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Expert Offers Tips For Preventing Diabetic Neuropathy

[Editor's note: In recognition of American Diabetes Month, Harvard Health Publications is collaborating with on its Stop Diabetes initiative. Today's post, published on World Diabetes Day, is the first of several focusing on this all-too-common disorder.]

People tend to think of diabetes as a silent, painless condition. Don’t tell that to the millions of folks with diabetes-induced tingling toes or painful feet. This problem, called diabetic neuropathy, can range from merely aggravating to disabling or even life threatening. It’s something I have first-hand (or, more appropriately, first-foot) knowledge about.

High blood sugar, the hallmark of diabetes, injures nerves and blood vessels throughout the body. The first nerves to be affected tend to be the smallest ones furthest from the spinal cord—those that stretch to the toes and feet.

Diabetic neuropathy affects different people in different ways. I feel it as Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Kill Tens Of Thousands Each Year

Antimicrobial resistance is a world-wide problem and increases the difficulty a variety of infections. In the United States, the major threat that is faced each day by millions of Americans every year is posed by bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Studies to obtain precise estimates for all types of resistant infections is ongoing, but we do know that every year, almost 90,000 people become ill with infections caused by one of these resistant bacteria—methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA. Of these people, over 15,000 die.

Tremendously effective strategies have been developed to prevent infections, especially those likely to be caused by resistant bacteria. Readers of this blog are very familiar with the wide range of evidence-based, proven-effective interventions that reduce the incidence of infections and prevent the transmission of dangerous pathogens between people, especially hospitalized patients who are most at risk.

But a critical strategy for preventing the development of drug resistance in bacteria is to use antibiotics carefully and judiciously. Scientists have known for 70 years, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Safe Healthcare*

Preventing Future Listeria Outbreaks

If you have watched any news over the past week you know there is a listeria outbreak from contaminated cantaloupes that has been traced to Jensen Farms in Colorado. The CDC has confirmed 72 illnesses, including 13 deaths linked to the melons and three other deaths may be involved.  By now most of the cantaloupes should be gone as they usually last only a couple of weeks.  The recalled cantaloupes were shipped between July 29 and Sept 10.

Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. It causes fever, muscle aching and sometimes diarrhea.  It feels like a bad flu with headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and in severe cases, convulsions.  As with many infections; babies, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems and older adults are more likely to have severe illness.  There are about Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Test That Could Tell Physicians When To Give Antibiotics

From the pages of CSI: Miami… a commonly used forensic chemical called luminol to identify traces of blood at crime scenes has been modified to be used in a novel medical test that can help differentiate a viral infection from a bacterial infection.

Why is this important?

Not uncommonly, it is sometimes hard to differentiate between a bacterial infection which is treated with antibiotics from a viral infection which is NOT treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately, in the healthcare system, too often, antibiotics are given if an infection is present whether viral or bacterial which is leading to multi-drug resistant infections like MRSA.

Well with this test, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Fauquier ENT Blog*

New Contrast Agent Provides Better In Vivo Imaging Of Bacteria

A new contrast agent based on maltodextrin has been developed at Georgia Tech that can provide in vivo imaging of bacteria with a sensitivity two orders of magnitude greater than previously achieved.

Unlike most previous methods, the new probes are able to enter bacterial cells by pretending to be food, while avoiding being ingested by the mammalian cells.

From Georgia Tech:

Maltodextrin-based imaging probes consist of a fluorescent dye linked to maltohexaose, which is a major source of glucose for bacteria. The probes deliver the contrast agent into bacteria through the organism’s maltodextrin transporter, which only exists in bacterial cells and not mammalian cells.

In experiments using a rat model, the researchers found that Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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