<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Health News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/health http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.comen-usSat, 27 May 2017 18:55:29 -0500Sat, 27 May 2017 18:55:29 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Doctors in Brazil Using Fish Skin to Help Burn Victims]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 15:17:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_FISH_BANDAGES_052617_1-149582887236800001.jpg

Doctors in Brazil are using skin from farm-raised tilapia to heal burn victims. According to the doctors, the tilapia skin can cut down on the painful process of changing bandages and can actually help heal wounds faster than traditional bandages.

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<![CDATA[How the GOP Bill Could Affect 'Essential Health Benefits']]> Thu, 25 May 2017 11:42:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Congressional-Budget-Office-HR-1628.jpg

If the Republican health reform plan becomes law, states trying to save money on health insurance are likely to seek cuts on services like maternity care, mental health and dentist visits for kids, the Congressional Budget Office found Wednesday.

NBC News reports that health care advocates find the lack of an "essential health benefits" coverage requirement in the bill, passed by the House before the CBO score was released, will leave many patients without adequate coverage.

"Women and their families will pay higher costs and receive less coverage, especially for maternity care, under the American Health Care Act," said Stacey Stewart, president of the March of Dimes, which funds research to prevent birth defects.

Essential benefits requirements from "Obamacare" are very popular with American voters. The CBO predicted that some states will opt out of them, so they can seek lower premiums, leaving some people living there likely priced out of the market.



Photo Credit: CBO]]>
<![CDATA[How to Identify Heat Stroke]]> Tue, 23 May 2017 16:26:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_HEAT_STROKE_GUIDE_052417_1-149557390684400001.jpg

With summer here, it's important to know the dangers of high temperatures. Heat stroke can be dangerous. Here are some ways you can identify heat stroke and what you should do when you see some of its symptoms.

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<![CDATA[Researchers Discover 40 More Genes for Intelligence ]]> Mon, 22 May 2017 15:30:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/brain_1200x675.jpg

Researchers found 40 new genes linked with intelligence Monday in study, but they say their finding doesn't show any clear genetic pattern for intelligence, NBC News reported. 

Instead, it shows that intelligence is possibly even more complex than anyone thought, and not easily explained. And it means specially designed smart babies are not in anyone's near future.

The study pointed to 52 genes that influence intelligence, some of them previously identified. Yet they account for less than 5 percent of the variation in human intelligence, the research team reports in the journal Nature Genetics.

Many of the genes have other known roles as well, although most are involved in brain development, the international team of researchers found.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kids Under 1 Shouldn't Drink Fruit Juice: Pediatrician Org.]]> Mon, 22 May 2017 17:20:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/217*120/juicegeneric.jpg

Fruit juice, long recommended as a source of vitamin C for children, has no nutritional value for kids under 1 year old and isn't as good as fresh fruit for other kids, according to a leading pediatrician group.

The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that babies not be fed any fruit juice in the first year of their lives, according to a policy statement released Monday. One-hundred percent fresh or reconstituted juice can be gradually introduced into toddlers' diets, but kids up to 18 should drink at most one cup of it per day.

Fruit juice is lacking in the protein and fiber that is found in fruits, according to the recommendations, being published in the June issue of Pediatrics. That can lead to too much or too little weight gain.

"Parents may perceive fruit juice as healthy, but it is not a good substitute for fresh fruit and just packs in more sugar and calories," said Melvin B. Heyman, co-author of the policy, in a statement. "Small amounts in moderation are fine for older kids, but are absolutely unnecessary for children under 1."

It's the first change in the academy's recommendations for 16 years, according to the statement.

Fruit drinks do not have the same value as fruit juice, the pediatricians note, and doctors may prescribe fruit juice in some instances.

The Juice Products Association on Monday saying "U.S. juice manufacturers have long supported the nutrition guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics and we agree with the AAP’s recommendation that 100% fruit juice, in both fresh and reconstituted forms, 'can be a healthy part of the diet of children older than 1 year when consumed as part of a well-balanced diet.'

"Further, juice manufacturers are aligned with the AAP’s recommendations regarding fruit juice consumption by infants. These guidelines were first published in Pediatrics in July 2015," the statement said.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Consumer Reports Ranks Top Sunscreens of 2017]]> Fri, 19 May 2017 07:17:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-200535755-001.jpg

If you think all sunscreens are created equal, think again.

Consumer Reports has released its annual list of top sunscreens as well as a warning about the SPF number on some bottles: If you put too much faith in them, you could be putting your skin at risk.

SPF, which stands for sun protection factor, measures how well a sunscreen guards against ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, the chief cause of sunburn and a contributor to skin cancer.

For the fifth year in a row, Consumer Reports found some sunscreens during testing failed to provide the level of protection promised on the package. In fact, of the more than 60 products tested, 23 were found to have less than half of the labeled SPF number.

The Food and Drug Administration requires manufacturers to have their products tested to determine the SPF because sunscreens are classified as over-the-counter drugs. However, the agency doesn’t routinely test sunscreens itself and manufacturers don’t have to report their results to the FDA unless the agency requests them.

According to Consumer Reports, an FDA official at a public meeting in June 2016 said the agency only had the resources for 30 employees to cover more than 100,000 over-the-counter drugs, which limits what they can do to oversee sunscreens.

"Manufacturers test sunscreens for SPF before their products hit the market, but unless they are reformulated, that may be the only testing they do. That’s one reason CR tests sunscreens," Trisha Calvo, Consumer Reports Health Editor, said.

The agency found a number of sunscreens that provide solid protection against sunburn, skin cancer and wrinkles and are also a good value.

Below are 14 recommended sunscreens that received excellent overall ratings:


  • LA ROCHE-POSAY - Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk, $36
  • EQUATE (Walmart)- Sport Lotion SPF 50, $5
  • PURE - Sun Defense Disney Frozen Lotion, SPF 50, $6
  • COPPERTONE - WaterBabies Lotion, SPF 50, $12
  • EQUATE (Walmart)- Ultra Protection Lotion, SPF 50, $8
  • OCEAN POTION - Protect and Nourish, SPF 30, $8
  • AVEENO - Protect and Hydrate lotion, SPF 30, $8
  • UP and UP (Target)- Sheer Dry-Touch Lotion, SPF 30, $5
  • COPPERTONE - Clearly Sheer Lotion, SPF 50, $7
  • NEUTROGENA - CoolDry Sport Lotion, SPF 30, $9.50
  • NEUTROGENA - Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Lotion, SPF 45, $9.50
  • HAWAIIAN TROPIC - Sheer Touch Ultra Radiance Lotion, SPF 50, $10.50
  • WELL AT WALGREENS - Baby Lotion, SPF 50, $3
  • COPPERTONE - Sport High Performance Lotion, SPF 50, $12




Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Common Lead Test May Be Wrong, FDA and CDC Say]]> Wed, 17 May 2017 14:10:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/206*120/AP_551526133025.jpg

As NBC News reports, many children and pregnant women may need to get new lead tests because one of the most common lab tests may have given falsely low readings, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

The blood tests were made by Magellan Diagnostics and it's the only FDA-approved test used in most doctor's offices, the FDA said.

Any adult or child who had blood drawn for a lead test since 2014 may have to be re-tested, the FDA said.

Studies have shown many U.S. public water supplies are contaminated by lead.

Lead kills developing brain cells and the consequences are permanent. That can include lower IQ scores, poor school performance, inattention, impulsive behavior, aggression and hyperactivity.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Carlos Osorio]]>
<![CDATA[Caffeine Overdose Killed South Carolina Teen: Coroner]]> Mon, 15 May 2017 17:07:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/GettyImages-571245571.jpg

A 16-year-old South Carolina boy who collapsed in a classroom had so much caffeine over a two-hour span that it killed him, a medical examiner said Monday. 

Davis Allen Cripe died April 26 at Palmetto Health Parkridge Hospital after collapsing at Spring Hill High School. He drank a large diet soda, a latte and an energy drink in the two hours before he fell ill, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said in a press conference Monday. 

Watts officially ruled the cause of death as a caffeine-induced cardiac event. He said Cripe had no family history that would have compounded the effects of caffeine and said the boy was otherwise healthy when he died. 

"We lost Davis from a totally legal substance," Watts said. "It was so much caffeine at the time of his death that it caused his arrhythmia."

The coroner said caffeinated drinks can be "very dangerous."

"I'm telling my friends and family: Don't drink them," he said. 

Cripe's father, Sean Cripe, attended the press conference. He said he hoped his son's death would save other lives by exposing the potential dangers of excessive caffeine.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Patients Beg for Pricey Drugs on Facebook Black Market]]> Thu, 11 May 2017 15:28:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-141926979.jpg

Desperate patients are swapping pricey pharmaceutical drugs on Facebook, NBC News reported.

NBC News searched Facebook and found postings to trade insulins, EpiPens, asthma inhalers and other prescription medications.

"If it weren't for the online diabetes community I would be dead," said Amy Leyendecker, a 43-year-old medical transcription student from Kentucky living with Type-1 diabetes who requires daily doses of insulin to stay alive.

Doctors say patients like Leyendecker take a big gamble.

"Patients can put themselves in grave danger by using insulin 'traded' online," said Dr. Joshua Miller, medical director of diabetes care at Stony Brook Medicine, running the risk of infection, or fluctuating blood sugar levels if the insulin was expired or stored incorrectly.



Photo Credit: John Moore/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Study Identifies Root Cause of Gray, Balding Hair]]> Thu, 11 May 2017 08:51:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/gray+hair+study+ut+southwestern.jpg

Scientists in North Texas have identified the cells that cause hair to turn gray and to go bald – findings that could one day help identify possible treatments.

Researchers from the University of Texas Southewestern Medical Center accidentally stumbled upon the discovery while studying a rare genetic disease that causes tumors to grow on nerves. 

"When we saw the mice that we were expecting to form a tumor turned gray, we were really excited!" said Dr. Lu Le, an associate professor of dermatology at UT Southwestern.

The researchers found that a protein called KROX20, more commonly associated with nerve development, switches on in skin cells that become the hair shaft.

These hair cells then produce another protein called stem cell factor (SCF). In mice, these two proteins turned out to be important for baldness and graying.

When researchers deleted the SCF gene in mice, the animals' hair turned white; when they deleted the cells that produce KROX20, the mice stopped growing hair and eventually went bald, according to the study.

"We were really excited because as a dermatologist, I treat patients with hair disease, so when we found the root cause of why hair turns gray and hair loss, we just cannot let it go," Le said.

More research is needed to understand if the process works similarly in humans, and Le and his colleagues plan to start studying it in people.

Le hopes that, armed with this knowledge, scientists can develop a topical compound or transplant the necessary gene to hair follicles to correct these cosmetic problems.

Researchers say the findings could one day also provide answers about why humans age in general as hair graying and hair loss are among the first signs of aging.

At Hair Revival Studio in Dallas, clients say the possibility of a treatment for gray hair and baldness sounds remarkable.

"Everyone wants to have a good head of hair. There's a lot of confidence that comes with that," said Brandon Stewart.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Senate Group Draws Fire for Lack of Women Working on Health Care]]> Tue, 09 May 2017 14:36:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcconnell-gop-senate.jpg

The core group of 13 Republican senators tasked with crafting health care legislation to repeal Obamacare is under fire for not including any women senators, NBC News reports.

Some Republican women, like Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have expressed disappointment at being shut out of the working group, led by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. 

McConnell has denied there is a problem with the group’s makeup, saying that every Senate Republican will have their say.

Democrats have been quick to point out the lack of women in the group. "I would hope that Senator McConnell would be a little more sensitive to the fact he's picked a dozen men on his side, there are certainly some very competent women he could've chosen," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told MSNBC Tuesday.



Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Family Seeks Help After Suburban Boy's Rare Diagnosis]]> Tue, 09 May 2017 12:32:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/189*120/boy+scouts+sky+5+resize.jpg

When Brandon Carp’s parents took him to a doctor for swelling in his face, they thought he simply had a sinus infection.

But a pulled molar, a CT scan and several doctors visits later, the young suburban boy’s diagnosis took a far more serious turn.

Corrie and Rich Carp brought their son to the pediatrician back in August, suspecting the swelling on the right side of his face may have been sparked by a sinus infection. Brandon was given antibiotics, but was told to go see a dentist for the swelling in his face.

Soon after, the dentist believed the swelling may have been due to Brandon’s molar coming in and the tooth was pulled, family members said. 

But weeks later, the swelling remained and eventually, an ear, nose and throat specialist ordered a CT scan of the boy’s face.

Eventually, Brandon was diagnosed with Juvenile Naspharyngeal Angiofibroma, an uncommon yet aggressive benign tumor.

“[Blood vessels] were pushing on his eye and brain, wrapped around his carotid artery and some of the main nerves to his face,” a GoFundMe page looking to raise funds for the Carp family.

Brandon underwent his first surgery in October of last year and a second operation in December.

“After a 9-hour surgery, they were able to remove most of the tumor, leaving the little bit that was wrapped on the carotid artery and pushing on his brain,” the GoFundMe page read.

Brandon was then treated with weeks of radiation and has continued to undergo MRIs, which he will need until he at least 18.

“We are so grateful for the team of wonderful specialists who have brought Brandon this far but it has left a pile of bills,” Brandon’s great aunt Valeria Marie wrote on the page. “Not only the medical bills but household as well. Many of you reading this have helped with your prayers, for which we are very grateful but now the family needs help with the bills.”

In its few hours, the fundraising campaign has raised more than $1,700, with a goal of $75,000.


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<![CDATA[Life Expectancy Varies by 20 Years Across US Counties]]> Tue, 09 May 2017 09:10:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/america-life-expectancy-jama-study.jpg

Americans' life expectancy varies by nearly a generation across counties in the United States, according to a new study, from a high of 87 years in Colorado's ski country to a low of 66 years in southwest South Dakota, with other parts of the Dakotas, Appalachia and the Mississippi river basin close behind.

NBC News reported that obesity and diabetes could explain a big chunk of that 20-year difference, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association's JAMA Internal Medicine Monday.

Many studies have shown that where Americans live has a big effect on how long they live. But Dr. Christopher Murray's team at the University of Washington found that the disparity has increased by five years since 1980, when they looked at life expectancy and risk of death for each county across the U.S. from then until 2014.

"The magnitude of these disparities demands action, all the more urgently because inequalities will only increase further if recent trends are allowed to continue uncontested," the team wrote.



Photo Credit: American Medical Association]]>
<![CDATA[New Testing Method Revolutionizes Allergy Identification]]> Mon, 08 May 2017 12:28:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/232*120/Screen+Shot+2017-05-08+at+1.22.10+PM.png

A new finger prick test can identify more than 100 allergens, revolutionizing the more laborious methods currently in use.

Dr. Janet Pate with Nurture Pediatrics in Bellaire, Texas says that until now the only proven allergy tests were to draw vials of blood or do a scratch test, which only test for 14 allergens and can be uncomfortable.

Pate said the new Allergypro test can confirm up to 120 allergens with just four drops of blood.

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<![CDATA[Measles Outbreak Caused by Vaccine Skeptics: Health Depts.]]> Mon, 08 May 2017 21:06:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/177*120/measlesminnesota_1200x675.jpg

An outbreak of measles in Minnesota has led to 44 infected people, nearly all of them children, the Minnesota department of health says. Eleven kids are in the hospital and more cases of measles are expected, NBC News reported.

Doubts about vaccines helped fuel Minnesota's biggest outbreak of measles in decades and attracted determined vaccine skeptics eager to exploit fear, health officials say.

But the outbreak has not only caught people's attention; it has helped demonstrate that anti-vaccine activists are wrong, state and county health officials say.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cook County Officials Warn of Spike in Deaths From New Drug]]> Mon, 08 May 2017 19:26:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/drug+needles.png

More than 40 people have died so far this year in Cook County due to a powerful new drug, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Officials confirmed that from January through April 8, at least 44 deaths were attributed to the opioid acrylfentanyl, a “new fentanyl analog whose potency is still being studied.” That number could continue to rise as toxicology testing can take several weeks to complete.

In 2016, only seven deaths were attributed to the drug.


The medical examiner’s office said it has seen a marked increase in deaths from fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, a powerful drug used by physicians to treat severe pain, in the area since 2015.

"Fentanyl and fentanyl analogues are very powerful drugs that are likely to be lethal," Dr. Ponni Arunkumar, Cook County’s chief medical examiner, said in a statement. “Just one dose can easily stop a person from breathing, causing immediate death.”

In 2016, a total of 1,091 people in Cook County died, at least in part, because of an opiate-related overdose. In 2015, that number sat at 649.

Still, more than half of the deaths in 2016 happened after people used fentanyl or fentanyl analogs.

“These high-potency opioids and opioid analogs are thousands of times stronger than street opioids like heroin and are far more likely to cause death,” Dr. Steve Aks, emergency medicine physician and toxicologist at the Cook County Health & Hospitals System's Stroger Hospital, said in a statement.

Health officials said the public and first responders should be alerted to the recent findings by the medical examiner’s office.

“In many cases, one dose of naloxone, the heroin antidote, will revive a person who has overdosed on heroin. But we are seeing people in our emergency department who need increased doses of naloxone – in some cases as many as four doses – for the patient to be stabilized after ingesting fentanyl, or a heroin/fentanyl combination,” Aks said. “The EMS and emergency medicine community needs to be aware of the potential need for additional naloxone in such cases.”

News of the latest fentanyl-related deaths follows recent alerts surrounding another deadly drug known as “gray death” -- a new and dangerous opioid combo.

The substance is a combination of several opioids blamed for thousands of fatal overdoses nationally, including heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil — sometimes used to tranquilize large animals like elephants — and a synthetic opioid called U-47700.

Last year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration listed U-47700 in the category of the most dangerous drugs it regulates, saying it was associated with dozens of fatalities, mostly in New York and North Carolina. Some of the pills taken from Prince's estate after the musician's overdose death last year contained U-47700.

Kane County's coroner recently warned residents about the so-called "gray death" drug, saying it is "killing people at an alarming rate in the country."

Coroner Rob Russell said in a news release he's not sure if the drug has arrived in the Chicago area, but "sees this public announcement as an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and thwart some area deaths."

The combo is just the latest in the trend of heroin mixed with other opioids, such as fentanyl, which has been around for a few years. These deadly combinations are becoming a hallmark of the heroin and opioid epidemic, which the government says resulted in 33,000 fatal overdoses nationally in 2015.

The most common fentanyl analogs seen in Cook County include furanyl fentanyl and a substance called despropionyl fentanyl or 4-ANPP. Toxicology tests show decedents have used the drugs alone, as well as with heroin and other drugs such as cocaine, according to the medical examiner.

“It has been difficult enough to warn citizens of pure heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, and other opiates. Now all of these substances, and more, are being combined together and used at an alarming rate and people are dying because of it," Russell said. “In addition, because these strong drugs can be absorbed through the skin, simply touching the powder puts users, and First Responders, at risk."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gray Death: The New Killer Drug in the War Against Opioids]]> Sat, 06 May 2017 06:15:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/gray-death.jpg

Ominously named Gray Death, the killer drug cocktail is making headlines in the ongoing war against the national opioid crisis, NBC News reported.

What exactly is Gray Death? Start with heroin. Mix in the powerful painkiller fentanyl, which has 50 times more punch. Add a dash of carfentanil, which is an animal tranquilizer 100 times more powerful than fentanyl and made to be used on tigers and elephants.

While limited to the Gulf Coast and states like Georgia and Ohio, it is still on the federal Drug Enforcement Agency's radar. and "we are monitoring the potential spread of this deadly combination of drugs,"

"It's mad science and the guinea pigs are the American public," Russ Baer of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency told NBC News. "The ingredients come from abroad but this is made in America."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[How to Protect Yourself From Surge in Lyme Disease Ticks]]> Fri, 05 May 2017 10:17:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Lyme-Disease-Tick.jpg

The Center for Disease Control has predicted a surge in the number of Lyme-carrying ticks in the Northeast and Midwest from April through the beginning of the summer.

While there is a higher risk of contracting Lyme disease this year compared to previous years, there are various precautions people can take to reduce their risk of getting the tick-borne illness after spending time outdoors. 

“When hiking, wear pants and socks, stay in the middle of paths as much as possible, avoiding tall grass and leaf piles where ticks tend to hide,” Dr. Patricia DeLaMora, a pediatric infectious disease physician at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian, said in an email.

DeLaMora advises people to wear insect repellent with 20-30 percent DEET while outside. She also suggests treating “camping, shoes and gear” with Permethrin, an anti-parasite spray.

Ticks can also find themselves into your home via your household pet.

“Check your pets for ticks as well, as a tick can ‘catch a ride’ on a pet and then attach to a human,” DeLaMora said.

Lyme disease symptoms vary and can be similar to the flu. Symptoms include, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headache and fever.Circular rashes are also a product of the disease.

Symptoms can appear in less than a week after a tick bite, according to experts.

A doctor should be contacted for medical advice and treatment immediately if someone believes they have been bitten by a tick.

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<![CDATA[Olympic Medalists Raise Awareness About Kids' Mental Health]]> Thu, 04 May 2017 21:05:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/20170504+Phelps+and+Schmitt+2.jpg

Olympic gold medalists Michael Phelps and Allison Schmitt partnered with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Thursday to raise awareness about children’s mental health.

The two chaired a discussion Thursday night focused on the mental health care that kids need -- and how families can access mental health resources -- for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day 2017.

This year’s theme was “Partnering for Help and Hope.”

Both said that reaching out for help was key to their recovery. "Sometimes we need to see it's possible, that it can and does work, to see how we can accomplish it ourselves," Schmitt said.

“I'm so glad we both found the courage to ask for help," Phelps said.

He described the support that he received from his coach, Bob Bowman.

"He taught me so many things ... he was always pushing for me to go out and get help," Phelps said. "He was on board and he learned from the process as well ... it was something we both grew from. 

"I can never, ever thank him enough."

Schmitt said she struggled to share her story, but realized it could do some good. "When I chose to speak out on my own struggle, my only goal was to save one life," she said. "No person should have to endure these struggles alone."

Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history, and Schmitt, an eight-time Olympic medalist, have been up-front about their own struggles with mental health and substance abuse. 

Phelps had been arrested for driving under the influence in 2004 and 2014; a photo of him using pot at a party in 2009 cost him sponsorships and led to a brief ban from swimming.

In an interview with NBC Sports’ host Bob Costas, Phelps said he thought about taking his own life.

"The struggles I have had weren’t easy, and they weren't fun. But they are a part of my journey," Phelps said Thursday. "I truly encourage everybody to ask for help or to reach out to somebody … and to be there in a time of need."

He checked himself into a rehab clinic in October 2014. Now, his Michael Phelps Foundation works to support active lifestyles for young people.

Schmitt made her first Olympic appearance at the 2008 Beijing games. but depression hit after the 2012 London Olympics, CNN reports. Schmitt said she considered driving her car off the road on the way to her sisters’ hockey game after two seasons that did not land her a spot on the USA swim team. 

It was Phelps who helped Schmitt get help, and she thanked him for that Thursday.

"Thank you for being that lending hand for hope and help," she said.

Phelps also encouraged others to reach out.

"This is something we all have the power to change, and we can make a difference," Phelps said.



Photo Credit: NBC Washington
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<![CDATA[5 Myths About Quitting Sugar, Debunked]]> Mon, 01 May 2017 11:56:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-519743196-sugar.jpg

A lot of people vow to quit sugar as the weather warms up, but as NBC News' Better team discovered, it's easier said than done to make it 10 days without the sweet stuff.

People hold some several misconceptions about sugar, from denying they have a problem to knowing where sugar lurks.

For example, most Americans consume nearly twice the amount of recommended sugar — 50 grams, or 12 teaspoons — every day, Dish on Fish blogger Rima Kleiner said.

If you're embarking on your own no-sugar challenge this spring, NBC News gathered five myths about quitting sugar to school yourself.



Photo Credit: Luis Ascui/Getty Images, File]]>