Reporting on health and quality of life in South LA

Becoming a virutal 'Disease Detective' and allergy relief from acupuncture: In health news today

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A new study shows that acupuncture may be effective in helping reduce allergy symptoms and the need to take allergy medicine.

As L.A.'s weather roller coaster continues, going from 80 degrees to about 50 degrees within a few days, many of us are suffering from ongoing allergies. But there's hope: CBS News reports acupuncture may help ease these seasonal allergies and hay fever. In a trial, researchers found 12 acupuncture treatments may help reduce the need to take allergy medicine -- at least on a short term basis. The study found that patients who received acupuncture saw improvements in their quality of life and had a lesser need for allergy medicine. But many of the acupuncture's positive effects seemed to wane a few months after treatment.

According to a new study, many people do judge a book by its cover -- especially in a hospital's Intensive Care Unit (ICU).  The Los Angeles Times reports that according to new research from JAMA Internal Medicine, families of patients in the ICU said physicians who don't have visible piercings or tattoos make a better first impression. In the survey of 337 people, each person was shown pictures of doctors and asked to select the best one. More than half of those asked chose a doctor in a white coat and traditional clothing. About one third emphasized the importance of a lack of tattoos and piercings.

Living paycheck-to-paycheck is hard on your savings account, but it may also put you at risk for high blood pressure and long-term health problems including heart disease and stroke. NBC News' Health on Today reports that a study from the European Journal of Public Health concluded that workers with the lowest wages were more likely to have hypertension than workers with the highest wages. Researchers started noticing hypertension in those making $17 an hour or less. Adjusted for inflation, that's about $23 an hour, or about $47,000 a year for full-time employees.

In what may be bad news for plastic surgeons, CNN reports that last year was the first time in six years that the number of people getting cosmetic surgery on their breasts or buttocks has declined. But the number of people getting facial plastic surgery is on the rise. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2012 saw a record number of people receiving cosmetic procedures overall, and botulinum toxin injections (Botox) were by far the leading cosmetic procedure in the country.

Do you like scary disease movies like Outbreak and Contagion? Well, now you can live them through your iPad with a new app released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency has released a game called "Solve the Outbreak" that gives clues about a disease outbreak and asks players make decisions what to do next to stop it. Your score and the number of lives you save depends on the quality of your answers. Your goal is to earn the top rank of "Disease Detective."

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