Director, Emergency Services, Bikur Cholim Hospital
A recent article in the Yated stated that ingesting
large amounts of vitamin C can help against colds. I just
wanted to comment that this theory has largely been
disproven. I happened to hear Nobel prize winner Linus
Pauling speak on this subject, but later research has shown
this not to be too helpful.
Dementia — How do you know if you are beginning to show
signs of this terrible disease? These folks have trouble with
simple tasks called ADLs — activities of daily living -
- like buttoning shirts, opening the door, etc. They will
forget things that are part of recent memory. They may begin
cooking a meal and then forget about it. But that is not the
same as absent-minded. People who are busy often forget words
("whatchamacallit") or closing buttons. However, these people
are typically absent-minded for years, in a nonprogressive
way, and this happens to everyone.
Demented people may lose their orientation and not know where
they are, how to get home, and what the date it is. Many
times, demented people in the early stages are very happy, as
they are unaware of what is going on.
Three special cases of dementia should be mentioned. One is
Huntingdon's Chorea, where people become progressively more
demented and violent. It is a hereditary disease and a
horrible one at that.
Korsakoff's dementia occurs with the usual signs of dementia
in a person who is a heavy drinker.
Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus is due to too much spinal fluid
circulating in the brain. By draining it, the person can
often improve dramatically.
While most dementia is irreversible, it pays to do some
investigation, because there are correctable causes. Also
expect some waxing and waning of symptoms — better days
and worse ones. The writer who sent me this info is to be
thanked. I enjoy getting her letters. In the interest of
variety, however, I will leave this subject for a while.
I have a news flash from the BBC that says our numbers for
risk in blood pressure and cholesterol are set too low. You
can have a higher cholesterol and blood pressure and need not
be on medication. Actually, the USA has revised many of their
recommendations and indeed they are even more severe. They
bring a point that Norwegians live a long time despite many
of these risks. But they may have other reasons for living
longer, so that doesn't mean much. They recommend lowering
salt in your diet — but not everyone raises their blood
pressure with more salt. Lowering fat is a great idea. Write
me in care of the Yated.
A message from GlaxoSmithKline, sponsor of this
column. Zinnat is well tolerated and is the drug of
choice for many pneumonias. In an elderly person, this could
mean going home from the hospital sooner. It is also great
for urinary tract infections in pregnancy.