TODAY   |  February 19, 2014

Loneliness can be bad for your health

Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News’ chief medical editor, joins TODAY to chat about the latest health news, including how loneliness affects your health.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> all right. let's turn now to your health. we're going to answer some questions this morning, like how does loneliness affect your well being ?

>> and nbc's chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman . we were talking about this review and what people are talking about online.

>> you can get a ticked off patient that writes a scathing review. i've always said to people, i recommend it sometimes doctors with not great personality because they're the best and smartest in their field. bottom line , you want to find a good doctor, ask a nurse. they're the most observant.

>> see?

>> hello nurse .

>> that's your take home message for the day.

>> the nurses know.

>> let's start with some health headlines. first one, a little bit surprising, these well check visits, which parents always take their kids to and should continue to do so, but sometimes it could exposing your kids to illnesses.

>> this is an interesting one. we do take our kids in under the age of 6 for their well baby visits and i want parents to do it because you know i believe in immunizations and normal vaccinations. but parents haven't taught their kids about washing their hands and how to sneeze in their elbow. and doctors don't do a good job of segregating the waiting room . and now it all stratranslates into almost 800,000 influenza illnesses a year. bottom line is, the providers need to do a better job and parents, if your kids are really sick, sometimes that's just a phone call to the nurse and doesn't require going into the office.

>> but don't stop going to see your doctor.

>> definitely don't. and don't stop getting your baby shots.

>> don't let the kids play with the toys.

>> sometimes, it's a 7 to 10-day incubation process.

>> concussions, youth concussions in football. turns out not all helmets created equal.

>> football is football. at some point we're going to have to talk about this is a contact sport, 4 million of our kids play football, looking for the helmets that will prevent everything bad from happening. helmets have cut down on concussions and brain bleeding -- i'm sorry, on skull fractures and brain bleeding. they've not made a difference on concussions. so this new study looked at not just the linear force of running into somebody, but that torquing of your neck. and this side of your head, you know, the bone isn't as strong there as it is in the back. so there are companies that have sort of put warnings out there, we're the safest, we're the best, don't believe it. there's no one great helmet that trumps all of them. we need to put more helmets through crash dummy tests like we do automobiles.

>> how about this one, university of chicago study found that loneliness may actually be bad for your health.

>> especially when you get older. and we know that older people who are lonely die six years younger than those who aren't. it's a responsibility for physicians to say to elderly people , you know, are you seeing someone? it's a responsibility for neighbors to get people out. and remember this whole idea of social. we need each other. that doesn't stop later in life. you might need it more. better for your brain, better for your heart and absolutely prolongs your life.

>> great advice. dr. nancy snyderman , thank you so much.

>> thank you.

>>> coming up next, what millions of fans have been waiting for. team usa taking to the ice today in women's figure skating. aiming for olympic glory. that's right. gold medalist