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Allergy season may start early this year

Multiple states are bracing for “early” allergy seasons.

We still have a month left of winter yet grass is sprouting, leaves are growing and flowers are blooming.  Add just having a wetter winter and 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.

Allergy season is here: What are the worst offenders?

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, 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

Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest holidays of the year, with consumers spending more than $20 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.

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.

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.

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, 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 Opinion

A report published in the American Heart Association’s Heart and Stroke Statistics annual report cite 48% of US adults have some type of cardiovascular disease.

The uptick could be due to rising obesity, and lowering thresholds for diagnosing guidelines such as high blood pressure (now considered high if over 130/80).

Although smoking rates have declined over the years, many still use tobacco and recent research has found E-cigs to increase risk of heart attack and stroke by 70%.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when an area of the brain does not get the proper oxygen and blood flow it needs. There are two major types of stroke:  ischemic and hemorrhagic.

Ischemic strokes are more common than the latter and occur when a clot prevents blood flow to part of the brain.  80% of all strokes fall under ischemic.  It is a likened to a heart attack, except the brain tissue is being deprived of blood and nutrients.  Plaques commonly arise from arteriosclerosis that break off travel to the smaller vessels of the brain.

Hemorrhagic strokes are less common and occur when there is a bleed of one of the brain vessels.  The bleed prevents blood flow into the brain since it is seeping outside the brain tissue, causing damage to nearby cells.  The bleeds could occur from high blood pressure or aneurysms that rupture.

What are the signs of a stroke?

Since a clot or bleed usually affect one area of the brain, we see symptoms on one side of the body, many times its contralateral (opposite) side.  We can also see central effects.  The symptoms of stroke include the following:

  • Weakness of one side of the body
  • Loss of balance
  • Numbness on one side of the body
  • Slurred speech
  • Vision issues
  • Headache
  • Facial droop

and more…..

How are strokes treated?

If the stroke was caused by a clot (ischemic) immediate treatment includes dissolving/removing the clot.   Aspirin is used initially and if within the proper time frame, tissue plasminogen activator (TPA).  These clots can also be surgically removed and arteries widened to bring blood flow to the brain.

With a hemorrhagic  stroke, we need to stop the bleed and improve flow to the brain.  Controlling the bleed, bypassing the vessel, “clogging” the aneurysm with techniques such as “coiling” (endovascular embolization) are sometimes utilized.

Time is of the essence, so it's crucial to identify the warning signs and call 911 immediately.  The American Stroke Association uses the acronym “FAST” (Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, and Time to call 911).  The sooner a stroke victim receives medical attention the better the prognosis.

What are the risk factors for stroke?

The following put us at risk of having a stroke.

  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease (artery clogging, such as the heart and carotid arteries)
  • Abnormal heart rhythms, such as atrial fibrillation
  • Smoking
  • Drugs
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Clotting disorder
  • Sleep apnea
  • Being older (greater than 55)
  • African-Americans appear to be more at risk than Caucasians and Hispanics
  • Men seem to be more affected than women

How do we prevent strokes?

Avoid the following:

  • Excessive drinking
  • Drug use
  • Tobacco products
  • Control blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol
  • Get evaluated by a medical provider if at risk for heart disease or stroke.

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.

 

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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

A recent study published in the Lancet finds Millennials to be at much higher risk for cancer than their parents and grandparents ever were.

Those born between 1981 and 1997 appear to be at increased risk of cancer of the:

  • colon
  • pancreas
  • uterus
  • bone marrow
  • gallbladder
  • kidney
  • and more.

Study authors cite obesity as the main culprit.

The CDC reports the prevalence of obesity was 35.7% among young adults aged 20 to 39 years.

In 2016 the International Agency for Research and Cancer listed multiple cancers in which obesity plays a role.  They include the above as well as breast, ovarian, and esophageal cancer.

Why is obesity linked to cancer?

Studies have found obesity to alter hormone levels which could incite cells to rapidly divide. Fat acts as if it's another organ, inducing signals that can affect insulin, sugar and fat metabolism and can induce inflammation when it accumulates around other organs.

Moreover it could be an associative relationship in which those who are obese may have poor diets and exercise habits which are linked to cancer as well.

In the above study, non-obesity related cancer, such as lung, appears to be at less risk for millennials as many are saying no to tobacco products.

However, other causes could be at play such as radiation exposure.  The verdict is not yet out on vaping either.

Study authors state:

IMPORTANTLY, THE FINDINGS SUGGEST THE NEED FOR FURTHER CLOSE EPIDEMIOLOGICAL MONITORING OF CANCER INCIDENCE TRENDS IN YOUNGER ADULTS AND HIGHLIGHT THE NEED FOR RIGOROUS AETIOLOGICAL STUDIES OF EXPOSURES THAT COULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TRENDS.
Published in Health

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.

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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
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