Narrative Thread

By Scott LaFee

August 17, 2016 4 min read

Researchers have woven microscopic sensors into suturing thread, which then informs them how well a sewn-up wound is healing. The smart thread is infused with compounds that sense physical changes, such as temperature, glucose and blood pressure. The thread relays the data to a wireless computer.

So far, testing has only occurred in rats, but the idea is that smart threat in the future could be used to monitor healing in patients and detect infections early.

Steam for Sinus is a No-Nose

For a stuffy nose, doctors and moms often prescribe inhaling deep breaths of steam to ease congestion. A randomized controlled study of 871 participants in Canada, however, found that breathing steam didn't actually do much good. A better option was nasal irrigation, which involves flushing the congested pathways.

Body of Knowledge

On average, your nose warms, cleans and humidifies 500 cubic feet of air, the equivalent of roughly eight phone booths. (Google "phone booth" if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

Get Me That, Stat!

According to English researchers, to best improve your chances of at least reaching average lifespan, your waistline should measure one-half of your height. For example, a man who is 5-foot, 10-inches tall — or 70 inches — should have a waist size no bigger than 35 inches. If his waist size expands to 42 inches or 60 percent of his height, he knocks 1.7 years off his life.

Life in Big Macs

One hour of grocery shopping with or without a cart burns 156 calories (based on a 150-pound person) or the equivalent of 0.2 Big Macs.

Doc Talk

Diaphoresis: sweating

Phobia of the Week

Katastichophobia: fear of lists

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating record for Maui onions is 8.5 ounces (3 onions) in 1 minute, held by Eric Booker, whose nickname is "badlands." That might also describe his post-victory breath.

Best Medicine

Patient: "Doctor, I'm very worried. I'm still suffering from exhaustion and fatigue when I come home from work at night."

Doctor: "Not to worry. Try a small mixed drink as a stimulant. That will soon wake you up."

Patient: "But doctor, last week when I saw you for this problem you told me to cut out all drinking completely."

Doctor: "Yes, I did. But that was last week. Medical science has progressed enormously since then."


"Half of the modern drugs could well be thrown out of the window, except that the birds might eat them."

—German-American physician and author Martin Henry Fischer (1879-1962)

Medical History

This week in 1848, the first U.S. patent for a surgical or dental operating chair with adjustable elevation and tilt of the seat and back was issued to M.W. Hanchett of Syracuse, N.Y. The chair included a footrest with adjustable elevation.


True or false: Your heart can keep beating even if it is separated from your body?

Answer: True. Your heart has its own electrical system. It will keep it beating as long as it receives oxygen.


"I still believe in people."

—Democratic presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden (1814-1886). Tilden won the popular vote in 1876 but lost in a controversial counting of the electoral vote to Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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