Control Asthma With These 13 Changes You Can Make at Home

If you have asthma, your immune system is primed to overreact as soon as you encounter a substance it has deemed dangerous, be it dust mites, pollen, animal dander, or some other thing that is actually pretty harmless. When you happen upon one of these triggers, your airways tighten, as do the muscles around them, and they also spew out more mucus than they should. The result: You wind up with asthma symptoms like trouble breathing, a weird whistling sound that happens as you try to get air in and out (wheezing), chest pain and tightness, and coughing.

The first step in warding off these symptoms is having a solid asthma action plan, which should outline the medications necessary to keep your asthma to a minimum. But you may also be able to make some changes at home to reduce the odds that you’ll encounter triggers in the first place. “These changes are tremendously important,” Raymond Casciari, M.D., a pulmonologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California, tells SELF. Here are a few tweaks to consider.

1. De-clutter your place.

Knickknacks, books, and the like serve as a great resting place for dust mites, which are microscopic organisms that can trigger allergies and asthma, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) explains. “You can’t clean clutter well,” Dr. Casciari points out. “But if you walk into a room that’s de-cluttered, you can clean it.”

So, get rid of any items strewn about that you don’t actually need or that you can store more efficiently, like in plastic bins instead of out and about in your living spaces.

2. Try to clean at least once a week.

“Dust mites, molds, and various allergens accumulate on a daily basis. The more often you remove them, the less likely you’re going to react to them,” Dr. Casciari says. This is why the Mayo Clinic recommends that you clean your place at least once a week. That means dusting (with a damp rag, since that’s more efficient at sopping up dust than a dry one), mopping, vacuuming, all that good stuff.

If you love cleaning, you’re all set here. (Also, teach us how.) If not, this is still an essential part of keeping asthma symptoms at bay, so cue up interesting podcast episodes, put on an energizing playlist, or do whatever else it takes to make cleaning a more enjoyable—and frequent—experience.

3. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

Vacuuming is important, period. But if you want to tackle allergens like dust mites in the best way possible, consider getting a vacuum that has a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, the AAAAI says. This kind of filter is clutch at snagging tiny particles that others may miss.

4. Wear a mask when you clean.

The thing about cleaning is that it can launch your asthma triggers into the air—and closer to your mouth, nose, and airways by extension. That’s why it’s a good idea to protect yourself by wearing a mask when you clean, the Mayo Clinic says.

In a perfect world, you’d use an N95 mask, Dr. Casciari adds. This mask creates a physical barrier between your mouth, nose, and triggers in the environment and is great at filtering out teeny particles, the Food and Drug Administration explains.

5. Use a dehumidifier (at least in your bedroom).

Substances like mold spores and dust mites thrive in warm, damp climates. So, if you live in a wet or humid area, it’s a good idea to buy a dehumidifier to keep your home’s air from getting too muggy, pulmonologist Ryan Thomas, M.D., director of the Multidisciplinary Severe Asthma Team at Michigan State University, tells SELF. It’s best to have your home’s humidity between 30 to 50 percent, the AAAAI adds.

6. Keep your windows closed when there’s a ton of pollen outside.

It feels great to open your windows and get some fresh air, but doing so is basically inviting pollen to camp out in your home. That’s why it’s really best to shut your windows and turn on your air conditioner when you need to cool down and the pollen count is high. (Many weather sites and apps have pollen trackers you can use.) Your A.C. basically acts as a filter that helps to reduce the amount of pollen that’s circulating in the air, the Mayo Clinic says. Not only that, your A.C. can help reduce your exposure to dust mites and mold because it reduces your home’s humidity, too.

7. Think about getting allergy-proof covers for your bed.

If you just have a mild sensitivity to dust mites, you’re probably OK to do without this one, Dr. Cascari says. But if they’re a severe trigger for you, you might want to look into dust-proof covers for items like your mattress, box spring, and pillowcases, the AAAAI says. “It’s just another attempt to reduce your allergen exposure,” Dr. Casciari explains. Here’s more information about what to look for when it comes to allergy-proof covers for your bed and its accessories.

8. While you’re at it, only use washable window coverings if possible—then actually wash them.

It’s a good idea to invest in washable curtains and blinds and follow through on washing them seasonally to get rid of dust, the AAAAI says. Yes, it sounds like a pain. Better that kind than the type that may arise during an asthma flare.

9. Keep areas like your bathroom and kitchen as dry as possible.

Mold spores develop in damp areas like your bathroom and kitchen, so it’s smart to clean and dry these spots regularly, according to the Mayo Clinic. In a perfect world, you’d do things like towel-dry your tub after every use, scrub any mold you see forming on or around your tub and faucets, regularly use an exhaust fan in your kitchen and bathroom to reduce moisture, and toss moldy shower curtains and bathmats ASAP, the AAAAI says. But, hey, no one’s perfect, so just do your best.

Also, if you notice any leaks forming, fix them quickly if you’re handy (or get a professional on the case if necessary), Dr. Thomas says. They create the perfect environment for mold to take hold.

10. Sorry, but you should keep pets out of your bedroom.

If animal dander (proteins in animals’ dead skin) is an asthma trigger for you, but you can’t bear to part with the furry love of your life, you should at least ban them from the bedroom. It might feel cruel, but your respiratory system matters more than cuddles.

While you sleep, you spend hours exposed to any allergens hanging out in your bedroom, Dr. Casciari explains. If your pet has been cavorting around in that space, it can be bad news for your airways (and your sleep quality, if your resulting asthma symptoms wake you up).

Washing your pet twice a month may also help, the AAAAI says, although that may not be feasible, depending on the animal. (Yeah, you’re telling me, says basically everyone with a cat.)

11. Don’t leave out dirty dishes or food.

Hey, here’s something gross to remember at 1:00 A.M. when you can’t sleep: Cockroaches (and their waste) are actually a very common allergen. Try to avoid these pests by washing your dishes regularly, putting away food ASAP, and sweeping up crumbs instead of pretending they’ll mosey over to the trash themselves.

12. Wash items like sheets, pillowcases, and rugs at least once a week.

Be honest: How often do you currently wash these things? You don’t even need to tell us. Just know that, if it’s less often than once a week, it’s time for a change. To cut down on dust mites and other allergens, you should wash these objects weekly in 130 degree Fahrenheit water, the AAAAI says.

13. Think about getting rid of your carpets if it’s really necessary (and you can swing it financially).

Dust mites love to settle into carpets. This is another reason why vacuuming is so key, Dr. Casciari says. But if you live in a place that has wall-to-wall carpeting, think it’s contributing to your asthma, and regular vacuuming doesn’t seem to be helping, it might be worth removing the carpet if your budget allows for it. “Removing carpets can be a last-ditch intervention for those with poorly controlled asthma and dust allergies,” Dr. Thomas says.

Of course, keep in mind that whether or not these tips will help depends on your specific triggers, Dr. Thomas says.

If your asthma is only exercise-induced, for instance, doing all of the above may not make an enormous difference for your condition. (It probably will make you feel like an actual domestic superhero, so there’s that.) But if your symptoms emerge in response to matter like dust mites, pollen, and animal dander, the above tips may help you put asthma in its place by keeping triggers out of yours.

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Homeopathic Company Expands Recall as FDA Warns of Potentially ‘Life-Threatening’ Infections

By Beth Mole for Ars Technica

Homeopathic product maker King Bio has now expanded a recall to include all of its water-based human and animal treatments—a vast list including nearly 600 products. The expansion comes as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it found “high levels of microbial contamination” that appears to be recurring and has the potential to cause “life-threatening” infections.

The recall expansion is the second for King Bio, which first announced a recall of just three products in July. Last week, the company voluntarily expanded the recall to include 32 child and infant products. But the FDA wasn’t satisfied.

On Tuesday, the agency issued its own alert about King Bio’s products and offered a scathing perspective of the company’s manufacturing standards and business.

In the agency’s alert, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., was quoted as saying:

“We take product-quality issues seriously, and when we see substandard
conditions during the course of our inspections—in this case
conditions that are leading to high levels of microbial contamination
with the potential to harm the public—we act swiftly to try to ensure
the products are removed from circulation.”

The alert went on to note that, in a recent FDA inspection of King Bio’s manufacturing facility, the agency discovered that “several” microbial contaminants had turned up in the company’s products, including the bacteria Burkholderia multivorans. This is an opportunistic pathogen that causes severe illnesses in people with compromised immune systems and is a rare but emerging cause of meningitis.

The FDA added that it also found evidence indicating “recurring microbial contamination associated with the water system used to manufacture drug products.”

After King Bio issued the first expanded recall on August 22, the FDA immediately notified the company that it needed to do more.

“The FDA contacted King Bio on August 23, 2018 and recommended the company again expand its recall to include all products that use water as an ingredient, including drug products for humans and animals,” the agency explained in the alert.

King Bio has now done that, recalling an exhaustive list of nearly 600 water-based products intended for use by adults, children, infants, and pets. The products are sold under the brand names Dr. King’s: Natural Medicine, Aquaflora, Natural Pet Pharmaceuticals, SafeCareRx, Natural Veterinary, and Safecare. Consumers can view the full lists here and here.

King Bio’s founder and president, naturopath Frank King, who goes by “Dr. King,” issued a statement on the company’s website about the expansion, explaining:

“While there have been no reports of illness or injury due to any of
our products, we chose to issue the recall out of an abundance of
caution…We are truly sorry for the inconvenience or concern our
recall may have caused, but we felt this was the right thing to do to
maintain your trust.”

In an email to Ars, a King Bio representative declined to comment further on the issue, including requests for comment on the FDA’s concerns about manufacturing conditions or what the company was doing to correct the contamination issue.

The FDA, meanwhile, appears to want to make something of an example of King Bio. Last December, the agency said it would crack down on makers of homeopathic products, and the actions against King Bio seem to be part of that effort.

Dr. Gottlieb went on to say in the alert:

“In recent years, we’ve seen a large uptick in products labeled as
homeopathic that are being marketed for a wide array of diseases and
conditions, from the common cold to cancer. In addition to our
concerns with contamination, some homeopathic products may not deliver
any benefit and have the potential to cause harm. That’s why we’ve
taken steps in the last year to advance a new regulatory approach to
prioritize additional enforcement and regulatory actions against
certain homeopathic products. We’re focused on products that have the
greatest potential to cause risk to patients, including products for
vulnerable populations like children. In the past year, we’ve also
taken actions against homeopathic products that were making unproven
drug claims.”

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Eating in 10-hour window can override disease-causing genetic defects, nurture health

Scientists at the Salk Institute found that mice lacking the biological clocks thought to be necessary for a healthy metabolism could still be protected against obesity and metabolic diseases by having their daily access to food restricted to a 10-hour window.

The work, which appeared in the journal Cell Metabolism on August 30, 2018, suggests that the health problems associated with disruptions to animals’ 24-hour rhythms of activity and rest — which in humans is linked to eating for most of the day or doing shift work — can be corrected by eating all calories within a 10-hour window.

“For many of us, the day begins with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning and ends with a bedtime snack 14 or 15 hours later,” says Satchidananda Panda, a professor in Salk’s Regulatory Biology Laboratory and the senior author of the new paper. “But restricting food intake to 10 hours a day, and fasting the rest, can lead to better health, regardless of our biological clock.”

Every cell in mammals’ bodies operates on a 24-hour cycle known as the circadian rhythm — cellular cycles that govern when various genes are active. For example, in humans, genes for digestion are more active earlier in the day while genes for cellular repair are more active at night. Previously, the Panda lab discovered that mice allowed 24-hour access to a high-fat diet became obese and developed a slew of metabolic diseases including high cholesterol, fatty liver and diabetes. But these same mice, when restricted to the high-fat diet for a daily 8- to 10-hour window became lean, fit and healthy. The lab attributed the health benefits to keeping the mice in better sync with their cellular clocks — for example, by eating most of the calories when genes for digestion were more active.

In the current study, the team aimed to better understand the role of circadian rhythms in metabolic diseases by disabling genes responsible for maintaining the biological clock in mice, including in the liver, which regulates many metabolic functions. The genetic defects in these clock-less mice make them prone to obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease and elevated blood cholesterol. These diseases further escalate when the animals are allowed to eat fatty and sugary food.

To test whether time-restricted eating could benefit these “clock-less” mice, Panda’s team put them on one of two high-fat diet regimes: one group had access to food around the clock, the other had access to the same number of calories only during a 10-hour window. As the team expected, the group that could eat at any time became obese and developed metabolic diseases. But the group that ate the same number of calories within a 10-hour window remained lean and healthy — despite not having an internal “biological clock” and thereby genetically programmed to be morbidly sick. This told the researchers that the health benefits from a 10-hour window were not just due to restricting eating to times when genes for digestion were more active.

“From the previous study, we had been under the impression that the biological clock was internally timing the process of turning genes for metabolism on and off at predetermined times,” says Amandine Chaix, a staff scientist at Salk and the paper’s first author. “And while that may still be true, this work suggests that by controlling the animals’ feeding and fasting cycles, we can basically override the lack of an internal timing system with an external timing system.”

According to the researchers, the new work suggests that the primary role of circadian clocks may be to tell the animal when to eat and when to stay away from food. This internal timing strikes a balance between sufficient nutrition during the fed state and necessary repair or rejuvenation during fasting. When this circadian clock is disrupted, as when humans do shift work, or when it is compromised due to genetic defects, the balance between nutrition and rejuvenation breaks down and diseases set in.

As we age, our circadian clocks weaken. This age-dependent deterioration of circadian clock parallels our increased risk for metabolic diseases, heart diseases, cancer and dementia.

But the good news, say the researchers, is that a simple lifestyle such as eating all food within 10 hours can restore balance, stave off metabolic diseases and maintain health. “Many of us may have one or more disease-causing defective genes that make us feel helpless and destined to be sick. The finding that a good lifestyle can beat the bad effects of defective genes opens new hope to stay healthy,” says Panda.

The lab next plans to study whether eating within 8-10 hours can prevent or reverse many diseases of aging, as well as looking at how the current study could apply to humans. Their website, mycircadianclock.org, allows people anywhere in the world to sign up for studies, download an app and get guidance on how to adopt an optimum daily eating-fasting cycle. By collecting daily eating and health status data from thousands of people, the lab hopes to gain a better understanding of how a daily eating-fasting cycle sustains health.

Why I Love Using the Under Armour Sport Wireless Train Headphones When I Lift—and Think You Will Too

I’ve never met a pair of earbuds that actually stays put in my ears through a full workout. The problem is that most are too large to fit properly in the first place, so they pop out the second I so much as breathe. Because listening to either a podcast or music during a workout is totally nonnegotiable for me, I often end up spending half my workout messing around with my earbuds to get them to actually stay put. It’s distracting and frustrating, and oftentimes, I’ll just pull them out and forgo entertainment altogether to avoid the problem.

When I’m running, I’m more willing to battle with my earbuds than when I’m lifting, because I’m not really doing anything with my hands anyway. But if I’m lifting weights in a gym, I really don’t want to worry about adjusting anything while I have weights in my hands. Plus, I’d rather wear a pair of on-ear headphones that will drown out the other noises in a busy gym (mine is never not packed). Something that I can slip over my head that will actually stay in place makes for a much more enjoyable experience.

So when Under Armour gave me a pair of the new Sport Wireless Train by JBL headphones ($200, jbl.com), I decided to take them for a spin (well, multiple). I tested them over the course of a week, using them both in the gym and on a run, to check out the features and see if they’d be a good go-to for me. Here are all the details.

The headphones are wireless, easy to use, and comfortable. Plus, they really stay in place once you put them on.

When you turn the headphones on, they make a car ignition noise. Completely unnecessary, but a nice touch. The volume and track controls are located on the right ear cup, so you can just reach up and press the button you need. The headphones were easy to pair with my iPhone via Bluetooth, are completely wireless (it does come with an audio cable in case you need it), and according to Under Armour, hold a charge for up to 16 hours. I did not work out for 16 hours in one week, so I don’t know yet if this is true, though there’s still power after two weightlifting sessions, three morning commutes, and one run. There’s also a speed charge function that gives you an hours-worth of juice with just five minutes on the charger. The charging cable is short and simple and plugs into a USB.

These headphones are really comfortable—there’s a cushion with slightly grippy material lining the headband. They’re adjustable, so I was able to fit them pretty perfectly around my head and ears. And since they are sturdy and fit snugly, these headphones definitely stay in place. Through deadlifts and planks, bent-over rows and crunches, they really didn’t move much. It honestly was such a relief to not have to fiddle with them every couple minutes like I inevitably do with any and all earbuds.

I also like that the ear cushions are smaller than other over-ear headphones I’ve tried. I always feel like headphones end up covering the entire side of my face (again, small ears over here), but these were more petite, which I appreciated. Speaking of the cushions—they’re densely padded and don’t pinch or rub or otherwise lay weird.

The best part about the ear cushions? You can wash them.

Unfortunately, they’re not machine-washable (that would be the dream), just hand-washable…but still. I love that after a sweaty workout, I can pop these ear cushions off and suds them up so that they’re fresh and clean for next time. The material is supposedly quick-drying, too, but I haven’t tried it yet myself so I can’t confirm. As someone who sweats a lot, no matter what workout I’m doing, this is much appreciated. It just kind of skeeves me out to think about wearing headphones over and over again without being able to remove all the grossness from the padded area. Also, the headphones themselves are sweat resistant, which is something I definitely need if I’m going to hold onto these for the long haul.

But the coolest feature is, in my opinion, the function that allows you to hear someone who’s talking to you IRL without having to take off your headphones.

OK so, let me explain. The Under Armour logo on the right ear cup is actually a big button. When you press it, the volume of whatever you’re listening to lowers and external microphones turn on so you can have a conversation with someone without having to take off your headphones. This, to me, is one of those awesome tech features that makes a new product actually cool and different. Of course you could pause the music and slip the headphones off one of your ears so you can chat with a friend, but for someone who doesn’t have their phone sitting right next to them on the weight bench or wants the interruption to be as minimal as possible, this is really cool.

You can definitely run in them, but it’s not ideal for a few reasons.

I decided to try running in these, and while they definitely stayed in place, there were some things I didn’t love.

The immediate downside was that the headphones created a sort of wind tunnel. It wasn’t a super windy day, but for some reason, the wind seemed to be catching in the headphones and creating this whooshing noise kind of like when you’re on the phone with someone who you can hear is clearly in a very windy place. My best guess is that it’s because of the external microphones. I could still hear my podcast, but I did turn the volume up a notch or two (probably not the best idea safety-wise) throughout my run to compensate.

And then after a couple miles, the pads started to feel a little stifling. I sweat the most when I run and it’s been stifling hot here in New York, and the ear cushions kind of just trapped the heat and sweat to the point that it was a little uncomfortable. Again, I could still listen to my music and I kept running, but I was glad when I got home and could take them off to get some airflow.

My verdict on running with these headphones: If they were the only pair of headphones I had charged, I would grab them and go. But I wouldn’t choose them over a more minimal earbud (even ones that I do need to fiddle with at regular intervals), especially in the heat.

My verdict overall: These are great workout headphones with some cool new features that make them stand out from other choices. Just save them for lifting sessions and daily use.

The great fit, comfort, cool technology, washable cushions, easy-access control buttons, and lack of any cord whatsoever make this a really solid pair of headphones to lift weights in. I’ve also been wearing them at my desk, because they fit so well and the sound quality is great, both for podcasts as well as music. Bonus points for the fact that they fold up and fit into a structured, ventilated carrying case.

Also, for what it’s worth, I hear that The Rock is coming out with his own version as part of his collab with Under Armour, so they’ve got his seal of approval too—which might mean more to you than mine and I wouldn’t blame you.

Buy them: Under Armour Sport Wireless Train by JBL ($200, jbl.com)

‘Queer Eye’ Star Karamo Brown Reveals He Attempted Suicide 12 Years Ago

Queer Eye star Karamo Brown is speaking up about his own suicide attempt to help fans who might be dealing with similar mental health issues.

“Hey friends, so I decided to do a quick little video about the fact that I shared that today in 2006, I did attempt to commit suicide,” he began in a video posted to his Instagram Thursday.

“You know, I was in a very dark place. I just felt like life could not get any better, everything that was happening to me was never going to change, and I tried to take my own life. And if it wasn’t for my best friends Raymond and Tre calling the ambulance, getting me off the couch, I probably would not be here today.”

He then went on to explain why helping people through their experiences with mental health issues takes up so much of his work.

“I want you all to know that, as you see me on Queer Eye helping people with their mental health, and you see me on my social media helping people, it’s because it’s important to me,” he continued. “Not just because I’m trained in this field, but because I know so many of us suffer from mental health issues and we just don’t know where to turn, and every day seems darker and darker.” (Brown revealed in a Nylon interview from June that he worked as a social worker and psychotherapist for almost 12 years before shifting gears to television.)

He wrapped up the video with more words of support and implored his followers to be proactive in helping out friends who might be struggling. “I want you to know that things do get better. If you get help and you do the work daily, your life can change. I’m living proof of that,” he said. “And if you know someone in your life who is going through it, reach out to them. You could be their support.”

In the caption, Brown explained that he was inspired to do the video by everyone’s “kind words” over his decision to share about his suicide attempt in an earlier Instagram post. He also included shout-outs to his friends Raymond and Tre, as well as the Trevor Project, the crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth.

“As a mental health professional I believe We all need to make our Mental Health a priority,” he wrote. “[Whether] you’re sad, depressed or suicidal like I was… you can make it through. There is a better day around the corner with support. Big thank you to @rayauxais & @treatomic I love you both more thank you’ll ever know. If you need help call 1-800-273-8255.”

If you or someone you know is going through a crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.

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A Sex Educator Answers Your Biggest Questions About the G-Spot

What is the deal with the G-spot? Over the years (and, frankly decades) there have been a lot conflicting ideas about what a G-spot actually is—or if it even exists. As a sex coach and educator, I’m constantly asked about the G-spot, having G-spot orgasms, and how to find the G-spot in the first place. My inbox is positively overflowing with these questions.

So let’s answer them, shall we? Here is everything you need to know about the G-spot. Join me as we unravel some of the most common myths and misconceptions.

Is the G-spot real?

If you’re looking for information about the G-spot online, you’re likely to encounter one of two messages, at opposite ends of the spectrum. They look something like this: X Tips to Find Your G-Spot and Experience G-Spot Orgasms Forever and Ever, or, conversely, The G-Spot Is a Myth!!!

To be perfectly clear: The G-spot definitely is real. Why is there so much controversy? It is much more complicated than we might expect. Like, for one thing, it isn’t actually a spot.

There’s no single anatomical structure that is the G-spot. It was first described in the 1950s by a German gynecologist named Ernst Gräfenberg. In 1982, a group of sex researchers published a book in which they hypothesized that the area Gräfenberg discovered comprised various tissues, glands, and nerves. They called it the Gräfenberg spot, G-spot, for short—a misnomer that really stuck.

Where is the G-Spot?

While many theories abound about the G-spot, its role in pleasure, and whether or not it is a myth, it is widely understood by medical professionals and sexuality experts to be a part of the urethral-clitoral complex. The clitoris is more than the small bud you see at the top of the vulva. The clitoris extends inside the body, up to 5 inches, well into the labia and abdomen. The G-spot is part of the clitoris—the back end of the internal structure of the clitoris, that is—located behind the pubic bone. It is a walnut-textured patch surrounding the urethral sponge and canal. (It can expand to a wider area, depending on a woman’s body.)

How to find the G-spot.

In its location at the apex of the clitoris, the G-spot can only be reached internally, through the vaginal opening. You cannot just put something inside of the vagina and hit the G-spot. It is way up there at a curve—not in easy reach of the penis. You usually need your (or your partner’s) fingers in a curved position facing front to reach the G-spot, Or you can use a G-spot toy designed for this specific purpose purpose.

As the G-spot isn’t easily reached during P-in-the-V sex, it doesn’t always play a part in intercourse—though it’s definitely possible. With rear-entry penetration—in a position like doggy-style or reverse-cowgirl—you’re more likely to hit it.

What is a G-spot orgasm—and can I have one?

Pinpointed, concentrated stimulation of the G-spot area may be desirable and pleasure-inducing for some people. The area contains many ducts and glands, including the Skene’s gland, which plays a crucial part in “squirting,” or female ejaculation, a hotly debated, poorly understood topic in its own right. Penetrative intercourse usually doesn’t hit the G-spot, as I mentioned before, so you will want to use your fingers and/or a toy to explore what kind of pressure feels good to you.

Its capacity to offer sexual pleasure varies from person to person. Some women enjoy internal G-spot stimulation during sexual play, some do not. Some people enjoy more widespread stimulation of the whole area behind the pubic bone—and you might be into something else entirely. Don’t get hung up on making a G-spot orgasm happen: Most women require external stimulation of the glans clitoris (the part you can see) to experience orgasm—or at least to get the most out of one.

Listen, G-spot orgasms are not the Grand Poobah of orgasmic pleasure.

One of the (many, many) things that leaves sexuality educators and professionals extremely perturbed is the false idea that G-spot, or vaginal, orgasms are not only possible for everyone, but that they are somehow the “preferred” type of orgasm.

We’ve been wrongly pushed towards a myth of the “higher quality” of vaginal orgasm since the days of Freud. When the G-spot was brought into the sexual fold in the 1950s (and then again in the 1970s/1980s), the orgasm hierarchy was reaffirmed.

The truth is, every orgasm is valid and no one type is better than another. If you prefer internal stimulation alone, external stimulation alone, or a combination of both internal and external pleasure, it doesn’t matter. And, by the way, orgasms are not the be all and end all of sex. If you are enjoying a sexual experience and it feels pleasurable to you, that is all the matters. However you like to be touched is normal, healthy, and fabulous.

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @GigiEngle.

The low impact of the high-speed train on international tourism

At the height of the tourist season, a study by the Applied Economics & Management, Research Group, based at the University of Seville, is a pioneering analysis of the relationship between the high-speed train and tourism in Europe, in contrast with tourism’s relationship with the plane.

For the Economics Professor, José Ignacio Castillo Manzano, there is undeniably a complementary relationship between air travel and the high-speed train, which would justify the development of joint strategies, starting with rail connections between airports and railway stations with high-speed connections, and going as far as joint plane and high-speed train tickets, as are already sold by one airline. However, and although both means of transport favour tourism, European experience indicates that their influence is very different.

The plane has a close and direct relationship with both national and international tourism. Additionally, not only is it related to a higher volume of visitors, but there is also a relationship with longer stays, especially for international tourism.

In contrast, according to Castillo Manzano, “the relationship the high-speed train has is mostly with national tourism, and it lacks any significant influence on international tourism.” For the professor, in the case of Spain, “a larger presence of foreign tourists on the AVE in Spain would act as a mere optical illusion on the supposed relevance of this means of transport on international tourism as, really, the great majority of these tourists have come via the many and cheap flight connections that our airports offer. If the AVE network did not exist, these tourists would instead travel around the country using the greater number of and more frequent domestic flight connections that would exist if the AVE wasn’t there.” According to this study, there is not even any empirical evidence that, thanks to high-speed train connections, foreign tourists extend their stays in the country.

Of course, the relationship of the high-speed train with national tourism is much closer and more positive than the plane’s. But, for Castillo Manzano, the share of earnings that are generated by our high-speed train in the fomentation of domestic tourism remains to be studied. Giving as an example the first AVE line between Madrid and Seville, he explains that “although there is no doubt that this was very important in Seville being able to attract many more tourists from the centre of the peninsula, especially in the nineties, while the planned high-speed train network has been developed, incorporating new cities, it is very probable that the more significant part of the money earned goes to Madrid. Doubtlessly, what has happened is a significant improvement in access facilities from our country’s main cities to the capital. Thanks to the AVE, Madrid is now the easiest place to organise a national conference, a work meeting or for ordinary Spanish people to have a weekend break to, for example, see a musical or a new exhibition at the Prado. However, tourists that come from Madrid do not only head for Seville, rather they visit different cities on the AVE.”

On the other hand, the study also concludes that those countries with a lower per capita income and lower prices in the tourist sector are those that attract more foreign tourists, whereas the more developed a country is, the more national tourism it generates. So, for the professor, encouraging the economic development of a country is also a magnificent policy for promoting domestic tourism.

In contrast, if we are speaking about attracting foreign tourism, for Castillo good airport management and infrastructure is fundamental. “There are few more effective tourism policies than the setting of optimal airport taxes that favour the opening of new routes and increased flight frequency and combat the highly seasonal nature of the tourism industry.” In this way, “the good working of the pairing of transport and tourism is the best guarantee of the future of the sector, hence the need to contribute to finding long-term solutions to problems related to transport that threaten, as with the taxi sector, systemic delays at some airports, or labour problems as experienced by Ryanair.”

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Materials provided by University of Seville. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Bodily sensations give rise to conscious feelings

Humans constantly experience an ever-changing stream of subjective feelings that is only interrupted during sleep and deep unconsciousness. Finnish researches show how the subjective feelings map into five major categories: positive emotions, negative emotions, cognitive functions, somatic states, and illnesses. All these feelings were imbued with strong bodily sensations.

“These results show that conscious feelings stem from bodily feedback. Although consciousness emerges due to brain function and we experience our consciousness to be “housed” in the brain, bodily feedback contributes significantly to a wide variety of subjective feelings,” tells Associate Professor Lauri Nummenmaa from Turku PET Centre.

According to the researchers, emotions vividly colour all our feelings as pleasant or unpleasant. It is possible that during evolution, consciousness has originally emerged to inform the organisms and others around about tissue damage and well-being. This development may have paved for the emergence of language, thinking and reasoning.

“Subjective well-being is an important determinant of our prosperity, and pain and negative emotions are intimately linked with multiple somatic and psychological illnesses. Our findings help to understand how illnesses and bodily states in general influence our subjective well-being. Importantly, they also demonstrate the strong embodiment of cognitive and emotional states,” says Nummenmaa.

The study was conducted in the form of an online questionnaire in which more than 1,000 people participated. The participants first evaluated a total of 100 feeling states in terms of how much they are experienced in the body and mind, and how emotional and controllable they are. Next, they also evaluated how similar the feelings are with respect to each other, and whereabouts in the body they are felt.

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Materials provided by University of Turku. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Sharp rise in essay cheating globally, with millions of students involved

A breakthrough study by Swansea University has revealed that the use of contract cheating, where students pay someone else to write their assignments, is rising rapidly around the world.

For the study, published in Frontiers in Education, Professor Phil Newton from Swansea University, analysed 71 survey samples from 65 studies dating back as far as 1978, covering 54,514 participants.

Because the products of essay-mills are designed to be difficult to detect, it is hard to develop objective measures of contract cheating. This new study therefore systematically reviewed findings from prior ‘self-report’ research papers; questionnaire based studies wherein students were asked if they had ever paid someone else to undertake work for them.

The findings of the research show that as many as one in seven recent graduates may have paid someone to undertake their assignment for them, potentially representing 31 million students across the globe.

Across the sample, contract cheating was self-reported by a historic average of 3.5% of students, but this was shown to be increasing significantly over time. In studies from 2014 to present, the percentage of students admitting to paying someone else to undertake their work was 15.7%. Cheating, in general, also appeared to be on the rise according to the studies reviewed.

Professor Newton suggests that the data he found is actually likely to underestimate levels of contract cheating, for the simple reason that students who engage in contract cheating are less likely to volunteer to participate in surveys about cheating.

Essay-mills are currently legal in the UK, although they are banned in the USA and New Zealand, while other countries are actively developing legislation. Professor Newton warns: “The UK risks becoming a country where essay-mills find it easy to do business.”

Commenting on the results of his research, Professor Newton, director of learning and teaching at Swansea University Medical School, says:

“These findings underscore the need for legislation to tackle essay-mills, alongside improvements in the way students are assessed and awareness-raising of the fundamentals of academic integrity. We need to utilise assessment methods that promote learning and at the same time reduce the likelihood that contract cheating can happen.”

A proposal for a new law emerged from previous research by Professor Newton, in collaboration with Professor Michael Draper from the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law at Swansea University. The proposal came from their earlier study, which concluded that existing UK laws would not be effective in tackling Essay Mills. There is currently an active petition calling for the government to introduce a new law.

Both Professor Newton and Professor Draper were authors of a report issued by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) last year, which contained advice and guidance for higher education providers and staff on many different approaches to contract cheating. Earlier research from Professor Newton showed that academic integrity is not a topic that is routinely covered in teacher training programmes for staff and that students have a poor understanding of the consequences of engaging in contract cheating.

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Materials provided by Swansea University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Sudden Death in Young People: Heart Problems Often Blamed

Sudden death in people younger than 35, often due to undiscovered heart defects or overlooked heart abnormalities, is rare. When these sudden deaths occur, it’s often during physical activity, such as playing a sport, and more often occurs in males than in females.

Millions of elementary, high school, and college athletes compete yearly without incident. If you or your child is at risk of sudden death, talk to your doctor about precautions you can take.

How common is sudden cardiac death in young people?

Most deaths due to cardiac arrest are in older adults, particularly those with coronary artery disease. Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in young athletes, but the incidence of it is unclear. Perhaps 1 in every 50,000 sudden cardiac deaths a year occurs in young athletes.

What can cause sudden cardiac death in young people?

The causes of sudden cardiac death in young people vary. Most often, death is due to a heart abnormality.

For a variety of reasons, something causes the heart to beat out of control. This abnormal heart rhythm is known as ventricular fibrillation.

Some specific causes of sudden cardiac death in young people include:

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). In this usually inherited condition, the walls of the heart muscle thicken. The thickened muscle can disrupt the heart’s electrical system, leading to fast or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias), which can lead to sudden cardiac death.

    Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, although not usually fatal, is the most common cause of heart-related sudden death in people under 30. It’s the most common identifiable cause of sudden death in athletes. HCM often goes undetected.

  • Coronary artery abnormalities. Sometimes people are born with heart arteries (coronary arteries) that are connected abnormally. The arteries can become compressed during exercise and not provide proper blood flow to the heart.

  • Long QT syndrome. This inherited heart rhythm disorder can cause fast, chaotic heartbeats, often leading to fainting. Young people with long QT syndrome have an increased risk of sudden death.

Other causes of sudden cardiac death in young people include structural abnormalities of the heart, such as undetected heart disease that was present at birth (congenital) and heart muscle abnormalities.

Other causes include inflammation of the heart muscle, which can be caused by viruses and other illnesses. Besides long QT syndrome, other abnormalities of the heart’s electrical system, such as Brugada syndrome, can cause sudden death.

Commotio cordis, another rare cause of sudden cardiac death that can occur in anyone, occurs as the result of a blunt blow to the chest, such as being hit by a hockey puck or another player. The blow to the chest can trigger ventricular fibrillation if the blow strikes at exactly the wrong time in the heart’s electrical cycle.

Are there symptoms or red flags parents, coaches, and others should be on the lookout for that signal a young person is at high risk of sudden cardiac death?

Many times these deaths occur with no warning, indications to watch for include:

  • Unexplained fainting (syncope). If this occurs during physical activity, it could be a sign that there’s a problem with your heart.
  • Family history of sudden cardiac death. The other major warning sign is a family history of unexplained deaths before the age of 50. If this has occurred in your family, talk with your doctor about screening options.

Shortness of breath or chest pain could indicate that you’re at risk of sudden cardiac death. They could also indicate other health problems in young people, such as asthma.

Can sudden death in young people be prevented?

Sometimes. If you’re at high risk of sudden cardiac death, your doctor will usually suggest that you avoid competitive sports. Depending on your underlying condition, medical or surgical treatments might be appropriate to reduce your risk of sudden death.

Another option for some, such as those with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, is an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). This pager-sized device implanted in your chest like a pacemaker continuously monitors your heartbeat. If a life-threatening arrhythmia occurs, the ICD delivers electrical shocks to restore a normal heart rhythm.

Who should be screened for sudden death risk factors?

There’s debate in the medical community about screening young athletes to attempt to identify those at high risk of sudden death.

Some countries such as Italy screen young people with an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), which records the electrical signals in the heart. However, this type of screening is expensive and can produce false-positive results—indications that an abnormality or disease is present when it isn’t—which can cause unnecessary worry and additional tests.

It’s not clear that routine exams given before athletes are cleared to play competitive sports can prevent sudden cardiac death. However, they might help identify some who are at increased risk.

For anyone with a family history or risk factors for conditions that cause sudden cardiac death, further screening is recommended. Repeat screening of family members is recommended over time, even if the first heart evaluation was normal.

Should young people with a heart defect avoid physical activity?

If you’re at risk of sudden cardiac death, talk to your doctor about physical activity. Whether you can participate in exercise or sports depends on your condition.

For some disorders, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, it’s often recommended that you avoid most competitive sports and that if you have an ICD, you should avoid impact sports. But this doesn’t mean you need to avoid exercise. Talk to your doctor about restrictions on your activity.

Updated: 2017-03-04

Publication Date: 2007-05-23