C. diff is common in the environment. Some people even carry C. diff in their gut but don’t have any signs of illness. Most of the time, the “good” bacteria in your gut prevent a C. diff infection. But certain antibiotics can wipe out your gut bacteria. If you encounter C. diff while taking antibiotics, the bacteria can flourish and grow and make you sick.
“Think about your colon as a plush green lawn. The thick grass crowds out the weeds,” illustrates Dr. Allan. “But if your yard is mostly dirt, all kinds of weeds will grow. Antibiotics reduce the rich collection of bacteria in your gut (the thick grass). This gives C. diff (the weeds) an opportunity to take hold.”
C. diff is most dangerous for people age 65 or older or with a weakened immune system. People who are healthy can also develop life-threatening complications if they don’t receive prompt care.
Duke Cancer Institute epidemiologist Meira Epplein, PhD, discovered a common bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) puts Black, Hispanic, and Asian-American people at a higher risk for stomach cancer. She’s been encouraging these and other populations to ask their doctors about getting tested for the bacteria, which Duke gastroenterologist Julius M. Wilder, MD, explains can be as easy as a breathing test.
The simplicity of this test and the information it provides is meaningful to Bishop Ronald Godbee, who along with members of his church congregation, received tests for H. Pylori as part of Epplein’s outreach in Durham, North Carolina.
Chapters: 00:00 What is H. pylori? 00:06 Can H. pylori lead to stomach cancer? 00:18 What populations are at higher risk for stomach cancer? 00:35 Can H. pylori be treated? 01:20 Can I be tested and treated for H. pylori? 02:18 What are the symptoms of H. pylori?
Lyme disease has infected more than 14% of the world’s population, according to a new study. “It’s significant,” says Dr. Bobbi Pritt, director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory at Mayo Clinic.
“If you look at the numbers and how it breaks down in regions across the United States, in some areas, that exceeds 50% seropositivity. That means people are walking around with antibodies in their blood that are detectable. That shows they’ve been exposed to Lyme disease at some point in their life,” says Dr. Pritt. “Now whether it was in the past and they’ve been successfully treated, or whether they have it right now, you can’t tell by that result, but it’s a marker of exposure.”
Fever is just one of the number of symptoms that accompany most infections such as Covid and influenza. When doctors can’t find a diagnosis for the fever, and it lasts for a few weeks, however, it is called fever of unknown origin, or FUO.
There are a bewildering number of illnesses that produce fever, and the mixture of these illnesses is different depending on geographic location, the type of hospital, and socioeconomic conditions.
Just like weight loss of unknown origin, or abdominal discomfort of unknown origin, fever without obvious cause is quite possibly be due to cancer in affluent America, and if you go in early you might have better outcomes with your treatment.
Fever has been known since earliest times, and was often considered a diagnosis on its own. In the past, the great majority of the fevers were infectious, and the outcome grave. In the mid 20th century, when I went to medical school, fevers were still mostly infectious. Antibiotics were the magic bullet, and were unfortunately overused. In underdeveloped countries, infections are still the most common cause, but in the developed world difficult to treat viral infections, autoimmune conditions, and cancer have been gaining in prominence.
When fever becomes excessive, and medication is needed, NSAIDS may be used, and works better on fever from infection than on fever from cancer. The take-home message for me is that if you use Naprosyn for a persistent fever, and isn’t effective, you might notify the doctor.
The motivation for me writing this article came from a very good posting in the New England Journal of medicine. They used a little humor, stating that modern FUO might be called “fever of too many origins”, what with all the indwelling catheters, implanted medical devices, shunts and long hospital stays. There is a separate category made for fever acquired in the hospital.
In people with AIDS, the evaluation is different depending on whether or not they are on treatment.
Tuberculosis is still a very common cause of fever.
Drugs are becoming increasingly responsible for troublesome fevers. In the early days of antibacterial therapy, sulfa was the only drug available, frequently caused fever. Now, sulfa is less used, and the penicillin derivatives are more common causes of fever.
If you have a fever, and have been traveling recently, be sure to tell the doctor. Your fever might be due to a tropical parasite such as malaria, particularly if you’ve been to West Africa.
Fever is an evolutionarily conserved body defense reaction and helps a person recover from an infection. The normal body temperature cycles according to the time of day; it is lowest first thing in the morning, and is higher later in the afternoon. The average body temperature used to be 37°C, or 98.6 F., but has been declining in recent decades, and is now about 36.5°C or 97.6°F. The use of electronic thermometers has cut down the amount of time needed to assess the body temperature, but added variability. I still prefer the old-fashioned thermometer.
Taking your temperature by whatever means you have available still remains a good idea when you don’t feel well.
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