Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hot off the press!

Please join me in welcoming Dr Marianne Nelson as our new Medical Director.

Dr Nelson has been involved with Emergency Medicine since 1985 and comes with a whole long list of credentials for cardiac, trauma, pediatrics, neonatal, and on and on.

She's actively involved in Emergency Medicine, ICU, CCU and Quality Review processes.

All ambulance services run under the authority and on the medical license of a certified Medical Doctor; Southern Jasper County Ambulance Service is pleased to be associated with someone so involved and experienced with Emergency Medicine.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mind over matter

Ernest Shackleton once said that "optimism is true moral courage."

And nowhere is that more true than when beset by ill health.

More and more, though, we're discovering that a positive mental attitude can be one of the most significant medicines.

This report, from Science Translational Medicine and NPR show that up to half of a drug's efficacy is simply believing that it will work.  That medicine actually works better if you think it's working.

Optimism can physically change your health.  Specifically:

  • lower your odds for heart disease by 30  - 50%
  • Improve decision-making ability.
  • provide Stronger immunity
  • cut your risk for a life-threatening stroke by 10%
Sure, you can always go with that cynical/ironic hipster thing...but who'd want to?

The glass really is half full.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

is a fever good for you?


There's growing evidence that reaching for the Tylenol or Advil when you have a low fever might not be the best thing for you.

Viruses, as it turns out, are very susceptible to temperature...and holding a mild fever down might actually keep you sicker, longer.

Not to mention that those medications have side effects and liver damage issues of their own.

No one suggests that a high fever is good, but for a mild fever, letting it run it's course just might be the best medicine.

That being said, health care practitioners suggest there ARE some common sense guidelines as to when a fever is, in fact, not mild at all

  • A child under three months has a fever over 100.4 or exhibits any serious symptoms
  • A child has a fever over 104 as this can signal a more serious infection or poisoning
  • A child has a fever for more than two consecutive days
  • The ill person has other symptoms like stiff neck, listlessness, or sensitivity to light
  • The person is unable to hold down food for more than a few hours or shows any signs of dehydration
  • Person exhibits any sign of respiratory distress (Seek immediate help)
  • Person has been exposed to toxins or poisons that may have caused the fever
  • Your intuition says there is something more serious going on, even if the child appears fine

Stay healthy, my friends.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Alzheimer's: holding it off.

As mentioned in the first two of the alzheimer's/dementia posts, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer's Disease (AD).  Nor is there a vaccination. And the general consensus is that the disease is acquired 20 or more years before symptoms begin to appear. 

At this point, the best that can be done is to hold off the symptoms.

For many, this is a reasonably successful approach: if the symptoms can be held off, slowed and minimized throughout old age, then the quality of life for those afflicted increases remarkably.  So what CAN you do to slow the progression of AD?

The good news is that it's the exact same regime needed for generic good health.
  1. Regular exercise: walking counts.
  2. Healthy diet
  3. Mental stimulation
  4. Quality sleep
  5. Stress management
  6. An active social life 
  7. Treat other medical conditions like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, HBP.
  8. Stop smoking

 And when all else fails, there's this:  remove the stigma associated with dementia and AD.  The city of Watertown, Wisconsin has taken on a city-wide challenge to become the nation's first dementia friendly town.  The downtown owners, shopkeepers and waitresses go through training and learn to deal with mild dementia cases...using pictures on menus so patrons can point to what they want and other "assistive" methods.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Healing wounds with sound.

Researchers at Drexel University College of Medicine have developed a method to treat wounds using ultrasound.

This article from Smithsonian magazine gives a brief overview and this press release from Drexel goes into a little more detail.

No one knows why it works....they just know it does.  Very cool.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Alzheimer's - what IS it?

This is the 2nd in our set of posts about Alzheimer's disease (AD).

The short version is this: the neurons and synapses die off and areas of the brain atrophy...those areas of the brain, effectively, wither and die. No one actually knows what causes AD but, it appears significant that, the areas effected are full of amyloid plaques and and neurofibrillary tangles.

 Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are both, more or less, small hardened bits malformed proteins.  It's unknown whether they actually cause the death of the neurons and synapses or whether there's something else that causes the neurons to die off and the plaques and tangles are a by-product of that unknown agent.

One way or another, where there was once vital brain tissue, full of neurons and synapses, in AD victims, areas of the brain begin to atrophy and fill with bad stuff.

AD, as far as is known, is irreversible.  The atrophied areas grow and grow, starting with memory and cognition and advancing until the brain actually loses the ability to manage the body.  In my mother's last hours, her brain could no longer control her body swung wildly from the mid-90s to 105/106 and back...sometimes within the same hour.

Lastly, when we discuss AD, we're almost always talking about late-onset AD (as opposed to familial or early-onset), simply because it's, by far, the most common kind.  Now, though, there seems to be an agreement in the field that late-onset AD isn't, actually, late at all.  

It's believed that the disease is usually ongoing 20-30 years before diagnosis.  The symptoms simply don't start to show up until much, much later.  As such, finding a biomarker, as discussed last week, becomes of critical importance.  Addressing the disease 20 years before symptoms start could have a dramatic impact on the quality of the victim's lives.

Next week we'll look at the current thinking about how to slow the progress of the disease.

Be well, my friends.  And please: spare a thought or a prayer for the caregivers.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Coming soon... an oncologist near you.

This is very, very cool.  

The problem with cancer is that, essentially, our defenses don't see it as's our body's own cells growing out of control.

This article gives a brief overview of a new method of "tagging" a tumor so that the body sees it as foreign and the immune system works to take it out like it would any infection.