism. A new research programme at Imperial College London is investigating the link between obesity and infertility in men. Madeleine Finlay explores why weight gain and other factors of modern life might be influencing men’s sperm health. Tick-borne Lyme disease is on the rise in the northern hemisphere. Lyme disease can develop into a serious illness. It is hard to diagnosis early and delayed diagnosis means lengthy treatment and recovery. Dr Mollie Jewett at the University of Central Florida is working on a much faster means of diagnosis, and a more effective treatment. Deborah Cohen meets Dr Jewett and her ticks. Graham Easton is in the Health Check studio to talk about links between hearing loss and dementia, and the worrying spread of bacteria resistant to carbapenems, one of the most important kinds of antibiotic drugs. (Photo caption: A young woman standing in the middle of a crowded street – credit: Getty Images) Health Check was presented by Claudia Hammond with comments from Dr Graham Easton. Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker