Medications

America's endless battle against lethal drug fentanyl

In a windowless hangar at New York's John F. Kennedy airport, dozens of law enforcement officers sift through packages, looking for fentanyl—a drug that is killing Americans every day.

Health

Patients eligible for charity care instead get big bills

When Ashley Pintos went to the emergency room of St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., in 2016, with a sharp pain in her abdomen and no insurance, a representative demanded a $500 deposit before treating her.

Medical research

Easy at-home assessment of sleep bruxism

Sleep bruxism, commonly known as clenching or grinding of the teeth during sleep, affects approximately eight to 15 percent of the population. It can lead to various negative health consequences like tooth wear, facial pain ...

Medical research

Reversing polycystic kidney disease

Hereditary and relatively common, polycystic kidney disease (PKD) has long been thought to be progressive and irreversible, condemning its sufferers to a long, slow and often painful decline as fluid filled cysts develop ...

Health

Is using cannabis in front of children harmful or not?

Public health agencies are warning parents about using cannabis in the presence of their children. However, parents who use cannabis say that it makes them more empathetic, more patient and more caring towards their young ...

Neuroscience

Scientists shed light on how brains turn pain up or down

Pain perception is essential for survival, but how much something hurts can sometimes be amplified or suppressed: for example, soldiers who sustain an injury in battle often recall not feeling anything at the time.

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Pain is an unpleasant sensation often caused by intense or damaging stimuli such as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting alcohol on a cut, and bumping the "funny bone." The International Association for the Study of Pain has a definition that is widely used: "Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage".

Pain motivates the individual to withdraw from damaging situations, to protect a damaged body part while it heals, and to avoid similar experiences in the future. Most pain resolves promptly once the painful stimulus is removed and the body has healed, but sometimes pain persists despite removal of the stimulus and apparent healing of the body; and sometimes pain arises in the absence of any detectable stimulus, damage or disease.

Pain is the most common reason for physician consultation in the United States. It is a major symptom in many medical conditions, and can significantly interfere with a person's quality of life and general functioning. Psychological factors such as social support, hypnotic suggestion, excitement, or distraction can significantly modulate pain's intensity or unpleasantness.

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