Blog Archive

Virus Anxiety Aug 19th, 2020

What’s Going Around – Virus Anxiety    The CDC reports that anxiety and depression are up three-fold from last year. Social distancing, working and schooling from home, and severe limitations on gatherings put a serious damper on traditional lines of support and escape from stress.   What to do: Keep...

Isolation in the Age of Corona Virus Mar 16th, 2020

What’s Going Around – Isolation in the Age of Corona Coronavirus news is as rampant as the virus itself. Experts are advocating “social distancing” to slow the spread and allow medical facilities time to handle the swell in demand. The benefit of limiting social contact is undeniable. But one bad...

Diets for the New Year Jan 15th, 2020

What’s Going Around – Diets for the New Year The holidays are over. Time to diet. Numerous options abound – Keto and others are popular. But do they work? The resounding answer is… sort of. All popular diets are based on reducing the amount of processed food and sugar filling...

Sundowning Dec 11th, 2019

What’s Going Around – Sundowning As we approach the winter, days are getting shorter, and nightfall is occurring earlier. That’s a problem for folks who are dealing with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Some evidence suggests that a decrease in natural melatonin, which regulates sleep-wake cycles, is the culprit....

What’s Going Around – Tetanus Mar 25th, 2019

What’s Going Around – Tetanus The winter is receding and gardeners are out in force. Working in soil increases the risk of contaminated cuts and wounds. Clostridium tentani is a bacteria that thrives in damp soil. It hides in the pits of rusty nails and wire, waiting to be carried...

Measles Feb 11th, 2019

What’s Going Around – Measles Washington State just declared a medical state of emergency due to an outbreak of measles.  Nearly all victims were unvaccinated. Measles is still common in other parts of the world, so unvaccinated travelers bringing it back are the most common source of U.S. outbreaks. Despite...

What’s Going Around – Baby Powder Blues Feb 11th, 2019

  Can baby powder really be dangerous? Talc is used for hundreds of powders and makeup products. Recent news warned of potentially dangerous contaminants such as asbestos. In 1982, an obstetrician published a study asking patients if they ever used talc. Patients that had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer were more...

Heart Matters Feb 11th, 2019

What’s Going Around – Matters of the Heart Tomorrow you show your loved one you care. But a happy heart is not always a healthy one.  With roughly three hundred thousand deaths annually, it is still the number one killer of American women - more than the next ten causes...

What’s Going Around – Holiday Blues Dec 5th, 2018

Christmas is fast approaching. As we busy ourselves with holiday chores, others are struggling with loneliness. Social media has made actual human contact less convenient. FaceBook posts, online shopping, and emails tend to isolate people. Seniors are often left to themselves, and the isolation is often magnified by the loss...

What’s Going Around – Breast Cancer Evaluation Oct 9th, 2018

Last week I extolled the virtues of early screening. But what if you find something? It could still be a benign cyst. But any abnormality detected either by mammogram or examination must be evaluated. Ultrasound and MRI are used to confirm an actual mass and rule out false alarms. If...

What’s Going Around – Breast Cancer Screening Oct 1st, 2018

Fall colors are now yellow, gold, and….pink! October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month for the most common cancer in American women. Deaths have actually dropped by forty percent over the last two decades, thanks to early detection and prevention efforts. Detection of a lump on self-exam or an abnormal mammogram...

What’s Going Around – Flu Vaccine Sep 10th, 2018

“F” is for fall, football, and flu shots. Every year the Center for Disease Control monitors global patterns of this constantly shifting virus, and chooses the appropriate strains to include in the vaccine. The choice has been made, and vaccines are now available. It is recommended for everyone over six...

What’s Going Around – Meningitis Aug 8th, 2018

Summer vacation is drawing to a close, and kids will soon return to school. Most colleges, including all universities in Texas, require meningitis vaccination. From the Greek for “inflammation of membranes”, this infection attacks the membranous covering of the nervous system. There are only about five hundred cases each year,...

What’s Going Around – Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) Aug 1st, 2018

Commonly known as “poor circulation”, this condition affects one in five seniors and a third of all diabetics. Peripheral arteries are vessels that carry blood to legs, hands, and feet. Interruption of that flow can be caused by blockages from blood clots or cholesterol, or narrowing from smoking or complications...

What’s Going Around – Blood Pressure Drug Scare Jul 25th, 2018

Valsartan is a common medication used for high blood pressure. Some brands of the generic form of the medication were found to be contaminated with NMDA, a chemical that is potentially carcinogenic. Actual cases of cancer have only been observed in lab animals given high doses of NMDA. Nevertheless, the...

What’s Going Around – Fireworks Safety for the Fourth Jul 3rd, 2018

Today we celebrate our independence. Tonight, some will suffer for it. Injuries from fireworks account for eleven thousand ER visits every year. Most involve the hands and fingers, but one out of five are eye injuries. The vast majority of injuries are caused by misuse of the fireworks – throwing...

What’s Going Around – Heat Related Illness Jun 26th, 2018

June will prove to be one of the hottest on record. Our bodies cool themselves with perspiration that evaporates, removing heat. Texans around here know that high humidity doesn’t allow that to happen, making matters worse. Many medications also increase susceptibility. Every year about six hundred people die of heat...

What's Going Around - Summer Sun May 30th, 2018

Summer is here, and every self respecting Texan ought to know a little about how to handle the sun. Sunburns are not only painful, but the damage is cumulative over a lifetime, increasing your risk of skin cancer as you age. Despite increased awareness of skin cancer, the number of...

What’s Going Around – Kidney Stones May 16th, 2018

Spring weather is warm enough to dehydrate you, yet cool enough to lull you into not drinking enough water. That’s a perfect setup for kidney stones, and one out of ten people will get one. A new study has shown that certain antibiotics may increase that risk. That may due...

What’s Going Around – Multiple Sclerosis Apr 24th, 2018

I’ll be joining cyclists riding to Austin this weekend to raise research money for this disease. It attacks the protective covering of nerves, brain, and spinal cord. “Sclerosis” refers to scarring that appears in the brain. It’s believed to be an immune reaction against the body’s own cells. Genetic factors...

What’s Going Around – Shingles Apr 16th, 2018

Shingles is caused by Herpes Zoster, a virus that also causes chickenpox. The virus lies dormant and flares up as our immune system weakens with age. The FDA recently approved a new shingles vaccine that is much more effective than its predecessor. Signs and Symptoms: A painful blistering rash occurs...

What’s Going Around – Gardener’s Back Mar 28th, 2018

I don’t think that’s really an official term, but I see it every spring. Planting, mulching, raking, and toting bags of soil takes its toll. Back pain from bending and lifting is especially hard on seniors who otherwise enjoy gardening. Ladies with weaker bones from osteoporosis are common victims.Signs and...

What’s Going Around – Flu Update Jan 31st, 2018

Super Bowl officials are preparing to host Eagles, Patriots, and the flu virus. With a million visitors arriving, health officials will be constantly wiping down surfaces and setting up treatment stations. This year’s epidemic is widespread, and hitting baby boomers hard. This group is more mobile, and less than half...

Six (Scary) Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Hypertension Jan 30th, 2018

Imagine if you were warned every time you were about to fall, or cut yourself, with enough time to change the outcome. You’d likely change whatever it is that you’re doing to prevent the injury. There are few things in life that give you as big a warning signal as...

What’s Going Around – Pneumonia Prevention Jan 2nd, 2018

As colder weather approaches, so does flu season. For most victims, that means four or five days of illness. But seniors face a more serious problem. Pneumonia is widely considered to be a serious complication of the flu in the elderly. The CDC estimates that about 30,000 deaths occur annually from...

10 Holiday Health Tips Nov 20th, 2017

The holidays will be here before you know it. Are you ready to survive them? Check out these 10 helpful hints for staying healthy and safe now through the new year.Wash Your Hands RegularlyYou should be doing this regularly year-round— and we really hope you are— but it’s especially important...

Why You Need to Be Checked for Breast Cancer Oct 30th, 2017

Why You Need to Be Checked for Breast CancerHave you gotten checked? If not, you should. We know it can seem scary, but the real thing to be scared of is what could happen if you don’t get checked for breast cancer now.Everyone understands why you might fear the idea...

Harvey Is Gone, But Its Public Health Dangers Linger Oct 4th, 2017

Hurricane Harvey has come and passed, and the incredible efforts of emergency services personnel, the government and everyday Americans has helped put the city on the road to recovery. But while the winds and rain may have died out and the floodwaters may be receding, the health threat is, sadly,...

What’s Going Around – Mosquito Resurgence Sep 12th, 2017

One thing Hurricane Harvey left behind is lots of standing water. That has caused a huge resurgence in mosquito populations. Mosquito larvae thrive just below the surface of shallow pools of water. As adults, they can spread several viruses to humans, including West Nile and Zika. It is especially important,...

Why an Annual Well Woman Exam is so Important Aug 21st, 2017

It’s safe to say that most women don’t necessarily look forward to visiting their gynecologist or receiving a well-woman exam from their family doctor every year. It’s very personal and can be uncomfortable. It may not be your favorite thing to do, but your annual well woman exam is one...

What’s Going Around – Summer Fungus Jul 20th, 2017

What’s Going Around – Summer FungusMost of the time, our skin provides a pretty darned good barrier to the environment, but heat, humidity, and friction conspire to break down that defense. Various types of fungus are notorious for causing misery, especially in the summer months, for people who must wear...

How Preventative Medicine Helps Lead to a Longer Life Jun 16th, 2017

How Preventative Medicine Helps Lead to a Longer LifeIf you think about when you were in your 20s (or if you’re in your 20s, you’re probably experiencing this now) you were most likely advised by a well-meaning older adult that it’s never too early to start planning for retirement. As...

Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Apr 20th, 2017

Last week, I described the key features of this disabling condition. The body’s immune system attacks the protective layer of nerves as if it was foreign. The damage causes loss of nerve function. Therapy is primarily geared toward suppressing the body’s immune system. But the side-effects are significant. The ability...

Multiple Sclerosis Apr 13th, 2017

Cyclists across the state will soon be riding to raise research money and awareness of this disease. It attacks the protective covering of nerves, brain, and spinal cord. The name refers to scars that appear in the brain. The cause seems to be an immune reaction against the body’s own...

Alert for Allergy Patients Apr 3rd, 2017

Some folks experience severe reactions to certain foods, medications, bee stings, or irritating substances. For these people, an immediate injection of epinephrine can be a life saver. Epi-pen is a self-dosing syringe that they always keep within reach. Mylan Corporation recently recalled some shipments of potentially defective syringes. Although the...

Is Wine Good for Your Heart? Mar 2nd, 2017

So you celebrated Valentine’s Day with dinner and wine. Did it benefit anything more than your relationship? Wine in moderation is associated with lower heart disease. But the actual relationship is murky. Recent reports proclaim that resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine, can reduce heart disease. But doses required...

Treating Pneumonia Feb 20th, 2017

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. Small air sacs fill with mucus or pus, rendering them useless. If a sufficient amount of the lung is affected, the condition can be fatal. Seniors, including Former President Bush recently, are particularly susceptible. Anything that stresses your immune system can put you...

Signs and Symptoms of Diverticulitis Feb 20th, 2017

Diverticula are small pockets that develop in the walls of our intestinal tract. They are usually benign. But food material can get lodged in them, leading to inflammation and infection.  Diverticula develop in all of us as we age, but low fiber diets, constipation, and smoking seem to make it...

Thanksgiving Dinner Nov 21st, 2016

Thanksgiving is only two days away. Soon we’ll be celebrating the year’s harvest with a bounty that our forefathers could scarcely imagine. While the pilgrims were battling starvation, our worst enemies over the holidays are diabetes, heart disease and obesity. But the table is going to be covered with all...

Flu Vaccinations Nov 3rd, 2016

Flu season is approaching. Every year, the CDC monitors flu activity worldwide to identify the mostly likely strains to hit the United States. Once they do, the vaccine manufacturers go into action. This year the vaccine is available earlier than ever. There is even some debate about possibly giving the...

Flu Vaccine Update Oct 31st, 2016

The Flu Season is in full swing. The vaccine contains strains of the flu that scientists thought would most likely hit the United States. Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect match this year, and some vaccinated people are getting the flu anyway. But it’s still a good idea to get vaccinated,...

Halloween and Food Allergies Oct 25th, 2016

Trick-or- treaters will be soon be out, looking for edible bounty. One out of twelve children suffer food allergies, and must relinquish their treasure. Food Allergy Research & Education is promoting the Teal Pumpkin Project. Placing a teal pumpkin on your porch signals that you will offer “prizes” in addition...