Sex differences in brain activity alter pain therapies

A female brain's resident immune cells are more active in regions involved in pain processing relative to males, according to a recent study.

The study, found that when microglia, the brain's resident immune cells, were blocked, female response to opioid pain medication improved and matched the levels of pain relief normally seen in males.

Women suffer from a higher incidence of chronic and inflammatory pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. While morphine continues to be one of the primary drugs used for the treatment of severe or chronic pain, it is often less effective in females.

Living with children may mean less sleep for women, but not for men

New research backs up what many women already know: They're sleep deprived. Unlike men, a good night's sleep for women is affected by having children in the house, according to a preliminary study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 69th Annual Meeting in Boston, April 22 to 28, 2017.

"I think these findings may bolster those women who say they feel exhausted," said study author Kelly Sullivan, PhD, of Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. "Our study found not only are they not sleeping long enough, they also report feeling tired throughout the day."

Long-term stress linked to higher levels of obesity

People who suffer long-term stress may also be more prone to obesity, according to research by scientists which involved examining hair samples for levels of cortisol, a hormone which regulates the body's response to stress according to Science daily.

The paper, showed that exposure to higher levels of cortisol over several months is associated with people being more heavily, and more persistently, overweight.

Chronic stress has long been hypothesised to be implicated in obesity -- people tend to report overeating and 'comfort eating' foods high in fat, sugar and calories in times of stress, and the stress hormone cortisol plays an important role in metabolism and determining where fat is stored.

Snail venom compound 'offers chronic pain therapy'

Venom from a small snail could be used to develop a treatment for chronic pain, scientists suggest according to BBC.

Normally used to paralyse or kill its prey, the venom also contains a compound that appears to act as long-lasting pain relief.

In research on rats, the compound was still working three days later.

The findings meant it may be possible to create a new pain therapy for patients who had run out of options, the researchers said.

Most medicines for moderate to severe pain, called opioids, work by reducing the perception of pain.

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

Patients, who complain they can't hear their friends at a noisy restaurant, but pass a hearing test in their doctor's office, may be describing hidden hearing loss according to Science daily.

Now, less than six years since its initial description, scientists have made great strides in understanding what hidden hearing loss is and what causes it. In research, researchers report a new unexpected cause for this auditory neuropathy, a step toward the eventual work to identify treatments.

"If people can have hidden hearing loss for different reasons, having the ability to make the right diagnosis of the pathogenesis will be critical," says author Gabriel Corfas, Ph.D.