Thursday, February 09, 2012
Pharmaceuticals are helpful, but can't solve all our problems

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

We are now in the era of fast food. That is true of what we eat. It is also true of what we expect from medicine. People tend to think about the fast way to get better from anything. Unfortunately, their thinking is usually wrong. For example, we know that most minor illnesses are caused by viruses and they go away in a few days. Antibiotics are seldom needed. However, patients think that they need an antibiotic for every little illness. What actually happens is that a small percentage of individuals will have an undesirable side effect from the antibiotic. The result is that they will become sicker than they were. In reality all they had to do was wait a few days to get better. Adults with Type II diabetes usually develop it because they are overweight. The correct treatment for it in the initial stages is weight loss. However, the reason they developed diabetes in the first place was that they could not lose weight. The result is the expectation that all they need to do is take a pill so they do not have to worry about losing weight. That is not the approach that is going to be the best thing for their body. Weight affects other things as well. When I first checked my cholesterol back in 1984, it was 275. I changed some of the foods that I ate but it did not make a big difference. I then lost 10 pounds over a two month period. The cholesterol dropped to 215 and took years to go back up. The first thing to do with high cholesterol is lose weight. The same thing is true of weight and blood pressure. These things take time. It is hard to watch television without seeing a commercial for a sleep medication. Parents see these commercials and think that all they need to do to help their child sleep at night is give medication. They do not realize three important things. The first is that all the things that they see on television are not approved for use in children. The second is that the medications that are approved for sleep in children have serious side effects. The third is that most sleep problems in children are not sleep problems. They are behavior problems which need to be treated with good parenting techniques and not medication. A similar thing is true with childhood behavior. ADHD with hyperactivity cannot be diagnosed before 4 years of age. That is because all 2-year-olds and most 3-year-olds are hyperactive by nature. They need to be watched carefully 24 hours a day. They need to have their behavior managed through parenting techniques. I frequently will have parents come to see me with young children. They are looking for medication for their child. I give them advice on parenting techniques. They then do not bother showing up for their second appointment. They wanted a pill. They did not want parenting advice. It is a good thing for individuals to quit smoking. There are things available to help them such as nicotine patches, nicotine gum and Wellbutrin. However, one thing is clear from the medical literature. The most effective way to stop smoking is to quit cold turkey. The medications and nicotine aids do not replace the will power it takes to stop smoking. There is not a pill to replace living life in a healthy manner. There is not a pill to replace spending the time it takes to be a good parent. Thinking otherwise is purely fast food logic. It does not really work very well.

Measles case identified Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) confirmed a case of measles in a 6-year-old girl from Clayton. The case was clinically diagnosed by the child's physician on Jan. 13 and confirmed by Lab Corp on Jan. 23. The child was not hospitalized and did not suffer any complications due to the illness. DPH notified the child's school, Caravel Academy, of her illness. The child had been previously vaccinated for measles and had not traveled recently. No other cases have been identified as a result of exposure to this case at this time. In an era of measles elimination, measles is very rare in the United States. DPH has only confirmed five cases since 1995. However, measles is a common disease in many other countries and can result in infection during international travel. Measles, also called rubeola, is a contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. Measles causes fever, runny nose, cough and generalized rash. Complications of measles include pneumonia, encephalitis, ear infection, diarrhea and, in severe cases, death. The best prevention against measles is immunization with the combination vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. While measles vaccine is highly effective, no vaccine provides 100 percent immunity. All children and adolescents should receive two doses, given at least four weeks apart. Most children are vaccinated at 12-15 months and receive the second dose at 4-6 years of age. For more information, visit or call DPH's Bureau of Epidemiology at 1-888-295-5156.

NMH offers stroke support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next Stroke Support Group meeting is at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the Seaford Library. The support group is designed for individuals who have survived a stroke as well as their families and caregivers. Modeled from the American Stroke Association, the hospital is engaging with speakers to provide education, community resources and emotional support to those who have been affected by this life-altering event. The two-hour support group meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and stroke survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support, and allow for networking. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is not required for this free support group. For more information, call Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 8626.

PHC announces Heartbeats Tour Peninsula Home Care (PHC), a leading, award winning home care company is hitting the road this month to promote heart health. On their first road tour across the Eastern Shore of Maryland and lower Delaware, PHC will make 13 stops at local venues to offer free blood pressure screenings to community members. "Our road crews will be armed with educational materials complete with information and resources to promote heart health and tips to help manage high blood pressure," said Therese Ganster, branch director, Peninsula Home Care. "All three PHC branches (Ocean Pines, Salisbury and Seaford) have reached out to their communities to schedule screenings in convenient locations for people across the peninsula." Area tour stops include the Nanticoke Senior Center on Feb. 10, 9:30 a.m. and Heritage Shores, Bridgeville on Feb. 15 - 11 a.m. to noon. For more information, contact Therese Ganster at 629-4914. For more information about the Peninsula Home Care Heartbeats Tour, visit

Polysomnography program offered Delaware Technical Community College Owens Campus is offering polysomnography certificate training this spring for anyone interested in becoming a polysomnographer technologist. The polysomnography certificate training program will be held for 16 sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5 to 10 p.m. beginning April 2 and ending May 23.

Participants also need to have a criminal background check and drug screening, which is not included in the cost of the program. Polysomnographers usually work in sleep laboratories or sleep centers, and operate a variety of sophisticated monitoring devices, record brain activity, muscle and eye movement, respiration, blood oxygen levels and other physiologic events. Some technologists are also involved in treatment methods, and can also transition into management and marketing of sleep centers. For more information, or to register, call Corporate and Community Programs at 854-6966, or register online at

Alzheimer's support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next Alzheimer's Support Group meeting is at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at LifeCare at Lofland Park's first floor Resident Lounge, 715 E. King St., Seaford. This group provides support and information about Alzheimer's and dementia to families, caregivers and anyone who is affected by this disease. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is not required for this free support group. For more information, contact LifeCare at Lofland Park at 628-3000, ext. 8302.

NMH offers CPR classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center located on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children, and infants and how to help an adult, child, or infant who is choking and use of the AED. This classroom-based, video, and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friends, and community members the opportunity to learn CPR and need a course completion card. Classes are open to participants 12 years old and up. This program is specifically designed for those who prefer to learn in a group environment with feedback from an instructor. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency because of job responsibilities or regulatory requirements. Cost is $40. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations may be accepted if seating is available. To register and to obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.

Southern Delaware Heart Ball Come dance the night away for a good cause at the Southern Delaware Heart Ball. The ball will be held at the Dover Sheraton Hotel on Saturday, March 17 from 6:30 p.m. to midnight. A premier black-tie event, the Heart Ball raises funds for heart disease and stroke. Chairs are Steve and Rosie Rose of Nanticoke Health Services. For more information, visit or contact Karen Gritton at 302-286-5705 or

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. To learn more, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Tobacco relapse support group Bayhealth Medical Center is pleased to offer a new support group for individuals who recently quit using tobacco products. The "Tobacco Relapse Prevention Support Group" will meet from 5:30 to 7 p.m., on March 20, May 22, July 24, Sept. 11 and Nov. 8, 2012. The group will meet in Bayhealth's BETT Conference Room at 208 W. Water St. in Dover. This support group is designed to help individuals focus on relapse prevention and provides networking opportunities for participants to share their unique experiences and success stories with others. There is no need to register in advance for this support group. For more information, contact Bayhealth Educator Terry Towne, MSN, RN-BC, NE-BC, at 302-744-6724.

NAR-ANON support group "Take Heart, Be Strong" is a support group available to those family members and friends who are concerned about the drug/alcohol addiction of a loved one. We find people in NAR-ANON who understand what we are going through and are ready to share their experience, strength and hope to help us. This group meets at 7 p.m. every Thursday in the Youth Room at Crossroad Community Church, 20684 State Forest Rd., Georgetown. If you are interested or know someone who might be, call Beth at 302-745-0466. This is an anonymous program and there are no obligations. Attendance is welcome with no prior arrangements. For more information and other meeting locations, visit

Relay for Life fundraiser Dr. Marie Wolfgang is again sponsoring a 12 night Winter Getaway Cruise to the Southern Caribbean as a fundraiser for Relay for Life, sailing from Cape Liberty, N.J. on Feb. 10. The itinerary includes St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Johns (Antigua), St. Lucia and St. Maarten (Philipsburg). Transportation to and from the dock is available. For a brochure, call or visit Dr. Wolfgang's office at One Cedar Ave. in Seaford, 629-4471. Space is limited.

Bereavement luncheons Delaware Hospice's "New Beginnings" bereavement luncheons are an informal way to meet and talk with others, who have had similar loss experiences. Lunch begins at noon and is followed by a brief program. The location rotates each week of the month throughout Sussex County. "New Beginnings" luncheons are open to the public. Registration is not required. There is no fee except the cost of your lunch. For more information, call Midge Dinatale or Paul Ganster at 856-7717.

New depression support groups If you have been diagnosed with depression, are currently receiving treatment and need extra support, join the Mental Health Association in Delaware's newest depression support groups. The support groups provide a safe and comfortable environment for adults who may be struggling with depression to find others who may be going through similar experiences, learn coping skills and take back control of their life by being proactive. A support group meets in Seaford every Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The location of the meeting is provided only to registered members. To register, contact the Mental Health Association in Delaware at 302-654-6833 or 800-287-6423. These new groups are made possible due to a grant received from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware's BluePrints for the Community program.