Monday, December 26, 2016

Might we not live as long as our parents?

A new study suggests that life expectancy in the US took a drop recently, quite at odds from long time gains in longevity.  Why this is apparently happening may be due to a variety of factors, and here is an article from the Self site that looks at the question, and includes some of my thoughts as well.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

More than just overweight, fat, and fatter?

Looking around, there is a tendency to lump all of those who are having weight problems into the same basket.  But there are a variety of reasons why some gain weight, and there is no “one size fits all” solution to the problem.  Here’s an article with my comments from the website by my friend Korin Miller that looks at the issue, with an overall understanding of the types of obesity, and how one must approach the individuals.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A potential problem not to worry

There are certainly many things that one worries about when having surgery.  Here is one woman’s problem, clearly not a minor issue in this case, which is not something that needs to be on your list.  My comments are at the end of the article, and the title of the article says it all!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Can a pillow really be that important?

People have been using pillows for as long as there have been people.  Even the Bible tells the story of Jacob using a stone to support his head as he slept.  But would that be the best choice?  It turns out that choosing your pillow wisely mey just the the ticket to a good night’s sleep.  Here is an article, originally published in the Chicago Tribune and subsequently picked up all over the country, which looks at the types of pillows, who needs what, and a bit about getting a good night’s rest.  

Friday, September 2, 2016

Not your grandma’s support stockings

Those that are old enough, or are fans of Laugh-In from almost 50 years ago, remember comedienne Ruth Buzzi’s portrayal of an old woman wearing baggy support hose.  And that is the image of those stockings that many have when the item is mentioned.  Now we find out that Jessica Alba wears support hose, modern well-fitted support hose, when she travels, and for a very good reason.  Here is an article in Self, penned by Kelli Miller, where she includes me with other physicians looking at the good medicine behind wearing these stockings.  Maybe you should consider this as well, but check with your physician before you do!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Gene didn’t want us to know, but we do, now

From The Producers to Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles to the Frisco Kid, Gene Wilder made us laugh, made us cry, and showed us characters that amazed us.  In his life off the screen, he shared his emotions through the illness and death of his wife, Gilda Radner, and taught us another powerful lesson.  And now we learn, at his passing, of his own battle with Alzheimer’s Disease, one that he kept to himself.  Here is an article from Newsmax in which I participated in a discussion of the tendency not to discuss this loss of self.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Save a life, cost a fortune?

Certainly, one of the big news stories these days is about a product that many have never heard of, and fewer than that likely need: the EpiPen. This device injects epinephrine, a potentially life saving drug to those suffering a massive allergic reaction, using a convenient, automatic injection system that just about anyone can use with minimal training. But the rise in its cost to the consumer over the last several years has been dramatic, and many who need the drug can no longer afford it. Here is an article from Self, penned by Korin Miller, in which she discusses this situation with several physicians, including myself.

Within the article, there is reference made to the Adrenaclick, an alternative to the EpiPen. More than that, there are generic epinephrine auto-injectors on the market as well, which are even less expensive. While these devices deliver the exact same dose of epinephrine in the same way as the EpiPen, the mechanisms themselves are different. Whereas the EpiPen only requires popping off a cap and using the injector, others may involve caps on either end, be a bit harder to hold, or have an exposed needle. So if you are going to use such a device, which would still be appropriate and effective for the condition, familiarize yourself and those likely to use it thoroughly with its details, features, and use before deploying it with the at-risk individual. There is no time to learn how to use an injector while someone is having an anaphylactic reaction. This is clearly a topic which should be reviewed with your personal physician, to be sure that a potentially life saving treatment is available when needed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

When the cramp in the night meets the calf of the leg

Waking up in the middle of the night with a painful cramp in the calf is not uncommon, but it is uncomfortable.  Often called a “charley horse,” these muscle cramps can be dealt with through a variety of techniques.  Here is a little piece from our local NBC television station news where I discuss some options, along with a patient of mine who gives her story.  And, remember, if you are having new, unusual, or worsening symptoms, or just have a question about what is going on, see your physician promptly for an evaluation

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Mommy, I don’t feel good

How many times has a parent heard his or her child complain of illness, preventing that day’s attendance at school.  Often, there is a question if the illness is real or feigned, created to escape some event at school.  While parents often have a good feeling about what is going on with their children, there are some guidelines.  Here is an article from WebMD where I join several other physicians in looking at this problem.

Monday, August 8, 2016

A cup for Olympic success?

It’s been all over the network news and social media, the circular purple dots on Olympic athletes like Michael Phelps to Hollywood celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow.  The source of those peculiar markings is a practice called “cupping,” a modern application of a traditional Chinese medicine practice.  Does it work, and, if so, how?  Along with several other physicians, and citing some references along the way, this article from the website gives a rather complete overview of this now novel form of therapy.

Something fishy in Rio?

Among the stories coming out of Rio de Janeiro this Olympic season, one area of focus has been the waterways, many of which are reportedly polluted.  That fishermen continue to catch fish from these waters, and eat those fish, goes against our common practice of avoiding potential sources of toxins.  Can they do this, and, if so, how?  Here is a little article with my thoughts on the subject, from Yahoo News.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Some very good ways to lose weight

With all of the crazy ideas that are out there for diets, schemes and other plans to strip the pounds from your body, often while stripping the dollars from your wallet, you may ask just what you should be looking for in a weight loss program.  Here are some tips from the WebMD website as to just what to look for when you want to lose weight.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Very Bad Way To Lose Weight

The statistic is chilling, perhaps one in ten young women have tried to use laxatives to lose weight.  Let’s get something straight here.  Laxatives make you poop.  Weight is from fat on your body.  Fat is not poop, and poop is not fat.  There is no logic here, but people do it anyway.  This is not a harmless action, and here is an article that looks at a very bad practice.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Polypill anyone?

There are some who believe that we all should be taking some drug, whether for depression or cholesterol, blood pressure or diabetes.  Is this a good idea?  Should you take one, two, or a bunch of drugs just because it might help?  Here is a little article that looks at that possibility, with some down to earth thoughts from me at the end.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Sarah Silverman could not talk - and it was not funny

In bygone days it was a common illness among children, sometimes with tragic results.  Thanks to vaccination, we rarely see that form these days, but epiglottitis can still show up when you least expect it, still as a very serious disease.  Comedian Sarah Silverman thought she just had a sore throat, but it was much more.  Here is a little article on the Self site looking at this infrequent problem.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Taxes, taxes, taxes, what do they want from us?

Among everything else that a young physician needs to know, actually any young professional, is how to deal with the finances of taxes and even planning for `eventual retirement.  Here’s an article from Medical Economics which asked me to lead off with that one golden question you need to ask when just starting out.  See if you agree with me, and take a look at some of the other tips offered.  Clearly, these ideas are not for physicians only!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I don’t think that dog is smiling

Out for exercise, running into the path of a dog remains an occasion not to be celebrated.  Here’s a little article about ways to deal with such an encounter, with a few comments of mine concerning what to do if the unexpected happens.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

It may work for some, it may not

Hardly a day goes by without some patient reciting a list of supplements, vitamins or “natural” remedies that he or she is taking, firm in the belief that they are safe, effective, and necessary.  That most, if not all, of the proffered list is composed of substances without any proven benefit is not an issue; that one or more of the items on the list may have drug interactions or side effects is not acknowledged; and I am cast into the role of an agent of Pharma, trying to push DRUGS, when supplements are really the way to go.  Here is a little article looking at some of the most common products taken, along with a little dose of reality.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Antibiotics - sometimes you need them, sometimes you don’t

We live in a “fix it now” world, and too many times patients feel that taking an antibiotic for a viral cough or cold won’t hurt, and just might help.  Only it does not help, and, over time, it does hurt.  Here is an article from the Self website by my friend Korin Miller that looks at just how pervasive this situation is

And lest you think that this is a new, hot, issue, here is a post from the blog from August, 2013, where I was interviewed in Oprah Magazine addressing a similar question.  Some things just don’t get old!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

It’s for men, too

Over the years, I have been impressed by the observation that, in general, men don’t seem to pay as much attention to their health as women do.  Sure there are exceptions in both extremes, but many men have the feeling that they can “work through” a problem, or ignore it - and it will go away.  Only thing is, that’s often not the case, with the resultant “if only we had seen it sooner” discussion taking place.  So here is a little piece stressing the need for preventative medicine in men.  Maybe it will put a bug in your ear to go see your doctor!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

What color is your urine?

For years, we have all heard that urine color depends on degree of hydration, well hydrated, lighter urine, dehydrated - darker urine.  And while that may be true for many people, a recent study suggests that this common observation is not accurate for some of the most vulnerable among us, older adults.  Here is an article which looks at that recent study and puts the information into context.

Monday, May 30, 2016

String of Medical Pearls Around the World

Over the recent past, a bunch of the articles in which I have been quoted have been picked up in countries outside of the US, in languages other than English.  Some of you may enjoy seeing some of these pieces, and could use them to sharpen your language skills.  So, in no particular order, enjoy the following:

Here’s an article from Jordan that might change your bathroom habits

لن تستعملوا سيفون الحمام بنفس الطريقة عندما تقرؤون هذا المقال!

If you get burned while in Indonesia, here are some thoughts to keep in mind

Atasi Luka Bakar dengan Cara Ini

If you are planning to have a vasectomy in Vietnam

Chồng thắt ống dẫn tinh vợ vẫn có bầu

And here is some advice from Indonesia about airplane travel

I hope you enjoy these, and I do look forward to posting more as they show up!  It really is a World Wide Web!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Is a soda tax an idea whose time has come?

They seem to tax just about everything except taxes, and someone is likely working on that, so how about a tax on the sugary soda that many love to consume.  It is just a way to raise revenue, or could there be some health benefits?  Here is a discussion from the MedPage Today website with a variety of views, including mine, on that topic.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Thoughts about being snipped

Looking for the most foolproof form of birth control, many men turn to vasectomy, an effective and permanent form of contraception.  Only problem is that it does not work immediately.  Although the vas deferens, the tube that carries sperm from production to insemination, is cut, residual sperm in the system are still present, and can still impregnate.  Here is a piece from the Self site that looks at this situation.

Shortly after publication, this piece was picked up by Fox News on their site:

Sunday, May 8, 2016

When the pain killer kills more than the pain

As the news continues to come out about the death of Prince, it is beginning to appear as though prescription pain relievers, medication he needed to deal with pain from a variety of sources, may have been a significant factor in his death.  Unfortunately, you don’t need to be a celebrity to walk this same path.  People from all walks of life can find themselves taking too many of these medications, sometimes with dangerous consequences.  Here is a look at the problem, and some warning signs to watch for along the way.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

When Poochie Gives a Smoochie

Not all babies are fond of dogs, and not all dogs are fond of babies, but there are other reasons to avoid having your dog plant a slurp on your baby’s face.  Your dog’s intent may not be what you think it is, and his tongue is not the cleanest object in the world.  Here is a little article with some appropriate cautions.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Who is that in the room writing about me?

With the advent of the Electronic Medical Record, many physicians find that they just cannot keep up with the system’s need for data input.  While dictation has advocates, reading and correcting transcriptions takes valuable time, leading to the often applied phrase “dictated but not read” on many such reports.  Recently, some physicians have started using scribes, like the stenographer of old but with a computer rather than a shorthand pad, to record the physician’s words for the record.  In doing so, many potential transcription errors can be avoided, but does the presence of the scribe in the examination room impact the nature of the visit?  Here is a discussion about the topic from the Medpage Today website, looking at that question.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pneumonia - an ancient killer continues to stalk

In the days before antibiotics, pneumonia was the third leading cause of death overall, and even today, it remains the leading infectious cause of hospitalization and death in this country.  The cost in lives and to the economy is staggering, and even celebrities, such as Merle Haggard, can succumb to the disease.  With vaccination and prompt treatment, the toll from many forms of pneumonia can be significantly reduced.  Here is a look at this issue, through the lens of the death of one star.

Sepsis - What is it and how does it kill you?

Heart disease, lung disease, cancer ... those you've heard of.  But my mother, and hundreds of thousands of others each year, die of the effects of an overwhelming infection, a condition called sepsis.  There are many sources for such infections, and many treatments, but the final common pathway is multiple organ failure and death.  Actress Patty Duke died at 69, far too young, from sepsis originating in bowel disease.  Here's a piece from the Self website looking at the disease, and how to recognize it so that it can be treated. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Prince's death - Whether flu or not, it's still important

When the news of the death of Prince first broke, influenza was suspected as the cause of the singer's death.  As the story develops, there is more confusion about just what may have been going on.  But the warning remains real, the disease that is commonly scoffed at, influenza, kills tens of thousands annually.  Here is a look at what the disease can do, and how to prevent it, from the Newsmax website.

Friday, March 25, 2016

DIY When Your're All Choked Up

As a physician, I have been present on several occasions when an individual had food stuck in the airway, preventing effective breathing.  A quick push to the abdomen, the Heimlich maneuver, saved the day in each occasion.  But what if this happens to you when you are alone?  Here is some advice from another physician and myself from the Self website on what you should remember in such a situation.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Café en su cuerpo

I always get a kick out of seeing one of the postings that I have done show up in another language.  Here is a Spanish version of the Yahoo Health article about what happens when you drink a cup of coffee.

Hung over? Maybe you can prevent it

We all remember the days we could drink alcohol without worry, or maybe we think we can remember days like that.  But as time goes by, what you drink at night may come back to get you in the morning.  Here are some thoughts from the Yahoo Health website about hangovers that are a bit more sensible than “hair of the dog.”

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Try weighing in on this one

Fitness trainers do all kinds of things to help their clients lose weight.  But how about gaining weight, I mean a lot of weight, to demonstrate the weight loss?  Is this really a good idea?  Here is an article looking at Adonis Hill doing just that, and what it could do to his health.

Along with the little excerpt of my thoughts in the article, let me expound a little bit more.

To conceptualize the effects of a rapid weight gain, look at a natural situation where an individual might gain a significant amount of weight, say 50 pounds or more in some cases, in a fairly short time: pregnancy. Typical short term changes include elevations of blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, along with back pain and leg pain, and don't forget stretch marks. While some of the more extreme issues during a pregnancy are due in part to the metabolic impact of pregnancy, the weight, itself, can wreak havoc on your system.

Elevated blood pressure can lead to a stroke, with long lasting effects, or a heart attack, also nothing to trivialize. Elevated blood sugar could uncover latent diabetes, which can lead to kidney problems, blindness, and circulation disorders. The extra load on the heart could also trigger congestive heart failure or a cardiomyopathy.

You may be aware that actors and actresses commonly gain weight for roles, but they usually do this gradually over the course of time during the production process for the performance. There is still risk in doing this, but taking it slowly allows the body time to adjust to the changes. Consulting a dietitian helps, with regulation of the quantity and types of foods to insure a healthy balanced weight gain that does not stress the system. Food choices should be towards calorie dense, healthy foods, without trying to binge at meals.

So what is the take home message?  I have always counseled, “Slow but steady wins the race.” Gaining weight is likely only appropriate if you are underweight, and even then it should be taken with deliberate, measured steps. The more common path of losing weight should also be paced at no more than a pound a week. That may not sound like much, but after a year it would be some 50 pounds, and that would be 50 pounds that you are much more likely to keep off than the 20 that you crashed off in a month of extreme dieting. As always, consult your physician before beginning any diet plan, and if you can also use the services of a dietitian, you will be that much more ahead.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Why would a man looking so healthy die so suddenly?

By all accounts, although he was a large man, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia enjoyed apparent good health.  With his sudden death, many wonder just how such an event is possible.  In this article from Newsmax, penned by Charlotte Libov, a cardiologist and I look at that question, and proffer some possible answers.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The important skill you hope you never need

You’ve seen it on TV, often parodied, with an individual unable to talk, flailing arms or grasping the neck, only to have another come from behind, push in on the abdomen, and have a hunk of food fly across the room.  When it’s happening for real, it’s not so comic.  I know, I’ve been there and needed to perform such a maneuver on more than one occasion, likely saving lives.  Here is a little article from the Safe Bee website that addresses the problem with an outline of just what to do.  You would do well to read this, and maybe ask your physician about it, so that that you could be in a position to help should the need arise.  And, just to be sure to get widespread coverage, below the link for the English site, there is one in Indonesian - in case anyone needs to read it in that language!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Scoping out the best ears

You see them all the time hanging around doctors’ or nurses’ necks, being used by an aide or an EMT, stethoscopes.  While they may all look the same, there are many styles, specialized functions, and, yes, prices for these valuable medical instruments.  When it comes to choosing one, here are some considerations to help with the selection.  Along with a few others, here are some of my thoughts from an article in Minority Nurse Magazine.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Red Wine, Vitamin D, Mercury and Pills ... so much to worry about

Prevention Magazine's website put up a little article looking at some of the health facts v. myths that we all think we know about.  I have a little general comment in the beginning of the article, that kind of sets the tone for these kinds of controversies.  Take a look, you might learn something!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Vigoda's Death Ends Fish Swimming Upstream

Back when he was playing Detective Fish on Barney Miller, he played a scene where Fish was thought to be dead, despite his being on the phone; and some 33 years ago, Abe Vigoda, himself, was reported as having passed on, giving him fodder for humor ever since.  But now, with the passing of this 94 year old singular actor, there are lessons to be learned in how he lived, and why he died.  Here is an interview I did with Charlotte Libov for Newsmax that looks at the death of a legend.

Friday, January 22, 2016

More on Glenn Frey's death

The rather sensational coverage of singer/songwriter Glenn Frey's death continues, with my being interviewed for yet another website, The Wrap.  I think it is important to realize that all of these interviews, as with previous celebrity tragedies, are being looked at in general terms from a distance.  The words used may sound sensational and specific, but, in the case of famous people, are often used with journalistic liberty.  Each of the people involved have had their own unique set of circumstances, the details of which are known only to their physicians and family, and which clearly influence the decisions made and outcomes obtained.  If you have any of the conditions discussed, please do not assume anything or act on any situation without having a full and frank discussion with your own physician.  While we look to celebrities for many things, health care advice should likely not be one of them, especially when drawn from partial information and unknown consequences.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Descent of an Eagle

The death of Eagles founder Glenn Frey disturbs on so many levels.  That a young man should die of diseases that many may have only heard about on commercials is troubling.  The combination of illnesses that Glenn Frey suffered produced a devastating effect on his health, raising questions in many.  Here is an interview I did with Yahoo Health about this terrible loss.

I received another call about this, from old friend Charlotte Libov on the Newsmax site.  With such a high profile death, questions continue to bounce around.  Here are my further thoughts on that website on

Bone Chilling Advice

With the mid-Atlantic seaboard in the grip of the first serious cold weather of the winter season, and temperatures dropping to single digit levels, our local CBS affiliate television station stopped by my office to get a few words on the effects such cold can have on people exposed to it.  Here is the clip that ran on Monday night, January 18, 2016, with a few choice medical thoughts of mine.