Health

Health (45)

Among the various health issues that plague us during the festive holiday season; flu, colds, heart disease, hypothermia, pneumonia….we add one more to the list….Christmas Tree Syndrome.

Christmas Tree Syndrome occurs when one feels ill when they are in close proximity to their Christmas Tree.   True the average Christmas tree is a spruce or fir, which rarely should be allergenic, but researchers have found they still carry allergens such as pollen, picked up by nearby plants, and may house mold.

Researchers from State University in New York analyzed the bark and needles of multiple Christmas trees and found multiple cases of mold with their allergy producing spores. And since they are trees from the wild, they provide residence to thousands of critters…aphids, mites, bark beetles and even spiders.

Now we have been living with Christmas trees each season and harmoniously and symbiotically have lived with their crittery inhabitants without being attacked, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t free from symptoms.

Christmas Tree Syndrome includes any of the following symptoms:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Chest Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Rash
  • Watery Eyes
  • Nasal Itching
  • Scratchy Throat
  • Difficulty Sleeping

 


 

Mold and pollen are notorious for being the biggest culprits in causing these types of respiratory symptoms, so the following has been suggested to reduce your risk of Christmas Tree Syndrome:

  • Hose down the tree and let it dry before bringing it back into the house
  • Utilize an air purifier in the same room as the tree
  • Avoid extended stays of the tree, i.e. put it up nearer to the holiday and take it down once Christmas ends
  • If currently suffering from allergies or asthma, or vulnerable to Christmas Tree Syndrome, delegate tree decorating to someone else in the family…maybe an in-law.
  • Consider having your gorgeous Christmas tree outside the house.

 

 

Have a happy and healthy Christmas!!

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

This week, the CDC issued a general warning that Romaine lettuce is not safe to eat.

32 people from 11 states have become ill due to this recent outbreak of E. coli.

The Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 sickened 32 people between the dates October 8-31, 2018 and caused 13 hospitalizations, one of whom went into kidney failure.

No deaths have been reported.

On Tuesday they issued the following tweet:

CDC‏ @CDCgov

Outbreak Alert: Do not eat any romaine lettuce, including whole heads and hearts, chopped, organic and salad mixes with romaine until we learn more. If you don’t know if it’s romaine or can’t confirm the source, don’t eat it. https://go.usa.gov/xPAy5

 

On their website, the CDC reports the following:

 

CDC is advising that U.S. consumers not eat any romaine lettuce, and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any, until we learn more about the outbreak. This investigation is ongoing and the advice will be updated as more information is available.

  • CONSUMERS WHO HAVE ANY TYPE OF ROMAINE LETTUCE IN THEIR HOME SHOULD NOT EAT IT AND SHOULD THROW IT AWAY, EVEN IF SOME OF IT WAS EATEN AND NO ONE HAS GOTTEN SICK.
    • THIS ADVICE INCLUDES ALL TYPES OR USES OF ROMAINE LETTUCE, SUCH AS WHOLE HEADS OF ROMAINE, HEARTS OF ROMAINE, AND BAGS AND BOXES OF PRECUT LETTUCE AND SALAD MIXES THAT CONTAIN ROMAINE, INCLUDING BABY ROMAINE, SPRING MIX, AND CAESAR SALAD.
    • IF YOU DO NOT KNOW IF THE LETTUCE IS ROMAINE OR WHETHER A SALAD MIX CONTAINS ROMAINE, DO NOT EAT IT AND THROW IT AWAY.
    • WASH AND SANITIZE DRAWERS OR SHELVES IN REFRIGERATORS WHERE ROMAINE WAS STORED. FOLLOW THESE FIVE STEPS TO CLEAN YOUR REFRIGERATOR.
  • RESTAURANTS AND RETAILERS SHOULD NOT SERVE OR SELL ANY ROMAINE LETTUCE, INCLUDING SALADS AND SALAD MIXES CONTAINING ROMAINE.
  • TAKE ACTION IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS OF AN E. COLI INFECTION:
    • TALK TO YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER.
    • WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU ATE IN THE WEEK BEFORE YOU STARTED TO GET SICK.
    • REPORT YOUR ILLNESS TO THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT.
    • ASSIST PUBLIC HEALTH INVESTIGATORS BY ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR ILLNESS.
ADVICE TO CLINICIANS
  • ANTIBIOTICS ARE NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PATIENTS WITH E. COLI O157 INFECTIONS. ANTIBIOTICS ARE ALSO NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PATIENTS IN WHOM E.COLI O157 INFECTION IS SUSPECTED, UNTIL DIAGNOSTIC TESTING RULES OUT THIS INFECTION.
  • SOME STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT ADMINISTERING ANTIBIOTICS TO PATIENTS WITH E. COLI O157 INFECTIONS MIGHT INCREASE THEIR RISK OF DEVELOPING HEMOLYTIC UREMIC SYNDROME (A TYPE OF KIDNEY FAILURE), AND THE BENEFIT OF ANTIBIOTIC TREATMENT HAS NOT BEEN CLEARLY DEMONSTRATED.

Symptoms of E. coli poisoning can occur anywhere from 1-10 days after ingestion.

They include:

  • Nausea
    Vomiting
    Diarrhea, may be bloody
    Fever
    Chills
    Body Aches
    Abdominal Cramps

And if progresses, can cause

  • Shortness of Breath
    Nose bleeds
    Anemia
    Dehydration
    Seizures
    Renal Failure
    Death

Exposure to E. coli may occur from exposure to contaminated foods (from human or animal waste) or undercooked meats.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

 

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Health risks from wildfire smoke

Written by

As the death toll rises and thousands of acres burn between California’s Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire, those residents lucky enough to escape the flames worry what consequences could result in inhaling the smoke.

What is in wildfire smoke?

 

According to the EPA, smoke emanating from forest and community fires may include any of the following:

  • Carbon dioxide, a respiratory byproduct
  • Carbon monoxide, which competes with oxygen in the blood
  • Wood particles
  • Formaldehyde
  • Acrolein – used as a pesticide
  • Benzene
  • Plastics, and those byproducts after incineration
  • and thousands of different respiratory irritants.

According to the EPA,

Smoke is composed primarily of carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, hydrocarbons and other organic chemicals, nitrogen oxides, trace minerals and several thousand other compounds. The actual composition of smoke depends on the fuel type, the temperature of the fire, and the wind conditions. Different types of wood and vegetation are composed of varying amounts of cellulose, lignin, tannins and other polyphenolics, oils, fats, resins, waxes and starches, which produce different compounds when burned.

What symptoms may individuals experience?

 

Some may have no idea they are breathing in harmful compounds that could affect their lungs and heart.  However, many may experience:

  • Wheeze
  • Cough
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Chest Pain
  • Mucous Production
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Racing Heart (palpitations)
  • Exacerbation of their lung disease including COPD, asthma, chronic bronchitis
  • Exacerbation of heart conditions such as angina, heart attack, and cardiac arrhythmias.
  • Increased susceptibility to new lung infections as well as flu

What are PM2.5s?

 

PM2.5 are particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that are present in pollution and wildfire smoke that can penetrate deeply into the lung linings.  Larger, coarse particles 10 micrometers in diameter are called PM10.  Both impair lung function as they inflame the lungs and interfere with the work of alveoli that need to oxygenate the blood.  Moreover the small particles can use this pathway to enter the bloodstream. Although the direct health impacts of the fine particulate matter is not clearly defined it is believed that increased PM2.5 levels increase the risk of lung and heart disease as discussed above.

lungs_alveoli-57ffa7fe3df78cbc284e162b

LUNGS AND ALVEOLI (IMAGE FROM THOUGHTCO.)

 

Symptoms may begin at levels greater than 55 µg/m3 .

Which individuals are the most at risk?

 

  • Infants and Children
  • Elderly individuals
  • Those with chronic lung disease, including asthma and emphysema
  • Those at risk for heart disease and stroke
  • Those with diabetes
  • Smokers
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with chronic allergies
  • Pets

How can residents protect themselves?

 

Avoiding the area of wildfires is paramount.  Additionally, the following may be considered:

 

  • Avoid outdoors until air quality reports improve.  Do not rely on how “clear” the air looks.
  • Take heed of wind and air quality advisories.
  • Recirculate the air in your home and car.
  • Keep windows closed.
  • Consult with your medical provider to monitor blood pressure, heart rhythm, lung function and refill any medications you may need BEFORE you feel symptoms.
  • Be wary of facemasks sold as PM2.5 safe as many do not protect against the very small particles. Respirator masks labelled N95 or N100 may provide SOME protection against particulates but not against the toxic fumes such as formaldehyde and acrolein.

 

Editor's note: As a companion read you might also be interested in a story we published in Sept. last year: 5 apps to help you recover from hurricanes and wildfires.

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

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Can pets smell cancer?

Written by

An Oregon woman claims her cat helped her detect her breast cancer, and she’s not the first one to claim how furry friends can save lives.

Michelle Pearson adopted a cat, Mia, a few years back from the Humane Society. The one day she pounced on Pearson’s chest, sniffed her breast and directed her owner’s attention to the breast. Days later Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She states, “All of a sudden out of nowhere, she just got up on my chest and she sniffed that breast and then looked in my face, sniffed the spot again and looked in my face and I tried to shove her off and she came back up and just laid down on that right breast and she looked at me like ‘I’m trying to tell you something.'”

She feels her rescue cat actually “rescued” her.

 

cat-678x381.jpeg

 

A woman in California cited the same miracle. Nancy Best stated her dog, also named Mia, would not stop licking her breast. She was eventually diagnosed with breast cancer.

Sometimes animals may not always be friendly towards a diseased body part. My in-law’s poodle would shower everyone with licks except for one person who she would excessively bark at. He was soon diagnosed with brain cancer.

So, can dogs detect cancer?

 

PBS reports that dogs can smell 40 times better than humans, with over 300 million olfactory receptors in their nose. They can smell parts per trillion, a keen sense that is potentially sharp enough to pick up cancer cells and the smells they produce.

Healthline reports that cancer cells raise polyamine levels which come with an odor.  Moreover if cancer cells incite an immune response, this can expel a scent as well.

In 1989 a case report revealed a woman’s dog tried to bite a mole off her leg which ended up being malignant melanoma.

According to a 2011 study in the journal Gut, Labrador retrievers were able to sniff out colon cancer in 97% of stool samples.

The Italian Ministry of Defense’s Military Veterinary Center was successful in training German Shepherds to recognize prostate cancer proteins in urine to 98% accuracy.

For those of you with a pet pigeon, don’t feel left out. A University of Iowa study found pigeons to be trained to detect breast cancer cells to 85% accuracy.

So despite our animals possessing the power to sense microscopic anomalies, we shouldn’t panic every time they sniff or lick us.  But if they persist on one area of your body, it might be worth getting checked out.

Editor’s note: The folks over at Dogsnaturallymagazine.com also weigh on this topic citing numerous studies and anecdotal evidence all concluding that, yes, it’s very probable that dogs can sniff out ill health. As for cats smelling cancer, well - the research seems to suggest otherwise. Sorry, kitty lovers. =)

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

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Election Depression: How to avoid it

Written by

For over a year we’ve been bombarded daily with candidate interviews, political commentary, primaries, speeches, polls, mudslinging, ads, and frankly, we’re sick of it. The amount of negativity spewing from both sides is exhausting and out-right depressing!

But as we receive the election results, some of us will be rejuvenated with hope while others will fall into the abyss of an election loss. Election depression is real, very real.

What is election depression?

 

It’s despondency (a drop in mood stemming from a loss of hope) after an election. We’ve discussed election anxiety recently as many people are fearing the result, but we haven’t prepared the country for what happens when the vote doesn’t swing their way. Feelings of sadness, guilt, remorse,  agitation, irritability, are just a few of the signs.

Why “depression”? What causes election depression?

 

Multiple factors can cause this..

  • The loss.  Humans don’t like to lose. We’re competitive in nature and want to win, or be on the winning side. The losers get nothing after their loss but a future they did not choose. Which brings us to….
  • Lack of control.  Humans like to make their own destiny. If they work hard, do the right thing, they can mold their future. The loss of an election that they hoped would change their future, is perceived as a loss of the future they were supposed to have.
  • Embarrassment. Those of us who were vocal about who we were supporting and incurred bullying from opponents, now have to face these same individuals with the public humiliation of a loss.
  • Much pain, no gain.  The 1 1/2 year physical and psychological build up and work that went into the election brings very little gain during an election loss.  Feeling like one wasted his time, energy, and money may affect his psyche.
  • The end is abrupt.  Election results, as compared to the 1 1/2 year process, comes at us like a ton of bricks.  Many people may not be psychologically prepared to take bad news in such a swift blow.
  • Regret.  We defriended social media contacts and ended year-long relationships with friends and family over this election. Maybe even quit our job. This could seem impossible to repair.

 

voting-booth

 

 How do we prevent election depression?

 

On one hand it's good to be passionate about an issue or candidate. Passion drives us to make change, build, progress, restore, and all the good verbs that our great country needs.

However, while we’re being passionate, we need to be prepared.  

When you’ve been through as many elections as I have, you learn that you don’t win them all.  You also learn that one candidate will always win and one candidate will always lose.  Not thinking about the latter won’t wish it away. The reality of your last choice candidate being your legislator needs to be faced.  So it's better to mentally prepare for it early.

Here’s some things you can do:

  1. Pseudo-reality role-playing: One technique I’ve done with patients is pretend for 24 hours “So and So” won the          Presidency.  After the group laughs and makes vomit gestures, I remind them that they need to, over the course of 24 hours, live their day with that pseudo-reality in play.  The results?  Many say “it wasn’t so bad”….”we’re still living”….”we may handle our finances a different way,” etc.
  2. Don’t drink the night of the election: Getting wasted will just make you feel awful the next day, and election depression is worse the 24 hours after an election.
  3. Plan family and friend gatherings of like-minded individuals the week of the result: Avoiding those who will gloat may help soften the blow and being around your support team will help you realize there is emotional strength in numbers.
  4. Take a break from the news: Watch programs that will cheer you up or begin diving into new projects for the coming months.
  5. Make up with friends you lost: The guilt will consume you when you realize you threw away a good friendship over a “stupid election.” Shake hands and hug it out.
  6. Plan a vacation: The Holidays are coming, so enjoy yourself. You deserve it will all the hard you work you’ve done.

Losing isn’t easy, but it's something that we eventually become good at.  If my candidate loses, I will start an Election Loser Club. I’ll probably invite Mickey Mouse to be our first guest speaker, since he always seems to be on the ballot each election anyway and never wins.  He still though, manages to keep a smile on his face.  So should we.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

The FDA has approved a new drug, Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil), to help fight the flu this season.

The antiviral is a single dose and is taken within 48 hours of first signs of flu symptoms.

It is only indicated in those older than 12 years old. The cost is approximately $150 for the single dose.

Current antiviral medications approved by the FDA to shorten the course of the flu include Relenza and Tamiflu. These medications are in a class of neuraminidase inhibitors, which inhibit the release of new viral particles that have replicated in a host (patient).

 

09f1.jpeg

 

Xofluza, however, works sooner, by preventing the virus from replicating within the host cell in the first place.

Therefore this new drug can stop the spread of flu earlier than its predecessors.

NBC News reported the following:

A 2016-2017 STUDY IN 1,436 PEOPLE IN THE U.S. AND JAPAN SHOWED THE ONE-DOSE PILL CUT THE TIME PEOPLE WERE SICK TO 2.5 DAYS, FROM ABOUT 3.3 DAYS. IT CUT HOW LONG PEOPLE HAD A FEVER FROM AN AVERAGE OF 42 HOURS TO JUST ONE DAY. IT ALSO REDUCED WHAT’S CALLED VIRAL SHEDDING FROM FOUR DAYS TO JUST ONE DAY.

 

So the less time one is sick with the flu, the less risk of coming down with a secondary infection such as pneumonia, or other flu related illness.

Moreover if viral shedding is decreased, less family members and contacts can potentially become ill.

Now Xofluza may not prevent the flu in one who has not been exposed because it works by preventing virus that is present from replicating.

Flu symptoms may come abruptly and include:

  • Fever
  • Body Aches
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Sore Throat
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

The most effective way to prevent the flu is avoidance of sick contacts, good hand washing and vaccination.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

 

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Viagra should not be vaped

Written by

The FDA is warning e-cigarette companies to stop selling vaping products with claims that they contain erectile dysfunction medications.

Consumers are being urged to avoid vaping products claiming to have ingredients such as sildenafil and tadalafil used in Viagra and Cialis respectively as they can interact with other medications (such as nitrates). Moreover there is no data suggesting one’s respiratory lining to be a safe route of absorption of a phosphodiesterase type-5 (PDE-5) inhibitor.

The primary purpose of the lungs is to oxygenate blood and its highly specialized lining is not necessarily designed to absorb nutrients, as does the small intestine.

On the FDA website it states:

THE U.S. FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCED TODAY IT HAS ISSUED A WARNING LETTER TO HELLOCIG ELECTRONIC TECHNOLOGY CO. LTD FOR VARIOUS VIOLATIONS OF THE FEDERAL FOOD, DRUG, AND COSMETIC ACT, INCLUDING SELLING TWO E-LIQUIDS THAT CONTAIN THE PRESCRIPTION DRUGS TADALAFIL AND/OR SILDENAFIL, LEADING THE FDA TO DETERMINE THAT THE PRODUCTS ARE UNAPPROVED NEW DRUGS.

 

SILDENAFIL AND TADALAFIL ARE THE ACTIVE PHARMACEUTICAL INGREDIENTS IN FDA-APPROVED PRESCRIPTION DRUGS USED TO TREAT ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION. THESE FDA-APPROVED PRESCRIPTION DRUGS ARE NOT APPROVED FOR INCLUSION IN E-LIQUID PRODUCTS SOLD OVER THE COUNTER AND ARE THEREFORE BEING SOLD ILLEGALLY. IN ADDITION, THE COMPANY IS MARKETING OTHER E-LIQUIDS USED IN E-CIGARETTES IN WAYS THAT CONVEY AND MISLEAD CONSUMERS INTO BELIEVING THAT THE FDA HAS APPROVED THESE TOBACCO PRODUCTS, WHEN IT HAS NOT.

 

LABORATORY ANALYSIS CONDUCTED BY THE FDA CONFIRMED “E-CIALIS HELLOCIG E-LIQUID” CONTAINS THE UNDECLARED DRUGS SILDENAFIL AND TADALAFIL, AND “E-RIMONABANT HELLOCIG E-LIQUID” CONTAINS THE UNDECLARED DRUG SILDENAFIL. THESE UNDECLARED INGREDIENTS ARE PHOSPHODIESTERASE TYPE-5 (PDE-5) INHIBITORS. THESE INGREDIENTS CAN BE ASSOCIATED WITH SIGNIFICANT SAFETY ISSUES AND THE RISK OF SERIOUS ADVERSE EVENTS.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb states, “There are no e-liquids that contain prescription drugs that have been proven safe or effective through this route of administration.”

Those Needing Erectile Dysfunction Drugs Should Have Their Heart Checked

 

Companies are looking to expand their market by enticing consumers to vape vitamins, such as B12, and essential oils. Last week, however, a professor of nutrition from New York University, Dr. Charles Mueller, warned against it. He states, “Vitamins need to come with [fat and water] and go through the same gastrointestinal tract to be absorbed.” Moreover respiratory administration of nutrition has not been actively studied.

 

Vaping linked to heart disease and cancer

 

A study published by the American Heart Association found nine different E-cig flavors  to impair blood vessel function, which can impair heart health.

Endothelial cells, which delicately line blood and lymph vessels, were found to become inflamed at low concentrations of some vapor flavors.  And at high concentrations of others, exhibited cell death.  Nitric oxide production, necessary for vessel dilation to improve blood flow, was impaired as well. These are often the same changes seen in early heart disease.

 

sample_01001118_110141.jpg

The 9 flavors (and the chemicals within) cited in the report to cause the endothelial inflammation and/or damage were:

 

  • Vanilla (vanillin)
  • Mint (menthol)
  • Clove (eugenol)
  • Cinnamon (cinnamaldehyde)
  • Strawberry (dimethylpyrazine)
  • Banana (isoamyl acetate)
  • Butter (diacetyl)
  • Eucalyptus/spicy cooling (eucalyptol)
  • Burnt flavor (acetylpyridine)

Strawberry flavoring appeared to have the most adverse effect on the cells.

How many other flavors were not included in this study, so it's unknown how safe they may be.

Last May, researchers from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville found e-cig smoke to increase one’s risk of bladder cancer.

In 2015, the University of Minnesota identified chemicals commonly found in e-cig vapor to include:

  • Formaldehyde (human carcinogen)
  • Acetaldehyde (carcinogen related to alcohol drinking)
  • Acrolein (highly irritating and toxic)
  • Toluene (toxic) NNN, NNK (tobacco carcinogens related to nicotine)
  • Metals (possible carcinogens and toxins)

Although electronic cigarette “juice” may appear safe, it could produce harmful chemicals once heated to become a vapor.

A lethal dose of nicotine for an adult ranges from 30-60 mg and varied for children (0.5-1.0 mg/kg can be a lethal dosage for adults, and 0.1 mg/kg for children).  E-cigs, depending on their strengths (0 – 5.4%) could contain up to 54 mg of nicotine per cartridge (a 1.8% e -cig would contain 18mg/ml).

The topic of nicotine increasing one’s vulnerability to cancer is nothing new as decades ago researchers found nicotine to affect the cilia (brush border) along the respiratory tree, preventing mucous production and a sweeping out of carcinogens trying to make their way down to the lungs.

More research needs to be performed but this recent report reminds us that exposing our delicate lung tissue and immune system to vaping chemicals may not be as safe as we think.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

A rare polio-like illness is startling health officials as multiple states have reported cases of AFM (Acute Flaccid Myelitis).

Since August 2014, the CDC has received reports on 362 cases.

This week we learn of 6 children in Minnesota who have been diagnosed with AFM, which may manifest in symptoms such as sudden muscle weakness, stiffness, slurred speech and facial droop.

The age range of children affected appear to be 3-14.  A 6-year-old boy in Washington State died in 2016 and was the first death to be linked to this mysterious illness.  His parents reported he had felt ill, became dizzy and within hours suffered swelling in the brain and paralysis.  Despite medical efforts, he passed.  Although the exact cause is unknown, health experts are considering a variety of possibilities. They have actually been investigating this since 2014 when reports of AFM began to surface across the United States.

What is AFM?

 

AFM stands for Acute Flaccid Myelitis.  It’s a condition that occurs suddenly, causing inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle tone and reflexes.  Although limb weakness is the primary symptom, patients could also exhibit slurred speech, facial drooping, and in serious cases inability to breath due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles.  Mild cases appear to resolve but serious cases can cause residual paralysis or death. Children appear to be more affected than adults.

What causes AFM?

 

Although health officials do not know for certain, due to its rapid onset, a pathogen such as a virus seems highly likely.  With the 2013-2014 outbreak, some of the cases tested positive for enterovirus (EV-D68), but it is not conclusive whether this was the exact cause or just coincidentally found in the patients tested.

Some postulate a combination of viruses may be a factor or an autoimmune disease.  Although Guillain-Barre syndrome causes acute limb weakness and paralysis when the immune system begins attacking the nervous system, the report that many individuals feel feverish or ill prior, seem to point to a pathogen as the primary cause although the latter is not being ruled out.  Virus families such as enterovirus (including polio and non polio enterovirus), adenovirus (causing respiratory and GI illness) and flaviviruses (including West Nile) have been suspected.

How common is AFM?

 

Per the CDC, acute flaccid myelitis is rare (less than 1 in a million cases) however currently they report 362 people affected in currently 16 states (down from 39 states in 2016).

How is it diagnosed?

 

Medical professionals look at a variety of factors.

History: how the paralysis/loss of muscle tone began and which limbs did it affect first

Laboratory tests and CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) testing: to look for signs of infection

MRI of the brain: which may show gray matter involvement in a case of AFM.

Is there a treatment?

 

There is no standard treatment that has been proven effective, however depending on the severity of the symptoms, health professionals can consider a variety of options including steroids, IVIG, interferon, antivirals and supportive measures.

Is there a vaccine?

 

No.  Until they can identify the exact cause, or causes, health officials cannot create a vaccine.

How does one avoid getting AFM?

 

If we assume its a pathogen causing the illness, avoiding contact with sick individuals, being up-to-date on one’s vaccines and good hand-washing are imperative.  Although we do not know if AFM is caused by a mosquito-borne illness, avoiding mosquitoes would be wise as well.   More therefore needs to be researched to determine why and how those individuals with AFM were infected.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

 

Breast cancer affects thousands of men and women each year and screening is unfortunately overlooked all too often.

Many women find mammograms painful and embarrassing hence hesitate when urged to get screened.

And some men may not realize they too have breast tissue and are at risk for breast cancer.

mcdc7_gynecomastia-8col.jpg

 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and #ShirtsOff reminds us to examine ourselves, get screened, and look for changes in our breasts.

Signs of breast cancer include

  • A lump inside the breast or under the arm
  • Breast pain
  • Change in breast shape
  • Dimpling
  • Nipple discharge
  • Nipple bleeding
  • Rash
  • Sore on the breast
  • Discoloration
  • Change in skin texture

How common is breast cancer?

 

1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 266,120 cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the US with 63,960 cases of non-invasive breast cancer, a rise from last year.

40,920 women and 480 men are expected to die this year of breast cancer.

 

What are the risk factors for breast cancer?

 

Risk factors for breast cancer include:

  • Age greater than 50
  • Family History
  • BRAC1 and BRAC2 genetic mutations
  • Alcohol use
  • Never been pregnant or becoming pregnant for the first time over 35 years old
  • Early menarche at age 11 or younger
  • Obesity, especially after menopause
  • Dense breasts
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Use of oral contraceptives
  • Previous “precancerous” tumors such as atypical hyperplasia
  • DES exposure
  • Previous radiation therapy

How is breast cancer staged?

 

Breast cancer is staged based on size of the tumor, if lymph nodes are affected and whether the cancer has spread to distant areas of the body.  Prognosis varies greatly on the stage.

 

Screen-Shot-2012-09-27-at-9.59.51-AM.png

IMAGE ABOVE FROM JOHNSTON HEALTH

 

Is family history a huge factor?

 

85% of breast cancer cases occur in women with NO family history.

 

Screening of breast cancer

 

Mammograms are the first line screening tool for breast cancer and are currently recommended biennial for women aged 50-74.  However for those at higher risk, mammogram screening should start earlier, with possible follow-up ultrasound, and be performed more regularly.

 

FullSizeRender (1)

3-D MAMMOGRAM IMAGE

 

3-D Mammograms use some of the most sensitive technology in screening.

Dr. William Boren, owner of West Valley Imaging in Las Vegas, Nevada, states “3-D Mammograms reportedly find up to 40% more cancers, allowing a topographic view of the tissue.”

Dr. Boren also recommends to “not leave big gaps between screening.  If you start screening at age 40, then continue yearly screens.”

 

mammogram 2018.jpg

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

%PM, %28 %787 %2018 %17:%Sep

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Written by

Celebrities such as Julia Louise-Dreyfus, Olivia Newton-John, Christina Applegate and Cynthia Nixon have revealed their breast cancer diagnoses, helping raise awareness for the most common cancer to affect women.  It’s the second most common cause of cancer death in females.

How common is breast cancer?

 

1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 266,120 cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the US with 63,960 cases of non-invasive breast cancer, a rise from last year.

40,920 women and 480 men are expected to die this year of breast cancer.

What are the risk factors for breast cancer?

 

Risk factors for breast cancer include:

  • Age greater than 50
  • Family History
  • BRAC1 and BRAC2 genetic mutations
  • Alcohol use
  • Never been pregnant or becoming pregnant for the first time over 35 years old
  • Early menarche at age 11 or younger
  • Obesity, especially after menopause
  • Dense breasts
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Use of oral contraceptives
  • Previous “precancerous” tumors such as atypical hyperplasia
  • DES exposure
  • Previous radiation therapy

How is breast cancer staged?

 

Breast cancer is staged based on size of the tumor, if lymph nodes are affected and whether the cancer has spread to distant areas of the body.  Prognosis varies greatly on the stage.

 

Screen-Shot-2012-09-27-at-9.59.51-AM.png

IMAGE ABOVE FROM JOHNSTON HEALTH

 

Is family history a huge factor?

 

85% of breast cancer cases occur in women with NO family history.

Screening of breast cancer

 

Mammograms are the first line screening tool for breast cancer and are currently recommended biennial for women aged 50-74.  However for those at higher risk, mammogram screening should start earlier, with possible follow-up ultrasound, and be performed more regularly.

 

FullSizeRender (1)

3-D MAMMOGRAM IMAGE

----

 

 

Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

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