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Straight, No Chaser: Flu Myths and Questions

Flu season ahead

Every year 36,000 people die and over 200,000 are hospitalized each year due to the flu—in the U.S. alone. If you’re not getting a vaccine every year, you are subjecting yourself to a significantly higher risk and allowing fears and myths to get the better of you. Knowledge is power. Learn the facts.

Does the flu shot give you the flu?

No, no, no. The influenza vaccine cannot cause flu illness. There are vaccines that involve the delivery of live virus, including mumps, measles, rubella, chicken pox and polio. Influenza is not in that category. Flu shots are made either with ‘inactivated’ vaccine viruses that are not infectious or they contain no flu vaccine viruses at all (and instead have recombinant particles that serve to stimulate your immune system).

The most common side effects from the influenza shot are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot was given. Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches also may occur. These symptoms are among the same symptoms you see with influenza, so it’s easy to confuse them as flu symptoms. They are not.

Controlled medical studies have been performed on humans in which some people received flu shots and others received shots containing salt water. There were no differences in symptoms other than increased redness and soreness at the injection site for those receiving influenza vaccine. The flu shot does not give you the flu.

flu-shot-myth

I swear I’ve gotten the flu right after getting the flu shot! How is that possible if I can’t get the flu from the flu shot?

I always remind people that the flu vaccine does an even better job of preventing you from dying from the flu than it does in preventing you from catching the flu (and it does that at a 70–90% rate).  It primes your immune system to better fight off the influenza virus when you’re exposed to it.

There are several reasons why someone still might get a flu-like illness after being vaccinated against the flu:

  • Influenza is just one group of respiratory viruses. There are many other viruses that cause similar symptoms including the common cold, which is also most commonly seen during “flu season.” The flu vaccine only protects against influenza, so any other infection timed correctly can give you similar symptoms.
  • When you get immunized against influenza, it takes the body up to two weeks to obtain the desired level of protection. There is nothing preventing you from having been infected before or during the period immediately before immunity sets in. Such an occurrence will result in your obtaining the flu despite being vaccinated.
  • An additional reason why some people may experience flu-like symptoms despite getting vaccinated is that they may have been exposed to a strain of influenza that is different from the viruses against which the vaccine is designed to protect. The ability of a flu vaccine to protect a person depends largely on the match between the viruses selected to make the vaccine and those causing illness among the population that same year.
  • It is also the case that the flu vaccine doesn’t always provide adequate protection against the flu. This is more likely to occur among people who have weakened immune systems or people age 65 and older. Even if the vaccine is 90% effect, some individuals will contact the flu despite having been vaccinated.

Please don’t get the wrong message from this section. These explanations are the exceptions, not the rule. In the overwhelming number of cases, the influenza vaccine does an excellent job of protecting against and prevent disease from the influenza virus.

Is it better to get the flu than the flu vaccine?
No. Influenza causes tens of thousands of deaths every year. If you have asthma, diabetes, heart disease or are especially young or old, you are placing yourself at significant risk by not getting vaccinated. Even if you aren’t in one of the above categories and are otherwise healthy, a flu infection can cause serious complications, including hospitalization or death.

flu-vaccine-facts-myths

Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for just about everyone six months and older. Once vaccinated, your immune protection decreases over time. These boosters are scheduled and dosed to help you maintain the best level of protection against influenza. Additionally, the virus mutates (changes) every year, so what you were covered for this year may not apply next year.

You can make a decision not to get vaccinated, but frankly, that’s accepts a risk that you flies in the face of a reasonable risk/benefit analysis, and you would be doing so in the face of the solid consensus of medical evidence and research. You should seriously question the motives or knowledge of someone who suggests that you should not get vaccinate for influenza, particularly if they profess to be involved in healthcare. Get vaccinated.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Straight, No Chaser: The Curse of the Weekend Warrior – Achilles Tendon Rupture

Kobe

In high school I led the league in stolen bases, and in college my cohorts and I loved inventing ever more creative ways to dunk a basketball. Apparently, my calf muscles worked well. Somehow at a certain age, I quit those competitive sports cold turkey, partially because I knew an Achilles rupture was lurking out there somewhere.

achilles-tendon-rupture

The Achilles tendon connects the muscles at the back of the calf to the heel. The formula for damage is pretty simple and consistent. As you age your tendons tend to stiffen and shrink. As you age you change from the fine-tuned wannabe athlete most of us were to a recreational player, and we overextend ourselves. Others of us, in making a comeback (or just rushing to train for something like a 5K run), try to go from zero (0) to 60 way too soon. In either scenario, that overextension causes the tendon to tear or snap. You’ll recognize it immediately by the sound (pop) and the inability to walk/stand on your toes, which results from the lack of connection from the calf to the heel. (You need to point your foot downward to walk, which is where the Achilles comes in.) Other common occurrences of Achilles tendon rupture include falling from a height and landing on your feet or stepping into a sizeable hole.

achilles-Figure2

Besides being an older guy (or gal, but it’s about five times more common in men) trying to reclaim past glory, steroids and certain antibiotics (flouroquinolones, examples of which are Levafloxacin, aka Levaquin, and Ciprofloxacin, aka Cipro) weaken the tendons enough to predispose you to this injury.

Depending on your age and preexisting health status, you will have surgical and/or nonsurgical options available to you to repair the tendon. Nonsurgical treatment involves a specific type of walking boot or cast, and surgery is more likely when the tear is complete. You’ll need extensive rehabilitation and strengthening of the muscle around the repaired tendon to avoid reinjury. Don’t expect to return to your previous level of strength and activity for four to six months.

So what’s your take home message? Once again, know where opportunities for prevention are. Given how important it is to maintain physical activity as you age, it’s important to remind you to learn how to stretch and maintain musculature so you don’t injure yourself while trying to exercise. Don’t engage in more strenuous activities until and unless you’ve built up to the level where you’re prepared to do so. Achilles injuries occur most often when you’re trying to do too much too soon. Also, be mindful of slippery surfaces; that slide acts the same as an attempt to accelerate too rapidly.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

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Filed under Musculoskeletal System, Orthopedics/Bones, Sports Medicine, Trauma

Straight, No Chaser: Marijuana Facts and Fiction, Part 2

Marijuana-Facts-and-Statistics

The issues surrounding marijuana use are serious and need full examination, particularly with decriminalization legislature passing and being considered in various parts of the country. It is very important that you are fully aware of the current level of medical understanding regarding marijuana use. Feel free to ask additional questions, and check here for part one of Marijuana Facts and Fiction.

6. Marijuana leads to more serious illicit drug use.

The premise that marijuana is a “gateway drug” is a horrible one, regardless of your political bent. Here are some facts:

  • Currently, people use legal drugs–specifically alcohol and tobacco–more widely than marijuana, and use of these legal drugs leads to illicit drug use more often than marijuana use.
  • Pointing the term “gateway drugs” at marijuana misses the point of how much more dangerous these legal drugs are than marijuana.
  • The majority of marijuana users never use other illicit drugs, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A report by the Institute of Medicine found “no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.” It is likely more accurate to say that the same factors that drive marijuana use lead to the use of other illicit drugs.
  • On the other hand, it’s irrelevant that the majority of marijuana users never use other illicit drugs. A statistically significant number do. If their basis for complacency about marijuana use is insignificant ill effect, those individuals will suffer the consequences of their subsequent decision to use. From a public health standpoint, it’s not an either/or proposition.

7. So marijuana doesn’t cause lung cancer?

Regarding medical considerations, heavy use can be harmful. Although marijuana use isn’t conclusively associated with lung cancer, heavy pot smokers are still at risk for some of the same health effects as cigarette smokers, like bronchitis. It would be unfair not to point out that these risks are associated with smoking marijuana, and these effects appear to be due to the smoke and not necessarily the cannabis itself.

8. You can overdose on marijuana.

Simply put, there isn’t a documented case of death directly attributable to marijuana overdose.

9. You can’t become dependent on marijuana.

I’ll resist the urge to make a joke about certain of your favorite celebrities. According to the National Institutes of Health, not only is it possible to become dependent on marijuana, but approximately nine percent of marijuana users became clinically dependent. To put this in perspective, 15% of cocaine users and approximately 25% of heroin users become addicted. By the way, there’s a 30% addiction rate for tobacco users.

10. Does marijuana cause withdrawal symptoms?

Yes, it does. Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, nausea and insomnia. That said, these are minor compared with tobacco, alcohol, heroin and cocaine. The marijuana withdrawal syndrome is not considered life-threatening.

11. Marijuana has not currently been shown to contribute to traffic accidents and fatalities.

It is next to impossible to conduct a research study that would prove this point. What we do know is that studies have shown that smoking marijuana tends to affect spatial perceptions. If under the influence, drivers can lose concentration and experience slower reaction times, leading to swerving or following other cars too closely. Researchers have concluded that driving while high greatly increases the chances of having an accident, and smoking pot and drinking before driving is a particularly dangerous mix. Because of the varying effects of marijuana on individuals, it is hard to set a blood level that indicates intoxication in the same way as with alcohol.

12. Does marijuana causes criminal behavior?

The problem with that question is the word “cause.” It is true that the rate of pot use is higher among criminals, but that doesn’t mean that pot causes the criminal activity, and there is no compelling evidence to suggest that it does. It’s just as conceivable that criminals tend to engage in illicit drug use. Intuitively, the connection between marijuana and subsequent criminal activity isn’t obvious, given the relaxation that marijuana produces (which sharply distinguishes it from alcohol).

13. What’s the difference between smoking marijuana and consuming it in other ways?

When someone smokes marijuana, its active ingredient moves almost immediately into the bloodstream and to the brain. The effects typically last between one and three hours. When eaten, it can take between 30 and 60 minutes to have an effect, but that effect can last up to four hours.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

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Filed under General Health and Wellness, Toxicology/Drugs

Straight, No Chaser: The Curse of the Weekend Warrior – Achilles Tendon Rupture

Kobe

In high school I led the league in stolen bases, and in college my cohorts and I loved inventing ever more creative ways to dunk a basketball. Apparently, my calf muscles worked well. Somehow at a certain age, I quit those competitive sports cold turkey, partially because I knew an Achilles rupture was lurking out there somewhere.

achilles-tendon-rupture

The Achilles tendon connects the muscles at the back of the calf to the heel. The formula for damage is pretty simple and consistent. As you age your tendons tend to stiffen and shrink. As you age you change from the fine-tuned wannabe athlete most of us were to a recreational player, and we overextend ourselves. Others of us, in making a comeback (or just rushing to train for something like a 5K run), try to go from zero (0) to 60 way too soon. In either scenario, that overextension causes the tendon to tear or snap. You’ll recognize it immediately by the sound (pop) and the inability to walk/stand on your toes, which results from the lack of connection from the calf to the heel. (You need to point your foot downward to walk, which is where the Achilles comes in.) Other common occurrences of Achilles tendon rupture include falling from a height and landing on your feet or stepping into a sizeable hole.

achilles-Figure2

Besides being an older guy (or gal, but it’s about five times more common in men) trying to reclaim past glory, steroids and certain antibiotics (flouroquinolones, examples of which are Levafloxacin, aka Levaquin, and Ciprofloxacin, aka Cipro) weaken the tendons enough to predispose you to this injury.

Depending on your age and preexisting health status, you will have surgical and/or nonsurgical options available to you to repair the tendon. Nonsurgical treatment involves a specific type of walking boot or cast, and surgery is more likely when the tear is complete. You’ll need extensive rehabilitation and strengthening of the muscle around the repaired tendon to avoid reinjury. Don’t expect to return to your previous level of strength and activity for four to six months.

So what’s your take home message? Once again, know where opportunities for prevention are. Given how important it is to maintain physical activity as you age, it’s important to remind you to learn how to stretch and maintain musculature so you don’t injure yourself while trying to exercise. Don’t engage in more strenuous activities until and unless you’ve built up to the level where you’re prepared to do so. Achilles injuries occur most often when you’re trying to do too much too soon. Also, be mindful of slippery surfaces; that slide acts the same as an attempt to accelerate too rapidly.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

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Filed under Musculoskeletal System, Orthopedics/Bones, Sports Medicine, Trauma

Straight, No Chaser: Flu Myths and Questions

Flu season ahead

Every year 36,000 people die and over 200,000 are hospitalized each year due to the flu—in the U.S. alone. If you’re not getting a vaccine every year, you are subjecting yourself to a significantly higher risk and allowing fears and myths to get the better of you. Knowledge is power. Learn the facts.

Does the flu shot give you the flu?

No, no, no. The influenza vaccine cannot cause flu illness. There are vaccines that involve the delivery of live virus, including mumps, measles, rubella, chicken pox and polio. Influenza is not in that category. Flu shots are made either with ‘inactivated’ vaccine viruses that are not infectious or they contain no flu vaccine viruses at all (and instead have recombinant particles that serve to stimulate your immune system).

The most common side effects from the influenza shot are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot was given. Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches also may occur. These symptoms are among the same symptoms you see with influenza, so it’s easy to confuse them as flu symptoms. They are not.

Controlled medical studies have been performed on humans in which some people received flu shots and others received shots containing salt water. There were no differences in symptoms other than increased redness and soreness at the injection site for those receiving influenza vaccine. The flu shot does not give you the flu.

flu-shot-myth

I swear I’ve gotten the flu right after getting the flu shot! How is that possible if I can’t get the flu from the flu shot?

I always remind people that the flu vaccine does an even better job of preventing you from dying from the flu than it does in preventing you from catching the flu (and it does that at a 70–90% rate).  It primes your immune system to better fight off the influenza virus when you’re exposed to it.

There are several reasons why someone still might get a flu-like illness after being vaccinated against the flu:

  • Influenza is just one group of respiratory viruses. There are many other viruses that cause similar symptoms including the common cold, which is also most commonly seen during “flu season.” The flu vaccine only protects against influenza, so any other infection timed correctly can give you similar symptoms.
  • When you get immunized against influenza, it takes the body up to two weeks to obtain the desired level of protection. There is nothing preventing you from having been infected before or during the period immediately before immunity sets in. Such an occurrence will result in your obtaining the flu despite being vaccinated.
  • An additional reason why some people may experience flu-like symptoms despite getting vaccinated is that they may have been exposed to a strain of influenza that is different from the viruses against which the vaccine is designed to protect. The ability of a flu vaccine to protect a person depends largely on the match between the viruses selected to make the vaccine and those causing illness among the population that same year.
  • It is also the case that the flu vaccine doesn’t always provide adequate protection against the flu. This is more likely to occur among people who have weakened immune systems or people age 65 and older. Even if the vaccine is 90% effect, some individuals will contact the flu despite having been vaccinated.

Please don’t get the wrong message from this section. These explanations are the exceptions, not the rule. In the overwhelming number of cases, the influenza vaccine does an excellent job of protecting against and prevent disease from the influenza virus.

Is it better to get the flu than the flu vaccine?
No. Influenza causes tens of thousands of deaths every year. If you have asthma, diabetes, heart disease or are especially young or old, you are placing yourself at significant risk by not getting vaccinated. Even if you aren’t in one of the above categories and are otherwise healthy, a flu infection can cause serious complications, including hospitalization or death.

flu-vaccine-facts-myths

Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for just about everyone six months and older. Once vaccinated, your immune protection decreases over time. These boosters are scheduled and dosed to help you maintain the best level of protection against influenza. Additionally, the virus mutates (changes) every year, so what you were covered for this year may not apply next year.

You can make a decision not to get vaccinated, but frankly, that’s accepts a risk that you flies in the face of a reasonable risk/benefit analysis, and you would be doing so in the face of the solid consensus of medical evidence and research. You should seriously question the motives or knowledge of someone who suggests that you should not get vaccinate for influenza, particularly if they profess to be involved in healthcare. Get vaccinated.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, AmazonBarnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

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Straight, No Chaser: When Sex Hurts Her – Vaginismus

Vaginismus

The human body is fascinating and mysterious in so many different ways. Unfortunately, that’s not always a good thing. Not every medical condition has to be life threatening to have a powerful and detrimental impact on one’s life. Vaginismus is an example of that. It’s a condition in which women suffer involuntary contractions of the floor of the vaginal walls. These contractions can be so violent and incapacitating that it renders sex very painful and uncomfortable at best and physically impossible at worst. No, this is not esoterica. Many women suffer through this, not knowing what it is or ascribing the pain to ‘size’.

Here’s three things you need to know:

She’s not faking it. 

Vaginismus is horrible for the sufferer, as you’d imagine, and it’s a tremendous stress on relationships.  It is the number one cause of unconsummated marriages, and can be complete or situational.  It may be complete, impacting ability for a physician to complete a pelvic examination or for a woman to even place a tampon.  These contractions can be reflex occurrences such that the symptoms occur when presented with any effort to penetrate the vagina.  That said, the reflex is thought to be physiologically learned, and it has been demonstrated that it can be unlearned (Consider your immediate impulse to lift your arm when a fast object comes at you; one episode of vaginismus can prompt a lifetime of similar reactions during efforts at sex.).

vaginismus

Vaginismus can be cured.

It stands to reason that in the many cases in which vaginismus is a learned reflex, the reflex can be overcome.  Muscle training and control are the keys to overcoming vaginismus and is a process that can be accomplished over weeks to months.  The good news is developing this level of training and control can also have wonderful benefits for couples that do get past the problem.  Many women are familiar with Kegel exercises from prenatal classes.  Application of these in the correct manner (with systematic progression until penetration is possible) provides success in approximately 90% of patients.  If you require details, feel free to ask, or discuss this with your physician.

Vaginismus requires patience (and flexibility) to overcome.

Healthy sex lives are enjoyed by many couples without penetration.  This is an important frame of mind to have, less the additional stress can hinder treatment and torpedo the relationship.  It may seem like a lot to ask for some, but believe me, many couple maintain happy relationships in the midst of this, either during treatment or throughout a lifetime of suffering through it.  Taking this mindset into the period during which treatment is ongoing can lead to a very happy outcome once the vaginismus has been overcome.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC

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Filed under Obstetrics and Gynecology

Straight, No Chaser: The Effects of PTSD on Children

PTSD-And-Children

This is part of a series on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

  • For a review of PTSD signs, symptoms and those at risk, click here.
  • For a review of PTSD diagnosis and treatment, click here.

ptsd kids

Children are exposed to the same stimuli that creates post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including physical abuse, sexual assault and the effects of war, but they may have different responses and  symptoms than adults. Symptoms unique to children typically involve developmental regression and may include the following:

  • Clinginess
  • Bedwetting
  • Cessation of speech
  • Acting out the scary event

Teens may become disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive, and they may express guilt or engage in revenge.

Think about these things when your children have been victims of bullying, abandonment or assault. You have to think about PTSD in order to recognize help may be needed. It is very important to get counseling for children that have experienced a traumatic event. The effects may be subtle but could be devastating and long-lasting.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC

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Filed under Mental Health, Pediatrics/Kids Health

Straight, No Chaser: The Rapid Explosion of Autism Diagnoses – A Good or Bad Thing?

autism-hands

Sometimes it’s really good to be a physician, especially when it comes to care of children. Just yesterday I saved myself a few thousands of dollars in costs by being able to address a situation at home. I can recall two instances in which poorly qualified, non-physician professionals tried to label my children with specific diagnoses. After my then three-year-old son defended himself from a child trying to take a toy from him, one consulting counselor suggested that I pay $200/hour to get him help for his “aggressive tendencies.” (His “symptoms” remarkably disappeared when I removed him from the environment.) When my otherwise normal daughter displayed signs of delaying speaking, another “professional” immediately wanted to label her autistic. In case you’re wondering, I’m not the guy who marches into everyone’s office and announces that I’m a physician. It’s much more interesting to observe the difference in the first and second conversations (you know, the one after they discover you know something…).

Regarding autism, it is a condition that strikes fear into the heart of many, not just because of the condition itself. It’s the lack of knowledge about the condition. It’s the uncertainty about whether a newborn child will be affected just because we’re having children at older ages. It’s the possibility that common environmental exposures could be contributing to the increase in the condition.

autism-in-toddlers

I’m going to approach this two-part series on autism in reverse order. Instead of simply discussing the basics about autism, I’m going to discuss the recent increases in autism rates. It is very important that you read past the headlines on this. Hopefully you’ll come to a better understanding.

In March of 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that one of 88 eight-years-olds would have one of the various forms of autism spectrum disorder. Another CDC study that was just released reveals that autism rates now affect one of every 68 eight-year-old children. This is a 30% increase in just two years!

Many of you are aware of some of the controversial claims about possible causes of autism. Regardless of the believability of unproven claims, it is entirely probable that some good has come from shining a spotlight on autism. It is without question that the enhanced attention has resulted in more attention being paid to children with suggestive symptoms. This recent trend in more aggressive diagnoses is resulting in more attention being given to those in need with better outcomes over the long haul.

There is no cure for autism. This may be true and depressing, but it doesn’t have to be. Generally, interventions tend to focus on eliminating symptoms and producing desired outcomes (such as those that will increase independent living and functioning). Coordination of strategies is important, so the use of multiple professionals working as a team is common. The good news is, for many children, symptoms improve with early treatment and with age.  Those with one of the forms of autism will usually continue to need services and supports throughout their lives, but many are able to work successfully and live independently or within a supportive environment. Also, please note: The earlier the diagnosis is made and treatment is started, the better one’s outcome is likely to be.

I have just understated a point that I will take a few words to revisit. There is no cure for autism. Please don’t fall prey to claims of therapies and interventions that promise a quick fix. These claims are invariably are not supported by scientific studies. They are acting on your hopes and preying on your fears. The details of treatment strategies are further discussed at www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com.

The next post will focus on the diagnosis and symptoms of autism.

This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd. Please like and share our blog with your family and friends. We’re here for you 24/7 with immediate, personalized information and advice. Call your Personal Healthcare Consultant at 1-844-SMA-TALK or login tohttp://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com.

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Filed under Mental Health, Pediatrics/Kids Health

Straight, No Chaser: Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Signs-That-You-are-Probably-An-Alcoholic

With all the focus of late on other forms of drug use and abuse (e.g., methamphetamine, marijuana), alcohol abuse seems to be lacking the attention it deserves. Fully one in six people in the United States has a drinking problem. In this segment of the Straight, No Chaser series on alcohol, we will explore problem drinking.

“Problem drinking” is a way of describing alcohol intake that causes problems with your functioning. Alcohol abuse is an episode or continued excessive alcohol consumption that causes problems with your daily living activities, such as family or job responsibilities. Of course, a single episode of alcohol abuse can cost you your life if you’re an impaired driver who runs into a tree or some other calamity befalls you.

alcoholism

Alcoholism is alcohol dependence, which is comprised of two separate considerations:

  • Physical addiction to a drug is defined by tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance is when you become acclimated to the same dose of drug, meaning, in this case, the same amount of liquor no longer gives you the same buzz. Withdrawal symptoms occur when you experience effects from no longer having the drug in your system.
  • Mental addiction to alcohol is illustrated by its increasingly prominent role in your life. Your life becomes centered around the pursuit and consumption of alcohol. It creates problems with your physical, mental and social health, controlling your life and relationships.

Many of you ask if alcoholism is hereditary. Hereditary means a specific thing medically, so the answer is no. However, we believe genes play a role and increase the risk of alcoholism. It is most likely that genetics “load the gun,” but environment “pulls the trigger.”

AlcoholicGrayscaleDiagram2

Regarding environment, there’s no fixed equation to if and when you’ll become dependent, but there is a correlation with certain activity and an increased risk. Consider the following activities as suggestive of a significant risk for development alcoholism:

  • Men who have 15 or more drinks a week (One drink is either a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor.)
  • Women who have 12 or more drinks a week
  • Anyone who has five or more drinks at a time at least once a week
  • Anyone who has a parent with alcoholism

Here are some less hard signs, but these situations also have been shown to increase risk, according to the National Institutes of Health:

  • You are a young adult under peer pressure
  • You have a behavioral health disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia
  • You have easy access to alcohol
  • You have low self-esteem
  • You have problems with relationships
  • You live a stressful lifestyle
  • You live in a culture in which alcohol use is more common and accepted

Feel free to contact your SMA expert consultant if you have any questions on this topic.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC

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Straight, No Chaser: When Eating Goes Wrong, Part II – Bulimia

Bulimia…-nerviosa-1

If you read Part I of this conversation on eating disorders (anorexia nervosa), you will recall that eating disorders are a mix of an abnormal body image combined with abnormal behaviors that lead to medical consequences. Today’s Straight, No Chaser is on bulimia, yet another dangerous eating disorder.

The ‘Bizz-Buzz’ of bulimia nervosa is ‘binge-purge.’ What that means is bulimics engage in frequent episodes of eating excessive amounts of food (bingeing) followed by one of several methods of eliminating what was just ingested (purging). This methods include forced vomiting (most common), use of diuretics or laxatives, fasting or excessive exercise. It is important to note that the bulimic feels a lack of control over these episodes.

bulimia_nervosa_1

Bulimia is an especially dangerous disease because it usually occurs in secret, and victims are able to hide it. This means symptoms will typically be further along when discovered. Bulimics usually manage to maintain a normal or healthy weight despite their behavior and may appear to be the person who ‘never gains weight’ despite ‘eating like a horse.’ This is a key differentiator between bulimia and anorexia. Otherwise, the two diseases do share some of the same psychological pathology, including the fear of weight gain and the unhappiness with physical appearance.

Treatment considerations for bulimia are similar to those for other eating disorders. A combination of psychotherapy, reestablishment of normal nutritional intake and medications usually leads to marked improvement. Again, the particular challenge with bulimics is discovering the condition in the first place. As with anorexia nervosa, treatment for bulimia nervosa often involves a combination of options and depends upon the needs of the individual. Medications may include antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), if the patient also has depression or anxiety.

Let’s recap by revisiting where we started with our conversation on anorexia. Our society doesn’t do the job it should in promoting a normal image of health. The typically promoted American ideal of beauty sets standards that lead many to pursue unrealistic means of meeting that ideal. In the setting of an actual American population that is obese by medical standards, this becomes even more of a problem. The levels of stress, anxiety and depression resulting from this reality sometimes leads to eating disorders. Remember, eating disorders aren’t just habits. They are life-threatening conditions. If you or a loved one is suffering, please seek help immediately.

bulimia

Post-script: If you’re wondering about the above picture of the teeth, you’re viewing the effects of all that regurgitated acid on the enamel layer of your teeth.  I know. It’s not your best look.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Diet and Nutrition, Gastrointestinal, Mental Health