The genius aspergillus is a Fungus extremely common throughout the world. It is in the air almost everywhere, and it’s estimated that most people breathe hundreds of Aspergillus spores into their lungs daily. It affects almost exclusively people with compromised immune systems or with underlying respiratory illness.
COMPROMISED IMMUNITY is often present in people with diabetes, obesity and malnutrition, The very young and very old, Viral infections, particularly AIDS and Covid, cancer, autoimmune diseases, organ transplants, and the list goes on. With the advances in medicine in the past few decades, people are being kept alive longer, often by suppressing their own immunity.
UNDERLYING REPIRATORY ILLNESS is disease such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, sarcoidosis, tuberculosis and COPD.
When I was in an allergy practice, we were always on the alert for allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis in asthmatics who were difficult to control. ABPA at that time was reported mainly in England, which is unsurprising due to the wet British climate: fungi grow especially well where is wet.
Another unusual phenomenon is the Aspergillus fungus ball in the lungs, which is sometimes discovered only by chest x-ray. That such a dense mass of fungi could be tolerated in the lungs without invading the body is a tribute to the immune system‘s efficacy.
Galactomannan is in the cell wall of aspergillus, and can be used as a diagnostic test. PCR can also be used, shades of COVID-19. Of course x-ray, or microscopic study of tissues are also often used.
It is estimated that aspergillosis accounts for around 600,000 deaths annually. Africa, with its large number of AIDS patients, contributes heavily to this. It’s difficult to know how common it is in the United States, because aspergillus is not a reportable illness. Please check with the following mayo clinic article for more information.
Fungi are in the outside air, the inside air, and even the air of isolation units In hospitals. The normal human respiratory tract is able to breathe these fungi in, have them deposited on the mucous membrane surfaces and have no problem. The normal respiratory membranes, with their associated cleansing cilia and normal mucus production are able to sweep the invaders out without sustaining any harm.
Problems arise when the respiratory tract is functionally or structurally abnormal, such as in cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis and COPD. Immunocompromised conditions have been increasing in frequency with the improvement in medical care in recent years. Intravascular catheters and sensors can provide a resting place for pathogens including fungi, as can cavities, scars and other damage to the lung. The immune system may require suppression to accommodate an organ transplants or ameliorate autoimmune conditions.
Cancers, especially of the hematologic or lymphatic system, such as lymphomas, pose a definite problem. Severe burns and malnutrition may weaken the immune system, as may Viral infections, especially AIDS, and more recently COVID-19. More subtle immune problems may arise with diabetes, Obesity, or even a lack of sleep and exercise.
These and other conditions give the fungal infections the OPPORTUNITY to invade the body, and a few dozen of the thousands of species of fungi proceed to do just that. Opportunistic fungi often have special features, depending upon the species. Most prefer the respiratory tract, and if they get in to the bloodstream can go to their favored spots.
Aspergillus, and coccidiomycosis , for instance, prefer the lung. Mucormycosis often involves the sinuses and eyes. Blastomycosis can involve bone. Sporothrix is often found infecting the skin.
Symptoms depend upon the area involved. Of course if it’s a respiratory tract, you have coughing, mucus production, sometimes shortness of breath. With the central nervous system you have headache and confusion. You can see the involvement in the skin.
The number of drugs available to fight fungal infection is fairly limited, and currently involves only three different classes. Many fungi are resistant to one or two of these classes, and can be problematic.
However, fungi do not as a rule spread through the air from person to person, and a true epidemic would be unlikely.
Every year, as millions of people around the world forge new resolutions to eat healthier and lose weight, US News & World Report releases a conveniently timed ranking of the best diets. A panel of experts in obesity, nutrition, diabetes, heart disease, and food psychology rigorously rate each of 39 diets on seven criteria:
- Likelihood of losing significant weight in the first 12 months
- Likelihood of losing significant weight over two years or more
- Effectiveness for preventing diabetes (or as a maintenance diet)
- Effectiveness for preventing heart disease (or for reducing risk for heart patients)
- How easy it is to follow
- Nutritional completeness
- Health risks (like malnourishment, too-rapid weight loss, or specific nutrient deficiencies)
1. Mediterranean diet
Emphasis on fruits, veggies, whole grains, olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, fish and other seafood. Eggs, cheese, and yogurt can be eaten in moderation. Keep red meats and sugar as treats.
2. DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet — TIE
Eat lots of fruits, veggies, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Avoid saturated fats and sugar.
2. Flexitarian diet — TIE
Be a vegetarian most of the time. Swap in beans, peas, or eggs for meats, and consume plenty of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. You can look up more details because there’s actually a full meal plan involving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks to add up to a total 1500 calories per day. But feel free to also just swap in flexitarian meals ad hoc.
4. Weight Watchers
The first actual paid program on the list, WW uses a points system to guide dieters towards foods lower in sugar, saturated fat, and overall calories while consuming slightly more protein. There are a variety of paid WW plans, with the lowest being about $20 per month.
5. Mayo Clinic diet — TIE
A two-part system, with part one (‘Lose it!’) involving adding a healthy breakfast (i.e. fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats) plus 30 minutes of exercise per day. You’re not allowed to eat while watching TV or consume sugar except what’s naturally found in fruit. Meat is only allowed in limited quantities, as is full-fat dairy. The second phase (‘Live it!’) is basically the first phase but with more flexibility. You aren’t realistically going to cut out sugar forever, and the Mayo Clinic diet acknowledges that. So the long term plan involves lots of whole grains, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats. Less saturated fats and sugar.
In this episode of the JIM Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Richard McCallum speaks with David Cistola of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso about American Diabetes Month.
The number of older people, including those living with dementia, is rising, as younger age mortality declines. However, the age-specific incidence of dementia has fallen in many countries, probably because of improvements in education, nutrition, health care, and lifestyle changes.
Overall, a growing body of evidence supports the nine potentially modifiable risk factors for dementia modelled by the 2017 Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention, and care: less education, hypertension, hearing impairment, smoking, obesity, depression, physical inactivity, diabetes, and low social contact.
We now add three more risk factors for dementia with newer, convincing evidence. These factors are excessive alcohol consumption, traumatic brain injury, and air pollution. We have completed new reviews and meta-analyses and incorporated these into an updated 12 risk factor life-course model of dementia prevention. Together the 12 modifiable risk factors account for around 40% of worldwide dementias, which consequently could theoretically be prevented or delayed.
The potential for prevention is high and might be higher in low-income and middle-income countries (LMIC) where more dementias occur. Our new life-course model and evidence synthesis has paramount worldwide policy implications. It is never too early and never too late in the life course for dementia prevention. Early-life (younger than 45 years) risks, such as less education, affect cognitive reserve; midlife (45–65 years), and later-life (older than 65 years) risk factors influence reserve and triggering of neuropathological developments.
Culture, poverty, and inequality are key drivers of the need for change. Individuals who are most deprived need these changes the most and will derive the highest benefit.
Lancet’s 2017 Metanalysis mentions 9 Dementia risk factors. The 2020 Paper adds 3 additional factors. TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY, ALCOHOLISM, and AIR POLLUTION.
The inclusion of Trauma, with a 3% weighting, may be due to the increased awareness of TBE stemming from football injuries. The preventable 12 Factors are still in the minority. 60% of the factors are not preventable, since they are Genetically determined.
LESS EDUCATION, HEARING LOSS and SOCIAL ISOLATION, 3 of the original 9 factors,all lead to less brain stimulation, and can be unified under the idea of COGNITIVE RESERVE. If a person starts with less Cognition, it is reasonable to think he would be Demented sooner.
Together, less education, hearing loss, and social isolation account for almost Half of the correctable conditions. SMOKING is one of those things which impact almost every human disorder. It is amazing that cigarettes are still manufactured. In fact, their use is actually Increasing,especially the Far East, where they probably account for much of the escalating problem with Dementia in that region.
Our favorite causes, Sleep, Diet, and Exercise, apparently play only a minor role in Dementia. Sleep is completely dismissed in this report. The fact that both Sleeping less than the Ideal 7-8 hours, and more than that amount is thought to correlate with health problems is probably the main reason for the omission.
My own opinion is that people who are in poor health may need more sleep, and therefore sleep longer. My own sleep is interrupted 3-5 times per night, so it is not surprising that I need an hour extra to feel rested. Any less than 9-10 hours, and I need a nap, which in my opinion is a sign of insufficient nighttime sleep. Poor sleep may be a factor in metabolic syndrome, often leading to DIABETES, OBESITY, and HYPERTENSION, which are factors in Dementia, mentioned in the article as bit players.
PHYSICAL INACTIVITY is mentioned as a minor factor in Dementia, but exercise, studied as a treatment of dementia, was found to improve only strength. Diet is not mentioned, but does contribute to OBESITY, which is a minor factor. Dementia is a great emotional and economic burden, afflicting many otherwise happy families with misfortune.
The Lancet metanalysis is admirable. But don’t forget the healthy lifestyle emphasizing Sleep Diet and Exercise; and exercise includes cognitive exercise. Anything we can do to avoid dementia is worthwhile. –
Peripheral Neuropathy is a common problem, and almost a quarter of the population will eventually suffer from it. It is very common in diabetes and metabolic syndrome, alcoholism, and in cancer therapy.
Even getting older is a risk; almost 10% of individuals 65 years old have some symptoms. There are more than 100 different types of peripheral neuropathy, and often it is just one feature of a primary illness.
Sometimes there is no known cause, such as in 2 of my older friends. I have a diminished vibratory sense in my feet, which causes me no noticeable problem. The longer nerves are more likely to be involved, except for the rare sensory ganglionopathy which is symptomatic of some cancers ( a “paraneoplastic disorder”) , some infections and autoimmune diseases.
When the sensory ganglia are involved, the numbness, tingling or pain can be more central, such as in the face or upper arm. There are 3 types of nerves that can be involved in peripheral neuropathy; Sensory, Motor and autonomic.
The sensory nerves deal with sensations, such as hot, cold, touch, pain, tingling, and numbness. Motor nerve involvement results in weakness or paralysis of an arm, leg or other area under Voluntary control. The autonomic nervous system coordinates activities beyond voluntary control, such as sweating, salivation, food propulsion and heart rate, which can be activated or inhibited.
The symptoms of neuropathy depend upon the type of nerve involved. Balance is a complex ability that can be disturbed by a lack of proper sensory nerve function (Position sense or proprioception) motor weakness, vision or coordination which involve higher centers.
The medical evaluation of peripheral neuropathy begins with a family practitioner or internist who does a detailed history, asking about such things as diet, medications, alcohol consumption, and injuries. Vitamin intake is important, but can be overdone.
Peripheral nerve symptoms can actually be caused by excessive B6, pyridoxine. The upper limit is 100 Mg.. A physical exam checks for weakness, sensory problems, reflexes and balance. Blood tests may reveal diabetic, kidney, liver, thyroid or immune problems problems.
A major disorder associated with neuropathy may be revealed and pursued. If nothing turns up, and the neuropathy is significant, referral may be needed to a neurologist, or other appropriate specialist. Many specialized tests and treatments may be needed.
Even with the best of care, a specific “cure” may not be found. Peripheral neuropathy can often be avoided by a healthy lifestyle.
Our Kidneys and Liver have a lot in common. They are not dramatic, take-care-of-me-now organs like our Hearts and Brain, but usually do their job quietly until they lose almost all of their function. They have lots of reserve; you can donate one of your kidneys or a piece of your liver and notice no change. They are both vital organs, and you will die without them.
Since they both help clear wastes and toxins from the bloodstream and produce hormones, they SHARE SYMPTOMS such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and mental changes.Their performance can be checked by blood tests. Healthy habits will protect their -and your- survival.
Certain Drugs impair their operation. They are both composed of many identical functional units, the nephron in the kidney, and the hepatic lobule in the liver.
The GLOMERULUS of the Nephron is a tuft or ball of capillaries and associated kidney cells that allow the fluid and dissolved molecules of the blood to come through, while restraining the larger proteins and cells of the blood, keeping them in the vascular system. The smaller molecules of sodium, potassium, urea and other waste products leak through the glomerulus.
This filtered liquid travels through the long, folded kidney tubules, where the RIGHT AMOUNT of salt and water are REABSORBED. This keeps the vascular fluids, the internal environment, the MILIEU INTERIOR, perfectly well adjusted for proper cell function. It is when the chemical environment of the body falls out of adjustment, when the kidneys FAIL to do their job, that the cells of the body cannot function properly, and Symptoms-fatigue, lethargy etc. – develop.
BLOOD PRESSURE is intimately involved with the KIDNEYS, which has an Endocrine function. The Renin( Renal=kidneys) Angiotensin system is a major regulator of blood pressure.
You may have heard of the ACE-2 receptor as the binding site of th COVID Virus. This Angiotensin Converting Enzyme receptor is on the surface of cells all over the body and normally functions to control blood pressure.
DIABETES is the most common cause of end stage renal disease (ESRD), bringing our healthy triad of SLEEP DIET and EXERCISE to our attention once again.
POLYCYSTIC KIDNEY DISEASE is an inherited condition where many nephrons fail to hook up to the urine collecting system, and the fluid builds up into cysts, which then eventually replace the rest of the kidney. Pressure from urine blockage by an enlarged prostate, or even lack of ureteral valves can also back up into the kidneys and eventually cause ESRD.
Infections and autoimmune diseases can result in ESRD. Treatment of ESRD is usually a Kidney transplant or Dialysis. There is a waiting list for the former and the latter is life-altering. You can’t beat a healthy lifestyle.