An Apple a Day

 


Today is World TB Day

March 24, 2017

Today is World TB Day, where we remember a disease that's been with us for millennia and will be with us for decades more. Everyone remembers the Black Plague of history (another old disease that unfortunately hasn't disappeared either), but if you ever wondered what the White Plague was, it was tuberculosis. In the 17th century, at its peak, active TB was the leading cause of death in Europe and remained so for almost two hundred years.

In those days, and in fact for centuries until modern antibiotics, the active form of tuberculosis was often a death sentence. Sufferers, wracked by fevers and night sweats, coughed up blood and lost so much weight the disease was often also known as "consumption." The disease spread easily in tenements and crowded dwellings where people couldn't help but share the air.

Modern antibiotics have greatly reduced the chance of death from this age-old killer. But TB has two big tricks to outwit us. Besides its unpredictable contagiousness, treatment for TB is very slow and requires multiple antibiotics at once for months on end, and TB can evolve resistance very quickly if it's treated incorrectly.

TB's other trick is to go into hiding in many people, a form we call latent tuberculosis. Like active TB, latent TB is caught from another active case, but in latent TB sufferers the infection goes into hiding instead. It's not contagious like active TB, but sometime in the future, sometimes years after the exposure, the bacteria can surface again and they develop active TB. While latent TB is very treatable, many people don't know they have it because there are no symptoms. Over a third of the world's population is estimated to have latent TB infection, and about 10% of them will go on to have active TB and be contagious.

TB is still in the United States and right here in Riverside County, around 60 or 70 cases of active TB each year in this county alone and many hundreds more with latent infection, most of which are treated by yours truly and our dedicated TB control staff. Our patients come from all walks of life, but what they have in common is they've all been attacked by this ancient enemy. Our department puts hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and many hours of work into treating active cases, finding out who's been exposed to them and treating people for latent infection to help keep us all safe.

You can help us win the war against TB. If you've had a TB test that was positive before and you've never been treated, talk to your doctor about what's best to do. And if you or someone you know have any of the classic TB symptoms such as coughing up blood, fevers, night sweats or weight loss, particularly if nothing seems to be working, think TB and ask your doctor about it. Your doctor can call us if they have questions. We're here to help.

Let's stop TB in our lifetime before it claims more victims to come.

March is National Nutrition Month

March 13, 2017

Who doesn’t love a good cheeseburger every now and then? Most of us do. The problem is that eating too much of a good thing can be really bad for your health.

More and more, health care providers are seeing the results of poor nutrition habits walk through their doors. Heart disease and diabetes are just a few of the serious illnesses that can come from not eating enough healthy foods.

The good news is, eating right isn’t that complicated. We know the best foods for our overall health – fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free milk products, along with lean meats, poultry, fish and eggs are among the best options.

It’s also important to keep our diets low in saturated fats, salt and sugar – many of these no-no’s are found in packaged and processed foods.

And the BEST news is, Riverside University Health System – Public Health’s Nutrition Services and Health Promotion Department has an incredible staff dedicated to helping educate and support Riverside County residents in achieving their best health and wellness.

For tips and resources on eating healthy, visit www.rivco-nutrition.org and let us help you celebrate National Nutrition Month.

Riverside University Health System – Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at www.rivcoph.org.