lice infestation

The Facts of Lice, and How To Treat Them

It’s back-to-school time, and one thing you may not be prepared for is your child coming home from school with a lice infestation. If the very thought is making your skin crawl, our concierge family doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter want to assure you that, while head lice are annoying and distasteful, they are not dangerous.

The facts

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated six million to 12 million infestations occur each year in the U.S. among children ages three to 11. And, although creepy, head lice are not known to spread disease.

• Head lice are found worldwide. In this country, infestation with head lice is most common among pre-school children attending child care, elementary schoolchildren, and the household members of infested children.

• Head lice are found in three forms: the egg (also called a “nit”), the nymph, and the adult.

• Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice, the CDC says. Head lice move by crawling; they cannot hop or fly. They are spread by direct contact with the hair of an infested person. Anyone who comes into head-to-head contact with someone who already has head lice is at greatest risk.

• Despite the old myths, it is very uncommon to pick them up by sharing hats, scarves, coats, combs, brushes, towels, headphones, or any other personal items, although it can happen. Dogs, cats, and other pets do not play a role in the spread of head lice.

• Head lice and their nits soon die if they have no human host to feed on; nits need temperatures close to that found on the human scalp in order to hatch.

• The CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Association of School Nurses all take issue with the “no nits” policy of many school systems nationwide, which prevent children with head lice from attending school; these organizations contend that head lice are not a public health risk.

How to spot head lice

Often parents have little warning about an infestation of head lice until they’re combing or styling their child’s hair.

Head lice and their nits are found almost exclusively on the scalp, particularly around and behind the ears and near the neckline at the back of the head. Less commonly, head lice can also be found on the eyelashes or eyebrows.

The nits can range in color from white to brown and may look like dandruff, scabs, or droplets of hairspray. A fully grown, developed adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed, has six legs, and is tan to grayish-white in color.

Other signs and symptoms include:

• a tickling feeling of something moving in the hair;
• itching caused by an allergic reaction to the bites of the creature;
• irritability and difficulty sleeping (head lice are most active in the dark); or,
• sores on the head caused by scratching, which can sometimes become infected with bacteria found on the person’s skin.

How to treat them

The adult female head louse lays her eggs at the base of the hair shaft nearest the scalp, and are firmly attached there. They hold tightly to the hair with hook-like claws at the end of each of their six legs. Nits are so firmly cemented to the hair shaft that they can be difficult to remove even after they hatch and the empty casings remain.

Most home remedies have been found not to work. The most dangerous of these is gasoline, which the CDC emphatically warns against using.

The CDC recommends treatment with either an over-the-counter (OTC) preparation or a prescription medication known as a pediculicide, following the instructions on the label carefully. It also warns against using a combination shampoo/conditioner or conditioner alone prior to treatment, and advises not to re-wash hair for one to two days after treatment.

If a few live lice are still found eight to 12 hours after treatment, but are moving more slowly than before, do not re-treat. If live lice are still evident after this period, talk to us for the best way to proceed. Some head lice have developed a resistance to OTC treatments and may require a prescription product.

Also, if you’re still not sure whether your child has an infestation, we can make a definitive diagnosis; we can also tell you whether the infestation is still active and recommend ways to treat it.

jellyfish stings

How To Treat Jellyfish Stings

Approximately 150 million people worldwide are victims of jellyfish stings each year. And yes, while rare, you can die from their stings.

Because August is prime season for jellyfish, our concierge family doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter want to offer you some tips on how to treat this common seaside scourge.

Background

Jellyfish aren’t actually fish, but invertebrates that have been around for more than 500 million years. Also known as “jellies” or “sea jellies,” their long, stinging tentacles are used to catch, immobilize, and digest prey. They exist in every ocean.

The most dangerous type of marine animal is the box jellyfish, whose venom is one of the world’s deadliest. Its sting is so painful that swimmers have been known to have a heart attack or drown before being able to reach the shore. Fortunately for us, they are mainly confined to the Indo-Pacific region and northern Australia.

Scientists can’t prove that jellyfish are more numerous than in years past, but it is clear that they are expanding their territory. Theories as to the reason include climate change, agricultural runoff, and overfishing of their predators, which include tuna, swordfish, and sharks.

How to avoid stings

As with any wild creature, the best way to keep from being attacked is to avoid them.

One way to do that is to ask the lifeguard on duty whether jellyfish are prevalent where you’re planning to swim. Also, look for signs or a purple warning flag posted on the beach. These indicate that either jellyfish or other dangerous sea creatures have been spotted in the water. If so, stay out of the water!

You can also identify them yourself: They look like clear or white plastic bags or balloons, either floating on the water or on the beach.

If you do see them on the beach, do not touch them. Jellyfish tentacles can sting for up to two weeks after they’ve died. Wear some type of protective footwear when walking on the beach, because jellyfish—as well as any detached tentacles—can be difficult to spot.

Don’t depend on a wetsuit or coating your body with petroleum jelly to protect you. These may help, but they are not sting-proof. If you must go into the water, special “stinger suits” for sale at some dive shops may offer some protection.

What not to do

Because jellyfish have plagued humans since the first time we set foot in the ocean, many home remedies have sprung up over the millennia regarding the best way to treat their stings.

Many of them, in fact, will not only not help, but can actually exacerbate a sting. These include applying:

• ice
• fresh water
• baking soda
• urine
• ammonia
• meat tenderizer
• alcohol

All of these can make the sting worse by triggering the release of more venom, as can applying ice or a pressure bandage, or rubbing the site briskly with a towel.

What to do instead

The most recent research finds that the best ways to treat jelly fish stings is to immediately douse the site of the sting with vinegar (always bring some with you to the beach).

Then carefully pluck out any visible tentacles with fine point tweezers. Save these for later identification in case a dose of antivenin is required.

Soak affected skin in hot water between 110 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of 20 minutes; 45 minutes is better. If you don’t have a thermometer available, test the water with your hand. It should be hot but not scalding.

A mild hydrocortisone cream or an oral antihistamine can help relieve itching and swelling.

Finally, clean open sores three times daily, finishing with antibiotic ointment.

When to seek medical treatment

The following situations require immediate emergency care following a jellyfish sting:

a sting on or near the eyes;
• the sting is from a box jellyfish (identifiable by its boxy shape);
• the sting covers more than half an arm or leg; or,
• the victim displays signs of a severe allergic reaction (i.e., trouble breathing or swallowing, coughing, wheezing, chest pain or tightness in the lungs, low blood pressure, weak or rapid pulse, dizziness, confusion, or fainting, or any other unusual symptom).

For less serious reactions, such as severe pain, if the area looks infected or the victim feels unwell, feel free to contact us at any time for advice and/or treatment.

sugary drinks cause cancer

Do Sugary Drinks Cause Cancer?

Whenever a new study reports some alarming new finding, our concierge family doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter receive panicked questions from our patients, wondering if they’re endangering themselves or their families.

The most recent example is a French study published this month in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) involving more than 100,000 adults which showed an increased risk of cancer in those who consumed approximately two sugary drinks a week. This included both non-diet sodas and 100 percent fruit juice.

The study

While more women than men participated in the study—79 percent to 21 percent—the men consumed on average more sugary drinks than did the women. The researchers controlled for such known cancer risk factors as family history, age, sex, physical activity, educational level, birth control pills, and smoking status.

The researchers gave questionnaires to 101,257 healthy French adults over a nine-year period. Of those, 2,193 cancers were diagnosed: 693 breast cancers, 166 colorectal cancers, and 291 prostate cancers. This equates to an 18 percent overall higher risk of cancer; that is, four additional cases of cancer over five years for every 1,000 people studied. The increased risk for breast cancer was 22 percent for pre-menopausal women and 44 percent for post-menopausal women.

Unlike some food questionnaires which ask participants to recall what they ate over previous days or weeks, this one was a food diary, asking participants to record everything they ate and drank over a three-day period every two years. This allowed for more accurate data gathering.

Any drink containing more than 5 percent sugar was considered “sugary,” including pure fruit juice, sodas, milkshakes, energy drinks, and hot drinks such as coffee, tea, and hot chocolate to which sugar was added.

Other studies

Another similar study, published in May in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found similar results. This study, from the Department of Nutrition at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found a correlation between consumption of sugary drinks and increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), and an increased risk of death from any cause as high as 42 percent.

Although no definitive study has shown that sugar actually causes cancer, a 2017 study published in the journal Nature Communications supports previous data showing that not only is there a correlation between sugar consumption and the proliferation of cancer cells, but that cancer cells take in a greater amount of sugar than normal cells, helping them to thrive and multiply long past the time they would normally die.

The caveats

As scientists often say, “correlation does not prove causation.” This means that other factors, which were not accounted for in these studies, could be at play.

It’s possible that variables not accounted for, such as salt intake, calorie intake, other types of food consumed, even the caramel coloring added to the sodas—which has been implicated in certain cancers—could play a role. It’s even possible that non-dietary factors, such as stress, income fluctuations, or environmental toxins, could have affected the results.

Because the human body is so complex, it’s difficult to attribute cause and effect in any nutritional study.

Nevertheless . . .

Regardless, a large body of studies over many years has fairly well established that excessive consumption of sugar in any form has a negative impact on overall health.

“While this study doesn’t offer a definitive causative answer about sugar and cancer, it does add to the overall picture of the importance of the current drive to reduce our sugar intake,” Amelia Lake, a dietitian and reader in public heath nutrition at Teesside University, who was not involved in the study, told the Science Media Centre in the UK.

“Clearly there is more work to be done and measuring dietary intake is challenging; however, the message from the totality of evidence on excess sugar consumption and various health outcomes is clear—reducing the amount of sugar in our diet is extremely important.”

According to the American Heart Association, women should consume no more than six teaspoons a day (25 grams, or about one average candy bar) and men should have no more than nine teaspoons a day (37 grams). Given the results of this study, we suspect less would be even better.

If you have questions about this or any other nutritional issue, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

swimming bug

Watch Out for This Unpleasant Swimming Pool ‘Bug’

What would summer be without the silky feel of warm water caressing hot skin as you glide across a swimming pool?

But as a timely reminder that nothing is perfect, this month the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta published a report warning swimmers to take precautions against a microscopic parasite that can take up residence in pools and water playgrounds. So our concierge family practice doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter want to alert you to this possible hazard.

Symptoms and Causes

The infection, Cryptosporidium, or “Crypto,” is the most common cause of diarrhea and occurs when swimmers swallow pool water which is infected with it. The resulting illness can last for up to three weeks, leaving sufferers with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting, and, possibly, dehydration as a result.

The CDC’s June report noted that, between 2009-2017, reported outbreaks have increased an average of 13 percent per year. Thirty-five percent of the outbreaks were linked to swimming in pools and water playgrounds; 15 percent were linked to contact with cattle, particularly nursing calves; 13 percent were linked to contact with infected people in childcare settings; and three percent were linked to drinking raw (i.e., unpasteurized) milk or apple cider.

Tough to Kill

Unlike other swimming pool infections, Crypto is resistant to the typical concentration of chlorine. Crypto is protected by an outer shell that makes it tough to kill, the CDC reports. For example, it can survive for days in chlorinated water in pools and water playgrounds or on surfaces disinfected with chlorine bleach.

Crypto can easily cause outbreaks because it only takes a few germs to make someone sick, and there can be millions of Crypto germs in feces.

Even in pools which are treated to recommended levels, the Crypto parasite can survive for up to 10 days. The only way to respond to an outbreak of Crypto, the CDC says, is closing the pool and treating the water with high levels of chlorine, called hyperchlorination.

“Young children can get seriously sick and easily spread Crypto,” said Michele Hlavsa, R.N., M.P.H., chief of the CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program. “They don’t know how to use the toilet and wash their hands, or are just learning how. But we as parents can take steps to help keep our kids healthy in the water, around animals, and in childcare.”

Precautions

According to the CDC, outbreaks caused by Crypto occur most commonly in the summer. It recommends the following steps to protect yourself and others:

 

• Do not swim or let kids swim if they have diarrhea.

• If diagnosed with Cryptosporidiosis, do not swim until two weeks after diarrhea completely stops.

• Do not swallow the water you swim in.

• Keep kids with diarrhea at home and away from childcare.

• Wash your hands with soap and water after coming in contact with animals or anything in their environment, especially animal feces. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not work effectively with Crypto.

• Take kids on frequent bathroom breaks, and don’t change diapers in the pool area—do so in a diaper-changing area away from the pool.

• Rinse off in the shower before getting into the water to help remove any germs on your body that could contaminate the pool water.

• Remove shoes worn in animal environments (barns, pens, etc.) before going inside your home.

• If you drink milk or apple cider, buy only pasteurized types.

 

Those with healthy immune systems don’t require special treatment if they contract this unpleasant bug. However, the CDC warns that those who are especially young or old or who have compromised immune systems are at increased risk for life-threatening dehydration or malnutrition. If your immune system is compromised in any way, you develop blood in your stools, are having trouble staying hydrated, or if the illness lasts longer than 10 days, be sure to let us know.

get the best sleep

Get a Good Night’s Sleep On a Hot Summer Night

The concept of air conditioning was first proposed by Florida physician and inventor Dr. John Gorrie in the 1840s. Gorrie believed that cooling was the key to avoiding diseases like malaria and making patients more comfortable, but his rudimentary system for cooling hospital rooms required ice to be shipped to Florida from frozen lakes and streams in the northern United States.

To get around this logistical challenge, Gorrie began experimenting with the concept of artificial cooling. He designed a machine that created ice using a compressor powered by a horse, water, wind-driven sails, or steam, and was granted a patent for it in 1851.

But it wasn’t until 1902 that Willis Carrier perfected the process and introduced it at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.

Nowadays, most Americans, especially here in Florida, have air conditioning in their homes. But if you’re one of those who prefer not to use it, or if your power goes out, or you travel somewhere that lacks it, our concierge family practice doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter want to offer some tips on how to get a good night’s sleep in the summer heat.

The only thing worse than having insomnia is having insomnia on a hot summer night. To keep your cool, try the following.

 

Cool the room

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), if you are sleeping and the temperature rises above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, it can wake you up. So be sure to keep the room as cool as possible by:

• closing the blinds and windows during the day to prevent heat buildup during the hottest part of the day;

• using a fan to keep the air circulating and supply “white noise” to block out street sounds;

• placing a bowl of ice or ice packs in front of the fan, which will help chill the air;

• dampening a sheet and hanging it across the window, both to block out light and heat, and to take advantage of cooling evaporation as it dries.

 

Cool the bed

• Use cotton, linen, or bamboo sheets, which provide breathability. Also avoid high-thread-count sheets, which tend to trap body heat. Opt for sheets with thread counts under 400.

• Some pillows—like those stuffed with buckwheat—are specifically made to stay cool. Or you can try putting your pillow inside a plastic bag in the freezer for an hour or so before bedtime. Alternatively, place ice packs inside the pillowcase.

• Remove all extraneous bedding, including blankets and extra pillows, which tends to hold heat.

 

Cool yourself

• Avoid alcohol or heavy meals—especially carb-heavy foods—in the evening. Alcohol dehydrates you as well as making you feel hotter, and large meals produce extra heat in your body during digestion.

• Take a cool bath or shower or a dip in the pool just before bedtime. The evaporation of the moisture on your skin acts to cool you.

• Fill a hot water bottle with water and freeze it, then take it to bed and place it beneath your knees or neck, or on your chest or wrists.

• Be sure to stay hydrated throughout the day, because your body needs water to help keep you cool.

• Remember that warm air rises, so if you have the option, sleep on the lowest floor in the house.

 

What if none of this helps?

If you’re still having trouble getting sufficient shut-eye in the summer, you might try the supplement melatonin. A hormone made by the pineal gland, it has been used successfully by many people for sleep issues. Most people can take it without a problem, but some experience such side effects as dizziness, anxiety, or daytime sleepiness. It is also contraindicated for those taking several medicines (blood thinners, birth control pills, and immunosuppressants, among others). So check with us first.

In extreme cases, let us know. If necessary, we can prescribe sleep medications for a few nights. These will help you sleep but can also induce troublesome side effects. Ideally, they should be used only for short periods of time in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy. We can also recommend various types of sleep studies that might help pinpoint more serious issues such as sleep apnea.

downside of marijuana

Be Aware of the Downsides of Marijuana

Florida legalized the use of medical marijuana this past March. Thirty-four other states have already done so, and 10 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. But our concierge family doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter want to offer a few words of caution about the possible downsides of this increasingly legal drug.

First, be aware that any drug can cause side effects. This includes prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications, alcohol, even aspirin. Every body is unique, and reacts differently to different substances. What can cause problems for some people won’t have the same effect in others.

That said, despite many decades of illegal use, little scientific research has been performed on marijuana because until recently federal law has forbidden any scientific studies of the drug. So reports of its effects are largely anecdotal. Many users compare it favorably to alcohol, noting the lack of a hangover after use, the lower potential for addiction, and statistics showing that marijuana rarely results in the violence so often associated with alcohol abuse.

 

What is known, however, is that:

a) today’s marijuana is far more potent that that used by previous generations;

b) the higher THC content can trigger problems not seen in earlier users of the less potent varieties; and,

c) there are more recent reports of adverse effects on younger users, especially teenagers and young adults.

Let’s examine each of these individually.

 

Potency

Due to advanced growing techniques and hybridization, the marijuana available today has a far higher concentration of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, than even as recently as the 1980s. (THC is the psychoactive compound that produces the classic marijuana “high.”) Federal officials say the THC potency then averaged around four percent. Today’s levels have been found to be as high as 20-30 percent. In the 1960s it was around two percent.

Some products made from marijuana, often designed to be used with vaping devices—such as some edibles, oils, and substances called shatter, crumble, budder, and crystalline—have an even higher THC concentration, averaging 68 percent and occasionally as high as 95 percent. As the popular expression has it, “This is not your father’s weed.”

 

Side effects

These higher levels can increase the chances of an adverse reaction, either in new users or in those who haven’t used the drug in decades. These side effects can include:

  • anxiety or panic attacks
  • increased heart rate
  • dizziness
  • breathing difficulties
  • impaired memory
  • concentration difficulties

 

Danger to younger users

Other more serious side effects have been reported in younger users, especially in Colorado and Washington, where recreational use was legalized first. Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver reported 777 cases of cyclic vomiting, paranoia, psychosis, and other acute reactions among their emergency cases in 2015. Heavy use of high-potency marijuana during adolescence up to the age of about 30 has also been associated with creating or worsening such mental health problems as anxiety, depression, psychosis, and suicidal ideation.

This is partly due to the high potency and partly to the incomplete development of the adolescent brain. Most experts consider the brain to reach full development between the ages of about 25 to 30. Until that time, neural pathways are more susceptible to damage from psychoactive substances.

 

Medical marijuana

As noted, medical marijuana (low-THC cannabis or synthetic cannabis) can now be prescribed to legal Florida residents by qualified physicians for certain conditions, including chronic pain, anorexia due to HIV/AIDS or cancer treatment, glaucoma, seizure disorders, terminal illness, and others.

Depending on the type employed, users may or may not experience the “high.” Some medical marijuana has been specially formulated to eliminate the mood-altering effects while still providing relief from symptoms.

However, users may still encounter one or more of the negative side effects listed above. This is why, with marijuana, it is especially important not to self-medicate, but instead allow us to help you find the right symptom relief associated with your condition.

 

While recreational marijuana is still illegal in Florida, we know that some will use it anyway. Just be aware of the potential downsides to this common substance.

Celery Juice: Refreshing Tonic Or Miracle Medicine?

Our concierge family practice doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter have been receiving questions lately from some of our patients regarding the latest fad in “miracle cures,” celery juice. Touted on the Internet, in women’s magazines, and in a recent book as the answer to everything from diabetes to heart disease to heartburn, the benefits attributed to daily consumption of celery juice seem too good to be true.

So we thought we’d take a look at some of the claims for the efficacy of celery juice and see whether there’s any science behind it.

 

The claims

Celery juice, the so-called “miracle elixir,” is said to contain “previously unknown sodium cluster salts that actually neutralize pathogens secretly causing hundreds of symptoms and conditions.” The juice is also said to reduce inflammation throughout the body, which is known to trigger numerous health issues.

As a result, proponents claim, a daily glass of celery juice can lower blood pressure, reduce LDL (known as the “bad” cholesterol), ease arthritis, asthma, joint pain, and a host of other chronic illnesses, as well as promoting rapid and effortless weight loss and even curing some cancers.

 

The reality

Celery is a healthy vegetable, containing such vitamins and minerals as vitamins C and K, folate, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. And, like other vegetables, it is high in antioxidant polyphenols, known to reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, and neutralize free radicals which are responsible for cellular damage. But what about the “miracle elixir” claims?

First of all, nutritionists say there is no such thing as “sodium cluster salts.” Celery does, however, contain salt, and juicing the vegetable concentrates the amount of salt you get. The recommended intake of celery juice is 16 ounces in the morning, 30 minutes before breakfast. One bunch of celery, the amount needed to make 16 ounces of celery juice, contains approximately 800 mg. of sodium, The Washington Post reported recently.

“That’s more than you’ll get in two orders of french fries,” Charleston, S.C.-based registered dietitian Debbie Petitpain told The Post. Petitpain is a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Second, while inflammation can be a trigger for many serious and even deadly illnesses (see our recent blog, “Inflammation: The Silent Killer”) there’s no evidence that celery juice can reduce inflammation any better than numerous other fruits and vegetables, including beets, cabbage, parsley, or lettuce.

Finally, juicing any fruit or vegetable extracts some of the healthy fiber they contain. Fiber is not only filling, it helps maintain regularity, prevents the development of diverticulitis and hemorrhoids, and lowers cholesterol and blood glucose levels.

 

The conclusion

“There is no one ‘superfood’ that can meet all of our daily requirements,” Petitpain told The Post. “And in fact, research continually shows that the best nutrition comes from consuming a variety of food groups and various foods within each group.”

The popular book on celery juice also recommends, in addition to the morning drink, a diet high in fruits and vegetables, free of dairy, sugar, and processed foods. This alone would lead steady weight loss and better health overall, even without the juice.

There is no question that celery is high in many nutrients and antioxidants that can help alleviate many diseases. Unless you’re allergic to celery, as some people are, there’s no reason not to try it if you’re not on a low-salt diet.

But we believe that the most sensible eating plan is one that includes a wide range of fresh fruits, vegetables, low-fat meats and seafood, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. If you’d like more information on this or any related topic, be sure to contact us.

temperatures

How To Stay Safe in Scorching Temperatures

We’re not even halfway through summer yet, and we’ve already seen record-high temperatures here in south Florida, which can bring dangerous health impacts. The two most serious are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Our concierge doctors in Jupiter want to remind you of ways you can keep your family safe as temperatures soar.

 

What to watch for

The Red Cross warns that some people are more at risk of developing a heat-related illness. These include: people aged 65 and older, who are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature; people with chronic medical conditions, who may be taking medication that can worsen the impact of extreme heat; infants and young children; and, outdoor workers and athletes, who may be more likely to become dehydrated, particularly in extreme heat.

When keeping an eye on the weather forecast, here’s what the various warning terms mean:

  • Excessive Heat Watch: Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.
  • Heat Advisory: Heat Index values are forecasted to meet locally defined advisory criteria for the next one-to-two days
  • Excessive Heat Warning: Heat Index values are forecasted to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least two days.

 

Consequences of extreme heat exposure

Such excessive heat as we’ve been experiencing recently can lead to life-threating heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Most people have heard these terms, but may not fully understand what they mean. We want to explain the differences between the two, because the treatments for each are different.

Heat exhaustion

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says muscle cramping might be the first sign of heat-related illness. It lists the warning signs of heat exhaustion as:

  • heavy sweating
  • weakness
  • cold, pale, clammy skin
  • fast, weak pulse
  • nausea or vomiting

If you or someone you’re with experiences these symptoms, you should move to a cooler location, lie down and loosen your clothing, apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible, and sip water. If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately.

 

Heat stroke

The signs of heat stroke are:

  • high body temperature (above 103 degrees)
  • hot, red, dry, or moist skin
  • rapid and strong pulse
  • possible unconsciousness.

 

This is a medical emergency. Call 911 immediately. While waiting for the ambulance, move the person to a cooler environment, and try to reduce the person’s body temperature with cool cloths, or if possible, a cool bath. Do NOT try to give fluids.

 

Staying safe in the heat

Here are steps you can take to avoid experiencing either of these serious conditions.

  • Limit outdoor activity. The sun is hottest from 11 a.m. (D.S.T.) to 3 p.m., so try to stay indoors, or at least in shaded areas, during those times. If you must be outdoors, take frequent breaks, preferably in air-conditioned environments, and, if possible, take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Dress appropriately. Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Wear a hat with a wide brim.
  • Drink water frequently, from two to four cups of water every hour. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink, because by then you’re already started to dehydrate. Monitor urine color: If your urine is dark, you’re not drinking enough water. Urine should be light yellow or clear. And avoid alcoholic drinks, which can not only impair judgment regarding time spent in the heat but also dehydrate you.
  • Never leave children or pets in cars for any amount of time. Also check on animals frequently, ensuring they have access to shade and plenty of cool water.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone, or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.

 

Keep these safety tips in mind as you enjoy the outdoor fun in summer, and check with us if you feel more bothered than usual by the heat. This could be a sign of a medical condition that warrants investigation.

jupiter inflammation doctor

Inflammation: The Silent Killer

If our concierge primary doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter could pinpoint a single factor that is responsible for more illnesses than any other, it might be inflammation. This is the result of various attacks on the body by irritating or even harmful stressors on the body, such as pathogens, injuries, or poor lifestyle habits. The body then tries to heal the resulting tissue damage by rushing white blood cells and their protective chemicals to the site.

Thus, inflammation is necessary to keep the body healthy. But when the body is repeatedly assaulted by various harmful stimuli, the inflammation never ends and can eventually cause long-term damage.

 

What is inflammation?

There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute is the healthy kind, in which the body mounts a defense against sudden injury or illness like the flu. Chronic is the dangerous kind, in which the body spends months or even years attempting to fight off constant, lower-level threats, such as pollution, poor nutrition, and the effects of ongoing stress.

 

A cause, not just a result

Because inflammation is seen with injuries, people used to believe it was the result of disease or illness. But over the years, it became more apparent that inflammation actually caused numerous chronic and deadly diseases.

 

Some of these include:

  • allergies
  • Alzheimer’s
  • anemia
  • asthma
  • cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • colitis
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • gout
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • psoriasis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • wrinkles and other signs of aging

 

Inflammation linked to heart disease

The deadliest condition that was recently confirmed to be linked to inflammation is cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading killer not only in the United States, but also worldwide, claiming the lives of 634,000 people in this country and 15 million people around the world in 2015.

The connection between inflammation and atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”) has been suspected since the 1800s. No definitive research had actually confirmed this hypothesis, however, until a study released in 2017.

Known as CANTOS, the study included over 10,000 patients who had previously suffered a heart attack and were then were given a drug meant to reduce inflammation. The drug, which costs about $200,000 per year, is not only prohibitively expensive, but its fatal side effects offset any gains in cardiovascular mortality reduction.

So why were cardiologists so excited about this research? Because it proved that reducing inflammation in the body will result in fewer heart attacks. (The drug also proved effective against certain forms of cancer, another illness thought to be tied to chronic inflammation.)

The drug had no effect on cholesterol, which is what is reduced with the use of statins, thus proving that inflammation reduction was solely responsible for the mortality reduction seen in the study. In reducing inflammation and demonstrating a marked decrease (15%) in cardiovascular events or death, it paved the way for possible development of safer, less-costly drugs that can accomplish the same thing.

 

Prevention is the best route

Of course, we can intervene medically with various drugs and treatment that can address all these illnesses and diseases, but the best treatment is to reduce inflammation before it causes a problem.

Some causes of chronic inflammation are beyond our control. These include environmental pollutants and certain genetic factors.

But many other causes are within our control. Here are some steps you can take to reduce chronic inflammation throughout your body.

  1. Quality sleep

Sleep is when the body lowers cortisol and repairs the damage to cells encountered during the day. Seven to eight hours nightly is optimal.

 

  1. Exercise

When you engage in moderate-intensity exercise for two hours and thirty minutes every week, the cells release a protein called Interleukin 6, which has an anti-inflammatory effect throughout the body.

 

  1. Healthy diet

Poor-quality foods—sugar, salt, fats, processed foods—all trigger inflammation throughout the body. Opt instead for fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, high-quality/low-fat protein, whole grains, beans and legumes, and water.

 

  1. Stress reduction

Chronic stress causes the body to react with chronic inflammation as it tries to “fight off” what it perceives as an invader. Relaxation exercises, deep breathing, meditation, yoga . . . anything that helps reduce stress will also reduce inflammation.

 

  1. Stop smoking

Every puff of a cigarette triggers inflammation throughout the cardiovascular system.

 

If you’d like more information on inflammation’s effect on the body and how to combat it, please talk to us.

primary care jupiter fl

The Danger In Ultra-Processed Foods

Sausages. Mayonnaise. Pizza. Potato chips. Bacon. Even whiskey, gin, and rum. All these foods and many more share two common traits: All were “processed” into their familiar form by humans, and all have been implicated in an increased risk for early death.

Our concierge primary doctors in Jupiter want to make you aware of the latest studies on the dangers of consuming these foods as the primary part of your diet.

The difference in these studies is that they don’t just address so-called “junk” foods like cookies and fast foods, but many of the items that all of us have in our kitchens and rely on as staples of our diet.

 

The studies

Published last month in the journal BMJ, one study followed more than 100,000 adults in France for five years. They found that those who ate the most processed foods were 23 percent more likely to experience a heart condition or stroke than those who consumed the lowest amounts.

The second study, also published in BMJ, tracked 20,000 Spanish adults over 20 years. Those who ate the most processed foods were 62 percent more likely to die during the study period than those who ate the lowest.

“High consumption” was defined as four or more servings of ultra-processed foods daily, with health risks rising 18 percent for each additional daily serving.

While researchers cautioned that correlation doesn’t prove causation, both studies controlled for such other possible risk factors as lifestyle, demographics, physical activity, weight, and overall health in drawing their conclusions. They also noted that their findings correspond to other earlier studies showing an association between highly processed foods and higher risks of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and some cancers.

 

The cause

Researchers classified foods into roughly three categories:

  • “unprocessed or minimally processed” foods included fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, legumes, meats, poultry, fish and seafood, yogurt, white rice and pasta, and natural juices;
  • “processed” foods included cheeses, breads, beer, wine, ham, and bacon;
  • “ultra-processed” foods included potato chips, pizza, cookies, chorizo, sausages, mayonnaise, chocolates and candies, artificially sweetened beverages, and whisky, gin, and rum.

 

They also created a separate category called “processed ingredients,” which included salt, sugar, honey, olive oil, butter, and lard.

The problem seems to stem from the processing, which changes foods from their natural state into something that will last longer on our shelves. These tend to be high in poor-quality fats, additional sugar, salt, and preservative chemicals, and low in vitamins and fiber. The common factor can be summed up in the phrase “convenience foods”; that is, foods that are quick and easy to prepare at home.

Dr. Andrew Freeman, a cardiologist who was not involved in the study, told CBS News, “I like to say: The longer the shelf life, the shorter your life.” Freeman directs cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health in Denver.

 

The solution

The takeaway in both these studies, as well as preceding ones is, the closer to a food’s natural state that you can eat, the better the effect on your overall health.

Freeman told CBS News that the most heart-healthy diet is one rich in whole foods, particularly plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts. He added that, for affordability and convenience, fresh-frozen vegetables were perfectly acceptable.

Simply switching from sodas to water is another good choice, as well as substituting fresh fruit for sweets. Options for quick snack foods include such treats as homemade sweet potato chips, and oven-“fried” vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, as well as celery and carrot sticks cut up and stored in water.

If you have any questions about a healthy eating plan, please let us know. We can help you substitute a healthy diet for foods likely to negatively impact your health.

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