Health
Thursday, September 28, 2006
 
Some medical problems are over emphasized
By Dr. Anthony Policastro

I frequently write about medical problems that have been over emphasized. One such problem is infection with head lice. There are lots of rumors about head lice. Many of them are just rumors. One of those rumors is that head lice are related to poor hygiene. Some groups like homeless children do have an increased incidence. However, about 1% of children get head lice regardless of hygiene. The condition is usually transmitted by contact. Thus, contact with an infected individual has a lot more to do with getting it than hygiene. Another rumor is that a child needs to have no evidence of lice to come back to school. Children should be allowed in school if they do not have an active infection. Once they receive treatment, their infection is not immediately contagious. The eggs that remain are usually empty. Therefore, they do not spread the infection. The real problem with lice is their growth pattern. Adult lice travel from child to child. They live for 1 - 2 months. During that time they lay about 300 eggs. The eggs attach to hair shafts. They hatch in about 7 - 10 days. Once they hatch, they are called nymphs. The nymphs feed on the scalp. Within 1 - 2 weeks, they grow into adults. They then can lay more eggs. This life cycle is what causes most of the problems. When adults are found, they are treated with a variety of poisons. The treatment kills the adults. The treatment kills the nymphs. However, it does not always kill all the eggs. The eggs that survive will hatch in 7 - 10 days. They will then remain as nymphs for 1 - 2 weeks. For that reason, it is a good idea to repeat the treatment at about 10 days. There will be no new eggs in that time because all the adults were killed with the first treatment. All of the eggs that survived will be hatched by that time. None of the new nymphs will be able to lay eggs yet. The result is that the first treatment means the child will not be contagious for the three weeks or so that it takes the eggs to hatch and the nymphs to grow. To keep them away from other children during that period is overkill. It is much more useful to ensure that they get the second treatment 7 - 10 days later. That will break the cycle. Another misconception is that the treatment should be used after hair washing. Water allows the lice to go into a dormant stage. During that time, they are resistant to the treatments. For that reason, the treatment should be applied to dry hair. After treatment the hair can be washed. At that point a fine toothcomb can be used to clean out eggs that are found. They are usually found close to the scalp. Some people treat everyone in the family. However, if individuals are carefully examined and found to have no evidence of infection, that is not necessary. The spread of infection is almost always from person to person. Some families feel more comfortable cleaning things around the house. This is not usually necessary. However, if someone wants to do this, they can use hot water above 128 degrees. Many household water heaters are set safely at 120 degrees. Washing of clothing, bed linen and hair implements is usually all that is necessary. The good news is that the infection is more of an annoyance than it is a cause of serious symptoms. It can cause scalp itching. It can cause scalp excoriation. It can cause local scalp infection of the open skin with bacteria. It can result in swollen glands in the back of the head or neck due to the scalp infection. However, those are unusual and tend to be minor. The biggest problem with lice is the number of days in school absences throughout the country. If you figure that 1% of all children get it, that is a lot of days missed for a minor problem.

Dr. Anthony Policastro is medical director at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.

PSA screenings at NMH
Nanticoke Health Services will provide PSA screenings on Thursday, Sept. 28. The blood tests will be offered at the Nanticoke's Cancer Care Center * 1st Floor, adjacent to the hospital from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. The fee for the test will be $5. Results will be mailed approximately two weeks after the event. Prostate cancer is the most frequently occurring cancer in men. Between 1980 and 1990, prostate cancer incidence increased 65 percent. It is believed that this increase was the result of improved early detection. There is expected to be a further increase related to the use of the prostate specific antigen blood test. Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a substance that is produced by the prostate gland. Men normally have a small amount of this substance in the blood. PSA levels differ according to age and tend to rise after the age of 60. PSA can be affected by several conditions in the prostate such as the normal enlargement in the prostate, which occurs with aging. Infection or inflammation and surgery to the prostate can also cause increased levels. There is no specific level of PSA that tells whether prostate cancer is present; however the higher the level, the more likely it is that cancer may be developing. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital encourages men over the age of 50 to take advantage of this service. If you are 40-years-old and at high risk of developing this cancer you are also encouraged to participate. African-American men are at high risk for developing prostate cancer, as are men who have a family history of the disease. For additional information on the PSA screening contact the Cancer Care Center at 302-629-6611, ext. 2588.

2006 Memory Basket
The LifeCare at Lofland Park Memory Walk Team is now selling the Longaberger Pen Pal Memory Basket. The basket is trimmed in purple around the top with ribbon tacks and has a special engraved tag. The cost is $48 which also includes the basket protector. All proceeds benefit the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter. For more information contact Tawnya at 302-628-3000 ext., 8452; or dennist@nanticoke.org.

Nanticoke hosting benefits
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will be hosting two fundraising events to benefit the American Heart Association Heart Walk. On Saturday, Sept. 30 "Pumping Up The Volume" concert will be held at the Seaford Middle School auditorium. The vocal talents of Nanticoke employees and their families are sure to entertain the crowd with sounds of Country, Rock 'N Roll, Contemporary Christian and Classical music. There will be music for everyone. Emcee for the evening will be WBOC's Jimmy Hoppa. Cost is $20 for admission. Tickets are available by calling the hospital at 302-629-6611, ext. 2550 or via email at Millerl@nanticoke.org. The second fundraiser will be a Bingo on Thursday, Oct. 5, starting at 7 p.m. at the Seaford Moose, located on Rt. 13A in Seaford. The evening will consist of 20 exciting games and will feature several baskets Longaberger products as prizes. Advance tickets are $20 per person, $25 at the door. Advance ticket includes a chance to win the Large Hamper and the Autumn Treats set with Wrought Iron legs or one of the several door prizes. Nearly 30 chances to win. Refreshments will be available. For ticket information contact the hospital at 302-629-6611, ext. 2404 or via email at MorrisR¨nanticoke.org. All proceeds for the two events will be donated the American Heart Association Heart Walk 2006.

Memory Walk Saturday, Sept. 30
The Alzhemier's Association, Delaware Valley Chapter, will be hosting the 2006 Memory Walk on Saturday, Sept. 30, in Rehoboth Beach. The walk will begin at 10 a.m. from Grove Park, with registration starting at 8:30 a.m. To support the Memory Walk 2006 register online at www.alz-delawarevalley. org, or for more information call 854-9788.