Get up-to-date information on the recent headlines that could be affecting your health with The Doctors’ Friday News Feed.
Pope Francis: Medical Marvel?
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now the newly elected Pope Francis, has been living with one lung for most of his life. According to the Associated Press, the 76-year-old pontiff from Argentina developed a severe respiratory infection as a teenager and underwent a lung removal procedure, known as a thoracotomy and pneumonectomy. Although the specific cause of infection has not been revealed, it's speculated that Pope Francis had tuberculosis roughly 60 years ago, when the operation was performed. Removal of part of a lung, even a whole lung, does decrease respiratory function, but the majority of patients are still able to lead a relatively active lifestyle.
"There are some exercise limitations; however, their ability to just live a normal life is not hampered at all," explains cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Vince Moss. Dr. Moss explains how some patients who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) actually breathe better after having a compromised lung removed.
"The ability for the body to accommodate is miraculous," Dr. Moss says. "You may feel the difference in the first month after the surgery, but years afterwards, you don't know the difference."
• See more of Dr. Moss in The Doctors' Most Beautiful Doctors in America 2013 Calendar!
15-Pound Baby Born Naturally
Boy, oh, boy! It took 20 doctors to deliver not-so-little baby George King, who was born weighing an astounding 15 pounds and 7 ounces. Baby George is the second largest baby on record to be delivered naturally in the U.K., and due to his size, he became stuck and nearly died during birth.
"The potential to get stuck is a life-threatening thing and we call this a shoulder dystocia," explains OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson. Obstetricians are trained specifically for this type of emergency and will perform different, often extreme maneuvers to reposition the baby and prevent it from suffocating.
Dorothy Hamill Bows Out
During a recent episode of ABC's Dancing with the Stars, legendary figure skater and Olympic Hall of Famer Dorothy Hamill showed noticeable signs of pain and discomfort — before, after and during her dance routine. In one of the most dramatic moments in the history of DWTS, Hamill appeared on stage as the elimination process was being decided. She informed her fellow contestants and viewers across America that she was removing herself from the competition, negating the need to vote someone else off the show.
At 56, Hamill was the oldest contestant in Season 16 of DWTS, but age was not what sparked her decision to step down. Hamill was reportedly diagnosed with a synovial cyst in her lower lumbar region before the new season began, but she was unsure how it would affect her performance until rehearsals commenced. She soon realized, just two weeks into the competition, that the demands of ballroom dancing were causing nerve pain, numbness and loss of balance.
"I have an injury that could be irreparable," Hamill said during the unexpected announcement. "It would be completely unfair for me to stay in this and have any of these people go home."
The Doctors explain that back pain is common, but inexplicable pain accompanied by weakness and numbness, bowel or bladder problems, or other abnormal symptoms should be examined by a physician.
Food Allergy Bullying?
An alarming study out of Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that, out of 250 families surveyed, a shocking 45 percent of children with food allergies were bullied simply because they had an allergy. Some children reported being touched by or threatened with the actual food that can cause a potentially lethal allergic reaction.
"These kids are, literally, running for their lives," explains allergist and immunologist Dr. Warner Carr. "A food allergy can be life-threatening, so even a small amount, in some children, can have a huge impact."
Learn more about the dangerous trend.
Learning Remotely: Robots in the Classroom
Seven-year-old Devon suffers from a wide array of severe allergies, ranging from foods, such as peanuts and milk, to household pets and fabric sheets. Devon also has asthma, eczema and a condition called eosinophilic esophagitis, where an inflammatory, allergic reaction causes the airway to swell and impairs breathing. Many of Devon’s allergies can trigger this serious reaction, which usually requires an emergent dose of epinephrine and even intubation to prevent death from anaphylaxis.
“Living with Devon every day, it’s a struggle,” explains Devon’s mother, Rene. “It’s high-risk and it’s a very precautionary life.”
Devon is in the second grade, but he is unable to interact with other children in the way a typical elementary school student might. Devon’s severe allergies actually prevent him from attending school, physically, but with the help of VGo robotic technology, Devon is able to visually trek the halls of his school and learn beside his classmates.
Controversial Marathon Runner
Nikolas Toocheck is not the typical 9-year-old. While most boys his age are into video games or comic books, Nikolas’ inspiration is running. At age six, he completed his first race and has since taken part in many racing events, including two marathons.
Nikolas’ goal is to complete a marathon on all seven continents, and he’s currently training for the White Continent marathon in Antarctica. He has even created a campaign called “Running the World for Children,” which raises money and awareness for Operation Warm, a charity founded by his grandfather that provides winter coats to children in need.
Despite the good cause, Nikolas’ story has created controversy over whether children should be allowed to participate in long-distance running events. While some marathons do allow children to race, no studies have been conducted on the potentially adverse health effects they could have in an adolescent body.
A statement released by The International Marathon Medical Director’s Association advises, “Marathon running should be reserved only for those individuals who have reached their eighteenth birthday. Children are not small adults. Their anatomy and physiology are developing and not fully mature.”
The Doctors discuss how overuse injuries can adversely affect skeletal growth plates in maturing children.
• What are your thoughts on children competing in marathons? Tell us!
Warning Label Lawsuit
Have you ever struggled to decipher the warning labels on over-the-counter medications?
A Massachusetts family was awarded 63 million dollars after a state jury found that a children’s ibuprofen manufacturer failed to adequately warn patients about the potential side effects. The incident occurred in 2003, when the family nearly lost their then 7-year-old daughter after she suffered a severe reaction to the drug.
The ibuprofen caused an extremely rare and painful skin condition called toxic epidermal necrolysis, where chronic blistering and inflammation of mucous membranes cause the skin on the entire body to peel away in sheets. According to the family’s lawsuit, their daughter was in and out of the hospital for months, underwent multiple surgeries, suffered permanent damage to her liver and lungs, and was left legally blind.
“I don’t think people realize [that] every time you take any medicine, there is a risk of a reaction like this,” E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says.
“[Side effects] on the labels are usually just the things that they’ve seen most often, but you have to remember [that] we’re all individuals, so different things can happen to different people,” Dr. Lisa explains.
“When you look up ‘ibuprofen,’ there are over a hundred potential side effects,” Dr. Sears adds.
Medicine manufacturers are not required to list every potential side effect on the warning label; however, in 2005, the FDA mandated that warning labels be amended to include an allergy alert to highlight severe allergic reactions, such as hives, swelling, lesions, rashes and blisters.
• Learn the side effects of ibuprofen and other common over-the-counter medications.
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