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Latest Posts

The Vocal Strength Of A Lion Helps Us Understand The Weak Voice In Some Humans

Researchers in Iowa have discovered what makes a lion or tiger roar so effectively. Apparently, there is a layer of fat within large feline vocal cords that makes the vocal cords especially prone to vibrate easily with minimal exhalation effort.

What import does this have to humans?

Well, there are patients who have a very weak voice due to vocal cord atrophy as well as vocal cord paralysis. Standard interventions include voice therapy as well as surgical procedures using an implant or injectable material in order to “bulk” up the vocal cord.

In fact Read more »

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

Woman Faces Murder Charges After Newborn Son Dies From Methamphetamine Intoxication

Could breastfeeding kill a newborn?  That is the question a California district attorney will ask a jury at the trial of a breastfeeding mother. Most women do not intend to harm their children but substance abuse and addiction comes with a heavy price. Such was the case of Maggie Jean Wortman, who has been charged with second degree murder after medical tests revealed that her newborn son died from methamphetamine intoxication obtained through her breast milk. Wortman’s 19-month-old daughter also tested positive for methamphetamine and was placed in protective custody. How could this happen?

The transfer of drugs from the mother’s blood to human milk depends on the chemical composition of the drug. Antibiotics such as penicillin will remain in the mother’s blood for long periods of time whereas certain types of blood pressure and heart medications will remain in the milk. During the first three days after birth, higher concentrations of medicine remain in breast milk. Wortman’s attorney is attempting to argue that methamphetamine in breast milk could not kill a baby but here’s why he’s wrong: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*

New Natural Cedar Insecticide May Be Too Expensive To Produce

It’s about TIME!!! I read this fascinating story on NPR here.

An all-natural insect repellant called nootkatone found in Alaska yellow cedar trees and citrus fruits (like grapefruit) is being developed by the CDC. It is so safe for humans, it is even an FDA-approved food additive.

Nootkatone is not only safe for humans and the environment, it is a highly effective insect repellant. In fact, it is not only a bug repellant, but an insecticide causing death to biting insects like mosquitoes within 15 seconds.

Application of 2% nootkatone will also control ticks for up to 42 days at greater than 97 percent efficacy.

It is non-greasy, dries very quickly, and it has a very pleasant, citrus-y grapefruit odor to it.

Sounds too good to be true… But it is true! The only downside right now is that it is not available in the market, mainly because it is expensive — $4,000 per kilogram for highly purified food-grade material, which is used in parts-per-million amounts as a flavoring agent.

However, there are two companies that are currently working to make it available as insect control, hopefully in the near future!

Read more about this here.

Susceptibility of four tick species, Amblyomma americanum, Dermacentor variabilis, Ixodes scapularis, and Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Acari: Ixodidae), to nootkatone from essential oil of grapefruit. J Med Entomol. 2011 Mar;48(2):322-6.

Mode of action for natural products isolated from essential oils of two trees is different from available mosquito adulticides. J Med Entomol. 2010 Nov;47(6):1123-6.

Ability of two natural products, nootkatone and carvacrol, to suppress Ixodes scapularis and Amblyomma americanum (Acari: Ixodidae) in a Lyme disease endemic area of New Jersey. J Econ Entomol. 2009 Dec;102(6):2316-24.

Use of novel compounds for pest control: insecticidal and acaricidal activity of essential oil components from heartwood of Alaska yellow cedar. J Med Entomol. 2005 May;42(3):352-8.

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

Should You Worry About Your Baby’s Flat Head?

Figure 1

This post was contributed by guest blogger, Edward Ahn, M.D.

The head coach of a Division 1 champion women’s sports team brought her baby daughter in to me for evaluation of her flat head at the recommendation of her pediatrician.

While I was examining her baby, I started to say, “Well, I’ll tell you what she has –

She quickly interrupted, “Is it bad?”

I looked up to see fear written on this tough coach’s face. I was struck by how this benign condition can cause apprehension in so many parents.

Often, pediatric neurosurgeons like me or plastic surgeons are asked to assess babies with a flat head, also known as positional plagiocephaly. Usually, parents have developed a fair amount of anxiety, often with the underlying fear that their baby will need surgery or the brain will grow abnormally. These fears are not warranted. Read more »

Why Not To Drop Your Baby On His Head

Exaggeration, drama, and histrionics are very much the rule of thumb in the ER.  Someone comes in and claims they were stabbed with an eight-inch butcher’s knife, and the police later bring in the actual weapon, and it turns out to be a three-inch penknife.  Someone claims to have taken a whole bottle of tylenol, but their serum levels turn out to be nowhere near the toxic level (or even zero).  A patient reports to you that their last pneumonia was so bad their doctor didn’t think they’d pull through, but you check the records and see they weren’t even in the ICU.  (The sole exception to this rule, of course, is the stated alcohol intake, which is usually about half to a third the actual alcohol intake.) Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

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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