Tag Archives: Infection

DR. C’S JOURNAL: SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF APPENDICITIS

The appendix is a finger like projections at the origin of the colon in the right lower part of your abdomen. It may become inflamed, especially if there is a blockage. Appendicitis is best considered a medical emergency, since it may rupture and infect the entire abdominal cavity.

When I was a practicing pediatrician, appendicitis was one of the two conditions I refused to allow myself to overlook; the other one was meningitis, which is now mostly prevented by immunization.

Pain in the abdomen is almost invariably present as the main symptom of appendicitis. This pain often begins around the belly button and then migrates to the right lower part of the abdomen. The patient should try to notice whether jarring the abdomen by walking makes the pain worse; if so, this finding would favor an inflammatory condition like appendicitis.

A similar condition, diverticulitis, may cause similar symptoms in the left lower part of the abdomen, and other conditions may cause confusion. The doctor checks to see if it is more painful in the right lower belly area, and she may pull her hand away suddenly. If the pain intensifies, there may be inflammation around the appendix. Sometimes a vaginal examination or rectal examination will be needed to help with the diagnosis; the appendix is close to these areas.

Other symptoms and signs may be a low-grade fever, vomiting, add an elevated white blood cell count. In the modern medical era, ultrasound, CT scans, and MRIs are sometimes used to visualize the appendix to evaluate its size and possible inflammation.

Treatment used to consist only of surgery, but with imaging techniques available to prevent disaster, the condition can be treated with antibiotics. 30 to 50% of those so treated will still eventually require surgery. Removal of the appendix is now sometimes performed through a fiberoptic scope, leading to more rapid recovery.

A dilemma is present for individuals who go to the south pole to live for several months, and where weather may prevent them from getting proper medical help. Such  people may have their appendix removed as a preventative. Of course they also can take antibiotics if appendicitis develops, but it’s really scary to use medical treatment only, without the aid of modern imaging techniques.

Please consult the following Mayo clinic article for more information.

—Dr. C.

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DR. C’S JOURNAL: PAIN FOLLOWING TOTAL KNEE REPLACEMENT SURGERY


Total knee replacement(arthroplasty) is one of the most successful orthopedic operations. Satisfaction rate varies between 75 and 90%. Even so, almost 10% of operated individuals will have anterior knee pain, the most common complication, 1 year after TKR.

I had an even greater appreciation of the knee after reading the following article, which explain the causes of knee pain more adequately than I can, and would be good to read.

With knee replacement surgery, a great deal depends on the technical expertise and precision of the operating surgeon. A rotational error more than a degree or two can be critical, so important is proper tracking of the kneecap in the trochlea, or groove in the leg bone(femur). An imbalance in the pull  of muscles, or a knock knee, (Valgus) angulation of the knee, hip rotation, spinal problems, all can be important in generating pain as you get older.

There are psychological factors too. The knee pain after TKR average is only 1/3 of that suffered before the operation, on average. However if you expect that discomfort will disappear completely, or if your pain threshold is low, or if you have anxiety or depression, you may have more postoperative pain, and  be disappointed with the surgery.

My immediate reason to write this article was the anterior knee pain developing in a friend of mine, 15 years after surgery, at the age of 89. She had polio in childhood, and her right leg was severely affected. This caused her to overuse her left leg, resulting in a TKR 15 years ago. Just recently, she started developing anterior knee pain in the left knee. A thallium scan showed a lot of signal on the inside of the kneecap, most likely indicative of inflammation. She is not enthused about having another operation because of her age., and wondered about other things she might do.

An orthopedic friend of mine suggested that injections of a viscous lubricant might help, if the initial operation did not include resurfacing of the kneecap (patella). I would imagine that eventually the resurfacing of the patella with advanced materials, or perhaps stem cells might help.
I also thought of a special brace with a motor assist for her right leg, but the orthopedist said that this did not work very well in polio patients, who have a weak nerve signal.

Although my friends polio made her TKR almost inevitable, there are things that you can do, or avoid doing, that could help avoid TKR. Activities to reduce include squatting, deep lunging, running (particularly in deep sand), high impact sports, repetitive jumping, and running up stairs. Basketball, football, and volleyball come to mind as regular sports that are risky. Maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood sugar, stoppage of smoking, avoidance of injury, and regular exercise, particularly walking and swimming ,are things that might help.

Remember that your knees are your wheels and are jewels to protect as you get older.

–Dr. C

‘INFECTIONS’: HOW WE EXPERIENCE INTERACTIONS WITH MICROORGANISMS

The RNA molecule is central to life. It is the information molecule of the Pandemic SARS CoV 2 virus, whose Messenger RNA specifying Spike proteins is the basis of 2 recently-released vaccines.

“RNA Life” is the leading theory for the Origin of Life itself, more than 3 Billion years ago. DNA evolved as the blueprint information molecule in cellular life, but the ubiquitous RNA may well have become the first viruses.

The stage was set for the ongoing battle of life: Parasite vs. Host, Pathogen vs. Target, but recent research reveals a much more nuanced picture. Viruses and bacteria can be BENEFICIAL as well as deleterious. We now speak of the MICROBIOME, usually referring to our host of resident BACTERIA, and the VIROME referring to all of our indwelling VIRUSES.

INFECTION is how we experience our interaction with microorganisms, their benefits unseen. Bacteria, viruses and parasites have always been with us, increasing in impact as Paleolithic man crowded into agricultural settlements.

Enlarging cities became more dense, favoring spread of infection and PLAGUES. The Bacterium, Yersinia Pestis,emerged in Roman times,
causing the Justinian plague, and resurfaced in the 14th C. as the Black Death. Viral Plagues, including Smallpox, were devastating during European adventures into the New World.

Malaria, a one-cell Eukaryotic Parasite, may be the greatest killer of all time. Modern Sanitation and improving medication have lately pushed bacterial infections into the background.

Viral infections such as Influenza and most recently Covid have become the Modern face of infection. Many Viruses reduce Immunity, however, paving the way for bacteria to invade: Haemophilus influenzae, a bacterium, may have caused much of the mortality of the 1817-1918
Flu epidemic.

IV drug usage has facilitated the spreading of the viruses causing Hepatitis and AIDS. The immune-compromising nature of the latter has reinvigorated TB and Syphilis, both bacterial infections. Only a few years ago, bacterial infection was thought to be conquered by antibiotics, and viral infection contained by Vaccines.

Microorganisms are constantly evolving, however, and often share their resistance factors. Infection is no more a thing of the past than War. The Battle continues.

–Dr. C.

HEALTH: “COMPRESSION THERAPY” REDUCES CHRONIC CELLULITIS & LEG EDEMA

New England Journal of Medicine (Aug 13, 2020) – In this small, single-center, nonblinded trial involving patients with chronic edema of the leg and cellulitis, compression therapy resulted in a lower incidence of recurrence of cellulitis than conservative treatment.

The researchers have conducted a single-center, randomized, nonblinded trial that aimed to find out an association between the compression therapy and controlled incidents of chronic edema of the leg and people with cellulitis that can be defined as an infection of the skin that involves subcutaneous tissues or the innermost layer of the skin. Cellulitis can be caused by trauma or scratching of other lesions due to animal or human bites that result in fever, extreme pain, and redness of the skin.

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COMMENTARY

I have been using compression stockings for decades, since the discovery of the difference in color of my feet. An evaluation by a vascular surgeon revealed incompetence in the valve of my left popliteal vein. It wasn’t long before I developed small varicose veins.

Comfortable with PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE after a career in ALLERGY, I started wearing Jobst compression stockings, with 30-40 mm of constrictive force. After a decade or so of daily wearing, my big toes started to overlap my second toes, and I began using toe-spreaders; scissor-toe and hammer-toe were my worry, and I wanted to prevent this discomfort.

After a while, I began to notice that the Jobst stockings tended to bunch my toes together. Also, with the developing arthritis in my fingers, it was increasingly hard to get the 30-40mm stockings on without straining my arthritic hands. I now wear OPEN-TOE 15-20mm compression Medi stockings, which are easier to get on, and don’t bunch up my toes.

I still use the visco-elastic toe spreaders. Now, back to the compression stockings for treatment of cellulitis complicating ankle swelling. Of course it works. Beta Hemolytic Streptococci and Staph aureus like nothing better to feed on than a warm pool of interstitial fluid, which is the juice that comprises the ankle swelling.

And BLOOD CLOTS tend to form in the stagnant pools of blood which aggregates in varicose veins, particularly when you are sitting for a long time, such as during a long airline trip. By all means, use compression stockings if you have ankle edema, or even a condition predisposing to ankle edema like varicose veins. Don’t wait for the complication to develop. Be PROACTIVE, and STAY HEALTHY.

–DR. C

COVID-19: “SUPERSPREADING EVENTS” – HOW THEY LEAD TO 80% OF INFECTED PEOPLE

From Scientific American (June 23, 2020):

Scientific American

In fact, research on actual cases, as well as models of the pandemic, indicate that between 10 and 20 percent of infected people are responsible for 80 percent of the coronavirus’s spread.

Researchers have identified several factors that make it easier for superspreading to happen. Some of them are environmental.

  • Poorly ventilated indoor areas seem especially conducive to the virus’s spread – A preliminary analysis of 110 COVID-19 cases in Japan found that the odds of transmitting the pathogen in a closed environment was more than 18 times greater than in an open-air space.
  • Places where large numbers of people congregate – As a group’s size increases, so does the risk of transmitting the virus to a wider cluster. A large group size also increases the chance that someone present will be infectious.
  • The longer a group stays in contact, the greater the likelihood that the virus will spread among them – The benchmark used for risk assessment in her contact-tracing work is 10 minutes of contact with an infectious person, though the CDC uses 15 minutes as a guideline.
  • Some activities seem to make it easier to spread respiratory gunk – Speech emits more particles than normal breathing. And emissions also increase as people speak louder. Singing emits even more particles, which may partially explain the superspreader event at the Washington State choir practice. Breathing hard during exercise might also help the spread of COVID-19.

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CORONAVIRUS: RESPIRATORY-DROPLET CONTACT IS MAJOR WAY COVID-19 SPREADS

From the Wall Street Journal (June 16, 2020):

Health agencies have so far identified respiratory-droplet contact as the major mode of Covid-19 transmission. These large fluid droplets can transfer virus from one person to another if they land on the eyes, nose or mouth. But they tend to fall to the ground or on other surfaces pretty quickly.

Some researchers say the new coronavirus can also be transmitted through aerosols, or minuscule droplets that float in the air longer than large droplets. These aerosols can be directly inhaled.

Illustration: Erik Brynildsen

Sufficient ventilation in the places people visit and work is very important, said Yuguo Li, one of the authors and an engineering professor at the University of Hong Kong. Proper ventilation—such as forcing air toward the ceiling and pumping it outside, or bringing fresh air into a room—dilutes the amount of virus in a space, lowering the risk of infection.

Another factor is prolonged exposure. That’s generally defined as 15 minutes or more of unprotected contact with someone less than 6 feet away, said John Brooks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s chief medical officer for the Covid-19 response. But that is only a rule of thumb, he cautioned. It could take much less time with a sneeze in the face or other intimate contact where a lot of respiratory droplets are emitted, he said.

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