Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A Smile A Day - August 31st

True Stories: Living with Ulcerative Colitis

Written by Erica Manfred
Medically Reviewed by Mark R. Laflamme, MD

Ulcerative colitis (UC) affects about 700,000 people in the United States. In a single year, about 20 percent have moderate disease activity and 1 to 2 percent have severe disease activity.

It’s an unpredictable disease, with symptoms that tend to come and go, and possibly progress over time. Some patients go for years without symptoms, while others experience frequent flare-ups. Symptoms vary depending on the extent of the inflammation. Because of this, it’s important for those with UC to keep track of how it affects them on an ongoing basis.
Here are the stories of four people with UC.

When were you diagnosed?

Three years ago [around 2010].

How do you manage your symptoms?

My first treatment was with suppositories, which I found extremely uncomfortable, hard to put in, and hard to hold. For the next year and a half or so I was treated with rounds of prednisone and mesalamine (Asacol). This was awful. I had terrible ups and downs with prednisone, and every time I started to feel better I would feel sick again. I finally switched doctors to Dr. Picha Moolsintong in St. Louis, who actually listened to me and treated my case and not just my disease. I am still on azathioprine and escitalopram (Lexapro), which have been working very well.

What other treatments have worked for you?

I also tried a series of homeopathic treatments, including a gluten-free, starch-free diet. None of that really worked for me except meditation and yoga. UC can be stress-related, diet-related, or both, and my case is very stress-related. Nonetheless, maintaining a healthy diet is also very important. If I eat processed food, pasta, beef, or pork, I pay for it.

It’s very important with any autoimmune disease to exercise regularly, but I would argue even more so for digestive diseases. If I don’t keep my metabolism high and heart rate up, I find it hard to muster up the energy to do anything.

What advice would you give to other people with UC?

Try not to be embarrassed or stressed by your symptoms. When I first got sick, I tried to hide all of my symptoms from my friends and family, which just caused more confusion, anxiety, and pain. Also, don’t lose hope. There are so many treatments. Finding your individual balance of treatment options is key, and patience and good doctors will get you there.

How long ago were you diagnosed?

I was originally [diagnosed] with UC at 18. Then I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease about five years ago.

How difficult has it been to live with UC?

The major impact has been social. When I was younger I was extremely ashamed of the disease. I’m very social but at that time, and even to this day, I would avoid large crowds or social situations because of my UC. Now that I’m older and have undergone surgery, I still have to be careful about crowded spots, and I choose to not do group things at times simply because of the side effects of the surgery. Also, back when I had UC, the prednisone dosage would affect me physically and mentally.

Any food, medication, or lifestyle recommendations?

Stay active! It was the only thing that would halfway control my flare-ups. Beyond that, choice of diet is the next most important thing to me. Stay away from fried foods and excessive cheese. Now I try to stay close to a Paleo diet, which seems to help me out. Especially for younger patients, I’d say don’t be ashamed, you can still lead an active life. I’ve run triathlons, and now I’m an active CrossFitter. It’s not the end of the world.

What treatments have you had?

I was on prednisone for years before having ileoanal anastomosis surgery, or J-pouch. Now I’m on certolizumab pegol (Cimzia), which keeps my Crohn’s in check.

How long ago were you diagnosed?

I was diagnosed with UC in 1998, immediately after the birth of my twins, my third and fourth children. I went from an extremely active lifestyle to being practically unable to leave my house.

What medications have you taken?

My GI doctor immediately put me on medications, which were ineffective, so he eventually prescribed prednisone, which only masked the symptoms. The next doctor got me off the prednisone but put me on 6-MP (mercaptopurine). The side effects were horrible, especially the effect on my white blood cell count. He also gave me a terrible and downhill prognosis for the rest of my life. I was very depressed and worried that I would not be able to raise my four children.

What helped you?

I did a lot of research, and with help I changed my diet and eventually was able to wean myself off of all the meds. I am now gluten-free and eat a primarily plant-based diet, although I do eat some organic poultry and wild fish. I have been symptom- and drug-free for several years. In addition to the dietary changes, getting adequate rest and exercise are very important, as well as trying to keep stress under control. I went back to school to learn nutrition so I could help others.

When were you diagnosed?

I was diagnosed about 18 years ago, and at times it has been very challenging. The difficulty comes when the colitis is active and interferes with daily living. Even the simplest tasks become a production. Making sure there is a bathroom available is always at the forefront of my mind.

How do you deal with your UC?

I am on a maintenance dose of medication, but I am not immune to occasional flare-ups. I have simply learned to “deal.” I follow a very strict food plan, which has helped me tremendously. However, I do eat things that many people with UC say they cannot eat, such as nuts and olives. I try to eliminate stress as much as possible and get enough sleep each day, which is impossible sometimes in our crazy 21st-century world!

Do you have advice for other people with UC?

My biggest piece of advice is this: Count your blessings! No matter how bleak things look or feel at times, I can always find something for which to be grateful. This keeps both my mind and body healthy.

Monday, 29 August 2016

A Smile A Dsy - August 30th

Back To School And How To Avoid Pink Eye

By Dr. Ian Tong

Back to school time means lots of kids — and touching things — in closed quarters. It’s the perfect recipe for pink eye caught at school and brought home to the entire family! Pink eye is very contagious and spreads easily and quickly from person to person. While it is commonly caused by a virus or bacteria, it can also be an allergic reaction. Learn about the symptoms, tips to avoid pink eye and when to see a doctor:

Tips to reduce the risk of getting or spreading pink eye

Wash your hands
Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes
Avoid sharing eye and face makeup, makeup brushes, contact lens containers and eyeglasses.
Symptoms include

Redness or swelling of the white of the eye or inside the eyelids
Increased amount of tears
White, yellow or green eye discharge
Itchy, irritated, and/or burning eyes
Increased sensitivity to light
Gritty feeling in the eye
Crusting of the eyelids or lashes
When to see a doctor

Moderate to severe pain in your eyes
Sensitivity to light or blurred vision
Intense redness in the eyes
Symptoms that get worse, including bacterial pink eye that does not improve after 24 hours of antibiotic use (if you have a viral eye infection, you will not need antibiotics).
Pre-existing eye conditions that may put you at risk for complications or severe infection
If pink eye finds its way to your home, don’t worry. Pink eye is one of the common conditions treated by Doctor On Demand physicians. It’s easy to quickly diagnose by video — we can see the eye clearly — and prescriptions can be sent instantly to your nearest pharmacy.

Patient Is Left Speechless When Doctor Sings to Her as She Recovers From Crohn

A Michigan doctor went above and beyond to cheer up a patient who had just undergone surgery, whipping out a guitar after the girl requested a song.
Kaylee Peebles, 17, underwent major intestine surgery after suffering from Crohn’s Disease for more than a year.
Her surgeon, Dr. Michael Leinwand, popped in a day later to check on her.
“He came into the room and asked if I needed anything, a game or candy, just any request,” Peebles told INSIDE EDITION. “I asking him kind of jokingly, ‘how about you sing me a song?’ and he left the room and came in with a guitar.”
In a video captured by Peebles’ mother, Leinwand sang ‘Closer to Fine’ by the Indigo Girls to his ecstatic patient, who said she was thrilled by the impromptu performace.
“I was speechless. He put a smile on my face. I was super tired and I was in pain, and it made my day. It made my whole week,” Peebles said.
Now healthy and pursuing a social work degree, Peebles decided to share the video with a class as part of a presentation about Crayons 4 Kids, Leinwand’s family’s non-profit that gives gifts to children who cannot leave the hospital over the holidays.
“I asked my mom to email me the video, but the file was too large, so I told her to put it on Facebook,” she said. “I said, ‘when you put it on Facebook, you can (note) this is the one-year anniversary that I’ve been in remission and feeling well.’”
The video was an instant hit.
“It was super surprising. I was excited. And I’m really glad people are getting to hear about Crayons 4 Kids,” she said, noting the guitar her beloved doctor played was purchased through the charity.
“It’s such an amazing non-profit organization. It put a huge smile on my face when I needed it.
“For kids that are in the hospital, don’t get to go home during the holidays … it lightens their day.”