The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a list of diseases that could potentially become worldwide deadly epidemics, and “Disease X” is included in this list.

The list includes the following:

  • Zika
  • Ebola
  • Lassa Fever
  • SARS
  • MESS
  • CCHF (Crimean-Congo) hemorrhagic fever
  • Nipah / henipavirus
  • and Disease X.

Disease X represents a pathogen, not yet identified, that could turn and become one of the worst threats yet.

Citing biochemical warfare, gene editing, or Mother Nature’s ability to induce mutations, the WHO believes a benign pathogen that’s currently circulating could jump from animal hosts to humans, or evolve to become a highly virulent, infectious bug.

So the next “Disease X” could be:

  • a deadlier strain of flu
  • multiple drug resistant gonorrhea
  • an avian flu that jump from birds to humans
  • a bio-weapon such as release of anthrax

This warning helps remind the globe of the unpredictability and speed at which new epidemics arise.

WHO stated, “Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease.”

Moreover, diseases such as Zika and Ebola were discovered decades ago, but only recently did they cause fast-moving epidemics, despite smaller sporadic outbreaks in the past.  So a currently deadly virus or bacteria that causes isolated cases, if the conditions are right, can ignite a cluster, expand locally in an outbreak, or increase further and become an epidemic.

And humans lack natural immunity to chemical agents and man-made pathogens, hence can be easily overpowered when exposed for the first time.

The formal designation of Disease X will hopefully incite researchers to prepare for what could be a surprise ambush by something that’s been either under our radar for some time or about to be created.

 

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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 News & Information

The eventual champion of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament may not get a chance to hang a championship banner from its rafters if the Federal Bureau of Investigation wants it that way.

Given what we know about the investigation uncovering recruitment violations committed by seemingly every competitive college basketball program, 2018 might be a repeat of 2013. If you remember, Louisville emerged from March Madness as champion that year only to have that championship vacated for paying escorts to “recruit” players. While those 40 alleged acts warrant the punishment received, not all recruiting violations should be treated equally. Some shouldn’t be violations at all.

For instance, it is alleged that the FBI has a recording of Arizona head coach Sean Miller speaking of a $100,000 payment to secure freshman center DeAndre Ayton, who could be the top pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Ayton makes Arizona a legitimate title contender, and one of those teams who could win the national championship only to have it taken away. This, too, would warrant a punishment on par with Louisville’s.

Handing out bags full of money is obviously a violation of the NCAA’s “amateurism” policy -- a policy alleged to exist to preserve the “integrity” of collegiate athletics while coaches and athletic directors “earn” million-dollar salaries on the backs of slave labor. You used to have to go pro to earn pro money. Now coaches can avoid the humiliation of failing at the highest level and still live like they made the big time.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is one of those coaches, and many wonder how he manages to recruit the best high school players without violating NCAA rules. Being the winningest coach in the history of NCAA Division I basketball and having a chance to win a national championship every year can’t be only reasons why Duke has secured the top three high school recruits next year. He must be breaking the rules, right? Well, Krzyzewski wasn’t implicated in the FBI investigation, but one of his players was.

Duke University freshman forward Wendell Carter, Jr. is accused of violating the NCAA’s amateurism policy because his mother, Kylia Carter, had dinner with ASM sports agent Christian Dawkins and may or may not have paid for it. The meal cost $106.36, and Wendell Carter, Jr., who was a junior in high school at the time, wasn’t even there. This is where the NCAA can start revising its amateurism policy.

Buying someone food should never affect the eligibility of a student-athlete to compete in collegiate athletics, whether that food is consumed by the student-athlete or a member of that student-athlete’s family. Kylia Carter took time out of her day to accommodate Dawkins and discuss the future of her son. She shouldn’t have to pay for a meal -- a meal she might not be able to afford -- just to talk to someone about her son’s future, whether it be with a college coach or a sports agent. Wendell shouldn’t have to pay for his meals, either, regardless of who’s buying. If an agent wants to wine and dine him, Wendell shouldn’t have to say, “I can’t accept because I’m an amateur.”

Not a single collegiate athlete or high school recruit should have to pay a dime for food. This is the least the NCAA can do with its billion-dollar revenues: provide a per diem for meals to all NCAA student-athletes and stop considering meals as “benefits.”

Meals are calories; they are fuel. The athlete does not benefit from eating a meal. They might enjoy it, but there isn’t a meal in the world or a chef in the world capable of persuasion. No decisions are being made like Cypher’s decision to mutiny in The Matrix because of the juiciness of a steak. Let the student-athletes eat. Hell, for some of them, that dinner with an agent might be the last fancy meal they ever eat. They could tear their ACL the next day and never hear from another agent or college coach again.

Even when those recruits get to college they incur costs for calories. If you’re unaware of how meals work in college, here’s a crash course. Most colleges and universities include meal plans with room and board. That was the case when I attended the University of Washington as a freshman. Since I was living in the dorms, which all freshmen are required to do unless they’re living with family, I was required to pay for a meal plan. I didn’t want a meal plan. I wanted to buy groceries and cook my meals in the dormitory kitchenette, but there was no way around it. I had to buy a meal plan.

So I bought the cheapest meal plan available, and while it allowed me to buy groceries from the campus market, those groceries were much more expensive than they were at nearby grocery stores. The only way I could use my meal plan money, though, was using my student ID card, which, of course, was not accepted anywhere but on campus. It’s a convenient monopoly on food for the university, which probably helps offset the losses incurred when Amazon revealed to students the true price of their textbooks when purchased anywhere but a college bookstore.

The worst part about the meal plan is if you don’t use it you lose it. At the end of each quarter, I ended up drinking a gallon of milk every few days just to meet the minimum spending requirement of my plan so I could get the rest of my money refunded. You read that right: there’s a minimum amount you must spend in order to get your own money back from the college.

I know what you’re thinking. “Aren’t these student-athletes on scholarship?” Well, some of them are, but most aren’t. Most have scholarships covering tuition only. Some have no scholarship at all. But even those with “full-rides” aren’t getting full-rides. There aren’t meal plans for collegiate football players who need to consume more than 4,000 calories per day. And who do you think pays for something a student-athlete needs that isn’t included with their meal plan? A coach or university administrator can’t or they could be found in violation the NCAA’s amateurism policy.

Consider this: a six-foot, 10-inch, 200-pound college freshman is still growing into his body. His coaches have asked him to bulk up, which means consuming more protein. I don’t know if you’ve been to college lately, but the last I was there (2013), the cafeteria didn’t have many protein-packed options. You could usually find chicken in some way, shape or form, and hamburger, but there’s only so much meat you can eat. Fish can be found, but a student-athlete can’t be expected to pound tuna sandwiches, peanuts and jerky after a workout. Pounding a protein shake, though, provides the muscles with what they need immediately, but you won’t find protein powder for sale on too many campuses. That’s a cost incurred by the athlete to fuel the vehicle that creates the revenue they’ll never see.

Slave owners fed their slaves because their revenue depended on it, but like the NCAA, fed them just enough to do the work and nothing more. The NCAA is on the verge of suffering a similar fate as those slave owners. The chatter slaves must have heard about the Union paying runaway slaves to serve as soldiers in the Civil War after Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is an uncomfortable simile to the NCAA’s amateurism problem. The appeal of playing for money internationally is growing and costing slave owners recruits, and talk of the G-League serving as a development league for high school recruits unwilling to attend college must feel like a Gettysburg Address waiting to happen to the NCAA.

If the NCAA doesn’t do something to appeal to new recruits, they stand to lose everything, because the NCAA isn’t a billion-dollar industry without March Madness, and March Madness isn’t March Madness without the best “amateurs” in the world.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: View From The Couch, POP Parenting

Published in News & Information

A coyote who attacked several people in Westchester County, NY this week has been captured and killed, testing positive for rabies.

Authorities believe another coyote is on the loose presumed to be rabid as well.

A police officer, a postal worker, two bicyclists and two dog walkers, with their pets, were attacked within a 24 hour period.  Three sheep may have been mauled as well.

One dog and a sheep have died as a result of the attacks.

The two coyotes may have been travelling together, with one still being at large.

The attacks occurred in Yonkers, Hastings-on-Hudson, and possibly Somers, NY.  Residents have been asked to avoid any wooded areas and keep their pets inside.

An animal with rabies may be very aggressive, more prone to attacks as opposed to one that is not infected.

What is rabies?

 

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Rabies is a disease caused by a virus and transmitted through a bite. Although dogs are the most common animal to transmit the virus to humans, it more commonly infects bats, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, jackals, mongooses and foxes.

The animal will be agitated and many times foaming at the mouth due to hypersalivation.

The virus affects the central nervous system, including the brain, and can therefore be fatal.  Once symptoms appear it may be too late to save the affected animal or patient.

What are the symptoms and stages of rabies?

 

Once exposed to infected saliva the virus enters the peripheral nervous system (nerves in the limbs, outside of brain and spinal cord.) Then it travels to nerves in the muscle, replicates there and eventually works itself up to the brain.  Stages occur as the following:

Incubation

 

An incubation period is the time it takes from exposure until symptoms show. With rabies the average incubation period can range anywhere from a few days to years with the average lasting a few weeks. During the incubation period the patient may not know they are infected and the pathogen is multiplying and spreading.

Prodrome

 

The prodrome causes the patient to feel flu-like with symptoms including:

  • pain at the site of the bite
  • muscle soreness
  • fever
  • headache
  • anxiety
  • malaise
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • numbness
  • tingling
  • burning

These symptoms  may last anywhere from 2-10 days.

Acute neurological phase

 

As the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) become affected symptoms include:

  • anxiety

 

  • agitation
  • insomnia
  • loss of sex drive
  • priapism, prolonged erections
  • hallucinations
  • photophobia, distress while looking at light
  • paralysis
  • muscle rigidity
  • muscle twitching
  • convulsions, seizures
  • difficulty swallowing
  • difficulty breathing
  • hydrophobia – fear of water, unique to those with rabies as they fear difficulty swallowing water

Coma

 

A deep state of unconsciousness can occur within 2-7 days.

 

Death

 

Despite ventilatory support for breathing, most die of cardiac and or respiratory arrest.

Treatment of Rabies

 

Although most infections prove fatal, some may survive with an injection of rabies immune globulin that binds to and prevents the virus from replicating. Then four – five vaccines are given over the next two weeks to help stimulate the immune system.

Wild animals suspected of having rabies during an attack will be euthanized and their brain tissue examined for rabies. For domesticated animals, whose suspicion is less, they will be observed for 10 days, and if they do not elicit symptoms, most likely do not have rabies.

If one has been bit by a wild animal who has not been caught, the medical provider may wish to treat empirically with post exposure prophylaxis.

Prevention of Rabies

 

Pet owners can start by vaccinating their pets.  Avoiding wild animals, especially bats, preventing them from entering the house. Vaccinations are also available for those who work frequently with animals or travel to areas where rabies is more common.

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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 News & Information

 

I’m not advocating that anyone risk re-aggravating an injury to simply burn some calories, but there are exercises you can do stay healthy and avoid re-aggravating an injury. In fact, those same exercises you were doing prior to sustaining an injury will be more difficult and burn more calories than they did prior to the injury because they’ll be complicated by your injury.

 

I slipped while on a ladder and probably broke my left foot about a month ago. It’s forced me to abandon my cardio routine, which has severely affected the attainability of my goal of having six-pack abs by March 13. Much of my cardio workout consists of jumping. I jump rope, do X-jumps and tuck jumps, and I haven’t been able to support all of my weight using the toes of my left foot since the injury. It hasn’t stopped me from working out, though.

 

I’ve been doing the same abs workout for more than six months. It’s a slightly altered version of the 10-minute abs workout on the MyPlate app by Livestrong, available to paid subscribers. I started doing the abs workout followed by a seven-minute cardio sculpting workout, but have since switched to doing abs and cardio on separate days, because I now do each workout up to three or four times.

 

My ability to complete my abs workout wasn’t affected by my foot injury for more than a few days. I stayed off my feet for a couple days and ate Ibuprofen to decrease the swelling, but I knew my cardio workout would be an impossibility for at least a month after seeing the first day of bruising. I had to find a way to incorporate cardio into my abs workout.

You Hear Rest, I Hear Stretch

The MyPlate app calls for rest between sets of the 10-minute abs workout, but that’s not what I hear anymore. When you hear rest, I hear stretch. Instead of using the 15-second rest period between exercises to grab a drink of water or wipe sweat from my face, I use the time to stretch.

There’s still 10 seconds allowed to prepare for the next exercise, so that is now my rest period.

 

You can turn any workout into a cardio workout by eliminating rest between your exercises. Even something as simple as stretching burns between 175 and 240 calories per hour and keeps your heart rate elevated between sets and burn more calories. So during my three, 10-minute abs workouts, I stretch for a cumulative 8.5 minutes, burning an extra 30 calories. And stretching is one thing you can do despite sustaining a minor injury because you can avoid any muscle groups affected by the injury.

 

If you can perform push-ups during those 15-second, rest periods, you can keep your heart rate even higher and burn an additional 80 calories.

Engage Your Core Even More

I didn’t even realize how much harder my abs workout could be until I injured my foot. It was while performing bird dogs that I discovered how a minor injury can be good for your training regiment.

 

In the past I would use my foot to maintain stability while performing bird dogs. It provides a third point of balance to go along with my hand and knee, but doing so re-aggravated my injury. So I lifted my feet off the ground and used only my knee and hand to support and balance my weight, which doubled the intensity of the workout. You’ll find you will be forced to engage your core even more to accommodate for the lost point of balance, which burns more calories and builds more muscle.

Take Your Time

My abs workout also increased in difficulty because I slowed everything down to avoid re-aggravating my foot injury. If you take your time and really focus on performing the exercise properly, you’ll find your workout to be more effective despite performing fewer repetitions.

Focus on Muscle Groups Unaffected by the Injury

If you have a lower-body injury, focus on exercising your upper body. You can do seated weight lifting or upper-body resistance training. Focus on your arms, chest, abs, back and neck. If you have an upper-body injury, focus on exercising your lower body. Do squats, lunges and kicks.

 

So don’t waste away waiting to recover from injury. Keep your heart rate up and exercise the parts of your body that don’t hurt. Then, when you’re completely healed, you’ll be better prepared to jump back into your training regiment having hardly missed a beat.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live

Published in News & Information
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Selfies make your nose look bigger

Taking a selfie at a distance of 12 inches from your face increases the size of your nose by 30%.

According to a study published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, selfies distort the nose by 30% in width in men and 29% in women.

 

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However pictures taken 5 feet away do not distort the nose.

Study author Dr. Boris Paskover, facial plastic surgeon at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, stated, “At 5 feet, the distance between your nose and the camera and the distance between your facial plane and the camera is almost the same.”

He and his colleagues are finding a huge increase in people requesting plastic surgery to improve their look in selfies.

But if the image taken provides a distorted view, thousands of people may be having unnecessary operations.

According to the American College of Plastic Surgeons, reported by USA Today, minimally invasive cosmetic procedures have increased 200% since 2000 and are rising each year. They find the top 5 cosmetic surgeries in 2017 were:

  • Breast Augmentation (300,378 procedures)
  • Liposuction (246,354 procedures)
  • Nose Reshaping (218,924 procedures)
  • Eyelid Surgery (209,571 procedures)
  • Tummy Tuck (129,753 procedures)

And the most common minimally invasive cosmetic procedures were:

  • Botulinum Toxin Type A  (7.23 million procedures)
  • Soft Tissue Fillers  (2.69 million procedures)
  • Chemical Peel  (1.37 million procedures)
  • Laser Hair Removal  (1.1 million procedures)
  • Microdermabrasion  (740,287 procedures)

Selfies may share part of the blame in our obesity crisis

 

This week BBC news reported millennials to be on track to be the most overweight generation since records began.  Millennials have popularized the selfie on social media and are the most tech savvy when it comes to marketing themselves online.  The rest of us are catching up.  And our exceptional skills at taking great selfies may unwittingly de-expose us to the truths of our appearance.  If we look at our computers more than we look at a mirror, we won’t see the enlarging waist line, large butt, full face or love handles.  We think “we’re good” rather than being reminded of our figure’s shortcomings.  Complacency leads to laziness and letting one healthy meal or workout slide could lead to down-spiral of our weight maintenance.

Selfies have overtaken how see ourselves, attract dates, entertain others, and communicate with our friends. They’re not going away anytime soon and in fact leading to an epidemic of selfitis.  And if we’re not careful we’ll see an epidemic of unneeded plastic surgery as well.

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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 News & Information

A new study reveals 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.

 

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.

 

nicotine.jpg

 

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.

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.

For more on the study read 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 News & Information
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Is watching porn bad for your health?

Millions of people view porn every day and the Florida House has approved a resolution to protect their constituents from its inherent health risks.

According to the resolution’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Ross Spano, “Research has found a correlation between pornography use and mental and physical illnesses, difficulty forming and maintaining intimate relationships, unhealthy brain development and cognitive function, and deviant, problematic or dangerous sexual behavior.”

So is pornography a public health risk?

What constitutes a “Public Health Risk?”

 

A public health risk is something that could pose a health threat, injury to humans or could contribute to health risks of other humans.  This could include drunk driving, mosquitos or rats transmitting disease, or even smoking.

So watching pornography would pose a public health risk if not only the “pornee” gets hurt but affects others surrounding him. Now the effect of others could be in the form of missing work, viewing porn at work (considered sexual harassment and/or assault by others not wanting to view it), and unwanted sexual acts with one’s partner.

How does watching pornography affect health?

 

Although we do not have any definitive studies telling us porn is good or bad for our health, there are many opinions on the matter.

One concern is inactivity and time spent in front of a screen.  Sitting in front of a computer, tablet, or hand-held device watching hours of porn could increase risk of a blood clot, heart disease and (prolonged sitting) has been linked to colon cancer.  However, according to PornHub, the average time spent viewing porn only ranges from 9-13 minutes.

 

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What about lack of sleep? Are people secretly watching porn at night, and not getting their 7-9 hours of uninterrupted rest?

According to PornHub the most common time during the day to watch porn was between 10 pm and 1 am.  If one is only online for 10 minutes and falls asleep afterwards, they may still receive a good amount of sleep.

 

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What about the risks of frequent masturbation?

 

In 2009 a study found frequent masturbation in young males could increase their risk of prostate cancer, but in older men (>50 years), reduced their risk.  Other studies have suggested reduced risk of prostate cancer that occurs in older men but not aggressive cancer in younger men.

Excessive masturbation could affect one’s refractory period, or time it takes to form an erection again after sex.  For some this could last 15 minutes, for others a week.  So if a date night is planned for later that evening, one with a long refractory period could have issues.

Chafing and inflammation can also occur but are usually rectified with a change in modality.

What about the impact on children?

 

The American College of Pediatricians released this statement:

The consumption of pornography is associated with many negative outcomes: increased rates of depression, anxiety, violent behavior, early sexual debut and sexual promiscuity, higher rates of teen pregnancy and a distorted view of relationships. For married adults, pornography also results in an increased likelihood of divorce which, in turn, is harmful to children.

Author, L. David Perry, MD, states, “Pornography glorifies decontextualized sex. Its use by adolescents and young adults often leads to a distorted view of sexuality and its proper role in fostering healthy personal relationships.”

If state governments choose to debate porn being a health risk, I agree with strict restrictions on child and adolescent access.  I also agree with education of condom use to protect against unsafe sex practices.  Moreover, counseling resources for those addicted to porn should be increased as internet and porn addiction is a growing public health threat.  However, does the occasional video view pose serious health risks….no.

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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 News & Information
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Allergy season may start early this year

Multiple states are reporting “early” allergy seasons.

We still have a month left of winter yet grass is sprouting, leaves are growing and flowers are blooming.  Add warmer than normal temperatures to the mix and this is the perfect recipe for an early allergy season.

Allergy season usually begins with the start of Spring in March.  Yet many may start their symptoms as early as February if they are allergic to what’s blooming.

Tree pollens start first in January and then taper off in April.  Grass pollen starts to rise in February and March.   Finally weed pollens join the party by the Spring and extend through the Summer and Fall.

Here are your questions answered:

What are allergies?

 

Allergies are the result of the immune response to a foreign particulate that our body senses.  One could be allergic to pollen, dust, dander, food, insects, mold, metals, transfused blood, grafts, medicine and anything the body senses as a foreign intruder.  Even though these may be individually harmless, a hypersensitivity reaction occurs as a result of their intrusion into the body.  IgE antibodies find the allergen (intruder) and activate mast cells in the tissue and basophils in the blood.  When these cells get activated, they release substances to help protect the body, including histamines, leukotrienes, and cytokines. These help the body attempt to sneeze and cough the allergen out, wall off the antigen, signal more antibodies, or produce tears and nasal secretions to flush it out.

What are symptoms of seasonal allergies?

 

Symptoms of allergies could include any or a combination of the following:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Runny nose
  • Eye watering
  • Red Eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Rash
  • Itchy throat
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion….. to name a few.

How do they differ from a cold?

 

Colds may have very similar symptoms to allergies. However they are different.

The common cold is caused by a virus.  When one gets infected by the virus they may feel malaise, fever, and achy. This does not occur with allergies.

Moreover, nasal secretions from allergies are usually clear. In a cold, the mucous could be thicker and with color.

The same holds true with sputum. During an allergy the cough may have little to no mucous and if so, be light colored. Thick mucus could be a sign of an infection.

An allergic sore throat will seem more dry and scratchy. A sore throat from a cold is more uncomfortable and less easy to soothe.

Allergies may persist or be cyclical. Cold symptoms will usually subside after a few days and rarely persist longer than 10 days.

Can allergies lead to a cold?

 

Yes and no. Allergies should not in and of themselves cause an infection. However they may make one more vulnerable for a virus or bacteria to take over. Hence a bronchitis, sinus infection, or pneumonia could uncommonly follow an asthma attack.

Are seasonal allergies dangerous?

 

As stated previously, if one is susceptible to colds, an allergic attack could make them vulnerable. Moreover if one suffers from asthma, an allergy attack could incite an asthma attack.  Very rarely would we see a life threatening anaphylaxis to an allergen such as pollen.

How can we prevent and treat allergies?

 

Avoiding, or decreasing exposure to the allergen is key.   We suggest the following:

  1. Be aware of your local weather and pollen counts.  If the weather begins to warm and regional vegetation is blooming, allergy season may be upon you sooner than you know.
  2. Avoid outside pollen from coming into your house.  Avoid the urge to open all the windows during Springtime as wind will bring the pollen in.
  3. Clean your air filters.  Replace air filters frequently and consider using HEPA Filters
  4. Wash off pollen from your hair and clothes before you sit on the couch or jump into bed.
  5. Close your car windows when you park.
  6. “Recirculate” the air in your car
  7. Discuss with your medical provider if you are a candidate for medications such as antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids or leukotriene antagonists.  
  8. If you suffer from respiratory illnesses or a chronic medical condition, discuss with your medical provider if you need to start your allergy medication before allergy season hits. Some of these medications may take a couple of weeks to reach therapeutic levels.

How can I find my local pollen counts?

 

Local tree, ragweed and grass pollen counts can be obtained 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 News & Information

Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest holidays of the year, with consumers spending more than $18 billion a year buying cards, chocolates, flowers, and teddy bears.  But what no one admits to is it is one of the most anxiety producing and miserable holidays of the year.

If you’re single….

 

When you’re single the last thing you need to be reminded of is just that….you’re single.  Valentine’s Day inundates us with the “normalcy” of being in a relationship such that anyone who’s single feels there’s something wrong with them.  Single people feel forced to shut off the TV, avoid shopping, avoid others and remain indoors for the week surrounding Feb. 14th.

If you’re married….

 

If you’re married, and have been so for some time, Valentine’s Day reminds you of how much you are lacking in sex and romance.  But worse yet, you are now compelled to do something for Valentine’s Day.  No credit for spontaneity.  No credit for being romantic, since the whole world seems to be celebrating Valentines. And… it’s all pain, no gain.  If you mess up, and your gift or celebration is not very romantic, you’re in the dog house.  And if you forget about the holiday all together…Whoa Nelly…..

The candy….

 

When one thinks of candy they think of chocolate, lollipops, vibrant colors…..Valentine’s heart candy is the worst candy out there.  They’re pale, hard, practically crack your teeth, not very tasty and force you to read them before you eat.

 

candy.jpeg

 

Be Mine?  Be my Valentine?

 

Don’t give me anymore work to do. You could be pretty high maintenance.  And what if I’m not ready to commit?

Your gift better measure up….

 

Valentine’s Day gifts are made to be publicized.  And even if you gave your sweetheart the gift in private, it will be posted on social media or broadcast at work the next day.  In fact, not sending the gift to their work could be a major faux pas.

 

gift.jpeg

 

So how do we make this holiday more tolerable?

 

If you’re single….

 

If you’re single, use this holiday to celebrate the friendships you have.  Make it a singles night out and celebrate your freedom.  Or make a friend feel special by sending a “friend” valentine.  These could include: a bottle of wine, a stuffed toy (with no heart attached), a book, a gift certificate, a funny poem/ desk calendar.

If you’re married…..

 

Since the gift of spontaneity has already been hijacked by this holiday, do something creative and unpredictable.  Candlelight dinner, a poem, luxury bath, weekend trip, something sappy…..but do it right and you’ll get bonus points.

Don’t spend a lot

 

Here’s the silver lining. Most Valentine’s Day gifts/gestures do not have to cost a lot. Valentine’s Day is about the heart and showing one how much you care.  So a note, poem, song, personalized song list, or even a cute little doodle can go along way.

ARTERIES ARE RED
VENULES ARE BLUE
MY GONORRHEA HAS CLEARED UP
HOW ABOUT YOU?

 

What to buy a man?

 

We make the mistake of thinking men want what we want. Let’s take cologne for that matter….men don’t want to smell like perfume or “parfume”y….they like smelling like men.  Forcing them to use toilet water is not cool.

 

what-not-to-buy-for-your-man-boyfriend-worst-gifts-1.jpg

 

Another common gift given to men is a shaving set.  Does the average man like shaving, let alone every day? Top that off with wasting an opportunity for them to get a cool gift with one that includes shaving products???  Cruel, just cruel.

For men, many prefer steak for dinner, time alone in their man cave, or sex. I think that’s about it.  Pretty easy.

So hope this helps you get through Valentine’s Day anxiety free and worry free.

And remember…. its only one day…just one day…. and will all be over Feb. 15th.

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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 News & Information
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Aromatherapy: Your Questions Answered

 

For centuries, plants and their oils have been used in a variety of therapeutic settings.  Today aromatherapy is a billion dollar industry. Here are your questions answered:

What is aromatherapy?

 

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from plants to treat an ailment.  Oils are extracted from plants through a variety of different methods and then formulated to be used topically or breathed in as an aerosol.

What are the benefits of aromatherapy?

 

Aromatherapy has been used to treat a variety of conditions including:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • GI upset
  • pain
  • joint aches
  • insomnia
  • skin infections
  • seizures

to name a few.

In 2014 Azanchi et al described the anticonvulsant activity of neroli oil, finding its biologically active “constituents” may assist in the management of seizures.

The following is a table from Natural Healers describing some uses of essential oils.

 

aromatherapy

 

What are the risks of aromatherapy?

 

Many oils may be used alone or mixed with fragrances and/or other chemicals.  These many times have not be tested clinically to see their effects on the respiratory tree lining and skin.  Some risks posed by the use of aromatherapy include:

  •  Respiratory issues – could irritate the lung lining causing cough, wheezing, mucus production
  • Dermatitis – rashes, hives, itching
  • Photosensitivity – use could make one more susceptible to skin reactions when exposed to the sun, causing burning and blistering.
  • Interactions with medications, possibly affecting their potency
  • Risks to pets ingesting them or absorbing too much in their skin

 

Who should avoid aromatherapy?

 

At this time, we recommend avoiding aromatherapy if you have any acute or chronic respiratory conditions, severe allergies, sensitive skin, are pregnant, or are currently taking any medications that could interact with the chemicals being inhaled or absorbed.

If considering using aromatherapy we recommend consulting your medical provider first.

As we see more practitioners integrate aromatherapy into one’s medical plan, more needs to be clinically studied to determine the benefits and risks.

 

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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 News & Information
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