Cultivate technique for living peacefully

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Have you noticed the general lack of civility and courteous dialogue these days?

It is not just politicians but regular people who seem not to be able to cope well with those they disagree with.

The hateful, negative tone of letters to the editor, nasty conversations with store clerks, shouting at kids, feisty disagreements with colleagues and so on all create an overall atmosphere of negativity in our world.

Though we just got through both Passover and Easter seasons, it still seems a lot of us still need deliverance and redemption, not from the Pharaoh or the devil, but from ourselves.

There always are individuals, thugs, gangs, boss types and their national or political leader equivalents who seem to think that they can force others to do their bidding through threats and physical or verbal violence and even lethal force. Continue reading

Breaking Bad in the Neighborhood

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

Drug abuse is not confined to street drugs like methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine. America is facing an epidemic of prescription drug abuse, particularly with pain relievers, anti-depressants and stimulants. In 2010, 7 million Americans abused prescription drugs every month.

People are able to abuse such medications by taking medicines prescribed for someone else, using them in excess, or by taking them in a way not prescribed, such as crushing and snorting pills or liquefying and injecting them to hasten the effects needed to produce a high.

Anti-depressants, sedatives and tranquilizers are abused by more than 2.5 million people each month. The mood-altering drug Zoloft ranks sixth on the list of abused pharmaceuticals and earned more than $500 million in sales. It is prescribed for depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder. The 10th most abused prescription drug is Xanax (alprazolam), called Xany, blue footballs, Xanybars or just bars on the street. Xanax had sales of almost $275 million in 2012. This drug is intended to treat anxiety or panic disorders. It is often abused because it creates what is described as a sense of well-being, but can be fatal when abused. Continue reading

How to spot colds, flu, strep throat in your child

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Here’s the lowdown on the most common illnesses school kids get and some advice on what parents can do to prevent and treat these ailments.

Colds

School-aged youths have six to eight colds per year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Caused by viruses, not by damp weather, colds spread through the air (via cough and sneeze droplets) and by direct contact (touching people and contaminated objects, such as doorknobs, toys and telephone receivers).

From an infection-control standpoint, there isn’t much reason to keep your child out of school. Continue reading

A New Test for Down’s

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

When it comes to chromosomes, extra copies are not a good thing. Every cell in the human body carries the same genetic information in two copies of 23 chromosomes. Having an extra copy of a chromosome is called trisomy, and an extra copy of chromosome 21 is what causes Down syndrome.

Physical signs of Down syndrome include upward slanting of the eyes, flattened facial features, small and unusually shaped ears, small heads and broad hands with short fingers. Down syndrome can also cause more serious conditions such as varying degrees of mental retardation, poor muscle tone, an increased risk of early onset dementia, and heart, stomach and eye problems. No two cases of Down syndrome are the same, and with therapy and support people with Down syndrome can live long, productive lives.

The risk of Down syndrome increases with the mother’s age during pregnancy. The risk of having a baby with Down syndrome increases from 1 in 1,300 to 1 in 25 from age 25 to 49.

Women who are pregnant with a child who might have Down syndrome typically undergo an ultrasound test and blood tests for markers such as pregnancy-associated plasma protein A and a hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin. Abnormal levels of these markers may indicate a problem with the baby. These tests are generally done during weeks 11-13 of pregnancy. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now recommends that all women undergo prenatal testing for chromosomal abnormalities. Continue reading

Fear of missing out on social media is ‘dangerous experiment’

By Drs. Victor S. Sierpina and Larry Dossey

If we told you there was a new disease that was shrinking the size of your kids’ brains, increasing their risks of getting in a car accident and stunting their social skills, you likely would want to know how to treat it.

Is there an immunization, drug or other therapy available? What is this condition called and what causes it?

We are talking about a digital dementia which has become a “dangerous experiment” in our lives and our children’s health.

In a recent essay in Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing called “FOMO, Digital Dementia, and Our Dangerous Experiment,” Dr. Larry Dossey describes in detail what we synopsize here.

FOMO is like the virus that causes the condition. It is a driving force behind social media use and stands for, “Fear Of Missing Out.” If we are not constantly checking our cellphones, tweets, Facebook postings, emails, etc., we are anxious and upset that we may be missing something important. Continue reading

Monitor children’s music volume to prevent ear damage

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

The latest song is blasting through the earphones of a teen’s iPod. It’s so loud the other kids can hear it, even though they’re a good 10 feet away.

We’ve all heard the noise: Whether it’s coming from a car radio, a concert, or yes, even those personal music players that are so popular now-a-days, it seems the volume on life is cranked up and the knob ripped off.

Can you hear your mother’s words ring in the back of your mind? “Turn that down, you’re going to go deaf.”

Nearly 27 million Americans age 3 and older suffer from some sort of hearing loss. That’s double the number 30 years ago.

In children, three main culprits make up the majority of causes of hearing loss. They are otitis media, hearing loss at birth and other acquired causes such as complications from the measles, mumps or a head injury. Continue reading

Bats as Viral Reservoirs

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

In tales, bats are feared because they could be blood-sucking vampires in disguise. Obviously, Dracula isn’t real, but science has recently uncovered a dark secret that bats have been keeping: viral reservoirs.

Reservoirs are bodies of collected water. Viral reservoirs are a collection of viruses carried by one species. Bats are an important source for a variety of viruses that can infect other animals and humans, such as deadly viruses SARS, Ebola and MERS.

Bats are among the most abundant and diverse vertebrates on earth and are found on every continent except Antarctica. Their ability to maintain viruses may date back to ancient times. Viruses can cause persistent infections in bats or they can lay dormant. Since bats also have relatively long lifespans — up to 25 years — if they have a persistent virus they have a good chance of infecting others with it, especially since they can fly and travel long distances. Bats also live in close-knit communities, so they are likely to pass infections to other bats, thereby maintaining viruses in the population. Some viruses spread by direct contact, while others such as rabies can be spread by droplets of saliva, mucus, urine or feces. Continue reading

Parents who smoke around kids increase ear infections

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Here is some 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 is 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 may 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 may make the children at risk for hearing loss and delayed speech development. Continue reading

The Zen of safer driving

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Driving a car actually takes a lot of skills. It is a daily example of complex multi-tasking.

Since most of us have been doing it so long, it can seem automatic. Yet just think of how many tasks — or switches between what we are paying attention to — happen as we drive.

We glance at the dash, the mirrors, gauge the speed and location of our vehicle and those around us, accelerate, brake, read road signs and so forth.

Now that is just the driving part. It doesn’t include drinking a beverage, adjusting the sound system or answering a phone call.

Having worked in emergency rooms for many years, I have seen some horrific outcomes of poor driving, intoxication, distraction, poor road conditions, equipment malfunctions and bad judgment. Continue reading

What you need to know about measles

Dr. Lauren Raimer-Goodman

Dr. Lauren Raimer-Goodman

Recently, my colleagues and I have been hearing reports about measles outbreaks around the country. New York, California, Dallas and even Hawaii have seen cases this year.

Many epidemiologists feel it’s only a matter of time before most major metropolitan areas in the U.S. are affected. Unless we see an improvement in vaccination rates, the Houston area is at risk of having its own outbreak.

So what is measles and why are doctors across the country up in arms about some people coming down with a little virus?

In short, because it’s highly contagious, can be deadly and is completely preventable with vaccination. Measles causes fever, cough, runny nose and pink eye in the early stages. People then usually develop a rash that starts at the top of the head and spreads down the body. Measles can cause encephalitis or inflammation of the brain. This can happen during the initial infection or any time after you have been infected with the virus, even years later. Some people who get measles will die from it. According to the World Health Organization, 122,000 people died of measles in 2012 globally. That’s 14 people an hour.

Why are we even in this situation? It started in 1998 when Andrew Wakefield, a former surgeon and researcher in the UK, published a paper suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Guess what? Continue reading