What Is Strep Throat?

Strep throat is a common, highly contagious illness that people may encounter during any season, and especially during these winter months. The only effective treatment is antibiotics, which is why it is important to find out whether or not the sore throat is in fact due to the strep bacteria and not a virus. In fact, sore throats are more often caused by viral infections.

The first step to diagnosing your sore throat is a quick check of the symptoms. The most common symptoms of strep throat are:

·         A sudden, severe sore throat,

·         Pain while swallowing,

·         Fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit

·         Swollen tonsils and\or lymph nodes

·         White or yellow spots on the back of a very red throat

Less common symptoms include headaches, stomach pains\nausea, a skin rash, lack of appetite and body aches. 

If these symptoms are accompanied by cold symptoms like coughing, sneezing or a stuffed\runny nose, the infection is likely viral and not bacterial.

Strep is highly contagious and can be transferred through the air, and symptoms will appear two to five days after the initial infection.

Californian Regains Voice with Rare Surgery

Surgeons have successfully transplanted a larynx for the second time in history, giving a fifty-two year old Californian back her voice. Brenda Jenson was operated on for eighteen hours at the University of California, Davis Medical Center, and was able to form her first words after nearly two weeks. She spent four weeks in the hospital following the surgery, and while her speech was very weak at first, it improved rapidly. After weeks of rehabilitation, Jenson met the whole surgical team for the first time.

Jensen expressed her gratitude and said “This operation has restored my life. I feel so blessed to have been given this opportunity. It is a miracle, I’m talking, talking, talking which just amazes my friends and family. Every day is a new beginning for me. I’m working so hard to use my vocal cords and train my muscles to swallow… I’ll probably never sing in a choir or anything, but it’s exciting to talk normally and I can’t wait to eat and drink and swim again.”

Generally, the risks of rejection and nerve damage to the larynx prevent doctors from attempting this transplant. In fact, the only other such transplant recorded took place in 1998. Jensen was an unusually fitting candidate for the surgery, though, as she had recently undergone both kidney and pancreas transplants, and was already used to the immunosuppressive medications required following a transplant.

Professor Martin Birchall, who was part of the surgical team, said “The larynx is one of the most sophisticated neuromuscular organs in the body. We’ve learned that we can repair nerves to make even very complex organs function again. It’ll open the door to better facial transplants and will be extremely important as tissue engineering develops.”

O Blood Type May Protect Against Heart Attacks

blood-typeNumerous researchers have reached the same conclusion: O blood type might protect the body from heart attacks once arteries are clogged.

“Certain genes predispose to heart artery plaque build-up, whereas different genes lead to heart attacks when you already have plaque build-up,” said Dr. Muredach P. Reilly, study author and associate professor of medicine at the Cardiovascular Institute of the University of Pennsylvania.

The study results deepen our understanding of the relationship between genetics and cardiovascular health, explains Reilly. “Not all genes for heart disease are equal and therefore have to be used differently in new treatments for heart disease and when assessing risk of heart disease,” he said.

During their research, Reilly’s team compared 13,000 people with coronary artery disease with 7,400 healthy people. They also compared within the 13,000 diseased; 5,800 diseased who had had a heart attack with over 3,600 diseased who had not.

Over-Prescription of Antipsychotics Subject of New Study

atypical-antipsychoticsA study whose results were released last Friday shows that a certain class of drugs known as “atypical antipsychotics” are being over prescribed with no increased positive outcomes and with perhaps bad side effects.

These new antipsychotic medications were first developed to treat schizophrenia, and were approved by the FDA only for this function. Over time however the drugs came to be used for other conditions, such as bipolar disorder, depression, and sometimes even for autism.

A consultant for a company that does data collection on prescription drugs, IMS Health wrote the study which appeared in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. The consultant, Dr. Caleb Alexander of the University of Chicago stated that, “What we see is wide adoption for the use of these medications far beyond the evidence base to support it. We’re talking millions of prescriptions a year for antipsychotics in settings where there is uncertain evidence to support them.”

Diabetes on the Rise in the US

diabetesAccording to a government report issued last Wednesday, the number or cases of diabetes among adults in the United States more than doubled in the time period between 1996 and 2007, from 9 million to 19 million.

At least 95% of diabetes is type 2, the kind which develops over time, often related to obesity, where the cells lose their ability to react properly to insulin. The remaining 5% of diabetes patients have the type I variety, which is an auto-immune disease causing its sufferers to not have enough insulin-producing cells which are needed for the body to control blood sugar levels.

Dr. Chrisitne Resta of the department of endocrinology at the Maimonides Medical Center in New York said, “Rates of diabetes have risen in all age groups. Twenty years ago, type 2 diabetes was unheard of in children and young adults, but now it is being diagnosed even in these younger age groups. Part of this rise is increased detection — patients are being evaluated and tested sooner and more often. But part of it is a real increase in the rates.”
Dr. Resta does not find it hard to explain the cause for these disturbing statistics.

“The percentage of U.S. adults who are overweight or obese has also risen dramatically, and there is no doubt that rising rates of obesity are linked to the rising rates of diabetes,” she said.