Chronic migraine sufferers may benefit from cosmetic surgery

Bryan Kirsch knew something was wrong when the stairs moved. After roughhousing with his children in 2011, he was walking upstairs with one when, he remembered, “I look up the stairs, and the whole world is spinning.” Read more

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House Call: Umbilical cord blood may be worth banking

Stem cells are amazing. They have the ability to become any other cell. Adults have a few of these cells, but newborns have many. These stem cells can be harvested from the blood in an infant’s umbilical cord, from the umbilical cord itself, and from the placenta. Stem cells have been the focus of a lot of research, and most of that research has been done on stem cells from umbilical cord blood. If you are pregnant, you may have heard about freezing your child’s umbilical cord blood after birth. Some parents choose to do this as a form of family health insurance. That’s because stem cells from umbilical cord blood can be used to treat 80 conditions (a big leap from 1998 when they were used for only one). This includes 10 kinds of cancer, mostly leukemias and lymphomas; 16 kinds of bone marrow failure syndrome; 8 blood disorders; 17 metabolic disorders; 19 types of immunodeficiency; and four other conditions. More therapeutic possibilities are on the horizon. Be aware, though, that treatment does not always work. Read more

Ask Doctor K: ‘Natural’ options not always the best treatment for high cholesterol

DEAR DOCTOR K: My cholesterol is high and my doctor wants me to go on a statin. I’d like to avoid medication. Do any supplements effectively lower cholesterol? DEAR READER: Statin drugs lower LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol and also reduce inflammation. Together, these effects lower your risk of heart attack. Read more

People’s Pharmacy: Neosporin can trigger allergic reactions

Q. I am severely allergic to latex, nickel and Neosporin. Now I am off work for two weeks due to a huge ulcerated lesion on my left knuckle. I had a small paper cut, applied Neosporin and covered the cut with a latex-free bandage. That was a bad idea! I have been to two specialists, who said all I can do is let it heal before I return to work. Read more

Dr. Zorba Paster: Steps to seek second opinions

Dr. Zorba: I have recently been diagnosed with AV nodal reentrant tachycardia . This fast heartbeat is driving me crazy. For years I’ve taken medications that break this rhythm, but it’s happening more and more often. That’s why my cardiologist recommended ablation therapy. I’ve read about this. It’s scary. They thread a catheter from your groin into your heart and then electrically zap the highway that’s carrying the super-fast beat. She said it had a high success rate. I’m not sure I want this done, but I do hate these episodes. Read more

Ask Doctor K: Insect repellents safe if used as directed

DEAR DOCTOR K: Which ingredients should I look for in a mosquito repellent? Are there any I shouldn’t use on my kids? DEAR READER: Many people worry that insect repellents themselves are dangerous. However, used properly, they are quite safe. It is particularly important to use insect repellents carefully, as described on their labels, for certain groups of people. This includes children, pregnant women and people who work outdoors and use insect repellent every day. These people may be more vulnerable to adverse effects. Read more

Non-drug therapy helps whiplash

DEAR DOCTOR K: I was in a car accident several months ago and got whiplash. I still have neck pain. Is this normal? DEAR READER: The neck contains vertebrae with joints between them. The bones are attached to muscles and ligaments that hold them together, and that hold the neck upright, allowing it to move as your head moves. Read more

Newborn screenings seeks inherited diseases

If you’ve delivered a baby in Washington state or have been around a newborn, you may recall the baby’s feet being poked for a blood sample shortly after birth. The blood sample is taken for a screening test to detect inherited diseases (also called genetic). In our state, newborns are screened for 29 different treatable, inherited conditions. Many of these conditions do not cause any symptoms initially and babies appear perfectly healthy. However, by the time any symptoms happen, the condition can be more difficult to treat and risk of serious complications like brain damage, organ damage and death increases. Sickle cell disease is one of these conditions, as I discussed in my last column. Others include phenylketonuria (1 in 10,000 babies will have this condition), hypothyroidism (1 in 4,000) and classic galactosemia (1 in 60,000). You can find complete lists of the screening tests done in Washington and the other 49 states at the Baby’s First Test website, (Idaho tests for 46 different conditions.) Read more

Mindfulness therapy may help depression

Depression is a recurrent disorder affecting millions of people. By some estimates, 5 percent of the population suffers from it at one time or another. For some it’s a one-and-done episode, but for others it happens over and over again. And while drugs have monumentally changed many people’s lives for the good, they have side effects. Read more

The whole food truth

Take a walk around the farmers market with John Gilbert and he’s quick to point out all that is green. Kale. Collards. Chard. Chicory. Spinach. Purslane. Broccoli. Bok choy. Read more

All cereal facts found on the box

DEAR DOCTOR K: I love to eat cereal for breakfast, but I’ve heard that many cereals aren’t all that healthy. What should I look for in a healthy cereal? DEAR READER: I spoke with Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She recommends reading ingredient lists carefully and choosing cereals that meet the following criteria: Read more

Dangers lurking at home

Soap may seem to be keeping germs at bay, but in many homes, it’s doing harm. Surprisingly, there are items lurking in most homes that are unhealthy because they’re old or contain harmful ingredients. The good news? For the most part, these things simply can be tossed to make the home healthier. Problem: Antibacterial soap with triclosan Read more

Ask Doctor K: Rapid strep tests not perfect for diagnosing sore throat

DEAR READERS: In my last column, I responded to a reader’s question about acute pharyngitis – inflammation of the throat caused by infection with bacteria or viruses. I was taught that diagnosing and treating a patient with a sore throat was not complicated: The sore throat was caused either by Group A streptococcus (“strep,” a kind of bacteria) or by a virus. If a throat culture showed strep, you treated it with penicillin. Simple. But in my view (some colleagues disagree), it’s not that simple. Read more

Cancer drugs get new consumer guide

In a bid to inject clarity into the fast-moving, high-stakes world of cancer drugs, a task force of cancer doctors announced last week that it has devised a decision-making aid to help physicians and their patients weigh the pluses and minuses of newly available options for treating malignancy, including their costs. In a trial run of the proposed system, which distills a single “net health benefit” number for cancer drugs, several costly new medications fared poorly. Others, despite high costs, appeared to offer major returns for patients with few effective options. Read more

Dr. Alisa Hideg: Advancements give sickle cell sufferers hope

When I was in medical school, I met a medical student with sickle cell disease, an inherited illness. She had worked with her health care providers to successfully manage the disease and was doing well. But the disease can at times cause acute pain and fatigue. Sickle cell disease is inherited when you get one defective sickle cell gene from each of your biological parents. It is most common in people of African heritage. When you have sickle cell disease, the four proteins encoded by the sickle cell genes that make up the hemoglobin molecules inside your red blood cells may not be made correctly and so they may not join together in the usual specific shape that allows them to transport oxygen efficiently. Instead, hemoglobin sometimes forms stiff rods inside the red blood cells. Rod-shaped hemoglobin affects the overall shape of the red blood cells. Read more

Drinks before dining led many women in study to overeat

That mellow feeling that settles in when you kick off your shoes, pour yourself a drink and start making dinner should come with a warning: Overeating ahead. Don’t hear it? That would be your brain’s reward system – the primitive structures that prime our drives for sex, food and addictive substances-overriding the message. Read more

Health Bulletin Board

New listings Life Skills Class: Your Brain, Your Life - You will learn how anxiety, depression, trauma and stress affect your health and how to overcome it from a panel of local professionals. July 7, 5:30-7 p.m., Salvation Army Kroc Center, 1765 W. Golf Course Road, Coeur d’Alene. Free. (208) 667-1865. Read more

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