January 10, 2017
Migraine headache is one of the most common problems seen in the emergency department and in the doctor’s office. It is a type of headache that appears to originate in the blood vessels of the head.
Migraine headache typically lasts from 4-72 hours or longer without headache treatment and vary in frequency from one per week to one per year. Migraine headache affects about 15% of the population. Three times as many women as men have migraine headache. Over 80% of people with migraine headache have other members in the family who have migraines.
Different types of migraine headache are:
- Common migraine headache accounts for 80% of migraines. There is “aura” before a common migraine. An aura is a symptom that appears before the headache. Most often an aura is a visual disturbance (seeing outlines of lights or jagged light images).
- Classic migraine headache presents with an aura and is usually much more severe than common migraine. Headache treatment may be required in this case.
- Status migrainous headache is a persistent migraine that does not go away without headache treatment
A staggering range of potential migraine headache treatment exists. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may be advised to take over-the-counter analgesics, prescription headache treatment medications designed to quickly relieve symptoms, or even long-term headache treatment medication to prevent headaches from developing
December 8, 2016
Several risks are involved with using indoor tanning products. For instance, if you use an indoor tanning booth or bed, you are exposing your body to UV (ultraviolet) radiation, which promotes skin damage, eye injuries, melanoma and other skin cancers.
Because of the gradual impact of UV radiation, it places children, adolescents and young adults at a higher risk for eye and skin conditions in their later years. The FDA is determined to minimize the damage of UV radiation caused by indoor tanning products by prohibiting the use of these products by people under the age of 18. Also, indoor tanning sites are required to provide literature about the possible risks associated with using an indoor tanning product and have the consumer acknowledge the awareness of such risks by signing an acknowledgment form.
The FDA is also considering another rule that will require makers of indoor tanning products and tanning sites to create more proactive strategies to prevent injuries from using these products.
Dr. Markham Luke, dermatologist and deputy office director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health tells us that using indoor tanning products at a young age (childhood and young adulthood) increases the potential to develop melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. Markham also states that several hundred youth each year in the US get injured from using an indoor tanning product.
The American Academy of Dermatology states that exposure to indoor tanning products make people 59% more likely to have melanoma than people who have never used an indoor tanning product.
Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 2003 to 2012 conclude that there are over 3,000 emergency room visits in the US alone due to indoor tanning product-related injuries. Interesting enough, over 400 of the patients were adolescents under the age of 18.
Things to Keep in Mind for those Still Planning on Using an Indoor Tanning Product
Now the FDA has taken steps to prevent injuries to minors who use tanning products. FDA-approved products will carry a disclaimer that prohibits the use of the tanning product by people under the age of 18. Indoor tanning products are required to have a visible, black-box disclaimer that people under age 18 should not use the product. Also keep these points in mind:
- Being exposed too long (like near the maximum time for the tanning device) can cause sunburn. Since it takes from 6 to 48 hours to realize your skin is sunburned, it’s going to be hard to tell if you’ve stayed exposed for too long.
- If you take medications or use certain cosmetics, it may make you sensitive to the sun (UV radiation actually), so consult your physician or pharmacist prior to using a tanning product.
- Neglecting to wear protective goggles while doing indoor tanning can cause temporary or long-term eye problems.
- Always follow the directions for the tanning product. If you have skin that easily burns or is hard to tan (or does not tan at all), then it is highly recommended you do not use an indoor tanning product.
November 28, 2016
About 2.7 million Americans have atrial fibrillation and are at a risk for having a stroke. Being over age 65, having a family history or past occurrence of diabetes, stroke, heart failure, heart attack, poor kidney function and high blood pressure, and being female are all factors that increase the chances of you having a stroke. However, the risk of having a stroke can be greatly reduced (by 50-60%) with the help of an anticoagulant (more popularly known as a blood thinner).
When blood flow is obstructed by a blood clot, cells in the brain can’t get enough oxygen, which causes a stroke. The top chambers of the heart of people with atrial fibrillation create a sluggish blood flow that often forms blood clots. If a part of these clots reaches the brain, a stroke can occur. Blood thinners are an ideal solution for this problem because they can reduce the formation of blood clots in the heart, which will decrease the risk for having a stroke.
Despite the success of blood thinners in reducing strokes, almost 50% of patients with atrial fibrillation fail to take blood thinners because of the potential for anticoagulants to cause bleeding and because they don’t feel noticeably better when taking the medication.
New Blood Thinners on the Market
In the past few years, the FDA has approved four new blood thinners called edoxaban (Savaysa) dabigatran (Pradaxa), apixiban (Eliquis) and rivaroxaban (Xarelto). Like the popular blood thinner warfarin, these new medications are also used to decrease the odds of stroke in atrial fibrillation patients. One difference in these new drugs compared to warfarin is the lack of need to do blood monitoring.
Even though blood thinners prevent strokes by reducing the occurrence of blood clots from the heart, they increase the risk of strokes caused by brain bleeds (also known as a hemorrhagic stroke). Warfarin has been known to cause bleeding when it’s weakened by certain foods and medications that interact with its effectiveness. The newer medications cause fewer strokes from bleeding incidents compared to the older medication Warfarin and tend to fare better overall for reducing strokes from either bleeds or blood clots.
Doing Your Part
Consult with your doctor to ensure the treatment of your atrial fibrillation includes stroke prevention. Just because you have a mild case of atrial fibrillation does not eliminate the need to use a blood thinner as a precautionary measure. The other factors already mentioned can increase your odds of stroke even with mild atrial fibrillation, so make sure you are honest about your health history with your doctor so you can discuss better treatment alternatives.
September 18, 2016
On a Nutrition Facts label, you may have seen the amount of Trans-fat listed, but don’t know why this is even there.
The intake of Trans-fat is linked to increases chances that you’ll develop heart disease since it promotes the buildup of harmful plaque in the artery walls which may lead oy a heart attack. The FDA requires that Trans-fat be declared on any food labels so consumers know how much Trans-fat that they are consuming. Many foods that are processed have PHOs or partially hydrogenated oils which is the major source of industrially-produced Trans-fat that we find in our processed foods.
The FDA is taking a step to remove the artificial Trans-fat from our food supply. This should reduce the instances of coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks which occur each year.
Not Recognized as Safe Now
The FDA made a preliminary determination in 2013, that PHOs we no longer GRAS or “generally recognized as safe.” The FDA is finalizing its actions and determining that PHOs can no longer be called GRAS and should not be used in foods.
Scientific evidence was use dot make this determination as well as the advice given by expert panels according to Director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Susan Mayne, Ph.D. Studies have indicated that nutrition and diet play a role in preventing serious health problems such as heart disease. The health of Americans is improved by updating the Nutrition Facts label.
Trans-fat dies occur naturally in dairy and meat products so it won’t completely be gone. It’s also found in small amounts in edible oils when it’s created during the manufacturing process. Companies are able to petition the FDA to use certain partially hydrogenated oils in manufacturing.
PHOs and Trans-Fat
The primary source of industry produced Trans-fat is PHOs. These are found in many popular processed foods, frozen foods, and baked goods that Americans eat. Since the 1950s PHOs have been used to increase favor and shelf-life of processed foods.
Many studies over time have shown that Trans-fat is linked to heart disease. The National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine in 2012 issued a report that found a direct correlation between increased levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and the consumption of Trans-fat. This “bad cholesterol” increases the chances of heart disease.
In January 2006, the FDA began to label Trans-fat on the Nutrition Facts label. Many companies began to eliminate Trans-fat or change their food formulation in response to this. Consumers no know more about Trans-fat and are making better food choices.
August 15, 2016
Anyone can get cracked heel but some people are more prone to the condition than others. Some individuals suffer dry, cracked heel due to poor hygiene. The person may not exfoliate daily or moisturize well enough. Additionally, it could occur because the person is not drinking enough water. Each of these factors may contribute to dry, cracked heel.
The first sign of getting cracked heel is the development of dry, hard, thickened skin around the rim of the heel. This is called a callus and may be yellow or dark brown discoloured area of skin. Initially small cracks over the callus are visible.
If left untreated and as more pressure is placed on the heel, these cracks become deeper and eventually walking and standing will be painful. The cracks may be so deep that they begin to bleed. That is why it’s important to take care of your skin even on feet and find an appropriate remedy for cracked heel.
Severe heel infections may require that individuals take oral anti-fungal medication in order to alleviate or cure the symptoms. The most common ingredients in prescription anti-fungal drugs include ketaconazole, itraconazole, naftifine, and nystatin.
Those who desire a topical treatment should not simply select an anti-itch ointment. These ointments may promote moisture and exacerbate the condition. Experts recommend the use of gels instead of creams for application of topical treatments.
February 6, 2016
Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, is a common disorder which produces a lot of unhappiness. An estimated 2-3% of Americans suffer from excessive sweating of the underarms (axillary hyperhidrosis) or of the palms and soles of the feet (palmoplantar hyperhidrosis). Underarm problems tend to start in late adolescence, while palm and sole sweating often begins earlier, around the age 13 (on the average). Untreated, these problems may continue throughout life.
Sweating is embarrassing, it stains clothes, ruins romance, and complicates business and social interactions. Severe cases can have serious practical consequences as well, making it hard for people who suffer from it to hold a pen, grip a car steering wheel, or shake hands.
If you just sweat more than other people when it’s hot or you’re exerting yourself, that’s not usually a sign of trouble. Sweating is a normal reaction when your body’s working harder and needs to cool itself down.
Hyperhidrosis doesn’t usually pose a serious threat to your health, but it can sometimes lead to physical and emotional problems.
Excessive sweating increases the risk of developing fungal infections, particularly on the feet – most commonly fungal nail infections and athlete’s foot. The emotional impact of living with hyperhidrosis can be severe. Many people with the condition feel unhappy and, in some cases, depressed.
Through a systematic evaluation of causes and triggers of hyperhidrosis, followed by a judicious, stepwise approach to hyperhidrosis treatment, many people with this annoying disorder can sometimes achieve good results and improved quality of life.
October 11, 2015
Basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, and squamous cell carcinoma are the three main types of skin cancer. Melanoma is less common, but dangerous and aggressive.
Skin cancer rates are rising in the United States. In 2014 the National Cancer Institute estimates that:
- There will be 76,100 reported new cases of melanoma as well as 9,710 deaths.
- There will be 2 million reported new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer with less than 1,000 deaths.
In our cells is where cancer starts. When cells are damaged or grow old, they usually die and we have new cells that replace them. In the case of cancer, new cells will grow when they aren’t needed and damaged or old cells don’t die when they should die which forms a tumor (mass of tissue). Skin cancer is able to spread throughout the body and invade otherwise healthy tissues.
There are treatments to remove skin cancer, but this depends upon the type of cancer and the stage that it’s in. The FDA had only 5 drugs approved before 2011 for the treatment of melanoma.
Most of these drugs shrank the tumors and were standard chemotherapy drugs, but they weren’t very effective with only a positive result in 15% of patients according to FDA oncologist Patricia Keegan, M.D. She stated that many people who took the drugs didn’t get a lot of benefit from them.
The FDA has approved one treatment combination and two melanoma drugs since 2011. Mekinist (trametinib) in combination with Tafinlar shrank tumors in clinical studies for about half of patients. The other drugs were Tafinlar (dabrafenib, and Zelboraf (vemurafenib). Patients using the new drug Yervoy (ipilimumab) and Zelboraf patients live longer using these drugs than if they got just chemotherapy according to Keegan.
New Treatments for Skin Cancer
One new class of immune therapy drugs that patients with melanoma are using is Yervoy. These patients have melanoma which can’t be removed by surgery or limited to certain gene mutations. The cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen (CTLA-4) molecule is blocked by the drug. It helps the body, target, recognize, and attack cells which have melanoma tumors. For over 100 years according to Keegan, scientists have been trying to gain this ability.
Keegan says that there has been a lot of experience with tumor vaccines and the hope was that they would attack the foreign bacteria, but most of these had been unsuccessful until now.
The drug Yervoy doesn’t attack the tumor directly. The drug helps the white blood cells of the body recognize tumor cells so they can be rejected by the body.
Mekinist, Tafinlar, and Zelboraf, are personalized drugs that treat patients with melanoma tumors with the BRAF V600E gene mutation. The drugs work to keep tumors from growing by blocking the BRAF gene which has been mutated.
Erivedge (vismodegib) is the first FDA drug approved to treat metastic basal cell carcinoma. This is a serious cancer for a small percentage of the population. Tumors on the face, nose, eyelid, and head are difficult to cut out for doctors or impossible and this drug helps treat these tumors. A rare form of skin cancer called Gorlin syndrome can impact many parts of the body and these individuals are vulnerable because their cancer can spread or return so this drugs helps.