The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 18, 1996 · Page 11
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 11

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Salina, Kansas
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Thursday, January 18, 1996
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Page 11
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THE SALINPTOOURNAL MONEY / G2 WASHINGTON / C3 CLASSIFIED / C4 c BRIEFLY Operation aids some Parkinson's patients A revived and advanced version of a neurosurgical operation for Parkinson's disease is offering hope for many patients in whom drug therapy no longer works. ; The operation is called pallido- tomy. Developed in the 1950s, it was largely abandoned in the 1960s — partly because of a high incidence of complications, but mostly because of the appearance of L-dopa, the first medication to be effective against Parkinson- ism. \ Pallidotomy has been revived because many Parkinson's patients are living long enough so that L-dopa and other medica- ;tions lose their effectiveness. •; It isn't performed on patients who require a wheelchair, because the benefits will not be great enough, or on patients who also have dementia. To select the patients who can be helped by pallidotomy, a PET scan is done to confirm hyperactivity of the globus pallidus and to be sure that the patient has true Parkinson's disease, not one of the conditions that mimics it. . Portable monitors help heart attack victims BOSTON — Compact heart monitors that you can wear around the clock on your belt like a Walkman can help doctors figure out whether recent heart attack victims face an especially high risk of death, a study found. The monitors, which produce continuous electrocardiograms, can reveal when the heart is not getting enough blood. That can foreshadow another heart attack. A study in a recent New England Journal of Medicine found those with this condition face triple the usual risk of dying in the year after their heart attacks. But once people with this condition are identified, they can be given drugs called beta blockers. The device, called a Holter monitor, is about the size of a portable tape player and is worn on the belt or on a shoulder strap. Electrodes attach to the skin on the chest, and it records the heartbeat on a tape day and night. Heart-healthy ads OK for oatmeal ; WASHINGTON —Thatmorn- ing box of oatmeal may soon bear a new slogan — that it's heart- healthy. The Food and Drug Administration this week proposed allowing food manufacturers to advertise that diets high in oatmeal or oat bran — and low in fat — can fight heart disease by lowering Americans' cholesterol. Oatmeal already could be labeled as a low-fat or high-fiber food, but The Quaker Oats Co. wanted permission to go a step further. So the FDA, said any food containing 13 grams of oat bran or 20 grams of oatmeal could carry a heart-healthy claim — provided the food didn't have other unhealthy ingredients like lots of fat or salt. The rule will go into effect after a 90-day comment period. From Wire Service Reports Dust mite waste primary cause of allergic reactions — itchy eyes, scratchy throats By GORDON D. FIEDLER JR. The Salina Journal A stuffy nose, itchy eyes and scratchy throat this time of year often signal an impending bout with a cold or the flu. But wait. Where's the achy muscles, nausea, fever? The good news is it's not the flu. The bad news is it's prob ably a winter allergy, which may be worse than the flu because it won't disappear after only a week of misery. ' Winter allergy sufferers are susceptible all year, although the peak is during the "house dust season." "It's from the first day in the fall when you turn on the furnace to the last day hi the spring when you turn it off," said Salina physician Richard Zujko with the Central Kansas ENT Assoct ates, 909 E. Wayne. The symptoms of whiter allergies are the same for seasonal allergies that are produced by trees, weeds and grasses. The leading nemesis of winter allergy. sufferers is the waste produced by the dust mite and carried hi house dust. These microscopic insects, which resemble scaly-legged sweet potatoes with faces only other mites could love, live in carpets, upholstered furniture, mattresses and bedding, draperies and similar fabrics. They eat dead skin cells and thrive hi humid environments. It was thought dust mite dropping was the "active ingredient" in house dust. But it's not just the mite waste. Zujko said the latest research indicates that house dust contains a multitude of allergens, including dust mite droppings, that make sufferers sneeze, —, w , m >, wheeze and drip. t m,, • '? Reducing a home's dust mite population may be as simple as reducing the temperature and humidity level. Mites thrive at humidity levels above 70 percent and die when the level drops below 40 percent. Molds are probably the second leading cause, Zujko said. The 1993 and 1994 floods were particularly bad years for persons with mold allergies. To reduce mold, doctors recommend lowering the humidity and using mold-free paint instead of wallpaper where humidity is a problem, such as bathrooms or basements. Mold allergy sufferers should wash problem areas with a chlorine solution or other fungicide. The third most common whiter allergen is pet dander — skin cells WINTER ALLERGIES: A mite-y problem and other particulates shed by household animals. Allergy suffers can either find a new home for their pets or bathe them frequently. Added to this list are allergens such as perfume, aromatic plants and cosmetics that erupt during winter because most people are more contained in homes and offices. Environmental control Pharmacy and drug store shelves are loaded with bottles of allergy relief, but doctors say there is a less costly solution: environmental control. "Why take medication for something you're allergic to if you can eliminate that item from the environment?" Zujko said. Because the action may be too aesthetically or emotionally costly. Allergists recommend ridding Dust mites live in carpets, upholstered furniture, mattresses and bedding, draperies and similar fabrics. They eat dead skin cells 'and thrive In humid environments. RICHAE MORROW/The Salina Journal homes of carpet and pets, advice lovers of rugs and animals might not be willing to follow. "If they won't take the carpet out of the home, at least get the carpeting out of the bedroom where they spend a third of their life," said Topeka allergist Kent Kavel, who twice a month also sees patients in Salina. If even that's too radical a move for patients, Kavel suggests switching to a low-pile carpet. Doctors also recommend proper house cleaning, but that can temporarily exacerbate the problem. "When I tell patients they suffer from indoor allergens, they go home and vacuum like crazy," Kavel said. "That stirs up more allergens." All vacuums, except those equipped with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, will blow microscopic particles throughout the room. These will eventually settle out of the air, so severe sufferers should avoid a freshly vacuumed room for several hours. Despite the precautions patients take, allergists are not seeing a decrease in their patient load. "Since the 1940s the population has doubled," Kavel said. "There are more animals in homes. Homes are more air-tight. There's more wall-to-wall carpeting. The exposure is increasing." T RITALIN REACTION Ritalin study prompts few questions ADHD drug's reported link to cancer not scaring away Salinans By GORDON D. FIEDLER JR. The Salina Journal A study linking massive doses of Ritalin in laboratory mice with cancer has had little affect in Salina on the use of the popular treatment for Attention Deficit Hyper-' activity Disorder in children. A recent Associated Press story said that mice fed up to 30 times the typical human dose for twp years developed cancerous liver tumors. , However, the researchers advised patients not be taken off the medication. Local pharmacists report few calls of concern from customers. "I had one person call me about that before it appeared in the paper," said Pharmacist Tom Phillips. "Most people realize when they take medication it's because something's wrong and they weigh the risks and the benefits," he said. In the case of Ritalin, pharmacists said they expect the drug's track record to overshadow the present negative publicity. "Most parents, teachers and principals will vouch for the dramatic change in kids' behavior," said Jim Cram, a Salina pharmacist. "We generally don't see panic from those articles. I'd be surprised if that will shake things up," he said. "I'm sure people will be consulting with the physicians and seeing what it was about," said pharmacist Larry Shaw. Pleased with improvement Local Pediatrician Debra DeBi- asse said she expected anxious calls from parents hi response to the article. "I hope it won't scare parents," she said. "Most of the parents of my patients are pleased with the improvement and are not going to be frightened off," she said. However, warnings such as this at times do raise concern among the users of the suspect medication, she said. "The problem is they don't realize we're dealing with dosages that would never be used in children," DeBiasse said. Ritalin has been available for four decades. At the time of its introduction, drugs were not tested for their cancer-causing potential. • Use of the hyperactivity medication has increased as more children are diagnosed with ADHD, a condition marked primarily by short attention spans and restlessness. According to AP's sources, six million Ritalin prescriptions were filled in 1993. It's use in Salina has increased in the last five years, locals said. Ritalin is among the most controlled of the legal prescription drugs, which include potentially addictive substances such as codeine and morphine. V WOMAN'S HEALTH Medical advances minimize problems for older moms As many women age, concerns arise about their biological clock ticking past the point of-safely having a 1 child. Yet more and more women are having healthy babies as they get older. By the year 2000, doctors expect that 1 hi A 12 babies will be born to a woman age 35 or older. Although there are concerns about declining fortuity and fetal abnormalities in older mothers, advances in gynecology and obstetrics .have * helped to minimize problems and enable more women past their fourth decade of life to have chUdren. It is important for couples to seek out preconception care to determine if there are any medical problems that can be treated beforehand. Two of the most common problems in women GEORGE D, WILBANKS OB/GW over 35, high blood pressure and diabetes, can be successfully treated before pregnancy. Genetic screening tests — such as amniocentesis — are also suggested for any woman who will be 35 or older when her baby is due. The risk of birth defects increases as a woman ages, from 1 hi 526 at age 20, to 1 in 66 at age 40. Genetic counseling helps to assess a couple's chance of having a child with a birth defect and shows a pattern of inherited genetic disorders if one exists. If you are older and are considering getting pregnant, it is important to eat a balanced diet and avoid smoking and alcohol. Smoking, drinking, and the use of drugs can interfere with normal growth. Many couples question whether they will be good parents if they delay childbearing. More and more are finding that they now have achieved many of their career goals and are ready to devote the care and commitment that it takes to be parents. T MEDICINE Elderly donors have suitable organs Transplant centers relaxing restrictions' on donor age Dear Dr. Donohue: I doubt that I would ever be.involved in it, but I wonder how you feel about organ transplants. My state routinely asks us to check driver's li- —4 cense for potential donation. I am a senior citizen. Are my organs useful? Are organ recipients doomed to a life of medication and invalidism? — J.A.S. Dear J.S.: In 1994, surgeons performed 18,000 transplants. Early this year, approximately 40,000 people crowded waiting lists for transplants. It is safe to say that many thousands of people are alive and well today who might not be so if doctors could not transplant the organ of one person to the body of another. You can count me among DR. PAUL DONOHUE North America Syndicate * the enthusiastic fans of transplant technology. Transplant centers are relaxing restrictions on donor age in acknowledgment of the fact that many potential elderly donors have organs suitable for use. Organ recipients might require lifelong drug treatment to avoid rejection of transplant tissue by their bodies. But medical science is rapidly catching up with that problem. And most people consider the inconvenience a small price to pay for a new heart, kidney or liver. Dear Dr. Donohue: Can heart disease be detected by the electrocardiogram? There is heart disease in my husband's family, and he goes for a physical each year. So far everything is OK. His total cholesterol-HDL cholesterol ratio is 5.2. — A.M. Dear A.M.: Electrocardiography detects some heart problems, especially heart rhythm irregularities. Through interpretation of the graph patterns you might identify deficiency of coronary artery flow to the heart or heart enlargement. Other testing has been devised with great value in various appli- cations. The stress test is a continuing" electrocardiogram (EKG) reading taken while exercising to show things such as deficiency hi coronary artery flow relative to the heart's demands. New visualization techniques have emerged since X-ray technology. Echocardiography provides sound-wave pictures of the heart, making possible early diagnosis of such things such as abnormal valves. The EKG remains to this day a reliable workhorse. You can find it in virtually every conceivable medical setting. As to your husband's blood cholesterol: The 5.2 figure reflects a ratio of total cholesterol to high- density lipoproteins, the good kind of cholesterol. A good ratio is 4.5 or lower. But 5.2 is not something that should send your husband into orbit. He could stand some more HDLs, though. He might initiate a regular exercise program. That's a good way to raise the HDL level and lower that 5.2 figure. Dear Dr. Donohue: Does powdered milk have the same vitamin content as liquid milk? What's the best brand? — Mrs. C. Dear Mrs. C.: A quarter-cup of dry milk, which makes a liquid cup, has a tad less vitamin A and vitamin C than a cup of whole milk. Dry milk has about the same calcium content and a bit more potassium than whole milk. You might check the packages. I would not specify one brand over another. All should be created nutritionally equal in the eyes of those who check such things. Dear Dr. Donohue: My hah: is falling out. It started with a recent case of hyperthyroidism. The thyroid condition stabilized, but the hair thinning continues. My doctor said it can happen from physical stress or hormone changes. I am a 39-year-old woman. — P.O. Dear P.O.: I can't guarantee re- growth, but I believe it will occur. Sudden hair loss from an illness such as hyperthyroidism — gland overactivity — almost always corrects itself hi a matter of months. Any physical stress can cause such loss — a high fever, say, or pregnancy. If thyroid irregularity was behind your hair change, and if that problem is now under control, your hah: should flourish as of old. SUGGESTIONS? CALL SHERIDA WARNER, LIFE EDITOR, AT (913) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363

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