Sudden paralysis that's not a stroke: Bell's palsy
No one knows for sure why some otherwise healthy
people wake up one morning to find one side of their faces paralyzed.
Their skin droops on the affected side and their eye won't close. They
drool and can't smile.
It's terrifying and many
victims think they have had a stoke. Actually, they have Bell's palsy, a
generally temporary condition named for a surgeon who first described it
in the early 1800s.
Most patients recover with no
lasting effects. Doctors think many would recover without treatment. But
you should get immediate medical attention so doctors can rule out other
causes, such as brain tumors, strokes and injuries.
Neurologists at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver
think Bell's palsy may be caused from damage to a facial nerve. The
nerve runs through a narrow, bony canal beneath each ear.
The neurologists have found that the nerve is swollen and inflamed in
Bell's patients, which causes damage and sudden symptoms. They prescribe
antiviral drugs and steroids to improve symptoms, according to the
Journal of the American Medical Association.
palsy continues to baffle the medical community since there is no
conclusive evidence about what treatment actually cures it.
Seeing a doctor right away, however, is a patient's best bet for
avoiding lasting effects. Some 85 percent of patients recover fully, but
the remaining 15 percent have some problem long after other symptoms are
A professor of oncology at the University of
Pittsburgh says he had Bell's many years ago. Ever since, his eye closes
when he smiles.
Music brings memories back to Alzheimer's patients
Caregivers have long observed that Alzheimer's
patients can remember and sing songs long after they've stopped
recognizing names and faces. After listening to favorite music for a
half-hour or an hour, they may be able to recognize someone, talk and
converse for a time. A path to the past is opened.
Concetta Tomaino, director of the Institute for Music and Neurologic
Function, is heading a program to provide iPods loaded with customized
playlists to help spread the benefits of music to Alzheimer's patients.
The institute is a nonprofit organization founded at Beth Abraham Health
Services in the Bronx, N.Y. in 1995. Dr. Tomaino believes music
stimulates dormant areas of the brain that haven't been accessible due
to the disease.
Stroke, dementia and injury patients
are reaping as great or greater benefits from iPods and MP3 players
according to The Wall Street Journal.
Heart attacks and CT scans
Research done at 16 large medical centers across the
country shows that using a CT scan provides a faster and cheaper way to
diagnose a heart attack. Six million people each year go to hospitals
with chest pains, but only a small fraction are having a heart attack.
Of those who do not have clear signs of a heart attack from blood tests
or EKGs, 4 percent to 13 percent will have a missed diagnosis of their
heart attack. Of that group, one quarter will die, according to the
study's leader at William Beaumont Hospital in Detroit.
A CT scan gives a better picture of the heart and costs less, $2,136 on
average versus $3,458 for standard screening.
Whole wheat white bread
For adults and children who don't like wheat bread,
the Whole Grains Council says the "new white" whole-wheat products are a
good choice. The main difference is the color gene. Make sure the first
listed ingredient is whole wheat.
Groundhog Day: Check Phil's weather prediction!
On February 2, Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania's groundhog extraordinaire,
will again stick his head out of his den. The nation awaits his verdict.
Groundhog Day is said to have its origins in ancient weather lore where
the prognosticator was often a badger or a sacred bear. In the United
States, its origin is said to come from a Pennsylvania German custom.
If Phil, peeking from his burrow, fails to see his shadow, winter will
soon be over. If the sun happens to be shining and Phil sees his shadow,
winter will continue for six more weeks.
trek to meet with Phil began in 1887.He has been emerging from his
burrow in Pennsylvania ever since, always eager to greet his public.
Phil is private in many ways, but a few rumors have circulated about
He gets his longevity from drinking the "elixir of life" of which he takes one sip every summer during the Groundhog Picnic. This gives him seven more years of life.
It is said he is named after King Philip, a famous Native American leader. In his more plebeian days, he was called Br'er Groundhog.
He speaks only in Groundhogese, which luckily is a language understood by the President of the Inner Circle. The Inner Circle provides for Phil during the year, rather like a court provides for its king.
The city of Punxsutawney offers several days of celebration for those
who gather from around the world to hear Phil's proclamation. The city
offers food, music, carriage rides, magicians, crafts and games