Monday, August 25, 2014

Celiac Disease

We’ve often seen “gluten-free” food items in groceries or commercials, and not all of us know why some people cannot take gluten or try to avoid gluten.

This is due to celiac disease - an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that occurs in genetically predisposed people of all ages.

Celiac disease is caused by a reaction to gliadin, a gluten protein found in wheat, and similar proteins found in triticeae crops which include other common grains such as barley and rye.

Upon exposure to gliadin, the enzyme tissue transglutaminase modifies the protein, and the immune system reacts with the small-bowel tissue, causing an inflammatory reaction.

  • Digestive problems (abdominal bloating, pain, gas, diarrhea, pale stools, and weight loss)
  • Iron deficiency anemia (low blood count) and other vitamin deficiencies
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps, joint and bone pain
  • Growth problems and failure to thrive (in children)
  • Seizures
  • Tingling sensation in the legs (caused by nerve damage and low calcium)
  • Aphthous ulcers (sores in the mouth)
  • Missed menstrual periods
  • A severe skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis


If your doctor suspects you have celiac disease, he or she will perform a careful physical exam and will discuss your medical history with you. He or she may also perform a blood test to measure for higher levels of certain types of antibodies (substances produced by the immune system to fight harmful invaders) found in people with celiac disease.

Your doctor may perform other tests to detect nutritional deficiencies, such as a blood test to see if your iron levels are low. A stool sample may also be tested to detect fat in the stool, since celiac disease prevents fat from being absorbed from food.


The only known effective treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet. While the disease is caused by a reaction to wheat proteins, it is not the same as wheat allergy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

When to Seek Professional Help

There may be times when sympathy, reasurance and advice from a concerned friend or family member are not enough to help you handle a personal problem.

Therapists offer more than sympathy. They monitor their clients’ conditions carefully and guide them through planned treatment.  The goal of therapy is to help people develop skills to effectively deal with their problems on their own.

The following are signs that you may need the help of a therapist: 
  • Prolonged depression
  • Extreme shifts in mood
  • Panic attacks or other episodes of overwhelming fear and anxiety
  • Recurrent displays of anger
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Abusing others or experiencing abuse from others
  • Eating orders, including bulimia
  • Obsessive-compulsive behavior that interferes with daily living
  • Learning that you have a dibilitating or terminal disease 

Therapy is also helpful for people who have lost their jobs, experienced divorce, lost loved ones through death, or experience similar crises.

Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010.  

Monday, August 11, 2014


Most of us must have heard about the death of Hollywood icon Robin Williams.

Dr. Don Powell lists down suicidal signs on his book A Year of Health Hints.

If someone you know talks about suicide, take them seriously, says Dr. Powell.  Comments like “They’re better off without me,” I wish I were dead” are warning signs of desperation. Watch for these suicidal signs:
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Spending time alone or not associating with others
  • Giving away personal possessions

Suicide prevention “don’t’s” include:
  • Don’t ignore a threat of suicide.
  • Don’t keep someone’s threat of suicide a secret.
  • Don’t dare or challenge someone who has threatened to commit suicide.
  • Don’t leave a person alone if they talk about suicide. 

What to do instead:
  • Ask how the person plans to carry out the suicide. Has he or she acquired a gun or pills?
  • Waste no time in finding help. Contact friends, family members, family doctor, clergy, a crisis intervention center, and/or a suicide prevention hotline.
  • Let the person know you care. Reassure the person that problems can be solved no matter how hopeless they seem.
  • Encourage the individual to continue work or participate in hobbies, sports, or other activities.


Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010.  

Monday, August 4, 2014

Getting Rid of Guilt

Last week, we discussed an emotional health issue which is anger. Emotional health greatly affects physical health as emotions manifest in our physical body. Now let’s tackle another issue - guilt.

Guilt is a by-product of all the “shoulds” people accumulate on their mental lists of “things to do.” To help you distinguish between what’s right for you to do and what you do because you’re guilt ridden:

  • Don’t let others’ values dictate the way you live your life.
  • Decide for yourself what’s important to you, what you value, or the way you wish to be.
  • Don’t expect to be pleasant, wise, and even-tempered at all times.  It’s normal to feel irritable or angry occasionally. Feeling guilty about negative emotions is futile.
  • Forgive yourself for mistakes in judgment,. Learn something from your mistakes. Make them work for you in the future.
  • Take satisfaction in your accomplishments, rather than dwelling on your shortcomings.

Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010.