Killing a Tick With Nail Polish Remover

Ticks are nasty little creatures that love to feed on blood from any living thing including people, dogs, amphibians, birds, etc… They can’t fly, jump or hop so they wait in tall grass and on bushes for their victims to pass by. They look for easy places to land like the back of the neck, the head, and extremities. They attach with their mouths and hold on for dear life and drink blood until they are full. After that, they fall off.

The bite of a tick is usually unnoticed. It doesn’t hurt and most ticks are as small as the head of a pin.

If you find a tick on yourself or your pet do not try and remove it with your fingers. Applying vaseline, nail polish remover, or fire will not kill a tick. To remove a tick wear gloves and use a fine tipped pair of tweezers. Grap the tick by its head not the body. If you crush the body while trying to remove the tick it may regurgitate more toxic material. After removing the tick place it in alcohol until it dies. Never try and crush a tick with your fingers. Clean the are of skin where it was embedded with an aniseptic such as alcohol or betadine. Watch the area closely for signs of infection or a skin rash with a bull’s-eye appearance. If either occurs, see a doctor for evaluation.

The worry about being bitten by a tick is getting lyme disease. Some signs of lyme disease are fever, chills, muscle and joint aches, weakness or fatigue, headache or swollen lymph glands. Some symptoms may not appear for weeks or months after being bitten.

Ticks usually appear in warmer weather so we have some time before we start seeing them. Be aware of what they look like and check yourself and your pets frequently after being outside.

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Radiosurgery For Treatment of Brain Metastases

Statistics from the 2008 American Cancer Society Registry show that about 1.4 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year and 40% of those patients may develop brain metastasis in their lifetime. Longer patient life expectancies due to improvements in the treatment of cancer appear to be resulting in an increasein the numbers of patients developing cancer-related brain tumors. Surgical resection of brain metastases followed by whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT) has been the mainstay of treatment for patients with a small number of metastatic lesioins. WBRT can provide excellent tumor control. The problem with WBRT is that it can be associated with cognitive decline and memory loss problems, especially in patients that survive 6 months or more after brain radiation treatment. More focused radiation treatment, known as stereotactic radiosurgery, may lessen the undesirable effects of brain radiation by reducing the amount of brain tissue exposed.

A recent study was performed by a group of physicians at the Departments of Radiation Oncology and Neurosurgery, and the Department of Public Health Sciences at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. The study was pursued to learn the outcome of treating metastatic brain lesioins with surgical removal of the tumor followed by radiosurgery focused on the tumor bed.

Eighty five patients with brain metastases were treated with surgical resection of at least one lesion followed by radiosurgery alone to the surgical  cavity. Overall local control at 11.2 months was 81.2%.

The 6 month, 1 year and 2 year rates of local control were 88.7%, 81.4% and 75.7%. Each patient was followed closely with clinical examinations and radiographic imaging studies every 2-3 months. If new brain metastases were found, local therapy with surgery or stereotactic radiosurgery was used when possible. For multiple recurrences or when more than 3 new lesions developed, WBRT was used as a salvage treatment.

This study also found that longer longevity was associated with a longer time from inital cancer diagnosis to brain metastasis and a solitary brain metastatic lesion.

WBRT was largely avoided in the patients enrolled in the study and only 1/3 of patients ever received it.

The overall conclusion was that radiosurgery withou WBRT after surgical resection of a metastatic brain tumor achieved excellent control. Close imaging follow up allows for early tratment for any recurrence of metastatic disease. Radiosurgery likely reduces the risk of cognitive decline and memory loss associated with WBRT.

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Did The Turkey Do It?

Thanksgiving is over and the other winter holidays are just around the corner. For Thanksgiving you probably had turkey and dressing, green bean casserole, sweet potatoe casserole, rolls, cranberry sauce and more. Remember how you felt after that Thanksgiving feast? You sat down in a comfy chair and before you knew it, your eyes were heavy and you were sound asleep.

Mr. Turkey is often blamed for the nap that eveyone so desperately needs after the big meal. Turkey contains l-tryptophan which is an amino acid with documented sleep inducing effects. L-tryptophan can be metabolized into serotonin and melatonin, two neuro transmitters that make you feel calm and regulate sleep. The catch is that l-tryptophan must be taken on an empty stomach and without other amino acids or protein to make you sleepy. That’s probably not how you ate your turkey.

Other foods contain as much,  if not more, l-tryptophan as turkey. Some of those foods include chicken, pork and cheese.

The turkey, carbohydrates, fats, alcohol and amount of food you ate all contributed to the drowsy state you experienced.  It requires alot of energy to digest a large meal. In fact, when your stomach is full, blood is directed away from other organ systems including your nervous system. You feel the need to sleep especially if the meal is composed of large amounts of fat and carbohydrates.

So, don’t blame Mr. Turkey for wanting to crawl into a big chair and snooze for while. He had some help.

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Thunderstorms and Asthma

Studies have shown that ER treatments for asthma symptoms increase following thunderstorms. Dr. Myron J. Zitt, an allergist and immunologist at Nassau University Medical Center and the Mid Island Allergy group on Long Island, N.Y. says that no one is sure why this happens. It may be that a high level of pollen is released into the air during a thunderstorm.

In 2008 the University of Georgia and Emory University also discovered a link between thunderstorms and asthma attacks in the Atlanta area.  This is the first time that climatologists and epidemiologists conducted a study of the phenomenon in the South.

The team studied a database of more than 10 million emergency room visit in 41 hospitals covering a 20 county area in and around Atlanta during the period of 1993-2004. They found a 3% higher incidence of asthma attacks on days following thunderstorms.

The next step after this study was completed was for UGA and Emory to apply Doppler radar, modeling and observational data to the problem of thunderstorms and asthma. Andrew  Grundstein, a climatologist in the department of Geography at UGA and lead author of the study says that adding radar data to the metro Atlanta database will allow correlation between thunderstorms and asthma attacks.

The authors also think pollen has something to do with the increase in asthma attacks. It may be that pollen grains rupture upon contact with rain water and release respiratory allergens. Then the gusty winds from the thunderstorm downdraft and spread particles leading to more asthma attacks.

If this is true, it is important information asthma sufferers and may prepare them the opportunity to prevent asthma attacks during thunderstorms.

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Obesity in America

McDonald's burger 1996

35.7% of adults are obese and 17% of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years old are obese.* Since 1980 obesity among children and adults has almost tripled.  One of 7 low-income pre school aged children is obese. It is predicted that by 2030, 42% of Americans will be obese.






McDonald's burger 2010

28% of Georgians are obese. In Mississippi, 34.9% of the population is obese.

Overweight and obese individuals are at increased risk for the following:

High Blood pressure, osteosarthritis, high cholesterol or high triglycerides, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, gall bladder disease, sleep apnea and respiratory problems and some cancers. This means that obesityis a contributing factor in five of the top ten contributing factors of death: heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

With the number of obese people increasing, there will also be an increase in health care costs estimated to be $550 billion dollars.

What about the children. About 50% of severe obesity in adults is the consequence of obesity in childhood. In 2009 approximately 94% of schools served a lunch that failed to meet federal standards for healthy school meals. 80% of the lunches served in those schools exceeded federal recommendations for total fat and saturated fat.

So not only are adults obese, the children of obese adults are becoming obese.

A number of reasons have been cited as to the cause of childhood obesity but they are pretty straight forward. Eating less nutritional meals and exercising less. Sitting in front of  a tv does not burn alot of calories. We need to go back to encouraging outdoor physical activity at anThis is an epidemic we can stop.

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Electromagnetic Fields And The Brain

Does exposure to  electromagnetic fields (EMF) affect the brain?

First, some terminology. Electricity is movement of electrons (current) through a wire. AC current is the type of electricity that runs through power lines. AC current produces an electric field and a magnetic filed. Electric fields are easily shielded and weakened by walls and objects. Magnetic fields can pass through buildings, humans, etc… Therefore, the magnetic component is more commonly studied in relationship to development of cancer.

Electromagnetic fields are invisible lines of force created whenever electricity is generated or used. Produced by power lines, electric wiring, electric equipment, computers, televisions, cell phones, appliances and more. Measured in Hertz (Hz, cycles per second). Most studies focus on 50-60Hz fields, the same frequency as that used for power transmission. Logically, the strength of the magnetic field decreases rapidly as the distance increases.

                       Exposures to common  daily appliances and objects

Garage Door Openers 40 megahertz
Alarm Systems 40 megahertz
Cordless Phones 40-50 megahertz
Baby Monitors 49 megahertz
Radio controlled airplanes 72 megahertz
Radio controlled cars 75 megahertz
Wildlife tracking collars 215-220 megahertz
MIR space station 145 megahertz and 437 megahertz
Air Traffic Control Radar 960-1215 megahertz
Global Positioning system 1227 and 1575 megahertz
Microwave oven ( depends on the size) 2450 megahertz
Cell phones 824-829 megahertz

Are cell phones dangerous? Follow the blog for the answer.

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Heat Loss Through The Head

Common folklore says that we lose most of our body  heat through our head.

The truth is that the head is only about 10% of the body surface area. This means that the head would need to lose 40 times as much heat per square inch as any other part of the body.

Someone did an experiment with volunteers and wired them to monitor their core temperature. They were placed in cool water as they were monitored. As it turns out,  we lose heat through any exposed part of our body and the amount of heat we lose depends on the size of the exposed area. You do not lose heat faster throught the scalp when compared to any other part of the body with the same surface area.

An interesting fact is that as you exercise, there is increased blood flow to the brain. This increases the percentage of heat lost through the head to about 50% of total body heat loss. But as the person exercises, the muscles require more oxygen which in turn increases blood flow. For the body to maintain normal core temperature, the skin vasodilates which increases blood flow to the skin to cool the blood. The final result is that there is a decrease in the total blood flow to the brain and a decrease in the percentage of toal body heat lost through the head to about 10%. Once a person starts sweating, the percent lost through the scalp drops back down to 7%.

With hypothermia, if the person is at rest, the heat loss through the head is about 7%. If the person begins shivering, the per cent of heat loss via the scalp can increase to 55% so it is important to portect the head of a hypothermic person.

In hypothermia, shivering is like exercising.

It only makes sense that it’s smart to wear a hat in the cold weather. But, you don’t lose most of your body heat throught your head.

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Green Tea and Shampoo

It appears that an anti-oxidant from green tea could help strengthen hair. A researcher from Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta said that this ingredient has been put in a shampoo and has the potential to thicken hair. It cannot be called a hair loss shampoo because that is considered a medical claim,  but there is evidence in animal studies that the ingredient prevents hair loss.

In a study in South Korea scientists worked with mice and were able to reduce hair loss from testosterone by applying applications of the ingredient fround in green tea, epi-gallacotechin gallate, topically. The final conclusion was that this ingredient was able to reduce the effect of testosterone that leads to cell suicide.

Professor Stephen Hsu is the company founder of Camellix which developed the shampoo. In the past there has been a problem because after the water soluble ingredient is added to the shampoo, the potency decreases dramatically. His company has developed a formula that is fat soluble. He also worked with a maker of a hair-loss shampoo from South America to study its active ingredients. A portion of that formula is incorporated into the new shampoo.

Dr. Hsu says the substance works as an anti oxidant as well as working against cell death.

Dr. Hsu developed the shampoo for his wife who was complaining about hair loss.The word spread and he began making larger batches. The shampoo was scheduled to be released the 3rd week of October.

It’s worth a try.

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Tetanus and a Rusty Nail

Why do we think that stepping on a rusty nail will give us tetanus? Sure, it will hurt and it’s dirty and scary, but that’s not the only place that you might get tetanus.  It’s not the rust that causes the problem, it’s the bacteria on the nail the nail that does the damage.

Clostridium bacteria, in particular, c. tetani, can be found in the soil, dust, feces and on the skin. These bacteria only reproduce in the absence of oxygen, so if the wound goes deep enough, the bacteria can set up house. The bacteria devlop a spore that is resistant to heat and the usual antiseptics. The spores are widely distributed in the soil and intestines and feces of horses, shoeep, cattle, dogs, cats, rats guinea pigs and chickens. The spores can also be found on skin surfaces and in contaminated heroin.  Tetanus can occur anywherer but is most frequently seen in densely populated areas in hot damp climates with soil rich in organic matter.

Rusty  nails can definitely penetrate deep enough to cause an infection with c. tetani, but so can anything that penetrates the skin deeply such as animal bites, gardening tools, needles and knives.  

Once under the skin, the bacteria produce exotoxins (tetanospasmin and tetanolysin) . Tetanospasmin is a neurotoxin that attacks the central nervous system and blocks nerve signals from the spinal cord to the muscles,  leading to  spasms and muscle rigidity involving the entire body. They can even affect the face. The spasms can be so severe that they can tear msucles or cause spinal fractures. The muslce spasms lead to contortions and unnatural movements. Tetanus comes from the Greek word tetanos, which means “to stretch”. Othe symptoms inlcude drooling, excessive sweating, fever, hand or foot spasms, irritability, difficulty swallowing,  and inability to control urination or bowel movements.

Without treatment, 25% of patients infected die. With proper treatment, only 10% die.

The time between infection and signs of the 1st symptom is generally 7-21 days. The shorter the incubation period, the higher the chance of death. Most cases in the US occur in patients that have not been properly immunized against the bacteria.

Tetanus immunization is given to children but it’s effectiveness dimishes after ten years requiring a booster shot. Most everyone should keep their tetanus immunization up to date.

Treatment consists of antibiotics, tetanus immune globulin, muscle relaxers and sedatives as needed. Often times the wound will need to be debrided. Tetanus immune globulin only helps to remove the unbound tetanus toxin and does not affect toxin already bound to nerve endings.

Tetanus infection is rare in those protected by tetanus immunization. When was your last tetanus booster?

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Bacon, Fat and Such For Infections and Other Injuries

Got an infection? Place bacon on it and if possible, secure it with a plastic bag. Voila! Infection gone.

Not really.

There is nothing in bacon that is conducive to healing an infection. I have read a number of different techniques for using bacon and they all involve using a plastic bag in some way. In the testimonials it also says that the infection “cooks” the bacon but it is best not to eat the infection filled bacon. Ugh.

I’ve also read testimonials that say if you place  a piece of bacon over a splinter overnight the splinter will be gone in the morning or at least will be easy to remove. This also works on pieces of glass and other small foreign bodies. Also recommended is placing a WHITE cloth over the bacon to improve the treatment.

I think I’ll take my chances with the original infection and not add bacon to the problems that already exist.

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