Texas mom’s viral sunburn hack works, but it’s not ‘magical cure,’ dermatologists warn

A Texas mom’s “miracle” trick to soothe a sunburn within just 30 minutes may seem odd — but it actually may work, dermatologists say.

Cindie Allen-Stewart, of Mount Calm, shared her decades-old family secret on Facebook on June 22, hoping to help some friends who, like her, are prone to sunburn despite using sunscreen. The post has since been shared nearly 230,000 times. 

First, Allen-Stewart advised people to apply menthol foam shaving cream on the burned area and let it just “sit on your skin.”

“It will start bringing all that heat out (you’ll be able to feel it). You may feel like you are itchy too, but that’s a good thing! Itching means healing,” Allen-Stewart, 34, explained. 


After about 30 minutes, Allen-Stewart said the area covered by shaving cream may start to feel cold and dried out. That’s when you should rinse it off in lukewarm water. If you still feel discomfort from the sunburn the next day, Allen-Stewart recommended repeating the routine.

“Usually after that second treatment, the sunburn disappears,” Allen-Stewart claimed.

Dermotologist Lauren Eckert Ploch, who works at the Georgia Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center, agreed that menthol-containing products can help ease pain associated with sunburns.

“[These] products cause a cooling sensation on the skin and can also numb the skin to pain,” Ploch told Fox News.

However, this hack isn’t a “magical cure,” Ploch warned.

“Menthol should not be applied to a blistering and/or peeling sunburns, as it can irritate the skin,” Ploch said.


Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital, also said menthol-based products have anti-inflammatory benefits. The cream is designed to hydrate and the skin to prepare for shaving.

“Because of these properties, it may also be useful in treating the skin after a minor sunburn,” Zeichner told Fox News, though he emphasized that it’s not meant to sit on the skin for an extended period of time.

Backing Ploch’s advice, Zeichner said the cream should never be directly placed on “a severe burn, blisters, or any open or raw skin.”

While the trick seems like a perfect short-term solution, both dermatologists said it wouldn’t be their first line of treatment.

“Traditional, after sun products are more effective, for example Vaseline intensive care aloe sooth with lotion with triple purified petrolatum to protect the skin along with the calming benefits of aloe,” Zeichner suggested.


“My treatment-of-choice for sunburn (including blistering ones) is cold white petrolatum jelly. White petroleum jelly is inert, hypoallergenic, and it cools well in the refrigerator. It is also not dangerous to apply to wounded skin if the skin does peel or blister,” Ploch added.

But the best course of action, Ploch said, is to try to avoid getting burnt altogether.

“Sunburn is completely avoidable,” she said. “I recommend avoiding sunburn by applying a sunscreen with an SPF of greater than 30 that contains zinc oxide for broad-spectrum coverage. I also recommend sun protective clothing labeled with a UPF of at least 50.”

Ploch said she realizes it’s unrealistic to ask people to avoid the summer sun, admitting that she’s spent the past two weeks at the beach, kitesurfing with her husband. However, she said, a conscious effort to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays can go a long way.

“As long as someone puts forth a little effort to prevent sunburn, then home remedies like applying menthol shaving cream to the skin won’t be necessary,” Ploch said.

Allen-Stewart said she realizes her method isn’t foolproof and said people can still use aloe and other cooling products, which work just as well.

“I stand by this method. If you want to try it, go for it! If not, that’s fine too! I just figured I’d help my friends out a bit to show them the way I use,” Allen-Stewart continued. “Everyone is different.”

Jennifer Earl is an SEO editor for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @jenearlyspeakin.

Video of mom seeing baby hear for first time goes viral

The video of a Texas mom’s reaction when her 1-year-old daughter hears a sound for the first time went viral over the weekend.

Anna Esler, the mother of Ayla, could be seen holding the child on her lap at the Cook Children’s Ear, Nose and Throat hospital when the baby starts to wiggle and reach for her right ear. Another person’s voice could be heard in the background saying, “Yeah, you heard it.”

Anna looked down at her baby and begins to sob.

“I thought she would probably cry and scream when her CIs were activated—and she did do that later when it became overwhelming—but to see her hearing sound and enjoying it was just incredible,” she told the hospital.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Kristen Honsinger, who works at the hospital’s otolaryngology team.

The family told the hospital that there are challenges in the future for Ayla, including catching up to her peers and actually being taught how to hear.

“She’s already responding positively—sometimes she turns to sounds (which she had never done before), she dances to music, she’s starting to calm down when we sing to her if she’s upset. We really couldn’t be more thankful for the new opportunities our little girl has thanks to everyone in her life,” the mom said.

Edmund DeMarche is a news editor for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @EDeMarche.

Lone Star tick bites triggering red meat allergies in more people across US, physician says

Ticks are known to carry some nasty ailments, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. But one allergist and associate professor of medicine at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is warning that some of these small arachnids — specifically the Lone Star tick — can cause another issue as well: an allergy to red meat.

While the allergy caused by a Lone Star tick bite is relatively rare, the number of cases has sharply increased from the roughly two dozen Dr. Scott Commins and his colleagues first studied in 2009, he told Fox News.

Commins, who was one of the first physicians to discover the connection between Lone Star tick bites and the alpha-gal meat allergy, estimated that there are currently more than 5,000 cases in the U.S, with additional cases in countries such as Sweden and South Africa. There are 30,000 reported cases of Lyme disease in the nation each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Commins identified a few factors that may explain the increase.

First, doctors can now perform a blood test that detects the allergy, “which has made the diagnosis much easier,” he said.

Additionally, the “range of the Lone Star tick is increasing and expanding,” Commins said, which ultimately increases the chance of getting bitten. Higher costs of living could partly be to blame, causing more people in recent years to trade urban life for the suburbs. This movement results in closer contact with tick-carrying deer, which subsequently increases the chance for tick bites.

Lastly, Commins said a heightnened awareness about the allergy has led those with symptoms to talk to their doctor and investigate if a Lone Star tick bite could be the cause.

With tick-borne diseases on the rise, here’s what you need to know about the red meat allergy and how Lone Star ticks — named for the white spot on the back of adult females — are possibly to blame. 

How do Lone Star tick bites result in a meat allergy?

In short: Scientists and physicians aren’t exactly sure.

“[We’re] not sure if the tick is causing the disease because of an infectious organism or not, but we have made the association with tick bites,” he said, adding that the tick’s saliva could be a factor.

“There’s a common pathogen in all of these ticks,” he said. “It could be a protein or enzyme in tick spit. We’re working on that in the lab at the moment.”

Commins also suspects the allergy could have less to do with the tick itself and more about the tick’s host.

lone star ticks map cdc

A map showing where Lone Star ticks are commonly found in the United States.



There’s a chance there could be a “subtle mutation of a protein in a skin” that makes certain people bitten by a Lone Star tick more susceptible to developing the allergy, he explained.

In other words, “there are 5,000 estimated cases in the U.S. Based on those odds, only a fraction of people develop the allergic response to red meat.”

If you’re bitten by a Lone Star tick, however, don’t panic: it’s not a guaranteed you’ll develop the allergy. In fact, Commins called the chance “unlikely.”

What are the symptoms?

Not unlike the symptoms of a peanut, egg, tree nut or a shellfish allergy, many people who are allergic to red meat may experience hives, a skin rash or anaphylaxis.

Commins warned that many also experience “severe GI [gastrointestinal] distress,” such as stomach pain, indigestion, vomiting and diarrhea. Some people have described their gastrointestinal symptoms as “stabbing pain or [being stuck with] a hot poker,” he added.

Unlike those with a peanut or egg allergy, among others, the symptoms of a red meat allergy are not immediate. In fact, Commins said, it usually takes hours after eating red meat for the symptoms to appear.


“If you wake up in the middle of the night with bad abdominal pain, you don’t think food allergy,” he said, explaining that the gastrointestinal symptoms can mimic those of a kidney stone or gallstones. This can lead to a misdiagnosis, leading some patients in extreme situations to have their gallbladder removed.

“The patients feel like they’re cured at first, and then the next time they eat red meat it happens again,” he said.

Is it treatable?

While Commins said researchers are working on a cure or treatment plan, there is no cure currently available for those who are diagnosed with an alpha-gal meat allergy.

The most those with the allergy can do is to avoid red meat, which includes beef, lamb, pork, veal, goat, among others.

The news isn’t all bad, though.


“There is a bright spot in this; this is one of these food allergies that will resolve over time,” he said, though he noted that additional tick bites may prolong the condition.

Commins explained that the allergy cells responsible for the red meat allergy don’t usually become long-lasting memory cells, unlike those associated with peanut and tree nut allergies.

“The allergy can go away, it’s not a lifelong thing,” he said.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

California pediatrician placed on probation for exempting child from all vaccines

A Southern California pediatrician was placed on probation this week after penning letters four years ago that exempted a toddler from all childhood vaccinations. But the doctor maintains he did “nothing wrong.”

Dr. Bob Sears, an outspoken critic of mandatory vaccinations, will be under scrutiny for 35 months following the decision by the Medical Board of California.

The Orange County, Calif., pediatrician is accused of failing to obtain a detailed medical history before writing the 2014 letters, which he wrote after the 2-year-old’s mother described the child’s adverse reaction to an earlier vaccination, according to officials.

The doctor said it ended up taking more than a year to receive the boy’s medical records, which would include the child’s history of immunizations.

Sears said he took the boy’s mother at her word when she said her son lost urinary function and “went limp” in response to previous vaccinations, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Isn’t it my job to listen to my patients and believe what a parent says happened to her baby? Isn’t that what ALL doctors do with their patients?” Sears wrote in a Facebook post. “A patient’s word is often the only evidence we have — as doctors we must trust our patients, the same way our patients trust us to look out for their best interest.”

He said he agreed to a settlement with the state medical board, which was signed Wednesday, because “it was likely that I’d get probation anyway,” and to avoid going to trial, the report said.

“After all, I don’t want a child to receive a medical treatment that could cause more harm. I am going to, first, do no harm, every time,” he added in his post, alluding to a famous medical phrase.

Sears can continue to practice medicine, but will need to take an ethics class and 40 hours of medical education courses a year, the Times reported.

During his probation period, he must also be monitored by another licensed doctor, the Orange County Register reported.

The board also requires Sears to notify all locations where he practices within seven days of the order going into effect July 27, according to the Register.

“It’s not a trivial decision, it’s not a slap on the hand,” Dorit Reiss, a University of California, Hastings law professor, told the Times. “It really is strongly limiting his ability to practice. … He’s a doctor under supervision now.”

Rebecca Estepp, who is part of an advocacy group for alternative vaccine schedules, supports Sears.

“Many parents, myself included, are relieved that Dr. Sears will maintain his practice and continue to serve his patients that rely on him,” Estepp told the Times.

Probation is the most common punishment for doctors in California accused of wrongdoing. 

But Sears said that the board had four additional cases pending against him.

“It seems there is an attempt to keep me on probation for the rest of my medical career,” Sears wrote on Facebook.

The state medical board took away 57 licenses, while putting 197 doctors on probation in the last fiscal year, according to the Times.

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News.

Why death of your pet is difficult to bear

Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend never owned a dog.

If you’ve ever lost a beloved pet, you know just how true that old adage is.

From dogs to cats to canaries to lizards, we humans form unbreakable bonds with our furry, feathered, and scaled friends.

In a way, nearly every treasured pet is a therapy animal. They may not have certificates or wear special vests that give them upgraded seating status on airplanes, but they greatly enhance our lives in a number of ways.

Numerous studies have shown evidence that pets not only provide companionship and bring joy, they can also help people recover or better cope with a wide range of health problems, including heart disease, cancer, and mental health disorders.

And when a pet dies, it can be an emotionally devastating experience that can have a negative impact on our both our mental and physical health.

In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine reports one 61-year-old woman began experiencing severe chest pains following the death of her dog. She was admitted to the ER where doctors diagnosed her with takotsubo cardiomyopathy — otherwise known as “broken-heart syndrome” — a condition with symptoms that mimic a heart attack.

After being treated with medications she eventually recovered, but the death of her Yorkshire terrier literally broke her heart.

The loss of a cherished pet can be every bit as difficult as losing a person — or in some cases, even worse.

Researchers have found that social support is essential for recovery during the grieving process. However, while others are typically quick to help comfort an individual who is grieving the loss of another person, society’s attitude toward pet loss is very different.

People are often denied sufficient support following the death of a pet, which can increase emotional distress and lead to feelings of shame and isolation.

This can be particularly difficult for children who are experiencing the loss of a pet for the first time.

Pet loss can be especially hard for kids

Leah Carson, now a young adult, remembers her first pet. It was a gentle Golden Retriever mix named Sandy.

“We grew up together and she did everything with our family. I remember playing in the snow, hiking, and [sweet moments like] Sandy following me to my room when I came home from school,” Carson says. “When I was about 11-years old, Sandy got cancer and we had to put her to sleep. I cried a ton. I was so sad and confused. It was the first time I’d ever lost someone I loved. Afterward, there was so much quiet in her absence.”

Carson’s memories of Sandy are both heartwarming and heartbreaking, especially for those who’ve personally experienced similar loss at a young age.

Roxanne Hawn, author of “Heart Dog: Surviving the Loss of Your Canine Soul Mate,” understands that children are especially vulnerable to misunderstanding and grief following the death of a pet. She points out there are a variety of ways parents and adults can help kids through the grieving process.

“I suggest taking on memorial projects to focus your grief, and your kids’ grief, in productive ways,” Hawn says. “It’s better to embrace grief through action rather than ignore it.”

Hawn says grieving as a family can help children better process the loss, and she suggests activities in which each family member can participate as they feel the need.

“Have everyone write down as many happy memories as they can on colorful scraps of paper, and place all those good thoughts into a pretty bowl,” she says, offering one example. “Anytime someone experiences a surge in grief, they can grab one of those slips of paper and, at least for a moment, remember a happier time. Children who can’t yet write or spell can contribute drawings of their pet instead.”

Hawn also suggests allowing children to keep a pet’s beloved memento with them such as a collar or favorite toy — especially during the days immediately following the loss — its presence can help.

Age doesn’t make it easier

With a lifetime of experiences, senior citizens might seem as if they’d be better equipped to deal with the loss of a pet, but the opposite is often true.

“Losing a pet is extremely difficult for seniors. It is more than normal grief,” Lisa Frankel, PhD, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist tells Healthline. “Seniors have already dealt with so much loss: friends, family, life structure, hope, physical contact, community.”

She adds, “Pets, especially dogs, give them purpose, companionship, a reason to exercise and socialize. When a dog dies, all of that is gone.”

In Frankel’s practice, she works with many patients who are experiencing deep grief from the loss of a pet. She points out how feelings of guilt and shame can often complicate the grieving process. She cites examples of people who have lost their pet to coyote attacks or being hit by a car say they feel they could have done more to save their pet. Also, she points out others who have made the difficult decision to euthanize their pet are haunted by their decision.

She urges people who have lost a pet in these circumstances to be compassionate and forgive themselves, as well as spend time with others who understand their feelings. She also suggests organizations such as pet grief support groups, which can be a great comfort for some.

“Individual therapy can be helpful as well,” Frankel says. “Many people have a hard time opening up in groups and do better with individual counseling. If therapy triggers other losses or traumas, these losses might also have to be looked at. Grief that is really debilitating or lasts exceptionally long might be complicated by the association of the loss to other losses and trauma. Individual therapy might be really important to understand this connection and to work it through.”

How to cope

While no one approach to coping will work for all people who have lost a pet, there are many options and resources available to help.

In addition to the suggestions Frankel offered, she also recommends two books, “How to ROAR: Pet Loss Grief Recovery” by Robin Jean Brown and “The Loss of a Pet: A Guide to Coping with the Grieving Process When a Pet Dies” by Wallace Sife, founder of the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement.

The blog Pet Loss Help has published an expansive list of bereavement resources which includes numerous pet-loss support hotlines and information about support groups in different states, as well as additional online resources.

Should you adopt another pet?

There will never be another pet quite like the one you lost, and the thought of adopting another might seem disloyal, but it isn’t.

Pets enrich our lives and we, in turn, enrich theirs.

There’s much to gain by allowing yourself to love again and pet owners have so much love to give.

Adopting a new pet could be just what the doctor ordered to help mend a broken heart.

This article first appeared on HealthLine.com.

New York man witnesses daughter’s marriage days before losing battle to cancer

A Buffalo, New York man who was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last year had one wish before he recently lost his battle to the disease: to see his daughter, 23-year-old Beth Ferrino, marry the love of her life later this summer.

“Every time I took my dad to his doctor’s appointments, his chemo, his surgeries, he would always tell the surgeons, the doctors and nurses, ‘I have to be there for my daughter’s wedding I have to make it through, I’m going to fight this fight for her wedding,’” Beth told WGRZ-TV.

On Father’s Day this year, Rick’s wish came true thanks to his family and the staff at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, where he was treated. 

Rick’s nurses wheeled his hospital bed to the garden located outside where he witnessed a judge marry Beth and her fiancé, Austin Reese.

Beth’s brother, Mitch, captured the moment on camera and posted the video to Facebook. It now has more than 35,000 views and 1,000 reactions.

Just days later, on June 20, the 62-year-old lost his battle to cancer, passing away with his family by his side.

“Words cannot express how grateful me and my family were to the staff at Roswell Park for the amount of time, consideration and genuine care they put into making this happen for us. My Dad got the best care in the world and I will never forget them. Thank you,” Mitch wrote on Facebook. 

“I’m in tears. Truly touching. I’m so very sorry for the loss of your father,” one commenter responded. 

“So sorry for your loss, to all the Ferrino family what a beautiful tribute you gave to him on his way to heaven,” another wrote.

“It was very emotional just knowing what was going on, but I was happy to know he knew what was going on. And even after we went to his room, he said ‘did they really just get married, ” Beth told the news station.

Beth and Reese plan to have a larger ceremony in August, where they will remember her father with a lantern, she told the news station.  

“This really gave us some peace of mind knowing that his fight had a reason, he wasn’t just fighting just to stay alive,” Reese told WGRZ-TV. “He was fighting for his family, he was fighting to see his little girl finally get married.”

Beth did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on Wednesday afternoon.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

Girl bullied over hair loss condition shaves head

A 9-year-old girl who was taunted at school after her hair started falling out bravely rose above her bullies and had it all shaved off.

Briel Meadows, of Wilmington, N.C., began developing bald spots in January and by June, had lost around 55 percent of her long blond hair through alopecia.

The third grader said her classmates at school would stare, laugh and chant: “You have bald spots, you have bald spots.”

Briel’s mom, ICU nurse Patricia Meadows, 34, said it was hard when her little girl came home in tears and she felt unable to help.

Meadows feared she was pulling her locks out due to stress.


But in May, a diagnosis confirmed Briel had alopecia.

Alopecia areata is a disease which causes the immune system to attack cells in the body.

It causes hair loss on the scalp and other parts of the body and affects as many as 6.8 million people in the U.S., according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.

Doctors prescribed an ointment containing steroids to help her hair regrow, but Briel says she disliked applying the medicine.

Briel Meadows. See SWNS story NYALOPECIA; A nine-year-old girl who was taunted at school after her hair started falling out bravely rose above her bullies - and got it all shaved off. Briel Meadows began developing bald spots in January and by June had lost around 55 per cent of her long blond hair. The third grader said her classmates at school would stare, laugh and chant: “You have bald spots, you have bald spots.” Briel’s mom, ICU nurse Patricia Meadows, 34, said it was hard when her little girl came home in tears and she felt unable to help. Mom-of-one Patricia, of Wilmington, North Carolina, feared she was pulling her locks out due to stress at first but in May, a diagnosis confirmed she in fact has alopecia. Alopecia areata is a disease which causes the immune system to attack cells in the body. It causes hair loss on the scalp and other parts of the body and affects as many as 6.8 million people in the US, according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.

Before she was diagnosed with alopecia, Briel’s mother was concerned that her daughter was pulling out her hair due to stress.


Last week, the headstrong youngster told her mom she wanted to stop using the ointment and to have all her hair shaved off instead, so she did.

Since her trip to the salon on Wednesday, Briel has taken to decorating her head with stickers and headbands.

“I feel extremely happy. Not everybody can rock a bald head,” she said. 

Briel’s hair is unlikely to ever grow back without treatment. She made the decision after her classmates’ taunts began bothering her. 

“At school my friends started laughing at me and were trying to touch my head,” she said. “They said, ‘Look at your head.’ It made me feel very sad and angry. I went to the bathroom and saw it and didn’t know what it was.”

“Last week I decided to shave my head because I don’t feel comfortable having spots but I thought I would feel comfortable having no hair,” she said. “I thought it would look cool. Having it shaved off tickled and it wasn’t quick. It look at least 30 minutes.”


“When I looked in the mirror I was happy. I was really excited to go and tell everybody,” she said. “I want people to know that it doesn’t matter what you look like. It doesn’t matter what other people say.”

“At first we thought she was pulling her hair out,” Meadows said. “It started with a small patch which became extremely large and then she developed other small patches around her head.”

“Between January and May she ended up losing about 55 percent of her hair,” she said. “It is hard because as a mother your job is to protect your children and you wonder if you could have done something differently. It was hard having her come home from school crying from kids bullying her.”

Briel Meadows. See SWNS story NYALOPECIA; A nine-year-old girl who was taunted at school after her hair started falling out bravely rose above her bullies - and got it all shaved off. Briel Meadows began developing bald spots in January and by June had lost around 55 per cent of her long blond hair. The third grader said her classmates at school would stare, laugh and chant: “You have bald spots, you have bald spots.” Briel’s mom, ICU nurse Patricia Meadows, 34, said it was hard when her little girl came home in tears and she felt unable to help. Mom-of-one Patricia, of Wilmington, North Carolina, feared she was pulling her locks out due to stress at first but in May, a diagnosis confirmed she in fact has alopecia. Alopecia areata is a disease which causes the immune system to attack cells in the body. It causes hair loss on the scalp and other parts of the body and affects as many as 6.8 million people in the US, according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.

Briel said she couldn’t wait to accessorize with sparkly headbands and stickers.


“The children were staring and laughing at her bald spots and they would try to touch her, so she would wear caps to school,” Meadows said. “They were singing and chanting and saying, ‘You have bald spots, you have bald spots.’ She would say, ‘I’m weird,’ and I would say, ‘Weird is different, different is good. You are beautiful regardless.’”

“She has always been very outgoing and vivacious but losing her hair made her become insecure and there were these hesitations,” she said. “The doctors gave her an ointment to rub on her head with steroids in in the hope it would regrow, but she would say, ‘Mommy, it isn’t working.’”

“She said, ‘I don’t want to do it anymore. Would you care if I just shaved my head?’” Meadows recalled. “I said, ‘You do whatever you want to do.’”

Briel went to Studio 39 in Wilmington to have her head shaved last Wednesday.

“He made her feel like a princess and said she was beautiful and brave. She loved it,” she said. “She wanted to go to the store the next day to buy headbands and metallic tattoos to put on the side of her head so she could decorate it. She’s back to being that vivacious little girl.”

Police dog ‘performs CPR’ in adorable viral video

A valiant police dog in Spain showed off its first-responder skills by apparently performing CPR on an agent who played dead.

Poncho the pup, of the Municipal Police of Madrid, performed the “heroic” life-saving deed on an officer and “did not hesitate for an instant to ‘save the life’ of the agent,” the department said in a translated tweet on Friday.

It appeared to be a demonstration in front of a crowd, who applauded the quick-thinking canine.

The video, posted on Friday, showed the officer falling to the ground and pretending to be unresponsive. Poncho, donning a harness with a flashing emergency light attached, jumped to the rescue.


The dog pounced up and down repeatedly on the officer’s chest and placed its ear by the man’s neck to detect whether he was breathing. Poncho continued to “save” the cop until he stood up — and gave the dog a well-deserved treat.

Since its posting on Friday, the video of Poncho has received more than 12,000 retweets and 21,000 likes. 

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah or send her an email at [email protected]

Walgreens pharmacist allegedly denies Arizona woman miscarriage medicine over his personal beliefs

An Arizona woman said she was deeply upset after a Walgreens pharmacist refused to provide her with miscarriage medication because it went against his personal beliefs.

Nicole Mone took to Facebook Friday to explain that just days earlier, her doctor had said she was going to suffer a miscarriage.

“Unfortunately on Tuesday we found out the baby’s development had stopped and I ultimately will have a miscarriage,” Mone, who said she’d had a miscarriage before, wrote.

When offered the option of undergoing a hospital procedure or taking prescribed medicine, Mone accepted the latter.


The woman went to Walgreens in Peoria, roughly 13 miles northwest of Phoenix, to pick up her prescription, but said the pharmacist refused to give her the meds.

“I stood at the mercy of this pharmacist explaining my situation in front of my 7 year old, and five customers standing behind only to be denied because of his ethical beliefs,” Mone wrote. 

Mone, who said she “left Walgreens in tears, ashamed and feeling humiliated by a man who knows nothing of my struggles,” said her prescription was transferred to another Walgreens across town, where she was able to pick it up without issue.


The mother said she contacted the store manager “who did not seem happy about what happened,” and also reached out to Walgreens’ corporate office. Mone said she also filed a complaint with the Arizona Board of Pharmacy.

Walgreens company policy, according to Fox 10, allows pharamacists to reject prescription requests if they have moral objections, but they’re still required to refer the prescriptions to other pharmacists or managers on duty.

Walgreens in a statement said the company was “looking into the matter to ensure that our patients’ needs are handled properly.”

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah or send her an email at [email protected]

Should people with drug addictions be forced into rehab?

Alecia Gordon is quick to admit that forced drug treatment was a good thing for her son. He was 19 years old when he entered a court-mandated program for the first time. She believes it saved his life.

“If it wasn’t court-ordered, he really might not have survived,” Gordon said.

Mandatory rehab turned out to be a good thing for Gordon’s son, whose only other option was jail time with no treatment at all.

However, many researchers suspect that forcing people into short-term drug treatment programs may not be enough to help them stay sober long term.

This hasn’t stopped U.S. states from expanding the use of involuntary commitments for drug and alcohol addiction. Nor has it slowed the growing number of private rehab programs in the country.

Court-ordered drug treatment on the rise

According to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, currently 37 states and the District of Columbia allow families and medical professionals to petition to have a person ordered into treatment.

Generally, a person can only be civilly committed if they’re deemed a danger to the health or safety of themselves or others.

Emergency commitment varies from 24 hours to 15 days. In some states, families, medical professionals, and law enforcement officers can petition the treatment facility directly, without a judge’s order.

Supporters of these programs argue that short-term commitments provide a critical stopgap for when courts are closed, such as on weekends and during the night.

However, some healthcare providers are concerned that allowing doctors to involuntarily detain people with substance use disorders will burden emergency rooms, reports the Associated Press.

The AP cites data showing that involuntary commitments for drug addiction are on the rise in some states.

In Florida, requests for commitment topped 10,000 in both 2016 and 2015, much higher than in 2000 when it was more than 4,000. In Massachusetts, requests doubled from fewer than 3,000 in fiscal year 2006 to more than 6,000 in both fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

In most states, longer involuntary commitments require a court order. Stays can last for up to a year, but many states have lower durations. And these may not be enough to really make a difference.

“When someone’s brain is hijacked by an addiction, six weeks isn’t long enough — two months isn’t even long enough — for their brain to stop craving the drug,” said Lisa, a mother from Arizona whose daughter has been cycling in and out of addiction for several years.

Does forced drug treatment work?

The rise in involuntary commitments may be a sign of the severity of the opioid epidemic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 115 people in the United States die each day after overdosing on opioids.

However, there’s little research showing that forcing someone into drug treatment helps them in the long run.

Many states don’t track whether civil commitments help people with a substance use disorder stay in recovery, or how many times they enter forced treatment.

But there are studies showing that these programs don’t help and may actually be harming people instead.

A 2016 report by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that people who were involuntarily committed were more than twice as likely to die of an opioid-related overdose than those who chose to go into treatment.

Another 2016 study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy found little evidence that mandatory drug treatment helps people stop using drugs or reduces criminal recidivism.

“There appears to be as much evidence that [compulsory treatment] is ineffective, or in fact harmful, as there is evidence that it is effective,” said study author Dan Werb, PhD, who’s also an epidemiologist and policy analyst at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD).

Most of the studies reviewed by Werb and his colleagues looked at involuntary drug treatment centers outside the United States, many of which are rife with human rights violations.

“What we’ve seen across the world — in Mexico and Southeast Asia and China — is that ‘treatment centers’ that are mandated can effectively turn into internment camps,” Werb said.

A 2018 study done in Tijuana, Mexico, by Claudia Rafful, a doctoral student in public health at UCSD, found that involuntary drug treatment is also associated with an increased risk of nonfatal drug overdoses.

Part of this may be due to loss of tolerance to the drugs when someone suddenly stops using them. This happens not just with mandatory treatment, but also when people end up in jail.

However, Rafful says that interviews with people taken involuntarily into the treatment centers in Tijuana showed that most of them weren’t ready to stop using drugs. This may be another contributing cause of drug overdose after involuntarily committed individuals are released.

Many of these centers also didn’t use evidence-based treatments. This is also a problem in the United States.

Additionally, people going through drug courts can face many barriers to receiving evidence-based diagnoses and treatments, according to a 2017 report by Physicians for Human Rights.

Interventions shown to be most effective for helping people with substance use disorders were often not available, or not available to everyone — including support for stable housing and employment and medication-assisted treatment.

When those interventions were available, people weren’t always able to afford them. Or their insurance — including Medicaid — may not have covered them.

Gordon’s son spent some time in jail before a bed finally opened in the treatment program. Until then, his addiction was left untreated.

Some researchers see drug courts as coerced, rather than mandatory treatment, because people are still given a choice: go to jail or enter drug treatment.

The first time Gordon’s son went to court-ordered treatment, it was part of his incarceration, though it was held at a different location.

“Even though you were still not free,” Gordon said, “it was much different than if you were in the county jail.”

Gordon’s son was initially given a two-year sentence. He was able to get it reduced by doing well in the treatment program.

Unregulated rehab industry

As many families of people with a drug or alcohol addiction know, relapse is a common detour on the road to recovery.

Gordon’s son went to several treatment programs after the first court-ordered treatment, another court-ordered, one “mom-ordered,” and a program at a private rehabilitation center that he attended voluntarily.

But tough love doled out by families is another form of coerced treatment.

Rafful says there’s a very thin line between coerced and mandatory drug treatments.

What’s missing in both is a person with a drug or alcohol addiction embracing treatment voluntarily.

“If forced treatment worked, I think we’d all do it,” Lisa says. “Ideally, they do better when they’re asking for it. But you can’t always wait for that.”

A multibillion dollar rehab industry has grown up around families desperate to help their loved ones overcome addiction.

There are more than 14,500 specialized drug treatment facilities in the United States, according to the NIDA. But this industry is largely unregulated, and many programs offer treatments that aren’t based on research. There are also no federal standards for rehab programs or counseling practices.

Residential rehabs can cost tens of thousands of dollars for one month of treatment. In some cases, insurance may cover treatment. But families often end up paying out of their own pocket.

There’s no requirement that rehab programs offer medication-assisted treatments. Some may opt for other types of interventions, including unproven ones like equine or other forms of pet therapy.


Rehab programs may sell families a quick fix. But addiction is a chronic disease, not one that can be treated with a few weeks of intensive treatment.

What drug treatments work?

One common thread among successful opioid treatment programs in particular is the use of pharmacological treatments.

“We have decades of evidence suggesting that methadone and similar opioid-based medications can be really effective in helping people to manage their opioid use,” Werb said.

Other options are buprenorphine and injectable naltrexone.

Transitions are also important. If a person is forced into drug treatment, either through a court order or family coercion, they’ll still eventually need to take control of their own treatment.

Voluntary treatment ensures that “patients can have a voice in the care that they’re provided, and that they can take control of their own health,” Werb said.

Rafful adds that treatment programs also need to address a person’s environment, which may have contributed to the drug problem. “If we are not helping to fix the problems that are related to their drug use — such as housing, employment, or stigmatization — chances are the person will go back and use drugs,” she said.

This doesn’t mean forced treatment or rehab won’t help some people with addiction. But families need to be careful about choosing the right treatment for their loved ones.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has information for families about alcohol addiction, as does NIDA about drug addiction.

The first step is getting help from a qualified medical professional, such as your doctor or a mental health provider with experience treating addiction.

The American Board of Preventive Medicine has a directory of doctors in the United States who are board-certified in addiction medicine.

When choosing treatment for a loved one, look for interventions that are supported by research.

Residential treatment is also not the only option. A 2014 study found that outpatient substance use disorder treatment programs can be just as effective as inpatient programs.

It’s also important to remember that relapse isn’t a failure. People with an opioid use disorder will often relapse along the road to recovery.

Gordon credits the program at the private rehabilitation center with helping her son stay sober for the past 18 months. But not because it was voluntary. The program included both a six-month inpatient treatment program and a three-month transition to sober living program.

This made all the difference.

“Although my son’s last treatment was court-ordered — and I’m thankful it was court-ordered — I think mandatory programs would be much more successful, with much lower recidivism, if people had longer-term court-ordered treatment.”

This article first appeared on HealthLine.com.

This family learned tick bites can transmit more than Lyme disease

Last summer, 11-year-old Gus was beyond excited to attend his first Boy Scout campout without his parents.

“Me and my husband believed he’d be fine on the trip because he’s super independent, but I remember telling my husband I was worried about ticks because how often does an 11-year-old reapply spray?” Gus’s mom, Lesley, explained.


Nevertheless, she and her husband let their son venture off from Illinois to upper Wisconsin for a week away over the Fourth of July holiday.

When Gus returned, Lesley said they did a “tick check from head to toe” but found nothing and figured he was “in the clear.”

However, near the end of July, Gus came down with a high fever and a migraine that wouldn’t go away. After checking in with his pediatrician, Lesley chalked it up to a virus. But when his headache persisted after a week and a half, they went back to the doctor, who suggested giving it another day before sending Gus for an MRI to rule out a tumor.

To Lesley’s relief, her son’s headache was gone the next day. Since the family was heading to Michigan for vacation, Gus’s pediatrician suggested he get the MRI when they return. Yet, as soon as the family arrived in Michigan, things took a turn for the worse.

“I looked across the table at Gus and I noticed he tried to take a drink and he couldn’t get his mouth to work. It was hanging low. He said one side of his face felt weird,” Lesley said.

She rushed him to the nearest emergency room. By the time they arrived, Gus couldn’t blink or close his left eye. His condition was diagnosed as Bell’s palsy.

Over the course of the week, he continued to deteriorate.

“By the time we got home from Michigan, he almost couldn’t walk. His hips, knees, ankles, and lower back were in so much pain that he said it felt like someone had a vice on all his joints,” Lesley said.

On their first night back home, Gus couldn’t sleep and woke his mom, so she took him downstairs to watch TV.

That’s when Lesley noticed her son’s legs, chest, and back were covered with a bull’s-eye rash — a common symptom of Lyme disease that can occur from 3 to 30 days after an infected tick bite and usually doesn’t itch or cause pain.

In the morning, Lesley took Gus back to his doctor. By the time they arrived, the rash was gone. Thankfully, Lesley thought to take pictures of the rash the night before and the images prompted Gus’s pediatrician to test him for Lyme disease right away.

Complex journey to diagnosis and treatment

Gus’s pediatrician gave him two tests: the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test, which is commonly used to detect Lyme disease, and the Western blot test, which is often given to confirm Lyme if the ELISA test is positive.

A few days later, Gus received a diagnosis of Lyme disease. Lesley said the family was happy to finally have identified the problem, and she believed her son would soon be on the road to recovery.

Gus’s pediatrician collaborated with a children’s hospital in Chicago to determine he needed 30 days of doxycycline, an antibiotic commonly prescribed to treat Lyme.

“He started feeling better immediately but did have some lingering pain in his hip and he wasn’t totally himself. He tossed and turned all night long and his energy was pretty low,” Lesley said. “I told myself these were all happening because he was growing. I just wanted to [believe] we beat the Lyme.”

However, when Gus’s symptoms persisted after he finished the antibiotics, Lesley started to advocate and research for her son. A friend who had been given a Lyme diagnosis referred her to a Lyme Literate doctor (LLMD) who specializes in the disease.

“From that point on, I got hungry for knowledge. I trusted our doctors but wanted to make sure we were doing the best we could for Gus,” said Lesley.

She learned that the Lyme bacteria replicates in the body every 14 days, which is why many doctors prescribe 30 days of antibiotics. However, she also learned that for some people that’s not enough.

Dr. Daniel Cameron, an expert in Lyme disease, says that many people with Lyme only need 30 days of antibiotics, but 1 out of 3 people treated early for the disease will still have complications.

“I’m most concerned about that one out of three who remains ill,” Cameron told Healthline. “For some, it can last up to 10 years and when you’re at school, it can mess up your ability to concentrate in the classroom or participate in sports or have a life with friends.”

Those were the fears Lesley had for Gus. Since he became ill over summer break, he didn’t miss school, but as an active child, he missed out on sports and hanging out with his friends.

“Sports are his life, but he lost 12 pounds and we had to cancel sports camps last summer. He [started wondering if] he’d ever [get to] play again,” Lesley said. “I’d constantly remind him that’d I’d do everything I could to keep it from stopping him.”

Approximately one month after Gus finished his 30-day supply of antibiotics, he was still struggling with symptoms and Lesley took him to see the LLMD. Because ticks that carry Lyme can also carry other infectious organisms through the same bite, the doctor tested Gus for coinfections. Turns out, Gus was positive for two types of Bartonella bacteria.

“I had never heard of coinfections and learned so much from this doctor,” Lesley said. “She confirmed that 30 days of antibiotics wasn’t enough for Gus. She was optimistic that we caught it early, but she made it clear that everyone’s body fights it differently.”

It’s because of this difference that Cameron says screening for coinfections is so important. “Many patients aren’t aware that coinfections exist. Many doctors are and will order tests for them, but often the tests aren’t reliable. That’s why carefully monitoring patients over time is important.”

Gus’s doctor began a regimen of three antibiotics, as well as probiotics, herbs, and supplements last November.

Advocating to calm controversy

Today, Gus is still taking antibiotics but Lesley said his health has greatly improved and he should be done soon.

“He just competed in track on the state level which is amazing. As I watched him run, I looked like a racoon because I was blubbering,” she said. “He’s overcome a lot since July. As a parent, those first few months were the darkest days. We didn’t know what he had and then we didn’t know if he’d be alright.”

Over the past year, Lesley says she’s grown a lot as well and hopes sharing her family’s struggle will help others who find themselves in the same situation.

“Not much is known about this disease, so as a parent you have to keep asking questions and finding information and advocating for your child,” she said, noting the frustrations they encountered while trying to treat Gus.

Part of the frustrations Lesley felt were due to a divide within the medical community.

“Some doctors don’t believe that children have chronic issues from Lyme, no matter what the published literature says,” Cameron explained. “Some physicians disagree on what to call [complications]. I use the term chronic Lyme disease, whether there’s a coinfection or not. Some people use other terms.”

Cameron also points out that while early leaders in Lyme disease were thorough in their understanding and managing early Lyme, they lacked knowledge of the chronic complications that can accompany the disease.

“Today, the published literature is very descriptive on all the problems that happen. It’s just that doctors are divided and it’s not clear why there’s disagreement on something that’s so common,” he said. He added that the understanding of what infections ticks carry is another barrier. “There are so many strains of Lyme and other infections in a tick. Some infections like Babesia can’t be treated with doxycycline and need to be treated with a parasite medicine. So much of the complexity and difficulty is knowing what’s in the tick without even looking at the child that was bit,” he explained.


Another complication of Lyme disease treatment is the worry many in the medical community have surrounding antibiotic overuse. Doctors can lose their license for overprescribing antibiotics and it’s a fear that can contribute to less-effective treatment for patients.

“We understand that we’re trying to cut back on antibiotic use, but if you have a child that’s sick, and with so many complexities of infection in a tick and plenty of published literature that supports how complicated this disease is, you’d like to have the freedom as a doctor to treat your patients and not be limited,” Cameron said. “If doctors who treat Lyme had more freedom, we wouldn’t have so much frustration in the medical community.”

Lesley is doing her part to help change this.

“I know this is a big issue and that I’m just one mom. But my kid’s in a good place, and I felt a calling to spread the word about this disease. I’m ready to say I knew nothing about Lyme. It’s not something I wanted to know about but if sharing Gus’s story can help even one other person, it’s worth it,” she said.

Most of all, she hopes other parents learn that they can seek out doctors who specialize in Lyme disease.

“It can be an isolating disease if your child isn’t getting the treatment they need and if your doctors don’t know enough about it,” Lesley said.

While Cameron says that a pediatrician can effectively treat many children with Lyme, he points out that for the one out of three kids who are still ill after initial treatment, it’s a good idea to see a doctor who is familiar with complications of the disease.

Additional defense

What else can parents do to protect their children?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a list of preventive measures to avoid a tick bite but nothing is foolproof.

Cameron says the most important thing is to perform a tick check after your child is outdoors, and to remove a tick as soon as you see one.

“Kids still get bit and get the infection even with these recommendations,” Cameron said.

He notes Lesley did the smartest thing she could for Gus: become familiar with Lyme disease.

He encourages other parents whose children get a Lyme disease diagnosis to do the same. “[Learn everything you can] so if your child doesn’t do well, you know about other complications and symptoms of Lyme to look out for so you can be the advocate for your child.”

This article first appeared on HealthLine.com.

Scientists piped music into women’s wombs to see if fetuses like Freddie Mercury

When Freddie Mercury sang, “Mama, life had just begun,” in the second verse of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” he probably didn’t have an audience of fetuses in mind. Let’s consider it a happy coincidence, then, that unborn babies really do seem to love Queen.

According to a new, as-yet-unpublished study by the Institut Marquès assisted-fertility clinic in Spain, fetuses exposed to “Bohemian Rhapsody” — as well as classic jams by Bach and Mozart — showed clear signs of mental stimulation in the womb. Songs by Shakira and the Bee Gees, on the other hand, proved much less interesting to the unborn audience.

Developing babies begin to hear external sounds at a gestational age of about 16 weeks, which is —it’s safe to say — far too soon to have read an issue of Rolling Stone. So why should fetuses be such discerning music critics? According to the researchers, it might have something to do with the pitch of the song’s sounds or the simplicity of the melody. 

The first language was more musical than verbal,” Dr. Marisa López-Teijón, director of the Institut Marquès, said in a statement. “We still tend instinctively to speak [to newborns] in a high-pitched voice, because we know that newborns perceive those better, and this way they understand that we want to communicate with them.” (Interestingly, fetuses in the study also showed a greater response to Mickey Mouse’s voice than to recordings of a normal human voice.)

In the new study, which was presented this month at the International Association for Music and Medicine conference in Barcelona, Spain, researchers blasted a variety of tunes for 300 fetuses between 18 and 38 weeks of gestation.

Using a special intravaginal speaker (babies can’t hear much through the mom’s abdominal wall), the team played 15 songs for each fetus, ranging from sonatas by Bach and Beethoven, to traditional Spanish Christmas carols, to the hits of Queen, Adele and the Village People.

While the fetuses listened, the researchers watched for mouth and tongue movements on an ultrasound machine. They hypothesized that the babies who moved their mouths or tongues in response to the music were having the language centers of their brains stimulated and perhaps were learning to communicate back.

“Our initial hypothesis suggests that music creates a response which manifests as vocalization movements as it activates the brain circuits that stimulate language and communication,” the researchers wrote on their website.

Overall, the fetuses seemed more stimulated by classical music than pop or rock. Ninety-one percent of the babies showed mouth movements, and 73 percent stuck out their tongues when Mozart’s “A Little Night Music” played. Melodies by Bach, Prokofiev and Strauss all got more than 80 percent of the fetuses flapping their itty-bitty gums.

More than 80 percent of the fetuses responded to traditional drumbeats from Africa, a mantra from India and a Christmas carol from Spain. When it came to pop, however, the burgeoning critics were far more discerning. Their favorite song was, of course, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (90 percent of babies moved their mouths, and 40 percent stuck out their tongues), followed by the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.”

Songs by Adele, the Bee Gees and Shakira impressed 60 percent or less of the fetuses.

These results jibe with those of previous studies that have linked classical music (played outside the womb, not intravaginally) to infant stimulation. However, if the findings don’t jibe with your personal taste in music, don’t sweat it too much. Mouth and tongue movements are rare in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, the researchers wrote, so the bottom line is that any musical stimulation is more than most babies are used to.

Besides, fetuses can’t hear much over the constant noise of their mothers’ hard-working bodies, anyway. The real musical education begins after birth — you know, when baby is really able to rock out.

This article first appeared on LiveScience.com.