The big news in the blog stratosphere over the weekend was the continuing trials and tribulations of "American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino, who is being sued by a woman for breaking up her marriage.

You all know the story that the mainstream media has just caught a whiff of due of the aforementioned lawsuit.

Here's CNN's take on the story:

Paula Cook, who separated from her husband, Antwaun Cook, in June, filed the documents -- seeking child custody, alimony and other monetary support -- Wednesday in Mecklenburg County District Court.

The documents allege Antwaun Cook began the affair with Barrino, 26, in August 2009 after the pair met at a Charlotte-area T-Mobile store where Cook is employed.

Barrino... treated Cook to a lavish lifestyle, flying him to Atlanta, Georgia; Miami, Florida; New York; Los Angeles, California; and Barbados, the documents allege.

The pair "have at times recorded their illicit sexual activity," according to the documents.

I know you are growing wary of me throwing around the N-word. But you should know that 90% of the celebrities that you worship are narcissists -- and the reason our society (YOU) place celebrity narcissists on a pedestal is because we are a nation of narcissist enablers.

Narcissists belong in the category of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). This means that while most of them are beautiful and charming, they are deep down rotten to the core and there is no treatment for what ails them. So how do you deal with one?

You don't.

You avoid them like the plague -- but first you have to learn to recognize them, which is why I'm here to teach you what to look for.

How do you know when you're dealing with a NPD/BPD? -- they move quickly to 'own' you.

Shortly after meeting one, they decide your lives should merge and you should move in together. If the NPD is a man, he will propose to you within 30 days after meeting you. If the NPD is a woman, she will pressure you to marry her after a week. This is not normal behavior -- and no matter what you think you feel: you are not in love.

No matter what you think you feel, you will never be happy in a relationship with a NPD. You will always be 'on edge' or waiting for the other shoe to drop. If you somehow manage to find a little happiness, your narcissist will make it their priority to make you miserable.

Read more »

*Bumped*

How many times have you met a man who by all intents and purposes seems like your perfect match? It's love at first sight as you fall head over heels for him, only to realize later that he was the Devil's spawn?

This is happening more and more frequently as upwardly mobile, successful single ladies sacrifice starting a family to focus on their careers instead. By the time a successful, independent sista in her mid 30s decides to settle down with a man and start a family, she finds the pickings are very slim.

Among the down low men, the cheaters, the con artists and the play boys, there is a more sinister man lurking: the Sociopath.

You're probably thinking you can spot a psycho from a mile away, but you're wrong. These sociopath/borderline personalities are the dudes you see up in the clubs who look like walking Billboards. They're fine, suave, debonair, charming, and one look from them can melt your panties off.

But before you give him your number (or your panties); ask yourself: why is he single? Often times these men are sociopaths on the hunt for prey: and you are their perfect victim. They're not looking for a relationship, and they will tell you that right off the bat. So please listen to them.

I found the following tips on how to spot a Sociopath/Borderline personality on another blog. Ladies, study these tips so you don't fall victim to a sociopath who destroys you mentally and financially.

How to Know When You're Dating a Psychopath

1. Charisma and charm -- He's a smooth talker, always has an answer, he's quick witted and never misses a beat. He seems to be very exciting. If he's too good to be true, it's because he is!

2. Enormous ego -- He acts like the smartest, richest or most successful man in the club. He wears expensive clothes, shoes and jewelry (all bought by his last victim). He is handsome and charming and he knows it. He will brag on himself and often parties with his "boys" who back up his lies.

Read more »


A friend of mine was in her mid to late twenties when I met her back in the 90s. She was a gorgeous accountant who was vibrant, full of life and doted on her two small daughters whom she adored.

I was introduced to her by her husband who she thought I was creeping with because we were so tight. Today, she is 40 years old and lives in a nursing home where she is confined to a hospital bed. She can't speak or move so she communicates with her eyes.

Muscle contractions of her upper and lower limbs render them totally useless to her. At age 40 she requires total care to even turn herself in bed.

She is one of many young women of child bearing age who have suffered a stroke caused by contraceptives.

Read more »


New pictures of former super model Naomi Campbell's hair loss emerged on the Internet today. According to the Daily Mail, the pics were taken at a fashion photo shoot in New York.

Naomi often wears lacefront wigs to cover her bald spots caused by breakage due to years of wearing glue-in and sew-in hair extensions.

I've also seen this type of temporary hair loss caused by mental/nervous disorders (Alopecia nervosa).

From Medicinenet.com:

What is alopecia areata?

Alopecia areata is a hair-loss condition which usually affects the scalp. It can, however, sometimes affect other areas of the body. Hair loss tends to be rather rapid and often involves one side of the head more than the other.

Alopecia areata affects both males and females. This type of hair loss is different than male-pattern baldness, an inherited condition.

What causes alopecia areata?

Current evidence suggests that alopecia areata is caused by an abnormality in the immune system. This particular abnormality leads to autoimmunity. As a result, the immune system attacks particular tissues of the body. In alopecia areata, for unknown reasons, the body's own immune system attacks the hair follicles and disrupts normal hair formation. Biopsies of affected skin show immune cells inside of the hair follicles where they are not normally present. What causes this is unknown. Alopecia areata is sometimes associated with other autoimmune conditions such as allergic disorders, thyroid disease, vitiligo, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis. Sometimes, alopecia areata occurs within family members, suggesting a role of genes and heredity.

More Info On the Web

Alopecia Areata Causes, Treatments, Symptoms -- WebMD

Alopecia -- UMM


A woman and her boyfriend are in the Fulton County jail charged with murder in the death of the woman's 12-year-old brother.

Police said Sabrina Powell and her boyfriend, Omar Pitts, were charged with felony murder in the death of 12-year-old Jaytavious Mahone, who died from heat stroke (hyperthermia) on Thursday.

The couple admitted punishing the boy by forcing him to stand outside holding a paint bucket for hours with no water to drink. This past week, the temperature in Atlanta has hovered above the 90-100 degree mark.

Police said Sabrina Powell and her boyfriend, Omar Pitts, were charged with felony murder and cruelty to children in the death of 12-year-old Jaytavious Mahone on Thursday.

The Fulton County Medical Examiner's office said the 12-year-old boy who was reported to have suffered a heat stroke did not die of natural causes.

Cpl. Kay Lester of the Fulton County Police Department said officers received a call to Camelot Drive just after 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Police said the call came in that a 12-year-old boy was suffering from heat stroke.
Paramedics arrived on the scene and began to try to resuscitate the boy, police said. He was transported to South Fulton Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Heat stroke occurs when the body temperature remains consistently elevated above normal, and the body is unable to dissipate the heat. Children and the elderly are especially susceptible to heat stroke during the Summer.

Read more »


Loyal reader L.L. sent in a personal account of her painful experiences with the disorder Fibromyalgia. Not much is known about fibromyalgia, and most doctors tend to dismiss the disorder as psychological. But for the 2% of the population who suffer from fibromyalgia (mostly women), the pain they feel is very real.

According to the MayoClinic, fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by dull pain in your muscles, ligaments and tendons. Fibromyalgia can also cause fatigue (feeling excessively tired), depression, anxiety and sleeplessness (insomnia). The symptoms usually begin after a traumatic event or injury.

Other conditions associated with fibromyalgia include:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Depression
  • Endometriosis
  • Headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Lupus
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Treatment includes pain medications, anti-depressants and anti-seizure meds. Most patients self-medicate with Motrin or Aleve until the pain drives them into the doctor's office. Physical therapy, counseling and lifestyle modification are also treatment options.

This has been your Medical Minute.

Read L.L.'s emotional email after the break (long read).

DISCLAIMER:
As always, any medical information published on this blog is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with your personal physician or a health care provider.

Read more »

Maybe you've seen them in your neighborhood or at the hair salon, cute little babies and toddlers who seem healthy and normal -- until they smile or open their mouths to reveal tiny silver caps covering their front teeth.

Baby bottle tooth decay, or baby dental caries, is a result of mothers putting babies to bed with a bottle (or no-spill cup) full of sugary milk, juices or sodas. The prolonged contact of milk or juice leaves a sticky film on the baby's teeth all night long.

Bacteria, which is always present in the baby's mouth, eats the sugar in the film and converts it to acid which then eats away at the enamel on baby's teeth. The damage progresses through 3 stages:

  • Stage 1 - signs go unnoticed as bacteria decays teeth from inside out
  • Stage 2 - discoloration begins at the gum line and works down the tooth
  • Stage 3 - teeth begins to visibly corrode, fracture and fall out

Again, Stage 1 goes undetected. So by the time the bottle rot has progressed to stage 2, it may be too late to save the teeth. And if your child's permanent teeth have already grown in (or the baby teeth never fall out, such as in producer Jermaine Dupri's case) the Dental bills can be very expensive. Some dentists charge $3,000 and up to save your child's teeth.

Treatment includes painful root canals, extractions and/or the placement of porcelain caps (expensive) or silver caps (cheaper) over the baby's teeth to save them. Extensive dental treatments could require hospitalization.

Dentists advise mothers with children of teeth bearing age to avoid putting your toddler to bed with a bottle or a no-spill cup filled with anything other than water. If your child fusses and cries, she will eventually the no milk or juice at night rule and you will get a good night's sleep.

Also, teaching your toddler to brush her teeth after meals is not a bad idea. And give her healthy food to eat such as apples and carrots in place of candy.

You should also cut back on bottled water and give your baby tap water instead since healthy teeth need fluoride to keep them hard and prevent decay.

Take your baby to the dentist as early as age 1 to give your dentist the best chance to diagnose problems early.

More info on the Web

Bottle Rot Syndrome - ePinions

Bottle Rot FAQS - Children's hospital

Dental Tips for Children

DISCLAIMER: As always, any medical information published on this blog is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with your personal physician or a health care provider.

Anorexia Nervosa is a potentially deadly eating disorder that is characterized by marked weight loss and severe body image disturbance. This psychological disorder primarily affects women who have low self esteem and an unrealistic and obsessive fear of gaining weight.

Women diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa control their weight through self-imposed starvation (avoiding food), eating and purging (vomiting), excessive exercise, diet pills, drug use and laxative abuse.

Anorexics share an intense fear of gaining weight and refuse to maintain their body weight above 85% of the expected weight for their age and height.

In addition to the affects on the body externally, anorexia nervosa causes damage to the inside of the esophagus when food is repeatedly regurgitated (swallowed and brought back up). The constant irritation of the esophagus can lead to esophagitis, an inflammatory condition that can cause scarring and narrowing of the esophagus, making it difficult to swallow or keep food down.

Frequent episodes of vomiting can lead to severe dehydration which results in electrolyte imbalance, cardiac arrest and possible death.

Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

  • Depression
  • Weight loss
  • Skin changes
  • Amenorrhea (missed periods)
  • Fatigue, weakness, lethargy
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Cold intolerance
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Tooth decay (from the effects of stomach acid on enamel)

Treatment includes psychotherapy, nutritional counseling, anti-depressant meds, and in extreme cases, hospitalization in a medical or psych ward setting.

Anorexics are difficult to treat because they don't believe they have an eating disorder and they often relapse into their former eating and purging pattern after treatment. The difference between a patient with anorexia nervosa and bulimia is the bulimia patient maintains their weight above average or just below average. Additionally, rather than avoiding food (as the anorexic does) the bulimia patient (secretly) binges on food and then purges (vomits) due to strong feelings of shame and guilt.

If you believe you or someone you know is suffering from anorexia nervosa or bulimia, get help immediately by calling an anorexia treatment center in your area.

This has been your Medical Minute.

Info On The Web


DISCLAIMER:

As always, any medical information published on this blog is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with your personal physician or a health care provider.

Nude images of rapper Trina that leaked online over the weekend continue to cause a stir online. The subject of most of the online chatter are the photos that show a rash on Trina's arms. Many who haven't heard or read the explanation of the rash on Trina's arms continue to spread rumors that Trina has a sexually transmitted disease.

In order to dispel such rumors, Trina spoke with MTV News about the rash on her arms. She explained that her rash is a common skin condition called Urticaria, or hives.

After allergy tests came back negative, a doctor told Trina that her hives were most likely due to stress, a factor that makes hives more difficult to treat unless the patient eliminates the underlying cause of her stress (man problems or money problems).

Read more about emotionally induced hives in my Medical Minute post here.

Source: MTV

I told you yesterday that I would write a Medical Minute post about the mystery skin rash that rapper Trina appeared to have in leaked pictures from her cell phone. Although I am not a doctor and I have no knowledge of Trina's medical history, it does look like Trina has a chronic (long term) case of urticaria, also known as hives.

Hives is an outbreak of raised, itchy, sometimes reddened patches of skin and bumps that are frequently caused by allergic reactions to food, drugs, chemicals, cold, sunlight, etc. Foods that can cause allergic hives are shellfish, nuts, peanuts, eggs, wheat, and soy.

Hives can occur anywhere on the body but are usually seen on the extremities (arms and legs). Hives can also be caused by the friction from hot, restrictive clothing such as bra straps or tight elastic bands in panties.

Hives are not contagious and can not be passed from one person to another by contact. Therefore, hives is not a sexually transmitted disease.

Although hives are frequently caused by allergic reactions, it can also be brought on by a non-allergic reaction to emotional stress or distress. Emotionally induced hives is diagnosed whenever the hives lasts longer than 6 weeks and do not respond very well to treatment. This occurs because the underlying trigger is the patient's own emotional and mental condition, and not by an allergy.

Read more »

MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) is a contagious skin infection that can be fatal.

MRSA is caused by the common bacteria staphylococcus -- or "staph" for short. Most of us carry staph bacteria on our skin and in our noses without being infected. It is spread easily by skin to skin contact even by people who don't show any signs of infection.

In the 70s and 80s, MRSA was commonly referred to as a hospital acquired infection (HA-MRSA). The infections spread rapidly within hospital settings and nursing homes where patients with weakened immune systems lived in close quarters.

The centers For Disease Control (CDC) and public health experts went to great measures to educate health care workers about the importance of hand washing between patient care to contain the bacteria within hospitals and nursing homes.

Over time the bacteria colonized patients (and health care workers) and mutated to become super resistant to most antibiotics that normally kept it in check. In the late 80s and early 90s, MRSA bacteria leaped from the hospital setting and into the surrounding communities where cases began to arise among the healthy population. Those cases are referred to as community acquired infections (CA-MRSA).

MRSA made headline news recently when healthy young people began dying from simple skin infections.

Staph becomes a problem when it enters the body through a break in the skin such as a cut or scratch. Once in the bloodstream, it is very difficult to treat because MRSA is resistant to most antibiotics. For that reason, it is sometimes referred to as a "super bug."

It's now resistant to methicillin, amoxicillin, penicillin, oxacillin, and many other antibiotics. While a few antibiotics still work, MRSA is constantly adapting and researchers are having a tough time developing new antibiotics to keep up with the new strains.

The biggest factor in the proliferation of MRSA is the practice of prescribing antibiotics unnecessarily over the decades as well as antibiotics given to livestock that leached into the municipal city water.

The most at risk for MRSA infections are young children whose immune systems aren't fully developed yet, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, such as HIV/AIDS patients.

MRSA causes soft tissue infections (such as the example in the pic above), but it can also spread to the lungs (leading to pneumonia) or to the bones and heart valves. Most MRSA skin infections are harmless and resolve within days. The infection generally starts out as small red bumps or tiny blisters, boils or spider bites.

Signs and Symptoms of MRSA include:

  • Swelling, redness and tenderness of the skin around the wound
  • Foul smelly, pus or drainage
  • Fever

More Info On The Web

Skin Problems and Treatments: Understanding MRSA - WebMD

MRSA - Mayo Clinic

Worldstar Hip Hop posted this video of a woman suffering a tonic-clonic seizure on the reality series Celebrity Rehab. Tonic-clonic seizures were formerly referred to as grand mal seizures and involve both sides of the brain.

The tonic phase of the disorder is the shortest, usually lasting a few seconds. This is when the muscles and ligaments tense up, the patient moans and falls to the floor.

The clonic phase, the longest, is when the muscles begin to relax and contract at the same time causing convulsions. It isn't abnormal for a patient to bite parts of their tongue off during this phase due to the jaws contracting. Some patients will experience an aura or lightheadedness minutes before the seizure comes on.

Once a seizure begins, there isn't much that can be done other than to make them comfortable (place something soft under their heads like a jacket). Position their heads to the side so that if they vomit they will not choke. And most importantly, make sure their airway is not obstructed by bedding, pillows, etc.

Contrary to popular belief, patients who have seizures do not swallow their tongues. But the tongue can fall back and block the airway.

Seizures can be caused by brain injuries, rapidly flashing lights, fatigue, drugs such as antihistamines, anxiety, diseases such as diabetes, and other factors.

Call 911 if the patient is not a known epileptic (prone to having seizures), or if the patient injures herself or has difficulty breathing. Otherwise, just remain with the patient until the seizure is over. The patient's limbs will relax and she will appear to be sleeping. Once she is awake, she will be groggy and disoriented for a short period of time.

This has been your Medical Minute.

As always, any medical information published on this blog is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional.

A couple of loyal readers emailed me to ask what death by "natural causes" means. In the last three weeks we've read about two high profile deaths attributed to natural causes: actress Brittany Murphy and heiress Casey Johnson, who was found dead in LA yesterday morning.

Death by natural causes simply means the deceased had a preexisting condition (disease, long term illness, etc.) that caused the death. Natural causes also applies if the coroner can't find a cause of death and there is no evidence of foul play or homicide.

Hospitals are known to cover up medical negligence cases by attributing a patient's death to natural causes. The patient's death is by natural causes, therefore, there is usually no autopsy performed. It's left up to the patient's family to demand an autopsy if there is any hint that negligence was involved.

In Brittany Murphy's case, she was diagnosed with type 2 (non-insulin dependent) diabetes and was reportedly very sick (nausea and vomiting) for days before she collapsed and died of cardiac arrest. It's very likely that her cardiac arrest was brought on by severe dehydration from vomiting.

A Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is sometimes referred to as a "mini stroke" or a "warning sign" of an impending stroke. It is caused by a disruption of blood supply to a particular area of the brain by a blood clot in your brain or neck.

Your blood carries oxygen to the brain. Therefore, if the blood supply is disrupted by a clot, it could result in death of the brain (nerve) cells in that area.

A TIA is categorized as a mini stroke because the symptoms lasts less than 24 hours. Most TIAs last less than 5 minutes. If the symptoms lasts longer than 24 hours it is referred to as a Cardiovascular Accident (CVA) or stroke. Some people experience a TIA and don't even know it.

It's important to recognize the symptoms because a mini stroke (TIA) usually precedes a stroke which causes permanent damage to the brain/nerve cells.

Temporary Symptoms of a TIA (less than 24 hours)

  • Weakness on one side of the body (hemiparesis)
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Headache, migraines
  • Visual disturbances (blurred vision, flashes of light)
  • Numbness or tingling on one side (paresthesia)

Some people who experience one or more TIAs will likely have a stroke later on. Recognizing and treating a TIA is the best way to reduce your risk of having a stroke. If you experience the above symptoms, call 911 or have someone transport you to a local emergency room immediately.

If your doctor diagnoses a TIA he or she will prescribe blood thinners or Aspirin to prevent clots from forming in your blood stream which can lead to a stroke. Your doctor will also run an EKG or ECG (Electrocardiogram) to determine if you have a preexisting heart condition (arrhythmia's) that can cause TIAs or strokes.

This has been your Medical Minute.

More info on the Web

Transient Ischemic Attack - TIA -- American Heart Assoc.
Transient Ischemic Attack -- MayoClinic
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA, Mini-Stroke) -- eMedicine

As always, any medical information published on this blog is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional.

Sharron Thornton, a 60-year-old grandmother who lost sight in both eyes 9 years ago due to a rare corneal disease, can see again after docs implanted a part of one of her eyeteeth into her left eye.

The procedure known as as modified osteo-odonto-keratoprosthesis, was the first of its kind performed in the United States. The surgery has already been performed with success in Britain.

Doctors at the University of Miami's Bascom Palmer Eye Institute extracted one of Thornton's canine teeth (eyeteeth) and shaved off the crown of the tooth that's visible above the gum leaving only the root and a portion of the surrounding bone.

Doctors then shaved off a part of the root and bone leaving only a sliver of the root and bone. In other words, the entire tooth was not implanted in her eye.

Oral mucous membrane from inside her cheek was removed and grafted to her left eye. Thornton had been blind for 9 years after a rare corneal disease her corneas permanently scarred.

A hole was drilled into the center of the sliver of bone and tooth to serve as an anchor for the cylinder lens, which was placed in the center. The cylinder lens allows light to reach the back of her eye enabling her to see again.

Read more »

A loyal reader asked me to write a Medical Minute about Tonsiloliths, aka tonsil stones, also called tonsil calculus, pebbles, tonsil corn, etc. There is very little medical literature on tonsiloliths and your doctor may not have even heard of them. Some doctors mistakenly diagnose the yellowish tonsil calculi as a throat infection and prescribe antibiotics.

Tonsil stones usually affect adults who never had their tonsils removed. The stones are formed in crypts and crevices of your tonsils usually after you've had a bout of tonsilitis (infection of the throat). A tonsil stone may feel like a foreign object trapped in the side of your throat such as a popcorn kernel. You may be tempted to dig them out, but that is not advised.

The tonsils are lymphoid tissue on either side of your throat that act as part of your immune system to protect against infection. Crypts and crevices in your tonsils can run deep. Undigested food particles may become trapped inside these crypts where they are acted upon by bacteria and your immune system.

The undigested food is encapsulated inside a cheesy material that oozes out of your tonsils and adenoids and hardens into a foul smelling yellowish stone (calculous).
Read more »

Stomach cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancers. The disease has a poor prognosis. Life expectancy for a patient diagnosed with stomach cancer is usually 6 months. That is because the early symptoms of stomach cancer are often very vague and sometimes non-existent. By the time symptoms do appear the cancer has already metastasized and spread to other organs.

One in a million people under age 55 seeking treatment for indigestion are diagnosed with stomach cancer. One in 50 of all ages experiencing excess burping and gas (indigestion) are diagnosed with stomach cancer. Don't just assume that excess burping and gas is a result of what you ate. Especially if those symptoms continue for more than two weeks.

If you change your diet, eliminating foods that cause excess gas, and you're still burping and passing gas, it's time to see a doctor. Popping Rolaids and Tums for more than two weeks (and you haven't seen a doctor) is an indication of a more serious problem.

The bacteria H. Pylori is thought to be the main risk factor in 60-85% stomach cancers and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or excess stomach acid entering the esophagus and causing erosion and pain). If you test positive for H. Pylori, doctors will prescribe a course of antibiotics.

The symptoms of stomach cancer are very vague or nonexistent in the early stages. Symptoms include:

Early

  • Indigestion or a burning sensation (heartburn)
  • Loss of appetite, especially for meat
  • Excess burping and/or flatulence (passing gas)

Late

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen, pain radiating to the back
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Bloating of the stomach after meals
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Bleeding (vomiting blood or having blood in the stool), which can lead to anemia
  • Black tarry (sticky) stools

Read more »

According to an inside source, incarcerated rapper T.I., real name Clifford Harris Jr., is not among those inmates sickened by a gastrointestinal bug that's going around the Arkansas prison where he's serving a 366-day sentence.

Rumors that T.I was sick spread quickly after it was announced that visits to the federal prison were temporarily suspended until the bug could be contained.

This type of illness occurs frequently inside institutions, schools, college dorms, hospitals, or anywhere that large groups of people congregate.

The illness, known as gastroenteritis or stomach flu, can be caused by food poisoning, parasites, virus or bacteria introduced from the outside -- which is why visits to the prison have been temporarily suspended.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain (cramping)
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Malaise (weakness)
  • Bloody stools

Symptoms usually begin 1-2 days following the introduction of the infection, and may last for up to 10 days. Gastroenteritis is usually not life threatening and some patients recover without treatment. But gastroenteritis can lead to dehydration and death if prolonged diarrhea and vomiting are left untreated.

Treatment includes antibiotics (which are not helpful against a virus), anti-parasitic medications, and medications to relieve symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In some cases, patients may require hospitalization to replace fluids lost (rehydraton therapy).

This has been your Medical Minute.

Info on the Web:

Gastroenteritis - Web MD
Viral Gastroenteritis - CDC
Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu) - Medicine Net

Past medical studies comparing skin cancer rates among Caucasians and blacks have shown that cases among whites were proportionately higher due to their lack of skin pigmentation.

But new studies reveal that that a deadly form of skin cancer (malignant melanoma) is now increasing among biracial people and light skinned blacks who have less pigmentation than dark skin blacks.

From Black Voices blog:

Studies show that when blacks do get skin cancer, it is often discovered at a later stage and is more deadly. Musician Bob Marley, for instance, died of malignant melanoma, an aggressive skin cancer that spread to his organs.

Sunscreen is the first layer of defense against the sun's dangerous rays, but a Consumer Reports poll shows that while 67 percent of people identifying themselves as light-skinned wear sunscreen, only 27 percent of dark-skinned people do. Experts recommend that everyone, regardless of skin color, protect themselves with SPF 15 sunscreen.

For black people with skin cancer, melanoma will usually appear in places where there is less pigmentation, like the palms of the hands, bottoms of the feet, under nails and on the genitals, but it may look different based on skin tone. The best way to be safe is to get any suspicious growths or moles checked out, just as you would a lump in your breast. It may be less likely that you'll have skin cancer, but no one is immune. READ MORE...

Photo: Wireimage/Getty

On Monday Barack Obama made another in a series of embarrassing goofs by suggesting that the swine flu pandemic was "not a cause for concern." Just two days later, Obama has reversed his stance, saying the outbreak of swine flu had created a "serious situation" in the United States requiring the "utmost precautions," such as closing down schools where cases of swine flu are reported.

The cases of swine flu has risen in the U.S. to 91, including one death -- an infant who died in a Houston hospital.

Be aware that there are no vaccines for this particular strain of swine flu. Also, antiviral medications do not kill the virus that causes swine flu. They only interfere with the ability of the virus to bind to certain cells in the body. Antivirals are only effective against specific virus, and only if administered in the early stages of infection (up to 48 hours). There is no known cure for a virus.

What can you do to protect yourself? Wash your hands frequently with soap and water (as warm as you can stand it) or alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Remember when using public restrooms to use a paper towel when turning off the faucet and when opening restroom doors.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth especially when out in public.

It's important to note that the majority of people infected with swine flu do make a full recovery, so don't panic. Remember, it isn't the virus that kills, it's the body's inflammatory response to the virus.

If you have flu-like symptoms (cough, sneezing, runny nose), don't go to work or school. If you have accompanying joint pain, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, go to the emergency room or notify your doctor immediately.

Information about swine flu on the web:

http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/

Medline Plus

The swine flu outbreak in Mexico is caused by a deadly new strain, or variant, of a particular strain of influenza virus that is naturally occurring among pigs. This strain mutated over time and jumped from pigs to humans. It is now transferred easily from human to human through coughing, sneezing, touching and through contact with the nasal and oral mucosa.

Swine flu transmission cannot occur through eating pork. There is no known cure for a virus other than a vaccine, which is usually made from a part of the virus itself. There is no vaccine for swine flu, and antibiotics are ineffective against a virus.

Swine flu kills relatively quickly, and it affects mainly the young and healthy. The mean age range of the 149 deaths reported in Mexico is between 20-40 years old.

So far outbreaks are being reported in New York (28 cases), California (7), Texas (2), Kansas (2), Ohio (1). Canada is reporting 6 cases, and there are 19 cases reported worldwide -- not including Mexico.

The signs and symptoms of swine flu to look out for are similar to the flu:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Fatigue (feeling unusually tired)
  • Sore throat
  • Joint pain

The symptoms progress quickly to nausea, vomiting, disorientation and confusion ending in death.

Information on the web:

http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/

Flu cases in the United States - USA Today

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.

    Sandra,
    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.

Read more »

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.

Source

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.

Read more »

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.