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.

Madeline Shonka told MedShadow it took her years to get an accurate lupus diagnosis. Even then, she had to go through trial and error with many different combinations of medications for treatment, all the while trying to decipher the best lifestyle changes to manage her condition. For example, she eventually discovered that making time for light exercise had a huge positive impact on her quality of life. Jill Dehlin, an RN who suffers from migraines, told MedShadow that tracking her symptoms helped immensely. “I recommend to everyone that I speak with to keep a journal or diary and keep track…

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A drug overdose can happen to anyone, whether you’re taking a prescription after a surgery, suffering from an opioid-use disorder or living in a home where the drugs are available and you find extras. Those who have never taken an opioid (called opioid-naive) or know little about how they will feel on an opioid, may take too much of the drug or take it too often by mistake. The difference between an effective amount of painkiller and too much can cause an overdose and death. That’s why you should discuss naloxone (Narcan) with your healthcare provider if anyone in your…

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Many patients seek sinus pain treatment not as a result of the pain itself becoming unbearable, but because it interrupts their ability to think and function, according to researchers. Plainview Hospital otolaryngologist Jay Youngerman, MD, says that some of his older patients see improved cognitive function after successful sinus pain treatment. A study published in JAMA in April showed that patients with untreated sinus pain had changes in brain activity that could cause cognitive dysfunction on fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans. Although that might sound scary to the people who suffer from sinus pain — and there are tens…

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Those who have experienced migraines know that they are very different from tension headaches.  A migraine “affects not just the head, but so many other body systems,” says Jill Dehlin, an RN and patient advocate who works with migraine patients and struggles with migraines herself. “Somebody with a headache will maybe have a throbbing on both sides of their temples. But with the migraine, they might have nausea and vomiting. They might have diarrhea or constipation. They might have dizziness or blurred vision, double vision, cognitive problems.” She added that her own migraines can cause her to jumble words, for…

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Brandy Gomez-Duplessis started using CBD hemp oil in 2017 to treat chronic pain caused by a host of illnesses — lupus, Lyme disease, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis — after a rheumatology nurse told her it’s something “on the black market” that might help relieve her pain and minimize the need for other drugs like opioid painkillers.  Opioids are known for their potentially debilitating side effects as serious as dependence and other lesser results like drowsiness. CBD, an abbreviation for cannabinoid, is found in the cannabis or marijuana plant and has gained popularity as a treatment for physical pain and anxiety.…

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Have you heard the one about the 90-year-old patient who tells the doctor his right knee hurts? The doctor says, “You’re 90. What do you expect? You’re going to have joint pain.” The patient replies, “Well, doctor, that’s an interesting concept, but you know my left knee is the exact same age, and I have no problem with that one.” Older patients — and even healthcare providers — can mistake treatable ailments as normal aging and may delay care when, in fact, they are signs of illnesses or overmedication that healthcare providers can help remedy. “Many of the common problems…

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Mother-of-four Kate Leighton, 43, found out she had PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) as a teenager. Although physicians had recommended various treatments, such as oral contraceptives to manage her menstrual cycle and Clomid (clomiphene) for fertility, no one mentioned the role of diet and exercise in PCOS management. She found those strategies by doing her own research. “On my 37th birthday, I went vegan. I lost 50 pounds, and chose the months I wanted to become pregnant. Six months of a vegan diet, and no more cysts,” she says. The goal of managing PCOS is for women to decrease the risk…

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