Author: Emma Yasinski

Emma Yasinski

I am a freelance science and medical journalist, fascinated by how the scientific process leads to incredible discoveries, but also can lead to publication bias leaning toward positive findings and minimizing negatives. With a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Lafayette College and a Master’s in Science and Medical Journalism from Boston University, I’ve written about clinical trial transparency, organ donation, and basic molecular biology for publications like The Scientist, The Atlantic, Undark.org, Kaiser Health News, and more. At MedShadow, I research and write about the sometimes unexpected ways that medicines can affect us, and what we can do if and when it does.

Sophie Saint Thomas has been riding out hurricanes in the U.S. Virgin Islands since she was a baby. She swears she remembers the high winds of Hurricane Hugo, which hit when she was less than two years old in1989. After Hurricane Marilyn hit in 2005, she and her family lived without electricity and reliably clean drinking water for months. Now an adult, Saint Thomas has helped friends and family through numerous storms and worked with local organizations such as the Family Planning Center of St. Thomas/St. John’s after storms. After storms, she says “the biggest problem is lack of access…

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MedShadow recently posted an article in which a journalist investigates his own sleep apnea diagnosis and ends up forgoing expensive machinery and learning that sleeping on his side was all it took in his case to keep his oxygen levels stable through the night. In the Kaiser Health News article, author Jay Hancock describes an “expensive testing cascade” including an at-home test and two separate nights in a sleep lab testing for different characteristics of the condition.  Testing is not the only cascade in medicine. In recent years, researchers have started to identify “prescription cascades”—situations in which a patient is…

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A few years ago, my doctor prescribed me high doses of omeprazole (a proton pump inhibitor) to treat acid reflux twice a day. I didn’t have severe symptoms, but an endoscopy showed that the cells in my esophagus were changing toward a cancerous state to protect themselves from the acid flowing up from my stomach. For three months, I took 40mg of omeprazole each morning and evening—a typical over the counter dose is only 20mg daily—and cut out many foods that can cause acid reflux like coffee, alcohol, and my all-time favorite, dark chocolate. The next endoscopy showed my cells…

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When Zoe was 13 years old, the doctors told her she had juvenile arthritis, a diagnosis that could impact the rest of her life. For the year prior, her pain had been so severe she was walking with crutches and wearing two wrist braces. Today, she manages the condition with a combination of prescription drugs, diet, and thoughtful exercise. While physical activity is an important part of her routine, she recognized in high school that certain types—such as rowing and running—caused her more joint pain, so she switched to activities that were easier on her joints. What Is Juvenile Arthritis?…

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Read through MedShadow’s coverage of the side effects of drugs and you’ll see many of the same side effects mentioned over and over. For example, patients report nausea after taking a whole host of drugs, such as those for Lupus, HIV prevention, cancer and more. It’s crucial to differentiate side effects from symptoms, explains Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, founder of the Pharmacist Moms Group, so that you and your healthcare provider can work together to improve your care. She says, when she works with patients who are experiencing new symptoms or side effects, the first step is for her to take…

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The more aluminum a child was exposed to via vaccination by the age of 2, the more likely they were to have developed asthma by the age of 5, according to a study published in September in Academic Pediatrics. The research highlighted a potential issue that needs further study, according to experts, but it comes with caveats, and alone it cannot prove that aluminum causes asthma or suggest that physicians should stop or delay vaccines for children.  The prevalence of asthma in the United States has increased only slightly in the past two decades. In 2019, 7.8% of adults had…

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You may read the ingredients in your food. You might scan the ingredients of your medications. But, do you know what is in your vaccinations?  Typically, ingredients are included to create immunity, allow it to be long-lasting and safe, while still being effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that the ingredients included fall into the categories of: Stabilizers Adjuvants Residual Inactivating Ingredients Residual Cell Culture materials Residual antibiotics Preservatives. While you often hear about the active ingredients of vaccines, such as the mRNA, the attenuated virus, or viral particles designed to wake up our immune systems…

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You’ve been admitted to the hospital. There are nurses, doctors, physician’s assistants, and various other healthcare providers and administrators buzzing around the floor and room. Having these professionals around to prepare you for procedures and help you heal is likely crucial to your recovery, but being surrounded by all of them, in addition to other patients, and even visitors, can also put you at risk for hospital-acquired infections that can seriously compromise your health, and in some cases, even be fatal. What Are Hospital-Acquired Infections? There are a lot of germs floating around in hospitals. Patients also tend to be…

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When Jenna Bruce was a child, she received what she refers to as “a lot” of anesthesia. More often than not, she’d experience side effects of general anesthesia such as having difficulty urinating for up to 24 hours after and would require temporary hospitalization and catheterization.  Michael Champeau, MD, a pediatrician and anesthesiologist, and president-elect of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, says that difficulty urinating is unusual in children, but is a relatively common side effect of general anesthesia for adults. Over the years, doctors have improved anesthesia administration techniques so side effects, like vomiting and difficulty urinating, have become…

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When Pat (now 71) was in her 40s, her vaginal dryness became so severe that the vaginal tissue would flare with even a gentle wipe. She’d been exposed to a drug called DES (diethylstilbestrol) when she was in utero, which caused myriad health issues as she grew up, and was likely behind the dryness. For her, coconut oil made a huge difference. “If only I had known I was not alone with this personal issue,” she says. Vaginal dryness is likely more common than you think. It can affect women of any age, but is especially prevalent among those who…

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