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Parkinson risk tied to appendix removal

Those who have had their appendix removed may be at 3X greater risk of later developing Parkinson’s.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center looked at 62 million health records from 26 institutions throughout the US and found that those who had an appendectomy, surgical removal of the appendix, had a 3-fold risk of developing Parkinson’s later in life.

Internal medicine second year resident and study author, Dr. Mohammed Z. Sheriff, states,

“RECENT RESEARCH INTO THE CAUSE OF PARKINSON’S HAS CENTERED AROUND ALPHA SYNUCLEIN, A PROTEIN FOUND IN THE GASTROINTESTINAL TRACT EARLY IN THE ONSET OF PARKINSON’S.”
“THIS IS WHY SCIENTISTS AROUND THE WORLD HAVE BEEN LOOKING INTO THE GASTROINTESTINAL TRACT, INCLUDING THE APPENDIX, FOR EVIDENCE ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT OF PARKINSON’S.”

Researchers suggest more research to be done, with investigational focus on gut health as it relates to neurological health.

The Appendix: NOT a useless organ

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.

  • Levadopa – converts to dopamine in the brain, helping replace the deficient hormone.
  • Carbidopa (Sinemet) – if given with levadopa 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

  • Michael J. Fox
  • Janet Reno
  • Robin Williams
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Casey Kasem
  • Johnny Cash
  • Linda Ronstadt
  • Pope John Paul II
  • Peanut’s 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 Health

A Peek into How Doctors Think – An Introduction to “Columns”

Anyone who is on their path to becoming a successful physician needs to be able to take a good history and perform a thorough physical.  However in this day and age, patient care is performed in a very speedily process and thus the boards test a medical student on how succinctly they can perform a patient history.

Thus students and licensed medical providers need to be adept at “data gathering” no matter what the patient presents with.  Our job is to figure out what’s going on, no matter how difficult the task, and do so quickly.  So how do we accomplish this?

We start by looking at the cause and then breaking down what could be occurring resulting in that cause, or in other words, forming a differential diagnosis.  So if someone has chest pain, one may form a differential consisting of heart attack, pericarditis and costochondritis. But other issues may be at play such as a pneumonia or an esophagitis.

So when we look at a person with chest pain, we consider all the body parts or causes that could be causing the symptoms.

Hence with a patient presenting with chest pain, one would consider a cardiovascular cause, pulmonary cause, gastrointestinal cause, musculoskeletal cause, and even psychiatric cause.

This is the basis of forming one’s columns. For every chief complaint we form columns either mentally or on paper and then ask associated symptoms (or pertinent positives or negatives) to determine which column we’re in.  Usually a few “power questions” will help discriminate which column you are in. Once you hit the correct column you will ask further questions along that line.

book cover 2

True there are many more questions we could ask than just the “power questions,” but during a time crunch we need to ask very specific ones to determine if we are on the right track.  If we receive multiple “no”s along a column, we know to move onto the next column.

Hence if a patient with chest pain denies dizziness and diaphoresis or sternal pain upon palpation but admits to cough, shortness of breath and sputum production, we have just narrowed down the chest pain patient to a pulmonary cause as opposed to assuming it was cardiac in nature. Then we would continue down the pulmonary column, thinking our differential may be a pneumonia/bronchitis/pulmonary embolism, and ask about hemoptysis, fever, chills, etc.

So for each patient one must create columns depending on the chief complaint and then ask power questions to help focus down your differential.

Now these columns can also assist with the physical exam component of data gathering.  If the above patient presenting with chest pain could have a cardiac/pulmonary/GI/musculoskeletal condition, one would examine his heart, lungs, upper abdomen and palpate the sternum and ribs.

For an added bonus, the columns can additionally assist one in forming their differential for the SOAP note. 

Chest pain r/o

  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis           
  • PE
  • MI
  • GERD
  • Costochondritis

If a case involves a not so clear-cut symptom, columns could be used as well.

For example a patient presenting with hair loss.  If one complains of hair loss, a variety of differentials could be at play.  One column could be an endocrinology source (such as hypothyroidism or diabetes), another could be psychological (such as stress or trichotillomania), a third could be medications (such as chemotherapy agents), and a fourth could include genetics.  Narrowing these down with power questions could exclude non-contributing columns.

So whether it’s a direct body system or cause, columns help one focus down the differential and allow an easy visual that enables one during a timed test to think quickly and know which questions to ask.

Again these columns are instituted after the History of Present Illness in which a student obtains onset/chronology, palliative/provocative factors, quality of symptoms, radiation, severity and timing (OPQRST).

They will be written down in the SOAP note after the HPI.  

Example:  Mary is a 25-year-old female presenting with acute onset right foot pain.  It began 6 hours ago after she went for a job. Ice provides some relief but walking on it worsens the pain.  The pain is sharp, constant with a severity of 7/10. She denies fever, chills, open wounds, swelling, redness, temperature changes, numbness or tingling.

Since during this step in the history most medical students find it challenging to know “which questions to ask.”  The columns and power questions simplify this.

To learn this method to improve one’s data gathering skills click 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

The latest challenge sweeping social media is the “Shell On” challenge in which teens Snapchat videos of themselves eating through fruit skin, cardboard boxes and plastic bags containing their food.

Although this appears to not be as dangerous as the Tide Pod or Boiling Water Challenge, it can cause choking and asphyxiation.

In the video linked on the front page the teen takes bites out of fruit with their peel, and then bites through a cereal box.

What other dangerous challenges are out there?

Last year we learned of the “Boiling Water Challenge” in which kids drink boiling water from a straw or have it poured all over their body. Then they topped it off with a more dangerous challenge, the “Fire Challenge.”

The Fire Challenge is executed by pouring rubbing alcohol on one’s body and then setting oneself on fire.  A video records the victim running into a tub or shower to wash it off, and this trend has gone viral.

Unfortunately it’s one of the most dangerous.  A 12 year-old girl from Detroit who participated in this challenge is undergoing multiple surgeries to repair burns afflicting close to 50% of her body.

Multiple cases of the “Fire Challenge” have been reported over the years, including a 12 year-old boy from Georgia.

One would think children, especially teens, innately know that fire is dangerous but maybe the younger generation has been so protected that they haven’t experienced the basic concepts of danger and inadvertently underestimate its force.

 

fire-challenge

Challenges that involve dangerous stunts have been around for some time.  The Choking Challenge induced children to suffocate themselves for the high of feeling asphyxiated.  The Tide Pod Challenge tempted kids to put colorful cleaning packets in their mouths, hoping they wouldn’t burst.

 

download.jpeg.

The Cinnamon Challenge sparked thousands to inhale the common kitchen spice and cough till they puked.  Then the Condom Challenge offered two options where one dropped a condom filled with water on a friends face, or snorted one through the nose.

 

condom-snorting_fef3836eae7396a0afa3cb633b709bb4

We adults can’t for the life of us figure out what the reward is in performing these challenges, but presume it's fame and awe among friends and social media followers.  But these challenges prove dangerous and in some cases deadly.  Unfortunately the YouTube Clips never show the after effects of these pranks…maybe they should.

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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

36 lots of losartan potassium and losartan potassium/hydrochlorothiazide have been initiated by Torrent Ltd Pharmaceuticals due to a detection of N-Nitroso-N-methyl-4-aminobutyric acid (NMBA). NMBA, according to Toronto Research Chemicals, is a known carcinogen in a wide range of animal species. There have been no reports of users becoming ill and the recall is being done out of precaution.

N-Nitroso-N-methyl-4-aminobutyric acid (NMBA) was the third chemical detected resulting in the latest two recalls of losartan, an angiotensin receptor blocker commonly used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure).  It is believed to have been created during the manufacturing process of the generic drug.

The FDA reports:

TORRENT PHARMACEUTICALS LIMITED IS FURTHER EXPANDING ITS VOLUNTARY RECALL TO INCLUDE 104 ADDITIONAL LOTS OF LOSARTAN POTASSIUM AND LOSARTAN POTASSIUM/HYDROCHLOROTHIAZIDE COMBINATION TABLETS. THIS RECALL IS DUE TO UNACCEPTABLE AMOUNTS OF N-NITROSO-N-METHYL-4-AMINOBUTYRIC ACID (NMBA) IN THE LOSARTAN ACTIVE PHARMACEUTICAL INGREDIENT (API) MANUFACTURED BY HETERO LABS LIMITED.
THE AGENCY UPDATED THE LIST OF LOSARTAN PRODUCTS UNDER RECALL ACCORDINGLY.
FDA REMINDS PATIENTS TAKING RECALLED ANGIOTENSIN II RECEPTOR BLOCKERS (ARBS) TO CONTINUE TAKING THEIR CURRENT MEDICINE UNTIL THEIR PHARMACIST PROVIDES A REPLACEMENT OR THEIR DOCTOR PRESCRIBES A DIFFERENT MEDICATION THAT TREATS THE SAME CONDITION.
FDA IS ALSO POSTING NEW TESTING METHODS WHICH CAN HELP MANUFACTURERS AND INTERNATIONAL REGULATORS DETECT AND IDENTIFY MULTIPLE NITROSAMINE IMPURITIES. FDA AND INTERNATIONAL REGULATORS HAVE IDENTIFIED N-NITROSODIMETHYLAMINE (NDMA), N-NITROSODIETHYLAMINE (NDEA) AND NMBA IN ARBS.

Earlier this Fall, ScieGen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. recalled certain lots of irbesartan, a similar angiotensin receptor blocker used in blood pressure management.

The recalls initially began last summer when FDA recalled a number of lots of valsartan due to an “impurity,” N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) that is known to cause cancer in animals.  Weeks later they additionally found traces of N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA).

According to Reuters, earlier last summer, the MHRA, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, located in the UK, said the appearance of the impurity, NDMA, came after a change in the process for making valsartan at one facility owned by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals, a company in Linhai, China.

In animals, NDMA is known to cause liver and lung cancer.  In humans its carcinogenic risk is unknown, however the CDC states it may cause liver function impairment and cirrhosis.

With NDEA, data is limited, but due to its classification as a nitrosamine and its prevalence in tobacco smoke it is classified as a probable human carcinogen.

According to New Jersey Department of Health’s website, NDEA has been linked to liver, lung and gastrointestinal tract cancer in animals.

Losartan, valsartan and irbesartan are medications in the class of angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) used for high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.

Those taking either tablet for their blood pressure are urged to not abruptly stop their medication but rather check with their medical provider and pharmacy to see if their particular prescription is involved in the recall.

I suspect more recalls will follow as processes may be similar across multiple pharmaceutical facilities and NMBA, NDMA and NDEA are byproducts that may not be individually unique to just one “brand” of medication manufacturing.

 

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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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The 10 Plagues: Bible and science mesh

On Passover, we read from the Book of Exodus in the Torah explaining the Hebrew’s years of enslavement and the struggle it took to free them.  G-d sent Moses to ask Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II to “Let my people go.”  When the Pharaoh refused, the Lord sent down 10 plagues:

  1. Blood
  2. Frogs
  3. Lice/Gnats/Fleas
  4. Flies
  5. Pestilence
  6. Boils
  7. Hail
  8. Locusts
  9. Darkness
  10. Killing of the firstborn

Scholars have debated how these occurred and scientists have interestingly found scientific explanations for each. This is what they found:

Blood

The water of the Nile turned to “blood”.  It was undrinkable.  One theory is the red clay could have been washed into the river and tributaries, or “Red Tide”, an algae bloom of Oscillatoria rubescens, for example, turned the water red.  Moreover the algae can release toxins that kill nearby fish.  Once the water is unlivable……

 

sydney-beach-algae.jpg

IMAGE FROM INVESTMENTWATCH

 

Frogs

Frogs swarmed into the towns and homes.  One theory suggests that since frogs like to live near the water, the toxicity and smell caused them to move from the waterways to the towns.  The quantity of frogs still needs an explanation but how many of us see one spider in our house and claim the whole residence is “infested”……

151224192758-kranji-jurong-frog-farm2-super-169.jpg

IMAGE FROM CNN
 

Lice/Gnats/Fleas

Infestations occurred as the next plague and could be explained by the above two.  The frogs eat insects and keep the populations in control when they hang out by the marshes and rivers.  The drought and unlivable water conditions cause the frogs to leave and eventually die, so insects go unchecked.

9902051f-b298-4db6-9d49-d85054b108d2.png                                Female_black_fungus_gnat

                IMAGE FROM EMAZE                                                                                                 IMAGE FROM WIKIPEDIA

 

Flies

Swarms of flies encompassed the fourth plague.  Scientists explain this from the lack of competing insects and frogs not around to eat them.  They, in turn, fed on the dead frogs.

 

10f8bc216b7d6121fc329861a0044cd9_swarmofinsectsjpg-swarm-of-flies-clipart_565-461.jpeg

 

Death of Livestock

One would think the Pharaoh would have given in by now but he didn’t.  The fifth plague caused death of Egyptian livestock.  Insects carry disease and swarms of them could have caused the livestock to become diseased. Moreover, water sources were becoming scarce as well.

drought.jpg

IMAGE FROM SOTT

 

Boils

Egyptians became infected with boils on their skin.  Insects carry disease, lack of clean water and food could make one susceptible and pathogens can enter into societies and cause epidemics.   One theory suggested a smallpox outbreak occurred.  Researchers found small pox scars on recovered mummies and postulated that 3000 years ago an epidemic could have occurred.

7yzt1Ze.jpg

 

Hail

The plague of hail and fire must have been a scary one.  Many have postulated that hail and fire raining from the sky could have occurred from a nearby volcano.  If that’s the case why not make “volcano” the plague.  But interestingly, 3500 years ago the Santorini volcano north of Crete in the Aegean Sea, erupted.  And for those of us who saw Dante’s Peak, there was ash falling everywhere.

ryan_hailstorm1_met.jpg

IMAGE FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE

 

Locusts

Locusts swarmed the landscape.  If a volcano was nearby, I’d head south too.

article-1132136-033D993D000005DC-375_468x328

 

Darkness

The ninth plague was darkness. Without light, temperatures drop, work can’t be done, crops won’t grow.  Scientists suggest this could have occurred from an eclipse, dust storm, or the plume of smoke from the volcano.

darkness.jpg

IMAGE FROM RELIGIOUS HISTORICAL RESEARCH

 

Death of the first-born

The tenth and final plague was the death of every Egyptian first-born.  Scientists have some difficulty explaining this one except for many first born were out the fields helping the adults when the pestilence, boils, etc. ensued.  Another theory suggests the grain stores became contaminated and the first born might have had first pick of the grain, becoming sick first.

plague-death-of-first-born.jpg

IMAGE FROM LIVE SCIENCE

 

The Bible is rich with history and lessons and such a work needs no explaining.  But there are those who like to mesh science with the Bible.  So for all of us celebrating our ancestor’s exodus and freedom from slavery, Happy Passover.

 

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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

Most of us squirt one pump of hand sanitizer, slap it together in our palms and then dry the rest off on our pants.  But researchers say there is a protocol and choreography that must be performed in order to prevent the spread of millions of pathogens that could be lurking on our hands.

The World Health Organization recommends the following steps to be taken when using hand sanitizer:

  1. Fill entire palm with hand sanitizer
  2. Rub both palms together
  3. Put right hand over left and interlace fingers
  4. Put left hand over right and interlace fingers
  5. Interlock fingers to get under the nails
  6. Rotation rubbing to clean the thumb
  7. Hands are clean once alcohol has dried

 

fig02

 

The process takes about 30 seconds.  However, in a study released this week, researchers from the University Hospital Basel found that if all steps were taken but performed in 15 seconds, the same results will be obtained.  However, if fewer steps were taken, more bacteria/viruses/pathogens will remain on the hands.

For those who have eczema or sensitive skin, they may not tolerate the alcohol based hand sanitizers and should use soap and water instead.

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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

Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen on HBO's wildly popular Game of Thrones, revealed in an essay published by the The New Yorker she suffered two potentially fatal attacks while filming the popular series.

In 2011, she reports that while she was exercising, she felt a severe headache and then began vomiting violently. An ambulance took her to the hospital and her MRI showed she had a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH).  She describes the ordeal:

"...Then my trainer had me get into the plank position, and I immediately felt as though an elastic band were squeezing my brain. I tried to ignore the pain and push through it, but I just couldn’t. I told my trainer I had to take a break. Somehow, almost crawling, I made it to the locker room. I reached the toilet, sank to my knees, and proceeded to be violently, voluminously ill. Meanwhile, the pain—shooting, stabbing, constricting pain—was getting worse. At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged..." 

Clarke had to undergo surgery and recovered but then suffered another one in 2013, that was found on repeat brain scan.

She in detail describes the painful recovery but fortunately survived and was able to film one the most successful series in TV history and become one of the most beloved characters on the show.

cerebral_aneurysm.jpg

IMAGE FROM JOHN HOPKINS MEDICINE

 

What is a brain aneurysm?

An aneurysm is a “ballooning” or swelling of an artery.  Theses may occur where the artery junction weakens.  High blood pressure can contribute to aneurysm formation as can smoking.  Some aneurysms may have no symptoms at all but others could rupture, causing a hemorrhage in the brain, stroke.  Elevated blood pressure, heaving lifting, and trauma could cause these to rupture.

According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, 15% of people with a ruptured brain aneurysm die before they reach the hospital. 40% can be fatal.

Surgery or endovascular coiling is done to prevent further blood flow to the aneurysm.

 

clip.jpgClipping and coiling                                         coiling.jpg

 

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

Published in Health
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Allergy season is stronger than ever

While we’re still grappling with harsh weather, winter colds and an extended flu season, allergy season is now in full force.

Sneezing, itchy eyes, coughing, asthma flare ups, are just a few of the symptoms that can severely impede our work day and sleep.

Each year the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of  America publish their list of the hardest hit cities in terms of allergies. They base these rankings on “seasonal (Spring) pollen score, medication use (allergy) and number of allergy specialists.”

  1. McAllen, TX
  2. Jackson, MS
  3. Providence, RI
  4. Memphis, TN
  5. Springfield, MA
  6. Louisville, KY
  7. New Orleans, LA
  8. Scranton, PA
  9. Baton Rouge, LA
  10. Richmond, VA
  11. Toledo, OH
  12. Syracuse, NY
  13. Dayton, OH
  14. San Antonio, TX
  15. Little Rock, AR
  16. Buffalo, NY
  17. El Paso, TX
  18. Oklahoma City, OK
  19. Columbia, SC
  20. Knoxville, TN
  21. New York, NY
  22. Hartford, CT
  23. New Haven, CT
  24. Greenville, SC
  25. Philadelphia, PA
  26. Detroit, MI
  27. Akron, OH
  28. Wichita, KS
  29. Albany, NY
  30. Charleston, SC
  31. Fresno, CA
  32. Cleveland, OH
  33. Birmingham, AL
  34. Las Vegas, NV
  35. Greensboro, NC
  36. Winston-Salem, NC
  37. Miami, FL
  38. Augusta, GA
  39. Modesto, CA
  40. Bridgeport, CT
  41. Pittsburgh, PA
  42. Charlotte, NC
  43. Chattanooga, TN
  44. Grand Rapids, MI
  45. Dallas, TX
  46. Columbus, OH
  47. Allentown, PA
  48. Jacksonville, FL
  49. Cape Coral, FL
  50. Virginia Beach, VA
  51. St. Louis, MO
  52. Riverside, CA
  53. Tulsa, OK
  54. Orlando, FL
  55. Albuquerque, NM
  56. Houston, TX
  57. Lakeland, FL
  58. Durham, NC
  59. Tampa, FL
  60. Madison, WI
  61. Tucson, AZ
  62. Los Angeles, CA
  63. Nashville, TN
  64. Worcester, MA
  65. Stockton, CA
  66. Omaha, NE
  67. Atlanta, GA
  68. Bakersfield, CA
  69. Austin, TX
  70. Cincinnati, OH
  71. Baltimore, MD
  72. Chicago, IL
  73. Boston, MA
  74. Oxnard, CA
  75. Rochester, NY
  76. Indianapolis, IN
  77. Minneapolis, MN
  78. Harrisburg, PA
  79. Phoenix, AZ
  80. Sacramento, CA
  81. Washington, DC
  82. Palm Bay, FL
  83. Kansas City, MO
  84. Daytona Beach, FL
  85. Milwaukee, WI
  86. Sarasota, FL
  87. Des Moines, IA
  88. San Diego, CA
  89. Spokane, WA
  90. San Francisco, CA
  91. Raleigh, NC
  92. San Jose, CA
  93. Seattle, WA
  94. Portland, OR
  95. Colorado Springs, CO
  96. Salt Lake City, UT
  97. Ogden, UT
  98. Boise, ID
  99. Provo, UT
  100. Denver, CO

Strong winds, a wet winter and early bloom can accelerate a severe allergy season as well as illnesses that result from excessive allergies.

Allergies: Your Questions Answered

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
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Superbug fungus on the rise

Multiple states are reporting cases of a super fungus resistant to the strongest of antifungal medications.

The CDC is now reporting 587 confirmed clinical cases of the fungal infection, Candida auris (C. auris), that unfortunately is resistant to multiple types of antifungal drugs. Moreover another 1056 cases are being monitored who were in contact with those infected.  This spike is very worrisome.

States reporting cases include:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • Virginia

The majority of the cases are in New York, Illinois, and New Jersey.  It was first seen in 2016 in Illinois ad 60% of those infected that year had died but they had other comorbid conditions, which could have also contributed to their becoming infected with C. auris to begin with.

Please note that this fungus is different from  the species, Candida albicans, which causes common yeast infections.

When investigators analyzed the facilities, they found C. auris had colonized mattresses, beds, chairs, counter surfaces, infusion pumps, and window sills.  By this, the superbug demonstrates its resilience outside a human host.

The super fungus still has some vulnerability to antifungal medication but its resistance is increasing.

  1. auris can cause a variety of infections involving the skin and ear, but most concerning, is sepsis (infection of the bloodstream).  C.  auris was first identified in Japan back in 2009, but upon retrospective review, the CDC states the earliest known strain dates back to 1996. Since then it has been reported in multiple countries including the UK, Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain,  and Venezuela.

Most hospital disinfectants are currently designed to be antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral.  The CDC has urged healthcare facilities to be diligent in their cleaning practices and to be aware of this “super fungus.”

 

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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, %05 %981 %2019 %22:%Apr

Most people apply sunscreen incorrectly

A new study has found the majority of people miss the most vulnerable parts of their face when applying sunscreen.

Published in PLOS One, researchers from the University of Liverpool looked at the sunscreen application habits of 84 men and women with the majority avoiding areas of the face around the eyes.

However, study authors cite the skin around the eyes is the most vulnerable to sun damage and skin cancer.  SPF containing moisturizers were used even less around the eyes.

The Sun reports:

AUSTIN MCCORMICK, STUDY AUTHOR AND CONSULTANT OPHTHALMIC AND OCULOPLASTIC SURGEON, FROM AINTREE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL TRUST, SAID: “THE EYELID SKIN IS VERY THIN AND THIS PUTS IT AT RISK OF UV DAMAGE.
“THE AREA AROUND THE EYELASHES AND BETWEEN THE EYELIDS AND THE NOSE IS LEAST LIKELY TO BE COVERED.”
MR MCCORMICK SAID THAT EYELID CANCERS ACCOUNTED FOR 10 PER CENT OF ALL BASAL CELL CARCINOMAS IN THE UK – THE MOST COMMON TYPE OF SKIN CANCER.
HE ADDED THAT MOISTURISER MAY BE USED MORE SPARINGLY BECAUSE IT IS OFTEN EXPENSIVE AND SOLD IN SMALLER AMOUNTS.

My theory:  We’ve been told since we were kids to keep things away from our eyes, especially lotions.

How do sunscreens work?

Sunscreens use chemicals to disperse or absorb UV rays.  Inorganic compounds in sunscreen such a titanium dioxide or zinc oxide attempt to scatter the UV rays.  Organic compounds such as PABA and oxybenzone attempt to absorb UV rays so they can’t damage the skin.

What’s the difference between UVA and UVB radiation?

UVA rays penetrate deeply into both the epidermis and dermis.  They can cause premature aging of the skin, wrinkles, and skin cancer.

UVB rays are shorter and primarily affect the epidermis. They are responsible for causing sunburns as well as skin cancer.

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What is SPF?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor.  The higher the SPF, the less sun photons enter the skin and cause damage.  SPF primarily measures the protection against UVB rays. We multiply the SPF factor by how long it takes one’s skin to burn by the SPF number to determine the protection factor.

In theory, an SPF of 30 suggests your skin, if it burns within 10 minutes without protection, will not burn until 300 minutes has lapsed (30 times 10).  However, we find this isn’t always the case.  People sweat or swim and the sunscreen dissipates.  Moreover many don’t put on the proper amounts (see below.)

So instead we use SPF as a grade to how much protection the product can offer.

An SPF of 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays

An SPF of 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays

An SPF of 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays

As we see, the relationship is not linear, however the higher the SPF, the more protection we have against UV rays..

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IMAGE FROM BADGERBALM

Although the SPF alludes to protection against burning, hence UVB rays, a sunscreen may still protect against both UVA rays and UVB rays if it’s a broad spectrum sunscreen.

 

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How to apply sunscreen

Most people apply sunscreen incorrectly or unevenly.   Lotion needs to be applied at an amount of 2mg/cm2 of skin or 1 teaspoon per body part (chest, arm, leg, face and neck).  It should be applied 15 minutes prior to going out into the sun and needs to be reapplied every 2 hours, or more often if swimming or sweating.

CRM_Page_41_Important_Sunscreen_Spots_07-15 (1)

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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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