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Showing posts from October, 2014

In the Spotlight: Pica

This month for our Rare Disease of the Month blog we're discussing Pica, which is a condition that often appears in conjunction with other conditions.  The word Pica is from the latin for Magpie, which is a bird associated with odd eating habits.  It was first documented in medicine in 1563. Pica has the potential to be dangerous, even fatal, depending on the substances the person is eating.


Snapshot:  Pica is when a person repeatedly eats substances with no nutritional value such as dirt, ice, paint, stones, or even glass.  Eating these substances must occur for at least 1 month and at an age where it's developmentally appropriate to not engage in this behavior (aka a 3 month old eating a piece of dirt is not Pica). The most common substance eaten is ice, which may seem benign, and can lead to cracked teeth, slowed digestion, and weight gain.  There are several subtypes of Pica, depending on the preferred substance to eat. Complications may occur. For example, lead poisoning m…

How To Fail at Awareness

I don't need to make anyone aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Our annual descent into all things pink to remind the populace that women (and men, although this is usually lost in the messages) get breast cancer.  And we should get our mammograms, do our monthly breast exams, and support women who have been diagnosed with this awful disease.

It's a great idea, and whoever thought it up gets a major high five.  Unfortunately, we've turned this idea on its head and the message is often upsetting, distasteful, and demeaning to women living with breast cancer, or who are survivors.

I don't claim to speak for anyone who lives with this diagnosis, but I have listened to several of them who actually hate October, the color pink, and most of the "awareness" campaigns.  I use quotes around that word because the aim to truly raise awareness of what breast cancer is has been lost in a sea of pink merchandise and marketing gimmicks.  Take the pink dri…

How to have an allergy-free Halloween

Happy autumn, everyone! The air is crisp, the leaves are turning, and pumpkins abound. Many families celebrate Halloween and I wanted to dedicate this blog entry to our patients who have food allergies or restrictions. A few years ago, Dr. Taft and I traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, to speak at the Cured Foundation conference. There we met with families who have children with with Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) or Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders (EGIDs), and saw some of the most severe food allergies we have ever seen. Although you may not know children with as severe of food allergies as those diagnoses, there are currently 15 million Americans dealing with food allergies. Our friends over at Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) have a wonderful idea for families who celebrate Halloween that I wanted to share.


What it is:
Their project is called the Teal Pumpkin Project. The basic idea of this initiative is to have houses provide non-edible treats for those trick-or-treate…

National Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct 5-11, 2014)

Next week begins the 24th anniversary of having Congress recognize and establish a National Mental Illness Awareness Week. It starts Monday October 5th and continues until October 11th. As a therapist, I have the opportunity to meet many different types of clients, some with physical illness, some with mental illness, and often these two overlap. There is still such a long ways to go with decreasing the stigma around mental illness. There are wonderful organizations doing great work to empower those who suffer to share their stories, in order for others to truly understand what mental illness is about. If you haven’t already, check out these three: National Alliance on Mental Illness, Bring Change to Mind, and StrengthofUs.

One of the best ways to decrease the stigma around mental illness is to know the facts and educate yourself and others. I was shocked to know that 1 in 4 American adults have a mental illness as well as 1 in 5 American kids. That number is astounding, and yet how ma…