A doctor warns about the impact of overprescribing

Seven percent of individuals in the United States are prescribed levothyroxine, a synthetic version of the hormone, thyroxine, which is the main chemical produced by the body’s thyroid gland. The supplemental hormone consistently ranks among the top three prescriptions in the U.S. each year. In the past few days working at the hospital, I noted that one-sixth of the patients I saw were taking levothyroxine. This finding wasn’t terribly surprising to me and seemed like a fairly average sampling based on prior experience.

What has been surprising to me, however, is the mounting evidence indicating that most levothyroxine prescriptions, as…


A pediatrician and internal medicine physician weighs in on a recently identified vaccine side-effect.

Today the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and 15 other medical organizations** who form the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued a statement supporting Covid vaccination despite new data suggesting an association of myocarditis and pericarditis with vaccine administration. Here’s what they had to say, and here’s why I’m glad they said it:

The ACIP did not hide or inappropriately minimize the fact that vaccine reporting systems like VAERS and v-safe have revealed an association of myocarditis and pericarditis with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid vaccines — two…


A physician demystifies the event of a cardiac arrest and explains how it can be treated and even prevented.

“Damn it, I’m only 29 years old!” declared Christian Eriksen shortly after returning to consciousness. He awoke to find himself sprawled on a football pitch surrounded by concerned teammates and medical staff.

Seconds earlier the limp body of Denmark’s star midfielder had been subject to chest compressions, rescue breaths, and the electrical shock of a defibrillator in a desperate attempt to bring him back. Thousands at Parken stadium in Copenhagen and millions watching on television held their collective breath waiting for Eriksen to regain his.

A few minutes before halftime of Denmark’s Euro 2020 match against Finland on June 12th…


In addition to the fact that it makes me feel like a magician

Right now, I’m just speaking into my phone and making sure the words show up correctly on the screen. They usually do. My phone’s voice recognition is definitely more accurate than it was when I first tried talk-to-text about six years ago.

This story isn’t about finding the most advanced dictation software for a computer or promoting a phone that incorporates the best microphone. I’ll leave that to the tech experts. It’s about why, as an author, I like to speak my stories and why you might enjoy speaking yours too if you don’t already.

1. My writing is more relational

Right now, I am literally…


Throw out the tedious calculus. It’s not that complicated. The simple answer to the question on everyone’s mind:

Herd immunity to Covid-19 is an enigma. It’s universally sought after regardless of party affiliation, religious creed, or level of vaccine acceptance. Think about it. Are you pro-herd immunity or anti-? Pro, of course! At the same time, it’s so poorly understood. How many people does it require? Is it permanent or temporary? Will it actually change anything? When can I take this frickin mask off?!?

NFL quarterback Cam Newton once said, “Hindsight is always 50–50.” I don’t bring that up to disparage Mr. Newton. In fact, he was quick to correct his mixed metaphor just seconds later. …


A new study shows just how bad long Covid can be

A surprisingly large portion of patients who have suffered from Covid-19 continue to experience concerning symptoms and complications months after their initial infection. Increasingly, this prolonged battle is becoming known as long Covid, and those who suffer from it have been dubbed long haulers. Covid-19 differs from most other respiratory viruses in the sense that a lingering version exists, and scientists are working to better understand this emerging condition.

A manuscript from a recent study accepted for publication in the journal Nature was published online April 22. This report, authored by epidemiologists Ziyad Al-Aly and colleagues, provides unique insight into…


Hospitals across the country are seeing fewer sick kids; a pediatrician explores why

It’s a Friday in April, and after a week on service, I’m down to one pediatric patient in the hospital. Not that I’m wishing for sick children, but as a pediatric and adult hospitalist physician, this isn’t what I’m used to. This isn’t what the entire country and much of the world are used to either.

Where Have All the Sick Children Gone? That was the title of a recent article by Scott D. Krugman, MD, an editorial board member for the renowned medical journal, Pediatrics. Dr. Krugman isn’t the only medical provider asking this question.

In mid-March of 2020…


When it comes to migraines, could the heart of the matter be a matter of the heart?

Migraines headaches affect up to 12% of the US population. Identifying effective therapeutics for those who suffer from migraines can be challenging, and no one medication has proven to be a cure-all. Medical researchers are investigating an innovative method of non-medical treatment that, rather than targeting the brain directly, focuses on another vital organ — the heart.

A hole new approach


A physician looks at how our immune systems respond to the Covid vaccine

I received my second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on January 4th of this year. I donated blood on March 19th. The donation center routinely checks for antibodies to Covid-19 in their donors. To my surprise, I was antibody negative. Does that mean my vaccine didn’t work?

The short answer is, “no.” Here are two reasons why I’m not concerned, and if you find yourself in a similar situation, you need not worry either.

1) Antibody tests aren’t perfect

Not all antibody tests are the same. There are a number of different classes of antibodies or immunoglobulins (Ig). For instance, IgM is made by…


Coronavirus

A pediatrician explains how kids can crush the novel coronavirus with the strength of their innate immune system.

Epidemiological data indicates the severity of Covid-19 is strongly correlated with age. However, the reason children typically exhibit milder symptoms than adults remains unclear. A study published earlier this year in Nature Communications by Dr. Melanie Neeland and colleagues shed light on this mystery by analyzing detailed features of the immune response to Covid-19 in a cohort of 48 children compared to 70 adults.

Study design

The study took place in Melbourne, Australia from April to August of 2020 and investigated non-hospitalized patients most of whom experienced mild symptoms of Covid-19 such as fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, and fatigue. Blood…

Bo Stapler, MD

Health & science writer on Elemental & other pubs. Hospitalist physician in internal medicine & pediatrics. Interpreter of medical jargon. bostapler.medium.com

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