Thursday, February 2, 2017

I just bought a Littmann Cardiology III Stethoscope!

To properly learn how to diagnose and better understand disease symptoms, medical students are required to purchase a stethoscope. While many of my peers chose to find cheaper alternatives, I decided to buy a high-end stethoscope instead.
After having used the Littmann Cardiology III stethoscope for a few days, I am convinced that I made the best possible decision. While it certainly set me back a few euros, having a reliable and well-performing piece of equipment is well worth the cost.
In the following sections, I’ll show you exactly why the Littmann Cardiology III stethoscope was such a great purchase, and why all medical students should consider investing in one.

History of Littmann Stethoscopes
Whenever I purchase something, I like to know the brand history. I’ve found that products with reliable, proven histories tend to produce equally solid, proven performance.
Since I already recognized the Littmann name, this part was easy. In fact, there’s hardly a medical student out there that wouldn’t. Although stethoscopes have been around since the early 18th century, it was Dr. Littmann who created a revolutionary design, defining the function and efficiency of the modern stethoscope.
As a cardiologist, Littmann was in a great position to reinvent the stethoscope. His design brought the medical community the traditional 3M stethoscope, featuring an open chestpiece for identifying lower pitches, a closed chestpiece for filtering low pitches, firm tubing, and a spring to separate each earpiece. Want to know more? Visit their official page.
After years of success and expanding innovation, the Cardiology III stethoscope was born. With it, examinations became quicker, more comfortable, and more accurate.

Littmann Cardiology III Stethoscope: The Basics

Aside from the company history, there are a few key features of the Cardiology III stethoscope that convinced me that I was much better off purchasing a high-end stethoscope, rather than a cheaper version. The Littmann Cardiology III stethoscope comes with the following features:
·       Tunable diaphragm: Use light pressure for low-frequency sounds, and increased pressure to hear high-frequency sounds. Top-notch sound quality. In fact, according to the Cardiology III has a grade 9/10 accoustic performance! 

·       Non-chill rim: An essential feature for patient comfort. If you haven’t started seeing patients yet, you’ll understand how important this is in no time.

·       Adjustable headset: This applies to the tension as well as the ear tips, making it easy to find a customizable fit. The gel-like tips provide clear sound, and they’re perfect for canceling noise and focusing on breaths.

(One thing to keep in mind: the ear tips are supposed to snap firmly onto the tubes. Removing them is going to take some considerable effort.)

·       Resilient tubing: The next-generation tubing increases the life of the stethoscope, making it resistant to skin oils, alcohol, and staining. For a medical student, that’s a great sign. Although the cost is considerably higher, it’s a piece of equipment that can last throughout the rest of university and beyond.
As an additional benefit, the stethoscope came with a five-year warranty, which really helped put my mind at ease. It’s nice to know that I’ll be able to rely on this piece of equipment throughout the next few years.
I’ve also noticed that the weight of the stethoscope seems perfectly suited for long-term use. It has just enough weight to know that it’s there, but not nearly enough to cause neck or shoulder strain.

Even in the first five years of study, one of the most valuable lessons that medical school has taught me is not to cut corners. When it comes to medical equipment, the last thing that you want to do is choose a low-quality option simply because it happens to be cheaper.

Efficient pathology requires equally efficient equipment, and in my opinion, the Littmann Cardiology III stethoscope is second to none. For a high-quality, dependable, and efficient stethoscope, all medical students should consider investing in the Littmann Cardiology III.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Truth About Superfoods: Are They Just a Big Lie?

The modern public is adopting a fresh focus, primarily geared towards healthy eating. Thus, we’ve seen a new buzzword emerge: superfoods.
Superfoods have absolutely dominated discussions on physical, mental, and internal health. In fact, simply typing “superfood” into an online search can yield as much as 10 million results.
While superfoods aren’t unhealthy, is it possible that superfoods are not quite as curative as most people believe? Let’s take a closer look at this from a medical perspective, and dissect these so-called superfoods.

Superfoods: What Are They?
Superfoods are a category of foods—usually fruits and vegetables—that have exceptionally dense nutritional value.
Some accounts report that there are up to 100 different superfoods available, all with varying levels of health benefits. Chances are that you probably have one or two superfoods hanging about in your kitchen right now. Some common examples are:
·       Blueberries
·       Chia seeds
·       Coconut oil
·       Goji berries
·       Kale
·       Pomegranate juice
·       Quinoa
·       Salmon
·       Almonds
·       Pumpkin seeds
This is only a small sampling of the types of superfoods that are out there. Every list is different, which can make defining superfoods difficult.
Why Are Superfoods So Super?
Quite honestly, it’s hard to deny that superfoods are just that—super. The debate is not about whether these foods are good for you. There’s no denying that an increased intake of protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants can be beneficial.
In fact, there are some significant benefits that come from these dietary additions:
·       Protein: Aids the body in digestion, and helps to cultivate lean muscle mass, which works to burn off extra fat.
·       Vitamins & Minerals: Depending on what you choose, there is a host of benefits. Vitamins & minerals support every system in the body, including cardiovascular, immune, digestive, reproductive, and ocular processes, amongst others.
·       Fiber: Aids in digestion, keeping internal organs healthy and facilitating the elimination of waste produced by the body.
·       Antioxidants: Supports healthy cell development and regular metabolic processes.
Many health experts, dieticians, nutritionists, and doctors have been applauding superfoods for their uncanny abilities to ward off disease. Some have claimed that superfoods can shield against cancer, or that they can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Superfoods have even been attributed to slowing the aging process, easing arthritis, soothing inflammation, and managing diabetes. This prompts the question: Do goji berries, chia seeds, and coconut oil truly contain curative properties?
Looking Through a Medical Lens
While superfoods certainly contribute valuable nutrition, it’s important to keep in mind that studying nutritional value in a laboratory is much different than studying nutritional value in an actual diet.
For example, when studying the beneficial effects of antioxidants—which have been shown to prevent and reverse memory decline in aging rats—antioxidant levels are much higher than what a typical diet would include. To see similar results, massive quantities of antioxidants would need to be consumed, which simply isn’t practical in a healthy diet.
Another consideration to take is that these positive physiological benefits occur in the short-term. Thus, to experience long-lasting results, many superfoods would need to be consumed on a regular basis—and in high quantities. For most diets, this would create unintentional adverse side effects.
For example, pomegranate juice is a superfood which has been applauded for its ability to lower blood pressure and consequently prevent heart disease. Most nutritionists and doctors would agree that ingesting large quantities of pomegranate juice, however, would be ill-advised.
One cup of pomegranate juice contains an average of 31 grams of sugar. Drinking all that sugar can create weight gain, cardiovascular issues, and diabetes, making it difficult to consume enough pomegranate juice to reap health benefits.
The Truth About Superfoods
Perhaps the growing issue concerning the value of superfoods is that they have been talked about so extensively, with their curative properties expanding into incredible proportions. Rather than simply being healthy additions to a diet, superfoods are often credited as the “end-all” solution to some of the most common illnesses and ailments.
Now, the phrase “superfoods” has largely become a marketing tactic, attracting consumers to expensive, nutrient-rich foods. The truth about superfoods is that, while they certainly have great nutritional value, their health benefits have simply been blown out of proportion.
From a medical standpoint, a healthy diet stems from variation, nutrients, and moderation. Reaping the advertised health benefits of these superfoods would take massive consumption over extended periods of time, preventing a truly balanced and healthy diet.

Focusing primarily on superfoods goes directly against cultivating a healthy diet. Unfortunately, the culture of modern nutrition is putting superfoods on a pedestal that they simply cannot earn.