A Harvard study finds popcorn and caramel flavor electronic cigarette liquid may damage the cilia of one’s respiratory system.

Diacetyl and 2,3- pentanedione have been found in multiple products to aid in flavoring and considered safe for human consumption. But that’s the key….consumption by eating,  not necessarily inhalation.

In this recent study from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, the cilia, small projections that line the respiratory tree allowing for a brush and propelling of contaminants coming down the pipe, appeared impaired in function when exposed to the chemicals.

Changes in gene expression of the cilia’s production and function were witnessed and could put one at risk for lung disease and lung cancer.

Diacetyl has been linked to “popcorn lung,” in which inhaling the yummy smelling chemical lined vapor could cause scarring of the lungs and loss of function.

9 Vaping Flavors Found to Increase Heart Risk

Last summer 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.

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

  • Mint (menthol)
  • Vanilla (vanillin)
  • 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.

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

For more on the study, read here.

An alternate study published last November looked at vaping flavors and their effects on heart muscle cells.

For more on this study, read here.

The moral?  Just because we love the taste of something, doesn’t mean it’s safe to inhale.

___________________________________________________________________

Vaping Linked to Heart Disease and Cancer

A study from New York University found the nicotine in electronic cigarettes to cause DNA damage similar to cigarette smoking.

Dr. Moon-shong Tang and his colleagues exposed mice to e-cig smoke during a three-month period, 5 days a week for three hours a day.  They found these mice, compared to those breathing filtered air, to have DNA damage to cells in their bladders, lungs and hearts. The amount of nicotine inhaled was approximately 10 mg/ml.   That dose would be commonly consumed by many humans who vape.

They then looked at human bladder and lung cells and found tumor cells were able to grow more easily once exposed to nicotine and vaping chemicals.

In a previous study,  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 mucus 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.

For more on the study read here.

Toxic metals found in vaping liquid

In February, one study reported that toxic levels of lead and other metals may leak from the heating coil element into the vapor inhaled during e-cig use.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found these metals to include:

  • lead
  • nickel
  • manganese
  • chromium
  • arsenic

We’ve known for some time that vaping fluid could contain chemicals that turn toxic once heated, but this study shed light on e-cig metal components causing metal leakage to the vapor making contact with delicate respiratory epithelium (lining).

Reported by Forbes, Rich Able, a medical device marketing consultant, stated the following, “the FDA does not currently test any of the most popular vaping and e-cigarette instruments being manufactured at unregulated factories in Asia that source  low-grade parts, batteries, and materials for the production of these devices,” suggesting that “the metal and parts composition of these devices must be stringently tested for toxic analytes and corrosive compounds.”

These chemicals may act as neurotoxins, affecting our nervous system, cause tissue necrosis (cell death) and even multi-organ failure.  Moreover they can affect how our immune system reacts to other chemicals as well as foreign pathogens, affecting our ability to fight other diseases.

Although studies have suggested e-cig vapor to be safer than tobacco smoke, not enough research has been done, in the relatively few years vaping has been around, looking at how heat-transformed chemicals and leaked metals affect our breathing, lungs and other organs once absorbed into the body.

 

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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

The ex-CIA officer credited for rescuing six US diplomats from Iran in 1980 has passed from complications of Parkinson’s.

Antonio “Tony” Mendez had joined the CIA in 1965 and became master at disguises and rescues.

During the Iranian Revolution in the late 70’s, protestors stormed the US Embassy holding 66 embassy staffers hostage. 6 had escaped to the homes of two Canadian diplomats but were unable to leave the country. Mendez was able to disguise them as a film crew and smuggle them out in 1980, portrayed in Argo, the Academy Award winning film starring (and directed by) Ben Affleck.

After 444 days the other hostages were released on President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration.

He retired from the CIA in 1990 and wrote memoirs of his experiences. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s ten years ago. A statement from his agent and family reported he passed this week in an assisted-living facility in Maryland.

The Hollywood Reporter reports:

“EARLY THIS MORNING, ANTONIO (TONY) J. MENDEZ FINALLY SUCCUMBED TO THE PARKINSON’S DISEASE THAT HE HAD BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH TEN+ YEARS AGO. HE WAS SURROUNDED WITH LOVE FROM HIS FAMILY AND WILL BE SORELY MISSED,” THE STATEMENT READ. “THE LAST THING HE AND HIS WIFE JONNA MENDEZ DID WAS GET THEIR NEW BOOK TO THE PUBLISHER AND HE DIED FEELING HE HAD COMPLETED WRITING THE STORIES THAT HE WANTED TO BE TOLD.”

 

Ben Affleck, in response to the news, tweeted the following:

 

"Tony Mendez was a true American hero. He was a man of extraordinary grace, decency, humility and kindness. He never sought the spotlight for his actions, he merely sought to serve his country.  I'm so proud to have worked with him and told one of his stories." 

 

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

 

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, next to Alzheimer’s, and the most common movement disorder that affects 1% of the world’s population over 60 years old. In the US, 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.  It affects several areas of the brain, primarily the substantia nigra, altering balance and movement by affecting dopamine producing cells.

It was first described in 1817 by James Parkinson as a “shaking palsy.”

What are the Symptoms of Parkinson’s?

 

Common symptoms of Parkinson’s include:

  • Stiffness and rigidity
  • Poor balance
  • Tremor at rest, especially a pill-rolling tremor
  • Slow movement
  • Inability to move
  • Shuffling steps, gait

and patients may later develop…

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Memory loss
  • Constipation
  • Decrease ability to smell
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Pneumonia
  • Fractures from falling
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Dementia

 

Who is at Risk for Parkinson’s?

 

Most cases are idiopathic, meaning the disease arises with no specific cause.  However some cases are genetic and multiple genes have been identified that are associated with the disease.

The average age of onset is 60, but some cases may occur as “early onset”, before the age of 50, and if before the age of 20, it is known as juvenile-onset Parkinson’s.

Men appear to be more affected than women at twice the rate.

Risk may be enhanced with a history of head trauma.

Exposure to herbicides and pesticides has been linked to an increase risk of Parkinson’s as well.

 

How Quickly do Parkinson’s Symptoms Progress?

 

Average progression rates can last years to decades, however, earlier onset disease may manifest much quicker.

 

How is Parkinson’s treated?

 

Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s, symptoms can be treated by a variety of measures.

  • Levodopa – converts to dopamine in the brain, helping replace the deficient hormone.
  • Carbidopa (Sinemet) – if given with levodopa prevents the latter from being broken down before it reaches the brain.
  • Dopamine agonists – mimic dopamine
  • MAO-B inhibitors – helps block the enzyme MAO-B, which breaks down natural dopamine
  • Other medications including COMT inhibitors, amantadine and anticholinergics
  • Medications to treat anxiety and depression
  • Deep brain stimulation – a surgeon implants electrodes into the brain, allowing stimulation of parts that help regulate movement.
  • Stem cell therapy – being investigated as a means to create dopamine-producing cells
  • Physical and occupational therapy

 

Famous People Diagnosed with Parkinson’s

  • Alan Alda
  • Michael J. Fox
  • Janet Reno
  • Robin Williams
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Casey Kasem
  • Johnny Cash
  • Linda Ronstadt
  • Pope John Paul II
  • Peanuts creator Charles Schulz
  • Rev. Jesse Jackson
  • Neil Diamond

 

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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 News & Information

In the last 6 months, three cats in Wyoming have tested positive for the plague.

Currently there are no known humans affected, however, under 10 human cases on average occur each year in the United States.

The type of plague the cats tested positive for was bubonic.  So here’s the breakdown.

What causes the plague?

The plague as we know it is most commonly caused by a bacteria called, Yersinia pestis.

How does one come down with the plague?

The victim usually acquires the plague from being bit by a flea who fed on infected animals such as rodents, or by contact with one who has the plague.  Cat scratches from domesticated cats who are infected have been documented as a form of transmission.

Direct contact with infected bodily fluids could spread the plague as well. Pneumonic plague can be spread through a cough or sneeze.

What are the types of plague?

There are three types of plague:

Bubonic – the most common, at first affects the lymph nodes, but may spread to throughout the body

Pneumonic – infects the lungs and may be spread from person to person by respiratory droplet.

Septicemic – infects the blood stream and can be the result of untreated bubonic and pneumonic plague

What are the symptoms of the plague?

For all three types of the plague one can have:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Weakness
  • Headache

But with bubonic plague, one may have large “bubos” or swollen glands in the neck, underarm, or pelvic/groin region.

With pneumonic plague, one may additionally have cough, shortness of breath and blood in their sputum.

How is the plague treated?

Due to the disease spreading quickly, in some cases causing death within 24 hours, antibiotics need to be instituted immediately.

These include:

  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Doxycycline
  • Streptomycin
  • Gentamicin

Moreover supportive measures such as IV fluids and oxygen may be needed as well depending on the severity of symptoms.

How can one avoid the plague?

Flea control is paramount.  So insect repellent for humans, and flea control products will help limit bites from the infected insects.

Moreover avoid rodents and clean out areas in and around your house to avoid them from scurrying around.

 

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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

Let’s face it… Pap Smears aren’t fun. The only test to sample tissue for cervical cancer just happens to be one of the most embarrassing and awkward but it can be one of the most life saving and simple.  So what is it and how does it work?  Here’s your questions answered.

What is the cervix and what is cervical cancer?

The uterus looks similar to a light bulb.  The larger top portion being where the fetus develops, and the bottom, narrower area, the cervix.  The cervix thins and dilates during childbirth, as you’ve heard in the movies “she’s only 7 cm!” and then after childbirth becomes narrow again.  It affects nearly 13,000 and kills 4,100 women each year, rising each year.  It can affect women of any age but is more common between 20 and 50.

What causes cervical cancer?

The most common cause is HPV (Human Papillomavirus), especially HPV-16 and HPV-18.  This is acquired through unprotected sex, so condom use is encouraged. Thus it's one of the most preventable causes of cancer.  Additionally, there are 3 vaccines for HPV currently approved by the FDA, Gardasil, Gardasil 9, and Cervarix.

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

Early cervical cancer may not be symptomatic but as it develops it may cause an odor, pain with urination, pelvic pain and bleeding. This bleeding may occur after sex, a pelvic exam, or intermittent bleeding not associated with a menstrual cycle.

Is cervical cancer treatable?

Yes. Early detection is key and can be done by a Pap Smear, explained below.  Multiple treatments are available including surgery, chemotherapy,  radiation therapy, and targeted therapy such as Bevacizumab (Avastin®) which prevents new blood vessel growth that can feed a tumor.

Who should get screened for Cervical Cancer?

The USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) recommends the following:

Screening for cervical cancer in women age 21 to 65 years with cytology (Pap smear) every 3 years or, for women age 30 to 65 years who want to lengthen the screening interval, screening with a combination of cytology and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing every 5 years.

What is a Pap Smear?

It is the cytology (cell analysis) of the cervix.  Years ago, a cytobrush would collect the cells and the medical provider would “smear” it onto a slide, place fixative, and then send it to the laboratory for the pathologist to analyze it.  Now ThinPrep® Pap tests are used more commonly as the cells from the brush are placed into a container with fixative, and this vial is sent to the pathologist to spin down and analyze.

In order to obtain the cells from the cervix, the medical provider needs to use a speculum to open the vaginal canal and allow access to the uterus.  A woman may be in the lithotomy position…lying on one’s back on the exam table with her feet in stirrups and knees bent. During the speculum exam, the medical provider may take cultures to test for common vaginal infections such as yeast, bacteria vaginosis, or sexually transmitted illnesses such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.  After the speculum exam, the provider may perform a pelvic exam with her gloved hand to examine the uterus and ovaries, evaluating for tenderness, shape, size and masses.

How is an HPV test done?

An HPV test can be done with the cells obtained during the Pap Smear. The laboratory evaluates the cells to see if the HPV virus that causes cervical cancer is present.

In summary the thousands of deaths that occur each year to cervical cancer can be prevented with simple testing, such as the Pap Smear. Discuss with your medical provider when cervical cancer screening is best for you.

 

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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
UNWAXED DENTAL FLOSS OR WATER PICKS MAY OFFER LESS EXPOSURE TO PFA’S.

The concept of dental floss was first introduced in 1819 by Levi Spear Parmly, who recommended a waxed silk thread to remove food particles away from the teeth and gums.  Dental floss was later patented by Johnson & Johnson in 1898 and it’s been a dental favorite ever since.

I’m a fan as too many people brush their teeth haphazardly and fail to adequately clean in between the teeth.

Now a study from the Silent Spring Institute and Public Health Institute in Berkeley, California, suggest that users may be exposing themselves to elevated levels of toxic chemicals known as perfluorocooctanesulfonic acids (PFA’s).

PFA’s are used in food packaging, commercial household products, industrial products and more.  Animal studies have suggested their link to tumors such as testicular cancer, high cholesterol, liver and kidney dysfunction, and issues with one’s reproductive and immune system.

The EPA states the following:

PFAS ARE FOUND IN A WIDE RANGE OF CONSUMER PRODUCTS THAT PEOPLE USE DAILY SUCH AS COOKWARE, PIZZA BOXES, AND STAIN REPELLANTS. MOST PEOPLE HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO PFAS. CERTAIN PFAS CAN ACCUMULATE AND STAY IN THE HUMAN BODY FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME. THERE IS EVIDENCE THAT EXPOSURE TO PFAS CAN LEAD TO ADVERSE HEALTH OUTCOMES IN HUMANS. THE MOST-STUDIED PFAS CHEMICALS ARE PFOA AND PFOS. STUDIES INDICATE THAT PFOA AND PFOS CAN CAUSE REPRODUCTIVE AND DEVELOPMENTAL, LIVER AND KIDNEY, AND IMMUNOLOGICAL EFFECTS IN LABORATORY ANIMALS. BOTH CHEMICALS HAVE CAUSED TUMORS IN ANIMALS. THE MOST CONSISTENT FINDINGS ARE INCREASED CHOLESTEROL LEVELS AMONG EXPOSED POPULATIONS, WITH MORE LIMITED FINDINGS RELATED TO:
  • LOW INFANT BIRTH WEIGHTS,
  • EFFECTS ON THE IMMUNE SYSTEM,
  • CANCER (FOR PFOA), AND
  • THYROID HORMONE DISRUPTION (FOR PFOS).

The study was published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. Authors tested 18 dental floss brands, including Oral-B Glide, and found higher levels of PFA’s (perfluorohexanesulfonic acid) in the test subjects (178 California-based middle-aged women) who used the waxed dental floss.

Study author Katie Boronow, states, “This is the first study to show that using dental floss containing PFAS is associated with a higher body burden of these toxic chemicals….The good news is, based on our findings; consumers can choose flosses that don’t contain PFAS.”

Most dental floss brands, however, do not report on their packaging if they contain PFA’s or not. Unwaxed versions may be PFA free.

However, many other daily habits can expose us to PFA’s such as eating fast food packaged in waxy coated cardboard containers.

So since good dental hygiene is paramount for health, I suggest speaking to your dentist about your flossing habits and consider also using a water pick as it can be very effective at removing food particles and bacteria from one’s teeth and gums.

 

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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
%PM, %08 %810 %2019 %18:%Jan

Flu Now Widespread in Multiple States

The CDC has reported an increase in flu activity during our 52nd week of the year ending on 12/29/18.

The CDC reports outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) jumped to 4.1%, above the national baseline of 2.2%.

The CDC states the following:

New York City and 19 states experienced high ILI activity; nine states experienced moderate ILI activity; the District of Columbia and 10 states experienced low ILI activity; and Puerto Rico and 12 states experienced minimal ILI activity.

States experiencing high ILI activity include:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia

States experiencing moderate ILI activity include:

  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont

Low and minimal activity (noted in yellow and green) has been reported in the remaining states as well as Puerto Rico.

Currently it appears the majority of flu cases are caused by the H1N1 Influenza A strain. Even though the H1N1 caused an epidemic in 2009, this may forebode a less severe flu season from last year’s H3N2 epidemic.

The Flu – Your Questions Answered

__________________________________________________________

When does flu season begin and how long does it last?

Flu season has begun already. It typically starts in the Fall, and ends late Spring.  So the range is described as October to May with it peaking December to March.

How bad will this flu season be?

It is difficult to predict, but already this early in the season we’ve had multiple flu related deaths reported by the CDC’s Fluview.

What is the flu?  How can one die from it?

The flu is caused by a virus. Multiple strains of virus’ can cause the flu.  The virus itself can be lethal, however the greatest risk comes with what it does to your immune system, thereby putting one at risk of secondary infections.  Pneumonia is the number one cause of flu-related deaths.  Secondly, it can exacerbate existing conditions such as asthma, seizures, even promote preterm birth, hence those who are pregnant or have pre-existing medical conditions are urged to get vaccinated against the flu.  Moreover those who qualify should get the pneumonia vaccine as well.

h1n1 virus

What does this year’s flu vaccine cover?

According to the CDC, the trivalent vaccine covers for these three strains of flu virus:

  • A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09–like virus
  • A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 (H3N2)-like virus
  • B/Colorado/06/2017–like virus (Victoria lineage)

Quadrivalent influenza vaccines will contain these three viruses and an additional influenza B vaccine virus, a B/Phuket/3073/2013–like virus (Yamagata lineage).

These vaccines are aimed at providing protection against the Swine flu, and some influenza A and B strains.

What about older individuals?

This year, those over 65 will have three options for their flu vaccine.

Fluzone High-Dose – a higher dose flu vaccine that will hopefully allow their immunity to protect against the flu longer

FLUAD – the trivalent flu vaccine with an adjuvant to stimulate more of an immune response.

Flublok Quadrivalent – provides protection against 4 strains.

What about the nasal spray vaccine?

This year, the CDC allows use of the nasal spray vaccine as it has shown to have improved efficacy from  prior years. However it is only recommended for  those who are between the ages of 2 and 49 and cannot be given to those who are pregnancy or who have compromising medical conditions as outlined by the CDC.

Who should get the flu shot?

All individuals 6 months old and older unless specified by their medical provider.

What if I’m allergic to eggs?

Most individuals allergic to eggs can still get the flu vaccine, but if the allergy to eggs is severe (anaphylaxis, angioedema, difficulty breathing), the CDC recommends notifying your medical provider and being in a facility to monitor you if you do get the flu vaccine.

Will I get the flu from the flu shot?

No.  The flu vaccine has a “killed” version of the virus meaning it’s not an active virus (as opposed to a live attenuated vaccine, a weakened down version of it).   A “killed” or “inactivated” vaccine merely has the pathogen particles to induce an immune response.  Additionally, when one states they got the flu despite the flu shot it could be that the flu shot only protects against 3 – 4 strains and they were infected with a more rare strain not covered by the vaccine.

How effective is the flu vaccine?

The average effectiveness each year hovers around 60%.  Last year’s efficacy was much lower and this year’s has not been predicted as of yet. Australia is still reporting active cases on their Department of Health website.

I feel sick after the flu shot, why?

For some, the immune response that ensues can make one feel mildly ill, but should not resemble the flu. Those who state they got the flu “immediately” after receiving the shot, might have already been exposed and had not had a chance to produce immunity prior to their exposure.

What are symptoms of the flu? How is it different from a cold?

A cold comes on slower and less severe.  Flu symptoms are more abrupt and can include:

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

Are there medications to treat the flu? Will antibiotics work?

There are antiviral medications available, such as Tamiflu, to treat the flu.  Antibiotics, however, will not work since the flu is not caused by a bacteria but rather a virus. However if a secondary bacterial infection takes over, antibiotics may be used.

How can I prevent getting the flu?

Besides vaccination, avoid being around those who are sick, thorough hand washing, and take good care of yourself.  A balanced diet, exercise and sleep regimen can help boost your immune system.

Wishing you health this season!!

 

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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

The holidays flew by us way too quickly and left the wind chill in its wake.

Unfortunately, with all the hustle and bustle this time of year, we tend to forget how dangerous the weather can be. It would make sense to stay indoors, and for the most part we do….except for New Years. All rules go out the door with this party. The most exciting night of the year can sometimes be the coldest night of the year. And the party ends up outside. And do we don a ski mask, goggles, gloves, galoshes, thermal underwear, winter coat and earmuffs? No. That would make the most unsexy New Year’s outfit.

Throw some alcohol into the mix and this can be a deadly combination. The CDC estimates that 1300 deaths occur each year due to hypothermia. So what is hypothermia?

What is hypothermia?

Hypothermia is a dangerous drop in body temperature and can occur in minutes. Human body temperature averages around 98.6 degrees F. But hypothermia starts setting in at 95 degrees F with shivering, increase respiratory and heart rate, and even confusion. We forget that glucose stores get used up quickly so hypoglycemia can ensue as well, making matters worse, especially in someone who is intoxicated. Frostbite can occur as blood flow decreases to the tips of the ears, fingers, nose and toes. As hypothermia progresses, the shivering and muscle contractions strengthen, skin and lips become pale, and confusion worsens. This can lead to severe hypothermia, eventually causing heart failure and/or respiratory failure, leading to a coma and if not reversed, death.

Hypothermia can mimic looking drunk

Someone who is hypothermic may slur their speech, stammer around and appear uncoordinated.  This sounds identical to your drunk buddy on New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, this can be deadly as many hypothermic partiers get written off as being drunk.

So if you suspect hypothermia, call for medical assistance. Anyone you think is eliciting signs of hypothermia should be brought indoors, put in dry clothes, covered in warm blankets, and then wait for paramedics to arrive. It’s important to try to warm the central parts of the body such as head, neck, chest, and groin, but avoid direct electric blanket contact with the skin and active rubbing if the skin is showing signs of frostbite.

Why not use hot water to warm up a hypothermic individual?

Hot water will be too caustic and can cause burns. Remember, the body is shunting blood away from the ears, fingers, toes, hands and feet to warm the heart, brain and other vital organs. The skin will be in a vulnerable state during hypothermia and frostbite and will burn the under perfused skin.

Alcohol increases the risk of hypothermia

We’re outside in the cold, not bundling up, dancing, sweating, becoming dehydrated. Add alcohol to the mix, and its deadly. Here’s the scoop on alcohol toxicity.

Preventing hypothermia

When it comes to hypothermia, the best thing you can do is prevention. It’s the biggest party of the year so prepare yourself by doing the following:

  • Wear multiple layers of clothing.
  • Bring an extra pair of dry socks.
  • Avoid getting wet (i.e. falling off a boat, getting splashed with champagne)
  • Change your clothes if you worked up a sweat dancing.
  • Check with your medical provider if some of your medical conditions (i.e. hypothyroid) or medications (i.e. narcotics, and sedatives)  put you at risk for hypothermia.
  • Avoid alcohol intoxication.
  • Keep an eye on your more vulnerable buddies who include children, older individuals, and those with intellectual disabilities.

 

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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

 

Tis the season!! Unfortunately not for our hearts.  A study back in 2004 found a 5% increase in heart attacks during the Christmas season.  Then this month, a study published in the British Medical Journal found Christmas Eve to be especially risky for those who are prone to heart disease.  Let’s dissect why….

Baby it's cold outside ...

The cold has long been associated with heart stress.  Cold weather causes blood vessel constriction and this adds extra work for the heart. Moreover, it causes less oxygen to reach vital organs, including the heart.

Snow shoveling has been infamous for inciting heart attacks for this same reason.  The heart demands extra blood due to the increase in activity and the cold restricts blood flow.

Let’s toast ...

Alcohol, especially in excessive amounts, can put stress on the heart by increasing blood pressure, worsening diabetes, and causing abnormal heart rhythms.    Moreover, it interferes with the metabolisms of medications, hence many of these may not work at their best.   Which brings us to…..

Is there a doctor in the house?

Medical providers take vacation too.  And if a patient forgets to refill his medication he may go without during the two weeks of holiday season.  Moreover many forget to pack everything they need for a Holiday trip and without anticipating delays, one could be without crucial medication dosing.  The heart does not like this.

Stress …

Holiday travel is never easy.  Delays, long lines, the cold, traffic and then…..family.  We may love our family but prefer seeing them in small doses.  All the family at once can be a little overwhelming for some.  As for coping with the in-laws…..well a guide is available for you all here.

Preventing Heart Disease …

Firstly, we must know our risk factors. These include:

  • Family history of heart disease
  • Personal history of heart disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Males over 40
  • Females who are postmenopausal
  • High stress
  • and even short stature has been cited as a potential risk factor.

As you can see, many of us can be at risk for heart disease.  Therefore secondly, we should be evaluated with an EKG, echocardiogram and any other exams our medical provider and/or cardiologist deem necessary.

Thirdly, reduce your risk by the following:

  • Maintain a normal blood pressure
  • Maintain normal blood sugar
  • Maintain normal cholesterol and lipid levels
  • Reduce stress
  • Maintain a balanced diet, rich in potassium-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables
  • Quit smoking
  • Stay active
  • Maintain a healthy weight

So how to prevent to the “Christmas Coronary?”

Plan ahead by doing the following:

  • If you are running low on your prescriptions contact your medical provider early on.
  • Pack prescriptions in two different bottles, so you can take some medication on your carry on in case the flight gets delayed or a suitcase gets lost.
  • Avoid getting sick, by getting your flu shot, washing your hands, avoiding sick contacts.
  • For tips on how to avoid getting sick on a plane visit here.

Holiday time should be a happy time. Let’s make it a healthy one!!!

 

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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

This generation of teens communicates differently from any others as smartphone technology has outpaced the normal evolution of day-and-age vernacular. As a result, adolescents use abbreviations and emojis to convey their thoughts while parents and society scrambles to catch up.

What are you teen saying? A parents guide to teen slang. 

However, within these bite-size “codes” could be volumes of meaning, some delineating at risk behavior, some foreboding suicide.  These codes many times come from the letters that correspond to the keypad on a phone.  So here’s a guide to some of the unfamiliar terminology the young ‘uns are using:

Sex/Love

  • NIFOC – nude in front of computer.
  • CU46 – see you for sex.
  • 8 – “ate” used in discussions on oral sex.
  • 831 – I love you – “eight letters, three words, one you/meaning.”
  • 143 – I love you (denotes letters on keypads, or #’s of letters in each word (love has 4 letters).
  • 2N8, 2NTE – tonight.
  • 4AO – four adults only.
  • 2B@ – to be at.
  • 4EAE – for ever and ever.
  • 53X – sex.
  • 775 – kiss me.
  • ?^ – hook up?
  • BAE – before anyone else.
  • IWSN – I want sex now.
  • ITX – intense text sex.
  • NP4NP – naked pic for naked pic.
  • 1174 – strip club.

Unhappy/Angry

  • < 3 – broken heart or heart.
  • 182 – I hate you (1 stands for “I”, 8 stands for “hate”, 2 stands for “you”)
  • 2G2BT – Too good to be true.
  • 2M2H – Too much to handle.
  • Blarg, Blargh – similar to “darn” but deeper.
  • Butthurt – receiving a personal insult.
  • Salty – being bitter about something or someone.
  • Watered – feeling sad, hurt.
  • Wrecked – messed up.
  • 4FS – For F***’s Sake.
  • Poof – disappearing.
  • ::poof:: – I’m gone.
  • Ghost – disappear.
  • 555555 – sobbing, crying one’s eyes out.
  • ADIH – another day in Hell.
  • KMN – kill me now.
  • VSF – very sad face.
  • KMS – kill myself.
  • KYS – kill yourself.
  • 187 – homicide.

Drugs/Risky Behavior (to be revisited more in depth)

  • 420 – marijuana.
  • 420 – let’s get high.
  • A/S/L/P – age/sex/location/picture.
  • A3 – anytime, anyplace, anywhere.
  • LMIRL – lets meet in real life.
  • WYRN – what is your real name?
  • Chrismas tree – marijuana.
  • Catnip – marijuana.
  • Gold – drugs.
  • Gummy Bears – drugs.
  • Blues/Bananas – narcotics.
  • Bars – benzodiazepines.
  • Smarties/Skittles – Adderall/Ritalin.
  • Ski Equipment/Yayo– cocaine.
  • Cola – cocaine.
  • Candy/Chocolate Chips/Sweets/Smarties/E – ecstasy.
  • Crystal Skull/Wizard – synthetic marijuana.
  • Hazel – heroin.
  • Gat – gun/firearm.
  • Lit – getting high/drunk.
  • Smash(ed) – getting drunk, stoned, or having sex.

Parents nearby

  • 9 – parent is watching.
  • 99 – parent is not watching anymore.
  • P911 – parent alert (parent 911).
  • PAL – parents are listening.
  • PAW – parents are watching.
  • POS – parents over shoulder.
  • AITR – adult in the room.
  • CD9 – code 9 – parents in the room.
  • KPC – keep parents clueless.
  • RU/18 – are you over 18.

And the above is just a small sample of some of the terms used these days.  This list continues to grow by the day so parents need to always be aware.  Kids want to KPC and avoid POS so be ready for the next group of codes being created as we speak……

 

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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

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.

 

 

Published in Health
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