Tag Archive: Medicine

Mar 26 2012

Pique the Geek 20120325. Wrist Drop

I apologize for not keeping up with my normal posts, but I have developed a rather serious neurological disorder, the common name being wrist drop.  It has to do with damage to the nerve that serves to flex, in my case, the right wrist and fingers.

It also has a minor sensory component in that the dorsal surface of my thumb and surrounding part of my hand feels pressure poorly but is fully responsive to heat and cold.  It happened literally overnight, as when I awoke Monday morning my hand was fully involved.

I am much improved now, and thought that I should share some of my findings with you.  I also plan to resume My Little Town and Popular Culture next week.

Mar 19 2012

Pique the Geek 20120318: Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are an extremely common condition in women of childbearing age, and not uncommon in women past menopause.  In fact, most women of childbearing age have ovarian cysts that produce no symptoms.  However, when the cysts become large or inflamed pain is often experienced.

There are several types of ovarian cysts, and they can cause different symptoms.  Diagnosis is made by ultrasonic, MRI, or CT methods.  Often a combination of techniques is used to obtain a more definitive diagnosis, and rarely laproscopic procedures are used.  Ovarian cysts are divided into two broad categories:  functional cysts and nonfunctional cysts.  Functional cysts are those that are not associated with any disease process, whilst nonfunctional cysts are definitely associated with a disease process.

Jan 23 2012

Pique the Geek 20120122: Chlamydia, a Serious STI

Last time we talked about trichonomiasis, a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that often produces no symptoms.  Chlamydia is another STI that often causes no symptoms, at least initially.  We shall investigate this condition this week and then move to topics other than STIs next time.

This infection is usually caused in humans by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis and is found only in humans.  Unlike trichomoniasis, women are more often asymptomatic than are men.  Estimates are that around 75% of women present with no symptoms whislt around 50% of men do have symptoms, almost the opposite from our infection of the week last time.

Although this is a serious subject, let us keep it a bit light.  After the fold in a song by Todd Rundgren called “You Left me Sore”.  Although most likely written about gonorrhea, it is still apt in this case.

Sep 05 2011

Pique the Geek 20110904: Anesthetics Part III

Sorry to be late tonight.  I was occupied earlier this afternoon than I had planned and got a late start.  However, I wanted to produce a quality piece even though it did not post exactly at 9:00.

This the last part in our three piece series on anesthetics.  We have covered general anesthetics of the inhalation type and of the IV type, and now will discuss local anesthetics.  The primary difference betwixt general and local anesthesia is that in general anesthesia the patient is generally unconscious or at least highly sedated, whilst in local anesthesia the awareness of the patient is generally not impaired, although sometime they are sedated by other agents.

The term “local” is not as descriptive as one might think.  While it is true that very small areas can be anesthetized, often much larger areas are.  By the way, it is likely that local anesthesia is much more ancient than general anesthesia, for reasons to be explained later.

Aug 29 2011

Pique the Geek 20110828: Anesthetics Part the Second

Last week we started this three part series with inhalation anesthetics, and here is a link.  This week we shall discuss injected anesthetics, and finally shall finish up the series next week with local ones.

We should once again stress the difference betwixt anesthetics and analgesics.  In general (this rule is not 100%, but darned close), anesthetics render the patient unconscious so that surgical procedures can be performed with no physical pain during the procedure.  In addition, many anesthetics cause muscle relaxation which makes surgical procedures less traumatic.

Analgesics, on the other hand, are not designed to render the patient unconscious, but rater to moderate the sensation of pain caused by many reasons.  A few analgesics can be used as anesthetics, but in general depress the medulla such that respiratory difficulties often result.  

Aug 22 2011

Pique the Geek 20110821: Anesthetics

Anesthetics are as essential to modern surgery as are sterile fields and antiseptics.  There are a couple of reasons for that, the most obvious being that the patient most likely could not survive the shock and pain of any but the least invasive procedure with out them.  Interestingly, the use of anesthetics in the modern sense is quite recent, dating only from the mid 1800s.

There are two major divisions of anesthetics, general anesthetics and local ones.  General ones cause a more or less complete loss of sensation and consciousness, whilst local ones cause a loss of sensation for only a relatively small part of the body and leave the patient conscious.  In addition, general anesthetics fall into two wide classes, inhalation ones and intravenous ones.  We shall discuss, in general terms, inhalation general anesthetics tonight.

Jul 11 2011

Pique the Geek 20110710: Aspirin, a Wonder Drug

Before we get started, let me be clear that any information contained here, although to be best of my knowledge accurate, in in no way intended to be a substitute for advice and care from licensed medical professionals.  OK, disclaimer stated.

Aspirin is one of the first synthetic drugs, and is still in wide use after over 100 years.  It was first marketed by Bayer in 1899, and sales are still strong despite competition from drugs like acetaminophen,  ibuprofen, and naproxin sodium.  Bayer has in the past week or two come out with a new advert about its new “quick acting” aspirin.

This material is “quick acting” because the particle size is much smaller than that of regular aspirin.  Since aspirin is only slowly soluble in water, the greater surface area for the same mass does speed up absorption.

May 23 2011

Pique the Geek 20110522: Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease is a new condition in our infectious disease panoply.  It has only been suspected since 1975, and only in 1978 was it suspected to transmitted by ticks.  The causative agent was not identified until 1981.  This piece is intended only to be a very basic survey of the condition and some of the controversies surrounding it, not a comprehensive dissertation.  There is a very good group at Dailykos called Lyme Disease Awareness with contributors who have more personal information than I do.  However, do not take anything you read in this piece or in the group in general as a substitute for competent medical advise and treatment.

Let us think about that for a minute.  Western medicine had recognized most all serious infectious diseases since the time of Herodotus!   Certainly some exceptions are present, such as syphilis, with seems to be a New World import to Europe and certain, very long latent period virus diseases that we are just now discovering.

Lyme Disease is different, though.  It is caused by a bacterial agent, a specific spirochete called Borrelia burgdorferi, the species name from its discoverer, the brilliant Swiss-American biologist, Dr. Willy Burgdorfer.

May 16 2011

Pique the Geek 20110515: Yams and Oral Contraceptives

Yams have served as staple foodstuffs in Africa for millenia, having been under cultivation for over 8000 years according to some authorities.  There are dozens of species, but only a relative few are suitable for agriculture.  Yams are members of family Dioscoreaceae and are all of the genus Dioscorea.  Most of them are tropical, but there is one North American species, Dioscorea villosa, aptly called Wild Yam.

Whilst a staple in many tropical areas, yams are not eaten very much in the United States.  What we call a yam is in almost all cases a sweet potato, not closely related to real yams.  It gets even more interesting, since the sweet potato is not a potato at all!  After the fold we shall discuss a different use for yams not involving food.  Since today is 5/15, I though we might start with a bit of music of that name.