Disease

Lyme disease is a nasty one — first, you likely get a rash from a tick bite you never suspected you had. Then, if not treated appropriately, you may get fever and chills, followed by some degree of facial paralysis and arthritis. But a course of the appropriate antibiotic (e.g. doxycycline) should take care of that handily. So what's the deal with supposed chronic Lyme disease? Supposedly people who have been appropriately treated for Lyme continue to have symptoms — "lingering symptoms of fatigue, pain, or joint and muscle aches at the time they finish treatment" — supposedly a condition known to many as chronic Lyme disease. But according to the CDC, these compose  " Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS)," and its...

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by infection with the bacteria Legionella pneumophila. Though it first got national attention in the 1970s and is only now mentioned during large outbreaks, each year there are 200-400 cases reported in New York City. 

It's a serious illness. Although the mortality rate of infection can vary, it is roughly about 10 percent. The recent outbreak in New York City has already taken one victim (who was over 90 years old) and sickened six others (four remain hospitalized.) However, they aren't making each other sick. People catch it from breathing in the bacteria in the form of water vapor - aerosols - so when an outbreak occurs and the source of the bacteria contaminated aerosols is found and shut down, the outbreak can be...

Views toward suicide have changed in recent decades. Once largely perceived as a selfish act and a "permanent solution to a temporary problem," society has become more compassionate toward those who suffer in silence. This is an enormously positive development, and it is likely an outgrowth of our greater understanding of mental illness.

The causes of suicide are complex, but they seem to involve some combination of nature (genetics) and nurture (culture and environment). According to the CDC, the suicide rate in the U.S. in 2015 grew to 15.7 per 100,000, sparking fears of a "suicide epidemic." Though this development is certainly alarming, a few other...

Dr. Laura A. Young and colleagues from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill examined the efficacy of self-testing blood glucose levels by people with Type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Their report is published in JAMA Internal Medicine. People with Type 1 diabetes, who must use insulin, certainly benefit from self-monitoring blood glucose (SMBG— they must know if their insulin levels take blood glucose too low or if more is needed — it can be lifesaving). But for people with T2DM who are not using insulin, there has been a debate in medical circles as to whether SMBG has real benefits.

Dr. Young and co-workers examined the efficacy of SMBG on long term blood glucose control by...

Americans experienced a record number of illnesses in 2016 stemming from chickens kept in their backyards and on their rooftops. And this year, with Salmonella cases swiftly adding up again, if this continues at the present pace we will equal that mark by year's end. 

Salmonella, which produces nausea, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea, is a debilitating illness that can also, in some cases for the old and very young, be deadly.

Federal health officials have identified a clear link between the increase in domesticated chickens and the rise in Salmonella incidents. And the statistics indicate that close contact with these adorable chicks and egg-laying birds is accelerating the spread of disease into the home.

Given that almost every state in...

If you read only the headlines this past weekend, your holiday festivities might have been less fun, since the message seemed to be that consuming any amount of alcohol was a certain precursor to developing breast cancer. For example,  the story in the Wall Street Journal catches the eye with its headline "Just One Drink Raises the Risk of Breast Cancer." So that headline will do what it's supposed to — engage the reader and get her to peruse the story itself. But a somewhat different story then emerges — take a look at this quote from the article: "The studies don’t show that alcohol causes breast cancer, but they do show an association or link.”

The...

Roger Ailes, one of the founders of Fox News, died from an intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding inside the skull) after falling and hitting his head. Though the bleeding was exacerbated by the fact Mr. Ailes had hemophilia (a genetic inability to properly form blood clots), intracranial hemorrhaging can affect otherwise healthy people.

Two specific types of intracranial bleeding will be discussed here because they claimed the lives of high-profile individuals.

Roger Ailes: Subdural Hematoma

The brain is protected by three membranes, collectively known as the meninges. The outermost layer is called the dura mater, and subdural hemorrhaging is bleeding that occurs...

For the past 120 years, X-rays have been used to treat a wide variety of maladies and due to their prevalence, we probably know more about the effects of radiation than any other agent. (1) A century ago, physicians who employed x-rays to image and diagnose illnesses discovered important remedies using low doses: it was linked to treatment for everything from boils and carbuncles to asthma and arthritis. Low radiation doses eliminated cancer metastases and delayed the progression of cancer.(2) The mechanism of action is now understood that low-dose radiation stimulated the patient’s own protection systems.(3) High doses inhibit them.

Yet many consider even low dose radiation to be harmful now. Some groups even insist cell phones can cause cancer, though they don’t have ionizing...

May is Celiac Disease Awareness month which makes this the perfect time to focus on some exciting new research in the field. 

One of the most interesting questions out there is - what is the cause of celiac disease? 

For some time, the genes responsible for the genetic predisposition of celiac disease have been known - they are called HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8. These two genes are, as geneticists like to say, "required but not sufficient." This means that you need to have them in order to get celiac disease, but, having them is not enough.

This point can be seen when you look at the amount of people who have the genetic predisposition (roughly 30-40%) and compare it to the amount of people with celiac disease (only about 1%).

So, what is it that separates the 1%...

Mental illness still carries a stigma in society, particularly for those who suffer from a severe form, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. High-profile incidents, in which a mentally ill person commits a violent crime, has led to the stereotype that the mentally ill pose a dire threat to society.

It is certainly true that rates of violent crime are higher among the severely mentally ill than among the general population, with approximately 5 to 10% committing an act of violence within 5 years of diagnosis. Still, the vast majority of them never do so. The question, then, is how psychiatrists can identify the subset of patients who are most likely to become violent. Some risk assessment tools already exist, but most are either unreliable or overly complicated. Now, a team...