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.

The Northern Hemisphere is in the midst of yet another record-breaking heat wave. 1,700 people died from heat-related causes in Spain and Portugal over the past week. The heat is now battering the United Kingdom. Simultaneously, dangerous levels of heat are blanketing large swaths of the United States. Extra-high temperatures are perilous for everyone, but they are even more so for the elderly, people who need electric medical equipment and for those on medications with side effects that can increase their sensitivity to heat. You may need to take extra caution to remain safe when the heat rises. Heat exhaustion…

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A now world-wide outbreak of hepatitis ‘that began in fall 2021 among young children, sickening hundreds, continues nearly eight months later, as of May 2022. The medical community is searching for its cause.  Some researchers believe it may have been triggered by COVID-19 infections or by colds or other viruses. The challenge is that the term hepatitis denotes an inflammation of the liver, but in order to treat it, a doctor needs to know what caused that inflammation. That’s problematic, because a doctor must know the cause to treat it effectively. Here’s what you need to know about the many…

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Two recently authorized antiviral drugs designed to protect against the most severe outcomes of COVID-19 may be game-changers during the ongoing pandemic. Those benefits may come at a cost, however. It’s crucial that you and your healthcare providers understand these drugs’ potential side effects, so you use them as safely as possible. “Obviously, if you’ve got a serious case of COVID, you need to be treated,” despite the risk of side effects says Katherine Seley-Radtke, PhD, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. How Effective Are They? Both drugs, Lagevrio (molnupiravir) and Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and…

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Shalamar suffered from chronic insomnia. She couldn’t fall asleep after her late-night shifts as a server at a New York City bar. To address the insomnia, she sought advice from a psychiatrist who prescribed pills and told her to take them both at night and in the morning. She thought it was odd that she would need to take a pill to help her sleep during the day, but her doctor said that is how the medicine worked. She followed the doctor’s recommendations, though. “It did help me to sleep. I slept like a rock,” she says.  What her doctor…

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In the last week of September 2021, a group of more than 90 doctors and researchers published a call to action, cautioning against the liberal use of Tylenol (acetaminophen) during pregnancy. The studies suggested that exposure to the drug could increase the risk of a baby having neurodevelopmental, reproductive and urogenital disorders. The authors added, however, that Tylenol has long been considered one of the few safer options to treat pain in pregnancy, since Advil (ibuprofen) and opioids are considered riskier. They pointed out that, in some cases, a woman’s condition (fever and pain, for example) could be worse for…

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The incidence of depression and anxiety has surged among adults in the United States over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC survey suggested that from 2019 to 2020, symptoms of anxiety disorders and depression have tripled and quadrupled, respectively. As you might expect, prescriptions for antidepressant and antianxiety drugs also have spiked, according to the telehealth platform iPrescribe. While many patients with severe or chronic depression or anxiety may need to continue using these medications long term, you may think that, given the return of opportunities for working…

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A controversial new study claims healthy people — who have no prior history of mental illness — that are given antidepressants are twice as likely to become violent and suicidal as those not on the drugs. While for years antidepressants have had a strong “black box” warning on the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children, adolescents and young people taking the drugs, the study is the first to examine this risk in healthy adults. Researchers examined 13 trials involving antidepressants that enrolled a total of 612 patients. They found that health volunteers treated with antidepressants had a 1.85…

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