Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Elul 5765 - September 15, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

Your Medical Questions Answered!
by Joseph B. Leibman, MD

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.


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