When a Western tourist collapsed outside the Independence Palace last January, media outlets reported that the tourist had suffered a stroke. This wasn’t accurate — according to the emergency doctor who arrived on the scene by ambulance just minutes after receiving the alert, the patient had suffered from a heart attack, before going into cardiac arrest. The patient was taken into intensive care at a nearby cardiology unit.
One of the most devastating experiences a physician faces is to see a patient with a condition that is completely preventable and treatable — but because the patient presented it too late in the course of the disease, that condition is no longer curable, or can only be partially treated even with the most invasive and aggressive techniques. Cervical cancer is exactly that kind of condition.
I am a lucky man.
Vietnam is among the world’s worst countries for overuse of antibiotics. Much has been written about the worldwide epidemic of antibiotic abuse and the rise of “superbugs”, but even against a backdrop of international attention, the excessive use of antibiotics in Vietnam is alarming.
In April, the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a recommendation for parents to limit the exposure of their babies to rice, rice cereals, rice pasta, rice milk and other rice containing foods due to very high levels of arsenic found in rice.
I’m often amazed by the lack of knowledge of parents about the medications they give their babies. Many parents don’t know why they give the medication, what it’s good for, or even bother remembering the medication’s name.
Another year has gone by already. Brace yourselves: Flu season is coming. And along with the coughing, fevers and aches, you can expect a lot of unreliable or downright wrong information about the flu vaccine. While you can’t entirely germ-proof yourself or your child, you can learn to separate fact from fiction, keep your family healthier, save time, money and frustration. Let’s start by putting some of the more common myths and misunderstandings to rest.
A couple travelling through Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia) came to see me a few weeks ago. The 28-year-old Caucasian female of the couple had been in Hanoi for the last five days. She had been suffering with sore bones and was feeling she may have overdone it in Thailand where they had been trekking, but the pain was getting worse.
This story starts over a year ago when a happy gentleman from the Philippines visited me for his yearly health check. These involve a range of tests and with this particular patient I noticed that his blood pressure was on the high side. I gave him advice which included a change of diet and some steady exercise. My patient was also starting to show early signs of diabetes and so I prescribed him medication. But this is difficult to understand for a person who does not feel ill; health checks have a purpose of finding disease early and preventing disease from developing further.
The biggest challenge to being a GP is sometimes meeting patients who aren’t actually ill, but really need more emotional help. It can be like deciphering a mental puzzle with no clues. One morning a few weeks ago, a young Caucasian female traveller arrived at the clinic. She was in her twenties, was travelling through Asia with her friends, and had arrived from Thailand a few days before. The consultation started as she was concerned as she’d had diarrhoea for three days with lower abdominal pain.