We’re all connected in the miracle of life

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series.

For further depth in the kind of complexity and the unexpected in our lives as discussed in last week’s column, I strongly recommend for your reading pleasure a wonderful new book.

Written by a physician friend of mine, Dr. Larry Dossey, it is called “One Mind,” and systematically explores what we might normally call miracles. It does so from many perspectives including quantum physics, parapsychology, entanglement theory, near-death experiences and an overarching perspective of a universal, unified consciousness.

What Dossey calls “One Mind” has been alluded to by such illustrious thinkers as Ralph Waldo Emerson, who referred to it as the Oversoul; psychiatrist Carl Jung, who called it the Collective Unconscious; and paleontologist and theologian Teilhard de Chardin, who spoke of the noosphere, a psychic unity of mankind.

Discussed in this book are puzzling, intriguing subjects such as: how you know you are being stared at, how premonitions occur, how a mother knows her grown child a continent away has been injured, how a dog can find its owner after being lost a thousand miles from home, how twins anticipate each other’s needs and feelings even though raised apart in different homes; memories of a prior lives, the power of dreams to predict the future; and the science behind extrasensory perception and telepathic events. Continue reading

Another reason for senior moments

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

It’s walking into a room then forgetting why you’re there, or failing to remember the name of a known acquaintance.

The loss of memory that comes with older age has been the source of endless embarrassing moments and jokes.

Some view mental decline as an inevitable symptom of getting “over the hill.” Now, a study may have revealed why people experience senior moments, attributing them to brain microbleeds — or BMB — because of stiffening arteries.

Cognitive decline normally begins at about 25 years old, starting with a decrease in numerical abilities as well as arithmetic processing speed. Memory declines can be measured in the late 30s, perhaps as late as the 60s.

Reasoning, verbal ability and visual processing skills begin to decline in the 50s and 60s, although word knowledge, vocabulary and word reading skills remain stable into late adulthood. Continue reading

Degree of illness, not fever, is what harms children

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Is fever good or bad? Fever is the result of inflammatory process of the body’s immune system.

The inflammatory process may be cause by infection or autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Fever is one of the main reasons that children are brought to the clinic or the emergency room.

Many mistaken beliefs about fever have persisted for decades.

In 1980, Dr. Schmitt coined the term “fever phobia” to help explain the unrealistic concerns about fever and how it can hurt children.

He found that 52 percent of parents bringing their children to the clinic with a fever of 104 degrees or less thought that the fever itself could cause serious neurological consequences.

Twenty years later, Dr. Crocetti and associates found that fever phobia still existed with 21 percent of parents thought brain damage was the primary harmful effect of fever and 14 percent listed death as a harmful effect. Continue reading

Miracles happen in medicine

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series.

The other day, a lovely 81-year-old patient, let’s call her Edna, an active community volunteer, came in to see me after a bad fall.

The swelling and lack of mobility in her upper arm made me suspect that she had broken her humerus, the big bone in the upper arm. I based this nearly certain assessment on my many years of primary care and emergency room practice.

Since I don’t have X-ray eyes, I ordered an X-ray while our hardworking staff simultaneously arranged for a visit to orthopedics for the requisite splinting.

Imagine my surprise and relief later that morning to find the X-rays were normal. No fracture at all.

When I called Edna to report this happy outcome, she told me she had prayed fervently on the way to Radiology and was quite sure this prayer had had its desired effect, that things would be normal.

Of course, I could have dismissed her personal miracle, but I chose instead to reflect on this story and share it with you. Every doctor knows his or her fallibility, the limits of both our art and science. We can always be wrong though we constantly study and try not to be. Continue reading

Researchers develop new insulin delivery system

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

Diabetes is a life-changing diagnosis that can mean several injections of insulin and several tests of blood glucose levels every day.

Some people with diabetes say they feel like a pin cushion, and children with Type 1 diabetes often find it particularly challenging.

However, there may be some relief in sight thanks to nanoparticles.

Nanoparticles range in size from one to 2,500 nanometers. For an idea, the width of a strand of human hair is 100,000 nanometers.

Researchers have developed a new insulin delivery system that involves a network of nanoparticles. Once injected, the nanoparticles release insulin in response to increases in blood sugar levels for up to a week.

They have been tested in mice and if they perform similarly in people, this may be a better solution to managing diabetes than multiple daily injections. Continue reading

Researchers: Parental smoking, childhood ear infections are linked

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Here is more information on ear infections and smoking in children’s living space.

Ear infections are common in children. They include acute otitis media, which is an infection in the middle ear space associated with pain and fever. There an estimated 5 million ear infections each year in the United States.

There also is otitis media with effusion. Children with otitis media with effusion have extra fluid in the middle ear, so symptoms might include feeling like the ear is plugged or difficulty hearing.

Even if these infections are common, they can have consequences. Sometimes they require surgery and they might make the children at risk for hearing loss and delayed speech development.

A recent review in the Achieves of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine showed that having a family member who smoked raised the risk of ear infections in the children who shared their living space. Continue reading

Planning to live and die

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

A strange story was in the news last week that I have been using as a talking point about end-of-life planning.

A deer hunter in his 40s fell 16 feet out of a tree and broke his neck. As a result, he could not breathe on his own and was placed on a ventilator. The doctors told the family he would be dependent on this device for the rest of his life. The family knew he likely would not make this choice if given the option.

So, he was awakened from his sedated state and presented with the situation. He ultimately decided that he did not want to live hooked up to a ventilator for the rest of his life, asked that it be disconnected and died a few hours later. I might have made the same choice.

This true story brings to focus the importance of having patients and their families consider, discuss and sign advance directives, medical power of attorney, and out-of-hospital do-not-resuscitate orders. Continue reading

A real tricorder for your smartphone

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

Many people may soon have a piece of “Star Trek” sitting at home in their own medicine cabinets. It’s not a Captain Kirk costume, Spock ears or a model of the Starship Enterprise, but a real-life tricorder.

When “Star Trek” began in 1967, the character Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy used this medical device in his work. Now, the Scanadu company has brought this fictional tool to life and called it the Scout.

To use it, a person holds the round, palm-sized tricorder to his or her temple, and it measures temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation and stress level and performs an electrocardiogram.

It does all this with optical sensors in 10 seconds with 99 percent accuracy. It sends the readings via Bluetooth to a smartphone, where apps track and analyze the data. Continue reading

Use antibiotics judiciously to preserve power to heal your child

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Despite a growing concern in the medical community over antibiotic resistance, parents still request that pediatricians prescribe such medications for their children even when the antibiotics are unnecessary, according to a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Researchers surveyed 400 parents and 61 pediatricians and found that 18 percent of parents give their children antibiotics without consulting a physician.

Nine out of 10 parents thought antibiotics were needed for ear infections, eight out of 10 thought antibiotics were needed for throat infections and six out of 10 thought antibiotics were needed for cough and fever.

On the other hand, the physicians surveyed felt like the medication was not needed in most cases. Most coughs, ear infections and sore throats are caused by viruses. Continue reading