Loyal reader Beverly Garrett is a friend in my head -- as Wendy Williams would say. Bev emailed me today to suggest a Medical Minute post about doctors over-prescribing medications especially to seniors.

This week I discussed this same subject with two of my close friends whose older relatives are feeling the ill effects of taking multiple medications.

I suggested they put all their meds in a bag and take the meds with them to their next doctor's appointment. That way the doctor can see all the meds they're taking and see if any combination of drugs are causing adverse interactions.

Forget about taking a list of meds because often times the doctors act like they're too busy to look at the list.

    It's not just celebrities being inundated with unnecessary prescriptions, it's more the norm than the exception.

    I've had several doctors who prescribed something for every single symptom. And, I know other people whose doctors have done the same thing. That's a big problem for senior citizens as well. That's why the hospital I work at has a monthly "brown bag" seminar for seniors. Once a month seniors can bring all their meds in a brown paper bag to a clinic and have someone look over all the prescriptions. Many medications counteract others or aggravate other symptoms.

    I've gotten really sick from taking meds too close together and/or the side effects were symptomatic. Twice I could have sworn that I overdosed and was dying. On top of that I've got a draw full of unfilled prescriptions. After the last accidental overdose 2 years ago, I will not take more than two prescribed pills a day. If there's still an underlining symptom that isn't controlled, then I tell the doctor we need to find the cause not keep treating the symptoms.

    Love your blog,
    Beverly Garrett
    Pittsburgh, PA

Rapper Common and his bride-to-be, tennis superstar Serena Williams were spotted out & about shopping in NYC yesterday (3/6).

In this picture, Common appears to have what we in the medical field refer to as a "boxer's fracture" of his left hand. Although the term boxer's fracture is misnamed because boxers are trained to punch straight on to avoid these types of amateur injuries.

This injury occurs when a man throws an awkward roundhouse punch at a wall or door in a fit of rage -- usually during a heated argument with his wife or girlfriend.

The punch is delivered hard enough to fracture the metacarpal bone of the pinky finger -- and to leave a rather large hole in a door or wall.

Men who are raised by their moms (or aunties) to be respectful to women usually suffer this type of injury. That's because they know that real men take out their frustrations on inanimate objects (like punching bags) rather than on a woman's face.

Photos: Splash News Online

Yesterday, loyal member KaraZ requested a follow-up post on the four missing boaters after she read reports that three of the men removed their life vests and simply drifted off. She thought there was something fishy going on.

In reality, it is a miracle that one of the men survived. At the time the boaters went missing, the temperature of the water in the Gulf of Mexico was an average of 64 degrees. The normal body temperature is 98.6. Any deviation in either direction of that range can result in the break down of vital bodily functions, leading to death.

As you know, if your temperature drops too far below normal, the brain sends a signal to the body to begin shivering -- which in turn brings your body temperature back up due to the friction of the muscles.

But if you are exposed to the cold for a prolonged period of time, the shivering eventually stops. Once the shivering stops, confusion begins to set in and the patient loses his ability to think and speak clearly. In a last ditch effort to keep the vital organs (such as the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys) warm, the brain shunts warm blood away from the hands and feet and into the core of the body.

When the blood leaves the hands they become numb making it impossible to perform simple tasks such as holding onto the side of a boat.

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Some of you have emailed me requesting a Medical Minute segment. So here ya go, courtesy of T-Boz.

T has lived with Sickle Cell all her life, and has had to cope with a weak immune system and frequent illnesses.

She said she was sick during filming once, but quickly got over it. The long days of filming (16 hours) almost took their toll on T-Boz. “They kept you tired and hungry,” she said. But T-Boz, who turns 39 in April, never snapped on anyone in the cast as a result.

"Celebrity Apprentice" is two hours long this season instead of one. Season two debuts Sunday (3/1) on NBC at 9 p.m.


Ovarian cancer is very difficult to diagnose.

Symptoms can be confused with other less life-threatening illnesses and usually don't present until after the cancer is in its advanced stages. For example, I had a friend in nursing school who was very promiscuous. Despite rules forbidding visitors in the dorms after 9 PM, this sistah always found a way to sneak men into her dorm room at night.

The next morning in class, she regaled us with graphic details of her nightly romps with men. In our final year, her stories took on an ominous tone. She complained of sharp pain during sex, spotting and vague lower back pain. She attributed her heavy menstrual bleeding to her fibroids.

In our final year, she was diagnosed with aggressive ovarian cancer, and she passed away a few months after we graduated.

She was only 21-years-old.

Ovarian cancer is very difficult to diagnose in its early stages because there are usually no symptoms. Ovarian cancer is almost always difficult to treat once diagnosed.

94% of women diagnosed early live longer than five years, according to the American Cancer Society.

For more info on ovarian cancer, visit Cancer.org.

This has been your Medical Minute.

A recent study conducted at the University of Colorado shows that women carry a greater variety of germs on their hands than men.

''One thing that really is astonishing is the variability between individuals, and also between hands on the same individual," said Rob Knight, a University of Colorado biochemistry assistant professor who was among the researchers.

''The sheer number of bacteria species detected on the hands of the study participants was a big surprise, and so was the greater diversity of bacteria we found on the hands of women,'' said lead researcher Noah Fierer.

The researchers theorized that women carry more germs because of the acidity of their skin. Knight said men generally have more acidic skin than women. The more acid on the skin, the less likely bacteria will grow.

The researchers emphasized the importance of hand washing, but they noted hand washing -- even with antibacterial soap, doesn't eliminate all bacteria.

But you can eliminate most bacteria on your hands by following these simple steps:

  • Wet your hands in water as warm as you can tolerate
  • Lather with liquid soap and rub hands together vigorously for at least 30 seconds
  • Count one thousand. . . two thousand. . . three thousand . . . until you reach 30
  • Clean under your fingernails with a clean fingernail file or the fingernails on your other hand
  • Rinse your hands after 30 seconds
  • Lather your hands again briefly then rinse
  • Use a disposable paper towel to dry your hands
  • Use another paper towel (not the one you dried your hands with) to turn off the water
  • use that same paper towel to open the bathroom door
  • Discard the paper towel in the waste basket by the door

If there is no waste basket near the door, alert the management of the establishment, or carry your own paper towels in your handbag.

If you have dry skin, use a low pH lotion (between 4.5-5.5). The lower the pH, the more acidic the lotion. Remember, bacteria can't survive in an acidic environment.

Eucerin Daily Replenishing lotion is a good lotion to use.

This has been your Medical Minute.

According to source close to Janet Jackson's camp, she suffered dizzy spells during sound check in Montreal yesterday and had to be rushed to a hospital.

The source says Janet was treated for dehydration and exhaustion and released.

In an earlier post about Janet's illness, a loyal reader left a comment stating dehydration is not a serious illness.

Dehydration is indeed a very serious illness and can result in death if not treated. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more water than it takes in, such as losing water through diarrhea, vomiting, burns or engaging in physical sports without drinking water.

Dehydration is usually the main culprit when football players suddenly collapse and die on the field. The three main electrolytes found in the blood are Potassium, Sodium (salt) and Chloride. If any one of these electrolytes are present in too little or too much amounts, serious problems such as cardiac arrhythmias can occur.

You should familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of dehydration especially if you have very active children:

  • Thirst (some people react to thirst by eating instead of drinking)
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry eyes
  • No sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness especially when standing
  • Confusion
  • Fainting

Please consult with your doctor or visit an emergency room if you experience the above signs and symptoms.

A simple way to check for dehydration is to locate the bony prominence on the outside of your wrist. Pinch the skin above that bone on your wrist and hold it for five seconds then let go. If the skin remains pinched or slowly returns to normal, you may be dehydrated and should see your doctor.

If necessary, you will be hospitalized and given IV fluids and electrolyte replacement to rehydrate you.

This has been your Medical Minute.

Singer Natalie Cole, who was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, was recently hospitalized due to complications related to chemotherapy treatments according to People magazine.

Cole was in NYC promoting her just-released new album, Still Unforgettable, when she experienced a "set back," and had to be hospitalized, according to a family member.

Last week, Cole visited the set of "Entertainment Tonight" where she talked about her disease, saying, "This is a virus that was dormant in my body for 25 years. I had no symptoms, was feeling great, working out like a crazy person --- and this just keeled me over, like a feather... What I have is treated with chemo... every week."

However, chemotherapy is a treatment for cancer, not Hepatitis C. So why would Cole be receiving chemotherapy treatments, you ask?

The answer is the antiviral medication she's taking can be referred to as chemotherapy, although technically, they aren't classified as chemotherapy drugs.

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As most of you know, Hip Hop artist Nate Dogg (left) suffered a second stroke which left him paralyzed and on a ventilator.

According to TMZ.com, Dogg, real name Nathaniel Dwayne Hale is responding well to medical treatment and is only using a ventilator to make breathing easier.

A cardiovascular accident, or stroke, means a lack of blood flow to a part of the brain usually caused by a blood clot, an aneurysm that burst or trauma to the brain, causing brain cells to die.

In most cases, the symptoms affect one side of the body depending on what side of the brain the stroke occurred.

Symptoms include:

  • Headache, vomiting, loss of consciousness (aneurysm or bleeding in the brain)
  • Drooping on one side of the face or droopy eyelid
  • Slurred speech or difficulty speaking
  • Temporary or persistent loss of vision
  • Numbness or tingling in hands or feet or on one side of the body
  • Reduction in sensory perception such as altered taste or smell
  • Losing your balance slightly and you're not sure why
  • Trouble walking
  • Altered breathing, rapid heart rate
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Disorganized thinking, confusion, hypersexual gestures

If you experience any of the above symptoms, see your personal care physician or go to an emergency room immediately!

I have a female friend who, in her late twenties, began experiencing TIAs (transient ischemic attacks) which are sometimes referred to as mini strokes. She's now in her early 40s and walks with a cane.

TIAs differ from strokes because the symptoms resolve on their own in less than 24 hours and TIAs don't result in death of brain cells. But multiple TIAs can cause neurological problems such as difficulty walking.

Some people, like my friend, are prone to strokes because they have a history of high blood pressure or any other risk factor which includes: cigarette smoking, weed smoking, Diabetes, previous strokes or cardiac problems.

Patients who have a history of cardiac problems or high blood pressure are sometimes prescribed baby Aspirin daily to keep their blood thin to reduce the risk of clot formation.

This has been your Medical Minute.

If you live in the Atlanta area, you've heard about the case of Darlene Dukes (left) who died when an emergency dispatcher sent an ambulance to the wrong address last week.

Yes, human error played a part in this tragedy (it appears the dispatcher was not a good listener). But this tragedy could have been avoided if Ms. Dukes had a land line in her home. Many consumers have switched to cell phones as their primary phone in order to save money. But cell phones can cost lives.

There is no technology in place to identify cell phone numbers coming into an emergency call center. Therefore, it is important to have a land line - preferably a corded phone that doesn't require batteries. If your power goes out, your cordless phones won't work and you can't charge your cell phones either.

The official cause of Ms. Dukes' death was a Pulmonary Embolism (PE). A PE occurs when a blood clot travels from its point of origin to the lungs where it lodges in a small vessel causing the blockage of blood and oxygen. That part of the lung dies from lack of blood and oxygen.

Typical symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath (Dyspnea)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain that gets worse with inhalation
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Rapid breathing
  • Cough or coughing up blood
  • More Medical Minute after the break...

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