Always tired? Here are 5 things to check

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

“Doc, I just feel tired all the time.”

This is the kind of vague complaint, along with dizziness, that challenges every physician. Such patients often show up on a Friday afternoon or mention the fatigue at the end of a visit for other matters. The issue is so common, yet complex, that up to 40 percent of those suffering from chronic fatigue may never receive a specific diagnosis.

Our medical students are trained to make sure a fatigue complaint isn’t caused by anemia or low thyroid. While these certainly can be a factor, it is rare to find the answer to chronic fatigue with a simple blood test.

Many medical conditions can cause fatigue. Loss of organ reserve in vital organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, adrenal glands, and kidney can all lead to fatigue. Chronic infections, cancer, chronic pain, poorly controlled diabetes, obesity, and sleep apnea make up a partial list of well over a hundred identifiable medical causes for fatigue. Continue reading

Quick diagnosis for early treatment

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

The time it takes to test for the cause of an infection ranges from minutes to weeks. A new generation of biosensors may change that, as they are being developed to identify the viral, bacterial or fungal origin of an illness within a few hours, allowing physicians to begin the correct treatment sooner.

Many infections have symptoms that resemble the flu, such as HIV, the fungal infection coccidioidomycosis, Ebola and even anthrax. This makes it very difficult to make a diagnosis. The emergence of new microbial pathogens such as SARS and MERS and bacterial resistance to antibiotics only adds to the fight against infectious agents. Scientists like Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch developed the traditional method for diagnosing infectious diseases about 150 years ago, and modern methods have improved their discoveries. Continue reading

Five tips for handling those holiday blues

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

This is the time of year when everyone is acting cheerful and happy, so why do I feel blue?

Just know you are not alone. The holiday blues are a common phenomenon and may seem paradoxical in just the time of the year when we are in the midst of planning to enjoy friends, family, feasts and fun.

In fact, this is not always such a cheerful time for some. Those who have lost family members, those who are financially stretched, or those who already feel their life activities are too stressful may not look forward to the holidays.

Holding unrealistic expectations that everything will go perfectly is another source of inner stress. Such thoughts, beliefs and feelings may even be internalized as physical symptoms: chest pain may show up from emotional heartache, headache could represent repressed anger, or backache concerns about lack in financial according to some metaphysical interpretations. Continue reading

Select toys that are safe, age appropriate for children

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission was created in 1973 to develop safety regulations for all consumer products. The CPSC spends more than half of its budget every year testing children’s toys, as well as other items on the market for children.

When buying presents for your child, select toys that are age-appropriate. No matter how mature you think that your child is, he or she should not play with toys that are meant for an older age group. Age-appropriate levels for toys are determined by safety factors rather than by intellectual and developmental factors. Continue reading

Basic guidelines to internet safety

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

The Internet can be a valuable resource for both adults and children, but there are potential dangers for children when it comes to the Internet. A child may come across material that is sexual, hateful, violent or otherwise inappropriate. Also, some websites ask visitors to enter personal information. Parents should not allow their children to enter personal information without first finding and reviewing the site’s privacy policy, which websites are required to provide to visitors, if they ask for personal information. Here are some basic Internet guidelines for you and your child: Continue reading

The inside story on natural gas

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

A topic rarely discussed in polite company is the production, distribution and dissemination of natural gas. This is the kind of gas produced by the fermentation and digestion of food in the human intestinal tract. In medical terms, it is referred to as flatus. Our gut bacteria and microbiome processes along with swallowed air results in about 1-2 liters of gas daily. This is largely odorless nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide.

The gas is aroma-fied by sulfides, methane and tiny amounts of cadaverine, putrescine and butyric acid. This is the stinky stuff. Men and women both produce about equal amounts, though women tend to be more, shall we say, polite and secretive about expelling it. In my medical practice, “excess gas” is a common complaint. This is often attributable to benign factors such improper mix of gut bacteria, gas producing foods such as beans and legumes, foods from the cabbage family, and common offenders such as cucumbers, celery, apples, carrots, onions and garlic.

While healthy, a high fiber diet can initially cause increased gas.Medical conditions such a gall bladder disease, anxiety from swallowing too much air during panic attacks, and small bowel bacterial overgrowth, and medications can be contributing factors. Continue reading

It’s not just Venus and Mars anymore

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

While the gender gaps are closing, sometimes the differences between men and women seem as great as the differences between Venus and Mars. For example, men and women tolerate medications very differently. Due to this, the Food and Drug Administration has recently changed the recommended dosage of the sleep aid Lunesta from 2 milligrams to 1 milligram because of its prolonged effects on women.

Women reported feeling drowsy in the morning hours after waking, raising concerns about the hazards of driving and working. While men and women are often prescribed the same dosages of medications, this case shows how men and women are not the same organism and drug dosing might need to take that into consideration.

For basic studies in the biomedical laboratory, many cells lines that are used experimentally are derived from tissues obtained from males, either human or animal. Even in the very early steps of identifying a drug and determining how it works, efforts are already focused on those of us with a Y chromosome. Continue reading

Research sheds new light on autism

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

Based on statistics, you probably know someone with a form of autism. Autism rates in America grew by 30 percent from 2008-2010 and have doubled since 2000. Now, one in 68 8-year-olds are diagnosed with autism. On average, one child in each grade of every elementary school has autism. What is responsible for the remarkable rise of this disease?

Perhaps we have gotten better at diagnosing it. Now, researchers are working to establish how autism occurs, even before birth, and how to diagnose it sooner.Autism is actually not a single disease but a spectrum of disorders. It is clearly related to infant development and is caused by differences in the brain. There are multiple causes of autism, but most are not yet known. One possible connection is that people tend to conceive later. The age at which women give birth has been increasing for many years and is linked to higher chances of autism.

Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders relies on observing differences in a person’s communication, social skills and typical behavior. Roughly one-third of those with autism are also diagnosed with intellectual deficits, but the remaining two-thirds have normal or above average intelligence. Most are diagnosed at 4 years old but some are identified by age 2. This is critical because research has repeatedly shown that the earlier therapy starts, the more likely it will result in substantial improvement. Continue reading

Recommendations about dealing with children’s head injuries

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

What should you do if your child has a head injury but does not lose consciousness? This is what is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

For anything more than a light bump on the head, you should call your child’s doctor. The doctor will want to know when and how the injury happened and how your child is feeling.If your child is alert and responds to you, the head injury is mild and usually no tests or X-rays are needed.Your child may cry from pain or fright but this should last no longer than 10 minutes. You may need to apply a cold compress for 20 minutes to help the swelling go down and then watch your child closely for a time.

If there are any changes in your child’s condition call your doctor right away.You may need to bring your child to the doctor’s office or to the hospital.The following are signs of a more serious injury: Continue reading

Research looks at sugar sensors in the digestive system

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

Your tongue isn’t the only part your body that can taste sweetness.

Three years ago, scientists discovered that our intestines and pancreas have receptors that can sense the sugars, glucose and fructose. This could revolutionize treatment for diabetics, who must closely monitor their blood sugar levels.

A drug called New-Met, made by Eleclyx Therapeutics in San Diego – that is now in phase II clinical trials – is attempting to do just that by targeting those sugar receptors in the digestive system.

It appears that these taste receptors are basically sensors for specific chemicals that can serve functions other than taste in other parts of the body, although we don’t know what all those functions are yet. We do know the function of the T1R2/T1R3 taste receptor found on some cells in the intestine. When they detect sugar molecules, these cells secrete hormones called incretins, which in turn stimulate insulin production in the pancreas. Continue reading