Comedian Bernie Mac has died according to his publicist. He was 50.

Mac's publicist Danica Smith said Mac died early Saturday morning from complications related to pneumonia. This same publicist denied Mac's pneumonia was related to Mac's chronic disease, sarcoidosis, which Smith claimed was in remission since 2005.

But what else could have caused Mac's pneumonia considering his past medical history?

As I explained in my earlier post (in layman's terms), sarcoidosis is an immune disorder that turns the body's cells against itself. It occurs mainly in the lungs and lymph nodes (such as in your armpits, chest, neck and groin) but it can also occur anywhere in the body such as your skin, liver and other body organs.

When sarcoidosis involves the skin, it causes tiny red bumps (granulomas) to develop. Inside the lungs, the bumps cause respiratory problems by clumping together, causing scarring and making it extremely difficult to breathe. Some patients with advanced sarcoidosis go on a ventilator.

Doctors don't know what causes sarcoidosis - other than it is an extreme autoimmune response to something external in the environment (such as poison, infection or other diseases) which leads the body's cells to replicate out of control.

In 60 to 70 percent of cases, symptoms will be vague or non-existent and most people won't know they have the disease. But if the disease involves the lungs, such as in Mac's case, the condition is more severe. Black people tend to develop the more severe form of sarcoidosis. There is no known cure.

Symptoms of lung involvement include:

    * Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
    * Breathing difficulty
    * Persistent productive cough
    * Chest pain
    * Chest tightness
    * fatigue (feeling tired all the time)
    * night sweats
    * fever

Legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor is in critical condition on life support, according to online reports. Taylor, 75, had been plagued with health problems for years.

The star was diagnosed with pneumonia and congestive heart failure - the latter is a cardiac condition which causes the lungs to fill with foamy fluid restricting blood flow into the heart. This condition makes it very difficult for some patients to breathe without mechanical assistance.

The British actress was the biggest star in the world in her heyday. Taylor was made an honorary dame by the Queen of England. (Source)


(Photo source)

Today's Medical Minute is dedicated to the narcissists among us like Angel Laws who owns the popular Concrete Poop blog, which I like to refer to as Ass Kissers Anonymous. AKA is a sort of self-help group for fellow brown nosers who worship celebrity narcissists like Knaye West and Jay Z.

On Friday, Laws composed a long rambling email in response to my post about her. I wrote back that I wasn't reading all that BS -- but trust that I would see her at the Blogging While Brown Conference later this week, and she could tell me then.

It should not be too hard to spot Angel: she'll be the only elephant in the room with a bad weave and an equally bad attitude.

All this week leading up to the conference, I plan to dedicate a post to Laws and her camp. Yes, I realize it's juvenile, but she started it and I'm finishing it.

So without further ado:

In my opinion, Angel Laws is the epitome of a narcissist which simply means one who possesses a morbidly over-inflated sense of self importance. Some celebrities (and bloggers like Laws and that punk Brian) display the characteristics of a narcissist which is why they seek out the limelight so they can be celebrated by those deemed less worthy or beneath them -- that would be you.

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Natalie Cole's representative has confirmed that Natalie Cole was diagnosed with hepatitis C. Cole was forced to pull out of a concert in California last week due to the chronic illness.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne disease which means it is spread through contact with infected blood such as blood transfusions, using dirty needles, body piercings, tattoos, or in Natalie's case, by snorting cocaine. Sexual transmission of hep C is rare except in cases where an individual is infected with HIV.

Hepatitis C is usually diagnosed by accident since most patients don't show symptoms until the liver is affected. Chronic Hepatitis C (longterm infection) can cause inflammation of the liver (hepatitis). Most people stricken with hepatitis C show no symptoms sometimes for many years. Those who do show symptoms have advanced to cirrhosis of the liver and ultimately, liver failure.

About one third of patients infected with hepatitis C develop conditions like portal hypertension (increased pressure in the liver) which leads to esophageal varices (distended veins in the esophagus, the tube which delivers food to the stomach). This condition manifests itself in projectile vomiting of pure blood when the varices burst and blood fills the stomach.

Signs and symptoms of hepatitis C are usually vague. They include:

  • fever
  • fatigue (feeling sleepy all the time)
  • abdominal pain
  • ascites (abdominal swelling)
  • jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • itching
  • nausea and vomiting

Consult your personal physician if you experience any of these signs/symptoms or if you have any questions. This has been your medical minute.

Salmonella has been in the news lately due to an outbreak that health officials are calling the largest foodborne outbreak in U.S. history.

The salmonella outbreak is blamed for over 1,000 illnesses across the country - with 203 people requiring hospitalization since June 1, 2008.

What makes this outbreak particularly ominous is neither the FDA nor the CDC know what the source of the outbreak is.

Initially, the source was thought to be tomatoes. But on Wednesday, U.S. health officials added hot jalapeño peppers and cilantro (salsa) to the growing list of suspects. The first cluster of illnesses were linked to restaurants, leading federal officials to believe that food containing fresh tomatoes and jalapeno peppers were the culprits.

"Neither tomatoes nor jalapeños explain the entire outbreak at this point," said Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the division of foodborne, bacterial and mycotic diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. "We're presuming that both of them cause illness."

Some critics believe the government's inability to pinpoint an exact cause leaves the nation vulnerable to biological terrorist attacks.

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Amy Winehouse is a sick woman. The British singer has been hospitalized in a London hospital ever since fainting at home on June 16.

Winehouse was not diagnosed with the sometimes fatal lung infection Tuberculosis as some online reports suggested.

But you could be infected with Tuberculosis right now and not even know it.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious lung infection caused by inhaling an airborne bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain.

When a person with active TB coughs or sneezes, the bacterium becomes airborne and is then inhaled by people nearby. It isn't just the homeless who are infected with TB: anyone can catch TB. As a matter of fact, some TB patients are well-to-do people who travel in Third World countries or underdeveloped nations where access to medical care is limited or non-existent.

You can very likely contract TB from the doctor or lawyer sitting next to you on a plane, or from a co-worker who recently returned from a trip to Africa. Most people with TB don't know they have it because the germ is usually subdued by the body's immune system which sends blood cells to attack it.

The problem is the TB germ can trick the body into thinking it's dead when in fact it is lying dormant inside the lung until it's awakened years later by an immune system that is weakened by other illnesses.

People who have the dormant or latent TB infection cannot infect others. They will not have symptoms and can live with the infection for a lifetime without ever becoming ill. When the infection is "awakened" or becomes active - that person is considered a threat to public health and must be treated immediately.

Those with active infections who refuse to comply with their treatment regimen (which can take up to 9 months to complete) can be arrested and detained for treatment.

The symptoms of active TB infection are:

  • weakness or fatigue
  • weight loss
  • no appetite
  • chills
  • fever
  • sweating at night
  • productive or non-productive cough

A positive skin test (PPD) does not mean you have active TB. Further testing is needed to determine if you are active (contagious). Even if you are not contagious you should still seek treatment to prevent the disease from becoming active. As always, consult your doctor if you experience any symptoms or have any questions.

This has been your Medical Minute!

From MSNBC.com:

    The tragic death of a South Carolina 10-year-old more than an hour after he had gone swimming has focused a spotlight on the little-known phenomenon called "dry drowning" — and warning signs that every parent should be aware of.

    “I’ve never known a child could walk around, talk, speak and their lungs be filled with water,” Cassandra Jackson told NBC News in a story broadcast Thursday on TODAY.

    On Sunday, Jackson had taken her son, Johnny, to a pool near their home in Goose Creek, S.C. It was the first time he’d ever gone swimming — and, tragically, it would be his last.

    "We physically walked home. He walked with me," Jackson said, still trying to understand how her son could have died. "I bathed him, and he told me that he was sleepy."

    Later, she went into his room to check on him. "I walked over to the bed, and his face was literally covered with this spongy white material," she said. "And I screamed."

Ladies, before you start panicking and keeping your children out of the pool (or the bathtub), this phenomenon is extremely rare.

It seems a few important details were left out of the article. For example, was the little boy sick or in any respiratory distress after he got home? It sounds like he was because mothers don't normally bathe their 10-year-old sons, do they?

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Yesterday I wrote a post detailing a phenomenon that remains a mystery to most doctors. Over the years, many women have complained of a phantom cramping pain that begins about 10 minutes after they engage in sexual intercourse or oral sex. The cramps increase in intensity to the point where some women are immobilized with pain.

Yesterday I wasn't clear in pointing out that the cramps are usually brought on by the female orgasm - not the physical act of having sex itself. When a female has an orgasm it produces the same minor uterine contractions as women in labor. Most women don't notice the contractions at all after they have an orgasm.

After I published my post on post coital cramps yesterday, I received a handful of emails from loyal readers who experienced pain during sex due to a medical condition called endometriosis. Women who are diagnosed with endometriosis usually experience sharp pain during and after sex.

This is different from the post coital muscle cramps in the lower abdomen that otherwise healthy women have complained about for years.

For most women who experience post coital (after sex) cramping, there is no known cause or cure.

More Medical Minute after the break...

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