Thursday, April 30, 2015

Link between migraines and carpal tunnel

Plastic surgeons at the Univ of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have shown that migraines are twice as common in those with carpal tunnel syndrome than in those who don't have the wrist and forearm crippling disorder.

In the review of 25,880 cases (appearing in Plastic and and Reconstruction Surgery), 34% of those with carpal tunnel also reported migraines. Sixteen percent had migraines alone. Eight percent of patients with migraines--had carpal. Three percent of those with migraines had no carpal tunnel.

The scientists said they had theories but did not know why this would be true. If they could find the key, they said, they might be better able to diagnose or prevent.

They did add that it might be worthwhile for doctors to perform peripheral nerve compression exams on the head and neck of patients with migraines.

Although further studies are needed, it could be that migraines are an early indicator of future nerve compression problems such as carpal. Because migraines are more common in young people and carpal in older people, maybe the migraines sensitize the central nervous system to develop pain signals from later areas of compression.

These are common conditions affecting 6% (carpal) and 15% (migraines) of adults.

Basically it seems both involve squooshing of nerves--and may be found pretty often in the same person.

I know one person who has both--how about you?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Peanut-allergic kids more likely to be exposed at home

We have all heard the stories. A kid who touches a door handle touched by another child who just at a PBJ--and suddenly can't breathe. Special sections of school cafeterias for the allergic.

Now, researchers at the Univ of  Montreal's looked at 1,941 children who had this allergy--resulting in 567 incidents involving 429 of these kids.

They concluded children are most at risk in their own homes. And--they discovered--parents and medical professionals do not  know how to react appropriately.

Put another way--the schools may be doing a pretty good job of managing this--and parents need to step it up.

In the study population, 11.3% of the reactions were considered "severe," and 50.1% as "moderate."

Only 42% of the SEVERE reactions were evaluated by a medical professional--and one in six of these went completely untreated.

For the moderate reaction group, medical attn was sought only 25% of the time.  This--even though in 37% of the cases, the exposure was at home. Other people's homes and restaurants accounted for 14.3% and 9.3%, respectively.

Schools and daycares where peanuts were forbidden represented only 4.9% of cases. Where peanuts were allowed--3%.

Why the slight difference--where peanuts were not allowed, the researchers said, people may get complacent.

Teens are especially reckless and may indulge even if allergic.

Well, know....

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

New tick in town

Oh, boy--here we go. Tick-borne diseases are a major problem around the world. We have Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia--these can even be deadly and certainly can cause years of misery.

Now--Chinese and Univ of Maryland researchers have uncovered a brand-new-, ever-before-seen illness transmitted by ticks.

Check out Lancet Infectious Disease for the 411 on Anaplasma capra.

This is an entirely new species of bacteria. This has never been seen in humans before!

The scientists tested 477 patients in northeastern China who had been bitten by a tick over a month-long period in the spring of 2014. Twenty-eight percent had been infected by a new bacteria.

A. capra causes fever, headache, tiredness, dizziness, and muscle aches. Apparently the antibiotic doxycycline works on it.

This bug is often found in goats--thus the "capra" thing (as in Capricorn).

They think this bacteria is transmitted by the taiga tick.

A fifth of the world's population lives around taiga ticks.

Isn't science wonderful? Amazing what you learn. Check for ticks, I guess.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Counterfeit drugs a real danger--maybe, sorta

The University of California, San Diego, issued a report in the Apr 20 Am J of Tropical Med and Hygiene that says bogus drugs are a real problem and the scope is not understood by most people.

When you took that blood pressure pill this morning, was it the real deal?

Counterfeit means either the medicine or the source is mislabeled to make the medication appear genuine.

The researchers based their study on data from the Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI).  This data comes from their members, law enforcement, drug regulators, the pharma industry, and media reports.

They look at drugs in legitimate supply chains--pharmacies and hospitals.

From 2009-2011, there were 1,510 incident reports found by the PSI. But nobody knows how big the problem really is, the researchers said.

According to an old study--2000--the World Health Organization reported that a third of counterfeit drugs contained no active  ingredient--and more than 20% had incorrect active ingredients or the wrong ingredients.

The bottom line? The scientists said they had insufficient data to make meaningful interventions or policy changes.

They said they hoped this study--"We don't know anything"--will cause countries and people to make meaningful changes to surveillance and securing of the supply change.

Kind of a wet noodle, if you ask me.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Effects of exercise on obesity

Diet and exercise. Eat less, move more... Burn more than you consume. This is a constant drumbeat in this fat world.

But what type of exercise--strength training, endurance training, maybe a combination?

A team of researchers in Spain, working as part of the Nutrition and Physical Activity Program for Obesity Treatment, suggests that the type of exercise may not be as important as previously thought.

Their findings can be found in the J of Applied Physiology.

They followed 96 people (48 men, 48 women) from 18 through 50 in a 22-week supervised program. They all followed a similar reduced-calorie diet.

Then the subjects were randomly assigned to three exercise regimens...Endurance (their choice of running, elliptical, cycling), strength (shoulder press, squats, barbell row, biceps curl, lateral split, front split, bench press, and French press), or a combination.

They exercised three times a week for the same length of time and at the same intensity.

They also were advised to get 30-60 minutes of exercise on most, if not all, days of the week for a total of 200-300 mins of moderate-intensity activity. Walk, instead of drive, stairs not elevator, etc.

Upshot? All lost significant weight and increased lean mass.  The type of exercise apparently made no difference.

Then they made a sort of cryptic statement: "A calorie burned in exercise is not the same as one not ingested."

Have to think about that one.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Remember that pix of a nurse shushing people?

I am geezing. But hospitals used to have pictures everyplace of a nurse in her little white hat with finger to her lips--QUIET... That's her...

Now, Loyola has taken this high tech. They have positioned a red-yellow-green traffic light-like device at nurses stations to tell people if the noise level of the ward is rising.

They published this in the Am J of Nursing.

High levels of sound, as any patient can attest, disrupt sleep, increase stress, and decrease confidence in caregivers.

Even Florence Nightingale one said, "Unnecessary noise is the most cruel abuse of care..."

Loyola started this in 2011--when it eliminated paging... The "Calling Dr Smith...Dr Smith" thing.

They call their new traffic light thing The Yacker Tracker.

It's not only "yacking," by which I think they really meant "yakker," but TVs, unanswered beeping IVs, squeaky shoes, squeaky wheels, loudly gossiping staff and visitors outside the door, screams of pain, phones, elevator bells, and sundry other sounds.

Yow. Way to go, Loyola. Hope this spreads.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ice cream that can sicken or kill

Brady Dennis, Wash Post, Apr 20, 2105, writes about the Listeria outbreak from Blue Bell ice cream products.

The CDC has reported one person in AZ and another in OK sickened by the same DNA Listeria collected from Blue Bell. Deaths have been reported in other states.

The company has recalled all products--if you have this brand in your freezer, it needs to go! Yogurt, sherbert, frozen snacks, food at games, all of it.

This is the first recall in the company's 108-yr history.

Choc Chip Cookie Dough in half gallons was one culprit.

The company is cleaning and sanitizing all its equipment.

Listeria usually causes short-lived headaches, nausea, fever, abdominal pain, and diarrhea in health people--but can be potentially fatal in the old, young, and people with bad immune systems.

Each year, from all causes, Listeria sickens 1,600 people and kills 260.

The last scare was infected cantaloupes.

Blue Bell--go check the fridge.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pets should make you healthier, not sick

I find my irritating little brain turning more and more to wanting another pooch. I sneak over to Craigs sometimes. I watch live cams of puppies growing up.

But then I read about things like a recent Ohio State study going over the literature on all the things pets can give people--diseases, not satisfaction and fun. (Canadian Medical Assn J--Apr 20)

Salmonella, E. coli, roundworms--there are 20 ickies people can get from pet animals. Different species carry different diseases.

The key, the docs said, is to get the right pet for the right person.

Also--vets and people docs should discuss the possibility of such infections with their patients.

This is especially important for people with a compromised immune system.  These people should:

--Wear protective gloves to clean aquariums and cages.
--Wash hands after contact.
--Discourage face licking.
--Cover playground sand boxes unless kids are using them
--Disinfect cages and bedding
--Only get a new pet if the person has improved his or her immune system
--Schedule regular vet visits

Also--pets can get human diseases such as MRSA and C. diff and pass them to other humans.

Yoh-boy--these people are no fun. How about a big Hazmat Suit with a picture of the animal on it?
Happy now?

Monday, April 20, 2015

How to get a kid to eat veggies

Let's face it, some vegetables have a bitter taste--the better to ward off destructive insects. But this also wards off some people, especially children. Although pureed pees and beans may be among the first "solid" foods, graduating to Brussels sprouts can be a leap.

Actually, my old child loved them--so you never know!

Instilling good eating habits, says Tanda Kidd, assoc professor of human nutrition at Kansas State in Manhattan, KS, is worth it. No parent, she says, wants their child to be overweight or sick.

The key is to start early. Give a variety of food options--kids know when to eat and when to stop.

Make the choices rich in nutrition, not just calories. This lets out soda.

Foods crammed with "empty" calories, such as sweets and hot dogs and reghular ground beef contribute 40% of daily calories for kids 2-18.

Other ideas?

--Do not use food as a reward for good behavior.

--Be a good example--parents should eat their veggies.

--Eat with your children so they can see what you eat.

--Check out what kids eat away from home.

--Limit screen time--watching TV means mindless eating. Chomp. Chomp.

Do not put your child on a "diet," even if they appear chubby. Instead, encourage exercise.


--Take kids to the store, discuss choices, loop them in.

--Plant a garden, cook together.

I agree--and the Orange Hollandaise my child's dad made for artichokes did not hurt, either.  A little dipping sauce can cut bitterness and is fun.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Boo! Why darkness scares us

Lecia Bushak, Medical Daily, Apr 16, 2015, tackles the subject of why so many people are afraid of the dark.

As soon as it gets dark, she says, her senses go on alert for weird sounds or sights. If she hears something, her blood turns to ice.

We are instinctively afraid of what the darkness hides. And it's not just little kids.

This is our evolutionary urge to remain safe talking. (Or whispering.)

First, the lack of light impairs our ability to see clearly--snatching away control. Humans don't have good night vision.

We are also hard-wired to avoid predators at night. For instance, one study showed that lions in Tanzania were 60% more likely to attack humans at night. This ancient possibility is locked into our brains.

We fear walking home alone in the dark--yet crimes happen pretty much around the clock.

Modern people lie in the dark and while a lion attack is probably not in the cards, we go deeper and deeper into our subconscious. All our "demons"--sadness, fears--creep out.

Freud said this is because our parents left us in a dark room and went away at night. Voila--nightlights!

The minute lights go on, we feel silly, we regain perspective.

But this is real and was baked in long ago.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Does acetaminophen flatten emotions?

I take Tylenol for knee pain. Yes, I saw the study recently that said it had limited use for that--but I tried stopping it and could tell a big difference.

Now comes a study at Ohio State that seems to indicate that acetaminophen, which has been used for more than 70 years in the US and is contained in 600 medicines (23% of Americans take it), may tamp down psychological pain as well as physical discomfort.

It reduces how much users feel positive and negative emotions, but mostly positive, the researchers contend.

You can check this out in the online version of Psychological Science if you want.

The scientists said acetaminophen users did not know they were acting differently.

Basically, the researchers had some college students take 1000 mg of acetaminophen, the others a placebo, and then after a period for it to take effect, they showed the kids pictures from a database called the International Affective Picture System. These ranged from unpleasant to neutral to pleasant.

Then they rated how positive or negative the photo was.

Both studies seemed to show the acetaminophen takers rated the photos less extremely--positive or negative.

They concluded that the "takers" didn't feel the same highs or lows as the placebo people.

But then they thought maybe the takers affected how people judge "magnitude"--so they did another study--in this one, the participants also reported how much of the color blue they saw.

Again, the positive and negatives were blunted in the takers--though the perception of the color was the same for both.

I am not sure what to make of this--seems like a lot of holes in it--such as people in pain (and even with acetaminophen there is some) may have a more negative view.

I am not the one to judge--my perceptions are crap, apparently.

PS Don't forget--emotions aside, if you take this, keep it under 4 gr a day--the liver, you know.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Nurse Jackie--and some other nurses

Do you watch Nurse Jackie on Showtime? She is a tough-talkin', rule-breaking, drug-addicted, unfaithful, lying woman--fascinating to watch but I would think hard to live and work with. Yet, her coworkers remain loyal--or did--until this season.

Anyway, I have been hospitalized several times and have no idea if my nurses were hot messes or not. Most, for me anyway, made the sojourn bearable. They are the people you talk to, who try to intervene with arrogant doctors, who come when you are in need (even if it takes a while).

Nurses are close to the action. Therefore, I am not surprised to learn that critical care nurses in 42 hospitals nationwide initiated changes that saved institutions $42 million a year.

This came as a result of the Clinical Care Investigator Academy, a 16-mo leadership and innovation program funded by the Am Assn of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).

The nurses in the program had ideas involving healthcare-associated infections, pressure ulcers, delirium, early mobility, falls, and patient handoffs. In Indiana, Mass, NY, NC, PA, and TX:

--Stays in intensive care decreased by 1 day
--Days on mechanical ventilation decreased by about a day
--Infections and complications--down 50%
--Patient falls--down 50%
--Pressure ulcers--down 40%
--Catheter urinary infections--down 70%
--Positive scores for confusion--up 14%

These are frontline nurses, at the bedside, seeing what they see, observing what they observe.

Nurse Jackie may break the rules to help patients--these nurses make them!

I remember being hospitalized once and my veins kind of collapsed from sticks--they called in the floor supervisor, saying she was the woman, she could always insert IVs. She did! Years later, I was admitted to the same hospital and she came in the room. I said, "I remember you!"

Patients do not forget this stuff.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Newest gnarly drug to kill you or your kids

Justin Caba, Medical Daily, gives us a headsup on the "N-Bomb," which has resulted in at least 17 deaths since being introduced in 2010.

Although it is a synthetic, which often skate on being classified, the DEA declared this stuff to be Schedule I last November.

Donna Seger, MD, medical director of the Tennessee Poison Center, says it is dangerous and obviously potentially deadly.

N-Bomb is marketed as legal or natural LSD.  It is in the NBOMe class--originally designed to map the serotonin (pleasure) centers in the brain.

It is sold as blotter paper, powder or a liquid that can be ingested, snorted, or inserted places.

If someone is poisoned by N-Bomb, they require heavy sedation to quell aggression as well as cooling (the body overheats).

Quality control on these street drugs is non-existent. You never know what you are getting--and that could be the end of you.

Oh--and the DEA, which is cracking down on synthetics in 25 states, says using these drugs puts money in the pockets of terrorists and criminals in the Middle East and elsewhere.

So don't take this stuff or anything similar someone tells you about at a club. Clubs are supposed to be about fun, not dying.

Monday, April 13, 2015

What's in a disease name?

Writing in Medical News Today, James McIntosh riffed off at considerable length on whether the names of various diseases and disorders influenced how they were treated.

For instance, he says Alzheimer's is so feared, some docs will not utter it as a diagnosis for fear of devastating people.

Last month, the Institute of Medicine proposed a new name for chronic fatigue syndrome.

The name? "Systemic exertion intolerance disease." SEID! Or usually: CFS/SEID.

Of course, it will be a while before we see what affect this has.

How about schizophrenia? First, despite popular perceptions, this does not always manifest as split personality. Also 61% of Americans in one study thought schizophrenics were violent.

In Japan, the term was mind-split-disease, but psychiatrists did not like to use it.

A new term--"integration disorder" was introduced in Japan in 2002. This replaced the old term in 78% of cases. There have been movements to replace the mind-split thing in other countries, also.

In Britain, the disturbing "evacuation of retained products of conception" was changed to "surgical management of miscarriage."

Watch for these changes to creep in. The researchers say they will positively influence funding, too.

Now if we could replace "obesity." How about over-served syndrome?

Friday, April 10, 2015

One in three teens has one mental and one physical disease

There seems to be a relationship between specific mental conditions and certain physical conditions.

Researchers at the Univ of Basel and the Ruhr Universitat Bochum published a study in Psychosomatic Medicine that seems to show that in teens, depression occurs together with diseases of the digestive system, eating disorders with seizures, and anxiety disorders with arthritic, heart disease, and also digestive disease.

Previous studies in adults have also shown that mental and physical problems are not random and can occur in tandem.

Shockingly, the researchers showed that 35.3% of children and adolescents reported at least one mental disorder and one physical disease. The strongest correlation was between depression and digestive ills.

The researchers say age, gender, or socioeconomic status are not factors.

They cannot say from this finding that one causes the other or how they are connected. More work is needed.

I have never heard this before--had you?

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Jordi-Stick makes breathing therapy fun for cystic fibrosis kids

Thirty thousand people in the US suffer from cystic fibrosis--an incurable disease which clogs lungs and can shorten lives.

Half of those are children.

And getting them to sit still for 30 minutes a day, breathing slowly and deeply on a nebulizer, is not easy.

But now, it can be a game. Enter the Jordi-Stick--developed by a dad whose son suffers from the disease. This, I assume, would be Jordi.

The device connects the child's nebulizer to a video game, allowing the child to control their gaming with their breathing.  For instance, they can move a hot air balloon on the screen--helping it avoid obstacles.

A pressure sensor is placed inside their nebulizer--and this connects to the gaming device via USB cord.

Very cool...

For more info, go to

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Middle-aged athletes at low risk for cardiac arrest

It seems counterintuitive, but a study in the journal Circulation seems to show that middle-aged exercisers are at low risk of their heart stopping while playing sports--and if it does, they have a higher likelihood of surviving than those not playing sports when it happens.

Cardiac arrest is when electrical impulses making the heart beat cause it to stop. Heart attack is when clogged arteries prevent blood flow to the heart.

Sudden cardiac arrest was blamed for the deaths of Tim Russert and filmmaker John Hughes. Ditto for Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman and basketball players Pete Maravich and Reggie Lewis.

Investigators from Cedars-Sinai studied 1,247 people in the Portland, OR area who had sudden cardiac arrest between 2002 and 2013.

Just 5% suffered the arrest during sports.

Eighty-seven percent playing sports received resuscitation, 53% of those not playing sports did. Twenty-three percent of those playing sports survived--only 13% of those not playing sports made it.

Why? Well, if a person is playing sports there are probably people around to resuscitate or call for help.

But--the researchers said--older people can exercise without worrying so much about triggering a rhythm disturbance.

Good news--I guess.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Weight-conscious female smokers less likely to quit

To me, this is one for The Big Book of Duh.

University of Illinois researchers published a story in Tobacco Control that seemed to show that women worried about their weight were less bothered by price increases on cigarettes, smoke-free laws, or anti-tobacco ads and messaging.

They looked at data from 10,000 smokers from the US, Canada, UK and Australia. This was part of the Intl Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project.

Respondents completed three surveys between 2002 and 2007 which asked did they think smoking helped control weight, their attempts to quit, and the impact of messaging.

If women did not think smoking helped with weight, a 10% increase in cost was accompanied by a 6% increase in quitting attempts.

If women thought smoking did help with weight, a price increase did not affect them.

Same for messaging--if they believed weight not affected, a 10% increase in messaging yielded a 12% increase in quitting attempts.  If weight was a factor, no increase in quitting attempts.

What was the conclusion--women needed more info on smoking and weight.

Also--if you quit, you can exercise more, which helps with weight, the scientists noted.

Monday, April 06, 2015

The old becomes new again

Every year, 80,000 people in the US contract the "superbug" known as MRSA--a staph that has developed resistance to antibiotics. Honor Whiteman wrote about this in Medical News Today.

Now, a 1000-year old remedy found in the literature by a researcher at the Univ of Nottingham kills up to 90% of MRSA in a dish and is showing similar promise in mice, where Texas Tech scientists call it "astonishing."

What is this stuff? It involves cow bile (oxgall), onion and wine. The recipe was found in Bald's Leechbook, believed to be one of the earliest medical textbooks.

The ingredients, which modern-day researchers whip up fresh, are left to mix for nine days before being applied.

They grew MRSA infections in collagen (not a person) and the mixture killed 999 cells out of 1000.

They said they knew the ingredients all had killing properties, but were "blown away" by the effectiveness of the combination.

The researchers are now looking for more funding.

Bald's Leechbook, huh. Well, whatever works.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Hiking and camping with an infant

These days babies tend to be grabbed like little footballs and hauled along on outdoor adventures.

Biking, walking, jogging--no reason for a babysitter.

And a rate of products now make taking the tot along easier and safer than in past generations--carriers, joggers, trailers, sidecars, you name it.

BUT--American Chiropractic Assn spokesperson Karen Erickson, DC, says be careful with the backpack carrier. Because the cervical spine of a baby less than a year is not fully developed, so be sure the baby's head does not bobble around. If you can't see, maybe a front carrier is better.

--Also, a backpack or front side carrier can upset an adult's stability--be sure you are in good shape.

--Get a carrier with wide straps for shoulder and waist.  This distributes weight evenly.

--Once the child is in the carrier, be sure no cloth is bunching and rubbing on the little one.

As for slings, remember the baby is against you and can get very hot. Be sure they do not have their nose covered by material. Also--switch sides occasionally.

Never run with any packpack carrier. If you want to run, get a jogging stroller.

Personally, those give me the creeps--I imagine rushing along, hitting a stone or something and even with a seatbelt--the child flying out.

I guess it never or rarely happens, but it freaks me out.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

When should your child's fever alarm you?

Babies and small kids seem to get fevers pretty easily--they get cross, fretful, squirmy and miserable.

According to Mary Kay Bartek, MD, a pediatrician at Vanderbilt Children's After-Hours Clinic in Mr. Juliet, Tenn, the fever itself is not dangerous--but it might indicate something else that is dangerous.

A fever is 100.4 degrees. This means the immune system has kicked in to kill some invader.  Bartek says the body is setting the temp, so it won't set it "too" high.

Should a doctor be called in? Yes, Bartek says, if...

This occurs in an infant younger than six months.

If the child is working hard to breathe...rapid breathing, flaring nostrils, and skin pulling in at the ribs.

If the child is dehydrated--dry mouth, decreased urine, decreased tears.

Also if the child is not responding normally...the child probably OK if he or she responds to you, is older than six months, has had all vaccines, and is eating and drinking.

Why treat a fever then? For one thing, children feel better with a lower temp. There are over the counter things they can be given--check with the doctor.

I remember high fevers causing convulsions in kids...Is that debunked now...Not sure. If the child is a cranky, red-faced mess or sleeping too much, call the doc--that would be my advice.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Have you tried bike sharing?

Lots of people in big cities do not want to bother with owning a car. They use cabs, subways, or now, Uber or bike sharing.

But it seems the latter is not fulfilling its potential, leading Univ of Chicago researchers Elena Belavina and PhD candidate Ashish Kabra to spend four (no doubt onerous) months studying Paris's bike sharing system.

OK, I am snarky,

The success of the system, they decided, hinged on how dar the commuter must walk to find a bike. And the likelihood of a bike being at the station when the commuter got there.

They took a gazillion snapshots and concluded that a 10% reduction in the distance upped ridership by 6.7%. A 10% increase in availability upped it 12%.

If Paris did this, they said, the city could increase ridership almost 30%.

There are now 530 bike share systems--with about 517,000 bikes.

I guess they need to be spaced closer together.

Also, I would say, bikes probably should be in good repair and there should be convenient dropoff places.