Monthly Archives: July, 2011

Deaths of Rock Stars – Learning From Their Mistakes

With the sad untimely death of Amy Winehouse, questions are yet again being asked why rock stars have a penchant to be associated with a death wish in conjunction with drugs. She joins a long line of celebrities.. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison(the Doors), Ron McKernan (the Grateful Dead) who all died due to drugs at the age of 27 strangely enough (the 27 Club). Add to this Michael Jackson, of course.

Could drugs be the cause of death for Amy Winehouse?

Maybe its easier to understand why these celebrities take to an escape from stress, as performance enhancers to keep up to fans’ expectations and also to enforce sleep when the mind doesn’t want to switch off.

Quite often these drugs gradually lose their effect once taken over long periods, thus necessitating higher and higher doses, which can lead to overdosage. But yet, this does not seem to be the case in some  instances.

Propofol, a common anaesthetic used in hospitals, gained notoriety when it was blamed for MJ's death

On the other hand, there are cases where there has been untoward drug interactions when many prescription drugs with similar actions are taken concurrently. In other words, therapeutic doses of several prescription drugs, usually pain-killers and sleeping pills, had been taken at about the same time, creating a deadly mixture due to chemical interaction. Such was the case with Michael Jackson, where propofol, lorazepam (Ativan), midazolam (Dormicum) and diazepam (Valium) were found at autopsy amongst others.

Here are what I see are some of the  mistakes that occurred and the measures that can be taken:

  • Usage of several painkillers in an attempt to get fast relief –  people with long-term pain like backache may resort to increasingly stronger medications as the body gets used  to them. In MJ’s case, it has been reported that he had been on oxyContin (an addicting painkiller derived from narcotics) for many years and had received pethidine (another narcotic painkiller) at the same time. The false and wrong rationale is usually that the more one takes, the better for fast pain relief.
  • Taking a cocktail of sleeping pills to ‘knock off’ – expecting a sleeping pill to work immediately can lead some people to erroneously take ‘more of the same or similar’ in an attempt to induce sleep quickly and perhaps get rid of unpleasant memories of the day. This is compounded when alcohol had been taken as it is a brain “downer”, just like sleeping pills. The combined effects of these pills and alcohol will suppress the brain from allowing the lungs to breathe. Never mix sleeping pills, sedatives, tranquillizers or take them with alcohol.
  • Alcohol does not jive with many medications – together with sleeping pills and cold medications, even some antibiotics (eg Bactrim, Flagyl) can cause unpleasant reactions.
  • Using many doctors or pharmacies – when visiting multiple doctors, bring along the list of medications in your possession so that there is no inadvertent cross-reactions. Similarly, using only one pharmacy enables screening with existing medications to prevent harmful drug interactions.

No Facebook Please..I’m A Doctor

..that’s the message, as far as patients go, that is. The British Medical Association (BMA) has issued a clear warning to doctors:  they should not accept Facebook requests from patients.

The BMA says social networking and patients do not gel

In today’s world of social networking, many doctors, nurses and medical students use social media – including Facebook, Twitter and blogs – with no problems. But  the BMA recommends they adopt conservative privacy settings and declare any conflicts of interest when they post online. This is especially so when they invite patients as friends. The dangers of breaching confidentiality, damaging their professionalism and risking the doctor-patient relationship are too great, BMA says.

I do feel there is substance in this warning. All too often, its too easy discussing personal medical details with an online friend, not realising that, even with privacy settings on, such details may be accessible to others.

Even with Facebook accounts set up between only doctors, many have been disclosing sensitive medical information – and even mocking patients – on Facebook.  The NSW Medical Board in Australia has cautioned one doctor for making “flippant and derogatory” comments, and warned others to “think twice” before disclosing patient details on social networking sites.The NSW president of the Australian Medical Association was astonished that doctors posted patient information on Facebook.

Maybe its time that medical students be lectured on the inappropriate use of social media..

Here Comes The Sun

Summer is upon us..well, at least for those from the Northern hemisphere. And that means at least 2 things..sunglasses and sunscreen lotions. While the former is quite straight-forward, try understanding the confusing world of sunscreens, aka sun-tan lotions. Case in point:

  • Sunscreens are to protect against the 2 types of ultra-violet rays: UVA (which causes wrinkling) and UVB (causes burning). Both are cancer-causing. The ones on the market right now have varying protection against these 2 rays.
  • All sunscreens wrongly claim to be waterproof or sweatproof. They are merely water resistant and even then for a limited time only.
  • Sunscreens with SPF (sun-protection factor) of  more than 80 offer better protection than those with lesser SPF. In reality, the maximum SPF possible is 50. A SPF of 15 is usually sufficient to prevent sunburn.

The confusing world of sunscreens is about to get simpler, if the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration)has its way:

Although these regulations are going to take 1-2 more years to implement, it will be a step in the right direction for today’s empowered consumers. However, the biggest problem of all is really to ensure that those exposed to the sun will apply enough of the lotion to give them adequate protection!

Attending to Medical Condition May Be Novack Djokovic’s Recipe For Success

Djokovic becomes the new Wimbledon Mens Champion - July 3rd 2011


So Djokovic has captured the 2011 Wimbledon tennis title for men, against most peoples’ expectations. While its true that enhanced coaching techniques and training are essential ingredients for his success, the real reason could be attributed to his discovery that he was suffering from coeliac disease, a condition where he is allergic to certain foods.

I wrote in detail about this here.

Losing Weight

Just a reminder..there are no safe short-cuts to exercise and dieting!

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