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A "Shocking" Number of People in the UK Are Dying from Asthma

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In the United States, 8.3 percent of adults suffer from asthma, a chronic inflammation of the lungs that can cause breathing difficulties. Most cases can be controlled with medication, including the use of inhalers, and by avoiding pollen and other allergens. Deaths are relatively rare, with fatal asthma attacks occurring at the rate of 1.1 per 100,000 people.

In the UK, people with asthma don't seem to be faring as well. A report from the charity and advocacy group Asthma UK, highlighted by Konbini, found that a "truly shocking" number of people are dying from asthma attacks in Britain. Roughly 1400 people, or 2.21 per 100,000, died as a result of an asthma attack in 2015, a number that has been increasing by 20 percent annually since 2011. It's 50 percent higher than the average in the European Union.

Even more worrying: Experts aren't quite sure why.

Samantha Walker, Asthma UK's director of research and policy, said that a lack of understanding by health care professionals could be playing a part. Asthma requires monitoring of medication and ongoing consultation with patients to have the best chance of managing the condition. Patient education is also below par, with research indicating only one in six sufferers believes the condition can be fatal. In a press release, Asthma UK asserts that two-thirds of the deaths could have been prevented with basic care and monitoring.

The group is hoping to raise awareness by petitioning the UK's National Health Service to invest in better testing for the condition and for government funding to pursue a cure.

[h/t Konbini]

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The CDC Makes It Official: Public Pools Are Disgusting
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Every summer, warm weather sends people across the country looking for a cool refuge in public pools, hotel pools, spas, and other water-based destinations. Before you take the plunge, you may want to heed the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Jumping into a publicly-populated pool could be like bathing in someone else’s diarrhea, as Men’s Health reports.

The health agency revealed its findings in their Mortality and Morbidity Report, which explains why pools are ground zero for bacteria. Between 2000 and 2014, the CDC traced 493 outbreaks and over 27,000 cases of illness that could be connected to exposure to a public pool. The primary culprit was Cryptosporidium, a parasite found in feces that causes intestinal distress. The determined little bugs can survive for up to seven days after encountering the CDC’s recommended levels of one to three parts per million (PPM) of free chlorine. Even if the pool is being cleaned and maintained properly, Cryptosporidium can idle long enough to infect someone else. The report also indicated that Legionella (which causes Legionnaire’s disease) and Pseudomonas (responsible for ear infections and folliculitis) were found in some of the pools.

The problem is likely the result of swimmers entering the pool while suffering from an upset stomach and leaving trace fecal matter behind. The CDC recommends that you not enter a public pool if you feel unwell, that you ask for a pool inspection report if you’re concerned about the hygiene of the facility, and that you absolutely not swallow any water. The agency also recommends that any pool owner who has experienced a “diarrheal incident” in their water opt for hyperchlorination to kill bacteria.

[h/t Men’s Health]

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Sleeping In on Weekends May Help You Catch Up on Sleep After All
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Weekend mornings are a precious time for nine-to-fivers. If you spend your weekdays staying up long past reasonable bedtime hours and waking up with the Sun, you may be tempted to sleep past noon every day off you get. Sleeping in feels great, and now a new study from sleep scientists at Stockholm University's Stress Research Institute finds that it may also be an effective way to make up for the sleep you missed during the week, contradicting previously held beliefs on the matter.

According to most sleep researchers, the only way to catch up on sleep debt is to adjust your sleeping patterns gradually over time—in other words, cramming in all the sleep you missed last week into a night or two won't cut it. A team of scientists reexamined this theory for their study published in the Journal of Sleep Research [PDF]. Researchers looked at the sleep data from about 44,000 Swedish adults collected in 1997 and followed up with the participants 13 years later. Accounting for factors like age, gender, and education, they report that adults who consistently slept for five hours or fewer throughout the week were more likely to have died after those 13 years than subjects who slept for six or seven hours, seven days a week. Oversleeping every day of the week also put participants at a greater risk of mortality.

But there's good news for people who do all their sleeping in on the weekend—subjects who under-slept five days and slept more during the last two days of the week had no greater risk of death than the people who got healthy amounts of sleep every night of the week. The results call into question past sleep studies that have only looked at sleep patterns during the week, ignoring weekend behaviors. The new study, though, focuses just on the sleeping habits of people at a specific point in time. To confirm what these results suggest, more long-term studies will need to be conducted.

Earlier mortality isn't the only health risk associated with unsatisfactory sleep habits: Getting too little or poor-quality sleep can mess with your memory, appetite, and cognitive and motor performance. That means finding time to get a good night's sleep, no matter the day of the week (if you're lucky enough to have the option), is still the healthiest course of action.

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