Sunday, November 29, 2015
The end of migraines is close: A new drug could stop debilitating headaches before they start - Salon.com
The co-author of the Declaration of Independence never vanquished what he called his "periodical head-ach," although his attacks appear to have lessened after 1808. Two centuries later 36 million American migraine sufferers grapple with the pain the president felt. Like Jefferson, who often treated himself with a concoction brewed from tree bark that contained quinine, they try different therapies, ranging from heart drugs to yoga to herbal remedies. Their quest goes on because modern medicine, repeatedly baffled in attempts to find the cause of migraine, has struggled to provide reliable relief.
Now a new chapter in the long and often curious history of migraine is being written. Neurologists believe they have identified a hypersensitive nerve system that triggers the pain and are in the final stages of testing medicines that soothe its overly active cells. These are the first ever drugs specifically designed to prevent the crippling headaches before they start, and they could be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration next year. If they deliver on the promise they have shown in studies conducted so far, which have involved around 1,300 patients, millions of headaches may never happen.
"It completely changes the paradigm of how we treat migraine," says David Dodick, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona and president of the International Headache Society. Whereas there are migraine-specific drugs that do a good job stopping attacks after they start, the holy grail for both patients and doctors has been prevention.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Millions of people are dying in pain because of the repressive stance the world has taken on drugs. That's because states are obsessed by the fear that people will use controlled medicines such as morphine as recreational drugs, thereby neglecting their important medical uses.
Where you live determines whether you will be able to access to controlled medicines, particularly opiates, when confronting an acute terminal, chronic or painful illness. Ninety-two per cent of the world's morphine is consumed by only 17% of the world's population, primarily the United States and Europe. Seventy--five percent of the world's people in need do not have access to pain relieving medicine.
In other words, most of the global population, outside the affluent countries in the North, dying in pain, including from terminal cancers, do so in the absence of dignified palliative care.
This is a horrendous situation for millions of patients and families. Essential medicines such as morphine, taken for granted as the standard relief of severe pain in the global North, do not enjoy the same status in the global South. Quite the opposite. Chances are, if a person living in any developing country ends up with an illness associated with extreme and avoidable pain, they will endure the pain simply because their government has created obstacles to morphine use in hospitals.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
The federal agency has been asked to come here and help find answers to a disturbing new trend that is costing lives – heroin mixed with a prescription pain medication.
State and local health experts said they are hoping what they learn during meetings Tuesday at the Hamilton County Board of Health will help them tackle the heroin crisis.
The CDC has a six-person team on the ground in Ohio, meeting with the Ohio Department of Health, and the Hamilton County Health Department.
Officials said they're focusing on a particular part of the heroin crisis – the number of deaths related to fentanyl.
Authorities said fentanyl is a prescription pain medication that has been showing up in heroin. The big mystery is why it's being mixed with heroin.
"We don't fully understand the fentanyl situation, and that's one of the reasons we wanted their help with this," said Dr. Mary DiOrio, the medical director of the Ohio Department of Health.
ODH asked the CDC to help look into the problem.
"We think that some people don't even know that it's in what they're injecting so we're trying to fully understand what people do and don't know so we can target the messages appropriately so we can protect lives," DiOrio said.
We've seen the deadly consequences of fentanyl in Greater Cincinnati.
Kenneth Gentry is facing charges in the overdose death of an Arlington Heights man earlier this year that was blamed on fentanyl.
Authorities said the fentanyl problem causes only a fraction of the deaths heroin alone causes – but it's a problem that's growing quickly.
Authorities said heroin deaths increased 18 percent in Ohio last year to a total of nearly 2,500. In 2014 there were about 500 deaths linked to fentanyl – an increase of nearly 600 percent from the year before.
So what is killing middle-aged white Americans? Much of the excess death is attributable to suicide and drug and alcohol poisonings. Opioid painkillers like OxyContin prescribed by physicians contribute significantly to these drug overdoses.
Thus, it seems that an opioid overdose epidemic is at the heart of this rise in white middle-age mortality. The rate of death from prescription opioids in the United States increased more than fourfold between 1999 and 2010, dwarfing the combined mortality from heroin and cocaine. In 2013 alone, opioids were involved in 37 percent of all fatal drug overdoses.
Monday, November 09, 2015
"The pain is right here," she told an orthopedic surgeon, "in my ankle and foot." But the 41-year-old Gainesville, Va., resident no longer had that ankle and foot. Her leg had been amputated below the knee after a large piece of computer equipment fell off a cart, crushed her foot and caused nerve damage. Further, she insisted that since the amputation, she could feel her missing toes move.
Chenoweth's surgeon knew exactly what was going on: phantom pain.
Lynn Webster, an anesthesiologist and past president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, explains the phenomenon: "With 'phantom pain,' nerves that transmitted information from the brain to the now-missing body part continue to send impulses, which relay the message of pain."
It feels as if the removed part is still there and hurting, but pain is actually in the brain. The sensation ranges from annoying itching to red-hot burning.
Physicians wrote about phantom pain as early as the 1860s, but U.S. research on this condition has increased recently, spurred by the surge of amputees returning from warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan and by increasing rates of diabetes. (Since 2003, nearly 1,650 service members have lost limbs, according to the Congressional Research Service. In 2010, about 73,000 amputations were performed on diabetics in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Saturday, November 07, 2015
SRUTHI: Okay. So this is a story about a woman whose body started breaking down in increasingly weird ways. It's as if her body turns into a David Lynch movie, and there's nothing she can do to understand it, and nothing she can do to convince people it's real. For the purposes of the story, we will call this woman "Hope." And it all starts last year. Hope is 29, living in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. And one beautiful winter morning…
HOPE: I was walking at a soccer field that's near my house when I first noticed, "Well that feels weird, my eye feels such a weird nagging eye pressure. Almost like my eye was bulging a little bit, from the inside out.
SRUTHI: It's so bad that she feels as if people can see it, like it's bulging so much, this one eye.
PJ: Can she, like if she stands in front of the bathroom mirror and stares at her face, can she feel like she can see her eye bulging?
SRUTHI: No. So it goes on for a couple of weeks, doesn't go away. And then she says you know what, I'm just gonna have this looked at.
HOPE: I actually just went to the eye doctor that's in Walmart, and she looked at my eye, and she didn't find anything at all wrong with the eye. The eye was perfectly healthy and normal.
SRUTHI: This bulging feeling, it goes on for a whole month. And then one day, she wakes up and it's gone.
HOPE: This would, be I should say this, this would be something in my life that I would probably never give a second thought to, this mild eye problem that I had for a month, if… what happened next hadn't happened.
SRUTHI: It's evening. Hope is working. She's a wedding photographer, and she's setting up room in her house where she can meet clients.
HOPE: And all of the sudden I stood up, and I couldn't see out of my right eye. I thought, "Oh my gosh, am I having a stroke?" I had field of vision in like three-quarters of the eye, but the one quarter was completely covered by this weird zigzag freaky thing. It's almost like a kaleidoscope when you were a kid, and you used to hold up a kaleidoscope to your eye and it would… it would like shine and shimmer, like a piece of mirrored paper in there. So I actually remember waking up my sister, and she said "what are you talking about?" and I said "I can't see out of my eye, I'm freaking out."