UV rays are damaging
Just as the sun can injure your skin, it can hurt the delicate tissue of your eyes, too. Long-term exposure to UVA and UVB rays contributes to cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Cataracts, cloudy areas on your eye’s lens, can be corrected with surgery; there is no effective treatment for macular degeneration, and it can lead to blindness.
Did you know you can also get melanoma of the eye? Unprotected UV exposure from the sun or tanning beds increases the risk of this type of cancer. And, of course, squinting against the sun’s glare … Continue reading
There’s no such thing as a “mild” concussion
Last week I posted about first aid for concussions, which is important because head injuries in kids are a growing concern in the medical and public health communities.
Of particular importance is avoiding the potentially fatal “second impact syndrome”; if a young athlete suffers a “mild” concussion and then sustains another within a few weeks, “diffuse cerebral swelling, brain herniation, and death can occur.” Luckily, it’s rare.
But even minor concussions need to be recognized and treated, and it can be difficult because symptoms are often subtle and most parents … Continue reading
Rest, rest and more rest
Gone are the days of the middle school football coach telling a player to “Shake it off and get back in the game.”
Proper first aid and treatment of concussions has received a lot of attention in recent years, mostly due to the alarming increase in long-term neurological problems—memory loss and behavior changes—suffered by professional athletes and soldiers.
Concerned pediatricians and public health officials are pushing schools, youth sports organizations and parents to be more aware of head injuries in young athletes.
Childrens’ brains are still developing, after all, and are especially vulnerable to … Continue reading
Educating patients and doctors
I’m a big fan of the Choosing Wisely® campaign sponsored by the ABIM Foundation, a non-profit group established by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Why? Because the campaign’s objective is to reduce the number of unnecessary and potentially harmful (not to mention expensive) medical procedures being done in the US.
Choosing Wisely® aims to promote conversations between physicians and patients by helping patients choose care that is:
- Supported by evidence
- Not duplicative of other tests or procedures already received
- Free from harm
- Truly necessary
In response to this challenge, national organizations representing medical specialists
… Continue reading
They are drugs, after all
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, How NOT to whiten your teeth, I enjoy Pinterest. What I don’t enjoy is the poor health advice that gets pinned and re-pinned hundreds of times over. Like putting acid (lemon juice) on your teeth and then brushing with an abrasive substance (baking soda). Bad idea if you like your enamel. But I see variations of this “recipe” pop up dozens of times every day.
Essential oils are another frequently-used ingredient on the home remedy boards. There are hundreds of home remedies using essential oils to treat … Continue reading
The canary in the coal mine
Late last week I read the troubling story about a recent polio outbreak in Syria. Although polio, thanks to the vaccine, has been almost eradicated in most parts of the world, it is still present in several middle eastern countries.
Because of political unrest and the huge numbers of refugees fleeing to Europe, world public health officials worry about more widespread outbreaks of this crippling, and deadly, disease.
Outbreaks of highly contagious, but preventable, diseases have become more common because of the anti-vaccination movement. And as these like-minded individuals tend to settle … Continue reading
Yes, I support vaccines. It’s simple.
Vaccines save lives. Vaccines prevent illness. Illness prevention saves money.
I was happy to see read an article this morning by mom and Huffington Post journalist JJ Keith also speaking up in favor of vaccines: “I’m coming out…as pro-vaccine”
Ms. Keith tells the story of two children, Jack and Clio, who are both being treated for leukemia and therefore cannot be vaccinated against measles. Because other children (by their parents’ decision) are not vaccinated, this puts Jack and Clio at even higher risk of contracting and dying from this very preventable disease.
An increasing … Continue reading
An epidemic of nearsightedness?
A story making the media rounds this month is that more children and young adults are being diagnosed with myopia, or nearsightedness, and smartphones might be to blame.
I couldn’t find the actual study online, but it came out of the UK where a laser eye surgeon claims there has been a 35% increase in nearsightedness–screen sightedness, he has dubbed it–since 1997. He believes smartphones are a cause, and warns that the problem will only get worse.
Without being able to see the actual study, it’s difficult to assess this claim. Perhaps as a Lasik surgeon, … Continue reading
Too many CT scans ordered on children
This morning I read a post by a pediatric intensive care (PICU) doctor who admitted too many CT scans are still being given to children, despite recent evidence that radiation exposure from the scans carries a not insignificant future risk of cancer.
I posted about the results of this study a couple of months ago: Children are more “radiosensitive” than adults; CT scanners can vary dramatically in the amount of radiation exposure; and radiation exposure is cumulative–more CT scans relate to a higher risk.
This doctor focused on the overuse of … Continue reading
The “sleep supplement”
I am a chronically poor sleeper, and I have tried melatonin, the sleep supplement, in the past. I have friends that swear by it, but it never worked for me.
Plus, I could never get a straight answer from any source about the therapeutic dosage – 1 mg, 3 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg? Should I only take it as needed, or is melatonin safe to take every night, forever?
As a supplement (it’s actually a hormone), melatonin falls under the extremely loose guidelines of the Dietary Supplement Health And Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. It … Continue reading