Last year we learned that some patients, who were evaluated for a stroke or transient ischemic attack when they had come to the ER complaining of recurrent “temporary blindness” after checking their smartphone in the dark were suffering from a phenomenon, known as ‘smartphone blindness.’ This has also been experienced by many of us when we have the sensation of dimmed vision or poor visual acuity, feeling punished for peeking at our email when we should be sleeping.

 

But now we have a study suggesting vision loss could be permanent due to the blue light being emitted from our smartphones or laptops.

Researchers from the University of Toledo found blue light will react with retinal, an active form of Vitamin A, that can damage the nearby cells they are designed to stimulate when creating sight.

Researcher Kasun Ratnayake states, “If you shine blue light on retinal, the retinal kills photoreceptor cells as the signaling molecule on the membrane dissolves,” and since these cells do not regenerate they are gone for good.

Although a blue-light induced retinal activated cell could prove useful when fighting cancer, this finding is worrisome as millions of people, including children, look at their smartphone and tablet in the dark, depending on the blue light more and more to see their screens.

blue light danger for retina

What is blue light?

Sunlight is made up of the spectrum of colors including red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.  Blue light is a light along the spectrum that has shorter wavelengths and more energy than red, which has longer wavelengths. We receive most of our blue light exposure from the sun but we can be exposed as well through our smart devices, LED lights and CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs.

 

spectrum

IMAGE FROM PREVENTBLINDNESS.ORG

Smartphone use linked to retinal detachment

Studies surfaced a few years ago where great lengths of smartphone use can cause retinal detachment.  In these cases the layer of the retina which focuses images, detaches from the back of the eye, causing serious vision loss. Though there are treatments, if not treated early can cause permanent blindness in the affected eye since the retina loses its blood and oxygen supply when detached. A woman from China had been using her smartphone for 2-3 hours in the dark each night when this occurred.

Smartphones have also been linked to myopia, near-sightedness, and sleeping disorders as the blue light emitted from the screen can disrupt melatonin production.

A recent study found that 30% of adults spend more than 9 hours a day using their smartphone. Physicians recommend avoiding extended use, adjust settings to black text on white background, and with this recent case study, use both eyes to look at the screen when using the phone at night.

Smartphone, Street Lamp Blue Light May Increase Risk of Cancer

A study from the University of Exeter and Barcelona Institute for Global Health finds blue light exposure at night-time to increase the risk of breast and prostate cancer.

Blue light is emitted from artificial lighting, such as LED’s and smart devices, and has been linked in the past to cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Why?  Scientists believe the blue wavelengths in the light disrupt our circadian rhythm, or our body’s biological clock, by suppressing the secretion of melatonin. Poor sleep, and unpredictable body cycles, can affect our metabolism, hence our weight, diabetes risk and cancer risk.

In this study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers reviewed data of more than 4000 patients, between the ages of 20 and 85, from 11 different geographical regions. They found exposure to blue light at night doubled the risk of prostate cancer in men, and increased breast cancer risk in women by 1.5.

The Sun reports study author Dr. Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel is urging to reduce exposure to outside street lights and use orange wavelength light rather than blue.

“The take-home message is: Use warm orange lights where possible, and shutters and blinds to block street light.

“Also, our findings suggest reducing your night-time exposure to smartphones and tablets could help cut cancer risk.

How to protect your eyes by minimizing blue light exposure

The recommendation to not use your smart device at night may not be very practical for many.  So here are some additional tips:

Increasing the size of the font helps your eyes since they don’t need to strain as much to read.  Try to look at your smartphone with a distance of 1 1/2 feet. Blinking often helps rest the eyes as well and keeps them lubricated and moist.

Screen time should be limited in the evenings.  Avoid computer/phone screens at least 2-3 hours before bed.

Although LED light bulbs are more energy-efficient, bedroom lighting may need to be swapped for softer bulbs.

If the weather permits, getting some night air and watching the stars may help stimulate one’s melatonin, allowing him/her to get sleepy.

Blue-blocking glasses may help limit exposure if night computer work cannot be avoided.

Additionally there are apps that allow a blue light filter on one’s phone screen.

Finally its good to use the 20,20,20 rule.  After every 20 minutes of use, look away at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.  This may help avoid eye strain from excessive smartphone use.

 

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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.

 

Published in Health
Tuesday, 21 August 2018 18:18

Sleeping pill use linked to Alzheimer’s

Researchers have found a link between Alzheimer’s and the use of sleeping pills such as benzodiazepines and “Z-drugs.”

“Z-drugs” refer to non-benzodiazepines or hypnotics such as zolpidem (brand name Ambien).

The study from the University of Finland looked at 70,700 individuals who had developed Alzheimer’s during the years 2005-2011. The researchers found regular use of benzodiazepines and Z-drugs increased one’s risk of the neurodegenerative disorder by 6%. Moreover the higher the dose used, the higher the risk.

Benzodiazepines and sleeping pills are being prescribed and used in epidemic proportions leading to more addiction and tolerance to controlled substances, poor timing as we fight the opioid crisis.

Sleeping Pill Use “Worse than Smoking”

 

Arizona State University researchers last year reported the use of use of sleeping pills is “worse than smoking” for one’s health.

Sleep researcher, Shawn Youngstedt, told CNN, “They are as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Not to mention they cause infections, falling and dementia in the elderly, and they lose their effectiveness after a few weeks.”

For years sleeping aids including antihistamines (ex. diphenhydramine), benzodiazepines (ex. lorazepam, alprazolam), non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotic (ex. Ambien) have been studied and linked to side effects including

  • Sleep Walking
  • Insomnia
  • Numbness, tingling
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Memory loss
  • Dizziness
  • and more

In 2012, a study of 10,500 people found those who used sleeping pills were 4X as likely to die in the 2.5-year study than those who didn’t use medications for sleep.

Dr. Kripke and his colleagues at Scripps also found a 35% increase risk of cancer, noting lymphoma, lung, colon and prostate cancer risk was worse than that of smoking.

Also in 2012, a study published in Thorax, found benzodiazepine use linked to the severe lung infection, pneumonia.

In 2014, a study from China Medical University in Taiwan found only four sleeping pills a year increased risk of heart attack by 20% and 60 tablets a year was linked to a 50% increase.

A separate study found an increased risk of aortic dissection with sleeping pill use.

 

Insomnia-Image_08.03.2016.jpg

 

What causes insomnia?

 

Insomnia is a disorder where one has difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep.  Many factors can cause insomnia. These include:

 

  • Caffeine
  • Medications
  • Alcohol
  • Stress, anxiety, depression
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Chronic pain
  • Neck and back arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory conditions (asthma, COPD)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Urinary frequency
  • Diarrhea
  • Neurological conditions
  • Sleep apnea
  • and of course environmental issues such as noise, temperature, and kitty cats.

Treatments for insomnia

 

Treating insomnia can be complex.  We begin by treating the underlying cause, such as any of those listed above.  Then we can try the following:

  • Lowering the room temperature to an average of 65 degrees F
  • Shut off artificial lights 1-2 hours before going to bed
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Dinner  including foods rich in tryptophan (fish, nuts, tofu, turkey, eggs and seeds)
  • Warm bath
  • Cognitive and/or behavioral therapy
  • Aromatherapy including lavender
  • Blackout curtains to keep out light
  • Daily exercise
  • to name a few.

Youngstedt also suggests exercise. He states its “healthier” than using sleeping aids and “research suggests those who are physically active have a lower risk of developing insomnia in the first place.”

Now it could be that those who suffer from certain medical conditions are more at risk of insomnia but more needs to be studied in terms of why these medications are linked to poor health outcomes.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. 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.

 

Published in Health
Thursday, 16 August 2018 15:39

Aretha Franklin Passes Away At Age 76

The 76 year-old “Queen of Soul” has reportedly passed after a long bout with pancreatic cancer.

The AP News Tweeted early this morning the following:

Aretha Franklin, the long-reigning “Queen of Soul” who sang with matchless style on such classics as “Think” and her signature song, “Respect,” died Thursday at age 76, said her representative, Gwendolyn Quinn.  The cause was advanced pancreatic cancer.

Her last performance was for the Elton John Annual AIDS Foundation Gala in November.

In March the singer cancelled her upcoming performances due to an undisclosed illness.

aretha

For years Aretha Franklin has battled rumors about her health ranging from respiratory illnesses to pancreatic cancer.

In an interview with Access Hollywood she said, “I don’t know where ‘pancreatic cancer’ came from.

“I was sitting there reading the newspaper and it was saying someone in my family said that. No one in my family ever said that to anybody.”

The multi-Grammy award winner deserved a little “RESPECT” and the media honored her privacy requests, despite growing concern for her weight loss.

Diabetes May Be Related to Pancreatic Cancer

 

Ms. Franklin reportedly had diabetes.  Studies have found a correlation between the common blood sugar disease and the lethal cancer.  Once recent study found if one had a worsening of their diabetes it could be a sign of pancreatic cancer.  Since diabetes is a disease that affects the pancreas and its ability to produce and release insulin, its logical that there may be a correlation.

Pancreatic cancer has a high mortality rate and unfortunately it remains asymptomatic until it has progressed to an advanced stage.  So a worsening of diabetes (in the absence of poor diet and lack of compliance with medication) may be the only sign that pancreatic cancer is occurring. The earlier the cancer is caught, the better the prognosis.

She is a legend and has touched us all.  May she rest in peace.

Ten Great Performances by Aretha Franklin.

 

Aretha_Franklin.jpg

Her fellow musicians and friends react:

 

Let’s all take a moment to give thanks for the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of our souls, who inspired us all for many many years. She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever. Love Paul

  • Paul McCartney

This morning my longest friend in this world went home to be with our Father. I will miss her so much but I know she’s at peace. #QueenOfSoul

  • Smokey Robinson

The greatest voice in American popular music has been stilled.  Our beloved #ArethaFranklin has gone.  For me, she was a musical lighthouse, guiding and inspiring with every note.  I loved her so and love her still.  Goodbye, Queen of Soul.

 

  • Bette Midler

 

One of the highlights of my career was singing with #ArethaFranklin at The Tony Awards. It was an out of body experience for me. One of greatest singers of all time. You will be missed by all. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=csm3A80M9qA …

 

  • Hugh Jackman

 

Published in Entertainment
Wednesday, 08 August 2018 15:33

The Science of Swearing

Having gotten in trouble my whole life for doing so, I thought it was about time I investigated what is “swearing”, why it comes so fluently and why we frequently choose to do it. So let's break down the science of swearing…..

What is the definition of a curse word?

 

Most dictionaries define a curse word as a “profane or obscene word.”  But I disagree with this definition.  “Profane” comes from the Latin root “profanus”, or “unholy”, and Oxford Dictionary defines “profane” as not relating to that which is sacred or religious; secular, (of a person or their behavior) not respectful of religious practice.  

But many of us who use these words when you say “I just stepped in dog $%&t” aren’t referring to religion in any way, shape or form.

“Obscene”, when defined by multiple dictionaries, alludes to terms of a sexual nature.  Again, complaining that you just stepped in dog $%&t has nothing to do with sex.

So I define a swear/curse word as one that society deems to be off-color and not appropriate in public and professional settings….a word that has plenty of other socially acceptable alternatives used during anger, excitement, or awe.

When was the first curse word spoken?

 

According to historians, the first curse words originated in the 15th century.  I’m sure horses were just as messy as our dogs.  But as you can see by my definition, curse words must have had their origin in caveman days as humans developed language.  Rocks were dropped, people slipped and fell, and some burned themselves on early fire so I seriously doubt that only grammatically acceptable words and phrases were used in times of accidents.

Where did specific curse words originate?

 

Although a good old-fashioned four letter word seems as American as they come, most originate from foreign sources.

The “S” Word

 

According to Business Insider, the noun nods to Old English scitte, meaning “purging, diarrhea.” And just the basic form of excrement stems from Old English scytel. The action, however, has a much more widespread history — Dutch schijten and German scheissen. The Proto-Indo-European base skie conveys the idea of separation, in this case, from the body.

The “F” Word

 

According to the Huffington Post, the f-word is of Germanic origin, related to Dutch, German, and Swedish words for “to strike” and “to move back and forth.” It first appears, though, only in the 16th century, in a manuscript of the Latin orator Cicero. An anonymous monk was reading through the monastery copy of De Officiis (a guide to moral conduct) when he felt compelled to express his anger at his abbot.

“Ass”

 

Comes from the word “arse” and used as early as the 11th century when referring to an animal’s anatomy, and then later to humans.

The “B” Word

 

Having Old English and Germanic roots, the “B” word represented a female dog.  By the 1400’s, however, it became a “term of contempt to women,” according to Business Insider.

So why do we curse?

 

There are various theories as to why people would choose a word that may offend others.  Here’s mine:

  1. The words are easy to say.  Four letter words seem to be the most popular and can be spewed out with ease when in pain or in anger.
  2. The words inspire an emotion.  When we communicate we need a reaction to what we say, and curse words seem to elicit some of the strongest of reactions, hence reinforcing our belief that we are effectively communicating.
  3. They’re weapons.  When we get mad at someone and want to avoid a physical altercation, we weaponize our words instead, inflicting as much verbal hurt and pain as possible. One rarely finds themselves in jail after launching a full foul word offensive.
  4. They allow us to rebel. If curse words are not allowed in a school, work or professional setting then our use demonstrates our autonomy.
  5. They convey meaning that other words cannot.  The F word, for example, is one of the most notorious and ubiquitous, with movies, books, and speakers having validated its use so many times as a noun, adjective, or verb, that it has its own character and conveys a meaning, no matter how it’s used, that society easily recognizes. In fact, it’s so notorious that the F word is recognized by those who don’t even speak English.

 

What are “fake” curse words?

 

“Fake” curse words are terms we use to convey a curse without actually swearing.  Commonly used alternatives to swearing include:

  • Flipp’n
  • Flip
  • Frick
  • Dang
  • Heck
  • Witch
  • Shut the Front Door
  • Son of a Motherless Goat
  • Son of a gun
  • Dagnabbit
  • Beeswax
  • Holy shitake mushroom
  • Wuss
  • Pluck it
  • Yuk fu
  • Fire truck
  • Donald Duck

Is cursing/swearing ever considered “good?”

 

In 2017, a study from Stephens et al, from Keele University in the UK, found swearing to increase strength and power performance when working out.

Previously, in 2009, the same researchers found men who were allowed to swear while immersing their hand in cold water could maintain it twice as long as those who had to keep their language clean.

So if we perform better while cursing, will it ever become acceptable to curse?

Society seems to already accept many curse words, even on prime time television, a barometer we use to determine if a word is OK to say out in public.  However once we take a four letter word and “legalize it”, people will gravitate towards words that aren’t acceptable because of the aforementioned reasons.  We want to be rebellious and demonstrate our feelings in times of pain and anger.

So for those of you who find this unacceptable, I really couldn’t give a flipp’n cluck.…..

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. 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.

 

Published in Health
Friday, 27 July 2018 18:22

Salmonella linked to common dry snacks

A voluntary recall has been initiated by Flower Foods as their Swiss Rolls, Goldfish and Ritz Crackers may have Salmonella lurking in the box.

Earlier this month Kellogg’s Honey Smacks were recalled for the same reason. And last week the US Department of Agriculture included Hungry-Man Chipotle BBQ Boneless Chicken Wyngz in the recall.

Why? Salmonella may have contaminated the whey protein powder used in these shelf products.  Poor hand washing and improperly cleaned machinery could introduce the bacteria into the food supply.

Whey powder comes from milk, provides many of the nutrients such as calcium and thiamine, and is used as a food binder and extender, rendering the food product nonperishable.

 

Whey protein scoupe. Sports nutrition.

Unlike other bacteria, however, Salmonella does not necessarily need moist environments to thrive.  According to researchers at the University of Georgia, Salmonella can survive at least 6 months in cookies and crackers.

 

salmonella.jpeg

 

So the salmonella can live on the whey protein for months. And since most dry snacks are not cooked, there’s no opportunity to kill off the pathogens and those with vulnerable immune systems could become ill after ingestion.

 

Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Raw Turkey in 26 States

 

The CDC has reported over 90 people have been sickened with Salmonella being linked to raw turkey.

Over 26 states are currently affected including: Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include fever, chills, rash, diarrhea and stomach cramps within 12-72 hours after exposure. The illness can last 4-7 days, although most people will recover without treatment.

 

McDonald’s has voluntarily recalled their salads in multiple states as 163 cases are being investigated by the CDC for a food poisoning link.

Why is food borne illness on the rise?

 

Multiple issues could be playing a role.

  1. Fresh produce is not cooked like meat and can therefore harbor more germs
  2. Preservatives, used in fast food, help to deter pathogen growth, and more people are shying away from fast food than in the past, opting for “fresh,” healthier options.
  3. On-the-go produce may not be washed after packaging due to a false sense of security that the vegetables are “clean.”
  4. As our population ages, and as more people suffer from immunocompromising disease such as diabetes and cancer, they may be more susceptible to foodborne illness.
  5. Our gut microbiome has changed as our diets have shifted to food with more preservatives, hence possibly being less resilient to new pathogens that enter.
  6. In regards to the ground turkey, it is not the same as ground beef and leaving the patties pink in the center mean you are consuming raw poultry. Turkey meat may need to cook longer until no pink is seen and core temperature is at least 165 degrees for at least 15 seconds
  7. We’re less strict about cleaning than we used to be.  Countertops used to be bleached and scrubbed for longer periods of time than we do now-a-days with antimicrobial wipes.

Therefore be diligent about cleaning countertops, cook your food thoroughly, wash produce before eating and be aware of any reported recalls.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. 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.

 

Published in Health

Due to a lack of profit potential, Novartis Pharmaceuticals has been the latest to join the exodus of drug companies from antibiotic research and development.

The Swiss based pharmaceutical company will shut down their antibacterial and antiviral research programs resulting in the termination of 140 jobs.

They join Sanofi, Allergan and AstraZeneca who have also pulled out of antimicrobial R & D.

Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Roche will remain active in the antimicrobial market.

Since the birth of antibiotics in 1928 with Sir Alexander Fleming’s discovery of Penicillin, we’ve aimed to make them stronger and shrewder than the bacteria.  However, nature always wins, and some bacteria have outsmarted our fanciest of antibiotics, as we’ve seen with MRSA (methicillin-resistant staph aureus) and CRE (carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae).  The more antibiotics we make and use, the stronger the bacteria become.

Since insurance companies favor generics, new drugs that do go through the long and expensive process of R & D have no guarantee of turning a profit.  According to a report published by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development (CSDD) the cost of developing a prescription drug that is successful enough to make it to market costs approximately $2.6 billion.  Drugs that are researched, developed, tested but then fail in obtaining FDA approval or success long-term may never make it to market, costing the drug company millions.

The Writing’s On The Wall

 

And pharmaceutical companies aren’t stupid.  They see the legal circus surrounding Purdue Pharma for its “role” in the opioid crisis, so drug companies may wonder if they’ll eventually be held liable for the “superbug crisis”.   If a company thinks they will lose money or be sued in the future for a drug that cost billions to manufacture, they may choose to pass.

But if they pass….who steps up?

I suggest more research into other forms of treating antibiotics such as laser treatments.  Or go old school with silver.  During the Roman empire and Middle Ages, silver had been used as healing agent.  During the Civil War, silver nitrate was used to cure Gonorrhea, another bacteria currently becoming drug resistant.  The silver nitrate was eventually replaced by a colloidal silver. But in 2013 researchers at Boston University discovered why silver was so antibacterial.  Its properties interfered with the cell metabolism of the pathogen as well as  disrupted its wall.  This mimics what antibiotics have been designed to do.  Silver may be able to be used as an agent by itself, in a non toxic form of course, or used in conjunction with current antibiotics who cannot break into the bacteria wall by themselves.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. 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.

 

Published in Health

Could Dementia and CTE be Prevented with Oxygen Therapy?

 

When brains get deprived of oxygen, during sleep apnea or trauma, dementia and/or neurological sequelae may ensue.

For years I’ve suggested giving oxygen at night to those athletes at risk of CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and those at high risk for dementia and Alzheimers. Oxygen at high concentrations have been found to help wounds heal, and why should a vulnerable organ fight for oxygen. Give the brain what it needs.

Now a study from Sydney University reports loud snoring could be an early warning sign for dementia and memory issues.

Those who have airway obstruction will make noise when they sleep. Those with obstructive sleep apnea, inability to breath during sleep due to airway obstruction by fat, large tonsils, large posterior tongue and other issues, may in response snore loudly.

 

mallampati(1)

 

Researchers found those who had sleep apnea had reduced thickness in the temporal lobes, memory centers of the brain which also are integral in speech processing and abstract thinking.  When memory tests were given, those with these changes scored poorly.

Study authors suspect that older people should therefore be screened for obstructive sleep apnea.  Currently we screen those who are overweight, fatigued, or hypertensive, but maybe we should screen all seniors?  Personally, I feel we should intervene sooner, such as middle age, if we want to ward of dementia early.

Last year we learned of a two-year old near-drowning victim, who was submerged for nearly 15 minutes and sustained brain-damaged, surprisingly has “minimal” deficits after given extensive oxygen therapy.

In February 2016, Eden Carlson climbed through a baby gate while her mother was showering and fell into the family pool. Her mother performed CPR and medical personnel worked to revive her for hours. They succeeded, but she had suffered cardiac arrest and brain damage. Upon discharge from the hospital 48 days later, Eden had difficulty speaking, walking and responding to her family.

Her medical team then tried oxygen treatments twice a day in 45 minute sessions.  These were “normobaric” oxygen treatments, or oxygen at the concentration of one atmosphere (sea level). Then three weeks later she was moved to New Orleans for “hyperbaric” oxygen treatments, or breathing 100% oxygen in a chamber greater than atmospheric pressure.

After ten sessions her mother reported “near normal” activity with doctors finding only “minimal damage” on her MRI scan.

 

An MRI scan 162 days after the incident showed that the child still has mild residual brain injury but the cortical and white matter atrophy she suffered was nearly completely reversed.

An MRI scan 162 days after the incident showed that the child still has mild residual brain injury but the cortical and white matter atrophy she suffered was nearly completely reversed. (Medical Gas Research)

 

According to NYDailyNews, the cortical and white matter atrophy (thinning) almost completely reversed.

This raises the question, should oxygen therapy, either normobaric or hyperbaric, be instituted immediately after injury (near drowning, concussion, infection, etc.) and chronically for those at higher risk of dementia (diabetics, those with heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and stroke victims)?

Athletes who sustain multiple concussions are at high risk of developing CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.  This progressive, degenerative disease of the brain is also found in veterans and those who have sustained repeated head trauma.  Symptoms include mood disorders, paranoia, impulse control issues, aggression, and memory loss to name a few.

Many victims of CTE aren’t diagnosed until after they die, upon autopsy and evaluation of brain tissue, hence it may be worth researching early oxygen intervention to those at high risk before symptoms surface.

Now oxygen therapy is not without its risks, as those with COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, could lose their respiratory drive, and oxygen toxicity could cause bleeding and seizures.  But controlled trials could allow us to investigate if one of the simplest of treatments can help battle some of the most difficult of diseases.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. 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.

 

 

Published in Health

A study finds patients don’t mind their ER doc’s body art.

Researchers from St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania surveyed emergency room patients who rated the providers on a five point Likert scale on their perception of competence, professionalism, caring, approachability, trustworthiness, and reliability in their doctor.  Their findings found patients had “no perceived difference” in the above metrics, “and assigned top box performance in all domains >75% of the time, regardless of physician appearance.”

So Can Medical Students Break out the Nose Ring?

 

No, not so fast.  Although body art is beautiful, and accessorizing with piercings can make our dreary scrubs pop, the average physician is fighting more and more these days to capture the faith of the patient who keeps turning to the web for medical advice.

The above study surveyed patients in emergency rooms….a setting in which patients are desperate to receive care in an emergency and are grateful, on most occasions. What about the oncologist who needs to give somber news about a patient’s cancer?  Would patients appreciate the skull and crossbones tattoo on his neck? Probably not.

 

 

 

Skull-and-Crossbones-Tattoo-Designs-Poison-Pirate.jpg

 

Piercings and tattoos make a statement, tell a story, or add character to the body on which they adorn.   And the attention they command is why I’m such a fan. So I agree that it has no bearing on one’s “competence, professionalism, caring, approachability, trustworthiness, and reliability.”  However, in many medical scenarios the patient needs to feel he is the main focus. Patients want to believe we providers wake up, eat, exercise to maintain our health, dress, and wash our hands for them.  And they’re right…we do. So our personal style, statements and stories are kept to a minimum at work.

It’s unfortunate because I was really hoping to get the following Lord of the Rings tattoo of Aragorn when hubby wasn’t looking….

 

artist--kristian-kimonides--aragorn-tattoo_18179093247.jpg

 

For more on the study see here.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. 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.

 

 

Published in Health

Canadian researchers report women who work 45 hours or more a week are at higher risk of developing diabetes.  Those who work 30-40 hours weekly, however, are not at increased risk.

In this study, published in the British Medical Journal Diabetes Research and Care, study authors looked at 7000 men and women, aged 35-74, who were working a variety of hours per week.  They found men more likely to develop diabetes, especially if they were obese, but women who worked greater than 45 hours/week were 62% more likely to acquire the disease than women who worked “normal working hours.”

This may shock many of us whose normal work week plus housework clocks in at 80-100 hours.  However, extra hours of work increases stress inducing hormones that may contribute to poor sugar metabolism.

Another theory is longer work days may induce more carbohydrate eating for energy.

Study author Peter Smith of the Institute of Work and Health in Toronto said, “If you look at time spent outside of work, women do more care of household members and more routine housework. The only thing women don’t do more of is watching TV and exercising.”

According to the CDC, 23.4 million people in the US have diabetes, and in total 100 million Americans suffer from prediabetes or diabetes.

Previously the 7th leading killer of Americans, diabetes affects so many people that it has now become third leading cause of death in the US. A study in 2017 found 12% of deaths in the US is caused by diabetes, trailing behind heart disease and cancer, ranked at #1 and #2.

What is Diabetes?

 

Diabetes is a disease in which the body doesn’t utilize and metabolize sugar properly.  When we consume food, its broken down into proteins, nutrients, fats, water, and sugar. These components are necessary for cell growth and function.  They get absorbed in the small intestine and make it to the bloodstream.   In order for a cell to utilize sugar, it needs the hormone insulin to help guide it in.  It’s similar to a key that fits in the keyhole of the “door” of the cell, opening it up so sugar can enter.  Insulin is produced in the pancreas, an organ that receives signals when one eats to release insulin in preparation of the sugar load coming down the pike.

Diabetes Explained



So I imagine our mouth like a waiting room, the blood stream like a hallway, and the cells of the body the rooms along the hallway.  Insulin is the key to open the cells’ “doors” allowing sugar to enter.  If the sugar does not get in, it stays in the bloodstream “hallway” and doesn’t feed the cell.  Weight loss occurs, and individuals may become more thirsty as the sugar in the blood makes it fairly osmotic, something the body wants to neutralize, reduce.  The kidneys are going to want dump the excess sugar, so to do so, one would urinate more, again causing thirst.  So when a diabetic loses weight, urinates more frequently and becomes thirsty, you now understand why.

Complications of Diabetes

 

Cardiovascular disease – Sugar is sticky, so it can easily add to atherosclerotic plaques.

Blindness – high sugar content draws in water to neutralize and small blood vessels in the eye can only take so much fluid before they burst.  Moreover, high blood sugar weakens blood vessels.

Kidney disease – the kidneys work overtime to eliminate the excess sugar. Moreover, sugar laden blood isn’t the healthiest when they themselves need nourishment.

Infections – pathogens love sugar. Its food for them.  Moreover blood laden with sugar doesn’t allow immune cells to work in the most opportune environment.

Neuropathy – nerves don’t receive adequate blood supply due to the diabetes-damaged blood flow and vessels, hence they become dull or hypersensitive causing diabetics to have numbness or pain.

Dementia – as with the heart and other organs, the brain needs healthy blood and flow.  Diabetes has been found to increase risk of Alzheimer’s as well.

Type I vs. Type II Diabetes

 

Type I Diabetes, previously called insulin dependent or Juvenile diabetes, occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, possibly from the immune system destroying the cells that produce the hormone. When this occurs there is rapid weight loss and death could occur if the cells don’t get the sugar they need.  Insulin has to be administered regularly.

Type II Diabetes, previously called non-insulin dependent or adult-onset diabetes,  occurs in those who began with a fully functioning pancreas but as they age the pancreas produces less insulin, called insulin deficiency, or the insulin produced meets resistance. This is the fastest growing type of diabetes in both children and adults.

What is insulin resistance?

 

Insulin resistance, if using our hallway and door analogy, is as if someone is pushing against the door the insulin is trying to unlock. As we know, those with obesity are at higher risk for diabetes, hence fat can increase insulin resistance. It’s also been associated with an increase in heart disease.

Blood sugar numbers

 

If your fasting blood sugar (glucose) is greater than 126 mg/dl, or your non fasting blood sugar is greater than 200 mg/dl, you may be considered diabetic. Pre-diabetes occurs when the fasting blood sugar is between 100 and 125 mg/dl.  If ignored, and the sugar rises, pre-diabetics may go on to develop diabetes.

 

dmp-blood-sugar-levels-chart

SOURCE DIABETESMEALPLANS.COM

 

Preventing/Controlling Diabetes

 

1/3 of American adults are currently pre-diabetic. Experts predict 1/3 of US Adults will be diabetic by the year 2050. Although genetics plays a big role, decreasing ones sugar intake and maintaining an active lifestyle can help ward of diabetes.

Foods high in sugar and carbohydrates increase one’s risk, so a diet rich in vegetables and lean meats is preferred.

For more information, visit http://www.diabetes.org/.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. 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.

 

Published in Health

A study from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that most of our meat purchased at the supermarket contains antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System tested bacteria on meat in 2015 and found them to be resistant to one of fourteen antibiotics. These “superbugs” were detected on:

 

  • 71% Pork Chops
  • 79% of Ground Turkey
  • 62% Ground Beef
  • 36% Chicken Breasts, Wings and Thighs tested.

Dr. Gail Hansen, a public health expert and veterinarian states, “Bacteria transfer their antibiotic resistance genes to other bacteria they come in contact with in the environment and in the gastrointestinal tract of people and animals, making it very difficult to effectively treat infections.”

The EWG provides a tip sheet on how to avoid superbugs in meat here.

What is a Superbug?

 

A superbug is a pathogen, most commonly bacteria, that can survive antibiotics that most species would buckle under. Its resistance could be caused by a variety of factors.  Maybe it has a mutation that makes it stronger. Maybe its genetic material shields it from the toxic medicine.  Maybe it’s luck. So shortly after it celebrates surviving the antibiotic assault, it divides to reproduce, making more bacteria. If this progeny bacteria maintain the same genetic material as its parent, or if included, mutation, they can be now be resistant to the antibiotics as well.

_68481070_c0131441-e._coli_bacterium,_tem-spl.jpg

DRUG RESISTANT E. COLI – IMAGE FROM BBC

 

According to the CDC: Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.

Why are superbugs growing on our food?

 

One theory is we give antibiotics to farm animals to keep them healthy, avoid disease and improve their growth.  These antibiotics may be used and consumed so frequently that bacteria learn how to overcome and create new, resilient progeny.

How do we avoid getting sick?

 

The following is a guide on temperature goals for various meats:

food temp.png

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. 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.

 

 

Published in Health

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