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Saturday, August 29, 2015
  • Sunday, August 23, 2015 11:27 PM

    Insomnia is a huge problem in the United States. We spend over $10 billion a year on sleep-related treatments and it’s estimated we lose over $40 billion in lost worker productivity due to sleeplessness.

    Insomnia is a very complex subject that I can address only briefly in this column. I’ll focus on some causes of insomnia this week. It’s important to remember that insomnia is not a disease – it is a symptom of an underlying problem.

    There are three types of insomnia. Transient insomnia lasts a week or less and is usually due to some type of limited stress. Short-term insomnia lasts one to six months and is usually caused by persistent stress, while chronic insomnia lasts greater than six months.

    There are many causes of insomnia. Transient and short-term insomnias can be caused by stress as well as environmental factors such as sleeping in an unfamiliar bed or other location. Having too much light or noise in the room can also be contributing factors.

  • My finger is stuck!
    Sunday, August 16, 2015 9:54 PM

    A number of patients have recently come to see me who have presented with problems getting their fingers to move. They all described “catching” or “popping” when trying to flex or extend a finger. They were all suffering from trigger finger, a condition also known as trigger digit or by the medical term stenosing tenovaginitis.

    The condition is very common. It is seen up to six times more frequently in women than men and typically starts showing up around 55 to 60 years of age. It is also seen more often in a person’s dominant hand. It can affect any of the fingers, most often in the thumb, followed by the ring, middle, little and index fingers. 

  • Sunday, August 09, 2015 10:18 PM

    A reader wrote in asking, “I’m prone to having back issues, but I enjoy taking care of my lawn, raking leaves and shoveling snow. What can I do to prevent problems with my back while enjoying these activities?”

    It’s great to hear you like spending time outdoors – back problems can certainly take the enjoyment out of those activities. Back injuries are extremely common, but most are minor and short-lived. There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of injury and discomfort from back issues.

    Family physicians always teach prevention - the most important measure you can take is to make sure your back is in good physical condition before you go outside and put it to the test. In order for humans to walk upright, our backs have to carry a lot of the load when we are active. Being overweight puts a lot of extra stress on the back, so if you are overweight, you should work on shedding some of your extra pounds.

  • What you need to know about Lyme Disease uptick
    Sunday, August 02, 2015 11:41 PM

    The arrival of warm weather this year means we have to start worrying more about Lyme Disease. Most people are aware of the association between tick bites and Lyme disease, but few know exactly what Lyme disease is or what causes it. It’s particularly important in Montgomery County since four people have been diagnosed so far this year.

    Lyme Disease was named in the late 1970s when a number of children around Lyme, Connecticut developed arthritis. The actual disease has been described since the early 1900s.

  • Vein trouble leads to swollen legs
    Sunday, July 26, 2015 6:42 PM

    I’ve seen quite a few people lately suffering from swelling in their legs, most caused by problems with their veins.

    To understand how problems with the veins develop, I have to provide a brief anatomy and physiology lesson. Fresh blood that contains oxygen and nutrients is pumped from the heart via arteries to the legs. The blood then moves across very tiny blood vessels called capillaries – this is where the oxygen and nutrients move out of the blood into the surrounding tissues. Waste products and carbon dioxide then move from the tissues into the capillaries and then into veins for the trip up to eventually reach the lungs, liver and kidneys where the waste products are removed.

  • Sunday, July 19, 2015 11:24 PM

    Fall sports season is almost here and I’m anticipating seeing many athletes who will suffer concussions. Concussions have always been a part of sports, especially those involving high-energy collisions, most notably football, soccer, hockey and basketball. Intensive research, along with lawsuits like the NFL Players Association vs. the NFL is causing things to move rapidly to help us get a firmer grasp on how to prevent and manage concussed athletes.

  • Sunday, July 12, 2015 9:39 PM

    Last week I went over the two types and biology of diabetes. This week I would like to explore how it is diagnosed and treated.

    It’s estimated that seven million people the U.S. are going about their daily lives unaware that they are diabetic. Many have no symptoms and those who do often ignore them or are not aware they should be concerned. 

  • Sunday, July 05, 2015 9:11 PM

    Diabetes was first described in Egypt about 3,500 years ago. The name diabetes means “to pass through,” referring to the frequent urination that occurs in diabetics. The urine also contains glucose, a sugar, hence the name mellitus from the Latin mel which translates to honey. In fact, many physicians in years past diagnosed the disease by watching the attraction of insects, particularly ants, to a patient’s urine. Some bold physicians even went so far as to do a little taste test (thank goodness for the development of the urine dipstick)!

  • Sunday, June 28, 2015 10:50 PM

    I’ve received a request to write about thyroid gland problems. Thyroid problems are fairly common in a family medicine setting. For those who don’t know what a thyroid is or does, keep reading.

    The thyroid is an endocrine gland found in the neck. Endocrine glands produce hormones and secrete them into the bloodstream. The hormones then travel around the body and facilitate various biologic functions by interacting with cells in different tissues. Hormones are like microscopic fingers that flip switches on cells to make the cells perform particular functions.

  • Sunday, June 21, 2015 7:43 PM

    An adult patient has asked me to write about night terrors. While night terrors can be seen in adults, they are much more common in children. It’s hypothesized that this is due to their developing brains.

    Night terrors are a subclass of sleep disorders termed “parasomnias.” Rather than focus specifically on adults, I’ll also cover kids. People who exhibit parasomnias often have family members who suffer from them as well. Virtually all of these conditions go away with time.


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