Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Canadians embracing the joy of pandemic gardening


A Dalhousie University survey shows more Canadians are gardening during the COVID-19 crisis. Anxiety may play a role

By Sylvain Charlebois
Dalhousie University

They say gardening is good for the soul. Apparently many Canadians agree as they have opted to ‘pandemic garden’ this year.

The Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, in partnership with Angus Reid, recently released a study on home gardening, just in time for Thanksgiving. The survey was conducted earlier this month and included more than 1,000 Canadians from across the country.

The study, entitled Home Food Gardening in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, looked at the prevalence and varieties of, and attitudes tooward home food gardening in Canada during the pandemic.

The report suggested that 51 per cent of respondents grow at least one variety of fruit or vegetable in a garden. Of those, 17.4 per cent started growing food at home in 2020 during COVID-19 – that’s almost one in five Canadians.

A total of 67 per cent of new gardeners in 2020 agree that the pandemic influenced their decision to start growing food at home.

More British Columbians and Prairie residents are home food gardeners than are not. Ontario is almost exactly even between those who grow food at home and those who don’t, at 50.1 and 49.9 per cent respectively. Of all respondents who grow food at home in Atlantic Canada, 23.7 per cent started gardening this year, the highest proportion of new gardeners in a region of Canada.

Anxiety may have something to do with why people gardened so much this year. The report showed many Canadians remain concerned about our food supplies with 52.6 per cent of respondents at least somewhat worried about food shortages during COVID-19.

Given that the survey was conducted just days ago, that was surprising.

Only seven per cent of respondents are not worried about food shortages. Among new home food gardeners, 53.9 per cent are worried about food shortages compared to 55.2 per cent of longtime gardeners.

Furthermore, 39.8 per cent of total respondents at least somewhat agree that finding certain specific foodstuffs has been challenging during the pandemic.

Many Canadians are clearly concerned about food affordability, another reason why perhaps many started to garden this year. Of total respondents, 85 per cent are concerned that food prices will rise because of the pandemic. That’s a lot.

Living arrangements were also evaluated. You don’t need a yard to grow food in Canada. In fact, 18.6 per cent of gardeners are growing at least some food on balconies. Of all respondents who grow food at home and live in Quebec, 31.3 per cent grow at least some food on a balcony, the highest percentage in the country.

A total of 82.4 per cent of home food gardeners live in single-family homes, which corresponds to the fact that 70.2 per cent of them grow at least some of their home produce in their yards.

This was truly a stellar year for gardening but it remains unclear whether it will last.

The lockdown in the spring got us to spend more time at home, which got many to redefine their living space. Most importantly, given concerns related to potential food shortages and affordability, new gardeners simply wanted to take control over their food supply chain.

And gardening is a perfect compliment to cooking, which most of us have done plenty of since March.

Gardening is a good thing, even in the worst of times. As such, the report provides several recommendations. For example, it recommends that municipal governments increase awareness of their community gardens and that studies be conducted among city residents to discover their level of interest in growing their own food in a community garden.

The report also states that given the number of condominium and apartment home food gardeners, this presents a unique opportunity for condo boards, renters’ groups and neighbourhood organizations to start home food growing associations.

It will be interesting to see if Canadians remain committed to gardening in years to come, when our quest towards normalcy is complete.

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois is senior director of the agri-food analytics lab and a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University. Lisa Mullins, a research associate at the School of Information Management and Dalhousie University, co-authored this commentary.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Annual Awards Recognize Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Members for Outstanding Contributions to Veterinary Medicine

Annual Awards Recognize Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Members for Outstanding Contributions to Veterinary Medicine: The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association issued the following news:. Applying to the Ontario Veterinary College in the 1960 s, before the Western College of Veterinary Medicine was established, was a challenge. So, Dr. Hosie chose 3 back-up professions: forest ranger, astronomer, and chemist.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Online Uncontested Divorces Nearly Doubled for Canada’s Untie The Knot During COVID-19 Pandemic

Online Uncontested Divorces Nearly Doubled for Canada’s Untie The Knot During COVID-19 Pandemic: The demand for online divorces has never been higher for Canada’s number one online uncontested divorce service, Untie The Knot, operating for over 18 years. “This year, during the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase of 90% in online divorce orders through our service between May 18 and...

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Our pandemic response seems like a guessing game

From suspect modelling to poor stockpiling to a lack of perspective on historic events, we failed to be ready for COVID-19

By Deborah Prabhu
and Allan Bonner
Troy Media contributors

Where will the COVID-19 pandemic fit into history? What will be the lessons learned, if any?

Our guess is we’re learning how little we did to prepare and how much we’re guessing in response as we go along.

We had three pandemics in the 20th century.

The Spanish Flu in 1918-20 probably killed as many as 100 million people. We say probably because records weren’t accurate and the pandemic happened in part during a war. The official death toll is about 40 million.

We don’t see many popular culture references to this event – people wearing masks in movies, newsreels or in photographs of the era. But they did. A new biography of Ronald Reagan by Bob Spitz notes that even in the small towns of the U.S. Midwest, masks were handed out but usually only voluntarily worn. In passing, he notes that the Spanish Flu killed 25 million people in three months. We’re nowhere near there yet.

The 1957-68 flu may have killed two million people and the Hong Kong Flu in 1968-69 may have killed about one million.

The World Health Organization has estimated that an avian flu might kill between eight million and 350 million people.

The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) event in 2003 was statistically irrelevant with 8,000 cases worldwide and 800 deaths.

Two million people die from diarrhea each year, more than 40,000 North Americans die from ordinary flu, about 50,000 die on highways and perhaps 5,000 die from food poisoning.

Very few people died from a later bird flu – the toll was in the low hundreds. We also had swine flu, avian flu, MERS and other smaller events.

So how little we prepared is easy to document. After all these events, we were still shaking hands and crowding together. We did little to combat regular flu or food poisoning, didn’t stockpile supplies, and the list goes on.

These things were occasionally discussed in medical journals, documentaries and news reports, but then we went back to sleep.

Imagine if we’d really attacked the annual flu or food poisoning with hand washing, general cleanliness, mandatory shots and so on.

Imagine if we’d required workers in hospitals and seniors centres to use new scrubs when arriving for a shift, not wear them on the streets, and only work in one facility. An old study in United Kingdom hospitals notes how filthy physicians’ ties and pagers were, to the point that ties were banned. Other studies show how infrequently lab coats are washed.

Other preventive measures might have included getting off high-fructose corn syrup, improving diet in other ways and taking other dietary precautions, improving and promoting better general health, and using new, wearable technology to monitor blood pressure, respiration and other health indicators.

Why didn’t cities, hospitals, states, provinces, national governments and others stockpile enough personal protective equipment for this event?

Masks, gowns and gloves aren’t that expensive.

Why don’t urban emergency plans feature more pandemic advice?

Many don’t mention the word.

What were the plans in cities for remote working, cleaning transit vehicles, using vending machines for food, handling retail sales on sidewalks and so on?

Why did we keep using fragile supply chains and just-in-time delivery?

We manufactured our own shortages.

We could have banned the international trade in exotic animals for pets and eating.

In the same way that our foreign policy tries to promote democracy and governance issues around the world, we could have also promoted sanitation.

That’s all evidence of a lack of preparation.

As for the information we’re receiving, a lay person could be forgiven for assuming that experts are guessing. We’ve seen models predicting American deaths ranging from 38,000 to 2.5 million. That’s too broad a range for a scientist to express without significant contextualization.

Let’s look at British epidemiologist Neil Ferguson’s predictions for past events and this pandemic.

In 2005, an epidemiological model by Ferguson predicted that bird flu might kill 200 million worldwide. The death toll four years later was 282.

On his advice, during the swine flu epidemic, the U.K. government indicated that Britain’s “worst-case scenario” was that the disease would claim 65,000 lives. The death toll was 457.

Some years before, he feared deaths from mad cow disease would reach 50,000. The actual number was 177.

In a paper he co-authored paper in March, Ferguson and his colleagues estimated the COVID-19 pandemic would result in “approximately 510,000 deaths in G.B. and 2.2 million in the U.S.” That prediction was based on the assumption that only drug-free interventions were being used.

We always knew the big risks: animal-to-human transmission and then human-to-human. We also knew the impact of a new strain, rendering current drugs ineffective.

All this has come to pass with the current pandemic. But why have predictions on impact been so broad and so off the mark (thus far)?

There have been improvements in science and public health over the last century. The flu virus wasn’t isolated in a lab until long after the Spanish Flu, so there were lots of guesses. Guesses included that the flu was spread by musty books.

We now have better sanitation, hand-washing and fitness. But diet, including obesity and other pre-existing conditions, may be worse.

The Spanish Flu was spread in part by soldiers crammed into close quarters and the Hong Kong flu was spread in part by soldiers returning to the United States from Vietnam.

That’s not happening now. But we have an aging and thus more vulnerable population and seniors homes are a relatively new way of housing this population. They’ve been hard hit.

There may be some immunity to certain strains of flu for those who have lived through the pandemics of 1957 and 1968, and even the smaller events such as swine and avian flu. That may mean that the healthy group of teens who seem to be shunning preventive measures could be at greater risk. There’s more travelling these days, and a virus catches a ride on an airplane instead of a slow boat.

With all those variables, it’s a wonder any prediction is even close to accurate. But there’s another challenge, and that’s with modelling methods.

There’s a trend to using computer models and engineering techniques to predict future impact. This makes sense. We can’t infect real people to see what happens.

But many of the models assume an outcome based on current behaviour and events. We highly suspect that behaviour and events will change. We know this from other models. Media reports, social cues – what your friends and neighbours are doing – and many other variables affect outcomes.

A scientific model has to make certain assumptions. But those assumptions, like product labelling, should be front and centre in the publication of models. Some models assume all variables remain constant, which isn’t going to happen. Other models assume behaviour in one country will be mirrored in another, and that’s also not going to happen.

Pollsters provide product labelling. If they don’t, their work is subject to ridicule. A poll is a snapshot in time but time is marching on with all variables changing. Pollsters remind consumers that the poll is only accurate within four percentage points, 19 times out of 20. They also publish the sample size and whether they interviewed people in person, on the phone or via the Internet. All these methods can make a difference.

Unfortunately, when scientific models are translated from medical journals to daily newspapers, any disclaimers seem to be downplayed. And some researchers like to get into the daily press and may highlight scary findings, but not be good at contextualizing them. The result is now a lack of trust in these scientific findings.

That lack of trust is translating into a lack of compliance. Pandemic infections and deaths are rising in several U.S. states that have opened up too soon. How this will impact the trust in elected and appointed officials remains to be seen, but it’s not good news in a democracy.

Dr. Deborah Prabhu, MBBS, graduated with distinction as a physician and worked in medicine in India before moving to Toronto. Dr. Allan Bonner, MSc, DBA, is a crisis manager based in Toronto.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Cauliflower Rice

By Jessica Meyers Altman • Originally published on
Cauliflower is a great food that’s packed with nutrition. It’s a member of the cruciferous family, a food group that should be consumed daily. This dish is very light and makes the perfect side, salad, or sweet potato topper.
You can add in additional beans, like chickpeas, to boost the protein, fiber, potassium, and magnesium in this dish. It’s perfect cold or warm. One caveat — the peas, broccoli, and greens dull if you don’t eat them right away. Be sure to very lightly cook the greens, and blanch the broccoli, to maximize nutrition, and add the peas in just thawed at the end (no cooking!). Plus, this dish comes together quickly.

How to make this plant-based recipe:

Revolutionary Recipe: Spring Cauliflower Rice

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Let people make their own risk assessments

We should all take valuable lessons from the way Sweden has handled the COVID-19 crisis

By Brian Giesbrecht
Senior Fellow
Frontier Centre for Public Policy
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes that we have to learn to live with COVID-19. Notwithstanding hope of a vaccine, there is no guarantee. The virus awaits as we step out our door. And it could get worse.

In Canada, the virus has been suppressed by a lockdown and strict social distancing, leaving residents at the very beginning of achieving the needed herd immunity (where the virus dies off because so many people have recovered from the disease and are immune from catching it again).

While places like New York, Milan and Stockholm are closer to achieving it, Canadians can’t huddle in fear indefinitely – relying on increasingly bankrupt governments sending cheques.

As restrictions are lifted, the fact is more people will get sick, some will die.

At the beginning we only knew the virus came from Wuhan, China, and was deadly. Then we watched a horror show play out in Italy and then Spain, and became thoroughly frightened. Our public health and political leaders added to our fear, reinforcing a message that we must shelter at home and obey drastic lockdown measures.

We now know that COVID-19 is extremely deadly for elderly people with health problems. Data shows that 82 per cent of the deaths have been in long-term care homes. And, those who are obese or have compromised immune systems are also at great risk.

The ‘best’ news is that COVID-19 largely spares children and the young. For many young, the virus is no more deadly than the usual respiratory viruses that regularly make their way through the population.

We also know that the vast majority of healthy people, and those under the age of 60, who do become infected will recover. Some will become very sick, but most will have mild or no symptoms.

Some experts recommend a harm reduction model. People would assess their own risk level and make their decisions accordingly. Younger, healthier people might decide to take more risks than older people with health problems.

We don’t have to rely on the government telling us what to do. We could, and should, make our own decisions. Too often, we face arbitrary and unfair government rules, enforced by overzealous officials.

Sweden chose individual risk assessment from the start. Instead of panicking and imposing draconian lockdowns, they chose another route. A minimum of government regulations were passed. No to gatherings of large groups, but personal risk assessment was left to the individual.

Sweden adopted a watch-and-see approach. If it appeared that their health-care system was about to be swamped, they planned to impose more rules. But Sweden’s health-care system wasn’t swamped.

Unfortunately, like Canada, Sweden made poor decisions with nursing homes. But they’re far closer to achieving herd immunity than their lockdown neighbors like Norway and Denmark.

And they didn’t have to shut down their economies or close their primary schools to get there.

WHO initially advised Sweden to impose a lockdown or face a collapse of their health-care system. It now recognizes Sweden as a model to follow.

Canada should now do what Sweden did from the beginning – end arbitrary government restrictions and allow people to do their own risk assessments.

Our leaders should stop scaring Canadians while recklessly distributing borrowed money.

Their message should be: “Yes, take precautions, but go out and live your life.”

Brian Giesbrecht, a retired judge, is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Top 10 Toxins in Your Home, Room by Room

If you're looking to rid your home of toxins, these top offenders in each room of your home are a good place to start.
Written by Lacy Boggs Renner   

  1. Laundry Room: Dryer Sheets
    Dryer sheets were my entree into the land of toxin-free living when I learned that the substance used to soften clothes is often derived from animal fats. (YUCK!) But the fragrances used in dryer sheets can be even worse, containing chemicals like benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol and terpines—all toxic, and some carcinogenic. Switch to DIY dryer balls instead and use essential oils for that fresh laundry smell. 
  2. Bathroom: Bleach-based Cleaners and Wipes
    Because of years of branding, bleach can seem like the only choice when it comes to disinfecting germy surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen, but the health risks of the toxic chemicals in bleach can outweigh the benefits. Chemicals in bleach are highly corrosive to the skin and lungs, and the chemical chlorine in bleach is used in the chemical weapon mustard gas. If bleach is mixed with ammonia (which is found in urine, by the way) it creates a deadly gas. And when mixed with wastewater, it's known to form numerous carcinogenic compounds. Switch to white vinegar, baking soda, or even boiling water for your disinfecting needs.
  3. Kitchen: Oven Cleaner
    Oven cleaners sold in the store are chock full of toxins, including lye (also known as ‘caustic soda’), ethers, ethylene glycol, methylene chloride and petroleum distillates. They even release butane (a neurotoxin) when you spray them.Switch to a simple paste made from baking soda and water, and then line the bottom of your oven with aluminum foil to make future clean ups easier.
  4. Living Room: Carpets
    Carpets are the No. 2 cause of air pollution in the home—right after cigarette smoke—because they're treated with all kinds of toxic chemicals, from flame retardants to stain repellents.  Bare wood or tile floors are best, but swapping traditional carpets for natural-fiber carpets can make a big difference.
  5. Dining Room: Scented Candles
    Believe it or not, those romantic candlelit dinners could be hazardous to your health. Lots of commercial candles contain tiny metal wires in the wicks that can release lead into the air. In addition, most of the fragrances contain plasticizers and other solvents that shouldn't be inhaled. Even plain beeswax and soy candles release hydrocarbons into the air when burned, which can cause respiratory problems. Experts suggest limiting candle burning to special occasions. 
  6. Kids' Room: Art Supplies
    Coloring and drawing seem like such harmless kid activities, but it depends on the tools. Dry erase markers top the list for toxicity because they usually contain the solvent xylene, a neurotoxin. Colored pencils can contain lead (look for lead-free varieties) and even water-based markers can contain alcohols that can be toxic.
  7. Nursery: Baby Wipes
    One of the most ubiquitous baby tools, conventional baby wipes, can be toxic. Many contain bronopol, an antimicrobial compound that's toxic to the skin, immune system and lungs. Many also contain pthalates, which are known endocrine disruptors. Look for natural brands that don't contain these harsh chemicals—or just use soap and water.
  8. Bedrooms: Furniture
    Most of us start out with inexpensive particle-board furniture when we are setting up house, but particle board or pressed wood usually contains formaldehyde or isocyanate glues, which give off toxic fumes—sometimes for years. Upholstered furniture made with polyurithane foam can also contain brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, which also offgas toxic vapors. Your best choice? Solid wood furniture, even if it's second hand.
  9. Porch or Deck: Pressure-Treated Wood
    Pressure treated wood has preservatives forced into it under high pressure that help repel insects and prevent rot.  But the chemicals used, like alkaline copper quat and copper azole, can be very toxic. When building a new porch or deck, look for wood that's been treated with the less-toxic borate preservatives.
  10. Yard: Fertilizers and Pesticides
    It's a status symbol in suburbia to have a lush, green, golf-course-like lawn, but all those chemical pesticides, weed killers and fertilizers can be very harmful—especially to pets and kids, who, let's face it, are the ones most likely to be rolling around in the grass in the first place. Switch to organic lawn treatments, but be aware that even organic treatments can sometimes be harmful to pets and kids in high doses. Read labels carefully. 
Photo Credit: bill barber via Compfight cc

Monday, June 8, 2020

Gene therapy appraisals may limit new drugs in Canada

Nigel Rawson
Mackenzie Moir

Canada's separate environmental protection oversight unnecessarily delays development and approval

By Nigel Rawson
and Mackenzie Moir
The Fraser Institute
The federal government plans to move ahead with major revisions in regulations governing the tribunal that sets ceiling prices for new prescription drugs in Canada.

Revisions include:

·                    replacing countries with relatively higher drug prices with lower price countries in the international price-comparison analysis';
·                    enforcing hard thresholds for cost per quality-adjusted life year;
·                    imposing a reduction in a drug’s price if its annual sales exceed a defined level;
·                    requiring pharmaceutical companies to divulge information on confidential rebates negotiated with payers in Canada.
Concerns raised in the latest consultation on the revision indicate that clinical research will decrease in Canada and manufacturers will delay bringing innovative new medicines to Canada or not bring them here at all.

Furthermore, early evidence suggests that adjustments in research activities are already being made. New clinical trials registered with Health Canada from Nov. 1, 2019, to March 15, 2020, fell by more than 52 per cent compared with the same period in previous years, whereas new trials in the United States decreased by only 21 per cent.

The changes to the pricing controls are not the only deterrent to clinical research in Canada, especially for novel genetic therapies that could be game changers in the lives of patients with cancer and other diseases. Cancer cellular immunotherapy trials increased from seven in 1995 to 1,579 in 2015, and the percentage of trials using genetically modified cells increased between 2006 and 2015 to a similar degree.

Most genetic therapies are delivered to their target cell by a viral vector. Due to the potential ecological risk that cell and gene therapies may pose, an application for a clinical trial or for marketing authorization for these medicines requires an environmental risk assessment in most countries.

These appraisals are the international standard for these therapies and are done not only in Canada but also in the U.S., the European Union and Japan.

However, in each of these jurisdictions, except Canada, the evaluation is performed as part of a single review (the U.S. and the EU) or jointly between ministries with regulatory overlap (Ministry of Labour, Health and Welfare and Ministry of Environment in Japan).

Canada, on the other hand, uses a system that results in separate and independent regulatory oversight that falls under environmental protection laws for clinical research and marketing authorization.

In Canada, this regulatory arrangement originally added a potential delay of up to 120 days for clinical trial applications for new biological substances that fell under these regulations. This has recently been changed with an informal commitment to shortening this review to 30 days.

While the government may be receptive suggestions on how to address this issue, a long-term solution remains potentially years away. In the meantime, there’s concern that this regulatory overlap and the completion of separate applications could cause delays, review redundancies, and uncertainty. It’s possible that these impacts could have a pernicious impact on innovation within this space.

With many new medicines of this type on the horizon for testing in Canada, it’s time for the federal government to take positive action to harmonize environmental assessment requirements with other jurisdictions. It must reduce the additional regulatory burden imposed on Canadian academic investigators and drug developers, allowing them to be more competitive internationally.

At a time when the world is seeking answers to a pandemic, requiring severe price reductions and the extra burden of a separate and independent environmental assessment that disincentivizes the bringing important, life-changing new medicines to Canada will make even less sense when we eventually transition back into a more stable post-COVID-19 world.

Dr. Nigel Rawson is a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute, and Mackenzie Moir is a Fraser Institute analyst.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Trust Your Gut… 6 Stomach Issues Not to Ignore

We’ve all eaten or imbibed something that didn’t agree with us, or caught a stomach bug that was settled with rest, over-the-counter aids and some chicken broth. While many times we can go it alone and solve a stomach ache ourselves, there are certainly times when it’s necessary to see a doctor. Dr. Gina Sam is a Gastroenterologist with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and an Associate Professor. She provides insights on symptoms indicative of common abdominal conditions and advises when it’s time to see the doctor.
Common symptoms include feeling full fast during a mean, a slicing pain, burning or tightness between your breastbone and navel or bloating. The tricky thing with indigestion is that it can be triggered by something else that is worse. Persistent indigestion may be a side effect of a medication, caused by smoking, thyroid disease, ulcers, infection, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). “If you rarely have indigestion and feel funny or discomfort after a spicy meal that may go away on its own. However, if indigestion is a daily occurrence for more than 2 weeks and is coupled with trouble swallowing, fatigue or weakness, then absolutely see your doctor to be sure it isn’t due to something more serious,” advises Dr. Sam.
Lactose Intolerance
When the small intestine fails to product enough lactase, an enzyme that digests milk sugar (lactose) food reaches the colon before it has been processed and absorbed. Undigested lactose interacts with normal bacteria in the colon leading to diarrhea, nausea, bloating, cramping, gas and sometimes even vomiting. These symptoms usually begin 30 minutes to two hours after consuming foods or drinks with lactose. Dr. Sam explains that the challenge with lactose intolerance is that it often leads to calcium deficiency so it’s always a good idea to see your doctor to create a plan that explores which foods trigger discomfort and which are still okay.
Kidney Stones
According to Dr. Sam, “kidney stones don’t cause symptoms until they pass on from the kidney toward your bladder. That’s when there may be cloudy or foul smelling urine that can appear brown or pink. There may also be a frequent need to urinate but the ability to urinate small amounts. Nausea and vomiting along with fever and chills are also symptoms. Usually when lower back pain is so severe sleeping and even sitting is difficult the patient seeks medical attention.” She adds, “When you have kidney stones you just know something isn’t right, yet sometimes it takes people longer to see several symptoms before they seek medical attention.”
While it’s more common to people ages 10-20, it can strike at any age. Typical symptom are pain specifically in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen however, half of those with appendicitis have pain elsewhere. Also not everyone has his or her appendix in the same place making the pain site vary. “This is why it is important to monitor symptoms closely. Many of the symptoms are similar to ones associated with other conditions such as kidney stone, Crohn’s disease; even ectopic pregnancy,” offers Dr. Sam. She further explains that the patient can expect several tests (blood, urine, MRI, CT or ultrasound) to confirm diagnoses. Some doctors don’t want to risk waiting for test results and based on how the patient describes his or her own symptoms may opt to surgically remove the appendix.
Gallstones are stones that form in the gallbladder, a tiny sac that hangs out under the liver, disgorging bile as needed to digest fats. These stones cause swelling and can block the duct into the intestine, resulting in pain. Gallstone pain tends to strike the right side of the upper abdomen, particularly after fatty meals. Such meals trigger the gallbladder to contract. “If the gallbladder is inflamed, any contraction of that nature will be amplified and typically will cause pain to the patient,” says Dr. Sam
Medication side effects
“No drug is without side effects and sometimes that includes abdominal pain. 
Oral bisphosphonates, a popular class of drugs that helps preserve bone density and prevent osteoporosis, can cause swelling—and therefore pain—in the lower esophagus,”, says Dr. Sam. 
Pain medications known as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin can also cause swelling in the stomach lining and may even lead to ulcers.
Rule of thumb is to trust the gut. When something feels more serious, it usually is. Some stomach issues can either be symptoms of other more serious issues or if left unaddressed, can escalate into something worse. “Whenever you’re feeling prolonged discomfort and sharp pain it’s worth seeing your doctor,” advises Dr. Sam.
About the doctor:

Dr. Gina Sam, MD/MPH is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. She is the Director of the Mount Sinai Gastrointestinal Motility Center specializing in achalasia, gastroesophageal reflux, functional disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis, and anorectal disorders including pelvic floor dyssnergia and fecal incontinence.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Dr. Fauci on remdesivir for COVID-19: ‘This will be the standard of care’

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony S. Fauci, MD, said today that data from a multinational randomized control trial showed that Gilead’s investigational antiviral remdesivir “has a clear-cut significant positive effect in diminishing time to recovery” for patients with COVID-19.
“This will be the standard of care,” Fauci, a White House advisor on the pandemic, said during comments from the Oval Office. Fauci said the results, which have not yet been peer-reviewed, prove “that a drug can block this virus.”
Read more:

Gilead Sciences, Inc. /ˈɡɪliəd/, is an American biopharmaceutical company that researches, develops and commercializes drugs. The company focuses primarily on antiviral drugs used in the treatment of HIVhepatitis Bhepatitis C, and influenza, including Harvoni and Sovaldi.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

UV light with ties to Englewood company could be new tool in fight against COVID-19

UV light with ties to Englewood company could be new tool in fight against COVID-19: ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — President Donald Trump’s comments about possibly injecting patients with disinfectants to treat COVID-19 may have overshadowed his remarks at the same time about the…

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Canada has weathered epidemics before and will again

From the Spanish flu to TB to whooping cough to polio, we have hunkered down. Our protective instincts made sense then and do now

By Rodney Clifton
Senior Fellow
Frontier Centre for Public Policy

COVID-19 is causing panic across Canada. But before wringing our hands in anguish, we should put this crisis into a broader context.

Places like universities, libraries, schools, churches, restaurants and pubs are closed. International flights are being redirected to just four airports with appropriate screening facilities, and the border between Canada and the United States is closed to all non-essential travel.

Essential services, grocery stores, doctors’ offices and hospitals are open – at least for now.

The country’s economy is grinding to a halt, while the health-care system is gearing up. Gearing up health care, as we know, requires considerable resources that can only come from a vibrant economy. But this problem is being pushed into the future.

Now we have a pandemic to fight – again.

To gain a broader context, a few statistics will help:

·                    The most devastating epidemic in Canadian history was the Spanish flu in 1918-20 that killed more than 50,000 Canadians. Even today, the common flu kills over 3,000 Canadians a year.
·                    In 1901, tuberculosis (TB) killed almost 10,000 Canadians out of a population of about 5.4 million. In 1947, when I was three years old, the death rate for TB was about 110 per 100,000 people.
·                    In 1945, a whooping cough epidemic killed about 25 per cent of infected babies under a year old. Infected children between the ages of one and two had a death rate of about 10 per cent, still very high but much better than 25 per cent.
·                    During the Second World War, approximately 7,000 young Canadian servicemen and women were killed every year; and every year, another 9,000 were wounded, many of them very seriously.
·                    In the early 1950s, a polio epidemic swept the nation, paralyzing about 11,000 people. The epidemic peaked in 1953 with about 500 deaths.
Of course, most Canadians are too young to have experienced these epidemics but many seniors still remember, as I do.

To date, fewer than 1,000 Canadians have died from COVID-19, yet provincial governments have declared states of emergency. People are being asked to restrict their interaction with others in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. If the epidemic is not slowed, the medical system may become overburdened. If this happens, many more people will likely die.

This is the worst-case scenario but no one knows what’s coming. The experts don’t even know.

We know, however, that epidemics are horrible things that cause unmeasured pain and suffering. But pain and suffering have been a natural part of human life since the Garden of Eden. It’s only in the last 150 years that scientific research, the development of effective water and sanitation systems, and modern medical care have made epidemics less vicious and more amenable to human intervention.

Hopefully, human intervention will slow or stop this pandemic before too long.

Throughout history, humans have survived countless diseases and illnesses. And we will survive this virus. Of course, some people will die, probably those who are most vulnerable, the old and infirm, and people with deficient immune systems. Thankfully, children are not as likely to die.

What should we do?

Remember the advice our parents or grandparents gave, which is similar to what public health officials are telling us. Avoid unnecessary contact with people, especially those who may carry the virus, wash your hands often and don’t cough on other people. Most importantly, keep a distance from other people so they don’t cough on you.

Hunker down in isolation for however long it takes for this disease to run its course. Read some good books, listen to great music and informative podcasts, talk to friends, meditate to ease the stress in your mind and body, and write letters to loved ones.

Above all, try to stay happy. Some things can’t be controlled.

For those who haven’t lived through previous epidemics, this will be a new experience, something they will tell their kids and grandkids. T-shirts will be printed with the slogan “I survived the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.”

Some people are likely to have more difficulty as time passes. Unless they’re ill, they may think they’re not infected. Undoubtedly, some will spread the virus to others without realizing what they’re doing. When the pandemic is over, some people are going to feel guilty because of their careless behaviour. Others are likely to feel foolish because they overreacted. This is to be expected and clinical psychologists will be working overtime.

Even so, Canadians have survived terrible epidemics in the past and will survive this one, too.

Rodney Clifton spent 18 months in a sanatorium with TB meningitis starting in 1947, when he was three years old. He is a professor emeritus at the University of Manitoba and a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.