Worried About Getting The Flu? Your Risk Is Tied To The Year You Were Born

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Worried About Getting The Flu? Your Risk Is Tied To The Year You Were Born

We have good news, and we have bad news. The good news is that the particular flu you were exposed to as a child probably gives you protection from several flu strains as an adult. The bad news is that it doesn't protect against all the others, and this makes it really hard to make a universal flu vaccine.

Vitamin C Doesn't Prevent Colds. Why Do We Think It Does?

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Vitamin C Doesn't Prevent Colds. Why Do We Think It Does?

When you feel a cold coming on, it can seem that recommendations to take lots of vitamin C are everywhere you turn. And while popping vitamin C pills and gulping vitamin-C-rich beverages probably won't do you harm, it won't do you much good either. That's because study after study has shown that vitamin C is ineffective in preventing, treating, or even speeding recovery of the common cold. The science is so conclusive, in fact, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, and the American Dietetic Association don't recommend its use for cold treatment or prevention.

For Virtual Reality Sickness, Add A Virtual Nose

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For Virtual Reality Sickness, Add A Virtual Nose

One of the biggest barriers to making virtual reality (VR) a household staple is this: it has a tendency to make people feel sick. VR sickness has been around for a lot longer than Oculus Rift. In the 1950s, U.S. Navy researchers who used a type of virtual reality to train helicopter pilots dubbed it "simulator sickness," and we've been trying to find ways to overcome it ever since. Authors of a Purdue University study that was presented at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco in 2015 may have found a solution: add a nose. For the study, 41 participants engaged in a variety of VR experiences ranging from exploring a Tuscan villa to riding a roller coaster. For half of the subjects, a fairly large virtual nose was placed at the lower center of their screens. Sure enough, those with the noses were able to stay an average of 94.2 seconds longer in the Tuscan villa simulation and 2.2 seconds longer on the roller coaster—both large effects when you consider how much faster the coaster is liable to make you sick than the villa. Researchers think that the virtual nose may have a stabilizing effect that keeps our visual and motion systems from going off-kilter. More surprisingly, none of the subjects even knew the nose was there until the researchers told them, perhaps because of the phenomenon known as unconscious selective attention. What other challenges does VR face? Explore the topic with the videos below.

Food Expiration Dates Mean Almost Nothing

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Food Expiration Dates Mean Almost Nothing

Pop quiz: you grab a jar of mayonnaise from the back of the fridge and notice that its "best by" date was yesterday. Do you throw it out, or use it on your sandwich? Good news: you're safe to use it. The "best by" date has almost nothing to do with how safe it is to consume, and, if stored properly, most condiments last for months after that date. As a general rule, a product's "use by" date is when the manufacturer thinks it might be unsafe to eat, its "best by" date is when they think the product's quality has deteriorated to a point that's no longer appealing, and its "sell by" date is to give stores a guideline for when to rotate their inventory. But because the US has no federal standards for expiration dates, even these definitions are murky. Different states and industry groups have their own regulations for how to label expiration dates, which is why you might see multiple dates on a single product. But even if there were a single standard, expiration dates are rarely a good way to know if food is safe to eat. Expiration dates are all about how long it would take for a foodborne pathogen to multiply to levels that would make you sick, but according to a 2004 paper in the Journal of Food Protection, most pathogens don't really care how long food has been in the fridge. What's more, unexpired dates can also mislead you into thinking food is safe to eat when improper handling and storage could have already made it unsafe. In the end, use your own best judgment: if something smells or tastes off, bulges or molds, or has been out of the fridge for more than two hours, throw it out. Otherwise, follow the guidelines in the accompanying video. We've also collected some other awesome videos on this topic. Watch them now to learn more.

The July Effect Makes Hospitals Riskier In July

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The July Effect Makes Hospitals Riskier In July

Every July, newly graduated medical students begin the next step in their education by becoming interns at teaching hospitals. The first month at any job can be a challenge, but in a hospital, how fast interns learn the ropes can be a matter of life or death. The risks to patients during this period are so familiar that experienced physicians have a saying: "Don't get sick in July." But even though the July Effect, as it's called, seems obvious, the research has gone back and forth. Reviews published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine in 2010 and the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2011 both found that although research varies, the highest-quality studies of the July Effect most often do find an increased risk of patient death at teaching hospitals during that month. A 2013 study in the journal Circulation found something even more interesting: overall, patients at teaching hospitals have a lower risk of death than at non-teaching hospitals, but in July, that difference disappears. Still, the research that does find an effect finds a pretty small one for the general population, so unless you're a particularly high-risk patient, there isn't overwhelming reason for concern. We've collected some awesome videos on this topic. Watch them now to learn more.

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Key Facts to Know

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    The July Effect occurs when fresh medical students start as interns at hospitals in early July. 0:09

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    According to a 2010 study, patients face a 10% increased risk of fatal medication errors at teaching hospitals in July. 0:26

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    A big-picture 2011 review found that just six of 39 studies saw the effect, but the ones deemed high quality were those more likely to find it. 0:46