Archive for March, 2009

Should minors be allowed to buy morning-after pill?

Your 17-year-old daughter or son will soon be able to buy the morning-after pill over the counter. That’s because a federal judge has given the FDA 30 days to begin allowing minors to buy the emergency birth control drug called Plan B, without a prescription.

The FDA, which had restricted over-the-counter sale of the drug to women 18 and older, must now begin allowing 17-year-olds to buy it. And the judge asked the FDA to reconsider its ban on sales to minors as young as 11.

The judge said under the Bush administration, FDA restrictions on the drug involved “political considerations rather than being grounded in science.

Opponents are concerned that making the drug easily available to younger women could open the door for them to over use it as a primary method of birth control, with potential medical risks.

The judge said there was no evidence that Plan B would be safer for 18-year-olds than 17-year-olds. For younger women, he said it was better for the FDA to make a …

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DOCTOR IS IN: Alzheimer’s comes with longevity.

By James Lah, MD, PhD.

With millions of baby boomers entering their golden years, the number of patients with Alzheimer’s disease threatens to rise dramatically over the next several decades.

Recent news stories link a number of factors to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. These range from the inheritance of certain genes from our parents to illnesses such as diabetes and lifestyle choices. Understanding these links is important, but when it comes to Alzheimer’s risk, the 900-pound gorilla is age. Live longer, and you increase your risk of Alzheimer’s.

Every five years beyond age 65, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s doubles. As a result, the number of affected individuals has increased geometrically with the linear increase in life expectancy during the past century. That’s the bad news. The good news is that if we can delay onset of the disease by five years, we can cut the number of people afflicted with the disease in half. (I’ll leave it to you actuaries to explain the …

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A ban on ‘Brazilian’ bikini waxing?


In New Jersey, the state Board of Cosmetology is considering a ban on genital waxing after two women reported being injured in their quest for a smooth bikini line.

The women were reportedly hospitalized for infections following so-called “Brazilian” bikini waxes — so named because women in Brazil wax so they can wear skimpy thongs.

Jersey might be the first state to ban the procedure. National cosmetology officials said they were unaware of another state that had banned genital waxing.

Regular bikini waxes would still be allowed in Jersey.

Skin care experts say genital waxing can be dangerous because the hot wax can irritate or tear delicate skin in the bikini area, resulting in infections, ingrown hairs and rashes.

Despite such risks, millions of American women — and some men — choose to have the hair down there ripped away, and are willing to pay upwards of $50 to $60.

Do you wax? What has been your experience? Would you be angry about a ban in Georgia?

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Did Natasha Richardson suffer “walk and die” syndrome?

Sometimes, the symptoms don’t appear so quickly.
For example, this has been the case for a lot of soldiers suffering from traumatic brain injury, or TBI, a signature injury of a war.
The conditions can range from a mild concussion to harsh, visible injury. Some people suffering from a brain injury do not seek care because symptoms may not seem apparent immediately.

So is this the case of Natasha Richardson?
This is what Los Angeles Times reports:
“The head injury Natasha Richardson suffered in a skiing accident Tuesday produced what is often called a “walk and die,” syndrome, which is usually due to delayed bleeding from an artery in the brain, said Dr. Christopher Giza, a neurologist at the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center.”
“In such cases, the patients, like Richardson, appear normal immediately after the injury, walking and talking as though nothing happened. But symptoms can develop within an hour, causing the patients first to suffer impaired speech and vision and then …

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DOCTOR IS IN: ADHD over-diagnosed?

By Thomas G. Burns, Psy.D., ABPP

First, consider these startling facts about the Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

The rates of diagnosis for ADHD – previously known as ADD – have been on the rise over the past few decades. Research shows a 700 percent increase in medication being used to treat ADHD in the 1990s alone. A 2005 report by the CDC found 4.4 million children aged 4 to 17 years were reported to have a history of ADHD diagnosis.

Of these, 2.5 million (56 percent) were reported to be taking medication for the disorder. Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls, and the rate of incidence is almost twice as common in Caucasian children when compared with their African-American peers.

While the country seems to have a tendency for over-prescription, ADHD does not appear to be over-diagnosed in the U.S. as a whole.

There are three types of ADHD:

  1. predominantly inattentive type
  2. predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type
  3. a combination of both …

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DOCTOR IS IN: Sleepless in Atlanta

By David Schulman, MD, MPH

Every night, thousands of Atlantans have difficulty falling asleep. In some cases, the problem will be severe enough that they will seek medical advice, though many more will choose not to, believing either that the problem isn’t that big, or that there aren’t any effective therapies available. Others end up using either prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids on a regular basis. That may come with its own set of problems.

When a patient comes to my clinic, I begin the evaluation by looking at three key components of the bedtime process: the environment, evening behaviors and patient attitudes. Are the bed and pillow comfortable? Is the bedroom dark, quiet and cool (People tend to sleep better in cooler weather; making sure the ambient temperature is dropping around bedtime can often improve sleep quality). Are there other noises in the area, coming from outside or the person in bed next to you?  Correction of these factors does not require much …

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Drop a dime on your doc? Not so fast

Doctors are fighting back against internet sites that allow patients to post reviews of their services and bedside manner.

“Such reviews are becoming more common as consumer ratings services like Zagat’s and Angie’s List expand beyond restaurants and plumbers to medical care…” according to an AP article.

“Consumers and patients are hungry for good information” about doctors, but Internet reviews provide just the opposite, contends Dr. Jeffrey Segal, a North Carolina neurosurgeon who has made a business of helping doctors monitor and prevent online criticism.

He claims reviews are unfairly hurt a doctor’s reputation and focus too little – if at all – on the physician’s skills.

His has formed a company, Medical Justice, to address what he considers a big problem. For a fee, doctors receive a standardized waiver agreement. Patients who sign, agree not to write online reviews or comments about the doctor or treatment.

Do you read online reviews of your doctor? Are they helpful? …

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How bad is your favorite food?

That pasta carbonara sure is creamy. But, it’s usually packed in with enough calories – and guilt – to last for a week.
Have you thought about the calories in your favorite dish?
According to Men’s Health magazine, the worst food in America is the Aussie cheese fries with ranch dressing at Outback Steakhouse, reports this New York Times story.
“This concoction of fries topped with melted cheese, chopped bacon and spicy ranch dressing contains 2,900 calories. That’s the equivalent of 14 Krispy Kreme doughnuts. And, since most people should be consuming 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day, that’s a day and a half’s worth right there.”
What about yours? What is your favorite guilty pleasure? And how many calories does it have?

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DOCTOR IS IN: Signs and symptoms of Salmonella

By Monica M. Farley, MD

Recent news about peanut butter and Salmonella has left many people wondering what they need to know to protect their health and their family’s health.

From a doctor’s point of view, I want to be sure information is available about the health effects of Salmonella, and how to know if you have symptoms. Of course, some groups of people are more vulnerable if they come in contact with salmonella than others — such as infants, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases or immune system impairment.

The bottom line for recognizing symptoms: they usually start about 12 hours to three days after infection look for diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps and headache. Also nausea, loss of appetite and vomiting can last four to seven days.

Many people with salmonella will clear the disease within five to seven days and do not need treatment. If there is severe diarrhea, however, intravenous fluids may be needed. Some people have to go to the hospital for care. If …

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