David W. Weisgerber, M.D., P.A.

Internal Medicine

307 10th Avenue N.E.

Hickory, N.C.  28601

(828) 327-9898

Answers to Weekly Quiz

                    1.        Pink Eye or Acute Conjunctivitis is an inflamation of the covering of the eye (except for the cornea) and lining of the inside of the eye lids.  As inflamation is a non-specific reaction of the body to some irritant, it can be caused by allergy such as to weed pollen, chemical irritation such as sulfur dioxide in air polution, and infection by viruses and bacteria.  Treatment is specific to the cause and may include eye drops containing an antihistamine and eye ointment containing an antibiotic.

                    2.        Reumatoid Arthritis is caused by the body's inappropriate formation of an antibody (usually formed to attack infections) directed against the chemical make-up of the body's joint cartilage.  It produces a severe inflamation reaction in the joint space and is associated with crippling of the individual if not treated.  When active, it may be associated with a lowgrade fever and mild anemia.  It is treated with medication which blunts the inflamatory reaction.

                    3.       Environmental allergens responsible for seasonal allergy in the autumn include ragweed pollen and mold spores.  Treatment is now available that can eliminate the stuffy nose, itchy eyes and clear mucus discharge associated with the body's reaction to these irritants.

                    4.        Melanoma is the most dreaded of skin cancers.  It will metastasize or spread distant to the site of origin, unlike most other skin cancer which stays where it occurs.  It has a tendency to spread to lymph nodes draining the limb in which it occurs and nerve tissue including the brain, spinal cord, and retina of the eye.  It can be prevented by use of sunscreens and protection against sun exposure.  Melanoma has recently been a popular news item since Senator McCain was diagnosed as having this cancer.

                    5.        Vitamin B12 is absorbed in the small intestine of the intestinal tract after becoming a complex with a chemical which is produced by the lining of the stomach and called Intrinsic Factor.  Some persons lose the ability to make intrinsic factor and develop a vitamin B12 deficiency eventhough they consume a large amount of B12 in the form of vitamin pills or in their diet.  Those individuals, if left untreated, can develop malfunction of the nervous system usually manifested by loss of sensation or abnormal sensation in the legs and an anemia or low red blood cell count characterized by having overly large red blood cells.  This characteristic anemia is known as pernicious anemia.  Vitamin B12 deficiency is diagnosed by the simply measuring the B12 level in a routine blood test.  It is treated by injections of B12 given monthly which introduce B12 into the body bypassing the intestinal absorption process.


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