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    [AUDIO]http://www.voanews.com/MediaAssets2/learningenglish/dalet/se-sin-2581-headache%20pain-30mar10.Mp3[/AUDIO]

    What Doctors Are Doing About Headaches, and What You Can Do

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    There are different kinds of headaches, from the mildly unpleasant to the extremely painful, but almost all can now be treated..
    BOB DOUGHTY: This is SCIENCE IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Bob Doughty.
    SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: And I'm Shirley Griffith. Today we tell about headaches, the pain that strikes almost everyone at some time.
    (MUSIC)
    BOB DOUGHTY: Have you had a headache recently? If your answer is yes, you are like many millions of people worldwide who experience pain in the head. The pain can be temporary, mild and cured by a simple painkiller like aspirin. Or it can be severe.
    The National Headache Foundation says more than forty five million people in the United States suffer chronic headaches. Such a headache causes severe pain that goes away but returns later.
    Some headaches may prove difficult and require time to treat. But many experts today are working toward cures or major help for chronic headaches.
    SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: The US Headache Consortium is a group with seven member organizations. They are attempting to improve treatment of one kind of headache -- the migraine. Some people experience this kind of pain as often as two weeks every month. The National Headache Foundation says about seventy percent of migraine sufferers are women.
    Some people describe the pain as throbbing, causing pressure in the head. Others compare it to someone driving a sharp object into the head. Migraine headaches cause Americans to miss at least one hundred fifty million workdays each year. A migraine can be mild. But it also can be so severe that a person cannot live a normal life.
    BOB DOUGHTY: One migraine sufferer lives in Ellicott City, Maryland. Video producer Curtis Croley had head pain as a child. He does not know what kind of headaches they were. But when he suffered severe headaches as an adult, doctors identified the problem as migraine.
    Today, Mister Croley says months can pass without a headache. But then he will have three migraines within a month. If he takes the medicine his doctor ordered early in his headache, it controls the pain. If not, the pain in his head becomes extremely bad. Sometimes he has had to be treated with a combination of drugs in a hospital.
    (MUSIC)
    SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Some people take medicine every day to prevent or ease migraine headaches. Others use medicine to control pain already developed. Doctors treating migraine sufferers often order medicines from a group of drugs known as triptans.
    Most migraines react at least partly to existing medicine. And most people can use existing medicine without experiencing bad effects. Doctors sometimes use caffeine to treat migraine headaches. Interestingly, caffeine also can cause some migraines.
    BOB DOUGHTY: Medical experts have long recognized the work of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The Mayo Clinic says several foods are suspected of causing migraines. Cheese and alcoholic drinks are among them. Food additives like salt and monosodium glutamate also are suspected causes.
    The Mayo Clinic tells patients to avoid strong smells that have seemingly started migraines in the past. Some people react badly to products like perfume, even if they have a pleasant smell.
    The clinic's experts say aerobic exercise can help migraine sufferers. Aerobic exercise increases a person's heart rate. It can include walking, swimming or riding a bicycle. But a sudden start to hard exercise can cause headaches.
    The experts advise that people should plan to exercise, eat and sleep at the same times each day.
    SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: The Mayo Clinic has advice about estrogen for women who suffer from migraines. The female body makes estrogen. Drugs like birth control pills contain a version of this chemical.
    Such medicines may produce headaches or cause them to worsen, the clinic says. The same is true for estrogen replacement drugs for women. Doctors sometimes order estrogen replacement for women who no longer able to have children.
    BOB DOUGHTY: The clinic also says hypnotherapy might help suppress headaches. It says the method could reduce the number and severity of a patient’s headaches. In hypnotherapy, willing people are placed in a condition that lets them receive suggestions. They look like they are sleeping. The suggestions they receive may be able to direct their whole mental energy against pain.
    The Mayo Clinic says the hypnotizer can never control the person under hypnosis. It also says the hypnotized personwill remember what happened during the treatment.
    (MUSIC)
    SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: More people suffer tension headaches than migraines. But most tension headaches are not as powerful.
    Events that start tension headaches may include emotional pressure and the deeper than normal sadness called depression. Other tension headaches can start from something as simple as tiredness. Common changes in atmospheric conditions also can be responsible.
    The Mayo Clinic says you may feel a tension headache as tightness in the skin around your eyes. Or, you may feel pressure around your head. Episodic tension headaches strike from time to time. Chronic tension headaches happen more often. A tension headache can last from a half hour to a whole week.
    BOB DOUGHTY: The Mayo Clinic says the pain may come very early in the day. Other signs can include pain in the neck or the lower part of the head. Scientists are not sure what causes tension headaches. For years, researchers blamed muscle tension from tightening in the face, neck and the skin on top of the head. They believed emotional tension caused these movements.
    But that belief has been disputed. A test called an electromyogram shows that muscle tension does not increase in people with a tension headache. The test records electrical currents caused by muscle activity. Such research caused the International Headache Society to re-name the tension headache. The group now calls it a tension-type headache.
    SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Some scientists now believe that tension headaches may result from changes among brain chemicals such as serotonin. The changes may start sending pain messages to the brain. These changes may interfere with brain activity that suppresses pain.
    Medicines for tension headache can be as simple as aspirin or other painkillers. But if your pain is too severe, you will need a doctor's advice.
    BOB DOUGHTY: A web site called Family Doctor dot org provides information from the American Academy of Family Physicians. The group suggests steps to ease or end a tension headache.
    For example, it says putting heat or ice on your head or neck can help. So can standing under hot water while you are getting washed. The group also advises exercising often. Another idea is taking a holiday from work. But you had better ask your employer first.
    (MUSIC)
    SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Ask anyone with a cluster headache, and they will tell you that the pain is terrible. The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio says the cluster headache can be many times more intense than a migraine.
    Cluster headaches usually strike young people. Smokers and persons who drink alcohol often get these headaches. Men are about six times more likely than women to have them. The Cleveland Clinic says this is especially true of younger men. Doctors say cluster headaches often strike during changes of season.
    Cluster headache patients describe the pain as burning. The pain is almost always felt on one side of the face. It can last for up to ninety minutes. Then it stops. But it often starts again later the same day. Eighty to ninety percent of cluster headache patients have pain over a number of days to a whole year. Pain-free periods separate these periods.
    BOB DOUGHTY: The Cleveland Clinic says the cause of cluster headaches is in a brain area known as a trigeminal-autonomic reflex pathway. When the nerve is made active, it starts pain linked to cluster headaches. The nerve starts a process that makes one eye watery and red.
    Studies have shown that activation of the trigeminal nerve may come from a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The Cleveland Clinic says injections of the drug sumatriptan can help. Many other drugs could be used. For example, doctors say breathing oxygen also can help.
    Thankfully, modern medicine has ways to treat almost all of our headaches.
    (MUSIC)
    SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: This program was written by Jerilyn Watson. Our producer was Brianna Blake. I'm Shirley Griffith.
    BOB DOUGHTY: And I'm Bob Doughty. Join us again next week for more news about science in Special English on the Voice of America.

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    [audio]http://www.voanews.com/MediaAssets2/learningenglish/dalet/se-as-luck-27-mar-10.Mp3[/audio]

    Short Story: 'Luck' by Mark Twain


    SUSAN CLARK: Now, the Special English program, AMERICAN STORIES.
    (MUSIC)
    Our story today is called "Luck." It was written by Mark Twain. Here is Shep O’Neal with the story.
    (MUSIC)
    SHEP O'NEAL: I was at a dinner in London given in honor of one of the most celebrated English military men of his time. I do not want to tell you his real name and titles. I will just call him Lieutenant General Lord Arthur Scoresby.
    I cannot describe my excitement when I saw this great and famous man. There he sat, the man himself, in person, all covered with medals. I could not take my eyes off him. He seemed to show the true mark of greatness. His fame had no effect on him. The hundreds of eyes watching him, the worship of so many people did not seem to make any difference to him.
    Next to me sat a clergyman, who was an old friend of mine. He was not always a clergyman. During the first half of his life he was a teacher in the military school at Woolwich. There was a strange look in his eye as he leaned toward me and whispered – “Privately – he is a complete fool.” He meant, of course, the hero of our dinner.
    This came as a shock to me. I looked hard at him. I could not have been more surprised if he has said the same thing about Nepoleon, or Socrates, or Solomon. But I was sure of two things about the clergyman. He always spoke the truth. And, his judgment of men was good. Therefore, I wanted to find out more about our hero as soon as I could.
    Some days later I got a chance to talk with the clergyman, and he told me more. These are his exact words:
    About forty years ago, I was an instructor in the military academy at Woolwich, when young Scoresby was given his first examination. I felt extremely sorry for him. Everybody answered the questions well, intelligently, while he – why, dear me – he did not know anything, so to speak. He was a nice, pleasant young man. It was painful to see him stand there and give answers that were miracles of stupidity.
    I knew of course that when examined again he would fail and be thrown out. So, I said to myself, it would be a simple, harmless act to help him as much as I could.
    I took him aside and found he knew a little about Julius Ceasar’s history. But, he did not know anything else. So, I went to work and tested him and worked him like a slave. I made him work, over and over again, on a few questions about Ceasar, which I knew he would be asked.
    If you will believe me, he came through very well on the day of the examination. He got high praise too, while others who knew a thousand times more than he were sharply criticized. By some strange, lucky accident, he was asked no questions but those I made him study. Such an accident does not happen more than once in a hundred years.
    Well, all through his studies, I stood by him, with the feeling a mother has for a disabled child. And he always saved himself by some miracle.
    I thought that what in the end would destroy him would be the mathematics examination. I decided to make his end as painless as possible. So, I pushed facts into his stupid head for hours. Finally, I let him go to the examination to experience what I was sure would be his dismissal from school. Well, sir, try to imagine the result. I was shocked out of my mind. He took first prize! And he got the highest praise.
    I felt guilty day and night – what I was doing was not right. But I only wanted to make his dismissal a little less painful for him. I never dreamed it would lead to such strange, laughable results.
    I thought that sooner or later one thing was sure to happen: The first real test once he was through school would ruin him.
    Then, the Crimean War broke out. I felt that sad for him that there had to be a war. Peace would have given this donkey a chance to escape from ever being found out as being so stupid. Nervously, I waited for the worst to happen. It did. He was appointed an officer. A captain, of all things! Who could have dreamed that they would place such a responsibility on such weak shoulders as his.
    I said to myself that I was responsible to the country for this. I must go with him and protect the nation against him as far as I could. So, I joined up with him. And anyway we went to the field.
    And there – oh dear, it was terrible. Mistakes, fearful mistakes – why, he never did anything that was right – nothing but mistakes. But, you see, nobody knew the secret of how stupid he really was. Everybody misunderstood his actions. They saw his stupid mistakes as works of great intelligence. They did, honestly!
    His smallest mistakes made a man in his right mind cry, and shout and scream too – to himself, of course. And what kept me in a continual fear was the fact that every mistake he made increased his glory and fame. I kept saying to myself that when at last they found out about him, it will be like the sun falling out of the sky.
    He continued to climb up, over the dead bodies of his superiors. Then, in the hottest moment of one battle down went our colonel. My heart jumped into my mouth, for Scoresby was the next in line to take his place. Now, we are in for it, I said…
    The battle grew hotter. The English and their allies were steadily retreating all over the field. Our regiment occupied a position that was extremely important. One mistake now would bring total disaster. And what did Scoresby do this time – he just mistook his left hand for his right hand…that was all. An order came for him to fall back and support our right. Instead, he moved forward and went over the hill to the left. We were over the hill before this insane movement could be discovered and stopped. And what did we find? A large and unsuspected Russian army waiting! And what happened – were we all killed? That is exactly what would have happened in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred. But no – those surprised Russians thought that no one regiment by itself would come around there at such a time.
    It must be the whole British army, they thought. They turned tail, away they went over the hill and down into the field in wild disorder, and we after them. In no time, there was the greatest turn around you ever saw. The allies turned defeat into a sweeping and shining victory.
    The allied commander looked on, his head spinning with wonder, surprise and joy. He sent right off for Scoresby, and put his arms around him and hugged him on the field in front of all the armies. Scoresby became famous that day as a great military leader – honored throughout the world. That honor will never disappear while history books last.
    He is just as nice and pleasant as ever, but he still does not know enough to come in out of the rain. He is the stupidest man in the universe.
    Until now, nobody knew it but Scoresby and myself. He has been followed, day by day, year by year, by a strange luck. He has been a shining soldier in all our wars for years. He has filled his whole military life with mistakes. Every one of them brought him another honorary title. Look at his chest, flooded with British and foreign medals. Well, sir, every one of them is the record of some great stupidity or other. They are proof that the best thing that can happen to a man is to be born lucky. I say again, as I did at the dinner, Scoresby’s a complete fool.
    (MUSIC)
    SUSAN CLARK: You have just heard the story "Luck." It was written by Mark Twain and adapted for Special English by Harold Berman. Your narrator was Shep O’Neal. Listen again next week at this same time for another American Story told in Special English on the Voice of America. This is Susan Clark.
     

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