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Friday, May 22, 2015
  • Monday, May 18, 2015 2:08 AM

    I had a request to write about lupus. Lupus is the shortened name of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. It is an autoimmune disease first described by the physician Rogerius in the 12th Century. There are many opinions regarding the origin of the name “lupus.” One of the most popular is that the rash on the face of many lupus sufferers resembles a wolf’s face. Lupus is Latin for wolf.

    Autoimmune diseases are a group of illnesses caused by a person’s immune system attacking their own body. In the case of lupus, the immune system makes antibodies against proteins in the nuclei of cells, where the DNA is found. It is believed that people who develop lupus have an underlying genetic predisposition to the disease. There is no single “lupus gene.” It appears to involve problems with multiple genes.

  • Monday, May 11, 2015 2:00 AM

    Spring & early summer rains bring news reports of West Nile virus. West Nile is a virus that is spread to humans by mosquitos.

    Many people wonder what a disease named “West Nile” is doing in Indiana. Shouldn’t it be called “West Sugar Creek,” “West Wabash” or “West White?” The name is derived from the first description of the disease in 1937 in a woman living in the West Nile District of Uganda.

    The virus first appeared in non-human mammals in the Western hemisphere in 1999. Shortly thereafter, it was found in humans around New York City, then rapidly spread across the U.S. The number cases has been slowly dropping. There were 2,122 reported cases of West Nile infection and 85 deaths in the U.S. in 2014. Indiana had nine infections and no deaths.

    The virus has an interesting life cycle. Its primary reservoir is in birds where it reproduces in large numbers. The sentinel appearance of dead birds often precedes an outbreak of West Nile in other mammals and humans. Mosquitoes feed on the birds and then may eventually bite humans and transmit the virus. The virus survives over the winter in mosquitoes that live in warmer underground locations.

  • Sunday, May 03, 2015 11:46 PM

    We’re just starting to enter barbecue season and it’s a good time to review food safety. Food-borne illness is something that almost all of us have experienced at some point in our lives.

    Food-borne illness is defined as more than two people having a similar illness with evidence of food as the source. The overall rate of these illnesses has gone down drastically in the last century with improvements in food handling and sanitation. However, we still hear about illness outbreaks.

    There are approximately 76 million cases of food-related illness in the United States each year. There are also about 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. Underdeveloped countries, as a group, experience about one billion cases annually and four to six million deaths.

    The Center for Disease Control estimates that 97 percent of all cases of food-borne illness comes from improper food handling. Most of these (79 percent) are from commercial establishments, while the other 21 percent originate in the home.

  • Sunday, April 26, 2015 8:59 PM

    “All parts of the body if used in moderation and exercised in labors to which each is accustomed, become thereby healthy and well developed, and age slowly; but if unused and left idle, they become liable to disease, defective in growth, and age quickly.” - Hippocrates

    Few things benefit the body more than maintaining physical fitness. While doctors have typically recommended exercise for younger patients, we’re realizing how important it is for our older patients as well. Regular exercise, even in one’s senior years, can still reduce your risk of a number of health conditions, particularly heart attacks and strokes.

    Most communities are blessed to have many options available for exercise, especially those that are supervised. I prefer these activities because a trained professional typically leads the group. This person can make recommendations to get the most out of the program in the safest way possible.

    Why is regular exercise so important for seniors? You may have noticed that as our bodies age a number of physiologic changes occur. We lose muscle mass and tone, leading to weakness, reduced flexibility, and problems with balance. Our bones become weaker from a lack of weight-bearing activity. Balance problems and weak bones lead to falls and broken bones. Our hearts and lungs can get out of shape causing reduced stamina and difficulty breathing with activity.

  • Sunday, April 12, 2015 2:19 PM
    The joy of spring sports and yard work has resulted in a number of patients coming to see me complaining of sore shoulders and elbows. Many of these folks have been suffering from bursitis. Most people have heard of bursitis, but what is it really?

    Any time a medical term ends in "-itis," it indicates inflammation of the tissue or organ involved. In this case, bursitis is an inflammation of a bursa (pleural bursae or bursas). Bursa is Latin for purse, a very good descriptor of what it looks like - a small sac made of connective tissue.

    A bursa is lined with a synovial membrane that secretes fluid into the inside of the bursa. This turns the bursa in to a little pillow filled with a slippery liquid that helps cushion structures around it. It also allows these structures to glide more easily over each other. Here's a fun activity for the kids; make your own bursa by partially filling a small balloon with water. Then put an object like a book on top of it and roll it around on the table to get an idea of how bursae work.

  • Sunday, March 29, 2015 4:22 PM
    The spring sports season, gardening and other outdoor chores are upon us. Weekend warriors will soon be doing all sorts of things to keep doctors who treat musculoskeletal injuries busy. I want to give everyone some pointers in treating those inevitable injuries.

    It's interesting to me how many people come to my office after suffering an injury and don't have any idea how to properly care for themselves. It's extremely important to treat injuries immediately to prevent additional damage and disability.

    When a musculoskeletal structure is injured, it starts a biochemical chain reaction to heal the injury. Injured cells release various messengers that start the healing process, but part of the process also results in pain and swelling. The intent of this inflammation is to get the injured person to immobilize the area so it can heal. However, for an athlete or anyone trying to get back to play or work as soon as possible, this can prolong the time it takes to get back to normal function.

    The goal of orthopedic and sports medicine is to promote healing of an injury, but 
  • Sunday, March 22, 2015 4:48 PM
    It's once again time to run my annual column on allergies. Many of our readers will soon be cursing the annual return of allergy symptoms. The pollen levels in Indiana will be ramping up as spring (hopefully) approaches.

    Allergies are a major problem for many people. When allergy sufferers are asked about their quality of life, they generally rate allergies as more bothersome than heart disease and sometimes even cancer. There are many causes of allergies, but I want to focus on the seasonal type.

    Seasonal allergies are caused by pollen. Pollen actually contains the plant's male genetic material; it is somewhat analogous to sperm in animals. The goal of any organism is to spread its DNA as far and wide as possible. Pollen is the perfect vehicle to accomplish this task.

  • Sunday, March 15, 2015 7:00 PM
    It won't be long before we'll be through flu season and will start seeing cases of Fifth Disease. The person or persons responsible for naming this illness didn't have much imagination. Rubella, measles, scarlet fever and roseola were already taken. Since it was the fifth illness described that also caused a skin rash or "exanthem," that's where it got its name. It's also known as "erythema infectiosum." 
  • Have you heard? Swimmer's ear can be a pain.
    Sunday, March 01, 2015 2:46 PM
    I've seen a fair number of cases of swimmer's ear in the last few weeks. We tend to see more cases of this in hot, humid weather, but it can also be brought on by other conditions.

    The medical term for swimmer's ear is otitis externa, indicating inflammation of the external ear. This is in contrast to the more common otitis media, or inflammation of the middle ear (the part of the ear behind the ear drum).

    The number of people who suffer from swimmer's ear is about four per 1,000 per year, or about three to five percent of the population. It afflicts males and females in equal numbers and tends to present between seven and twelve years of age.

    A layer of wax or "cerumen" protects the external ear canal. There exists a delicate balance of too much or too little cerumen. If there is not enough present, the ear canal can dry out, crack and develop infection. If there is too much, the ear canal can become too moist. This leads to swelling and breakdown of the skin lining the canal.

  • Sunday, February 22, 2015 7:58 PM
    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 1 to 2 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.

    The urinary system or "tract" is composed of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. The kidneys filter waste products from the blood and produce urine that passes down the ureters to the bladder, where it is stored, before passing out the urethra. An infection can involve one or more parts of the urinary system. 

The Paper of Montgomery County,
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