Tag Archives: Health

SCIENCE: CLEANING INDOOR AIR WILL IMPROVE HUMAN HEALTH AND COGNITION

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COMMENTARY:

Joseph Allen, the “air investigator”, was apparently on board early in the COVID-19 epidemic, stressing the importance of suspended  air particulates, less than 2 microns in size, causing transmission of the disease.

His article in Science: “clean indoor air will improve human health and cognition” is well worth reading, or at least inspecting the info graphic. As a practicing allergist, I was aware that inside dust mite particles and mold spores made allergies worse. We had a service where we would go into homes and sample the air. An excess of certain Indoor mold spores, compared with those outside, would indicate a “problem home”. We would then try to find the water leakage source that produced the molds.

I also had a patient who could not tolerate a new house, with its carpets and other artificial materials. The only place where she felt better was in an old seaside house 100 miles south of San Francisco. I thought there were some psychological factors, but who knows? Volatile organic compounds, VOCs, probably affect some people more severely.

Beginning shortly after the energy crisis in the 80s, the “sick building syndrome”, characterized by headache and fatigue in certain buildings, was on the news. The eventual solution was to create better ventilation, with a reduction of CO2 and VOCs in those buildings. In addition, federal agencies began banning certain artificial  fabrics that out-gassed VOCs.

There was eventually less talk about sick building syndrome, except for the occasional air system which was contaminated with Legionella bacteria.

The present article stresses accumulation of CO2 and VOCs In the stale air in the individual home or office as a cause of diminished attention and productivity.

CO2 monitors still cost about $200, and so I think I am going to just try to increase the ventilation in my office, where I get sleepy in the afternoon, by opening the windows and sliding doors. I wonder about  the indoor CO2 in Scandinavian winters, where depression is increased.

—Dr. C.

THE DOCTORS 101 CHRONIC SYMPTOMS & CONDITIONS #47: POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)

PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, has been increasingly recognized by the medical community, and was admitted to the status of a psychiatric disorder in 1980. It was first recognized as “shell shock” in combat soldiers.

The movie, “Patton”, featured one such case; abusive behavior of a soldier by Patton hit the newspapers, and he was sidelined for the start of “ operation overlord“. Since the majority of soldiers were not incapacitated , Patton thought the soldier was cowardly.

As an allergist, I was sent one case of PTSD; Believe it or not, the referring physician thought it might be an “allergy”, so little was it understood.

Now, memory consolidation  is considered to be one of its dimensions. An incompletely consolidated memory allows flashbacks to be considered the real thing.

PTSD is partly under genetic control, since identical twins are more more likely to experience the condition. Anxiety and other psychiatric problems such as depression and substance abuse  can be associated. Women are more likely to experience it. Individuals with low cortisol, elevated norepinephrine or a small amygdala or more likely to develop PTSD. Even children can be involved if they have been abused physically.

Any kind of a frightening experience, especially sexual, can be a cause.
Symptoms can include recurrent distressing memories, flashbacks, or nightmares of the traumatic event, or emotional distress and anxiety on exposure to a similar experience.

Treatment can include medication for depression, but  benzodiazepines should be avoided. Cognitive behavioral therapy has enjoyed some success, but treatment is generally difficult. Please consult the attached Cleveland clinic article for more information.

–Dr. C

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VIEWS: IS U.S. HEALTHCARE SYSTEM BROKEN? (HARVARD)

Here’s a question that’s been on my mind and perhaps yours: Is the US healthcare system expensive, complicated, dysfunctional, or broken? The simple answer is yes to all.

Below are 10 of the most convincing arguments I’ve heard that our system needs a major overhaul. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Remember, an entire industry has evolved in the US just to help people navigate the maddeningly complex task of choosing a health insurance plan.

The cost is enormous

  • High cost, not highest quality. Despite spending far more on healthcare than other high-income nations, the US scores poorly on many key health measures, including life expectancy, preventable hospital admissions, suicide, and maternal mortality. And for all that expense, satisfaction with the current healthcare system is relatively low in the US.
  • Financial burden. High costs combined with high numbers of underinsured or uninsured means many people risk bankruptcy if they develop a serious illness. Prices vary widely, and it’s nearly impossible to compare the quality or cost of your healthcare options — or even to know how big a bill to expect. And even when you ask lots of questions ahead of time and stick with recommended doctors in your health insurance network, you may still wind up getting a surprise bill. My neighbor did after knee surgery: even though the hospital and his surgeon were in his insurance network, the anesthesiologist was not.

Access is uneven

  • Health insurance tied to employment. During World War II, healthcare was offered as a way to attract workers since employers had few other options. Few people had private insurance then, but now a layoff can jeopardize your access to healthcare.
  • Healthcare disparities. The current US healthcare system has a cruel tendency to delay or deny high-quality care to those who are most in need of it but can least afford its high cost. This contributes to avoidable healthcare disparities for people of color and other disadvantaged groups.
  • Health insurers may discourage care to hold down costs. Many health insurance companies restrict expensive medications, tests, and other services by declining coverage until forms are filled out to justify the service to the insurer. True, this can prevent unnecessary expense to the healthcare system — and to the insurance company. Yet it also discourages care deemed appropriate by your physician.

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Dr. C Commentary:

Please refer to the DWWR Posting on “concierge doctors” for my rant on the current healthcare system, which I will not repeat.

The truth is more nuanced. All countries are having trouble of one sort or another with their healthcare systems. This is due to the inherent expense of today’s top flight medicine. The very best care requires costly high technology and drugs that are intrinsically hard to produce. And you have to know where to look. I am very thankful for my medical degree, and that I have kept up with current advances.

You would probably need a Government entirely of physicians to develop the willpower to do something for health, which always starts with PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE, A hard sell, given that you must spend money and effort to block something which will probably, but may not always, occur.

There is low hanging fruit. Why are sugary drinks not heavily taxed, since they produce obesity which causes a lot of costly medical disorders, such as diabetes, inflammatory diseases, and cancer, but not everybody all the time?

Why is efficiency of telehealth not more widely embraced, but stymied by moneymaking lobbiests and lawyer powered difficulties, in addition to Patient’s and doctor’s old habits?

And then there are the jealously guarded  American freedoms to do stupid things, such as avoid vaccines and masks, even in a prodigiously expensive and dangerous Covid  epidemic.

Given human nature, a complete solution would seem to be impossible, and we should content ourselves with minor victories wherever they can be attained.

Embrace sleep, diet, and exercise, and KEEP HEALTHY.

–Dr. C

COVID-19: ARE VACCINE INCENTIVES PAYING OFF?

Across the country, states are shelling out incentives ranging from free beer to $1 million lotteries to encourage residents to get their Covid-19 shots. But is the effort to boost vaccination rates working? And is it worth the cost? Photo composite: Adam Falk/The Wall Street Journal

DR. C’S JOURNAL: TIMING IN HEALTH AND MEDICINE

Timing is important in everything we do, and of course is important to health and how our bodies function.  It is a vast subject, and the only thing I can do here is to give you some ideas that might be helpful.

Your body will perform best for you if you have a daily routine; waking up at the same time every morning, and going to bed at the same time every evening keeps your circadian rhythm from getting confused. Of course, getting a good nights sleep is excessively important to your health. If you have trouble going to sleep at night or staying asleep, you can get all kinds of information over the Internet on “sleep hygiene”.

If you are an international traveler, jet lag is very important because the circadian rhythm is disrupted when you change time zones. The Internet is a rich source of information on how you might or rapidly get back into your routines. Timing of bright light and melatonin are involved.

Your metabolism also has a routine, and drugs work by targeting certain receptors, which cycle, depending on when their function is needed. “ Chronopharmacology” is a slowly developing science that will someday-if doctors, perhaps with electronic help, can ever get enough time to properly take care of the patients- be very important. As an example, certain cancer therapies vary significantly in their effects, depending upon the time of day they are given.

When I was a practicing Allergist, I took care of many Asthma patients. In the 60s and 70s there were few drugs to treat asthma, which is predominantly a nighttime disease. Giving medications, such as Theophylline, at the right time was therefore very important.

Finally, if you have any choice, you might arrange for your surgery during the first half of the day. Surgeons make less errors in the morning, when their minds are well rested.

—Dr. C.

Doctor’s Journal: ‘Alcohol And Health’

Alcohol has been used by mankind since before recorded history. It causes a pleasant slowdown of the nervous system, Lessening inhibition  and loosening the tongue, making it the perfect lubricant for social interaction. Unfortunately, it is a metabolic poison.

Excess alcohol use is common enough to have resulted in its prohibition in the United States in the 20s. The side effects of this prohibition proved worse than its benefits, and alcohol currently enjoys the status of one of the few legally permitted Psychoactive drugs.

After diligently searching for beneficial effects of alcohol, society discovered that mild drinking promotes longevity. It is difficult to drink just the right amount of alcohol, and  There is little doubt that excessive drinking is deleterious to the body.

The liver is the organ responsible for getting rid of alcohol. Unfortunately, liver function gradually declines with age, so that the older you get the less alcohol you can tolerate. 14 drinks a week is the suggested upper limits for alcohol’s benefit, and this number shrinks as you get older.

I became interested in alcohol in the elderly because of a friend whose doctor discovered that his red blood cells were enlarged. This can be due to alcohol in at least two different ways. If you drink too much alcohol, you need less calories, and often have a poor diet as a result. B12 (and folic acid) deficiency can result and may cause large red blood cells.

I also learned that alcohol can directly caused large red blood cells because of the toxic effects on the bone marrow, where Red blood cells are made. The very young also have more difficulty with alcohol. Early in my career I discovered 2 young infants who had convulsions after getting into their parents wine closets. These convulsions turned out to be caused by a low blood sugar which developed because glucose, the common blood sugar, is consumed in the process of burning, or metabolizing, alcohol.

My own use of alcohol has been progressively declining with age. I feel good with less alcohol for a shorter time the older I get.

—Dr. C.

MEDICINE: HOW VACCINES ACTUALLY WORK (VIDEO)

Vaccines are medicines that train the body to defend itself against future disease, and they have been saving human lives for hundreds of years. Vaccines are medicines that train the body to defend itself against future disease.