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Archive: Dr. Tom 38
Posted November 2nd, 2005

Questions about Oxygen Concentrator
Q. I have Alpha-1 ( Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency is a lack of a liver protein that blocks the destructive effects of certain enzymes. The condition may lead to emphysema and liver disease) and am on oxygen about 15 hours per day. My concentrator was being repaired and I thought I could use oxygen from a tank to get me through the night.

However, the alarm on my regulator kept going off. I guess I am a shallow breather. My question is - am I getting enough oxygen during the night with my concentrator? As I understand, everyone's breathing slows down at night.


A. Dear Pamela, I assume the alarm was coming from the regulator on the tank, and not the concentrator. These alarms trigger when someone is a mouth breather, or breaths in such a shallow fashion that the alarm mechanism goes off. This is a nuisance for sleeping people. You can monitor your oxygenation at night with a recording oximeter that most oxygen suppliers have. Hope this helps.

Dr. Tom


Vitamins for Sarcoid
Q. I have sarcoidosis (a disease of unknown cause in which inflammation occurs in the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, eyes, skin, or other tissues). What is best vitamin for immune system. Thank you.


A. Dear Lee, I know of no vitamins that will help sarcoidosis. Most treatment for serious stages of this disease include prednisone and some other drugs that supress the immune system. Early mild sarcoidosis, without eye, neurological system, extensive lung, or heart involvement, will resolve spontaneously.

Dr. Tom


Son Does Not have Ciliary Hair
Q. My son Mason, was born with pneumonia and heart failure. He has had numerous hospital stays since birth.

Now he has been diagnosed with two lung diseases at Children’s Hospital in DC. They did a ciliary biopsy and the results showed he has no cilia hairs in his lungs. My son needs someone who has experience with this disorder and that is why I am contacting you.

Can you please call me or have someone call me? I can send you his whole medical record from each hospital he has been in. He was born in Holy Cross and has been in Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, and Children’s in DC.

The bills are through the roof but I do not want to deprive my son of anything just because he was not born into a rich family.

He spent two weeks in Children’s in September 2005 and that was $57,000 and then he came home for a week and went back for three weeks. They did a lot of procedures, including a Nissen procedure on his stomach (a Nissen is a surgical procedure that is done to reduce chronic heartburn). He has a G tube and that bill was $107,000 but I do have pretty good insurance. Please help.


A. Dear David, Absence of cilia or poor ciliary function leaves the lungs vulnerable to repeated infections. You are already going to a children's hospital that should have the most experience with this serious condition. I do not know if lung transplantation is a possibility, but you should ask about it.

Dr. Tom


Felt Dizzy and Weak Since Stopped Smoking
Q. I stopped smoking two months ago and ever since I have felt dizziness and weakness. Is this normal after stopping?


A. Dear Liam, These are not the usual symptoms associated with stopping smoking. If they persist, you should see a doctor for a diagnosis. Great that you did stop smoking, which will help your health, no matter what else may be going on. Maybe the symptoms will just subside.

Dr. Tom


Climate for Asthma and Chronic Sinusitis
Q. Dr. Tom, My five-year-old son suffers from acute asthma and chronic sinusitis. He has a lowered immune system and is allergic to dust mites, pollen, mold, and dogs. Which environment would best alleviate his symptoms? I've heard that Arizona's climate would be better for him. Presently, we live in Southern California.


A. Dear Tom, Arizona has a lot of allergens too, from the desert flowers. Probably the least "allergic" area in the country is the west coast of Florida, where the prevailing winds, not hurricanes, blow the land antigens away. Fresh sea breeze has few antigens. But before moving your place of residence, you should consider a visit for at least two weeks to see for yourself, that your son is better. There is no perfect environment for kids with asthma, where environmental allergens are the problem. Usually medications can control the asthma, wherever you live.

Dr. Tom


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