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THE DOCTORS 101 CHRONIC SYMPTOMS & CONDITIONS #59: Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is high on every hard-to-diagnose disease list, because it is relatively uncommon, and can produce a variety of disturbing symptoms often classified as psychosomatic.

It is caused by a deer tick bacterial injection of the Borrelia genus, which can progress to cause widespread problems. Not every tick bite will inject the bacterium, and ticks that have been attached for less than 12 to 24 hours are unlikely to have done so.

Risk factors include living in a wooded area, particularly on the east coast. With people fleeing the cities in the wake of Covid, exposure is more common.

The NYT columnist, Ross Douthat wrote a book about his travails: “patient heal thyself“. In this day and age of overworked  doctors, and with the huge variety of medical information available online, more and more people are going on a “medical odyssey”.

A painless red swelling, followed by an expanding area of red(erythema migrants), is often the best medical clue. Flu-like symptoms and enlargement of the lymph glands can accompany the “rash”. Tests are not positive for several weeks, and may be negative if and when the late symptoms of Lyme disease develop.

The earlier you get treated with a 10-day course antibiotics, the better. The problem is that not all tick bites produce infection, and so overtreatment is a real possibility.

Late symptoms can include fatigue, mental symptoms arthritis, liver problems and a variety of other symptoms. Like another bacterial disease, syphilis, lyme disease can be the great mimic.

Prevention is paramount. People living in endemic areas should wear long sleeves and pants when they go out into the woods, use insect repellent , and make sure their animals are kept tick-free.

A DWWR article on Nootkatone may be worth your time to read, since DEET and many other insecticides are toxic and have to be used with care.

Please refer to the following article by the Mayo clinic for more organized information.

-Dr. C.

DR. C’S JOURNAL: WHAT IS AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE?

Our immune system contains cells that are part of us, and they evolved to protect us. They generally do a good job of this, as witnessed by our survival in a sea of viruses, microbes, and parasites.

However, just like our police force, occasionally the protective function goes awry and damage is done to our own body, in the protective act. For many years I was a practicing allergist, and observed this protective function misfiring. In allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma, tiny harmless particles in the air are interpreted by the body as a threat. The TH2 immune system, initially evolved to fight parasites, is activated, and causes considerable disease and misery.

Some of the antigenic determinants on the surface of the pollen, animal dander or dust particles are interpreted as being dangerous by the immune system, which causes chronic inflammation with acute allergy attacks.

Autoimmunity is a similar misreading, in which our own cells are deemed dangerous. In this case the immune agency is the more powerful Th-1 system, which often causes crippling or even fatal results.  

Millions of people are sickened by an immune system that is supposed to defend them.

An article in the September 2021 issue of the Scientific American lists 76 of these disorders, and classifies them as to frequency, patient gender and age of onset. It is worth reviewing, at least for the listing on page 32 and 33.

Auto immunity must be considered as a possible cause in any illness that is not easily diagnosed, common, and well known to your doctor. Many patients have to be their own advocates, and persist in trying to get themselves diagnosed.

Celiac disease, Lupus, and Addison’s disease come to mind as tricky customers. Although “autoimmune disease” in toto is common, many of the individual diseases occur in less than one in 1000 patients, and are not high on the diagnostic list of most doctors.

The skin, nervous system, endocrine system, and digestive system are the most common areas involved. Recent advances in blood and antibody testing offers to give needed diagnostic help to the medical profession. These illnesses must be detected early to avoid functional loss in the tissues and organs affected.

Treatments are improving. In the past, immune suppressing cancer drugs and cortisone were the main drugs available. With increasing knowledge of the mechanisms of the separate diseases, treatment can be directed towards the specific causative antibody, receptor, or interleukin involved, hopefully with less side effects than the shotgun drugs previously available.

As with medicine in general, these modern treatments are excessively expensive as a rule, because much money and research went into their development. Prevention is obviously preferable. A healthy diet, with its attendant healthy microbiome comes to mind, as well as the avoidance of cigarette smoking and environmental toxins.

Proper sleep, exercise, and stress relief should also be helpful.

—Dr. C.

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HEALTH: DEMENTIA SET TO INCREASE 40% BY 2030 (WHO)

More than 55 million people worldwide are living with dementia, a neurological disorder that robs them of their memory and costs the world $1.3 trillion a year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

COMMENTARY:

Preventing Dementia by healthful living habits such as good sleep, diet and exercise would certainly save lots of misery and expense, by preventing dementia. These same habits would also go a long way in preventing auto immune disease, diabetes and chronic stress.

–Dr. C

DR. C’S JOURNAL: WHAT IS MULTIPLE MYELOMA?

There are many types of cells in the human body, and any of them can mutate, and become cancerous.  Cells of The immune system are no exception, ironically,  even though their one of their jobs is to fight cancer.

The plasma cell is an immune system cell that develops from lymphocytes(B-cells) and specializes in producing “Gamma Globulins”, a type of antibody.

When cancer involves plasma cells In the bone marrow it tends to crowd out the other cells. This can produce bone pain and anemia.

All of the cancer cells come from a single progenitor cell and form a “clone”. This clone produces a large amount of defective protein that would normally be combined with other proteins into the making of antibodies. The large amount of the same protein can often be  detected in the urine, as a “Bence Jones” protein.

In modern terminology, the condition is called a “monoclonal gammopathy”. This mass of protein gets into the bloodstream, and can deposit in various tissues, where it is called “amyloidosis”. The kidneys are often damaged in the process of excreting the overproduced, repetitious chains of useless protein.

I had a friend who was a pilot in the military during the Vietnam war. He was around “agent orange”,  which was on the news a lot in the 80’s. Agent orange was contaminated by a toxic chemical called Dioxin, which is known to cause cancer. My friend developed a cancer, primary amyloidosis, which is a close relative of multiple myeloma, and in his case produces what is called light chains.

His first warning was an elevated creatinine on a metabolic panel blood test, which pointed to the kidneys.  Medical investigation uncovered his plasma cell cancer, and he began treatment.  His kidneys eventually started to fail.

His daughter donated one of her kidneys, and currently he’s doing well, since medical treatment curtailed the light chain production.
Please refer to the accompanying Cancer association article on multiple myeloma.

A Mayo clinic article was posted on DWWR on May 25, 2021.

—Dr. C.

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