H1N1 Flu is Here

H1N1 Flu is in Houston

H1N1 Flu, aka swine flu, is a serious and potentially deadly illness. As of this date, late December 2013, it has caused 6 deaths and another 14 people are critically ill in Harris county. Deaths due to this flu have been confirmed in Longview and Austin. This area’s first cases were reported in the Conroe area, north of Houston.

Bad News

Get your flu shots today at Bellaire ER in Bellaire, TexasThis flu is particularly deadly when contracted by those with weak immune systems, which includes the young and the old, and those that have underlying health conditions. Some of the recent deaths were in people with cardiovascular disease and obesity.

In those who have died, the patients initially had flu symptoms and then developed pneumonia. In some of the patients organ failure occurred. Regardless, their immune systems were unable to defeat the flu virus.

There is still much that is unknown about this outbreak. Health officials don’t know exactly how or when it arrived. Some officials have stated that this is the same H1N1 flu strain that caused the worldwide pandemic in 2009. However, they have not excluded the possibility of a new strain that is more potent and a great deal of testing is being undertaken.

People should know that the commonly used flu test (RAPID) is not very reliable and it has given negative results (no flu present) for patients who were actually very ill with this flu. Another flu test is available but it is more costly and requires more time. Health officials are recommending that doctors give Tamiflu, an antiviral treatment, to patients that exhibit any flu-like symptoms.

A recent Houston Chronicle report said that Houston hospital emergency rooms are experiencing a five year high in the number of patients with flu-like symptoms. We are also seeing a surge in flu patients at Bellaire ER also.

Good News

The good news is that this year’s flu vaccine contains protection against the most common flu strains, including H1N1. People who receive their flu vaccinations should be protected against this year’s flu season. The most vulnerable are at very high risk. Although the sample is small, the mortality rate for those flu patients admitted to a hospital this year is around 50%.

Common Reasons people visit an Emergency Room

La gripe H1N1 se encuentra en Houston

Gripe H1N1 , también conocida como gripe porcina, es una enfermedad grave y potencialmente mortal. A partir de esta fecha, a finales de diciembre de 2013, que ha causado 6 muertos y otras 14 personas se encuentran en estado crítico en el condado de Harris. Las muertes han sido confirmadas en Longview y Austin. Primeros casos de esta zona fueron reportados en el área de Conroe , al norte de Houston.

Malas Noticias

Get your flu shots today at Bellaire ER in Bellaire, TexasEsta gripe es particularmente letal cuando se contrajo en las personas con sistemas inmunitarios débiles , lo que incluye a los jóvenes y los viejos , y los que tienen problemas de salud subyacentes. Algunas de las recientes muertes fueron en personas con enfermedades cardiovasculares y la obesidad.

En aquellos que han muerto , los pacientes que inicialmente tenían síntomas de la gripe y luego desarrollaron neumonía. En algunos de los pacientes se produjo fallo de órganos . En cualquier caso, sus sistemas inmunológicos no pudieron derrotar a los virus de la gripe .

Todavía hay mucho que se desconoce acerca de este brote. Los funcionarios de salud no saben exactamente cómo ni cuando llegó. Algunos funcionarios han declarado que esta es la misma cepa de la gripe H1N1 que causó la pandemia en todo el mundo en 2009. Sin embargo, no han excluido la posibilidad de una nueva cepa que es más potente y se está llevando a cabo una gran cantidad de pruebas.

La gente debe saber que la prueba de la gripe de uso común ( RAPID) no es muy fiable y ha dado resultados negativos ( hay gripe presentes) para los pacientes que estaban realmente muy mal con esta gripe . Otra prueba de la gripe está disponible pero es más costoso y requiere más tiempo. Los funcionarios de salud recomiendan que los médicos dan Tamiflu, un tratamiento antiviral, a los pacientes que presentan síntomas similares a la gripe .

Un reciente informe del Houston Chronicle dijo que Houston hospitalarias salas de emergencia están experimentando un máximo de cinco años en el número de pacientes con síntomas similares a la gripe . Estamos viendo un aumento en los pacientes con gripe en Bellaire ER también .

Buenas Noticias

La buena noticia es que la vacuna contra la gripe de este año contiene la protección contra las cepas de la gripe más comunes, incluyendo el H1N1. Las personas que reciben sus vacunas contra la gripe deben ser protegidos contra la temporada de gripe de este año . Los más vulnerables son un riesgo muy alto . Aunque la muestra es pequeña, la tasa de mortalidad para los pacientes con gripe ingresados ​​en un hospital de este año es de alrededor de 50%.

Razones más comunes de personas visitan la Sala de Emergencias

Pregnancy and Alcohol

What amount of Alcohol is Safe during Pregnancy?

Answer: None. Pregnancy and Alcohol are a very bad combination. If the mother does NOT drink alcohol during pregnancy then all of the possible medical disorders related to alcohol consumption are avoided. This is the “safe” amount of alcohol – none.

There are no scientific studies that I am aware of that have tested alcohol levels in unborn children. To conduct such a study would have huge moral and ethical obstacles. So the scientific answer is that there are no known “safe” levels of alcohol in unborn, developing children. Actually, the only safe level is zero.

When a woman drinks during pregnancy the alcohol is absorbed into her blood and then passes through the placenta and umbilical cord to the unborn baby. While the mother’s liver is usually fully functional and can break down the alcohol in the mother’s blood over hours, the baby’s liver is undeveloped and incapable of breaking down the alcohol.

The Risks of Pregnancy and Alcohol

Unfortunately a recent CDC survey given to pregnant women in the United States found that about 12% of them drank at least one drink in the month prior to the survey. Another survey found that 2% of pregnant women binge drink. There is absolutely no way for doctors or scientists to predict how much damage is being done to the unborn children with any level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The damage is assessed for years after the child is born.

For many years doctors have known that moderate or heavy drinking by the mother can lead to a variety of medical disorders for the unborn child. These medical conditions fall into a category called fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Below are some of the more common medical disorders of FASD.

  • small head size
  • abnormal facial features
  • organ damage
  • brain damage
  • spinal defects
  • vision damage
  • hearing damage
  • learning disabilities
  • speech and language disabilities
  • behavioral problems

There are no benefits associated with drinking during pregnancy. Therefore, Be Cautious – don’t drink – you will have nothing to regret later in life.

ER Wait Times in Houston

Recently a local television station aired a report about the waiting times in eight area hospitals in the Houston area. The title of the report was “How long could you wait in a Houston-area emergency room?” and it was produced by Local 2 KPRC’s Bill Spencer.

The report stated that there are 65 hospitals in the Houston area for approximately 6 million people. That is one hospital for every 92,000 people.  Below are the wait times reported in the investigation.

14 hours – Ben Taub Hospital

10 hours – Harris County LBJ Hospital

4.5 hours – Texas Children’s Hospital (one of the interviewees had a 10 hour wait with a sick child at this hospital)

4.5 hours – Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center

2.0 hours – Memorial Hermann Memorial City

1 hour and 50 minutes – Memorial Hermann Northwest

1 hour – Memorial Hermann Southwest

10 minutes – East Houston Regional Medical Center

The ER doctor who was interviewed stated that the busiest days in an emergency room are Sunday and Monday. She also said the busiest nights are the weekend nights.

The reporter, Mr. Spencer, concludes his report by stating that the overall ER wait times of today (2013) compared to a similar investigation six years ago shows no improvement. He also reported that the prices at free standing ER centers are the same as hospital prices but that the wait times are shorter.

At Bellaire ER the average wait time is the time it takes the patient to complete his or her medical history form – about 5 minutes.  You can view the video mentioned in this article by clicking the following link: How long could you wait in Houston-area emergency room?


What we Know and Don’t Know about Concussions

Concussions are brain injuries and there is a lot more that doctors DON’T know about concussions than they do know. Usually a concussion is caused by some type of blow to the head but it can be caused by any motion that shakes or jars the head. Small children can develop concussions if they are violently shaken.

Concussions are a serious injury. Multiple concussions, especially within short time frames, are extremely serious. And an individual does not have to lose consciousness to have a concussion. Some new research is showing that moderate (as opposed to violent) blows to the head can have a cumulative effect. Fortunately much more research is being done because in severe cases the patient can experience permanent problems with memory, movement, speaking, and learning.

The Brain and the Cause of a Concussion

Your brain is a soft organ that is protected by a hard bony skull. Within your skull the brain is surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid that acts as a type of shock absorber. A single low or moderate blow to the head will cause the spinal fluid to act like a cushion and usually prevent the brain from impacting the inner skull. However, more violent blows to the head cannot be fully cushioned by the spinal fluid and the brain will slam into the inner skull. In these cases, the brain has been “bruised” like your arm or leg is bruised when you walk into a piece of furniture. But “brain bruises” or concussions are much more serious.

Concussions are common in sports such as football, skiing, soccer, rugby, and boxing. They also are common in car crashes, bicycle accidents, and playground accidents.

The head does not need to be struck for a concussion to occur. Rapid acceleration can also be a cause and bomb blasts have been a problem for the military. In these cases there is no direct impact, just an acceleration force applied to the head.

What are the Symptoms of a Concussion?

Sometimes it is not clear when a person has suffered a concussion because there are many possible symptoms. A loss of consciousness is obvious to all. However, patients with milder concussions may only exhibit a few of the many symptoms. And children’s symptoms can differ from adults’ so be aware of any change in behavior.

In general, concussion symptoms fall into 4 categories as described below.

1) Mental – amnesia, unable to focus, memory problems, unable to think clearly, unable to answer easy questions

2) Physical – headaches, vomiting, unable to walk normally, dizzy, vision problems

3) Emotional – changes in behavior, easy to anger, sadness

4) Sleep – changes in the normal sleep pattern

How Serious?

Very. Researchers believe that multiple concussions can contribute to increased risks for other brain diseases or conditions later in the patient’s life. The highest risk areas seem to be Parkinson’s disease, dementia, depression, and a variety of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms or deterioration.

Some of the temporary symptoms of concussions can become permanent with patients that have multiple concussions. This includes confusion, disorientation, inability to focus, and difficulty with reasoning.


In most cases of “minor” concussions the key is rest – during the day and night. Most patients will be symptom free in 7 to 10 days. However, some patients need weeks or months to recover.

In more serious cases the symptoms and treatments can vary significantly. Some patients require brain surgery as well as extended medical care.

Concussions are always serious. If you or someone you know exhibits any symptom after a blow to the head then it is always a good idea to visit a doctor.

7 Reasons You are Tired

7 of the Most Common Reasons why You Are Tired

When a patient says they are tired “all of the time” the number one reason is their lifestyle. Certainly there are other reasons but let’s focus on the most common reasons at the root of your “tiredness.”

Too much Weight / Sleep Apnea

In addition to your body having to carry around 30 or 50 or more pounds every day, obesity can be the root cause of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition in which the patient experiences dozens or more pauses in their breathing. Some patients have hundreds of pauses in their breathing every night. If you have sleep apnea then your mind and body are not receiving the rest they need every night.

Inconsistent Sleep Patterns

Having a routine sleep pattern and sleeping enough hours per night are crucial for your body to rest and rejuvenate for the next day. Most people require at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep per night. Sleeping different hours every day, or working day and night shifts, can negatively affect your needed rest from sleep. And sleeping too many hours per night can also make your feel tired.  So find a sleep pattern right for you and try to stick with it.

No Exercise

Your body was not designed to be a “couch potato.” Everybody should try to get into a routine of exercise on a daily basis even if it is just walking around the block a few times. There are many benefits derived from exercise including the internal production of biochemicals that make you feel more alert. Talk to your doctor about an exercise program for you and stick with it.


In today’s society we have a lot of stresses and many people are experiencing depression at some point in their lives.  One of the common symptoms of depression is fatigue or “tiredness.” If you feel you may be depressed in your life then seek out the appropriate medical help.  When patients “recover” from depression they will usually feel more energy in their lives.

Too Much Coffee

People who drink coffee throughout the day are consuming too much caffeine. They are actually developing a dependence to caffeine and will experience a form of withdrawal if they reduce their “normal” consumption. And any caffeine that is consumed prior to bedtime can interfere with normal REM sleep pattern, thus making you feel tired in the morning – which creates a “need” for coffee in the morning to feel more “awake.”

Iron Deficiency

You can be eating what you feel is a balanced diet and still have an iron deficiency. And vegetarians and vegans do not eat red meat, which is an excellent source of iron. Your doctor may recommend a blood test to confirm or eliminate iron deficiency as a cause of your “tiredness.”

No Breakfast

Your body needs fuel to operate during the day and multiple studies have shown how important a good breakfast is in the morning.  And I am talking about a “balanced” breakfast, not a piece of toast or a doughnut. Eat a breakfast that has some fruit and cereal or eggs.  A good breakfast goes a long way to preventing fatigue during the day.

Skin Health and your Overall Health

Skin Health and your Overall Health

Your skin is your largest organ and it performs many vital functions. An adult has about eight pounds of skin and the health of the skin is often an indication of the health of the individual.

Nutrition is viewed as the most important factor in the health of the skin. The phrase, “you are what you eat,” is very relevant for your skin.

Aging Skin

As an individual ages the skin will also age and that means wrinkles, discoloration, and loss of elasticity. Genetic makeup will play a key role in when an individual’s skin begins to display these signs of aging. However, the skin’s aging process can be accelerated by poor nutrition and environmental damage such as sun exposure and smoking.

Oxidation is a chemical process in which unstable molecules (free radicals) cause damage to healthy skin cells. Smoking and sunlight are the two most damaging factors in this oxidation process.

Healthy Nutrition

A diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables is highly recommended for both good overall health and skin health because they contain antioxidants. Nuts, seeds, and beans are also good sources of antioxidants as well as healthful fats and proteins. Antioxidants are nutrients that help defend your body’s cells (and skin cells) from damage caused by oxidation. Some of the most important antioxidants include Vitamin C, E, and A, selenium, and a category known as phytochemicals.

A healthy diet also avoids many types of foods. At the top of the list is sugar – refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Sugar can cause inflammations but more importantly it has a negative impact on cell membranes and collagen. Collagen is a critical protein that helps skin retain its elasticity. Also, limit or eliminate foods that come from a box because they usually contain both sugar and other additives.

Other important items to consider for your diet are omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil, flaxseed, and grass-fed beef. Probiotics is also recommended by a number of nutritional experts. And perhaps the simplest suggestion of all – drink plenty of water. Your skin can become dehydrated and that causes it to shrivel and wrinkle.

Bath Salts and Your Teenager

“Bath Salts” is a common street name used for a new class of synthetic drugs. They have no relation to the scented products that are used in a bathtub. Other street names that have been used are “Vanilla Sky,” “White Snow,” and “Purple Wave.” These drugs are extremely dangerous because of their users’ extreme reactions to the drugs and their unknown long-term effects.

Until recently these drugs were legally sold using one of several loop-holes, such as labeling the product “Not for Human Consumption” and selling them as plant food or jewelry cleaner. Plus these drugs were not well known and not specifically outlawed. Many teenagers feel/felt these drugs are/were safe because it were sold legally. Most states have outlawed this class of drugs but it is still being sold underground.

Teenagers are using these drugs because these are perceived to be safer than other well known stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine. “Bath salts” are stimulants and they make users feel more alert and increase energy levels, partly by increasing the levels of dopamine in the brain. These “bath salts” can be snorted, smoked, or mixed with water and injected into a vein. Usually the effects of “bath salts” last 4 to 6 hours.

Why are “Bath Salts” so Dangerous?

First, a user never knows exactly what he or she is putting into their body. Usually bath salts contain the chemicals methylone, mephedrone, and/or 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). However, chemical tests and law enforcement estimates suggest there may be more than 100 different chemicals used in the production of “bath salts.” So the user never knows which chemical or chemicals are entering his or her body.

Second, “bath salts” cause extreme agitation and users’ reactions can be highly unpredictable. One doctor has described it as taking a combination of cocaine, meth, and LSD at the same time. It can be potentially life threatening and numerous deaths have been attributed to “bath salts.”

Any of the following “Bath Salts” side-effects can cause Death

  • severe agitation
  • paranoia
  • hallucinations
  • combative behavior
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • elevated heart rate
  • elevated blood pressure
  • increased body temperature
  • chest pain
  • dizziness
  • suicidal behavior

Third, “bath salts” can be addictive and can cause permanent changes in the brain. Too little is known about these drugs but chronic users are at high risk.

Fourth, this is a very dangerous drug and most hospital ERs and laboratories are not equipped to detect synthetic drugs such as “bath salts.” If a patient arrives at an emergency room and denies using the drugs or is unconscious then there is only so much the ER doctor can do.

Parents, if you notice unusual signs of agitation, paranoia, combative behavior, or any of the side-effects mentioned above, call 911 or take him / her to an emergency room immediately.

Prevent Heart Disease

Cardiac Wellness is a relatively new approach being promoted by some of the more forward thinking cardiologists. A majority of people in this country, perhaps 75% or more, can prevent heart disease. And if they have heart disease, they may be able to reverse it.

The “old” treatment for heart disease was imaging tests, drugs, balloon catheters, and other surgical procedures. These treatment methods still have great value but isn’t it better to never need any of this? New studies and new research are confirming what some doctors had realized many years ago – that lifestyle choices can determine if you ever have heart disease.

In very simple terms, a healthy body means a healthy heart. Your lifestyle choices will have a tremendous impact on your heart’s health.

What are these lifestyle choices?

  • NO Smoking
  • Little or No Alcohol
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Adequate Rest and Sleep
  • Low or No Stress

Doctors have been increasingly talking about these lifestyle choices and we are finding that healthy decisions in these areas have numerous benefits. A healthy heart is one of these benefits and one of the most important. Sit down with your doctor and discuss your lifestyle choices and make a plan you can live with. Prevent heart disease – you will be far happier and healthier.

Vaccines and Autism

At this point in time no one knows the exact cause or causes of autism. What we do know is that the number of children diagnosed with autism has continued to rise in recent years.  Most experts believe that is due to better diagnosis, better reporting, and wider, broader definitions of autism.

One of the most publicized theories on the subject dealt with childhood vaccinations – Do they cause autism? This began when a small study in England of 12 children was published in 1998 that claimed there was a link, or cause, between autism and a combination of childhood vaccines. The vaccine is known as MMR, or measles, mumps, and rubella.

Another factor, thimerosal, was also presented as a possible reason for childhood autism. Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that is / was used to prevent fungal contamination. Some people claimed that thimerosal was the source or cause of autism in children.  After many studies the scientific community is comfortable in claiming that there is no causation effect.  However, to be on the safe side this compound has been eliminated from almost all vaccines except some flu vaccines in the USADenmark phased out thimerosal years before the United States and they have not seen any affect on the incidence of autism.

Another argument that has been presented is that children receive “too many vaccines too soon.”  This theory has also been the subject of studies and has been found to lack validity.

There have been many scientific studies since 1998 and the vast bulk of them do NOT show any relationship between vaccinations and childhood autism. Although some parents feel it is best to NOT vaccinate their children, most doctors think that is a very bad idea. In those cases the children are much more susceptible to childhood diseases such as whooping cough, measles, rubella and other diseases which can be lethal. It is important to discuss your concerns with your pediatrician. Many pediatricians are now delaying and spreading out vaccinations as much as possible to mitigate the fear that some parents have.

Prevent Alzheimer's

Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease but medical science knows a great deal about reducing, delaying, or even preventing the symptoms. The key is to keep your brain healthy and there are a number of proven techniques that can help you do this.  I don’t want to make any promises, but some researchers think that with a focus on a healthy brain it might be possible to reverse the deterioration caused by Alzheimer’s. Let’s take a look at how we can all have a healthy brain.

Before jumping into a change in lifestyle I suggest you talk with your doctor about the information below. It is always a wise decision to create a plan that is reasonable and not overly ambitious.  And once your plan has been created you want to continue to follow it throughout the remainder of your life. Alzheimer’s is a debilitating disease and since there is no cure you should strive to prevent the onset of symptoms.

Steps to a Healthy Brain

1) Brush your Teeth 3X per day – One of the most interesting Alzheimer’s studies to appear recently found that a large percentage of patients with the disease had signs of gum-disease bacteria in their brains while none of the people without Alzheimer’s or dementia.  This suggests that periodontal (gum) disease may play a role in Alzheimer’s.  So brush your teeth 3 times per day and floss at least once and at the very least you will have clean teeth.

2) Drop the Bad HabitsStop Smoking – NOW!  Alcohol consumption should be minimal or nothing. This means for the rest of your life.

3) Exercise – This should be no surprise to anyone.  Exercise delivers many benefits to the individual and a regular exercise program has statistically shown that it reduces your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 50%.  Wow! Now who wants a 50% reduction in risk plus the other benefits of exercise? Remember, exercise improves memory, increases your energy and reduces your stress level.

4) Diet – You should know this one too – an obvious requirement for a healthy brain. Discuss your diet with your doctor and/or nutritionist and develop a plan for a healthy diet and a healthy brain. Today the emphasis is on fruits and vegetables and Mediterranean diets.

5) Restful Sleep – Most adults need 8 hours of sleep per night and if they have less then their ability to think and be creative is impaired.

6) Mental Exercise – Yes, your brain needs exercise too, it is called stimulation. Take classes and learn something new such as Chinese cooking or a new language. Read a good book.  Play games of strategy such as Bridge or Scrabble. Make yourself think, memorize, and organize – this is mental exercise and you should do it as often as possible.  Research has clearly shown that those who are mentally active are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s.

7) Reduce Stress and Maintain an Active Social Live – Find opportunities to participate in your community.  You can volunteer for many groups or take classes at learning centers or community colleges.  You are never too old to learn something new about the world. Visit museums and participate in their events. Stay active and find time to relax.

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