Tag Archives: Conditions

THE DOCTORS 101 CHRONIC SYMPTOMS & CONDITIONS #61: EDEMA (SWELLING)

Swelling of the ankles becomes increasingly common as you get older. This swelling can be caused by thrombophlebitis, or skin infections which have been discussed in previous articles. Otherwise it is usually part of a condition called edema.

Edema is commonly caused by problems in the cardiovascular system, kidneys, or liver. Edema can occur in the face and abdominal cavity or elsewhere, But because of gravity and the fact that we are  usually upright-on our feet, it is usually is most prominent in the legs, especially the ankles. Edema can be caused by a normal pregnancy. The developing baby puts quite a strain on the heart and circulatory system.

Chronic accumulation of fluid in the tissues usually occurs because of heart and blood vessel problems, liver disease (albumin lack), diet (excess salt intake), kidney disease (deficient salt excretion), vein problems (valve malfunction), and lymphatic problems (surgical lymph node excision).

Obesity contributes by impacting the heart and liver primarily. Proper sleep, diet and exercise help in most of these areas, and edema is rare in healthy people.

I have always considered sugar(obesity, cardiovascular effects) and salt(hypertension, cardiovascular and  kidney load) as poisonous. I discovered the valve incompetence in the veins of my left leg because it became more blue than my right leg. With good exercise, sleep, diet program and compression stockings, edema never occurred.

The swelling and stretched shiny skin in the ankles that I see in many of my overweight friends makes a tempting target for germs of all kinds. and small skin sores often follow.

If you developed swelling in your ankles or other areas, it’s best to check with your doctor to get an explanation.

—Dr. C.

DR. C’S JOURNAL: VITILIGO

Vitiligo is the loss of skin color in patches. Most often it is widespread. It tends to occur on the hands, or around the mouth, and can start where there are irritations or injuries to the skin, such as with tattoos. This generalized Vitteligo begins in middle age, but a more localized, or segmental Vitelligo can start earlier, and affect one area or side of the body.

Well-tanned skin, and skin with a darker color make the vitiligo stand out more prominently and give more trouble.

When I was a kid, I had a sort of reverse vitiligo, namely freckles. With freckles, the pigment gathers into small spotty areas, and leaves the rest of the skin without sunburn protection. I can attest to the fact that ANY kind of skin difference will lead to social problems; the main suffering  with vitiligo is social.

Vitiligo is considered an autoimmune condition, and carries with it an increased likelihood of other autoimmune conditions, primarily thyroid and other endocrine.

Mimicking vitelligo, skin pigment can also disappear in areas of irritation or surface infection, such as in tinea versacolor and pityriasis alba. There is often a “halo” around a pigmented negus.

There are various treatments which aim to lighten up the surrounding skin area, or Increase pigmentation of the affected area. Such techniques use ultraviolet light, in combination with various various creams and medicines. Even surgery is sometimes used, so great it is the suffering of affected individuals.

Please refer to the accompanying article for more information.

—Dr. C.

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THE DOCTORS 101 CHRONIC SYMPTOMS & CONDITIONS #60: ITCHY EARS

Itchy ears; even if from trivial causes, they demand attention. Swimmer’s ear is a subset of itchy ears, which can lead to some severe infections and sleepless nights. Water remaining in the ears dissolves the natural, protective earwax, and provides a nice warm bath for some nasty bugs like Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Swimmers ear is the result, and the best strategy is to prevent it by keeping  the water out.

After swimming, I often twist some Kleenex and insert it into  my ear canal to “wick out” the water. Some people use a 70% Isopropyl alcohol solution to rinse out the water. Don’t use the 99% isopropyl alcohol; it’ll burn like crazy and for some reason is not as effective an antibacterial. If the itchy ear starts to become painful, and the pain is made worse by pulling on the earlobe, the best strategy is to call the doctor.

Hearing aids comprise a special problem. Earwax can damage the mechanism of the hearing aid, and the hearing aid can cause an irritation that produces itching. Be sure to ask the audiologist about how to prevent problems.

I wear earplugs to deliver sound to my ears when I swim. The ear plugs can cause irritation or even an allergic reaction. I believe this is one of the reasons my ears itch most of the time. My ENT physician suggested that I put a little baby oil in my ear, which I am continuing to do.

Accumulations of earwax can also cause itching. Most of the time I remove the wax myself with an over-the-counter kit containing an ear syringe and glyceryl peroxide. About every third time I need wax removed from my ear, I go to the ENT doctors  to be sure I don’t have some sort of fungal infection or other chronic condition.

If you swab your ear with a Q-tip, you risk pushing the wax deeper into the canal, and create a problem. Nonetheless, I still occasionally put a little bit of 1% hydrocortisone cream if the itching gets extreme. My doctor said that this accelerates the build up of debris and the need for irrigating the canal.

The old adage that you shouldn’t put anything into your ear smaller than your elbow is a good interdict to embrace. Digging out the wax with some sort of instrument risks damaging the canal or hurting your eardrum.

For more information, please look at the following posts.

—Dr. C.

Mayo Clinic Article

Healthy Hearing Article

THE DOCTORS 101 CHRONIC SYMPTOMS & CONDITIONS #33: The Common Cold’

The common cold is one of the most frequent of human diseases, and causes billions of dollars in lost work yearly. I haven’t heard of many cases of colds or flu recently, in the Era of Covid.

Distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing prevents colds too. The common cold spreads by AEROSOL transmission, and autoinnoculation into the nose from contaminated surfaces, just like Covid.

By far the most common cause of the Common Cold is the RHINOVIRUS, of which there are 100 serotypes. Coronaviruses, Influenza, Parainfluenza, RSV and enteroviruses also produce cold-like symptoms. The large number of viruses causing the Common cold makes developing an effective vaccine difficult.

Adults eventually encounter most of the serotypes prevalent in their community, and don’t catch many colds. However, when adults travel, they experience a new, unfamiliar group of viruses endemic to their destination. How often do we take a trip and come back with a Cold, or worse. We lack immunity to the microorganisms we have not yet encountered, just like children.

When I was in pediatric allergy practice, I feared nothing so much as the cold temperatures in October. The kids would come back to school, and start getting colds, averaging 7-8 per year. It is commonly thought by researchers that cold symptoms are not produced so much by viral damage to the respiratory membranes, as by the body’s immune response to those viruses.

My experience confirms that opinion. A cold was a worry for my patients. Rhinovirus infection often triggered a severe ashmatic response, sometimes sending the children to the ER if not the Hospital ICU.

It was the allergic reaction to the virus that caused the severe wheezing. After the epidemic of Covid subsides, and becomes endemic, don’t give up all of your newly-acquired habits. Hand-washing, distancing, and even masks prevent other respiratory disease transmission too.

–Dr. C.

INFOGRAPHIC: PROLONGED COVID-19 SYMPTOMS – “A MULTI-SYSTEM DISEASE” (BMJ)

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COMMENTARY

COVID 19 is a nasty disease, in case you hadn’t noticed. It is SNEAKY: you can catch it from a person who has no symptoms.

It is UNPREDICTABLE: you may develop no symptoms or Die from it. It can affect any part of your body, including HEART and BRAIN.

And now we hear that it can DRAG ON. The outstanding infographic, “a multi-systems disease, which is intended for PRIMARY CARE PROVIDERS, has a lot to offer patients, who can do a lot to Care for themselves:

  • –They can get a THERMOMETER and a PULSE OXIMETER to watch their own temperatures and oxygen saturations
  • –They can monitor their own COMORBIDITIES, like Diabetes and HYPERTENSION, which are common with severe Covid. In patients who get very ill .
  • –They can watch their GENERAL HEALTH, including SLEEP and DIET (the exercise part is relegated to DOCTORS recommendations).

You should also RESTRICT Alcohol, Caffeine and it goes without saying CIGARETTE SMOKING. Of course PREVENTION, with DISTANCING, MASKING and being Outside, coupled with SLEEP, DIET and EXERCISE is always best.

–Dr. C.

BRAIN HEALTH: “DEMENTIA” – SYMPTOMS AND CONDITIONS

We ARE our brains. Reduce the function of any other organ, and we may be sick, but reduce the function of the brain, and WE have changed.

PROGRESSIVE LOSS of brain function is called DEMENTIA. A sudden, temporary (if the cause can be found) is called Delirium. A variety of bad things can cause dementia, such as infections (AIDS), toxins (lead, mercury), chemicals (alcohol), traumatic (CTE from football), diet deficiencies (B12, folic acid), Endocrine deficiencies (thyroid),Psychiatric problems (depression), drugs, and Vascular problems.

The Preceding article on dementia discussed APATHY, as opposed to the somewhat similar DEPRESSION, as a warning sign for SVD, or small blood-vessel disease. SVD is the most common VASCULAR cause of Dementia.

The most common overall cause of Dementia, especially in old age, is ALZHEIMER’S disease (AD). “Senior Moments” are so common as to be a cliche. But this problem is not limited to old age. My 3-year-old Grandson came crying to me that he lost his favorite toy. “Where was it when you last saw it”?, I asked. “It was in my hand” he answered.

He had laid it somewhere, unthinkingly. You can’t remember something unless you ENCODE it. You must be paying attention to, be “mindful” of an action if you are to remember that action.. You will not remember where you put your glasses if you wander around in “default mode”, daydreaming, preoccupied. Everybody occasionally forgets a name, or item which hangs on “the end of my tongue”.

These things, especially “short term memory” do DETERIORATE AS WE GET OLDER. It is common to wonder if we, or a loved one. are getting Alzheimer’s disease, as our mental powers wane.It is often difficult to distinguish the normal forgetfulness of age from DEMENTIA, including Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) It might be a source of REASSURANCE to realize that if you are worried about getting AD YOURSELF, you almost certainly don’t have it; It takes a lot of mental functioning to contemplate that possibility.

Most often, you will be wondering about the possibility in a loved one having AD. There are 2 ideas that I ran across in my reading that might help you do a little evaluation Yourself.

BCGuidelines.ca has a 21 item questionnaire that you can score yourself. 4 points or less is considered normal, so common is forgetfulness. 5-14 points suggests mild cognitive impairment. 15 or more points suggests Dementia, of which AD is the most common type.

The test I really liked was the “Clock Test”. In this test, you draw a large circle. You then ask your loved one to draw a clock, with all the numbers and hands that will indicate 10 minutes after 11. If it is drawn correctly, you can with reasonable certainty EXCLUDE Dementia.

If incorrect, further tests are warranted. I consulted with a Neurologist regarding a friend of mine who has marked memory loss, but is very sweet, is physically capable, takes care of herself personally, doesn’t wander around, has no apparent anxiety, depression or other psychological problems.

I asked if it was reasonable to just watch without any medical intervention. The neurologist said that she should have a blood test, a metabolic panel, TSH (thyroid), LFTs, folic acid and B12 tests, and a CT to rule out NPH (normal pressure hydrocephalus). It is rare to find anything treatable, but a shame to neglect it if present.

If you do see a doctor about a Spouse or Parent with possible dementia, you might request that they discuss the possibilities with you, but ask them not to write the diagnosis of “Alzheimer’s “ in the chart. Private Assisted Living Homes CHARGE A LOT MORE for that Diagnosis– locked facilities, more personnel and the like. BDNF- brain derived neurotrophic factor- can fend off Dementia.

That is the good news. The bad news is that it takes effort and discipline to increase your level od BDNF.; I’m sure medical science is hot on the trail of a pill. But until then, our old friends, Sleep, Diet and Exercise ride to the rescue. Sleep, both N3 and REM stages, increases BDNF. Dietary polyphenols and butyrate increase BDNF. exercise of all kinds will do it.

The BDNF gene codes for the BDNF protein, which promotes the survival, expansion, and differentiation of Neuronal stem cells, and promotes neuronal PLASTICITY, neuronal response to experience. Grit your teeth and develop the HABIT of exposing your Postmodern Body to 3 of the most ICONIC and NATURAL things mandated by Evolution, Treat your Body to the Health-giving Benefits of SLEEP, DIET and EXERCISE!

–Dr. C

THE DOCTORS 101 CHRONIC SYMPTOMS & CONDITIONS #4: HEARTBURN (ACID REFLUX)

I have been having Heartburn for more than 40 years. The cause of Heartburn is leakage of acid from the stomach, where tissues have evolved to tolerate the highly acidic conditions, into the esophagus, where they haven’t.

The young body has an efficient, functional gate, or sphincter, keeping the food, once swallowed into the stomach, from coming back up. As you eat, you chew your food well to aid digestion. Your taste buds, sensing chemicals in the delicious food, activate saliva.

The salivary enzymes start the digestion of the carbohydrates in the food. If you eat slowly enough, you may be able to appreciate the digestion of tasteless starch, like in bread, into sweet sugar, right in your mouth.

You then swallow the food, which slips past another gate, called the epiglottis, diverting the bolus of food past your windpipe. This gate sometimes does not shut tight, and you choke on the food or drink. The food is then conducted into the highly acidic environment of the stomach.

The stomach evolved to be an acidic, “fiery pit”, inhospitable to any bacteria that came in with the food, thus protecting the stomach from infection. In the old days, there were a lot of bacteria, and the acidity of the stomach was useful, and evolutionarily conserved.

These days, the “fiery pit” tends to be a problem. As you get older, the gate that keeps food in the stomach gets more floppy and relaxed, and allows food to come back up into the esophagus, and sometimes, most often at night when you would rather be sleeping, all the way up to your throat, and is inhaled into your windpipe and lungs in what is called “gastroesophageal reflux”, or GERD.

Even if the food, and acid, doesn’t make it all the way up, and stops at the esophagus, which has not evolved to tolerate acid, you will have “heart burn”. Of course it is not the heart that is burning, but the esophagus, which runs right past the back of the heart as it goes all the way from the throat to the stomach.

When I first developed Heartburn, all that was available was the flavored chalk, Calcium Carbonate, sold as Tums. It works right away, and is a source of Calcium, but can cause trouble, like kidney stones, if you take too much. The relief didn’t last long enough for me, and I had to take more in the middle of the night.

My next medicine was Xantac, a medication that blocks histamine from stimulating acid production in the stomach. The H2 blockers have recently been recalled because of NDMA contamination. I sometimes used H2 blockers like Xantac when my patients would get a bad allergic reaction. In such cases BOTH an H1 blocker like Benadryl, and an H2 blocker are called for.

Zantac was not strong enough for me, and I soon graduated to Prilosec,which directly blocks the secretion of acid in the stomach.

Prilosec was then very expensive, but now is available as the inexpensive GENERIC Medication, Omeprazole. It seems that no medication is without side effects.

Omeprazole, by reducing stomach acid, makes stomach and GI infections more likely, and interferes with the absorption of B12, and Calcium.

If you have had a lot of heartburn over a long period of time, you should check with a Gastroenterologist, who may scope you to rule out Barritt’s esophagus, which can lead to Cancer.

It is interesting that the antacid Tums in excess can cause too MUCH Calcium in the body, and can cause kidney stones and other kidney problems like MAS, and Omeprazole, by interfering with absorption can cause too LITTLE absorption of Calcium, leading to OSTEOPOROSIS.

The best rule is to take as low a dose of ANY medication as possible, preferably none, to understand the possible side effects, and compensate for them if you can.

–Dr. C

TELEMEDICINE: A REVIEW OF 9 CONDITIONS THAT CAN BE TREATED ONLINE (VIDEO)

TELEMEDICINE is here to stay! With all its’ advantages Patients will demand It!

This video is one of the few to highlight WOMENS’ HEALTH as an appropriate field for Telehealth. A remote visit first may at least let the Doctor order some tests that will accelerate your care.

Urinary problems can also be appropriate for telemedicine; the MEDICAL HISTORY is such a VALUABLE DIAGNOSTIC TOOL!

Psychological and Psychiatric care could be completely remote, by telemedicine. The Doctor could save on expenses, and deliver care less expensively.

Distance disappears as a barrier to Consultations and second opinions. A University medical center or prestigious multi specialty Clinic are on your doorstep.

Of course, barriers remain in the form of regulations, litigation, bureaucracy, and Insurance, but these can be overcome, if the Will is there.

—Dr. C