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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘medication’

Common Blood Pressure Drug Prevents Post-TBI Epilepsy

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Israeli researchers working with an international team have discovered that a common blood pressure medication can prevent epilepsy from developing after a traumatic brain injury.

The discovery is described in an article published in the current issue of the Annals of Neurology.

Physiology and Neurobiology Professor Alon Friedman works at the Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in southern Israel. He worked with Daniela Kaufer, UC Berkeley Associate Professor of Integrative Biology at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and Uwe Heinemann of Charite-University Medicine in Germany on the 10-year study.

In 60 percent of the experimental rats tested, the medication – losartan (Cozaar) – prevented the development of seizures following injury in which 100 percent of controls developed seizures. Of the 40 percent that did develop seizures, the researchers said the rats averaged only one quarter of the number of seizures typical for untreated subjects.

Medication administered for three weeks following injury was sufficient to prevent most cases of epilepsy in normal subjects in the subsequent months, the researchers said.

“This is the first-ever approach in which epilepsy development is stopped,” Friedman explained, “as opposed to common drugs that try to prevent seizures once epilepsy develops… so we are excited about the new approach.”

The researcher added that the study provided a new way to potentially prevent epilepsy in patients after brain injuries occurred, and once they had already developed an abnormal blood-brain barrier. The best news, he said, is that the drug stops the epilepsy from starting, rather than simply suppresses the symptoms.

Prime Minister’s Health Report

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

As he does every year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informs the public on the state of his health.

The Government Press Office reported that the Prime Minister underwent routine annual tests (a physical test and lab tests), and his personal physician, Dr. Zvi Herman Berkowitz, has determined that his medical situation is excellent.

Prime Minister Netanyahu maintains a healthy lifestyle, including a proper diet. His blood pressure is 120/80, assisted by light medication. (This is unchanged from previous years.) He has recovered from a torn tendon in his leg; it has been recommended that he continue physiotherapy and gradually return to exercising in a gym.

Boys, ADHD And Reading

Friday, May 4th, 2012

When I was a young boy, America’s elite schools and universities were almost entirely reserved for males. That seems incredible now, in an era when headlines suggest that boys are largely unfit for the classroom. In particular, they can’t read.

- Thomas Spence, Wall Street Journal

In all my years of teaching kriyah and English reading, I have encountered more boys than girls who struggle with the skill. We are even subconsciously programmed to think of reading as a female endeavor. Picture a reader in a comfy chair, thinking, “Wow, what a great book! I can’t wait to share this with my friends.” Was the reader you imagined male or female? Chances are, you envisioned a female reader. The idea that the majority of readers are female is consistent with reading scores around the nation.

According to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) in 2001, fourth-grade girls in all of the 30-plus participating countries scored higher in reading literacy than fourth-grade boys by a statistically significant amount. In addition, According to a recent report from the Center on Education Policy, substantially more boys than girls score below the proficiency level on the annual National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test.

Accounting for the Reading Gap

Why is there such a large gap between girls and boys when it comes to reading? There are several theories that explain why boys test below girls their own age when it comes to reading:

Girls begin school with a larger vocabulary. Studies have shown that on a normal day, girls use 30% more words than boys their age. Simply because girls speak more, they are more comfortable with language. Then, when it comes to reading, they are more likely to synthesize new words into their everyday speech. This in turn will make their future reading more proficient.

The subject matter is tailored towards women. Because many teachers are female, and because mothers are often the ones helping children pick out their books, the subject matter of the reading tends to appeal to female audiences. Most boys would like to read about characters who are similar to them, but are often presented with books that have characters they cannot identify with.

Boys’ brains might be wired for non-fiction. While girls are great at comprehending narrative texts and expository style, studies have shown that boys prefer informational texts and newspapers. Teachers often devalue these non-fiction texts – prompting boys to feel they are not “reading” when they pick up a newspaper. This only discourages them from reading in the future.

Girls enter school with better fine motor skills. Biologically, girls often gain fine motor skills essential for writing at an earlier age than boys. While the girls quickly figure out how to write, the boys struggle with the same tasks. This struggle with writing can often lead boys to feel they are “not good” at reading or writing and therefore they will not even attempt to try.

An often undiscussed issue in this area is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). We all know reading takes concentration – without it you can’t get to the end of a sentence. What many people don’t realize is that while ADHD is a common behavioral disorder affecting 8-10% of school age children, boys are three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with the disorder.

Of course, only a tiny fraction of boys have ADHD, but this fraction is significantly larger than the fraction of girls who do. This can also account for the differences in proficiency in boys and girls’ reading scores. Therefore, if you notice that your son is unable to focus, is easily distracted, and often fidgets, consider getting him tested for ADHD. His lack of reading skills could be attributed to a surmountable learning disability.

The most important thing to be aware of when parenting or teaching children with ADHD is that they are not “acting out.” Rather, it is difficult for these children to control their behavior without either medication or behavioral modification. Only a psychiatrist can prescribe medicine, but as an educator (or a parent) there are plenty of behavioral modifications you can implement in order to help a child become more attentive when reading or performing another activity that requires concentration.

Encourage fidgeting: Though this sounds counter-intuitive, children with ADHD benefit from distractions. In reality, it is not that they cannot focus – instead they focus on everything. So, give them a pencil to tap or a kush ball to squeeze while they are reading. Remember these are students who are designed to focus on more than one thing at a time. Providing them with the second activity, in addition to reading, will keep them from looking for what else they could be doing.

The Image Of My Father

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

I have had much experience in bikur cholim – visiting the sick. Even at the age of six I would accompany my saintly father on his rounds to slave labor camps where young Jewish men were incarcerated by the Hungarians prior to the Nazi occupation.

The place where I was born and where my father was the chief Orthodox rabbi was located on the banks of the Tisza River. It was called Szeged (not to be mistaken for Szigit), the second largest city in Hungary. It was from Szeged that Jewish boys were shipped off to Yugoslavia and forced into torturous labor.

Every week my father would visit them and try to smuggle medication, letters, messages – and, most significantly, a concoction the Jewish physicians in our community invented under my father’s guidance. This concoction was designed to simulate an illness that appeared to be infectious but in reality was totally benign. The symptoms induced by this potion were sufficiently frightening to prevent the Hungarian Gestapo from shipping the boys to the slave mines.

As the Nazi occupation became more imminent my father’s visits became more hazardous. The Hungarian Zsandars took control of the camp; if they were to catch my father smuggling medication or anything else it would have meant certain death.

What to do? My parents came up with an idea. My mother, the great tzaddekes of blessed memory, sewed the formula into the lining of my coat. I would accompany my father, and when no one looked I slipped the medication to the boys.

Because I was a little girl, no one bothered to search me, and that was how I was initiated into the meaning of bikur cholim. My parents outlined to me the mission and the purpose very clearly: Whether the one you visit is in bondage or lying in a hospital bed, your mission is to help.

Many years have passed since those nightmarish days, but my parents’ example is permanently etched in my heart. So I make a concerted effort to do my bikur cholim even if it’s 2 a.m. after a long night of teaching Torah classes at Hineni and meeting with numerous people for private consultations. I try to bear in mind my parents’ teachings – save lives, give a kind word, comfort your fellow man, touch a life, and bring hope and strength to a sick one lying in a hospital bed as well as family members who stand vigil trembling and praying at their bedside.

Since the middle of Pesach, as I explained in my previous two columns, I have found myself in a different position – a position that, baruch Hashem, I had never been forced to endure. Outside of joyous experiences such as giving birth, G-d had never tried me with the test of being confined to a hospital bed. So now it was I who was dependent on nurses’ kindness. It was I who was waiting for a doctor. It was I who had to ring the bell and summon someone for help with the most elementary things, such as getting off the bed and even just sitting up.

Every moment was a challenge. I wondered how I would have the strength to get through all of this and then I remembered the berachah my father gave me so many years ago: “Mine kind, zolst eemer kenen geyben un zolst keinmol nisht haften beyten” – “My child, may G-d grant you the privilege of always being able to give and never having to ask.” And now here I was, having to ask assistance for the most basic human needs.

The Patriarch Yosef found himself enveloped in darkness, and what kept him going was d’yukno shel aviv – the image of his father. In my own darkness, I, too, clung to the image of my father. I recalled the months when he was a prisoner of his hospital bed. He would greet whoever came to see him – nurse, doctor, housekeeper – with a smile and would thank them profusely. He asked about their welfare and blessed them from his heart.

My path was clear. Now it was my turn to bless all those who came to my door – whether it was to inquire about my condition or to give me an injection or to take me for an X-ray. I thanked them from my heart and blessed each one of them with the words that from time immemorial have been the symbols of our people.

Not once, but many times, I would notice a shocked reaction. One of the nurses actually said, “In all my years of working in hospitals, no one ever blessed me; no one ever inquired about my family or my life.”

My father imparted this wisdom to me that he learned from his father, who had learned it from his father, going all the way back to our Patriarchs whose mission was to give blessings to all mankind.

Israeli Anti-Nausea Pill for Cancer Patients Passes Clinical Trial

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Israel’s RedHill Biopharma announced success last week in a major clinical trial of a new drug to prevent nausea in cancer patients.

The once-a-day pill RHB-102, which has now passed a trial corresponding to a Phase III clinical trial, will compete with leading anti-nausea drug Zofran, made by GlaxoSmithKline, which is taken several times a day.

Redhill will apply to the FDA for a pre-New Drug Application hearing for market approval in a few weeks.

Anti-nausea medications are estimated to be worth $2 billion around the world, according to a report in Globes online business news.

Talking With Your Mouth Full

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Welcome once again to “You’re Asking Me?” – the column that answers all kinds of questions, depending on how loosely you define the word “answer.” Whereas other so-called advice columns are interested in providing you with well-researched advice, my concern is more to get you to stop asking me questions, by whatever means necessary.

This week, we’re going to start with a parenting question, which we advice columns tend to get a lot of, because it’s not like kids are born with little instruction manuals. Sure, there are manuals you can BUY (sold separately), such as Your Baby’s First Year and Your Baby’s Second Year, but then the manuals just sort of stop. There’s no book called Your Baby’s Ninth Year, even though I definitely need one of those at this point. Aren’t they just supposed to have moved out of the house by now?

But this column isn’t really about my important parenting questions. It’s about your important parenting questions, such as this first one from E.G., who has a question about Parent-Teacher Conferences:

 

Dear Mordechai,

I recently attended parent-teacher conferences for my son, who’s in high school, and the good news is that there was cake. So my question is this: Why is the cake at these things always stale?

E.G., Monsey  

Dear E,

The simple answer, no offense, is that “otherwise you’ll eat it all.”

No one’s really coming for the cake. It’s not like parents are rushing out of the house, going, “We have to get there on time or they’ll be out of cake!” No, you’re there to talk about your son, who keeps telling you how boring school is, and how it’s all basically speeches, all day, every day, on topics he knows nothing about. And technically he’s right, but this is a problem.

The cake, for the most part, is there for two reasons:

1. Decoration. The tables themselves are not much to look at, and often contain not-so-cheerful words carefully carved into them. So the school tries to cover them with tablecloths, and once there’s a tablecloth, there might as well be food.

2. Because the parents have driven in from who-knows-where during suppertime, and the faculty doesn’t want them to say, “This is why we came in? There wasn’t even cake!”

So there’s cake. But the last thing they want is to run out of cake. So they don’t put out good cake or else people wouldn’t stop eating it. Parents would be coming up to teachers, their mouths full, bits of cake crumbling out: “What do you mean, ‘I’m not your son’s teacher’?” So they want each person to have maybe one piece, and that’s it.

I think this is also why the soda is always warm. Even if it’s freezing outside.

But the magical thing about stale cake is that even if everyone around you tastes the cake and says, “Whoa! That’s stale!” you’re still going to, for some reason, feel the need to taste it yourself. No one knows why. It’s like wet paint.

And no, I don’t know why the cake itself sometimes tastes like wet paint.

 

Dear Mordechai,

My child refuses to take any medication orally. We’ve even offered rewards and she’s turned them down. Any suggestions?

L.E.R., Facebook Dear L.,

I have the same problem with my kids. Kids are predispositioned not to like anything that their parents say is good for them. And what do you say when you give them medicine?

So why on earth would they want to take it?

Sure, the manufacturers try coming up with flavors they think kids will actually try, but the truth is they really have no idea what kids do and don’t like. These are the same people who put cartoon characters on band-aids, like the kids wouldn’t wear them otherwise. Yeah, band-aids are where the problem is. How about inventing a medicine that tastes good? “Sure, we’ve got a really bad artificial cherry, and popsicle sticks with no popsicles on them, and a bubble gum that you drink!”

But it turns out they do this on purpose. They’re faced with a dilemma: Do we make the medicine good enough that the kids will take it without a fight? But then the kids will sneak into the medicine cabinets when their parents aren’t looking. So we have to make it bad enough that they won’t do that.

So, using the stale-cake logic, they hit upon a flavor balance that’s neither good nor bad, where you’ll sometimes buy store-brand soda and throw it out because it tastes like medicine.

 

Dear Mordechai,

I’ve been called upon to speak in public, but I’m very nervous about it. Can you give me some tips?

M.S., Teaneck  

Treating Crohn’s With Diet

Monday, January 9th, 2012

We have all been raised in a culture which we are taught to believe in the “miracles of modern medicine.” We trust that when a doctor gives us a prescription for a new medicine, or tells us that we need an operation, his advice represents the best that medical science has to offer. But sometimes, when it becomes clear that medical science is up against a health problem that it does not understand, and cannot effectively treat, even the most rational patient has no choice but to turn to other approaches to unconventional methods of dealing with that problem.

That is clearly the case with Crohn’s disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease with a wide variety of debilitating symptoms which can sometimes extend beyond the gastro-intestinal tract. The disease was named after American gastroenterologist Burril Bernard Crohn, who described its symptoms in 1932. Crohn’s disease apparently has a genetic component, because it has become disproportionally prevalent among Ashkenazic Jews, and in the yeshiva community in Israel.

Crohn’s can be difficult to diagnose and differentiate from other digestive ailments, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The most common symptoms are intensive and recurring bouts of gastric pain and distress, and an inability of the intestines to properly digest their food, leaving their bodies starved for nutrients. Eventually, the damage done by the disease will cause portions of the intestines to close up, creating a blockage, requiring surgery to removed. But surgery does not stop the course of the disease. While powerful medications, including anti-inflammatories, immunosuppressives and corticosterouids, are used to treat its symptoms, they, too, are not a cure, and have serious side effects, limiting their long-term usefulness. After years of treatments with the best doctors and medications available, many Crohn’s patients see little or no improvement in their condition, and are willing to try anything that offers any hope for a cure.

That was the situation which faced Elaine Gottschall in the 1950′s when her four-year-old daughter was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis which refused to respond to standard medical therapy. Desperate, she chanced to meet Dr. Sidney V. Haas, then 92 years old, who, years before, had written a widely used text book presenting his nutritional approach to intestinal healing.

But by that time, modern medicine had passed Haas by, and the doctors treating Gottschall’s daughter were recommending surgery. Gottschall was already frustrated with the inability of the doctors to help her daughter, and decided she had nothing to lose by letting old Dr. Haas examine her. The first question Haas asked Gottschall after examining the girl was “What has this child been eating?” Gottschall then followed Haas’ simple nutritional approach in feeding her daughter, and within ten days, she started showing marked improvement. Within a few months, the girl’s symptoms had subsided, and after two years on the diet, she was totally symptom free.

By that time, Haas had died, and Gottschall was the only one who appreciated the value of his work. She became determined to prove that his approach to treating Crohn’s was medically valid. Through her research into the medical literature, she was able to verify the scientific basis for Haas’ approach, and eventually wrote a self-published book, called “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” to make Haas’ nutritional treatment theories accessible to Crohn’s patients looking for a different answer.

For many years, the medical community remained skeptical, but it also failed to come up with any new approaches that offered hope for a real cure. Meanwhile, more desperate Crohn’s patients read Gottschall’s book, and tried the nutritional approach it recommended, known as the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). It is an extremely difficult diet to follow, because it calls for the elimination of all sugars and starches. But for a surprisingly large number of those Crohn’s patients who were able to stick with it, the results justified the effort. Many say that they have been symptom-free without medication, and a smaller but significant number claim that they are completely cured.

The theory behind it, as explained by Yitzy Gruen, of Brooklyn, who has been totally symptom free for 7 years after a year on the diet, is that the disease is caused by harmful micro-organisms in the intestines which feed off sugar and starch. The only way to cure Crohn’s is to slowly kill off the micro-organisms by shutting off their food supply. But these organisms are hardy, and any cheating at all on the diet, even something as innocuous as chewing a sweetened gum, can provide food for the germs, and perpetuate the disease. To work, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet must be followed strictly, at all times, with no cheating at all. This requires a lot of determination on the part of the patient, and support and planning by their family members and friends to help keep them going.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/health/treating-crohns-with-diet/2012/01/09/

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