Healthcare for a time of uncertainty

May 10th, 2017

Healthcare can fail in a number of ways: it can fail to find a treatment, it can fail to find a diagnosis, or it can fail to be accessible. I’ve built my practice around the treatment of people with complex or confusing illnesses—people for whom the medical system has failed. I’ve had patients who simply could not figure out what was wrong with them. I’ve had patients who knew their diagnosis, but could not afford or tolerate the treatment. I’ve had patients who had many diagnoses, but no combination of treatments that worked for them. The one thing that is common to these people is that they are uncommon. If there is an 80-20 rule in medicine, they are the 20 percent. Their illness (or illnesses) do not follow conventional wisdom, nor do they respond to conventional treatment. Most importantly, they do not fit in the mold. They are outliers. Medicine in our country has become streamlined to treat the mainstream, and so these people needed to find someone who is not.

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Snoring? Little Things That Make a Big Difference

October 23rd, 2016

starry nightSnore? Just a little chortle? Or, you know you snore loudly, but you think it isn’t a big deal-it’s not ruining your sleep? Think again! You may not realize how much your sleep is disrupted–and how a few sinple changes may help.

Maybe you don’t know whether you snore or not, you just know that you don’t sleep well and you don’t awaken feeling rested. Maybe you just developed high blood pressure. What you may not know is that a sleep problem could be the reason.

Snoring may seem innocent enough–not worth the trouble to do anything about, let alone go to your doctor and get a full evaluation. But snoring can make a big difference in your health. In a bad way! It can lead to fatigue, high blood pressure, non-restorative sleep and accelerated aging—not to mention angry, irritable, tired family members. Don’t ignore it because you think that the only ways to fix it are high tech, high hassle and high cost. Not true! There are a number of little things you can try to make it better.

Do you want to know if you snore–or how bad it is? Do you have a bed partner who needs to be convinced? The answer can be as simple as downloading an app on your smartphone, such as Snore Clock, Dream Talk Recorder, Sleep Talk Recorder, and Snore Lab. (Read the reviews on these apps and other similar ones.)

If snoring isn’t severe, or if finances are an issue, try some so-it-yourself approaches before going on to the next step, which is a formal evaluation of your sleep and snoring, along with whatever other sleep disruptions that are lurking in the background.

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Sick Pet Symptoms: Six Surprising Signs of Illness

September 20th, 2015

Looking back, clues were there. Olivia, a robust Rottweiler/Shepherd mix, knocked at the door to come back in after just a few minutes outside in the yard she used to love–a real change in behavior. She pawed at her ear, had more eye goop, started sneezing. Most telling, our other dog began to lick her face months ago–before any of the other changes. He knew…it wasn’t allergies.
The CT scan showed a huge tumor that went from her nose to her brain, 8 by 4 centimeters. Yet she continued to play, run, love her walks, and adore food. (All food!)
The clues were there; I just didn’t know how to read them. As a doctor, I assumed I’d be able to pick up on signs of serious illness in my dogs. I was wrong! So I’m passing this article on to you, hoping it will help you help your pets.

sick pet symptoms infographic

 

Risks of Pill-Popping: Side Effects in the News

September 1st, 2015

By Cathie Dunal, MD, MPH:  A few months ago we were astonished to learn that common medications—sleep meds like Sonata and Ambien, anxiety meds like Xanax and Valium, and over-the-counter allergy meds like Benadryl and Chlor-Trimeton—are all associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  A five percent increased risk with as little as ninety days of use in your lifetime! Yikes!

The latest medicine surprise is NSAIDS, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. They bring a ten to fifty percent increased risk of “cardiovascular thrombotic events”—heart attacks and strokes.  We pop these pills like candy—the most common are Motrin/ibuprofen, Aleve/naproxen, and prescription anti-inflammatories.  The new advisory from the FDA is to take as little as possible for as short a time as possible.

My take is that we ought to wake up to the possibility that popping a pill isn’t the optimal first step to treating medical conditions.  (Note that I’m not talking about serious infections, endocrine conditions, etc.)  The first step should be prevention via lifestyle.  The next first step, assuming a problem is already raising its ugly head, is lifestyle treatment.  Then—but only after addressing immediate and preventive lifestyle interventions—we should delve into non-pharmacological interventions–and prescriptions.

Let’s take aches and pains as an example.  Continue reading »

Antibacterial Personal Care Products Are Linked to Allergies in Children

June 20th, 2012

 From Science Daily (June 19, 2012) This study gives us yet another reason to use more natural products! Cathie— Exposure to common antibacterial chemicals and preservatives found in soap, toothpaste, mouthwash and other personal-care products may make children more prone to a wide range of food and environmental allergies, according to new research from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.  Results of the NIH-funded study are published online ahead of print June 18 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Using existing data from a national health survey of 860 children ages 6 to 18, Johns Hopkins researchers examined the relationship between a child’s urinary levels of antibacterials and preservatives found in many personal-hygiene products and the presence of IgE antibodies in the child’s blood. IgE antibodies are immune chemicals that rise in response to an allergen and are markedly elevated in people with allergies.

“We saw a link between level of exposure, measured by the amount of antimicrobial agents in the urine, and allergy risk, indicated by circulating antibodies to specific allergens,” said lead investigator Jessica Savage, M.D., M.H.S., an allergy and immunology fellow at Hopkins.   Continue reading »