Health
Thursday, August 07, 2014
 
Doctor's Perspective
E-cigarettes also a dangerous addiction

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
A few months ago I wrote a summary about the dangers of e-cigarettes. The makers of these cigarettes are trying to convince people that this is a "better" form of nicotine addiction than tobacco. However, the bottom line is that it is nicotine addiction. It may be true that the cigarette smoker would be better off with e-cigarettes. However, the non-smoker does not need to use e-cigarettes to become addicted. The problem is that this is big business. The companies that make e-cigarettes are in it for profit. The only way to make profit is to maximize the number of users of their products. They appear to have hit upon ways of doing that. A group of individuals who has never been exposed to nicotine is the adolescent population. If the makers of e-cigarettes can get this population addicted to their form of nicotine, they will have a group of new users. Therefore, these makers of the "better" form of nicotine addiction have decided to be kind to adolescents as well. They have done this in two ways. The first is through advertising. Cigarette advertising has long been banned form television. However, e-cigarettes are not regulated which means that they can advertise on television. Therefore, they are doing so. It is no surprise that they have targeted shows watched by adolescents for their advertising dollar. I guess that this is a "better" form of advertising. Fortunately, the FDA has caught on to this. The question is how quickly can they act? It makes one wonder how many more adolescents will become nicotine addicted in the interim. Of course, there are those who think that the federal government should not interfere with big business and its profits. They should be happy to see our youth become addicted to nicotine in the name of big business. A second issue is the fact that e-cigarettes come in flavors. One might imagine flavors related to different spices or different scents in the environment. There are a lot of adult scents that would fit these criteria. However, the flavors include cotton candy, gummy bears, popsicles. I wonder what advertising genius came up with these adult oriented flavors. It is clear that e-cigarette manufacturers are only out for profits. Their claims about a "better" form of nicotine addiction are just an example of them blowing smoke. They have their sights set on addicting our adolescent population to their form of nicotine. It is likely that we as adults will just stand by and allow that to happen. If you have comments about this column or suggestions for other topics, send an email to Dr. Anthony Policastro at editor@mspublications.com.

Delaware Hospice seeks volunteers Delaware Hospice seeks volunteers to visit patients and families in southwestern Sussex County. Most elderly or seriously ill patients want to "stay at home." To help them do so, family members become caregivers, eventually sacrificing all other activities and even their own health to be with their loved ones 24/7. Volunteers visit families for a few hours each week, allowing the caregiver a chance to get out of the house. The volunteer might sit and chat with the patient, play a card game, read a book or simply sit quietly at his or her side. Others offer to drive patients to appointments, to run errands or to pick up medications. Delaware Hospice offers specially trained volunteers, as well. Retired nurse volunteers help educate caregivers on skills and techniques of caring for their loved ones.

Veteran volunteers are assigned to veteran patients with whom they can share military experiences. Individuals from the southwestern towns of Sussex County are particularly needed to help visit their neighbors in the towns of Seaford, Laurel, Bethel, Bridgeville and Blades. To learn more, call 856-7717 to contact Susan Beckham sbeckham@delawarehospice.org or Ralph Plumley at rplumley@delawarehospice.org.

Bayhealth orthopaedist uses medical leeches in procedures Hundreds of years ago, leeches were used to cure a number of diseases. Now approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), medicinal leeches are making a comeback. Board certified hand and upper extremity orthopaedic surgeon, Darshdeep "Ishu" Singh, DO, MS, uses the medicinal leeches at his Bayhealth Orthopaedic Surgery practice. "I use medicinal leeches to accomplish a number of goals for my patients," said Dr. Singh. "They are helpful in finger reattachment surgery and other reconstructive procedures. Leeches help to save skin grafts that may die because of a lack of blood flow." When a patient has a finger reattached, he or she may be a candidate for the rarely used but powerful therapy. "Blood can pool in the patient's damaged tissue," explained Dr. Singh. "This happens because the veins that used to provide drainage were destroyed." When blood pools, it can thicken and cause clots. Clots plug veins and cause tissue to die. "Leeches help restore the blood flow so further surgeries aren't needed to save the finger." The fluid that they produce during feeding also helps reduce pain. Before a leech is placed on a patient's wound, the area is cleaned with saline. The leeches feed for 5 to 15 minutes and fall off once they are full. A care provider closely observes the patient during the entire process. During the feeding, leeches help restore blood flow and transform the otherwise dead tissue. The treatment and pain relief continue long after the leeches fall off thanks to a mix of chemicals they drool while feeding. The chemicals stop blood from clotting. The leeches are bred specifically for medical use, are housed safely, and are medically controlled by hospital pharmacies and physician practices. After a leech has fed only once, it is treated like any other biohazard and is properly discarded. Dr. Singh understands why some patients may hesitate to try leech therapy. "The benefits far outweigh the 'ick' factor," he said. However, some worry that leeches will suck too much blood. "In extremely rare cases, when a number of leeches are feeding at one time, blood loss can happen," said Dr. Singh. "We use just one or two leeches at a time." After leech therapy, patients are often able to avoid additional surgeries to correct blood flow issues. "As you might imagine, my patients choose leech therapy when given the option," commented Dr. Singh. "They may be tiny, but they are powerful creatures." Dr. Singh is board certified in orthopaedic surgery and specializes in hand and upper extremity surgery. He has special interest in hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder non-operative, arthroscopic and operative procedures. He treats patients with arthritis, fractures, tendon and nerve lacerations, and sports related hand and wrist injuries. Additionally, he has studied and explored many options for patients living with Dupuytren's disease. To learn more, call Dr. Singh at 302-730-4366. He sees patients at 540 S. Governor's Ave., Ste. 201, Dover, and 200 Kings Hwy., Ste. 7, Milford.