Tag Archives: United States

Straight, No Chaser: Your Questions on Treatment of Fire Related Injuries

firevictim
Questions, you’ve got questions (Why are you so shy about posting them?).  Here we go.  Today, your focus is on the aftermath and treatment of fire related injury.

1)   What does carbon monoxide poisoning look like?

  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning is very dangerous because the gas is colorless and odorless.  You should suspect that you’re feeling its effect when you’re feeling like you have the flu after perhaps being in a contained area with a motor running or after a fire.  Headache is the most common symptom, and you may also feel nauseated, with malaise (feeling ‘blah’) and fatigue also being common symptoms.

2)   How are the burns treated?

  • Burns cause serious illness.  The thermal component can cause direct damage to your airway.  The toxins contained within (carbon monoxide and cyanide) can kill you independent of any other consideration.  Burns are especially prone to infection, so you don’t want significant skin burns exposed to everything outside of a burnt house while you’re waiting for the ambulance.
  • The burns will be treated according to the severity.  A lot of intravenous fluid, pain management, clear blister removal and infection control will be in order.  Especially serious burns may require a burn unit and skin grafting.

3)   What can I do to treat while waiting for the ambulance?

  • Keep calm, and keep them calm.
  • Be prepared to start CPR if necessary.
  • If any injuries have occurred to the head and neck, lay the person down and don’t move them.
  • Cover any bleeding areas, and apply enough pressure to stop external bleeding.
  • If you have a clean sheet, wrap the person in it.

4)   I know someone who says she was intubated (i.e. had a ‘breathing tube’ placed), and they were feeling fine after a fire.  Why would this have been done?

  • It’s hard to comment on the management of individual cases sight unseen, but most likely soot or burning was noted somewhere inside the airway (e.g. the mouth, nose or oral cavity).  Intubation would have been done to protect and secure the airway before in collapses.  If you wait until the last possible moment, it could be too late.

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: The Roof Is On Fire – The Trauma of Residential Fires

Image
As Trauma Week winds down on Straight, No Chaser, we work our way back home, which sadly is the site of most traumatic injuries.  In fact, about 85% of all U.S. fire deaths occur in homes.
The good news is the number of residential fire-related deaths and associated injuries is going down, but that won’t help you if you aren’t aware of how to prevent them and get to safety and cared for in the event a fire occurs in your home.  Let’s address this right off the bat.  You’re most likely to die or be injured from a fire if you’re in one of the following groups, according to the Center for Disease Control (but of course, the fire doesn’t check who’s being burnt):

  • Poor
  • Rural
  • African-American
  • Native American
  • Ages less than 4 or over 65

Based on new injury statistics (2016), an American is accidentally injured every second and killed every three minutes by a preventable event.   Interestingly, victims aren’t burning to death as much as they are dying from inhalation injuries from smoke and gases (estimated to be the cause of death in between 50-80% of cases).  Speaking of smoke, although cooking is the #1 cause of fires, smoking is the leading cause of fire-related deaths.  Alcohol consumption is a contributing factor in 40% of residential fire deaths.  Most fires occur in the winter.
So What To Do?

  • Install a smoke alarm.  They work.  Over one-third of residential fire deaths occur in homes without alarms.
  • Plan your escape in advance.  Have an exit strategy based on where a fire might break out in your home.
  • Don’t fight the fire.  Nearly ½ of fire related injuries occur from efforts to fight the fire.  Get out of the house.  Of course if you have easy access to an extinguisher, use at your discretion.

Tips on How You’ll Be Treated
Fire-related injuries commonly involve burns and bony injuries (bruises, sprains, fractures), which will be addressed as needed.  However, the most important fire-related injuries involve the airway.  These injuries may be due to the heat’s effects on the airway (burns, swelling and inflammation) and/or the effects of carbon monoxide and/or cyanide (inability to oxygenate).  One important fact for families to realize is the presence of any soot/burns anywhere near or in the mouth or nose needs to be evaluated.  Such signs and symptoms are powerful predictors of potential airways damage and imminent failure.

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: National Minority Organ Donor Awareness Month

Organ-donor-shortage-001
August is National Minority Donor Awareness Month, which brings attention to the more than 118,000 people nationwide waiting for lifesaving organ transplants. Of the these men, women and children listed on the national organ transplant waiting list, 56% are minorities. People of most races and ethnicities in the U.S. donate in proportion to their representation in the population. Minorities are disproportionately affected by illnesses, like high blood pressure and diabetes, which can lead to end-stage renal disease and the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant.  This contributes to a disproportionately higher number of minority patients on the national organ transplant waiting list.
Here’s a representation of waiting list candidates by ethnicity:

  • Caucasians: 43.7%
  • African-Americans: 29.6%
  • Hispanics/Latinos: 18.4%
  • Asians: 6.7%
  • Native Americans and Alaska Natives: 1%
  • Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders: 0.5%
  • Multiracial: 0.5%

In 2012, 11,309 minority patients received organ transplants; while there were 2,762 minority deceased donors and 1,711 minority living donors. The wait is long and, sadly, 18 people die every day because the transplant they desperately needed did not come in time.  These facts make the need for more donors from ethnic minority groups critical.  However, minority organ donation often lags due to misinformation about the need and process.
Learn The Facts (most information provided by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
These facts may help you better understand organ, eye, and tissue donation:

  • Fact: Regardless of age or medical history, anyone can sign up to be a donor. The transplant team will determine at an individual’s time of death whether donation is possible.
  • Fact: Most major religions in the United States support organ donation and consider donation as the final act of love and generosity toward others.
  • Fact: If you are sick or injured and admitted to a hospital, the number one priority is to save your life.  Hospitals simply are not in the business of allowing patients to die to harvest their organs.
  • Fact: When matching donor organs to recipients, the computerized matching system considers issues such as the severity of illness, blood type, time spent waiting, other important medical information, and geographic location. The recipient’s financial or celebrity status or race does not figure in.
  • Fact: An open casket funeral is usually possible for organ, eye, and tissue donors. Through the entire donation process, the body is treated with care, respect, and dignity.
  • Fact: There is no cost to donors or their families for organ or tissue donation.
  • Fact: Every state provides access to a donor registry where its residents can indicate their donation decision.
  • Fact: Federal law prohibits buying and selling organs in the U.S. Violators are punishable by prison sentences and fines.
  • Fact: People can recover from comas, but not brain death. Coma and brain death are not the same. Brain death is final.

In order to sign up to be on the donor registry, or to receive more information, visit http://organdonor.gov/becomingdonor/stateregistries.html.
Meet the challenge.  Address the need.

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: Do You Drink Too Much?

drinks
It’s one of those Straight, No Chaser (literally) days.  Lets address substance abuse. The problems with most intoxicating substances revolve around the same consideration.  You had the most incredible time and got the most incredible high the first time, and you spend the rest of your life chasing the joy of that first buzz, which for most drugs you’ll never get.  The difference with alcohol abuse is that alcohol is legal and comparatively inexpensive, so you get to keep trying without much fuss (or at least initially).
Let’s set the stage by standardizing some terms:

  • Alcohol intoxication: You’re drunk and under the influence of alcohol.
  • Alcohol abuse: Your drinking habits are unhealthy, resulting in bad consequences (e.g. at work, in your relationships, with the law).
  • Alcohol dependency: You’re physically and/or mentally addicted to alcohol.  You crave liquor and seemingly can’t do without it.  Dependency involves withdrawal symptoms when alcohol is not in your system.  These symptoms may include anxiety, nausea, sweating, jitteriness, shakes and even withdrawal seizures.

Alcoholism is a chronic disease.  Unfortunately, some of us start with a predisposition based on genes and strong influences based on family and cultural considerations.  It is so much more than either a lack of willpower or an inability to quit.  This disease has a predictable course and defined effects on various parts of the body, leading to specific means of death if unaddressed.  Because I’m Straight, No Chaser, I’m not going to deal with the subjective thoughts you offer about whether or not you can ‘handle your liquor’ or whether you believe ‘you can stop anytime you want’.  I’m going to give you some medical data that defines when you’re doing damage to your body.  It’s actually pretty simple.
Are you this guy or gal (keep in mind a standard drink is defined as one 12 ounce can of beer, 1 glass of wine or 1 mixed drink)?

  • Women having more than 3 drinks at one time or more than 7 drinks a week.
  • Men having more than 4 drinks at one time or more than 14 drinks a week.

If so, you’re causing damage.  We’ll get into the specifics at another time.
That’s damage.  Let’s discuss dependency.  Consider the possibility that you may be dependent on alcohol if you have any of these problems over the course of a year:

  • While you’re drinking, you can’t quit or control how much you drink.
  • You have tried to quit drinking or to cut back the amount you drink but can’t.
  • You need to drink more to get a previous effect (This is called ‘tolerance’.).
  • You have withdrawal symptoms (discussed earlier) when you stop.
  • You spend a lot of your time either drinking, recovering from drinking, or giving up other activities so you can drink.
  • You continue to drink even though it harms your relationships and causes physical problems.

So What?
No one is giving up alcohol by reading this, I’m sure.  I haven’t even touched to the harsh realities of alcoholism (yet).  Alcohol is part of the American social fabric.  We live, celebrate and commemorate milestones with it.  It’s glamorized throughout society.  It’s constitutionally approved.  I appreciate that.  In moderation, it’s a good time.  Just understand that it’s not a free ride.  The danger is in the insidious nature of this disease, meaning issues may creep up on you before you ever know what’s about to hit you.  Then we’re having a completely different conversation.
I look forward to any questions or thoughts on the topic.
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: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Signs, Symptoms and Those at Risk

ptsd-1

Memorial Day serves to honor our fallen heroes. Part of that involves caring for our soldiers still with us. Understanding and acknowledging the mental components of their suffering remains a vital and underachieved need. Our soldiers disproportionately suffer from several mental disorders, notably, post-traumatic stress disorder. Today’s post begins a review of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We thank all of our veterans for their service.
I’ve dealt with disease and death everyday as an Emergency Physician, and it has been dehumanizing on many levels. Imagine having to pronounce someone dead despite giving your version of a superhuman effort to resuscitate them and then having to deliver the news to a family deep in prayer and holding on to strings of hope. Oh yeah, and then you immediately get to return to a room filled with patients and families oblivious to anything you’re dealing with as an individual, who are completely immersed in their personal situations and often complaining because “you took too long.” Imagine the lives of morticians or cemetery workers, having to stare at and feel the remains of the dead all day everyday. Imagine the lives of those habitually raped or viciously beaten by a loved one as a child. And, of course, there are the soldiers. Over 7.5 million Americans are thought to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), approximately one in every 40 individuals.
Traumatic and post-traumatic stress are not only able to affect your reality, but to adjust your reality. The body’s normal “fight-or-flight” response to danger or extremely stressful situations can evolve into abnormalities in your behavior if you are continually immersed in these environments. One such as the emergency physician may become desensitized and/or empowered to address situations that would make otherwise normal individuals recoil, or one may become overly sensitive, hyper-stressed and prone to a fight response to lesser stimuli—or no stimuli at all.
There are three categories of symptoms of PTSD, which are easily remembered by thinking of a hyperactive “fight-or-flight” response: reliving traumatic experiences, avoiding circumstances or situations that remind one of the experience, and reacting out of hyperarousal to stimuli suggestive of the experience.
ptsd2

  • Reliving can involve flashbacks, scary thoughts and nightmares. Victims have been known to actually re-experience the physical and mental episodes, complete with palpitations, sweating, jitteriness and severe anxiety. Such experiences can become incapacitating.
  • Avoidance is in many ways the opposite end of the “fight or flight” syndrome. In this example, avoidance isn’t just being proactive and staying away from reminders of the experience, but it can escalate to loss of emotions or even recollection of the event. This isn’t a strategic decision; it’s a defense mechanism gone haywire. As an example, imagine the near-drowning victim who refuses to even sit on the beach.
  • Hyperarousal leads one to be on edge, sensitive and prone to overreact. In contrast to the other two symptoms listed, hyperarousal tends to be a constant state of being. PTSD victims with hyperarousal describe themselves as easily angered and always stressed.

Many if not most of us will experience traumatic events in our lives sufficient enough to cause tremendous stress. There are circumstances that enhance the risk of developing PTSD.

ptsd-dv

  • Childhood trauma is especially dangerous in that the developing brain can respond “appropriately” in coding for abnormal circumstances and exposures. Subsequent trauma can trigger PTSD-quality responses.
  • Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men.
  • Mental illness may abnormally shape responses to traumatic events.
  • There is some evidence that susceptibility to the disorder may run in families. Individual differences in the brain or genes may predispose an individual.
  • The relative absence of social support and a functional network is a severe risk.

Conversely, if you have strong coping mechanisms, you may be able to lower your risk for developing PTSD after trauma. Consider the following protective factors:

  • A predisposition toward optimism
  • The ability and inclination to seek out support from others, ranging from friends, family and/or an active support group
  • A mental orientation that you “performed well” in the face of the danger
  • A mental orientation of learning from the experience instead of allowing the experience to define you
  • Sufficient mental fortitude to be able to carry on in the face of the symptoms (fear, anxiety) that follow the event

The presence of these “resilience factors” does not suggest that those suffering from PTSD are lacking in any way; it suggests the best opportunities for you to avoid succumbing to the enormous pressures that exist.
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: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Signs, Symptoms and Those at Risk

ptsd-1

Memorial Day serves to honor our fallen heroes. Part of that involves caring for our soldiers still with us. Understanding and acknowledging the mental components of their suffering remains a vital and underachieved need. Our soldiers disproportionately suffer from several mental disorders, notably, post-traumatic stress disorder. Today’s post begins a review of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We thank all of our veterans for their service.
I’ve dealt with disease and death everyday as an Emergency Physician, and it has been dehumanizing on many levels. Imaging having to pronounce someone dead despite giving your version of a superhuman effort to resuscitate them and then having to deliver the news to a family deep in prayer and holding on to strings of hope. Oh yeah, and then you immediately get to return to a room filled with patients and families oblivious to anything you’re dealing with as an individual, who are completely immersed in their personal situations and often complaining because “you took too long.” Imagine the lives of morticians or cemetery workers, having to stare at and feel the remains of the dead all day everyday. Imagine the lives of those habitually raped or viciously beaten by a loved one as a child. And, of course, there are the soldiers. Over 7.5 million Americans are thought to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), approximately one in every 40 individuals.
Traumatic and post-traumatic stress are not only able to affect your reality, but to adjust your reality. The body’s normal “fight-or-flight” response to danger or extremely stressful situations can evolve into abnormalities in your behavior if you are continually immersed in these environments. One such as the emergency physician may become desensitized and/or empowered to address situations that would make otherwise normal individuals recoil, or one may become overly sensitive, hyper-stressed and prone to a fight response to lesser stimuli—or no stimuli at all.
There are three categories of symptoms of PTSD, which are easily remembered by thinking of a hyperactive “fight-or-flight” response: reliving traumatic experiences, avoiding circumstances or situations that remind one of the experience, and reacting out of hyperarousal to stimuli suggestive of the experience.
ptsd2

  • Reliving can involve flashbacks, scary thoughts and nightmares. Victims have been known to actually re-experience the physical and mental episodes, complete with palpitations, sweating, jitteriness and severe anxiety. Such experiences can become incapacitating.
  • Avoidance is in many ways the opposite end of the “fight or flight” syndrome. In this example, avoidance isn’t just being proactive and staying away from reminders of the experience, but it can escalate to loss of emotions or even recollection of the event. This isn’t a strategic decision; it’s a defense mechanism gone haywire. As an example, imagine the near-drowning victim who refuses to even sit on the beach.
  • Hyperarousal leads one to be on edge, sensitive and prone to overreact. In contrast to the other two symptoms listed, hyperarousal tends to be a constant state of being. PTSD victims with hyperarousal describe themselves as easily angered and always stressed.

Many if not most of us will experience traumatic events in our lives sufficient enough to cause tremendous stress. There are circumstances that enhance the risk of developing PTSD.

ptsd-dv

  • Childhood trauma is especially dangerous in that the developing brain can respond “appropriately” in coding for abnormal circumstances and exposures. Subsequent trauma can trigger PTSD-quality responses.
  • Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men.
  • Mental illness may abnormally shape responses to traumatic events.
  • There is some evidence that susceptibility to the disorder may run in families. Individual differences in the brain or genes may predispose an individual.
  • The relative absence of social support and a functional network is a severe risk.

Conversely, if you have strong coping mechanisms, you may be able to lower your risk for developing PTSD after trauma. Consider the following protective factors:

  • A predisposition toward optimism
  • The ability and inclination to seek out support from others, ranging from friends, family and/or an active support group
  • A mental orientation that you “performed well” in the face of the danger
  • A mental orientation of learning from the experience instead of allowing the experience to define you
  • Sufficient mental fortitude to be able to carry on in the face of the symptoms (fear, anxiety) that follow the event

The presence of these “resilience factors” does not suggest that those suffering from PTSD are lacking in any way; it suggests the best opportunities for you to avoid succumbing to the enormous pressures that exist.
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: Syphilis Prevention, Treatment and the Tuskegee Experience

tuskegeesyphilis4
Syphilis should be a word derived from something meaning horrible. In an earlier post, we reviewed the rather horrific progression of the symptoms of syphilis. An additionally horrible consideration is that treatment is so very easy once identified. Of course, that’s not the most horrific aspect of the disease. Read on.
Looking back retrospectively, 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. However, as discussed in the post discussing the symptoms of syphilis, remember that treating syphilis at any point can prevent the most severe complications that lead to death. Which brings us to Tuskegee – and keep in mind this is Straight, No Chaser.

tuskegee

In the early 1930s, the US Public Health Service working with the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama began a study to evaluate the effectiveness of current treatments for syphilis, which at the time, were thought to be at least as bad as the disease. The study was conducted on 600 Black men, who were convinced to participate in the study with the promise of free medical exams, meals and money for burial, ‘if’ it was necessary.
The study was initially meant to last 6 months, but at some point a governmental decision was made to continue the study and observe the natural progression of syphilis until all subjects died of the disease, with a commitment obtained from the subjects that they would be autopsied ‘if’ they died. There were several problems with this decision.

  • None of the patients participated under informed consent. They believed they were being treated as opposed to being observed and having medicine withheld while they were being allowed to die. In other words, the subjects were not aware of the purpose of the study.
  • Penicillin was established as a true, rapidly effective treatment for syphilis and the standard of care by 1947. The study continued 25 years beyond this treatment option being available.
  • Efforts by concerned individuals failed to end the study for 5 years prior to a whistleblower going to the press in 1972. The study was ended in a day.

The aftermath of the study includes the following:

  • Reparations averaging a mere $15,000 per individual were given ($9M total) as well as a formal apology, delivered by President Clinton. Yep, the victims received the equivalent of $15,000 per person on average for 40 years of carrying syphilis 25 years after there was a known cure, after infecting wives and unborn children in several documented cases.
  • Strict requirements for protocols for human study (i.e. Institutional Review Boards) were implemented for the first time.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that many African-Americans remain distrustful of governmental public health efforts to this day; for many, this study continues to be the reason while vaccination isn’t optimally taken advantage of (e.g. HPV) and why organ donation rates are so relatively low in the African-American community. Even though this posture contributes to the adverse health outcomes that exist in the African-American community, it isn’t hard to see why the fear and distrust exists.
Let’s bring this full circle. When it comes to syphilis, prevention is best, and full treatment is available. At the very least, I certainly can say you’ve been warned. Folks have given their lives to make your warning possible. I welcome your questions and comments.
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: What Should Be in Your Medicine Cabinet

medicine cabinet sick-care-vs-health-care

You’ve all done it. I’ve caught a few of you doing it. Why do you rummage through someone’s else’s medicine cabinet? Are newer homes even built with medicine cabinets anymore? Oh well… Today, Straight, No Chaser tackles a simple but important question in an ongoing effort to better empower you. For starters, here’s hoping your cabinet doesn’t resemble any of these pictured, but there is a role for medicines in your medicine cabinet.
medicine-cabinet_59x73.5_we
1. What should be in your medicine cabinet? Here’s my top five and why.

  • Aspirin (324 mg).

Aspirin-tablet-300x300

On the day you’re having a heart attack, you’ll want this available to pop in your mouth on the way to the hospital. Of all the intervention done in treating heart attacks, none is better than simply taking an aspirin. It offers a 23% reduction in mortality (death rates) due to a heart attack all by itself.

  • Activated charcoal.

activated charcoal

This one may surprise you. Talk to your physician or pharmacist about this. If someone in your family ever overdoses on a medicine, odds are this is the first medication you’d be given in the emergency room. The sooner it’s onboard, the sooner it can begin detoxifying whatever you took. That said, there are some medications and circumstances when you shouldn’t take it, so get familiar with it by talking with your physician.

  • Antiseptics such as triple antibiotic ointment for cuts, scratches and minor burns.

triple abx

It should be embarrassing for you to spend $1000 going to an emergency room when you could have addressed the problem at home. I guess I should include bandages here as well.

  • A variety pack for colds, including antihistamines (like diphenhydramine, aka benadryl) and cough preparations.

OTCdrugs

As a general rule, give yourself 3-5 days of using OTC preparations for a cold to see if it works or goes away. If not, then it’s certainly appropriate to get additional medical care. I guess I can lump a thermometer in this bullet point.

  • The fifth item would be this number: 800-222-1222, which is number to the national poison control center.

poisoncontrol

They will address your concerns, route you to your local poison center, advise you on the appropriate use of activated charcoal and help coordinate your care when you go to your emergency department.
Be smart about the items in your home in general and in your medicine cabinet in particular. We’ll continue the theme with the next Straight, No Chaser.
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. Preorder your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com.

Straight, No Chaser: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Signs, Symptoms and Those at Risk

ptsd-1

This is Mental Health Awareness Month. Straight, No Chaser has done multiple posts on depression and suicide, the components of health and happiness, and many other mental health topics. It’s important that you appreciate the ways events in your life and even the way you live your life impact you over the long term. I deal with disease and death everyday as an Emergency Physician, and it’s dehumanizing on many levels. Imaging having to pronounce someone dead despite giving your version of a superhuman effort to resuscitate them and then having to deliver the news to a family deep in prayer and holding on to strings of hope. Oh yeah, and then you immediately get to return to a room filled with patients and families oblivious to anything you’re dealing with as an individual, who are completely immersed in their personal situations and often complaining because “you took too long.” Imagine the lives of morticians or cemetery workers, having to stare at and feel the remains of the dead all day everyday. Imagine the lives of those habitually raped or viciously beaten by a loved one as a child. And, of course, there are the soldiers. Over 7.5 million Americans are thought to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), approximately one in every 40 individuals.
Traumatic and post-traumatic stress are not only able to affect your reality, but to adjust your reality. The body’s normal “fight-or-flight” response to danger or extremely stressful situations can evolve into abnormalities in your behavior if you are continually immersed in these environments. One such as the emergency physician may become desensitized and/or empowered to address situations that would make otherwise normal individuals recoil, or one may become overly sensitive, hyper-stressed and prone to a fight response to lesser stimuli—or no stimuli at all.
There are three categories of symptoms of PTSD, which are easily remembered by thinking of a hyperactive “fight-or-flight” response: reliving traumatic experiences, avoiding circumstances or situations that remind one of the experience, and reacting out of hyperarousal to stimuli suggestive of the experience.
ptsd2

  • Reliving can involve flashbacks, scary thoughts and nightmares. Victims have been known to actually re-experience the physical and mental episodes, complete with palpitations, sweating, jitteriness and severe anxiety. Such experiences can become incapacitating.
  • Avoidance is in many ways the opposite end of the “fight or flight” syndrome. In this example, avoidance isn’t just being proactive and staying away from reminders of the experience, but it can escalate to loss of emotions or even recollection of the event. This isn’t a strategic decision; it’s a defense mechanism gone haywire. As an example, imagine the near-drowning victim who refuses to even sit on the beach.
  • Hyperarousal leads one to be on edge, sensitive and prone to overreact. In contrast to the other two symptoms listed, hyperarousal tends to be a constant state of being. PTSD victims with hyperarousal describe themselves as easily angered and always stressed.

Many if not most of us will experience traumatic events in our lives sufficient enough to cause tremendous stress. There are circumstances that enhance the risk of developing PTSD.

ptsd-dv

  • Childhood trauma is especially dangerous in that the developing brain can respond “appropriately” in coding for abnormal circumstances and exposures. Subsequent trauma can trigger PTSD-quality responses.
  • Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men.
  • Mental illness may abnormally shape responses to traumatic events.
  • There is some evidence that susceptibility to the disorder may run in families. Individual differences in the brain or genes may predispose an individual.
  • The relative absence of social support and a functional network is a severe risk.

Conversely, if you have strong coping mechanisms, you may be able to lower your risk for developing PTSD after trauma. Consider the following protective factors:

  • A predisposition toward optimism
  • The ability and inclination to seek out support from others, ranging from friends, family and/or an active support group
  • A mental orientation that you “performed well” in the face of the danger
  • A mental orientation of learning from the experience instead of allowing the experience to define you
  • Sufficient mental fortitude to be able to carry on in the face of the symptoms (fear, anxiety) that follow the event

The presence of these “resilience factors” does not suggest that those suffering from PTSD are lacking in any way; it suggests the best opportunities for you to avoid succumbing to the enormous pressures that exist.
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: Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Signs-That-You-are-Probably-An-Alcoholic

With all the focus of late on other forms of drug use and abuse (e.g., methamphetamine, marijuana), alcohol abuse seems to be lacking the attention it deserves. Fully one in six people in the United States has a drinking problem. In this segment of the Straight, No Chaser series on alcohol, we will explore problem drinking.
“Problem drinking” is a way of describing alcohol intake that causes problems with your functioning. Alcohol abuse is an episode or continued excessive alcohol consumption that causes problems with your daily living activities, such as family or job responsibilities. Of course, a single episode of alcohol abuse can cost you your life if you’re an impaired driver who runs into a tree or some other calamity befalls you.

alcoholism

Alcoholism is alcohol dependence, which is comprised of two separate considerations:

  • Physical addiction to a drug is defined by tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance is when you become acclimated to the same dose of drug, meaning, in this case, the same amount of liquor no longer gives you the same buzz. Withdrawal symptoms occur when you experience effects from no longer having the drug in your system.
  • Mental addiction to alcohol is illustrated by its increasingly prominent role in your life. Your life becomes centered around the pursuit and consumption of alcohol. It creates problems with your physical, mental and social health, controlling your life and relationships.

Many of you ask if alcoholism is hereditary. Hereditary means a specific thing medically, so the answer is no. However, we believe genes play a role and increase the risk of alcoholism. It is most likely that genetics “load the gun,” but environment “pulls the trigger.”

AlcoholicGrayscaleDiagram2

Regarding environment, there’s no fixed equation to if and when you’ll become dependent, but there is a correlation with certain activity and an increased risk. Consider the following activities as suggestive of a significant risk for development alcoholism:

  • Men who have 15 or more drinks a week (One drink is either a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor.)
  • Women who have 12 or more drinks a week
  • Anyone who has five or more drinks at a time at least once a week
  • Anyone who has a parent with alcoholism

Here are some less hard signs, but these situations also have been shown to increase risk, according to the National Institutes of Health:

  • You are a young adult under peer pressure
  • You have a behavioral health disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia
  • You have easy access to alcohol
  • You have low self-esteem
  • You have problems with relationships
  • You live a stressful lifestyle
  • You live in a culture in which alcohol use is more common and accepted

Feel free to contact your SMA expert consultant if you have any questions on this topic.
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. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC

Straight, No Chaser: When Eating Goes Wrong, Part II – Bulimia

Bulimia…-nerviosa-1

If you read Part I of this conversation on eating disorders (anorexia nervosa), you will recall that eating disorders are a mix of an abnormal body image combined with abnormal behaviors that lead to medical consequences. Today’s Straight, No Chaser is on bulimia, yet another dangerous eating disorder.
The ‘Bizz-Buzz’ of bulimia nervosa is ‘binge-purge.’ What that means is bulimics engage in frequent episodes of eating excessive amounts of food (bingeing) followed by one of several methods of eliminating what was just ingested (purging). This methods include forced vomiting (most common), use of diuretics or laxatives, fasting or excessive exercise. It is important to note that the bulimic feels a lack of control over these episodes.

bulimia_nervosa_1

Bulimia is an especially dangerous disease because it usually occurs in secret, and victims are able to hide it. This means symptoms will typically be further along when discovered. Bulimics usually manage to maintain a normal or healthy weight despite their behavior and may appear to be the person who ‘never gains weight’ despite ‘eating like a horse.’ This is a key differentiator between bulimia and anorexia. Otherwise, the two diseases do share some of the same psychological pathology, including the fear of weight gain and the unhappiness with physical appearance.
Treatment considerations for bulimia are similar to those for other eating disorders. A combination of psychotherapy, reestablishment of normal nutritional intake and medications usually leads to marked improvement. Again, the particular challenge with bulimics is discovering the condition in the first place. As with anorexia nervosa, treatment for bulimia nervosa often involves a combination of options and depends upon the needs of the individual. Medications may include antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), if the patient also has depression or anxiety.
Let’s recap by revisiting where we started with our conversation on anorexia. Our society doesn’t do the job it should in promoting a normal image of health. The typically promoted American ideal of beauty sets standards that lead many to pursue unrealistic means of meeting that ideal. In the setting of an actual American population that is obese by medical standards, this becomes even more of a problem. The levels of stress, anxiety and depression resulting from this reality sometimes leads to eating disorders. Remember, eating disorders aren’t just habits. They are life-threatening conditions. If you or a loved one is suffering, please seek help immediately.

bulimia

Post-script: If you’re wondering about the above picture of the teeth, you’re viewing the effects of all that regurgitated acid on the enamel layer of your teeth.  I know. It’s not your best look.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and 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 © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Let's Boost Your Metabolism

fat crying
It would be improper for me to have dragged you through the mud for three days and depressed you into thinking you can’t improve your situation. Hopefully, you’re not feeling that way. You should now have a better understanding of how the body works, how to count calories and how to compare yourself to a baseline for health. What left is giving your body a leg up on your efforts. Yep, I’m talking about boosting your metabolism. Any of you that have been with me for a while know that means I’m not promoting something you’ll find in a bottle, although there are many good supplements that can assist in that effort. I’ll refer you to your (or my) favorite personal trainer for those considerations. As always, I want to offer you the tools to be self-empowered. To that end, here’s five Quick Tips to boost your metabolism. Why five? Because five is easier to implement than six. Once you get these five down, let me know, and we can get a bit more intricate.

Metabolism_101

1. Eat smaller meals, and eat more frequently. It’s true. More meals more often is better, but only if they’re smaller. Calorie counting is still a major part of the equation. The point of more frequent meals is preventing the body from going into starvation mode, which slows your metabolism as the body attempts to conserve energy. If you do this, you’ll discover those meals are smaller and you will get closer to eat more appropriate portions than we typically do. Also, make those in-between meals healthy choices like a handful of fruits or nuts.
2. Prime your pump. Remember, it’s all about your heart’s ability to efficiently move blood around the body anyway. The healthier your heart is, the better your metabolism will be. You need aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate for 20-30 minutes at a time. Learn your target heart rate for your age, and exercise to get into that range. Your metabolism will better approximate that of a fine tuned machine rather than a sputtering old car.
3. Weight train. This is very simple. The more muscular you are, the more calories you will burn, especially relative to someone of the same weight who is obese. Not only will you become a finer calorie-burning machine, in this case you actually will look better! Add weight training to your exercise regimen.
4. Choose the fish (and not the fried variety). Fish oil contains substances called omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA) which increases levels of fat-burning enzymes and decreases levels of fat storing enzymes. Daily ingestion has been shown to help by approximately 400 calories a day.
5. Enlist a personal trainer. Everyone needs help and motivation. Some of us need a lot of help and a lot of motivation. We also need expertise. There’s nothing more frustrating than working hard yet not seeing any results because you’re working incorrectly. A good trainer can put you on the path, supervise your regimen, and hold your hand through the process. The minutia of age, sex and body habitus considerations that also play a role in this can be managed by a good trainer. Your ideal trainer will have knowledge of nutrition, wellness and supplements that are tailored to your specific considerations. This will get your metabolism revved up!
By the way, if you’re into green tea, caffeine or spicy/hot peppers, enjoy them for their other benefits, but don’t expect them to contribute significantly to your efforts to improve your metabolism. At least that’s what the consensus in the medical literature points out.

metabolism rev up

Finally: yes, it’s true that metabolism naturally slows with age (starting as early as age 25); everyone has heard that fact. However, here’s what you don’t usually hear: that’s not inevitable and is more a result of your becoming less physically active than just aging. That demonstrates the need for you to be even more diligent in your efforts. Good luck, and I welcome your questions and comments.

Straight, No Chaser: Healthy, Sustainable Weight Loss – Let's Get Started

obesity6
How to Lose Weight, and What is Healthy Weight Loss (AKA, How Much, How Soon and How)?
Let’s start with the How. Commercial voice: “You should contact your physician before starting any weight loss routine”. We ended things on the last post talking about the caloric balance equation, which (simplified) means you need to get off your derriere, and close your mouth. Without getting too technical, to lose weight, 1 pound equals 3,500 calories, so your net caloric intake must be cut by at least 500 calories per day to lose a pound a week. Here are some Quick Tips to cut calories (and I will not be discussing any of the popular diets or medical remedies (with one exception in the next post); you can see your physician or nutritionist about those. Besides, guess what? Most of you don’t need a fad diet. Keep it simple. And…more importantly, you should be more concerned with healthy regimens that help you keep the weight off, not drastic efforts that have proven to have quick short-term but unsustainable long-term outcomes).

Weight_Loss_Exercise_Nutrition_Weights

1) Work out: If you can sprint, do so. If you can’t, jog. If you can’t jog, walk. I like working out while watching sports, because my heart’s pumping anyway. Weight training at the same time is even better. Once you hit a good exercise regimen, your metabolism will improve, making weight loss that much easier.  By the way, the next post is on metabolism; stay tuned.
2) Hungry?  Start counting calories.  Use this standard to determine what your daily calorie intake should be.  Meal plan so you don’t exceed that level.  Remember the caloric equation to lose weight: Amount expended minus the amount eaten should be 500 calories a day.  In the next post, I’ll give you a Quick Tip for an extra 400 calories a day you can lose.

drink water

3) Still hungry? Try brushing your teeth. Don’t laugh. It actually works. And it gives you nice teeth. Otherwise try drinking water or chewing calorie-free gum. All these are nice, simple inexpensive appetite suppressants.
How Soon? It’s natural for anyone trying to lose weight to want to lose it very quickly. But evidence shows that people who lose weight gradually and steadily (about 1-2 pounds per week) are more successful at keeping weight off. Healthy weight loss isn’t just about a “diet” or “program”. It’s about an ongoing lifestyle that includes long-term changes in daily eating and exercise habits. Think health instead of weight, and the weight will improve.

weight loss pix

How Much? If you were my patient (but you’re not!), I’d tell you to forget about ideal body weight and BMI – for now. Focus on a modest weight loss, like 5-10% of your current weight. Even this success will improve your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Once you accomplish that goal, do it again. So even if the overall goal seems large, see it as a journey rather than just a final destination. Seek to learn new eating and physical activity habits that will help you live a healthier lifestyle. These habits may help you maintain your weight loss over time. To that end, I love healthy challenges. Try a 30-day water instead of pop (soda)/coffee, etc. challenge, or even better, give yourself a 30-day ‘fruit for dessert challenge’ or ‘salad of your choice for lunch’ challenge. When that’s done, immediately do it again.  Learn to integrate healthy habits into your quest to lose weight, and you’ll increase the odds of having sustainable weight lost. At the end of the day, it’s been well established that those who maintained a significant weight loss report improvements in not only their physical health, but also their energy levels, physical mobility, general mood, and self-confidence. Good luck, and check back for the next post on how to fine-tune your metabolism!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: The Adverse Health Effects of Obesity and Why You Gain Weight

Obesity.jpg
Earlier, we identified the differences between a ‘normal’ weight and being overweight and/or obese. Today’s goal is to help you understand specific risks of carrying extra weight.  We’ll also set the table for losing weight by discussing why weight gain occurs.  It bears repeating that none of this has anything to do with the perception of one’s physical attractiveness.
Let’s focus on three considerations.
1. What are the health risks?
obesity1
As body weight increases, so does the risk for several different medical conditions and illnesses, including the following:
• Arthritis
• Cancers (breast, endometrial, and colon)
• Diabetes
• Gynecological problems (abnormal periods, infertility)
• Heart disease (heart attacks, heart failure, hardening of the arteries)
• High cholesterol
• Liver and gallbladder disease (gallstones)
• Sleep apnea and other respiratory problems
• Stroke
In the event that these risks are just words on a page, learning a little bit about some of them might provide the motivation needed to avoid them.
2. What is a realistic goal for weight loss?  What’s the balance between family predisposition and the foods I eat?

diet-goals

No matter what I tell you today, it’s unlikely to turn you into a supermodel. The goal (independent of your consultation with your own health care provider) is to get you to optimize your situation based on the things you can control. Yes, genetic factors do play a role in obesity, but beyond that you are more than able to close your mouth and get off your…couch. You are able to limit your fat and caloric intake and put down the salt shaker. Yes, genetics count, but behavior and environmental (culture, socioeconomic status) consideration play at least as much of a role. These latter considerations can even jumpstart your metabolism beyond your genetic predisposition.
3. Why do I gain weight if I’m still active?

weight gaim while active

The most simple way to answer this is that weight gain occurs from an energy imbalance.  You’re taking in too many calories, and/or you’re not engaging in enough physical activity. It’s an equation, and the weight gain occurs when you’re on the wrong side of the equation. It’s not much more complicated than this. Either do less of the eating, more of the activity, or both.  I mentioned in a previous post on caloric counts that you must have an excess of 500 more calories expended than you ingest daily every day for a week just to lose one pound.  It takes work.  This is the simple answer as to why fad diets don’t work long-term.  You can’t cheat the equation.  The moment you stop being diligent, you’re headed in the wrong direction.  Your weight loss plan must include lifestyle changes for the long-term.
In the next post, we’ll identify some very simple methods to combat obesity based on the information provided to this point. Feel free to ask any questions or submit any comments you have.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight No Chaser: Examining Obesity – Is It Really a Choice Between Health and Happiness

obesity4

Obesity in the United States places many at a crossroad between self-esteem and health.  Often, larger frames are celebrated as more desirable.  Other times, they are celebrated because we must learn to ‘love ourselves’, which is seemingly easier than laboring to diet and exercise.  Of course, our culture embraces and contributes to obesity.  Consider the ramifications of “As American as Apple Pie” or “Coke Adds Life” or the size of our favorite athletes in our most popular sport.  I’ve previously discussed the calorie counts of soft drinks and desserts and their contributions to obesity. At the end of the day, we now have a culture that views what’s physiologically most healthy for our hearts as visually less desirable and a culture where one can ‘reasonably’ (i.e. based on evolved cultural norms) make the decision that having a permissive attitude toward obesity is a more desirable state of being than the pursuit of health.obesity_trends_20092
Odds are, you’re overweight. It was a both a joke and a cause for celebration that Mexico just overtook the US as this hemisphere’s fattest country, but it did bring attention to the fact that more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese, and nearly two-thirds are overweight. Over the next three days, we’ll review various components of obesity that affect your health. To be clear, this is not about your perceived physical attractiveness (and while we’re at it, just because you’re slim, that doesn’t mean you’re anorexic). It’s about your health.  If you’re sensitive about your size or have made an educated decision to ‘love yourself as you are’, you don’t have to read through this. If you’re at all interested in how your body is affected by weight, and if you can handle a little truth, proceed.  As always, the goal is to educate and stimulate thought, discussion and action.
Let’s start today with making it clear what obesity is and who’s obese. Be reminded the heart is only a pump meant to move blood around the body, carrying oxygen and nutrients to cells in different parts of the body. The heavier you are, the more work your heart has to do and the more likely it becomes that this pump will not function ideally and will functionally ‘give out’ over time. It is this functional failure that produces many diseases.
Let’s start with Ideal Body Weight (IBW). For humans (not ‘Northerners’ or the ‘Small-Boned’ or the ‘Non-Athlete’ or ‘Women Who Haven’t Had Children’), the formula for calculating IBW is as follows:

Women: 100 lbs for the first 5 feet, then 5 lbs. for each additional inch.
Men: 100 lbs for the first 5 feet, then 6 lbs. for each additional inch.

Ideal body weight refers to health, especially heart health, not ‘grown and sexy’ or any other concocted notion of what looks good. So as an example, if you’re a 6 ft tall male, your IBW is 172 lbs. If you’re a female and 5’5”, your IBW is 125. Now before those of you ‘in the know’ tell me there are limitations to IBW and BMI considerations, I’ll stipulate the point and note that doesn’t change the point of this conversation one bit.

‘Overweight’ and ‘Obesity’ are about your risks for disease. We’ll talk about those risks tomorrow, but here are the definitions of each.
Being Overweight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher; Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher. BMI gives you an indication if you’re over/underweight or at a healthy weight for your height.
If you’re interested in your BMI, use the following calculator:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm
Let’s talk about it. This is important for your health and longevity.
Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Our World is Filled with Toxins

toxic-world-2
You can’t escape all toxins, but you can certainly minimize your exposure to them.  A handy way to classify them involves reminding you of the organ systems that help us detoxify and how, over time, toxins fight and sometimes win the battle against our defenses.  In the interest of space, I’m going to give you the names of several chemicals that you may want to know about and should be wary of using, without giving you details on their individual effects.  If you have questions about any of them specifically, call me at 1-844-SMA-TALK.
Lungs
The toxins: We are fighting what we breathe and inhale.  Air pollution includes levels of carbon monoxide and methane.  Exhaust fumes, factory emissions, first and second-hand smoke all contain substances damaging to our lungs.  Did someone mention cigarettes?  Tobacco smoke has been fascinating to me.  The idea that we would introduce smoke into the very area we use to deliver oxygen to our entire body is one of the most curious actions of humans.  Look at this diagram of the toxins found in cigarettes.
chemicals-in-cigarettes-arsenic-etc
The effects: The lungs are impressively effective at handling toxins up to a certain point and up to a certain age (approximately 35 years old).  At that point what had been reversible airway damage begins to not only change the structure of lung tissue, but it results in lung tissue loss that does not get repaired.  It’s as if when you run your hands through your hair, you discover that you’re pulling out large clumps of it.  Of course, the problem is that this isn’t your hair, but the lung tissue that you need to breathe.  The list of diseases contributed to, exacerbated by or caused by toxins is long, including COPD (emphysema, chronic bronchitis), asthma exacerbations, asbestosis and lung cancer.
Skin:
The toxins: Do you trust your skin products – you know, mascara, styling gel, tanning oil, soaps and body washes, shampoos, hair sprays, shaving creams, cologne and lotions, just to name a few?  Toxic chemicals you’re commonly absorbing through your skin include propylene glycol, parabens, glycerin, triethanolamine and sodium lauryl sulfate.
The effects: You thought acne and the occasional allergic reaction were bad?  This group’s collective effects includes respiratory, immune system and skin toxicants and known throat carcinogens.  I’d suggest you become more conscious of what you’re using and seek organic options when available.
Kidneys
The toxins: The water we drink seems to get worse with time.  Does anyone remember when tap water was “just fine?”  Now our drinking water is liable to contain ammonia, chlorine, bleach and other toxic substances.  An entire movie (Erin Brockovich) was made over the issue of toxins in drinking water.  You may recall that the kidneys bear the burden of the actual elimination of urine.  They need to maintain excellent health to perform this function.
The effects: The consequences of the kidney’s inability to perform can be so dramatic that dialysis (which is basically manual, external filtering of your blood once the kidneys go into failure) becomes necessary.  Prior to that, toxins “gumming up” the kidneys can be left free to create havoc in other parts of the body.
Gastrointestinal system (particularly your liver and intestines)
The toxins: The food you eat is toxic.  To be clear, usually I’m asking you to eat healthily.  Today, that’s still true, but it’s not the only issue.  I’m pointing out that your food contains actual toxins, including food additives and dyes, pesticides on your non-organic fruits, aspartame, MSG, hormones, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, mercury, bisphenols, and alcohol.  Did someone mention alcohol?  Alcohol is directly toxic to the liver.
The effects: I’m just going to focus on the alcohol.  Alcohol produces conditions known as fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis.  Chronic, excessive alcohol use is the single most important cause of illness and death from liver disease in the U.S.  Moderation or abstention is the order of the day, my friends.  Liver transplants are very hard to come by.
The purpose of this is not to paralyze you into inactivity but to stimulate you into action.  Between now and tomorrow, when you read the fourth post in this five-part toxins series, I’d suggest you review this post about natural detoxification.  Compare that to some of the other options I’ll be discussing later.  I’d recommend an ounce of prevention.
Call us at 1-844-SMA-TALK or login at www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com to chat with your expert nutritionists about these matters, especially now that we’re in National Nutrition Month.
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, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2014 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Natural Methods of Detoxification

Natural-Detox
It seems that at least once a week I get asked to comment on colonics, detox diets, juice fasts, etc.  It seems to me that these are all rather extreme places to start.  How about we just talk about the threats that exist, how to avoid them, how to understand the natural detoxification process and how to optimize it?
On some level, our body is at constant war with our surroundings.  We are finely tuned machines (until we’re not).  We are well designed and equipped to filter the air we breathe and the food we eat, and to repel external poisons from penetrating our bodies.  That’s a very good thing, because toxins are everywhere.  We eat and drink them.  We inhale, absorb and ingest them.  Usually we do these things unwittingly, but for various reasons, a good number of us do these things intentionally.  By definition, toxins have harmful effects on our bodies.  Buildups of these substances can cause damage and eventually death.
In the first part of this five-part review of toxins and how they affect us, I want to point out how the body is equipped to combat and eliminate toxins – until and unless we poison it.  In the second part, I’ll offer Quick Tips to enhance your ability to naturally detoxify.  In the third part, I’ll discuss what and where the toxins are that we must combat.  In the fourth and fifth parts, I’ll discuss some of the exotic (or should that be esoteric?) methods promoted to detoxify the body.
Let’s start not by talking about toxins, but by discussing how the body protects you.  There are four areas in particular to review: the skin, the lungs, the kidneys and the gastrointestinal tract (particularly your liver and intestines).
Skin: The skin is actually the body’s largest organ, and it’s the largest organ of elimination.  It is in constant contact with the environment and is our primary barrier against disease, keeping out microorganisms, dusts, pollens and other substances with no good intentions.  The constant battle leaves your skin’s pores clogged, subject to infection, lacerations, and premature aging.
Lungs: The lungs are the vessels of life, bringing oxygen into the body to supply the needs of all your organs and systems.  However, have you looked at the atmosphere lately?  Smog’s everywhere, not to mention allergens and cigarette and cigar smoke.  If the air you’re breathing is poisoning the lungs themselves, your ability to keep poisons out of you and exhale away carbon dioxide incrementally become diminished to disastrous effect.
Kidneys: Your kidneys are one of the two primary ways you visibly eliminate waste.  Consider them the blood’s strainer.  You really should learn to watch your urine.  It tells a story about your health.  If your urine is not clear to light yellow, something’s going on.  If you come to me with cloudy, straw-colored, bloody, pink, or brown urine, those all tell me about different medical conditions you could be experiencing.
Your liver and intestines: Now we’re looking at your stools.  Consider that if you were ideally healthy, you’d have a bowel movement with the same frequency with which you ate.  At the other end of the spectrum (no pun intended), you could be constipated, or your bowels could be obstructed.  You have bacteria that live in your intestines that also help naturally detoxify wastes, but that only works as intended if you continue to have stools.  The more contact time your body’s intended waste has with your intestinal tract, the more of it that will be absorbed.  Fortunately, the intestines have additional barriers in its membranes that fight against toxins reentering the body.  Your liver serves a vital function in detoxifying many directly poisonous substances. It uses its natural chemicals to facilitate excretion of toxins by the kidneys.
Most everything you think you know about extrinsic supplemental ways to detoxify are poor substitutes for what a healthy body will achieve.  If you focused on your health and fitness, you could rest assured that your body would protect you, and you could also save a ton of money avoiding all those fad diets and other ‘previously secret’ methods of detoxification.
Check back this afternoon for all the information you’ll need to make your magnificently designed, natural detoxification machine known as your body work its best.  I welcome any questions or comments.
Call us at 1-844-SMA-TALK or login at www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com for personalized advice on these or other healthcare topics.
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, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2014 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: The Gall(stones) of Some People

gallbladder2

Now that we’ve gotten past the twin holidays associated with large meals, it’s a good time to discuss topics related to your New Year’s resolutions of eating less, eating healthier and exercising more. Let’s start with a condition especially associated with eating large meals—gallstones.
To know them is to hate them. If you’re 40ish and in most instances overweight and/or obese, you may have been told you have gallstones. Many of you reading this will have already had their gallbladders removed; some are scheduled to do so. Today’s topic is one that points out how a little maintainence can go a long way in preventing a lot of trouble.
To understand the topic, I’ll provide some basic medical information.
gallstones

  • The gallbladder is part of the digestive system, specifically the biliary tract. The biliary tract produces enzymes and the bile in the liver that helps the small intestine digest food. The gallbladder is where the bile gets stored. It releases bile when you eat.
  • Gallstones are hard particles that develop in the gallbladder as a result of an imbalance in these enzymes, such as occurs when bile contains too much cholesterol.

Your risk for gallstones increases if you’re in the following (independent) risk classes:

  • Female: Estrogen may increase cholesterol levels in bile. It may also decrease the contractions of the gallbladder that expels the juices from it. That stagnation produces an environment in which gallstones may form.
  • Obesity and a bad diet: Obesity increases the amount of cholesterol in bile, promoting stone formation. A bad diet (i.e., high in calories/carbohydrates and low in fiber) also increases the presence of gallstones.
  • Over 40 years old
  • Family history of gallstones
  • Mexican American
  • Native Americans have the highest rate of gallstones in the U.S., with almost 65% of women and 30% of men having them. They have genetic factors that increase the amount of cholesterol in their bile.
  • Rapid weight loss: Those of you on extremely low-calorie diets and having bariatric surgery increase your risks. As the body breaks down fat during fasting, the liver secretes increased levels of cholesterol into bile.

The symptoms of gallstones (a “gallbladder attack”) are pretty typically pain, nausea and vomiting, although many people with gallstones go without symptoms for a long time. Gallstones become especially problematic when they block the tubes (bile ducts) that transport the “digestive juices,” either through size or location. These attacks usually occur in the right upper portion of the abdomen (right below the chest and liver), which is where the gallbladder is located. Attacks tend to occur after a heavy meal, and they usually produces symptoms in the evening or late into the night.
See your physician ASAP if you develop any of the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain in the right upper portion of your abdomen that lasts more than four hours
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever with abdominal pain
  • Jaundice (a yellowish coloration of the skin and/or the whites of your eyes)
  • Changes in the color of your stools (lightening) or urine (assume a tea-like color)

After diagnosis, treatment typically involves pain management and prevention of excessive fluid losses and dehydration. Surgery to remove the gallbladder due to excessive stones or symptoms is one of the most common adult operations in the U.S. Patients normally do fine after gallbladder removal, as the digestive tract can redirect the flow of bile and other digestive enzymes. Those that cannot undergo surgery have different treatment options, involving dissolving gallstones.
In summary, if this topic was particularly unappetizing, remember that in most cases, the risk and rate of formation of gallstones can be reduced by a high fiber, lower calorie diet, measured weight loss and exercise. Use this information to your advantage as you pursue those New Year’s resolutions!
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you have on this topic.
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 © 2014 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: The Affordable Care Act and The Math of the US Healthcare System

healthcareranking_graphic-6eff0c2bd2a652909496b46ab1151c20ccf871f1-s6-c30

As we begin 2014 with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and states’ implementation of Medicaid expansion (well in most of the country), it bears reviewing why this was necessary. Joining me in this conversation is Dr. Bill Vostinak, a prominent orthopedist.
Prior to approval of the Affordable Care Act, and in spite of the loud and incorrect proclamations that we have the “best healthcare system in the world,” the U.S. would have been easily challenged on its purported effectiveness of our healthcare system based on a simple review of the following objective data points. (Our apologies in advance to those who value opinions over facts—or math.)

healthcarespending_expenditure200-3135fdaf60226020bef119d47535ab3022860d7c-s6-c30

Let’s start by appreciating just how much the U.S. has been spending on our healthcare system and what type of access Americans have had to it.
The U.S., by a large margin, has the highest healthcare expenditures in the world. We spend approximately 17% ($1 in every $6) of our gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare. The next closest nation spends 11%. (For clarification, that’s an incremental increase from the above chart of 2000.)
Despite our exorbitant national costs, only 84.9% of U.S. citizens have healthcare insurance. That translates to 50 million Americans who were uninsured prior to today. We rank 33rd in the world.
Have you ever heard the quote that “85% of Americans are happy with their healthcare?”  (Congratulations if that statement applies to you.) Do you realize that in a nation of over 320 million, that leaves 48 million Americans unhappy? Even if you got past the “48,000,000″ number, which is a massive number of citizens, consider the 85% number.
This is America. 85% is barely a B-grade in school. Is that the standard we seek? And … do the math. Notice the nearly exact match, likely not coincidental, between the number of individuals dissatisfied with their healthcare and the number of uninsured Americans. Basically, you’re satisfied if you have insurance, and if you don’t … not so much. Alternatively, 85% satisfaction may be based on the perception of insurance carrying the individual’s burden of medical costs.
Now let’s move to quality.
In an infamous ranking of healthcare systems around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked the U.S. system 38th based on routine outcomes-based metrics such as disability-adjusted life expectancy, speed of service, protection of privacy, quality of amenities, and fairness of financial contribution. WHO Ranking
Amid predictable criticism of the U.S. regarding the WHO study, Bloomberg performed its own analysis  and discovered that among advanced economies, the U.S. spends the most on healthcare (on a relative cost basis) with the worst outcome. Bloomberg ranked the U.S. 46th among all nations in efficiency given the average expenditure of $8,608 per year per individual. Bloomberg Report
In terms of infant mortality, about 11,300 newborns die each year within 24 hours of their birth in the U.S., with 50 percent more first-day deaths than all other industrialized countries combined. Infant Mortality
Save the Children’s 14th annual “State of the World’s Mothers” report ranked the U.S. 30th out of 168 countries in terms of best places to be a mother. Criteria included child mortality, maternal mortality, economic status of women, educational achievement and political representation of women. SaveTheChildren.org
An important distinguishing factor in comparing U.S. healthcare with other systems is tying it to employment rather than citizenship. Labor and other costs of American goods and services make it difficult for American corporation to compete in world markets. Add the large fixed cost of healthcare, and competing is nearly impossible.
It is reprehensible to suggest that the effort to cover 50 million uninsured Americans is some socialist plot or anything other than the humane thing to do. Let’s just stop with the selfishness and nonsense about there being no value to the efforts being made to improve access to/quality of healthcare (which reintroduces preventive and mental healthcare considerations) than we had previously. If you don’t believe us, just do the math. Even after a full implementation of the ACA, estimates suggest than some 20 million Americans will still be uninsured.
America is alone among the major industrial nations of the world in not having universal healthcare. That’s the collective decision of the country. Hopefully, these most recent steps through the ACA will represent significant steps toward efficiency, effectiveness and full inclusion. So, how do other countries deliver quality care for less? We’ll save that for another discussion.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant if you have any questions on this topic.
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 © 2014 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Signs-That-You-are-Probably-An-Alcoholic

With all the focus of late on other forms of drug use and abuse (e.g., methamphetamine, marijuana), alcohol abuse seems to be lacking the attention it deserves. Fully one in six people in the United States has a drinking problem. In this segment of the Straight, No Chaser series on alcohol, we will explore problem drinking.
For an additional personal look at if you drink too much, click here.
“Problem drinking” is a way of describing alcohol intake that causes problems with your functioning. Alcohol abuse is an episode or continued excessive alcohol consumption that causes problems with your daily living activities, such as family or job responsibilities. Of course, a single episode of alcohol abuse can cost you your life if you’re an impaired driver who runs into a tree or some other calamity befalls you.
Alcoholism is alcohol dependence, which is comprised of two separate considerations:

  • Physical addiction to a drug is defined by tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance is when you become acclimated to the same dose of drug, meaning, in this case, the same amount of liquor no longer gives you the same buzz. Withdrawal symptoms occur when you experience effects from no longer having the drug in your system.
  • Mental addiction to alcohol is illustrated by its increasingly prominent role in your life. Your life becomes centered around the pursuit and consumption of alcohol. It creates problems with your physical, mental and social health, controlling your life and relationships.

Many of you ask if alcoholism is hereditary. Hereditary means a specific thing medically, so the answer is no. However, we believe genes play a role and increase the risk of alcoholism. It is most likely that genetics “load the gun,” but environment “pulls the trigger.”
Regarding environment, there’s no fixed equation to if and when you’ll become dependent, but there is a correlation with certain activity and an increased risk. Consider the following activities as suggestive of a significant risk for development alcoholism:

  • Men who have 15 or more drinks a week (One drink is either a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor.)
  • Women who have 12 or more drinks a week
  • Anyone who has five or more drinks at a time at least once a week
  • Anyone who has a parent with alcoholism

Here are some less hard signs, but these situations also have been shown to increase risk, according to the National Institutes of Health:

  • You are a young adult under peer pressure
  • You have a behavioral health disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia
  • You have easy access to alcohol
  • You have low self-esteem
  • You have problems with relationships
  • You live a stressful lifestyle
  • You live in a culture in which alcohol use is more common and accepted

Feel free to contact your SMA expert consultant if you have any questions on this topic.
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.

Page 1 of 4
1 2 3 4