Tag Archives: Symptom

Straight, No Chaser: STDs – Syphilis, The Great Mimicker

Today, Straight, No Chaser will present two phrases that you may not have previously heard: The Great Mimicker and MSM, and that means we’re discussing what has historically been a devastating disease: syphilis. Historically, syphilis really is the most important sexually transmitted disease (For what it’s worth, it’s thought that Columbus’ crew spread the disease between the Americas and Europe.). The great mimicker nickname as applied to syphilis exists because syphilis has many general symptoms that resemble and are often confused with other diseases. MSM points to the fact that treatment in the early stages is so complete that syphilis had been rapidly in decline – until it’s reemergence in a specific population. It is estimated that well over 60% of reported early stage cases of syphilis occurs in men who have sex with men (MSM).
In this review, I want to specifically address the symptoms, which are impressively and dramatically different depending on the stage.
syphilis1
Stage I – Primary Syphilis: Primary syphilis usually presents with the presence of a single, painless sore (a chancre), located wherever it was contracted. As pictured above, the head (glans) of the penis is a typical site. The sore disappears in 3-6 weeks (with or without treatment), and if treatment wasn’t received, the disease progresses. Herein lies the problems. Because it’s painless, you ignore it, perhaps thinking it was a friction sore, or you never gave it much of a thought. Because it went away on its own, you forget about it, thinking that it got better. So sad, so wrong…
syphilis2Syphilis-hands
Stage II – Secondary Syphilis: When syphilis returns days to weeks (more typically) after the primary infection, it does so quite dramatically. Rashes can appear everywhere, including across your back (as noted above) and chest to on your palms and soles, in your mouth, groin, vagina, anus, or armpits. The rash could be warts (condyloma lata) or flat. You should be scared, but you might not be because… the rash and the other symptoms again will disappear on its own. Despite what you may think intuitively, you really don’t want that to happen.
Latent Syphilis: Dormant syphilis can stay that way for decades after secondary syphilis has occurred. What you don’t know can hurt you. Syphilis can be transmitted during the earlier portion of latent phases, including to an unborn child.
Syphilis3
Tertiary Syphilis: Late stage syphilis is a disturbing thing to see (and obviously experience). The disease can result in death, causing damage to the brain, heart, liver, bones, joints, eyes, the nervous system and blood vessels. Before it kills you, it can result in blindness, paralysis, dementia and loss of motor control. If you don’t know how the research discovering all of this was conducted, for now I’ll just say it was one of the most shameful acts of medical history. I’ll blog on it later. The individuals in the above picture were alive when these pictures were taken, by the way.
A special note: The microorganism causing syphilis is rather aggressive, so much so that it can be transmitted by oral, anal or genital sexual contact. By oral, I also mean kissing. Pay attention to those oral sores. Furthermore, syphilis gets transmitted from mother to unborn child. This is a devastating occurrence – if untreated, a child may be born prematurely, with low birth weight or even stillborn. If untreated, once born, a child may suffer deafness, seizures and cataracts before death.
Prevention and Treatment Considerations: Advanced syphilis is especially disheartening because it is so easily treated and prevented. Prevention is as simple as always wearing condoms, being in a monogamous relationship with someone confirmed not to have it, checking your sexual partner prior to sex and not engaging in sex if any type of sore/ulcer is in the mouth, genitalia or anal region. Regarding treatment, syphilis once upon a time was quite the plague until penicillin was discovered; treating syphilis is how penicillin ‘made a name’ for itself. Treatment with penicillin easily kills syphilis but unfortunately does nothing for damage that has already occurred. Remember that treating syphilis at any point can prevent the most severe complications that lead to death.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Heart Attack Recognition – Time is Tissue

 MIrecog

Heart Attacks. Myocardial Infarctions. Acute Coronary Syndromes. Coronary Artery Disease. Unstable Angina. There are many names to describe one main phenomenon. Heart attacks are the most common manifestation of heart disease, the #1 cause of death in the United States. Today’s post is to heighten your sensitivity to risk factors and symptoms of a heart attack, because we’ve gotten very good at treating them—especially if you get to us in time.
Risk Factors
Who’s at risk of having a heart attack? If any of the following considerations look or sound like you, you should be especially sensitive to the symptoms I describe below. Please understand these are the rules. I also see the exceptions nearly every day.

  • Age: especially men over 45 and women over 55
  • Cocaine or amphetamine (meth) use
  • Family history of heart attacks: sibling, parents, or grandparents if their heart attacks occurred by age 65
  • High blood pressure: higher risk with obesity, smoking, diabetes, or high cholesterol.
  • High cholesterol or triglyceride levels
  • Obesity/inactivity: especially due to associations with high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol
  • Smoking: including prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke

Again, if you have any of the above risk factors, your symptoms are more likely to be attributable to a heart attack. You may still have a heart attack without any of these risks.
Symptoms
How do you know if you’re having a heart attack? There’s no one-answer-fits-all response (like using FAST for strokes, which we’ll discuss in the next post). Heart attack pain comes in many varieties and is usually associated with other symptoms. What you should be aware of are the pain patterns that should prompt you to get evaluated. These may include the following:

  • Chest discomfort like pressure (something sitting on your chest), squeezing, fullness, indigestion, or just pain
  • Radiation of chest discomfort or just pain in other areas, such as one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Breaking out in a sweat
  • Racing, fluttering, or forceful beating of the heart
  • Lightheadedness up to or including blacking out

Again, you may have all of these symptoms or none of these symptoms in the face of a heart attack. We evaluate you based on the combination of your risk factors and your symptoms.
Bottom Line 1: If you have risks, symptoms and/or concerns, I’d much rather give you good news and education than give your family condolences. Get evaluated.
Bottom Line 2: I’m not discussing specific treatment options today (that’s for a future post), but remember two things:

  • Time is tissue, so the sooner you get to the Emergency Room, the more treatment options we have and the better your outcome is likely to be. This is not the disease to think, “It’ll just go away.” We can do our absolute best for you if you get to us within three hours of the start of your symptoms.
  • If and when something like this happens to me, the first thing I’m doing on my way the hospital is taking an aspirin.

As per routine, the combination of adequate prevention and prompt symptom recognition are key. I hope you share this with your families, especially those at immediate risk.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Mass Trauma, Community Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

masstrauma nairobi shootings

If you’ve been following the Straight, No Chaser series on post-traumatic stress disorder, it may have occurred to you that episodes that some might be able to handle when taken in isolation can have dramatically different psychological effects on others. It gives one pause and a cause to reflect on recent episodes in the news locally and abroad through a different prism.
This is the fourth in a series on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

  • For an introduction to PTSD, including signs, symptoms and those at risk, click here.
  • For a discussion of the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD, click here.
  • For a discussion of the effects of PTSD in children, click here.

ptsddisasters

When entire communities are affected by a mass trauma such as a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, the effects of war or even a seemingly senseless death within the community, many can develop signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In these instances, symptoms tend to develop in the first few weeks after the episode. This is a normal, expected and shared community response to serious trauma. Fortunately, when communities suffer trauma, resources are more likely to become readily available, which allows many to experience a lessening of symptoms over time.
In the immediate timeframe of the event, vital measures for physical and mental wellbeing should include the following.

  • Getting medically evaluated and to a safe place
  • Securing food and water
  • Contacting loved ones or friends
  • Learning what is being done to help and either provide or receive help as needed

A woman cries while sitting on a road amid the destroyed city of Natori, Miyagi Prefecture in northern Japan March 13, 2011, after a massive earthquake and tsunami that are feared to have killed more than 10,000 people. Picture taken March 13, 2011. REUTERS/Asahi Shimbun (JAPAN - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT) JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Unfortunately, some individuals just do not get better on their own. Although most people tend to improve with time after a community disaster, it is not uncommon for some to become more distressed and to exhibit more symptoms of PTSD, depression, and other mental health conditions. There are so many variables in play based on the type of disaster that occurred. Some people are effective at rebuilding their lives if the available resources are appropriate for the type of effect it had on them personally, but others may experience ongoing stress from loss of jobs and schools, trouble paying bills, finding housing, and getting healthcare. These types of stressors compound the effects of the disaster and may delay recovery in those affected by PTSD.
Many in the public health communities are embracing a comprehensive version of mass trauma “psychological first aid.” This complement to medical and financial resources is meant to fill existing voids in post-community disaster care delivery. Otherwise treatment approaches are generally similar to treatment of other forms of PTSD.
At the end of it all, disasters are just that. It would be a good thing for you and your family to be aware of the types of community disasters you may be exposed to and prepare before you ever need help. Having emergency numbers and other resources on your person at all times can be the difference between life and death when seconds count. Here’s hoping you either never need such assistance or you’re prepared enough during a disaster to make it through ok.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress
 

Straight, No Chaser: STDs – Syphilis, The Great Mimicker

Today, Straight, No Chaser will present two phrases that you may not have previously heard: The Great Mimicker and MSM, and that means we’re discussing what has historically been a devastating disease: syphilis. Historically, syphilis really is the most important sexually transmitted disease (For what it’s worth, it’s thought that Columbus’ crew spread the disease between the Americas and Europe.). The great mimicker nickname as applied to syphilis exists because syphilis has many general symptoms that resemble and are often confused with other diseases. MSM points to the fact that treatment in the early stages is so complete that syphilis had been rapidly in decline – until it’s reemergence in a specific population. It is estimated that well over 60% of reported early stage cases of syphilis occurs in men who have sex with men (MSM).
In this review, I want to specifically address the symptoms, which are impressively and dramatically different depending on the stage.
syphilis1
Stage I – Primary Syphilis: Primary syphilis usually presents with the presence of a single, painless sore (a chancre), located wherever it was contracted. As pictured above, the head (glans) of the penis is a typical site. The sore disappears in 3-6 weeks (with or without treatment), and if treatment wasn’t received, the disease progresses. Herein lies the problems. Because it’s painless, you ignore it, perhaps thinking it was a friction sore, or you never gave it much of a thought. Because it went away on its own, you forget about it, thinking that it got better. So sad, so wrong…
syphilis2Syphilis-hands
Stage II – Secondary Syphilis: When syphilis returns days to weeks (more typically) after the primary infection, it does so quite dramatically. Rashes can appear everywhere, including across your back (as noted above) and chest to on your palms and soles, in your mouth, groin, vagina, anus, or armpits. The rash could be warts (condyloma lata) or flat. You should be scared, but you might not be because… the rash and the other symptoms again will disappear on its own. Despite what you may think intuitively, you really don’t want that to happen.
Latent Syphilis: Dormant syphilis can stay that way for decades after secondary syphilis has occurred. What you don’t know can hurt you. Syphilis can be transmitted during the earlier portion of latent phases, including to an unborn child.
Syphilis3
Tertiary Syphilis: Late stage syphilis is a disturbing thing to see (and obviously experience). The disease can result in death, causing damage to the brain, heart, liver, bones, joints, eyes, the nervous system and blood vessels. Before it kills you, it can result in blindness, paralysis, dementia and loss of motor control. If you don’t know how the research discovering all of this was conducted, for now I’ll just say it was one of the most shameful acts of medical history. I’ll blog on it later. The individuals in the above picture were alive when these pictures were taken, by the way.
A special note: The microorganism causing syphilis is rather aggressive, so much so that it can be transmitted by oral, anal or genital sexual contact. By oral, I also mean kissing. Pay attention to those oral sores. Furthermore, syphilis gets transmitted from mother to unborn child. This is a devastating occurrence – if untreated, a child may be born prematurely, with low birth weight or even stillborn. If untreated, once born, a child may suffer deafness, seizures and cataracts before death.
Prevention and Treatment Considerations: Advanced syphilis is especially disheartening because it is so easily treated and prevented. Prevention is as simple as always wearing condoms, being in a monogamous relationship with someone confirmed not to have it, checking your sexual partner prior to sex and not engaging in sex if any type of sore/ulcer is in the mouth, genitalia or anal region. Regarding treatment, syphilis once upon a time was quite the plague until penicillin was discovered; treating syphilis is how penicillin ‘made a name’ for itself. Treatment with penicillin easily kills syphilis but unfortunately does nothing for damage that has already occurred. Remember that treating syphilis at any point can prevent the most severe complications that lead to death.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress
 

Straight, No Chaser: Mass Trauma, Community Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

masstrauma nairobi shootings

If you’ve been following the Straight, No Chaser series on post-traumatic stress disorder, it may have occurred to you that episodes that some might be able to handle when taken in isolation can have dramatically different psychological effects on others. It gives one pause and a cause to reflect on recent episodes in the news locally and abroad through a different prism.
This is the fourth in a series on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

  • For an introduction to PTSD, including signs, symptoms and those at risk, click here.
  • For a discussion of the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD, click here.
  • For a discussion of the effects of PTSD in children, click here.

ptsddisasters

When entire communities are affected by a mass trauma such as a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, the effects of war or even a seemingly senseless death within the community, many can develop signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In these instances, symptoms tend to develop in the first few weeks after the episode. This is a normal, expected and shared community response to serious trauma. Fortunately, when communities suffer trauma, resources are more likely to become readily available, which allows many to experience a lessening of symptoms over time.
In the immediate timeframe of the event, vital measures for physical and mental wellbeing should include the following.

  • Getting medically evaluated and to a safe place
  • Securing food and water
  • Contacting loved ones or friends
  • Learning what is being done to help and either provide or receive help as needed

A woman cries while sitting on a road amid the destroyed city of Natori, Miyagi Prefecture in northern Japan March 13, 2011, after a massive earthquake and tsunami that are feared to have killed more than 10,000 people. Picture taken March 13, 2011. REUTERS/Asahi Shimbun (JAPAN - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT) JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Unfortunately, some individuals just do not get better on their own. Although most people tend to improve with time after a community disaster, it is not uncommon for some to become more distressed and to exhibit more symptoms of PTSD, depression, and other mental health conditions. There are so many variables in play based on the type of disaster that occurred. Some people are effective at rebuilding their lives if the available resources are appropriate for the type of effect it had on them personally, but others may experience ongoing stress from loss of jobs and schools, trouble paying bills, finding housing, and getting healthcare. These types of stressors compound the effects of the disaster and may delay recovery in those affected by PTSD.
Many in the public health communities are embracing a comprehensive version of mass trauma “psychological first aid.” This complement to medical and financial resources is meant to fill existing voids in post-community disaster care delivery. Otherwise treatment approaches are generally similar to treatment of other forms of PTSD.
At the end of it all, disasters are just that. It would be a good thing for you and your family to be aware of the types of community disasters you may be exposed to and prepare before you ever need help. Having emergency numbers and other resources on your person at all times can be the difference between life and death when seconds count. Here’s hoping you either never need such assistance or you’re prepared enough during a disaster to make it through ok.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: STDs – Syphilis, The Great Mimicker

Today, Straight, No Chaser will present two phrases that you may not have previously heard: The Great Mimicker and MSM, and that means we’re discussing what has historically been a devastating disease: syphilis. Historically, syphilis really is the most important sexually transmitted disease (For what it’s worth, it’s thought that Columbus’ crew spread the disease between the Americas and Europe.). The great mimicker nickname as applied to syphilis exists because syphilis has many general symptoms that resemble and are often confused with other diseases. MSM points to the fact that treatment in the early stages is so complete that syphilis had been rapidly in decline – until it’s reemergence in a specific population. It is estimated that well over 60% of reported early stage cases of syphilis occurs in men who have sex with men (MSM).
In this review, I want to specifically address the symptoms, which are impressively and dramatically different depending on the stage.
syphilis1
Stage I – Primary Syphilis: Primary syphilis usually presents with the presence of a single, painless sore (a chancre), located wherever it was contracted. As pictured above, the head (glans) of the penis is a typical site. The sore disappears in 3-6 weeks (with or without treatment), and if treatment wasn’t received, the disease progresses. Herein lies the problems. Because it’s painless, you ignore it, perhaps thinking it was a friction sore, or you never gave it much of a thought. Because it went away on its own, you forget about it, thinking that it got better. So sad, so wrong…
syphilis2Syphilis-hands
Stage II – Secondary Syphilis: When syphilis returns days to weeks (more typically) after the primary infection, it does so quite dramatically. Rashes can appear everywhere, including across your back (as noted above) and chest to on your palms and soles, in your mouth, groin, vagina, anus, or armpits. The rash could be warts (condyloma lata) or flat. You should be scared, but you might not be because… the rash and the other symptoms again will disappear on its own. Despite what you may think intuitively, you really don’t want that to happen.
Latent Syphilis: Dormant syphilis can stay that way for decades after secondary syphilis has occurred. What you don’t know can hurt you. Syphilis can be transmitted during the earlier portion of latent phases, including to an unborn child.
Syphilis3
Tertiary Syphilis: Late stage syphilis is a disturbing thing to see (and obviously experience). The disease can result in death, causing damage to the brain, heart, liver, bones, joints, eyes, the nervous system and blood vessels. Before it kills you, it can result in blindness, paralysis, dementia and loss of motor control. If you don’t know how the research discovering all of this was conducted, for now I’ll just say it was one of the most shameful acts of medical history. I’ll blog on it later. The individuals in the above picture were alive when these pictures were taken, by the way.
A special note: The microorganism causing syphilis is rather aggressive, so much so that it can be transmitted by oral, anal or genital sexual contact. By oral, I also mean kissing. Pay attention to those oral sores. Furthermore, syphilis gets transmitted from mother to unborn child. This is a devastating occurrence – if untreated, a child may be born prematurely, with low birth weight or even stillborn. If untreated, once born, a child may suffer deafness, seizures and cataracts before death.
Prevention and Treatment Considerations: Advanced syphilis is especially disheartening because it is so easily treated and prevented. Prevention is as simple as always wearing condoms, being in a monogamous relationship with someone confirmed not to have it, checking your sexual partner prior to sex and not engaging in sex if any type of sore/ulcer is in the mouth, genitalia or anal region. Regarding treatment, syphilis once upon a time was quite the plague until penicillin was discovered; treating syphilis is how penicillin ‘made a name’ for itself. Treatment with penicillin easily kills syphilis but unfortunately does nothing for damage that has already occurred. Remember that treating syphilis at any point can prevent the most severe complications that lead to death.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Heart Attack Recognition – Time is Tissue

 MIrecog

Heart Attacks. Myocardial Infarctions. Acute Coronary Syndromes. Coronary Artery Disease. Unstable Angina. There are many names to describe one main phenomenon. Heart attacks are the most common manifestation of heart disease, the #1 cause of death in the United States. Today’s post is to heighten your sensitivity to risk factors and symptoms of a heart attack, because we’ve gotten very good at treating them—especially if you get to us in time.
Risk Factors
Who’s at risk of having a heart attack? If any of the following considerations look or sound like you, you should be especially sensitive to the symptoms I describe below. Please understand these are the rules. I also see the exceptions nearly every day.

  • Age: especially men over 45 and women over 55
  • Cocaine or amphetamine (meth) use
  • Family history of heart attacks: sibling, parents, or grandparents if their heart attacks occurred by age 65
  • High blood pressure: higher risk with obesity, smoking, diabetes, or high cholesterol.
  • High cholesterol or triglyceride levels
  • Obesity/inactivity: especially due to associations with high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol
  • Smoking: including prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke

Again, if you have any of the above risk factors, your symptoms are more likely to be attributable to a heart attack. You may still have a heart attack without any of these risks.
Symptoms
How do you know if you’re having a heart attack? There’s no one-answer-fits-all response (like using FAST for strokes, which we’ll discuss in the next post). Heart attack pain comes in many varieties and is usually associated with other symptoms. What you should be aware of are the pain patterns that should prompt you to get evaluated. These may include the following:

  • Chest discomfort like pressure (something sitting on your chest), squeezing, fullness, indigestion, or just pain
  • Radiation of chest discomfort or just pain in other areas, such as one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Breaking out in a sweat
  • Racing, fluttering, or forceful beating of the heart
  • Lightheadedness up to or including blacking out

Again, you may have all of these symptoms or none of these symptoms in the face of a heart attack. We evaluate you based on the combination of your risk factors and your symptoms.
Bottom Line 1: If you have risks, symptoms and/or concerns, I’d much rather give you good news and education than give your family condolences. Get evaluated.
Bottom Line 2: I’m not discussing specific treatment options today (that’s for a future post), but remember two things:

  • Time is tissue, so the sooner you get to the Emergency Room, the more treatment options we have and the better your outcome is likely to be. This is not the disease to think, “It’ll just go away.” We can do our absolute best for you if you get to us within three hours of the start of your symptoms.
  • If and when something like this happens to me, the first thing I’m doing on my way the hospital is taking an aspirin.

As per routine, the combination of adequate prevention and prompt symptom recognition are key. I hope you share this with your families, especially those at immediate risk.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, AmazonBarnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Mass Trauma, Community Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

masstrauma nairobi shootings

If you’ve been following the Straight, No Chaser series on post-traumatic stress disorder, it may have occurred to you that episodes that some might be able to handle when taken in isolation can have dramatically different psychological effects on others. It gives one pause and a cause to reflect on recent episodes in the news locally and abroad through a different prism.
This is the fourth in a series on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

  • For an introduction to PTSD, including signs, symptoms and those at risk, click here.
  • For a discussion of the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD, click here.
  • For a discussion of the effects of PTSD in children, click here.

When entire communities are affected by a mass trauma such as a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, the effects of war or even a seemingly senseless death within the community, many can develop signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In these instances, symptoms tend to develop in the first few weeks after the episode. This is a normal, expected and shared community response to serious trauma. Fortunately, when communities suffer trauma, resources are more likely to become readily available, which allows many to experience a lessening of symptoms over time.
In the immediate timeframe of the event, vital measures for physical and mental wellbeing should include the following.

  • Getting medically evaluated and to a safe place
  • Securing food and water
  • Contacting loved ones or friends
  • Learning what is being done to help and either provide or receive help as needed

Unfortunately, some individuals just do not get better on their own. Although most people tend to improve with time after a community disaster, it is not uncommon for some to become more distressed and to exhibit more symptoms of PTSD, depression, and other mental health conditions. There are so many variables in play based on the type of disaster that occurred. Some people are effective at rebuilding their lives if the available resources are appropriate for the type of effect it had on them personally, but others may experience ongoing stress from loss of jobs and schools, trouble paying bills, finding housing, and getting healthcare. These types of stressors compound the effects of the disaster and may delay recovery in those affected by PTSD.
Many in the public health communities are embracing a comprehensive version of mass trauma “psychological first aid.” This complement to medical and financial resources is meant to fill existing voids in post-community disaster care delivery. Otherwise treatment approaches are generally similar to treatment of other forms of PTSD.
At the end of it all, disasters are just that. It would be a good thing for you and your family to be aware of the types of community disasters you may be exposed to and prepare before you ever need help. Having emergency numbers and other resources on your person at all times can be the difference between life and death when seconds count. Here’s hoping you either never need such assistance or you’re prepared enough during a disaster to make it through ok.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC

Straight, No Chaser: STDs – Syphilis, The Great Mimicker

Today, Straight, No Chaser will present two phrases that you may not have previously heard: The Great Mimicker and MSM, and that means we’re discussing what has historically been a devastating disease: syphilis. Historically, syphilis really is the most important sexually transmitted disease (For what it’s worth, it’s thought that Columbus’ crew spread the disease between the Americas and Europe.). The great mimicker nickname as applied to syphilis exists because syphilis has many general symptoms that resemble and are often confused with other diseases. MSM points to the fact that treatment in the early stages is so complete that syphilis had been rapidly in decline – until it’s reemergence in a specific population. It is estimated that well over 60% of reported early stage cases of syphilis occurs in men who have sex with men (MSM).
In this review, I want to specifically address the symptoms, which are impressively and dramatically different depending on the stage.
syphilis1
Stage I – Primary Syphilis: Primary syphilis usually presents with the presence of a single, painless sore (a chancre), located wherever it was contracted. As pictured above, the head (glans) of the penis is a typical site. The sore disappears in 3-6 weeks (with or without treatment), and if treatment wasn’t received, the disease progresses. Herein lies the problems. Because it’s painless, you ignore it, perhaps thinking it was a friction sore, or you never gave it much of a thought. Because it went away on its own, you forget about it, thinking that it got better. So sad, so wrong…
syphilis2Syphilis-hands
Stage II – Secondary Syphilis: When syphilis returns days to weeks (more typically) after the primary infection, it does so quite dramatically. Rashes can appear everywhere, including across your back (as noted above) and chest to on your palms and soles, in your mouth, groin, vagina, anus, or armpits. The rash could be warts (condyloma lata) or flat. You should be scared, but you might not be because… the rash and the other symptoms again will disappear on its own. Despite what you may think intuitively, you really don’t want that to happen.
Latent Syphilis: Dormant syphilis can stay that way for decades after secondary syphilis has occurred. What you don’t know can hurt you. Syphilis can be transmitted during the earlier portion of latent phases, including to an unborn child.
Syphilis3
Tertiary Syphilis: Late stage syphilis is a disturbing thing to see (and obviously experience). The disease can result in death, causing damage to the brain, heart, liver, bones, joints, eyes, the nervous system and blood vessels. Before it kills you, it can result in blindness, paralysis, dementia and loss of motor control. If you don’t know how the research discovering all of this was conducted, for now I’ll just say it was one of the most shameful acts of medical history. I’ll blog on it later. The individuals in the above picture were alive when these pictures were taken, by the way.
A special note: The microorganism causing syphilis is rather aggressive, so much so that it can be transmitted by oral, anal or genital sexual contact. By oral, I also mean kissing. Pay attention to those oral sores. Furthermore, syphilis gets transmitted from mother to unborn child. This is a devastating occurrence – if untreated, a child may be born prematurely, with low birth weight or even stillborn. If untreated, once born, a child may suffer deafness, seizures and cataracts before death.
Prevention and Treatment Considerations: Advanced syphilis is especially disheartening because it is so easily treated and prevented. Prevention is as simple as always wearing condoms, being in a monogamous relationship with someone confirmed not to have it, checking your sexual partner prior to sex and not engaging in sex if any type of sore/ulcer is in the mouth, genitalia or anal region. Regarding treatment, syphilis once upon a time was quite the plague until penicillin was discovered; treating syphilis is how penicillin ‘made a name’ for itself. Treatment with penicillin easily kills syphilis but unfortunately does nothing for damage that has already occurred. Remember that treating syphilis at any point can prevent the most severe complications that lead to death.
For a historical lesson on what happens with untreated syphilis, review this Straight, No Chaser post on The Tuskegee Experiments.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA). Enjoy some of our favorite posts and frequently asked questions as well as a daily note explaining the benefits of SMA membership. Please share our page with your Friends on WordPress, on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
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Straight, No Chaser: Mass Trauma, Community Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

masstrauma nairobi shootings

This is the fourth in a series on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

  • For an introduction to PTSD, including signs, symptoms and those at risk, click here.
  • For a discussion of the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD, click here.
  • For a discussion of the effects of PTSD in children, click here.

When entire communities are affected by a mass trauma such as a natural disaster, a terrorist attack or the effects of war, many can develop signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In these instances, symptoms tend to develop in the first few weeks after the episode. This is a normal, expected and shared community response to serious trauma. Fortunately, when communities suffer trauma, resources are more likely to become readily available, which allows many to experience a lessening of symptoms over time.
In the immediate timeframe of the event, vital measures should include the following.

  • Getting medically evaluated and to a safe place
  • Securing food and water
  • Contacting loved ones or friends
  • Learning what is being done to help and either provide or receive help as needed

Unfortunately, some just do not get better on their own. Although most people tend to improve with time after a community disaster, it is not uncommon for some to become more distressed and to exhibit more symptoms of PTSD, depression, and other mental health conditions. There are so many variables in play based on the type of disaster that occurred. Some people are effective at rebuilding their lives if the available resources are appropriate for the type of effect it had on them personally, but others may experience ongoing stress from loss of jobs and schools, trouble paying bills, finding housing, and getting healthcare. These types of stressors compound the effects of the disaster and may delay recovery in those affected by PTSD.
Many in the public health communities are embracing a comprehensive version of mass trauma “psychological first aid”. This complement to medical and financial resources is meant to fill existing voids in post-community disaster care delivery. Otherwise treatment approaches are generally similar to treatment of other forms of PTSD.
At the end of it all, disasters are just that. It would be a good thing for you and your family to be aware of the types of community disasters you may be exposed to and prepare before you ever need help. Having emergency numbers and other resources on your person at all times can be the difference between life and death when seconds count. Click here for a related Straight, No Chaser on Mass Trauma, and here’s hoping you either never need such assistance or you’re prepared enough during a disaster to make it through ok.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2013 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Diagnosis and Treatment

ptsdpic
For a review of PTSD signs, symptoms and those at risk, click here.
Not every traumatized person develops post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In those that do, symptoms typically begin within three months of the incident but may present years afterward. The severity of symptoms is such that they must last more than a month to be considered PTSD. There is significant variation in outcome in those with PTSD; some recover within six months, and in some the condition becomes chronic.
To be diagnosed with PTSD, a person must have the following symptom complex for at least one month:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom (including flashbacks, scary thoughts or nightmares)
  • At least three avoidance symptoms (a pathologic response to stay away from or forget the episode)
  • At least two hyperarousal symptoms (a constant state of being on edge, sensitive and prone to overreact)

Additionally, PTSD is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or other anxiety disorders.
PTSD is typically treated with either psychotherapy (“talk” therapy), medications, or both. Mental health professionals will review and discuss all treatment options with you prior to initiating therapy, because some people will need to try more than one variety to discover what works for their symptoms.
If someone with PTSD is going through ongoing trauma, such as an abusive relationship, both the PTSD and the current problems need to be treated. Other ongoing problems can include panic disorder, depression, substance abuse, and suicidal feelings.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two medications for treating adults with PTSD, sertraline (Zoloft), and paroxetine (Paxil). Both of these medications are also used to treat depression. In PTSD, they help control symptoms such as sadness, worry, anger, and the feeling of numbness inside. Taking these medications often make it easier to go through psychotherapy.
Sometimes people taking these medications have side effects at the beginning of therapy, but they usually go away. Any side effects or unusual reactions should be reported to a doctor immediately. Sometimes the medication dose needs to be reduced or the time of day it is taken needs to be adjusted to help lessen these side effects. The most common side effects of antidepressants like sertraline and paroxetine are the following:

  • Headache
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
  • Sleeplessness or drowsiness
  • Agitation (feeling jittery)
  • Sexual problems (occurs in both sexes), including reduced sex drive and problems having and enjoying sex.

Doctors may also prescribe other types of medications, such as benzodiazepines (commonly used for relaxation and as a sleep aid), antipsychotics and other antidepressants. There is little information on how well these work for people with PTSD.
If you believe you suffer from PTSD, it’s very simple. Please get evaluated and get the help you need.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2013 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight No Chaser: Warning Signs of Cancer – Take CAUTION

fight-cancer

Cancer. The Big C. The medical ‘death sentence’. No diagnosis scares as much as cancer, which is why it is so important that you be as empowered as possible. Be reminded that if you fall into certain risk categories, please get screened. Because many cancers are asymptotic during early stages, screening and early detection gives one the best possible chance for a good outcome.
In the event that symptoms are present, it’s helpful for you to know what typical symptoms are. Courtesy of the American Cancer Society, here is a mnemonic that teaches signs and symptoms to alert you to the possibility of cancer. Think ‘CAUTION’.

  • Change in bowel or bladder habits
  • A sore that does not heal
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge
  • Thickening or lump in the breast, testicles, or elsewhere
  • Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
  • Obvious change in the size, color, shape, or thickness of a wart, mole, or mouth sore
  • Nagging cough or hoarseness

Additional symptoms that may be suggestive include unexplained weight loss, persistent headaches, nausea, vomiting, fatigue or pain, repeated infections and fever. Given that these non-specific symptoms could be due to many other things, as a cancer consideration, typical recommendations are to get these types of symptoms evaluated if they’ve been present for more than two weeks.
Just remember, cancer is something you want to detect, not ignore. If you wait until it’s too late, then, well it’ll be too late.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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"Why would my doctor tell me not to take cough medicine for my cold or flu?"

coughmed

The first thing to appreciate about cough and cold preparations is they only provide relief of symptoms.  The body itself is providing the actual healing of what is usually a viral infection. The cough associated with a cold, flu or bronchitis will go away on its own (sooner rather than later, assuming you’re not smoking while sick; smoking further inflames your airways, thus stimulating coughing).
The nuisance symptoms of a cough often are most disturbing at night while you’re trying to sleep. Cough suppressants (antitussives) are medications that reduce your cough reflex. Additionally, you will often see the word ‘expectorant’ associated with cough medications; this component helps to hydrate and thus thin the mucus, making it easier for the body to expel.
So… some physicians prefer to allow the body to work these issues out on its own.  It is common to be told to only take cough medications at night to help you sleep, unless you need to take them to also get through your day.
Also, be reminded that all medications have side effects; you may recall that drug allergies or adverse drug reactions (which were covered here) may be additional reasons that your physician may not want you to take cough and cold preparations. If you have any questions in real time, you may always contact your physician or your SterlingMedicalAdvice.com consultant.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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From the Health Library of SterlingMedicalAdvice.com: “What signs or symptoms should I look for in my child as an indicator of mental health issues?”

peds behavior
Be aware of changes in your child’s emotional, behavioral, and/or mental functioning. Remember that children often express sadness and feelings of depression in the form of anger, through outbursts, tantrums, etc. If the symptoms persist for more than a month, seek evaluation from your child’s doctor or a mental health professional.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) will offer beginning November 1. Until then enjoy some our favorite posts and frequently asked questions as well as a daily note explaining the benefits of SMA membership. Please share our page with your Friends on WordPress, and we can be found on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2013 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Stroke Recognition

strokerecog

Let’s talk about strokes, aka Cerebral Vascular Accidents (CVA) and Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA), and specifically about recognition and treatment. If you don’t remember anything else here, commit the mneumonic FAST to memory. (Details follow.)
A stroke (CVA) is an insult to some part of your brain, usually due to an inability of the blood supply to deliver needed oxygen and nutrients to that part of the brain. The brain actually approximates a “body map,” so depending on what part of your brain is affected, different parts of your body will be predictably affected. Technically, a stroke isn’t a stroke until the symptoms have been there for more than 24 hours; until then and/or if the symptoms reverse within that timeframe, the same scenario is called a TIA or a “mini-stroke.”

Think FAST, Act Faster

Here’s how the layperson can recognize a possible stroke:

  • Face: Ask the affected person to show you his/her teeth (or gums). In a stroke the face often droops or is otherwise noticeably different.
  • Arms: Ask the person to lift and extend the arms so the elbows are at eye level. In a stroke one side will often be weak and drift downward.
  • Speech: Ask the person to say any sentence to you. In a stroke the speech will slur or otherwise be abnormal.
  • Time: If any of the above occur, it’s recommended that you call 911 immediately, but if it’s my family, I’m getting in a car and going to the nearest MAJOR medical center—not the nearest hospital, which is where the ambulance will take you. There are important differences in hospitals when it comes to stroke treatment (which you won’t know offhand), because some are designated stroke centers and others are not. Friends, this is not the situation where you should wait hours or overnight to see if things get better. Time is (brain) tissue.

It is VERY important that you act on any of the above symptoms (F-A-S) within three (3) hours of symptom onset. Important treatment options are available within the first four and a half (4 ½) hours that are otherwise unavailable.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) will offer beginning November 1. Until then enjoy some our favorite posts and frequently asked questions as well as a daily note explaining the benefits of SMA membership. Please share our page with your Friends on WordPress, and we can be found on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2013 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Syphilis – The Great Mimicker

Today, you will learn two phrases that you may not have previously heard: The Great Mimicker and MSM. Regarding another word you definitely should know, I’ll touch on it and will save for a separate post: Tuskegee.
Historically, syphilis really is the most important sexually transmitted disease (For what it’s worth, it’s thought that Columbus’ crew spread the disease from the Americas to Europe.). The great mimicker nickname as applied to syphilis exists because syphilis has many general symptoms that resemble and are often confused with other diseases.  MSM points to the fact that treatment in the early stages is so complete that syphilis had been rapidly in decline – until it’s reemergence in a specific population. It is estimated that well over 60% of reported early stage cases of syphilis occurs in men who have sex with men (MSM).
In the first part of this review, I want to specifically address the symptoms, which are impressively and dramatically different depending on the stage.
syphilis1
Stage I – Primary Syphilis: Primary syphilis usually presents with the presence of a single, painless sore (a chancre), located wherever it was contracted. As pictured above, the head (glans) of the penis is a typical site. The sore disappears in 3-6 weeks (with or without treatment), and if treatment wasn’t received, the disease progresses. Herein lies the problems. Because it’s painless, you ignore it, perhaps thinking it was a friction sore, or you never gave it much of a thought. Because it went away on its own, you forget about it, thinking that it got better. So sad, so wrong…

syphilis2Syphilis-hands

Stage II – Secondary Syphilis: When syphilis returns days to weeks (more typically) after the primary infection, it does so quite dramatically. Rashes can appear everywhere, including across your back (as noted above) and chest to on your palms and soles, in your mouth, groin, vagina, anus, or armpits. The rash could be warts (condyloma lata) or flat. You should be scared, but you might not be because… the rash and the other symptoms again will disappear on its own. Despite what you may think intuitively, you really don’t want that to happen.
Latent Syphilis: Dormant syphilis can stay that way for decades after secondary syphilis has occurred. What you don’t know can hurt you. Syphilis can be transmitted during the earlier portion of latent phases, including to an unborn child.
Syphilis3
Tertiary Syphilis: Late stage syphilis is a disturbing thing to see (and obviously experience). The disease can result in death, causing damage to the brain, heart, liver, bones, joints, eyes, the nervous system and blood vessels. Before it kills you, it can result in blindness, paralysis, dementia and loss of motor control. If you don’t know how the research discovering all of this was conducted, for now I’ll just say it was one of the most shameful acts of medical history. I’ll blog on it later. The individuals in the above picture were alive when these pictures were taken, by the way.
A special note: The bacteria causing syphilis is rather aggressive, so much so that it can be transmitted by oral, anal or genital sexual contact. By oral, I also mean kissing. Pay attention to those oral sores. Furthermore, syphilis gets transmitted from mother to unborn child. This is a devastating occurrence – if untreated, a child may be born prematurely, with low birth weight or even stillborn. If untreated, once born, a child may suffer deafness, seizures and cataracts before death.
All of the pictures in this posts are typical representations of the various stages of syphilis, and I’ve seen them all. These are not meant to provide any shock value other than demonstrating what occurs with progression of the disease. Later, I will discuss treatment, risks and other considerations. I don’t think you’ll want to miss the rest of the story. That really is shocking – and horrible.
Feel free to offer comments or ask questions.
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Straight, No Chaser: Heads Up! Traumatic Brain Injuries (Concussion), Part II

concussionboxing_facial__4_

Your son is a star in Friday Night Lights (actually football, not the TV show) and has been concussed.  Amazingly, the most common question I get asked is not “Will he be ok?”, but “When will he be able to get back on the field?”.   My answer, coming out the ER, is never going to be less than two weeks, and I won’t be the one who provides medical clearance.  It’ll either be your family doctor or preferably, a neurologist.  Don’t just take my word for it.  Consider the following Quick Tips from the Center for Disease Control and Preventions.
CDC’s Discharge Instructions

  • You may experience a range of symptoms over the next few days, such as difficulty concentrating, dizziness or trouble falling asleep.  These symptoms can be part of the normal healing process, and most go away over time without any treatment.
  • Return immediately to the ED if you have worsening or severe headache, lose consciousness, increased vomiting, increasing confusion, seizures, numbness or any symptom that concerns you, your family, or friends.
  • Tell a family member or friend about your head injury and ask them to help monitor you for more serious symptoms.  Get plenty of rest and sleep, and return gradually and slowly to your usually routines.  Don’t drink alcohol.  Avoid activities that are physically demanding or require a lot of concentration.
  • If you don’t feel better after a week, see a doctor who has experience treating brain injuries.
  • Don’t return to sports before talking to your doctor.  A repeat blow to your head-before your brain has time to heal-can be very dangerous and may slow recovery or increase the chance for long-term problems.

Finally, there are two particularly impactful consequences about which you should be aware.

  • The ‘second impact syndrome’ is irreversible brain injury triggered by a fairly routine second head impact after a prior concussion.  You must take the time off needed for the brain to heal.  I care more about your child’s mental future than the upcoming playoff game.
  • The ‘post-concussive syndrome’ represents long-term neurologic and psychologic consequences of the head injury.  It includes such symptoms as inability to sleep, irritability, inability to concentrate, headache, dizziness and anxiety.

There are no treatments for concussions other than prevention of an additional injury, and that fact should be chilling to you.  Be mindful of the risks involved in choosing to engage in activities putting the brain at risk.