Ask the Doctor: Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, poison ivy, bug bites

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 1:21 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Dr. Bob Cassady from the South Bend Clinic joins us every week on 16 News Now at Noon to answer your medical questions.

Question #1: “June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Can you talk a little bit about this disease and share any early warning signs to look out for?”

DR. BOB: Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic degenerative brain disease which leads to dementia.

What do those terms mean?

Chronic means that the disease takes time to develop and is long term. Degenerative means that there is loss of brain tissue.

The entire picture of Alzheimer’s is not understood, but it is in some part caused by too much of specific proteins in the brain that cause damage.

Dementia involves multiple areas of brain dysfunction such as memory, the ability to perform simple tasks, judgement, and language. Changes in memory can be an early sign.

At the same time, this is a complicated area in medicine because some minor memory changes are also normal as we age.

If there are concerns about someone’s memory, I recommend seeing the doctor so we can do a more thorough evaluation and decide whether there is concern for dementia.

Question #2 (from Donna): “Been dealing with rash from poisonous plants. I have used hydrocortisone cream, calamine, etc. Even took Benadryl. What else can I do? Itches like crazy!”

DR. BOB: Rashes due to plants such as poison ivy, oak, or sumac are caused by an allergic reaction.

Exposure to various parts of the plant causes a delayed allergic reaction. It can take hours to days for the rash to develop after exposure.

It is extremely common and something we see every day when people are doing spring cleanup. People can develop blisters, swelling, redness and it itches intensely.

The things mentioned in the question are a good start. Hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, and Benadryl. If these things aren’t working the next steps are either a very strong steroid cream or steroid pills.

I typically recommend seeing the doctor so we can look at the rash and make the best decision about treatment.

Question #3 (from Julie): “Any remedies for bug bites? I get bitten by mosquitos all the time and they get really swollen.”

DR. BOB: This question is similar in some ways to the poison ivy question because people who get dramatic reactions to mosquitoes often have an allergy to mosquito saliva.

Most people who get a bite get a small wheal or bump at the site from a local reaction. Other people can get dramatic reactions. Personally, my own children have such dramatic reactions that their eye will swell shut.

Generally, antihistamines are going to be the best treatment for these reactions. I would recommend trying to take something like Claritin or Allegra prior to mosquito exposure, which may dampen your body’s response to a bite.

Also, make sure you are using a good mosquito repellant such as DEET and consider getting permethrin impregnated clothing.

If you still develop a large reaction to a bite, then I would try Benadryl.

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