August 2013
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August 2013 posts

Beware: Magnets May Be Hazardous To Health!

Magnets, a common household object with which we are all familiar, can be surprisingly dangerous, especially to children.  If this statement is startling to you, here’s what you need to know. 

Beginning in the 1970s and 80s, scientists discovered a new type of magnet, the so-called “rare-earth magnet”.  Made from some of the “rare earth” metals of the periodic table such as “Neodymium”, these new magnets are not only the strongest, most powerful magnets known to man (magnetic forces up to ten times that of other magnets), they are also permanent and relatively inexpensive to manufacture.  These properties revolutionized the production of many household products, even toys.  Basically, magnets we find in everyday items today are no longer made using old-fashioned magnets from a generation ago!

As a pediatric gastroenterologist, I am writing this blog to warn you of the dangers, should these powerful magnets be accidentally swallowed.  If more than one magnet is swallowed, or if a magnet is ingested along with another metallic object, the formidable strength of these magnets can attract 2 pieces of bowel to stick together with such great strength, it results in serious injury, even death.

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Swedish Medical Center Welcomes Dr. Charles Cobbs

SEATTLE — Aug. 15, 2013 — Swedish, the largest nonprofit healthcare provider in the greater Seattle area, announced today that Dr. Charles S. Cobbs will lead The Ben & Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment (Ivy Center) at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute as its new director. The Ivy Center was founded on a mission to combine research science with medical treatments to advance the field of brain cancer and to give new hope to each person diagnosed with the disease.

Dr. Cobbs is a neurosurgeon and internationally recognized expert in brain cancer treatment and research. He was personally selected for this role by Dr. Greg Foltz, the inaugural director and founder of the Ivy Center, who passed away on June 27, 2013 from pancreatic cancer.

Swedish Chief Medical Officer Named to American Hospital Association Board of Trustees

SEATTLE, Wash., August 8, 2013 — The American Hospital Association (AHA) today named John Vassall, M.D., to its Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees makes policy for the AHA and has authority over its governance and management. Dr. Vassall, chief medical officer at Swedish Medical Center, joins seven other new board members who will begin their three-year terms on Jan. 1, 2014.

The AHA is a national organization representing nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care networks, and other care providers. Through its advocacy activities, AHA ensures that members' perspectives and needs are heard and addressed in national health policy development, legislative and regulatory debates, and judicial matters.

Kids with kidney disease and cold and flu season

With the summer winding down, the dreaded cold and flu season is just around the corner.  Parents with children who have a history of kidney disease need to keep in mind a few things during this season of stuffy noses and coughs.

  • Avoid NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, naproxen, and Aleve.
    • NSAIDs are known to decrease blood flow to the kidneys and can cause more damage.
  • Avoid Pseudoephedrine or any medications that may contain similar ingredients.
    • Pseudoephedrine is usually an ingredient for decongestants like Sudafed and is known to increase blood pressure.
  • Say YES to the flu shot early.
    • Children with kidney disease ....

Managing nasal congestion

Nasal congestion is an extremely common complaint that brings patients in to see their physician. Often times congestion is temporarily associated with the common cold or infrequent sinus infections. Nasal congestion can in some patients be more of a chronic daily problem that impairs quality of life, sleep, and exercise tolerance. Sometimes congestion is not a daily problem but a frequently recurring problem associated with frequent bouts of sinusitis.

Frequent causes of nasal congestion include:

  • Deviated nasal septum sometimes also associated with a crooked nose
  • Uncontrolled and undiagnosed allergies
  • Recurring sinus infections
  • Enlarged structures in the nose called turbinates which can block one’s breathing

There are many treatment options for chronic nasal congestion, both medical and surgical. Evaluating which....

The Race Continues…19th Annual SummeRun & Walk Raises $558,000 for Ovarian Cancer Research

SEATTLE — August 12, 2013 — More than 3,500 enthusiastic patients, survivors and supporters gathered in Seattle last month to participate in the 19th annual Swedish presents SummeRun & Walk for ovarian cancer. Thanks to energized and proactive participants, this year’s event raised more than $558,000 in support of ovarian cancer research.


The SummeRun & Walk celebrates and remembers the lives of those who have been impacted by ovarian cancer. It is the Northwest’s largest community event to raise awareness and vital funds for ovarian cancer. Since its inception, the SummeRun has raised more than $6 million for medical research into the treatment, early detection, and prevention of this disease.

The anti-inflammatory diet and multiple sclerosis

We have all seen inflammation on the surface of our bodies. Redness, heat, swelling or pain after a cut or sprain are examples of this process at work. In these cases, inflammation benefits the body by bringing more nutrients and immune activity to the injured or infected area, helping it to heal.

When inflammation occurs without purpose or is persistent, it can cause damage and illness. This type of abnormal inflammation is the root of many chronic diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS).

Many factors contribute to chronic inflammation including stress, exposure to toxins such as cigarette smoke and dietary choices. We have control over some of the causes of inflammation. Learning what foods have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body may be beneficial in reducing long-term disease risk.

The anti-inflammatory diet is a balanced, sensible way of eating. It not only influences inflammation but also provides your body with adequate energy, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and fiber. Here are a few recommendations for eating to reduce and prevent inflammation:

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