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Showing posts from January, 2013

Health Benefits of Coming Out

Sometimes we need a study to tell us what is obvious.  A new Canadian study published in Psychosomatic Medicine shows gays, lesbians and bisexuals who "come out" about their sexuality are less anxious, burnt out and depressed than those who stay in the closet.  AND they are even less anxious than straight people of similar age!

The researchers studied 87 men and women around 25 years old of various sexual orientations.  They measured stress hormone levels, 21 bio markers related to immune function and symptoms of depression and found that the subjects who were open about their sexuality were the most mentally healthy compared to those who were still in the closet.   Gays and lesbians who were honest with family and friends about their orientation no longer had to live a double-life and pretend to be something they weren't.

This study helped explain another study published last year in the American Journal of Public Health.  That one found that after Massachusetts enacte…

I Love My Blog

Thanks to my faithful blog reader, KM, for reminding me that I have been blogging for six years.  I can't believe it has been that long but I love being a health blogger and interacting with readers and other bloggers across the globe. 

Recent visitors to EverythingHealth have come from Indonesia, Mexico, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, South Africa, France, UK, Germany, Dubai, Turkey, Pakistan, Costa Rica, Kenya, Italy, Brazil, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Canada, Uganda, Kuwait, Poland, Norway  and of course, the United States.

Shame on the U.S. Congress

The U.S. Congress has an approval rating at less than 5%.  In fact, porn, polygamy and the BP oil spill rate higher than Congress.  Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari's rating within his country in 2011 was twice as high as the U.S. Congress current approval rating.   And this was before the New York Times shined a light on their shady dealings with pharmaceutical giant Amgen that cost the American people more than 1/2 billion dollars.

Millions of dollars spent by Amgen, who has 74 lobbyists in Washington, kissing up to members of congress has come back to them in a nice gift...with a bow.  Our trusted public servants were happy to help Amgen by delaying price restraints on a class of drugs used by kidney dialysis patients.  They inserted this paragraph into the fiscal cliff bill and, behind closed doors, approved it.  The delay will cost the Medicare program (and your tax dollars) $500 million over the next two years.

Note that Senator Max Baucus (D, Montana) and Orrin Hatch (R…

Herpes Simplex

The answer to yesterday's Diagnostic Image Challenge was #2 Herpes Simplex virus infection.

  The usual mouth Herpes Simplex looks more like this:

Oral Herpes is also called Herpes Labailis or cold sores.  Herpes is a virus that can occur anywhere on the body but usually appears on mucous membranes.  Most people are exposed to the Herpes Virus 1 (hv1) by the time they are 10 years old.  The virus can lay dormant in the body and emerge at times of stress, radiation (sun) exposure, or other illness.   The symptoms can cause malaise, tingling followed by pain, swollen lymph glands and generally last about 10 days. Antiviral medications like acyclovir and valtrex are very effective for prevention and for shortening the time of an outbreak.

New Strain of Norovirus Hits

A new strain of Norovirus has hit the United States with a vengeance.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports it is from Australia and was first detected in March 2012.  The new strain is proving to be very fast spread and virulent.  It is called GII.4 Sydney.  During the last 4 months of 2012, GII.4 Sydney accounted for 53% of 266 norovirus outbreaks in the United States reported through an electronic laboratory surveillance system called CaliciNet. About  half of the new virus outbreaks resulted from direct person-to-person transmission; another 20% were foodborne.

Norovirus comes on suddenly and causes nausea, strong vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.  It is highly contagious and spreads easily in closed environments like cruise ships, day care, nursing homes and military barracks.  Norovirus is most prevalent during the winter months and is the most common cause of gastroenteritis or food-borne illness. 

What can you do to protect yourself against Norovirus or other…

What's the Diagnosis?

It's time for you to play doctor (or if you are a doctor, prove your skill) by making the correct answer on the  New England Journal of Medicine Image Challenge.  What does this patient have?

1.     Hand-foot-mouth disease
2.     Herpes simplex virus
3.     Herpes Zoster virus
4.     Folliculitis
5.     Scalded skin syndrome

Click on the image for a better view and post your answer in the comment section.  The diagnosis will be posted tomorrow.

Top Ten Dr. Visit Reasons

Medical training programs should take notice of a new study that was published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.  It listed the top ten reasons why people see a doctor.  Keep in mind these were people who lived in Rochester and Olmsted County, Minnesota, but I suspect the conditions are not too different across the United States.  As I review the main reasons patients visit me, it seems like they got the list right.  Here are the conditions that  bring people to visit the doctor:
Skin disordersOsteoarthritis and joint painBack problemsCholesterol problemsUpper respiratory conditions (not including asthma)Anxiety, depression and bipolar disorderChronic neurologic problemsHigh blood pressureHeadaches and migrainesDiabetes They found that most of these chronic, non-acute problems were not age or gender related.  Half of the study population had a skin disorder like acne, cysts or dermatitis.  Among children and teens the main problems were skin, joint problems and upper respiratory conditions.…

Cough Lasts Longer Than Patients Think

It's winter and that means lots of viral colds, influenza and bronchitis. A new small study was published in The Annals of Family Medicine that addresses what we doctors already know...the cough following an illness often lasts for weeks after the infection has cleared.

The researchers surveyed almost 500 patients by phone.  They found that people expected their cough to clear up in about 7-9 days if they had a 100.5ยบ fever and a cough with mucous.  The researchers then reviewed 17 published studies that showed the average cough actually took 18 days to subside.  That is almost three weeks!

Most coughs are caused by viruses,  even though over 50% of patients with acute cough are prescribed antibiotics.  We are uncovering more and more about the way antibiotics affect normal gut flora and also create resistant organisms so overuse is a real public health hazard.  As patients understand that coughs can go on and on and do not signal the need for more antibiotics, the better off we …


Sentence    I know what it's like   to serve time under   a sentence without      possibility of parole.
       To be given a diagnosis   by a man in a white   coat sitting high and   mighty on his stool.
    No empathy in the  sentencing, just              You have broken the law        of normal, you have
        such-and-such disease.   Period.  A sentence        and nothing more.  No      semicolon.  No dash.
Would it kill him        to be a bit more open-          ended, to say I'm sorry,   to touch my hand?

Adam Possner, MD       JAMA, August 15, 2012

The Danger in CT Scans

The United States is higher in its use of  computed tomography (CT)  scans than any other industrialized Country.  There were about 3 million scans done in the U.S. in 1980.  By 2007 that number had risen to 70 million.  A number of articles published in medical journals over the past few years have reported that  excess radiation delivered by these scans will cause cancer deaths in some patients they were meant to help.  One study from The National Cancer Institute estimated there would be about 29,000 future cancers related to scans done in 2007 alone. Experts have estimated that as many as a third of all imaging exams do not help the patient or contribute to better outcomes. Let me repeat that:

Experts have estimated that as many as a third of all imaging exams do not help the patient or contribute to better outcomes. 

Do patients understand the risk of CT scans?  A new study from the University of Washington showed 1/3 of people getting a CT scan didn't even know the test ex…