Medical notes this week…

At least two million Americans have chronic fatigue syndrome, and many people who have it are dismissed as having an illness that’s “all in their heads.” But now there’s a blood test for chronic fatigue that proves that it’s real. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that blood and plasma cells act in an unusual “flailing” motion when they’re stressed. In a small sample, the test was 100 percent accurate in detecting who had chronic fatigue, and who did not. Researchers hope the test will lead to much better treatment.

But now there’s a blood test for chronic fatigue that proves that it’s real. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that blood and plasma cells act in an unusual “flailing” motion when they’re stressed. In a small sample, the test was 100 percent accurate in detecting who had chronic fatigue, and who did not. Researchers hope the test will lead to much better treatment.

It doesn’t take much to stave off disability as we age. A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that just one hour of brisk walking per week among achy, older adults is enough to keep them from mobility disability. At the start of the study, research subjects all had aches, pain, or stiffness from arthritis, but no disability. Just four years later, about a quarter of those who didn’t engage in walking were functionally disabled. Those who had walked were all fine.

And finally, people like their doctor to wear a white coat, but a study from the University of Maryland finds that a lot of doctors need to change them a little more often. Thirty-five percent of doctors admit they’d worn their white coat for more than a week, and 15 percent hadn’t changed it in a month. The result? They’re teeming with bacteria. Sixteen percent of white coats even test positive for MRSA.

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