Livin' on the MDedge

Sleep apnea’s got your tongue, and singin’ in the kerosene rain


On the tip of my tongue

Deagreez/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The greatest risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea is obesity, and unsurprisingly, people who are obese and have sleep apnea very often improve their breathing when they lose weight.

But what if you’re secretly a hobbit named Peregrin Took, and you absolutely have to have both first and second breakfast? Is there any way to ease your sleep apnea?

According to a study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, weight loss in and of itself isn’t what improves sleep apnea symptoms. No, it’s something more targeted.

The secret to improving sleep apnea is ... tongue fat.

The patients in the study lost about 10% of their body weight over 6 months, and experienced a 31% improvement in sleep apnea scores. MRIs done before and after the intervention showed that, while reductions in pterygoid and pharyngeal lateral wall volumes helped, the reduction of tongue fat volume was the primary link between weight loss and sleep apnea improvement.

The Livin’ on the MDedge team eagerly awaits the dawning of the tongue weight-loss industry, thanks to this new research. Tongue diets. Tongue exercise. Pretty soon you’ll be able to buy “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” DVDs featuring tongues in bad ’80s Spandex flopping all over the place. Have your cake and eat it too – just don’t let your tongue know.

The rain falls mainly from the plane


Why does rain inspire music? Gene Kelly sang in it. Prince crooned about its purple hue. The Weather Girls gave vocal thanks for a downpour of men. And kids will joyfully create a symphony of mud in a summer shower.

But what if it rains on the playground? On a sunny day? Kids will definitely sing the blues, right?

Especially when the shower’s not water.

Shortly after takeoff from Los Angeles International Airport this week, Delta Air Lines Flight 89 to Shanghai developed engine problems. Which sent Flight 89 right back to LAX. Not wanting to land a distressed Boeing 777 with wings full of explosive aviation fuel, the pilot began dumping his Jet A-1 kerosene as he circled back to the airport.

Which fell to earth as a mist ... that blanketed five elementary schools in the middle of the school day.

The plane rain led to minor lung and skin irritation in 56 kids and adults below. But the Los Angeles County Fire Department said injuries were minor, and the drizzling jet fuel evaporated quickly.

Given the absence of serious injuries, it’s clear the Los Angeles students heeded at least one public health message during the kerosene shower: Nobody was engaged in outdoor underage smoking.

And the Inventing Oscar goes to ...


For many people, the new year means the announcement of the Oscar nominations.

We here at LOTME have been waiting for an announcement that comes at the beginning of each year, but it has nothing to do with who got snubbed by the Academy. We’re talking about something really big: the National Inventors Hall of Fame class of 2020.

As usual, we were not disappointed. The world of health care was well represented among this year’s inductees.

At the head of the class, at least alphabetically, is R. Rox Anderson, who developed groundbreaking laser technology (patent number 5,595,568) used in medical treatments and procedures. Then there’s James McEwen, who invented the first microprocessor-controlled automatic surgical tourniquet system (patent number 4,469,099).

Posthumous NIHF nominations went to Stewart Adams and John Nicholson, the codevelopers of 2-(4-isobutylphenyl) propionic acid, which we know as ibuprofen (patent number 3,228,831). Adams, a pharmacologist, and Nicholson, an organic chemist, worked for Boots Pure Drug Co. in England during the 1950s and 1960s while they collaborated on the drug’s creation.

Several other nominees have somewhat-less-direct medical connections. Edward W. Bullard invented the hard hat (patent number 1,699,133), which has undoubtedly saved lives and prevented injuries. Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller, and Polly Smith invented the sports bra (patent number 4,174,717), which “has enabled women’s participation in athletic activities and advanced women’s health and well-being,” the NIHF said in a written statement.

And finally – for those of you who thought this would never end – there’s Floyd Smith, the trapeze artist turned aviator who invented the modern parachute (patent numbers 1,340,423 and 1,462,456) and kept many sky divers out of the emergency department.

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