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Hidden Dangers of Marijuana

Author: Dr. William Rappaport
Date: January 2017

The dangers of marijuana Marijuana legalization, decriminalization, or medicalization is on the rise. Eight states have made it legal to carry and use pot. More states are right behind those with more and more legislation in favor of its broader use. This new movement to make pot smoking legal brings hidden dangers the legislators are not telling us about. Cannabis is stronger and more potent than ever before with higher levels of THC, the main active chemical. By legalizing it our youth are getting the wrong message.

A person’s brain is not fully developed until the age of 25. When marijuana is smoked, THC goes into the lungs, then the bloodstream, and into the brain and other organs. THC works by connecting onto nerve receptors in the brain. When THC reaches different parts of the brain sensory perception, thinking, memory, and coordination all get impaired. This in turn can lead to difficulty learning, thinking and solving problems. Distorted behavior becomes the norm and is a result since decision-making centers are greatly impaired. These are all the short-term effects when a person is “high”. It can lead to risky behavior like driving while under the influence, sexually acting out, or even arrest for doing something risky.

The long - term effects on a growing brain can lead to irreversible damage. Studies have proven long term use of marijuana leads to chronic respiratory problems, low fertility rates, and impaired cognitive abilities. It can also lead to psychological problems like anxiety and depression. If someone is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or has psychosis it can actually make it worse. Long-term effects can touch every area of a kids life from schoolwork to career choices to achieving goals.

Marijuana is addictive and withdrawal can be difficult. It can alter a growing brain to the point of no return just like other recreational drugs used by our youth today. If you need help talking to your child there are many sites and books to inform the best and most affective way to do this.

http://www.drugfree.org/resources/8-ways-to-talk-with-your-teen-about-drugs-and-alcohol/

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TO ALL MY PATIENTS AND BLOG READERS:

Thank you for continuing to read these blogs. Feel free to suggest any topics you would like to hear about in the upcoming year. 

HAVE A VERY HAPPY AND HEALTHY HOLIDAY SEASON!

 Warmly,
 Dr. Rappaport

 

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 ASTHMA 

Have you noticed your child having frequent coughing at night, during the day, with colds or playing sports? It could be an asthma attack.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition of the lungs leading to airflow obstruction and airway hyper responsiveness. This condition is characterized by symptoms of coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing.  As mentioned above triggering factors are often infections, cold air, allergies and exercise.

Asthma is the leading cause of chronic illness in children affecting 7 million in United States alone. It can begin at any age but most symptoms are seen early as young as 2 to 5 years of age and two thirds of asthmatics are diagnosed before the age of 18. Who are these children? Asthmatic children usually come from families that have a history of allergies Including food or environmental and live in an urban setting.They have other family members with asthma particularly on the mothers side. Common presentation is a young child between the ages of two and five with unexplained coughing and difficulty breathing with a common cold.

It can be difficult to determine whether your child is having asthma related symptoms particularly under the age of five. That's why it's important to track when, where and how symptoms present, keeping a diary for your doctor. A good history along with a physical examination and breathing tests for children over the age of six often secures the diagnosis. As well, children with asthma have a 90% chance of being allergic to environmental allergens such as pollen, dust mites or animal dander. Skin testing for allergies can also add more evidence towards the diagnosis and help with treatment.

Once your child is diagnosed with asthma he or she can live a normal, extremely active life which can include any aerobic sport. Newer medications which are extremely safe with few side effects have aided in complete control of symptoms. Your doctor and you can develop an individual emergency action plan to avoid symptoms and keep asthma silent.

SEE YOU IN 2017. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Tic Disorders and Twitches

Has Your Child Ever Had Uncontrollable Facial Movements or Vocal Outbursts?

If the answer is YES they may have a common TIC DISORDER.Tic disorders and twitches

Parents who watch and hear their children repeat movements or vocalize noises worry something must be terribly wrong. In most cases the opposite is true! Tics are involuntary, cannot be controlled and are often a source of social embarrassment for both parent and child.

They present as involuntary:

  • blinking
  • twitches
  • movements
  • humming
  • shoulder shrugging
  • throat clearing
  • or a combination of all at various times

They often appear when a person is under high stress situations such as school pressures, family emergencies, peer pressures and even normal everyday stress associated with a growing body and mind. They are seen most often in boys. In severe cases genetics plays a role such as in Tourette’s syndrome. Tics may be simple or complex. A simple tic may be something like eye blinking, a grunt, muscle twitches, facial grimacing, or nasal flaring. These are purposeless movements. A complex tic consists of throwing, scratching or chewing. These are muscle movements with a purpose. A vocal complex tic produces a word not just a sound.

Tics fall into different categories such as:

  • Chronic Vocal or Motor Tic Disorder: Motor and vocal tic involvement that appear many times a day for a period of at least a year.
  • Provisional Tic Disorder: Tics of either vocal or motor in nature that lasts for less than a year and is eliminated when a stressful situation resolves.
  • Tourette’s Disorder: The presence of tics for at least a year, which are both vocal and motor in nature. They must be frequent and never stopping for a period of longer than 2 months. It is also usually associated with ADHD and obsessive-compulsive difficulties or certain diseases such as Huntington Disease or post viral encephalitis.

Tic and Twitching Disorder Treatment:

The first line of defense should be wait and watch. Most tic disorders are over as the individual matures.  It tends to resolve gradually even if medication is used to treat. Talk to your doctor, keep a log of your child’s tics from month to month, and most importantly try to ignore it. The more attention it is given the worse it can be! 

Talk to your doctor and have him/her evaluate the child before any further action is taken. 
 

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Lice Treatment & Prevention

Author: Dr. William Rappaport
Date: November 2016

Has your child ever had head lice? If so you know just how irritating it can be to get rid of them!

What are Lice? hair lice identification

Lice and their nits are annoying frustrating little parasites that are not dangerous, but highly contagious if not treated. They do not spread disease. However, they are itchy on the scalp causing scratching, which can lead to infection on the head and the spreading of these bloodsuckers. Adult lice are wingless parasites that attach themselves to the hair shaft. They have claws that allow them to crawl and cling firmly to the hair. It is easy to spread lice from person to person. Children get them by sharing hats, laying head to head, and using pillows of someone infested with the bugs and nits. They are common at summer camps, schools, childcare centers, slumber parties, sports activities, and potentially seats on a train. Some schools will have lice checks at the beginning of the year. However if your child is itching or has been away in areas where kids are in close contact with each other you should always just do a head check.

Lice have an evolution like all living things in the universe. Lice start out as eggs called nits, which are laid close to the hair shaft on the scalp. The eggs hatch 1 or 2 weeks after they are laid. The newborn nymphs immediately start feeding and quickly develop into adults which can feed up to several times a day. Most lice infestations are caught when they are eggs or have just hatched.

Treatment

Medicated over the counter lice treatments such as Pyrethrins (Rid, Nix) usually kill the lice, but it may take a few days for the itching to stop. Treatment consists of washing the hair with medicated shampoo and removing the lice and nits by hand using a fine toothcomb section by section. It must be done on wet conditioned hair. The combing must be repeated every day for at least 7-10 days. The use of oils, (Tee Tree, Olive) have varying results and are popular to use daily after combing. Lice are often resistant to OTC medications. If this should occur, Malathion (Ovide), Benzyl Alcohol (Olesfia), Spinosad (Natroba), and Ivermectin (Sklice) can be used on older children.

At home it is recommended all sheets, pillowcases, hats, stuffed animals, and clothes should be washed and dried on a high temperature to ensure the bugs die. Carpets and upholstery must be vacuumed. If you treat properly, follow the directions, and are vigilant each night the infestation should be over.

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Caring for and causes of Allergies

Author: Dr. William Rappaport
Date: October 2016

Allergies and those pesky symptoms that accompany them can be kept under control with smart preventative measures. Symptoms are key to detection. Keep a diary in order to help your doctor discover exactly what may be causing the uncomfortable, sometimes dangerous, allergies you may be experiencing.

this young woman sneezing into a tissue either has a cold or really bad allergies

  1. Do you or your child find certain foods cause constant cramping or diarrhea?
  2. When you or your child touch furry animals do you experience a rash or uncontrollable sneezing?
  3. Does walking through a park during certain times of the year cause itchy watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing and/or coughing?
  4. How about those itchy, stopped up, popping and infected ears?

They can all be caused by allergies.

COMMON SYMPTOMS:

  • Skin Rashes (eczema) or Hives
  • Stomach Upset
  • Sneezing, Coughing, Runny Nose, Itchy Eyes
  • Breathing Difficulty (Asthma)

COMMON TRIGGERS:

  • OUTDOORS: Tree and Plant Pollens, Insect Bites, Stings
  • INDOORS: Dust Mites, Mold, and Animal Fur
  • FOODS: Peanuts, eggs, shellfish, finned fish, milk, cheese, wheat, tree nuts, soy
  • IRRITANTS: Perfume, Cigarette Smoke, Exhaust from Vehicles, Paints

PREVENTION:

For dust control taking up the rugs, getting rid of old stuffed animals and encasing the bedding with dust mite covers is very helpful. HEPA filtration units are excellent to control animal dander and changing the air conditioning filters during the spring and fall hay fever seasons reduce the pollen burden in homes. For patients with severe food allergies such as peanuts or tree nuts, complete avoidance of these products in home is essential.

TREATMENT:

Immunotherapy can be a safe form of long-term treatment to decrease symptoms for people with allergic asthma, rhinitis, insect and conjunctivitis allergies.  These injections, given by an allergist, can be a cost effective long-term approach for most people. For people with food allergies, simply avoiding the trigger is the best way to deal with the situation.

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