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Friday, April 29, 2016

  • Readers have asked me to address more summer safety issues. It’s great to see kids and adults out on their bicycles now that the weather has warmed up (especially kids who aren’t sitting on the couch). This will undoubtedly result in more bike accidents. Some of the saddest experiences I had during my Family Medicine residency were to have to take care of kids who were brain injured as a result of a bike accident.

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  • This past weekend’s beautiful weather reminded me it’s time to think about summer. This week, I want to briefly review some sun and water safety tips.
    Most people enjoy a good day in the sun. Whether it’s lounging by the water or working outdoors, we all get our fair share of sun every summer.
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  • Last week I tried to explain the very complex non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHL).  This week I want to cover Hodgkin’s lymphoma, more commonly known as Hodgkin’s Disease (HD). It gets its eponymous name from Dr. Thomas Hodgkin, who first described it in 1832. 
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  • One of my patients asked me to write about lymphoma. I must admit my knowledge of the subject is fairly limited; it’s a medical condition I’ve always avoided because of its complex and changing nature. It can, however, be a very interesting disease and a type of cancer that illustrates where cancer treatment in general is heading in the years to come.

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  • The mother of one of my patients asked me to write about meningitis. First of all, I want to state that meningitis is a very rare condition. The incidence of bacterial meningitis in the United States is about two to three per 100,000 people per year, while viruses cause about 11 cases per 100,000 per year. 

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  • It’s that time of year when respiratory illnesses are running amok. As usual, patients are bombarding their doctors with requests for treatment for these illnesses and many times these requests are for antibiotics. Patients may think their doctor is not doing his or her job when the patient's request is denied. In fact, the physician is very likely practicing good medicine.

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  • A reader has asked that I write about osteomyelitis. This is a condition where the bone and/or bone marrow become infected, usually with bacteria. These bacteria cause a pyogenic reaction – the body produces pus that contains infection-fighting white blood cells. The bacteria that cause the infection vary based on the age of the patient and the location of the infection.

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  • Last week I hope I answered the first part of our reader’s question about how DNA can be used to treat inherited conditions. This week I want to focus on stem cells - what they are, where they come from, how they might be used to treat disease and finally the social and ethical challenges surrounding their use.

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  • I received an e-mail from two of our readers asking me to address how “DNA and stem cells” might be used to treat inherited medical conditions. That’s a tall order for the space allotted, so I’ll tackle DNA this week and stem cells next week.
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  • Last week I had a young patient ask me what the difference was between an MRI and a CAT scan. Not long after that I noticed an error in a newspaper article that mixed up the two technologies.
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  • Snoring can certainly be annoying, but can be normal. I want to focus this week on a harmful condition that can be associated with snoring – sleep apnea.

    Sleep apnea is a condition where people have pauses in their breathing while sleeping. Most people have pauses to some degree, but people with sleep apnea have much longer pauses, sometimes up to 30 seconds. These long pauses cause the level of oxygen in the blood to drop and carbon dioxide to rise. These changes can be very hard on the body, especially the heart and lungs.

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  • A reader wrote in asking, “I’m prone to having back issues, but I enjoy taking care of my lawn, raking leaves and shoveling snow. What can I do to prevent problems with my back while enjoying these activities?”

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  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs) account for about eight million visits to physicians each year in the United States. These infections are much more common in adults, particularly in women. Children account for one to two percent of all UTIs, but their infections are often more serious. About 40 percent of women and 12 percent of men have a UTI at some time in their lives.

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  • Sometimes I get asked questions in the most unusual places. A few months ago at church I was pulled aside and asked if I could write my column on that scourge of menopausal women – hot flashes.

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  • Many people think that vaccines are just for kids. Unfortunately, each year between 50,000 and 70,000 adults in the U.S. die from vaccine-preventable diseases. These account for 99 percent of all vaccine-preventable deaths in all age groups.

    There are a number of reasons adults don’t get the proper vaccinations. The most common are that they are not aware they need them and their doctor sometimes fails to ask if they are up to date. Access to healthcare is also a barrier to vaccination.

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