Category Archives: Opinion

THE DOCTORS 101 CHRONIC SYMPTOMS & CONDITIONS #37: EYE IRRITATION

‘Something is in my eye” is a feeling that everyone has had, and it doesn’t take much to create that sensation. A speck of dust, a grain of sand, a gnat or an ill-behaved eyelash will do it. Most of the time your eye will tear up and the offender is washed away.

As I get older, this sensation is more frequent. I look at my eyes in the mirror, and there is no one-sided redness, displaced lash or anything else I can see. When I saw the doctor for my cataract surgery a couple of years ago, he took a sample of my tears, and found a deficit in the fatty component. He recommended twice daily, five minute warming of my eyes, but I stopped doing it after a while.

I have so many picky little things I do that this extra time didn’t see worth it. I know that my eyes are dry, which is common in older people, and often use “Refresh-plus” individual, preservative-free ampoules, which seems definitely worth the trouble. It makes my eyes feel better, alleviates the gritty sensation, and even clarifies my vision. I have also resumed warming my eyes with a clean washcloth, moistened with hot water, when I take my shower.

I fancy that I am stimulating my meibomian glands like the eye surgeon intended, to increase the lipid content of my tears. I’ll keep you posted. There are a number of other disorders which can cause the eye symptom, as the accompanying article indicates. Be sure that if the discomfort is more than trivial, or the affected eye is red, or if vision is affected, that you consult your eye doctor, or at least your primary care Physician.

Dr. C.

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THE DOCTORS 101 CHRONIC SYMPTOMS & CONDITIONS #36: WARTS

Warts are so common as to have become a metaphor for any blemish. I have had several warts in childhood, most likely because my immunity was immature along with the rest of me. They went away, as do most warts. I have had a few warts on and off since, since the HPV that produces them is so widespread.

My immune reaction took care of them, For some reason, I now have a wart between my toes that bears watching. Hopefully it will go away like the rest. Warts rarely become malignant, They can cause problems with breathing if they block the airway, such as the larynx (voice box) or bronchi (breathing tubes). I had such a case in my Allergy/respiratory disease practice that sounded like asthma to the referring Doctor.

Elderly people can develop a variety of skin bumps, that my grandmother called “moles”. In the past month, I have developed a reddish bump on my nose. It looks a lot like the “intradermal nevus” pictured in an accompanying article from “consultant360”. Seborrheic Keratoses are common, and I have some of those too. Of course,

I have a regular crop of scaly “actinic Keratoses” for my Dermatologist to freeze with liquid Nitrogen during my twice yearly visits to prevent them from developing into cancer. I have a suspicion that many home remedies for warts, and the scraping and freezing efforts of dermatologists merely stir up the infected cells in the lesion and incite the immune system to mop up.

Time will usually do the job, but they are often annoying and there is always the temptation to treat them.

–Dr. C.

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THE DOCTORS 101 CHRONIC SYMPTOMS & CONDITIONS #35: HIP FRACTURES

Hip fracture is an iconic bugaboo of old age. It is a chronic condition in the sense that its complications, such as Depression, blood clots and pneumonia often extend long beyond the healing process.

Predisposing factors include old age and associated risk factors like osteoporosis, sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass and strength), poor vision, poor balance and hazards in the home.

FALLING is the usual agency that produces the fracture. At the risk of being ostracized, I will point out that thousands of injuries sustained by walking or tripping over dogs (and cats) occur every year.

In my small “hilltop” group of friends, there was 1 fatality, 1 shoulder fracture-dislocation, 1 hip fracture, and 0 acknowledgements of animal causation. Members of the family are immune to blame.

Treatment of hip fracture involves surgery with pins, or the more cost-effective Hip replacement. PREVENTION is critical. Osteoporosis must be prevented by exercise, Calcium, vitamin D, and avoidance of certain medication like Corticosteroids.

Balance should be developed by exercises. Vision problems, such as cataracts,should be corrected. Muscle mass should be preserved by diet and exercise, and the home cleared of throw-rugs and obstacles removed.

Just yesterday, a friend wearing socks (reducing friction?) fell down some stairs after stepping over a dog-gate. She is scheduled to have her elbow pinned. Have I mentioned SLEEP, DIET and EXERCISE RECENTLY?

–Dr. C.

THE DOCTORS 101 CHRONIC SYMPTOMS & CONDITIONS #34: Human Papillomavirus

Human Papillomavirus, HPV, is a very successful Virus, from the microbial standpoint. It has been around for a long time, specializes in Humans, kills many fewer than it infects and becomes a chronic disease, even if 90% of infections resolve spontaneously within 2 years.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is a DNA Virus. Most of the strains, if they persist, become harmless nuisances, and cause “Verruca Vulgaris”, the common wart of the skin. The voicebox and windpipe area is rarely targeted, but warts can produce problems there because of the location. Non-malignant genital warts can also occur with certain serotypes.

A few members of the HPV family have evolved to generate premalignant lesions that can develop into CANCER. These strains are spread by Sexual contact. In Women, the CERVIX of the Uterus or the vagina are often involved. The anal area, back of the throat and the Lung are occasional sites in both sexes. In Men, the Penis is targeted.

Cancer is generally a delayed effect that occurs after a long infection. Some HPV strains, such a 16 and 18, have evolved to suppress the p53 gene, an ONCOGENE which protects us from malignant progression. Without this protection, a chance cancerous mutation can grow without restraint. Since HPV can invade only the deeper basal stem cells in the skin or lining mucous membranes, some minor trauma or break in the surface is needed to allow Viral entry.

If antibodies are present, the Virus is intercepted, and infection doesn’t take place. This discovery made Immunization with the Cancer-producing strains attractive. It is also why the immunization is recommended in Childhood, before Sexual activity begins. Immunization after the HPV is already inside the body is Ineffective.

The Virus is already in the Nucleus of infected cells and protected from the immune response. The recommendation is to get the immunization in childhood, and use condoms.

–Dr. C.

Covid-19: ‘mRNA Vaccine – How It Works’ (Video)

Its decision time for Covid vaccines, especially for 88-year olds. The choice is among live-attenuated vaccines, whole virus vaccines, Split virus vaccines, and RNA vaccines, and I prefer the latter because of its simplicity. It delivers just the mRNA coding for covid spike protein, without the risk of a live vaccine, and the extra substances in whole and split- virus vaccines.

mRNA utilization for a vaccine is not new technology. The idea has been floating around for decades in cancer immunotherapy research. The sophisticated understanding of the technology is reassuring. It has a high efficacy, approaching 95%. Between the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, I prefer the Moderna vaccine, because the Company was already working on a mRNA platform for MERS, a Covid-family virus, and has developed their own lipid capsule as a vector.

The Moderna vaccine does not require the extremely low storage temperatures like the Pfizer product. With all production located within the company, Moderna will be ready to go if a new strain nullifies covid 19 vaccines, or if another virus spreads worldwide. Timing is important. The mRNA vaccine requires 2 doses. I intend to take the first Moderna dose when I can get it locally without standing in line.

Since I intend to continue Masking and Distancing until the cases in my community are low, I will probably delay the second dose until summer, to increase my likelihood of effective antibody levels this coming fall and winter. Also, there will be more information by that time on the Vaccine’s effectiveness and duration in the Elderly.

The pathogenicity of the English, or any other newly mutant strain will be hopefully known by Summer. The rapid Covid test using sputum, and outpatient treatment with monoclonal and convalescent antibodies for early cases will then be available. I want a treatment plan in case I get infected. This is a treacherous, nasty infection.

–Dr. C

Dr. C’s Journal: ‘Mutation’

Mutation is engrained in the very nature of life. Even if there were no X-rays, free radicals or toxic chemicals, mutation still would take place because of errors in the replication of DNA that occasionally escapes the proofreading mechanisms of meiosis and mitosis.

The majority of germline mutations produce LOSS OF FUNCTION, and are weeded out by evolution. In vertebrates, mutation is vital in producing the random changes in the DNA of germ cells of the ovaries and testes. If the mutation is beneficial, involving a GAIN OF FUNCTION, environmental selection acts to preserve the change, producing the diversity of organisms in the world, each exploiting a different environmental niche.

It is the rare species so versatile, like the shark, that can remain almost the same over eons without dying out. In the teeming unicellular world, mutation in the genome is similarly useful in allowing for variations which often prove useful for survival. The mutations thrive if the proper environment presents itself. For instance, antibiotic resistance may be encoded in a few members of a bacterial species, which become the dominant members in an infected patient on antibiotic treatment, and crowd out family members without the mutation.

In Viruses, RNA is often the Memory nucleotide. RNA is less stable than DNA. The resulting instability allows more mutations, and sometimes greater success. An example is the English Covid variant in the spike protein which leads to greater contagion. Hopefully, the spike protein change will not be so successful as to interfere with the effectiveness of vaccine-produced protective antibodies.

The Mutations we have been discussing refer to GERMLINE mutations, which occur in the gonads. In higher animals, germline mutations affect the offspring, which then carry the mutation. A GAIN OF FUNCTION mutation may confer greater adaptability and survivability, and perhaps may lead even to a different species, if the troop number is small and the environment demanding. Non-germ SOMATIC cell mutation may lead to undesirable effects like cancer, which is another discussion.

–Dr. C

Progressive Disorders: ‘Parkinson’s Disease’

Parkinson’s Disease is a MOVEMENT DISORDER. It is grouped with a number of OTHER NEURODEGENERATIVE illnesses which can show similar symptoms. When Parkinson-like problems are present in other syndromes, it is called PARKINSONISM, to distinguish it from primary Parkinson’s disease.

There is no 100% reliable sign, symptom or diagnostic test; Rather, the gold standard of diagnosis rests on the ability of experienced neurologists to discern a PATTERN of findings which together support the likelihood of Parkinson’s disease. The accuracy is about 80-90%. The 3 characteristic symptoms of PD are BRADYKINESIA, TREMOR, and RIGIDITY. Bradykinesia means SLOW MOVEMENT.

The typical Tremor is a tapping, “pill-rolling” motion that is present at rest, and DISAPPEARS ON MOTION. The Rigidity is pervasive, and patients describe it as trying to move in thick molasses. A “lead-pipe resistance”, stiffness and PAIN in the shoulder may be a first system, and not uncommonly the patient will often go to an Orthopedist or Rheumatologist. Depression, constipation, anosmia and SLEEP Disorders are common in the years leading up to the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, and DEMENTIA frequently develops.

Genetics play a role, and PD can run in Families. Environmental causes such as Trauma and anoxia can injure nerve cells, as can Toxins. MPTP contamination of a drug supply once caused a surge of Parkinsonism. Degeneration of DOPAMINERGIC nerve cells in the Substantia Nigra is the ultimate cause of PD, and accumulation of ALPHA SYNUCLEIN fibrils is a correlate of that degeneration.

Practical treatment at present aims to boost Dopamine. Administration of Levodopa, a DA precursor, if effective, a response helps to confirm the diagnosis. Magnetic and electrical stimulation of the brain have been used. Experimental injections of Dopaminergic cells into the brain is under investigation. Causing Astrocytes to differentiate into dopaminergic cells has been successful in animals.

With Celebrities such as Michael Fox and Robin Williams raising awareness, and the Mechanism understood, I am optimistic that a real cure may be found in a few years.

–Dr. C.