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Article Details The Best Uses Of Epinephrine For Severe Allergic Reactions

For management of a serious (even life-threatening) allergic reaction, I have been teaching adults to administer epinephrine (adrenaline) by injection for years. This can be a lifesaving intervention. The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) community now concurs that EMS personnel should be trained to recognize a serious allergic reaction and be allowed to administer epinephrine. In a recent issue of the journal Prehospital Emergency Care (2011;15:570-576), there is an article by Jacobsen and Millin entitled “The Use of Epinephrine for Out-of-Hospital Treatment of Anaphylaxis: Resource Document for the National Association of EMS Physicians Position Statement” that details the use of epinephrine for this purpose.

The major new thrust of this document is to highlight the fact that the intramuscular (IM, directly into the muscle) injection route of administration is preferred, rather than the traditional primary recommendation to inject into the tissue space just under the skin layers (“subcutaneous”). This is because injection into the muscle tissue results in smoother and more reliable drug absorption, with higher peak therapeutic levels of the drug achieved sooner than with subcutaneous injection. The lateral thigh is often used for the IM injection; the outer upper arm is most commonly used for the subcutaneous injection. In an “autoinjector pen” used to administer epinephrine (often referred to by the brand name “EpiPen”), the needle may not be long enough to reach the muscle tissue of a large and/or obese person. However, if the epinephrine is injected into the subcutaneous tissue, it will in all likelihood still be effective, albeit perhaps not as quickly following the injection.

Here is advice about how to give epinephrine for a severe allergic reaction: Read more »

This post, Article Details The Best Uses Of Epinephrine For Severe Allergic Reactions, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Product Used For Poison Ivy Skin Reaction Undergoes Price Increases

I recently received a note mailed to health care providers from Steve Sisler, Vice President of Sales Development for Zanfel Laboratories, Inc. Zanfel is a product used to decrease the skin reaction attributable to poison ivy and similar plants (e.g., poison oak and sumac). Here is an edited part of the note that I received:

While attending the recent American Academy of Family Physicians trade show, numerous health care professionals stopped by the Zanfel Laboratories booth to ask questions and gain additional knowledge regarding the Zanfel product and the overall disease state of urushiol-induced allergic contact dermatitis. Additionally, a great many prescribers voiced concern over the recent price increases of Zanfel Poison Ivy Wash. The conversations were very specific in that the retail price for Zanfel had increased to $42.99, $44.99 and even as high as $48.99 plus tax. These prescribers are aware of the retail price increases because their patients are calling them back after visiting CVS and Walgreens pharmacies. Their patients are aware that Zanfel had previously been sold for approximately $39.99 plus tax. These patients are upset because they believe that Zanfel Laboratories has initiated a retail price increase.

Zanfel Poison Ivy Wash has not had a cost increase in over Read more »

This post, Product Used For Poison Ivy Skin Reaction Undergoes Price Increases, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Guidelines For The Treatment And Prevention Of Frostbite

Led by Scott McIntosh, MD and his colleagues, the Wilderness Medical Society has published “Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Frostbite” (Wild Environ Med 2011:22;156-166). These guidelines are intended to provide clinicians about best evidence-based practices, and were derived from the deliberations of an expert panel, of which I was a member. The guidelines present the main prophylactic and therapeutic modalities for frostbite and provide recommendations for their roles in patient management. The guidelines also provide suggested approaches to prevention and management of each disorder that incorporate the recommendations.

In outline format, here is what can be found in these guidelines: Read more »

This post, Guidelines For The Treatment And Prevention Of Frostbite, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Study Looks At The Effectiveness Of Ski Helmets In Preventing Head Injuries

Child with a ski helmet.Ski season is upon us. Many experts (including myself) are of the opinion that helmets should be worn by all downhill skiers and snowboarders to help prevent head injuries. One of the “con” arguments proposed by some persons who object to wearing helmets is that they interfere with skiing in such a way as to perhaps make it more dangerous. In their opinion, this might occur by obscuring peripheral vision or diminishing the perception of sound. A very important article entitled “Do Ski Helmets Affect Reaction Time to Peripheral Stimuli?” (Wilderness & Environmental Medicine:22,148-150,2011) has recently been published by Gerhard Ruedl and colleagues from the Department of Sports Science at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.

The investigators sought to determine whether or not ski helmet use affects reaction time to peripheral stimuli. They used the Compensatory-Tracking-Test (CTT) in a laboratory situation to study 10 men and 10 women during four conditions in a randomized order: Read more »

This post, Study Looks At The Effectiveness Of Ski Helmets In Preventing Head Injuries, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

The Burning, Itching, And Swelling Of Stinging Nettles: Removing Them From The Skin

Stinging nettle plants, courtesy of Dezidor (CC BY 3.0)

Stinging nettle plants, courtesy of Dezidor (CC BY 3.0)

Hikers often brush up against injurious plants, such as poison oak or thorny shrubs. One particularly vexing plant is the “ubiquitous weed, Urtica dioica,” commonly known as stinging nettles. As described in an article entitled “Mechanism of Action of Stinging Nettles” (Wilderness & Environmental Medicine:22,136-139,2011) by Alexander Cummings and Michael Olsen, direct contact exposure to the weed causes immediate stinging and burning sensation on the skin. The authors exposed mouse skin to the plants and looked at this skin using an electron microscope. They found smooth nettle spicules that had pierced the skin surface, a few of which retained their bases, which appeared empty of liquid contents. The authors concluded that the mechanism of action of stinging nettles skin reaction was both biochemical and mechanical, likely caused by impalement of spicules into the skin.

The spicules are present as small “hairs” that are found on the stem and undersides of the leaves of the plant. Even light touch against the plant can cause a reaction, which is often characterized as Read more »

This post, The Burning, Itching, And Swelling Of Stinging Nettles: Removing Them From The Skin, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

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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