By Dr Peter Kadile
Just an FYI as a follow up to my Ebola article two weeks ago, the two American missionaries that contracted the disease have been released from the hospital. Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were discharged from Emory University Hospital last week. They no longer have symptoms and do not have any evidence of the Ebola infection in their bodies. They are not considered a public health threat.
Why are people pouring ice water over their head?
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been all over the news and social media recently.
Nominated participants are dared to pour a bucket of ice water over their head and must be filmed doing it. Typically if a person is nominated, they have 24 hours to complete the task. I have heard variations as to whether you perform the challenge instead of donating to ALS, perform the challenge and donate or one can just donate money instead of performing the challenge.
People of all ages, celebrities, politicians, friends and relatives have been participating. The challenge has raised awareness of this horrible disease and significantly increased donations for this charity, but I have encountered a few people that have gotten “caught up” in the frenzy of being challenged and don’t even know what ALS is.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This disease affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Motor nerves which control the muscles progressively die resulting in paralysis. Early symptoms can include increasing muscle weakness, mostly involving the arms and legs, difficulty with speech, swallowing or breathing. People with the disease progressively lose their ability to eat, speak, walk, and eventually breathe. As of yet, there is no cure for this horrible disease and it is 100 percent fatal. I have had the opportunity to care for patients with ALS and it is very devastating not only for the patient but also the families involved.
If you want to find out more about ALS or want to donate, go to www.alsa.org for more information.
Dear Dr. Kadile, my toenails have become very thick and yellowed over the past few years. My friend says it’s just a sign that I’m becoming old and to just leave it alone. So why do toenails get thick and yellow as we get older?
Lance, Cathedral City
Lance the condition you are describing is most likely onychomycosis or toenail fungus. It can affect individuals at any age. Treatment with over the counter antifungal creams, typically used for Athlete’s Foot, are ineffective. I generally recommend a trial of over the counter “anti-fungal nail” type solutions that need to be brushed on the nail. They rarely work, but I have seen a few success stories. There are reports that applying Vicks Vapor Rub may also be effective. Surgery can be done to remove the nails with the hope that new unaffected nails will grow back. Laser treatments are also available with variable results. If a trial of the over the counter stuff doesn’t work, then prescription anti-fungal oral medication may be needed since they are proven to be effective.