April 2012
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April 2012 posts

The Practice Argument

 Practice, practice, practice...all kids are involved in something they have to practice. They all practice spelling and math equations. They might practice their soccer drills, or their cello. The old saying “practice makes perfect” is true.

So, did you know that arguing with your kids is also practice? Practice for what? What possible good could come from arguing? Just like any other skill, when you argue with your kids you’re developing their ability to stand up for themselves. This is crucial in standing up to peer pressure and bullies.

No one person is right 100% of the time, including parents, but parents often don’t want to admit when they’re wrong. When our kids make mistakes, and we tell them 'it’s okay, everyone makes mistakes' and yet, some parents refuse to admit when they make mistakes. Is it a matter of pride, or do we believe that if we admit we made a mistake that it will appear as though we’re weak?

Pertussis, an old foe

Pertussis (whooping cough) is a potentially devastating bacterial infectious condition involving the human respiratory tract. The disease begins with mild upper respiratory symptoms similar to common cold (catarrhal stage) lasting an average of two weeks which progresses to paroxysms of cough (paroxysmal stage) characterized by inspiratory whoop. Subsequently the symptoms wane gradually over a few weeks (convalescent stage) to potentially months. The incubation period is 7-10 days. Fever is usually absent or minimal.

Whooping cough in infants younger than 6 months of age can be atypical with a short catarrhal stage, gagging, gasping or apnea as prominent early manifestations; absence of whoop; and prolonged convalescence. The disease can be severe in young infants particularly if unimmunized or preterm with case fatality rate of approximately 1%. The duration of classic pertussis is 6 to 10 weeks. Complications among infants can include pneumonia (22%), seizures (2%), encephalopathy (0.5%), and even sudden death. The illness in immunized children and adults can be mild and unrecognized. In adults the disease may only present with prolonged cough. Infected people are most contagious during the catarrhal stage and the first two weeks after cough onset.

Factors affecting the spread of whooping cough include...

Swedish to Host Living Kidney Donor Seminar April 24 at First Hill Campus

SEATTLE, April 16, 2012 – A free seminar about living kidney donation will be held Tuesday, April 24 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in Glaser Auditorium on Swedish Medical Center’s First Hill campus (747 Broadway, first floor).

Understanding Health Information: Easy as 1-2-3?

When it comes to our health, we are often faced with a bunch of information, numbers, and big words. It’s no wonder that sometimes it can feel overwhelming when you hear things like this:

  • “Take this medication once daily by mouth on a full stomach with plenty of water.”
  • “Do you have a family history of hypertension?”
  • “Your insurance policy will cover up to 50% of the procedure cost.”

Our ability to understand all of this information is called health literacy, and nearly 9 out of 10 adults (over 90 million Americans) struggle with health literacy. This is a problem because people with low health literacy may not know when or how to get the care they need when they are sick.

Just because someone can read does not mean they are health literate. To make the best decisions about our health and health care, we must be able to find, process, and understand health information. This includes the ability to read and understand medicine bottles, appointment slips, and forms that your doctor might give you to fill out. It also includes being able to understand nutrition labels in the grocery store or finding reliable health information online.

For example, the next time you grab a box of cereal, turn it over and ask yourself if you could calculate how many calories are in the serving you’re eating. Do you know how much one serving is? How many servings are you eating?

Next...

Preventing Pertussis

We currently have a pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic occurring in Washington State. Infants under 6 months of age are particularly vulnerable but anyone, even if you are fully vaccinated, could potentially contract the disease and spread it.

(Is it really an epidemic? Yes: an epidemic (of a disease) affects many persons at the same time, and spreading from person to person in a locality where the disease is not permanently prevalent.)

Pertussis (whooping cough) is a very contagious disease caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. Among vaccine-preventable diseases, pertussis is one of the most commonly occurring ones in the United States (CDC).

What are the symptoms of whooping cough?

The early signs for pertussis are ...

What you need to know about breast screening

In 2009, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) created significant controversy and confusion for both providers and patients when they revised their breast screening guidelines. (The USPSTF is promoted as an unbiased group that reviews relevant studies and makes guideline recommendations. Specialists may be asked to review the guidelines but no breast specialists (surgeons or radiologists) were on the actual review panel.)

The guideline development process aims to weigh the potential benefit of services against the potential harm, and make recommendations accordingly. For breast screening, the harms considered were “psychological harms,” imaging tests and biopsies in women who were ultimately found not to have cancer, inconvenience, and the possibility of treating a cancer that might not have been life threatening. Radiation exposure was considered to be a minor concern. Regarding benefits – the only benefit considered was reduction in death rates from breast cancer.

These USPSTF guidelines recommend...

Pectus excavatum – it looks like the chest is sinking inward

Have you ever noticed someone whose chest sinks inward in the front, kind of like a funnel? The first time I ever noticed this bony malformation was when I was in high school, and a friend of mine on the soccer team had one. It was called “pectus excavatum,” he told me.

In my thoracic surgery training, I was often called upon to evaluate patients with this chest wall abnormality. As a result, I began to delve deeper into some of the issues that may affect people with this type of defect.

Pectus excavatum is the most common chest wall deformity and results from abnormal development of the sternum and its attachments. Most patients are self conscious about the defect and usually focus on its appearance but because this is usually present for much of a person’s life, symptoms associated with it may not be totally obvious. Individuals affected generally get used to how they feel and try to overcome any limitations to the best of their abilities without even knowing that’s what they are doing. Most patients describe some chest discomfort, shortness of breath when exerting themselves, lack of endurance, or feeling embarrassed in social situations when their shirt is off. It is not uncommon to hear patients say that they have trouble keeping up with their friends during activities, or that they avoid any activities that would require them to take off their shirt in public-such as going to a pool.

Most physicians aren’t even aware that there is an effective treatment for pectus excavatum...

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