Are You At Risk?

Toys and Germs

Is your child getting sick just by going to the doctor’s office? A new study shows 20 percent of toys in a pediatrician’s waiting room have fragments of cold viruses. Dr. Jim explains that it makes sense because the children playing with those toys have come to the doctor because they are sick. To eliminate some of the possible viruses in his office, Dr. Jim makes sure the toys are cleaned with disinfecting wipes throughout the day. And while traces of germs may survive, Dr. Jim says “a lot of the kids, they get through the office without getting sick.”


The Doctors advise that if you are concerned with germs on toys in any public setting, bring toys and books from home for your child to play with.



Fearing Infertility

Because he suffered a traumatic scrotum accident as a child, Steven, 22, wants a semen analysis to make sure he is fertile before he and his fiancé, 22-year-old Farnaz, get married.

As a 9-year-old, Steven tore his scrotum while swinging over a fence. The injury required 56 stitches and left a scar on his scrotum. “I was like, ‘Dad, I’m going to die, I’m going to die!”’ Steven recalls. “I showed him, and he almost fainted.”

Steven and Farnaz are concerned the injury will keep them from eventually starting a family. “For me not to have kids, it would be terrible,” Steven says. “It would be really hard.”

Dr. Cappy M. Rothman, co-founder and medical director of California Cryobank, Inc., performs the semen analysis and after examining Steven’s sperm on stage, Dr. Rothman says he sees a large number of sperm moving with good motility. He the gives the couple the results they have been waiting for. “Steven, I hope you like the name ‘Daddy!’” he exclaims.



Preventing Slow Swimmers

If you take antidepressants and are having difficulty with conception, there may be a reason. A study of 35 men by researchers at Weill Medical College of Cornell University found that the antidepressant paroxetine may reduce male fertility. The number of sperm with fragmented DNA rose from 14 percent to 30 percent in the men taking paroxetine. “We know that antidepressants affect serotonin, and that decreases your sex drive,” Dr. Ordon says. “This study showed that it actually affected the movement, the motility, the strength of sperm.”


The Doctors note that the study was small and stress not to stop taking antidepressants if a doctor has prescribed them for you. Dr. Lisa says not all antidepressants effect on male fertility, but if you are having trouble conceiving while on antidepressants, talk to your doctor. “The doctors who prescribe these know how to deal with the secondary problems,” Dr. Ordon says.


To keep your sperm healthy, avoid laying warm objects, such as laptop computers, on your lap because sperm need a cool environment to thrive. Smoking, prolonged heat to the testicles and wearing tight underwear can cause fertility problems, as well.



Ticking Time Bomb

Every year, nearly 100,000 people die from pulmonary embolisms — blood clots in the lungs. Steve, 54, came close to being one of those fatalities.


Though he has always been active, playing golf and skiing regularly, one day Steve had trouble breathing while simply walking up the stairs. “I thought I was having an asthma attack,” he says in a video. “I could not catch my breath. I felt like somebody was holding a towel over my face.”


Even the most basic tasks, such as doing the laundry or dishes and cleaning the house, became difficult for Steve. Doctors determined he had a blood clot which had begun developing scar tissue. After undergoing several tests and procedures and taking medicine, Steve was told he would need surgery. 


“The mortality risk is tremendously high,” says Dr. William Auger, a pulmonologist at University of California, San Diego. “In Steve’s case, it was an 80 percent chance of dying within two years.


“The heart’s just like a pump, and his pump was failing,” Dr. Auger adds. “He had fluid backed up into his stomach. Fluid backed up into tissues of his legs. He was really very limited in what he could do.”


When blood clots develop, usually in the leg, it is known as deep-vein thrombosis. Typically, a clot travels from the leg to the lungs and blocks blood from entering other parts of the body, causing breathing trouble and fatigue. Over time, when left untreated, clots can cause the heart to fail, resulting in death.


Life-saving surgery

Doctors saved Steve's life by stopping his heart and removing blood clots. Watch the risky, life-saving procedure.

“It’s like somebody has their thumb on the end of a hosepipe,” Dr. Stuart Jamieson, cardiothoracic surgeon at UCSD, says. “What will happen are two things. Number one, the pipe might burst, and number two, there’s no blood coming out the other side.”


To save Steve’s life, his doctors perform a pulmonary thromboendarterectomy, a potentially life-threatening surgery that cools the patient’s body down enough so doctors can make the heart stop for 20 minutes and drain the patient’s blood. This allows doctors to see and remove the clots. “If you can’t get it done in that 20 minutes, that’s really serious,” Dr. Jamieson says.


“It’s a very delicate operation,” he continues. “Any margin for error, and the patient will die.”


A New Life

Just four weeks after the surgery, Steve joins The Doctors by running out of the audience onto the stage with his arms lifted high in triumph and says he no longer feels out of breath at all. “I think I walked three-quarters of a mile through Dallas airport the other day with a 50-pound bag and was looking for more!” Steve says. “It feels good, I’m telling you! “


Blood Clot Warning Signs

Sudden shortness of breath

Leg swelling

A cough that produces blood

Chest pains that often mimic a heart attack


Preventing Blood Clots

Stand up and walk during long plane or car rides

Drink plenty of water

Wear support stockings




Jackie, from Guthrie, Oklahoma e-mails The Doctors and says she is four months pregnant with her first child but is worried because she has been spotting. She asks if this is normal, or if she should be concerned.


“First of all, she shouldn’t panic,” Dr. Lisa says. “Some spotting can be absolutely normal in pregnancy. But it can also be a signal for other complications like the placenta being over the cervix, or pre-term labor or infections.”


Bleeding during all phases of pregnancy may be dangerous, so Dr. Lisa advises a consultation with your OB/GYN if it does occur. However, bleeding is more common early in pregnancy; typically in the first trimester, and a small of amount of spotting can come with the natural implantation of the embryo to the uterus wall. Bleeding during the second and third trimesters is more of a cause for concern since the cervix can begin to dilate to prepare for labor and some blood vessels of the placenta can stretch and rupture. Any bleeding you experience after the 28th week should be considered a true emergency, and you should see a doctor as soon as possible.



What’s That Smell?

A recent study found that common air fresheners include hormone-disrupting chemicals called phthalates, which can cause developmental and sex-hormone abnormalities, affect fertility and cause asthma. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not consider the amount of phthalates in air fresheners to be harmful, if you are worried about them -- or just want to try something new – try these natural ways to keep your home smelling fresh.


Air-Freshener Alternatives

Keep fresh coffee grounds on the counter

Put baking soda at the bottom of the trash can

Grind up a slice of lemon in the garbage disposal

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OAD 1/9/09