Archive for the Routine ailments Category

Cold remedies and herbal supplements = WORTHLESS

Posted in Routine ailments with tags , on March 4, 2008 by Dr. CJ

Q: Ever wonder why there are so many options for treating colds? When you walk into a pharmacy, it’s hard not to notice the vast wall space dedicated to innumerable brands and formulations of cold medications. Beyond that, even, are innumerable herbals, supplements, and other concoctions that any self-respecting pharmacist would never try to sell to any one.

A: None of them work. As much as medicine has advanced over the years, there will not be a cure for the common cold or other respiratory viruses for years to come. In fact, there isn’t even one product that has been demonstrated to shorten the duration of a viral cold. Sure, there are some antivirals for use in Herpes infections, but I’ve yet to see Herpes simplex cause a run-of-the-mill upper respiratory infection.

Ahhh, that’s why I like to see articles like this . . . it’s time for these idiot manufacturers to face the music and admit that they’re fraudulent, trying to take advantage of sick individuals who don’t know better.

I recall seeing print ads for this B-S product, “Airborne” – I’m frankly amazed that they actually made money, but it’s all because they lied to people.

There’s no credible evidence that what’s in Airborne can prevent colds or protect you from a germy environment,” said CSPI Senior nutritionist
David Schardt. “Airborne is basically on overpriced, run-of-the-mill
vitamin pill that’s been cleverly, but deceptively, marketed.”

If I didn’t have a major ethical opposition to it, I could slap together a few roots and exotic leaves in a “proprietary blend”, do some clever marketing, and make a fortune off it, too.

Advertisements stopped mentioning the study and cold-curing claims andinstead touted claims that it helped boost the body’s immune systems.

Aha! Why is that? Because any one can make a claim about a product as vague as “boosts your immune system”. They can’t, however, claim that their product actually treats an illness without structured research studies.

Also, keep in mind: if the FDA does not offer explicit approval of a product, there is no supervision of what goes into bottles of supplements, whether it be a nutritional supplement or herbal supplements or whatever. All you’re buying is a label, which claims to have a certain product inside the bottle, which some marketing genius wants you to believe will make you feel/look/function better.

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Risk Factors for Heart Disease, Vascular Disease

Posted in Heart Disease, Routine ailments with tags , , , on January 28, 2008 by Dr. CJ

Heart disease remains the number one cause of death. Cardiovascular disease, as a whole, encompasses far more ailments as well, including stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and atherosclerosis of the aorta, all of which are a result of the same process of atherosclerosis. For example, a stroke (ischemic, not hemorrhagic) is sometimes referred to as a “brain attack” – the equivalent of a heart attack in the brain.

There are a number of identified risk factors for cardiovascular disease, some of which you can do something about and others that you can blame on your parents or other factors out of your control.

Unmodifiable

  1. Age – Older age, increased risk. Considered a risk factor when men > 55, women > 65.
  2. Sex – Generally, men are at higher risk of disease compared to women who receive protective benefits from estrogen. But, certain other risk factors have greater impact in women than in men (e.g. smoking).
  3. Family History – Father having heart attack before age 55 or mother having heart attack before age 65.
  4. Other genetic conditions/predisposing factors – e.g. homocysteine and other inherited disorders of clotting

Modifiable

  1. Tobacco use – need I expound?
  2. Hypertension – high blood pressure, known as the “silent killer” because it rarely causes symptoms until it is extraordinarily high. Roughly speaking, the goal BP is less than 140/90, but the lower, the better.
  3. Diabetes Mellitus – an emerging epidemic due to obesity and inactivity
  4. Overweight – any degree of being overweight increases risk
  5. Inactivity – not as strongly associated with heart disease as some of the others, but exercise definitely reduces one’s risk
  6. Hyperlipidemia – high cholesterol, high triglycerides, can be broken down into all kinds of scenarios that increase risk:
  • Elevated LDL-cholesterol
  • Low HDL-cholesterol
  • Increased total-to-HDL-cholesterol ratio
  • Hypertriglyceridemia
  • Increased Lipoprotein (a)
  • Increased non-HDL-cholesterol
  • Increased apolipoprotein B and decreased apolipoprotein A-I
  • Small, dense LDL particles
  • Granted, there is certainly some genetic/family history influence on blood pressure and cholesterol, but for the most part that can still be significantly altered with good lifestyle. It’s not okay to just blame your genetics and give up because it’s a losing battle. Study after study demonstrates improvement in all-cause morbidity and mortality by improving on the basics: diet and exercise.

    Not to sound morbid, but your lifestyle basically determines how you will die. Very few non-alcoholics die of cirrhosis; very few non-smokers die of emphysema; and very few fit individuals die of a premature heart attack. We’re all going to die. I just don’t want to die clutching my chest while shoveling snow or running the bases. So choose your habits wisely, because they will come back to haunt you. Some also say to choose your parents wisely, but I can’t help you with that one.

    A Taste of my own Medicine

    Posted in Routine ailments on January 27, 2008 by Dr. CJ

    I had to change the order of my weightlifting workouts last night, because my shoulder (deltoid muscle) still ached from 2 days prior when I had to get a Tetanus booster (TdaP, to be specific). Oh well, a couple days of soreness sure beats a case of tetanus, diphtheria, or pertussis. So, instead of legs and shoulders last night, I did chest and triceps. I’m back down to the lowest weight I’ve been at since at least early college. But, I’m trying to pack on some muscle, so I don’t care about the pounds necessarily. I have to get back into monitoring my body fat percentage again as a better measurement of my progress.

    I love DOMS, part 2

    Posted in Routine ailments, Transformation on January 8, 2008 by Dr. CJ

    Pecs and triceps are hurtin’ good tonight.  Makes that painful workout last night worthwhile.  I could barely walk down stairs earlier today because my thighs still hurt.  But, I’m definitely not complaining.  Love it.

    Holiday healthcare

    Posted in Routine ailments on December 25, 2007 by Dr. CJ

    I haven’t been in medicine for very long, but it doesn’t take long to figure out the disturbing pattern of hospital admissions around the holidays: very few patients in the hospital ON a holiday but many more before and after the holiday. 

    Now, I completely understand someone not wanting to be in the hospital on a holiday – that part is not disturbing to me.  It’s the poor judgment surrounding the other admissions.  A holiday is a sort of “weeder” day – it weeds out the unnecessary admissions.  But, it also keeps legitimate people out of the hospital when they should be seeking care – the classic being someone with chest pain who just blames it on heartburn from the recent poor eating habits.  Far too many people have the attitude of “I’ll just wait until after Christmas before getting this checked out.”  Another factor with the holidays, of course, is that there will be no routine scheduled elective surgeries, especially one that would require overnight admission. 

    There are reasons for an increase in admissions after the holidays, too, but I think a lot of it is just plain stubbornness.  The term “Holiday heart” has been applied to atrial fibrillation occurring around the holidays because of increased alcohol intake.  There often is a spike in admissions for congestive heart failure, also, because of increased salt intake (just have to indulge in that ham). 

    Just please don’t be the admission for alcohol-related issues, e.g. injuries, alcohol poisoning, etc.  Trust me, you’ll look pretty stupid when it was because of your own drinking . . . and no one will be happy to cater to you in the hospital. 

    Be responsible and seek attention when it is needed.  Don’t try to tough it out longer than you would at any other time of the year.  Merry Christmas!

    Doctors also get sick; keep the antibiotics away from me

    Posted in Routine ailments on December 18, 2007 by Dr. CJ

    This Fall season has not been very kind to me – 2nd respiratory infection in 2 months.  This one has me coughing up very pleasantly tasting bits of mucus into the back of my throat.  Most annoying is the fact that any colds I get tend to exacerbate my asthma.  All I’m using is an inhaler, which I normally never need, but it sure helps with the cough. 

    It’s amusing to hear the response by both healthcare professionals and laypersons to a doctor being ill.  Of course, everyone feels that an antibiotic is a miracle drug (if only they knew!).  I flat out refuse to take an antibiotic for an illness like this – if I’m not bedridden with pneumonia, I’m not sick enough for an antibiotic.  I know they won’t help, and I know I’ll get better no matter what I do. 

    Obviously, the human race can exist without antibiotics – it did so for a few years (into the 1940’s when penicillin first becae available) without so much as a blip on the population growth rate (aside from wars, etc.).  Medical historians will most certainly chuckle at the thought of so many people today requesting and receiving antibiotics for these piddly ailments.  It’s actually a frightening situation, with the emergence of antibiotic resistance leaving many antibiotics useless in the setting of certain infections. 

    I spend a great deal of effort educating people on the limitations of antibiotics and the consequences of inappropriate prescribing, but so many people just don’t get it.  It may be no fault of their own, but they’ve been taught that antibiotics are the answer to “bad colds” and of course “sinus infections”.  [I think only 1 in 10 people who complain of a “sinus infection” are accurate with their self-diagnosis – though that still doesn’t mean they need an antibiotic]  Stay tuned – this could become a major public health issue in the coming years.