Various threads on our lists recently concerned food. The acidic content of fruit, hot spicy foods, dairy products, etc. Here’s what the experts have to say.
By Jane E. Brody: Though much is suspected, relatively little is known about the health effects of peppery foods. In general, hot, spicy foods are stimulants. They stimulate the circulation and raise body temperature. If you are living in a hot climate, the increase in body temperature can make you feel cooler by diminishing the difference between you and the surrounding air and by inducing sweating, which cools the body when the perspiration evaporates. Peppery foods are also believed to stimulate the appetite by setting off the flow of saliva and gastric juices, a nutritionally important effect for people in tropical areas where the oppressive heat acts as an appetite suppressant. And, anecdotally at least, they act as an overall stimulant, producing a titillating, awakening effect and increasing the acuity of the senses.
Peppers, especially the hot capsicum (chili) peppers, produce a burning sensation on the skin and mucous membranes, including the inside of the mouth. For the uninitiated, a relatively mild hot pepper can seem intolerably strong and truly hot peppers may even cause blistering of the lips and palate…Given what they can do to your mouth, you’d expect hot peppers to have damaging effects on the rest of your digestive tract, if not elsewhere in the body. To be sure, patients with various gastrointestinal diseases, such as hiatal hernias, ulcers and bowel disorders, are commonly advised to avoid hot, spicy foods.
However, according to Dr. Arnold Levy, a gastroenterologist in Washington and vice president for education of the American Digestive Disease Society, ”Precious little data are available anywhere in any language on the effects of hot, spicy foods on the digestive tract.”
A recent study in Sweden on laboratory animals indicated that a dose of capsaicin soon after birth desensitized the animals’ respiratory tracts to some adverse effects of cigarette smoke and other irritants. The researchers suggested that this extract of hot peppers may be useful in treating asthmatics and others with hypersensitive airways. Certainly, consumers of hot peppers commonly report that they help to clear the sinuses.
Herbalists have recommended peppercorns for the relief of arthritis, fever, migraine, motion sickness, poor digestion, venereal disease and vertigo. Capsicum peppers have been touted as cures for arthritis, atherosclerosis, the common cold, muscle cramps, infections, lung congestion and ulcers. Interestingly, other ”experts” have said capsicum peppers should be avoided by patients with arthritis. Few of these claims, however, have ever been subjected to scientific scrutiny.
What you eat affects how you sleep. One of the keys to a restful night’s sleep is to get your brain calmed rather than revved up. Some foods contribute to restful sleep; other foods keep you awake. We call them sleepers and wakers. Sleepers are tryptophan-containing foods, because tryptophan is the amino acid that the body uses to make serotonin, the neurotransmitter that slows down nerve traffic so your brain isn’t so busy. Wakers are foods that stimulate neurochemicals that perk up the brain. The best bedtime snack is one that has both complex carbohydrates and protein, and perhaps some calcium. Calcium helps the brain use the tryptophan to manufacture melatonin. This explains why dairy products, which contain both tryptophan and calcium, are one of the top sleep-inducing foods.
For a list of foods that help you snooze, the best bedtime snacks, the best dinners for sleep, and foods that keep you awake http://www.askdrsears.com/html/4/t042400.asp
Q. Does drinking milk increase phlegm? I’ve heard that you shouldn’t drink milk when you have a cold because it increases phlegm. Is this true?
A. Phlegm is the thick, sticky mucus that drips down the back of your throat when you have a cold. Although drinking milk may make phlegm thicker and more irritating to your throat than it would normally be, milk doesn’t cause your body to make more phlegm. In fact, frozen dairy products can soothe a sore throat and provide calories when you otherwise may not eat.James M. Steckelberg, M.D.
Mucus, your best friend? Dairy products do NOT make mucus worse in any way. This is a common misconception. Dairy products give mucus a white color, making it a more impressive sight.
By Rick Frea. So it’s 6 a.m. and I’m driving down I-75 South in Georgia in the wee hours of the morning when the anxiety strikes. I couldn’t find my rescue inhaler. My Ventolin had gone missing. Did I leave it in the hotel? Did I leave it in the lobby? Did my wife pack it in the bathroom bag? I looked behind me and her head was resting on a pillow. I wasn’t about to wake her to ask. Thankfully I follow my own tips for vacationing with asthma and had three inhalers packed, and all in different places. I had one in the suitcase, but that wasn’t going to help me now. And I certainly wasn’t going to pull the car over to check. We were on the way to Florida (Mickey was waiting) and were already running behind.
I looked on the cup holder under the radio. It wasn’t there. I felt between the door and the seat. It wasn’t there. I felt in my pocket. Nope! While focusing on the road, I reached my right hand over the cooler that set between the seats. Not there either. Then a thought occurred to me: “You’re being ridiculous. You’re panicking over nothing.” It was true. I wasn’t even short of breath. The past two days of travel from Michigan I barely even used it. My asthma has been pretty well controlled the past two years, and my rescue inhaler usage greatly diminished.
Yet that didn’t matter. Old habits, they say, die a long, hard death. That old faithful inhaler had been part of my life since I was first introduced to Alupent when I was a ten-year-old boy in 1980, and later to Ventolin in 1991. I wrote about being a bronchodilatoraholic, someone who used his bronchodilator medicine (which most people call their rescue inhaler) far too often. An inhaler in my possession was my lifeline. It was like having a third hand. Even now when I need it less often, when it’s gone I feel a true sense of loss.
Rick Frea writes an amusing column about his battle to keep bronchodilator anxiety at bay.
From Jim Anderson: “Another thing to be aware of with the high heat is edema. It’s amazing how many people don’t know how to check for pitting.”
What is pitting edema and how does it differ from non-pitting edema? Pitting edema can be demonstrated by applying pressure to the swollen area by depressing the skin with a finger. If the pressing causes an indentation that persists for some time after the release of the pressure, the edema is referred to as pitting edema. Any form of pressure, such as from the elastic in socks, can induce pitting with this type of edema.
In non-pitting edema, which usually affects the legs or arms, pressure that is applied to the skin does not result in a persistent indentation. Non-pitting edema can occur in certain disorders of the lymphatic system … Another cause of non-pitting edema of the legs is called pretibial myxedema, which is a swelling over the shin that occurs in some patients with hyperthyroidism. Non-pitting edema of the legs is difficult to treat. Diuretic medications are generally not effective, although elevation of the legs periodically during the day and compressive devices may reduce the swelling.
The focus of the rest of this article is on pitting edema, as it is by far the most common form of edema.
To check for edema that is not obvious, you can gently press your thumb over the foot, ankle or leg with slow, steady pressure. If you have edema, you will see an indentation where you pressed. You should see a doctor to determine the cause of leg swelling. If both legs are swollen, your doctor will ask about other symptoms and will examine you. A urine test will show if you are losing protein from the kidneys. Blood tests, a chest X-ray and an EKG also may be done.
(Electrical Muscle Stimulation)… according to Greek researchers who presented their findings at the American Thoracic Society 2010 International Conference in New Orleans .
EMS has shown beneficial results in patients with end-stage chronic heart failure and severe COPD in terms of exercise capacity, muscle strength and quality of life, according to the researchers. EMS has also been used in patients with COPD under mechanical ventilation after ICU stay with beneficial results in terms of muscle strength. EMS has minimal aerobic requirements and can be administered to sedated patients, researchers added.
Researchers recruited 140 critically ill patients with an Apache II admission score of higher than 13, indicating a relatively higher disease severity and greater risk for developing CIPNM. Patients assigned to EMS received daily 45-minute treatment sessions on both lower extremities. EMS was implemented simultaneously on the quadriceps and peroneous longus. EMS sessions were continued until ICU discharge, an average of 14 days, ranging from four to 62 days. After awaking, the patients were assessed for muscle strength by two independent examiners, and duration of ventilation weaning and ICU stay were recorded.
The EMS treatment group showed a significant reduction in the risk of developing CIPNM. Of the 68 patients in the EMS group, three were diagnosed with CIPNM (4%), compared to 11 of the 72 patients in the control group (15%). Furthermore, muscle strength was significantly better in the EMS group as compared to the control group. Patients with CIPNM had both longer weaning periods and ICU stays than those who did not develop CIPNM.
Dear Dr. Donohue: I would like to call your attention to a question you answered about emphysema. I think you should have mentioned alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. It would have been a good opportunity to bring this condition to the public’s attention. I have it and was diagnosed at age 53, after having been misdiagnosed for eight years. I have been on Prolastin, which has stabilized my lung capacity. While more doctors are aware of this condition, there are some who are not. - D.C.
ANSWER: Lungs come equipped with their own janitorial crew. They inhale lots of foreign debris, and they create trash in their work of transferring oxygen into the blood and carbon dioxide out of it. The cleanup crew is trypsin, an enzyme. Trypsin, however, can go overboard, so another enzyme, called alpha-1 antitrypsin, stops it from overdoing the trash collection and destroying air sacs in the process. Emphysema is destruction of those delicate structures.
Symptoms of emphysema, regardless of cause, include shortness of breath with little physical exertion, cough and increased sputum production. The delay in your diagnosis of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is par for the course. On average, the diagnosis takes eight years from the time a person first visits a doctor for emphysema symptoms. This illness should come to mind when a relatively young person or a person who has never smoked develops emphysema. A simple blood test for the level of the antitrypsin enzyme can secure the diagnosis.
Treatment is the same as treatment for smoking-caused emphysema. However, there is an additional treatment for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency emphysema. Intravenous infusions of the missing enzymes can benefit those with the deficiency. Your Prolastin is one such product.
By Randy Dotinga. The lung function tests used to diagnose conditions like asthma may need to be adjusted to account for differences in patients’ genetic ancestry, a new study suggests. Now, physicians adjust the test results to account for factors like age, sex, race and weight, but not for mixed ancestry. The study, published online July 7 in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicates more adjustments may be necessary because many people have mixed ancestry, which influences the test results. “People throughout the world have a richer genetic heritage than can be captured by our current definitions of race.” said study senior author Dr. Esteban G.Burchard.”When we force patients into an individual box, such as ‘African-American or ‘Caucasian,’ we’re missing a lot of genetic information,” added Burchard. In the study, which looked at data from more than 3,000 patients, the researchers found that genetic ancestry significantly affects performance on the lung function tests. The breathing tests can detect signs of illness like asthma and COPD. Test results can also help doctors make decisions about disability claims and eligibility for lung transplants. “Taking genetic ancestry into account could result in more appropriate treatment for patients,” said study lead author Dr. Rajesh Kumar, an associate professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine,in the release. In an interview, Mayo Clinic pulmonologist Dr. Paul D.Scanlon said the study findings offer “a step forward in our understanding. “Right now, the tests are a “very crude tool” because the benchmarks aren’t designed to account for someone of mixed race. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_100802.html
Qualaquin (quinine sulfate): New Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy - Risk of serious hematological reactions.
Issue: Due to continued reports of serious side effects in patients using Qualaquin “off-label” for night time leg cramps, FDA has approved a risk management plan to warn against the use of this drug for such unapproved uses. Qualaquin should not be used for night time leg cramps. Qualaquin use may result in serious and life-threatening hematological reactions, including serious bleeding due to thrombocytopenia, and hemolytic-uremic syndrome/ thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, which in some cases may result in permanent kidney damage. In some patients, adverse reactions result in hospitalization and death.
Background: Qualaquin is only FDA-approved for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, primarily in travelers returning from malaria-endemic areas. However, the majority of Qualaquin’s use in the United States is for the treatment or prevention of night time leg cramps.The product labeling states that the risks associated with the use of Qualaquin in the absence of evidence of its effectiveness for treatment or prevention of nocturnal leg cramps outweigh any potential benefits.
Recommendation: Healthcare professionals should discuss with patients the warning signs of thrombocytopenia, such as easy bruising, severe nose bleeds, blood in the urine or stool, bleeding gums, and the appearance of unusual purple, brown, or red spots on the skin. Patients are encouraged to read the Medication Guide given to them at the pharmacy before starting Qualaquin and each time they get a refill.
ISSUE: Bristol-Myers Squibb determined that some of the tablets, over time, may not meet specification for isopropanol. Isopropanol is used to maintain the active ingredient, Coumadin, in the crystalline state, and could affect the therapeutic levels of the active ingredient. A decrease of active ingredient may increase the risk of clots which could lead to heart attack or stroke, and if there is too much active ingredient, there is an increased risk of bleeding. The following lot numbers are included in this recall: Physician Sample Blister Packs: Lot# 9A48931A, 9A48931B, 9A48931C, expiration January 2012;
BACKGROUND: The recall only involves Coumadin 1 mg tablet blister-packs distributed in the U.S. This recall does not involve Coumadin 1 mg supplied in bottles or any other strengths and dosage forms of the product. Patients who may have product from the subject lots should contact their physicians to ensure that their anticoagulation therapy is not interrupted.
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Funny fisherman bloopers: Bill Dance Outdoors is probably the most beloved fishing show on TV. It started in 1968 and it’s been on air ever since. Its host, Bill Dance, is just a likable guy. And he’s great on camera. Or at least, he’s great in the pieces that make it on TV. Here are some of Dance’s most hilarious bloopers. Even when he’s messing up, Dance is fun to watch. From Kim Komando
A Quiz for folks who know everything. Forwarded by Pauline/UK
Until next Friday,