Susan Lennon MSW, LCSW Content Strategist
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Triple Tips: Celiac Disease, Parkinson's, Free Asthma Screenings: Health Briefs
USA Weekend Magazine, March 18, 2007
by Susan T. Lennon

Celiac disease: It may be the answer
Multiple medical mysteries? Can't find satisfactory answers? Ask your physician about celiac disease. "It's common, yet underdiagnosed," says Peter H. R. Green, M.D., co-author of Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic, "mainly because doctors don't consider the disease."

People with this genetic, autoimmune disease can't stomach gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye (and often in lipstick and other products). The body attacks gluten, hurting the small intestine and leading to poor absorption of nutrients. This causes gastrointestinal and neurological trouble, as well as osteoporosis, anemia, infertility and a rash that is often mistaken for psoriasis.

Treatment is simple, but not easy: Remove gluten from the diet. If that's not done, death rates multiply -- mainly due to cancer. The good news? Rates return to normal within five years of gluten-free living.

Parkinson's: Team treatment
After Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease is the most common progressive neurological disease in America. And as we know from actor Michael J. Fox, seniors aren't the only ones with the tremor condition; people under 50 account for 15% of cases.

Although there is no cure, the last decade has spawned significant treatment advances. A team approach works best. Michael S. Okun, M.D., medical director of the National Parkinson Foundation, recommends finding an expert who can map out a long-term care plan that mixes multiple classes of medicines with physical, occupational, speech and other therapies. Your team also might include a psychologist, social worker and neurosurgeon.

  • Self-help steps
    • Avoid stress
    • Eat foods that are rich in antioxidants
    • Find out if you're a candidate for deep brain stimulation, an alternative treatment

Asthma: Get free screenings
Are you bothered by breathing problems? Then take advantage of free asthma screenings at 300 locations across the country during April, May and June. This year's screening is for everyone but focuses on children who are younger than 5. If it seems like your son's cold always ends up in his chest, or if your daughter gets winded during exercise, then visit the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website at and click on "Patient Education" to find a free screening near you.

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