Significant changes have occurred in relation to how chronic asthma is being treated. Emphasis has now shifted from viewing asthma as a condition of smooth muscle dysfunction to one of chronic inflammation. As such, anti-inflammatory therapy forming the cornerstone of treatment represents the first important milestone in the evolution of asthma treatment. For this purpose, inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) is by far the most effective anti-inflammatory therapy. Another important milestone is the recognition of the superiority of adding long-acting β2-agonist (LABA) to ICS over escalating ICS dose alone or other forms of add-on therapies in treating asthmatic patients not responding to regular ICS alone. The effectiveness of adding LABA to ICS in treating asthma logically led to combining the two drugs into one single inhaler (salmeterol/fluticasone and budesonide/formoterol) that has the attractiveness of being user-friendly and ensuring that ICS is not missed out. The unique property of formoterol that allows for repetitive flexible dosing paved way to the concept of using Symbicort for both regular maintenance dosing and as required rescue medication. This revolutionary approach has been recently shown to provide improved asthma outcome, achieved at an overall lower or at least comparable corticosteroid intake, and may represent another evolutionary step in the treatment strategy of chronic asthma.
Osteopoikilosis is a rare bone dysplasia which is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait with a prevalence of less than 0.1 per million.1 It is characterised by dense ovoid or circular spots in cancellous bone which may appear at birth or during skeletal growth. It is usually found in the metaphyseal and epiphyseal regions of long bones, the carpals and tarsals, the end of large turbular bones and around the acetabula. It is clinically asymptomatic and occasionally associated with hereditary multiple exostosis and dermatofibrosis lenticularis disseminata. It is not associated with spontaneous fractures and treatment is unnecessary. However a case of osteosarcoma developing in a man with osteopoikilosis has been reported. The first case of osteopoikilosis was reported in Malaysia four years ago in a 25 years old lady who is also of Indian descent. It would be interesting to know if these two patients are related. Since the bone lesions could easily be mistaken for metastatic disease, it is important that family physicians be aware of the benign nature of this condition.
A 45-year-old Malay housewife was seen at a health clinic with the chief complain of recurrent lower abdominal pain for 9 months. The pain was colicky in nature and occasionally it radiated to the back. There was no history of fever, vaginal discharge or any urinary or bowel symptoms. She had been using an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD Cu250) for the past 5 years. The last change of the IUCD was 2 years ago. Her annual pap smear results were normal. She had been to many primary care clinics and was reassured by the doctors that her symptom was due to her IUCD. She was prescribed mefenamic acid repeatedly for the past 9 months. However her symptoms worsen and she was worried because prior to this she did not have similar problems. Her physical examination was unremarkable. On pelvic examination, the IUCD string was visualised, indicating that her IUCD was still in-situ. Her cervix was pink and healthy. There was no abnormal vaginal discharge.
Thyroid diseases are common in women, including at the time of pregnancies. Many typical features of hyperthyroidism are common in normal pregnancies and this may delay or mask the diagnosis. Uncontrolled thyrotoxicosis increases the rate of miscarriage, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), premature labour and perinatal mortality. Multi-disciplinary efforts are required to achieve optimal control of thyrotoxicosis. Anti-thyroid drugs are safe and should be used with the lowest possible doses. Radioiodine treatment is contraindicated during pregnancy and lactation. Indications of surgery include: compression symptoms, thyroid malignancy, non-compliance to medications or when the patient develop drugs side effects
Current asthma treatment is directed by severity of symptoms and lung function. In Malaysia, spirometry is not widely available and therefore not used in most medical consultations. In 163 asthmatic patients [mean (95% CI) age: 41 (38-44) yrs; 29% male; 32% Malays, 32% Chinese, 34% Indians] who were being followed up in a State Hospital medical outpatient clinic and a large urban-based health clinic, we studied the effect on Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) disease severity classification and the appropriateness of currently prescribed treatment when forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) was considered together with symptom severity. We showed that 52% of the patients were upgraded to a higher severity classification and 71% of the patients were under-treated. If based on symptoms alone to assess severity, 39% of the patients were still under-treated. We concluded that the disease severity in many asthmatic patients might have been underestimated and therefore not adequately treated, because spirometry was not available or used to assess asthma severity. The use of spirometry should be advocated more widely among clinicians treating asthma in Malaysia.
Study site: Hospital Tuanku Jaafar, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan; Klinik Kesihatan Seremban, Malaysia
A 32 year old HIV positive intravenous drug user (IVDU) with a promiscuous lifestyle in the past presented with altered behaviour and was diagnosed to have pulmonary tuberculosis, tuberculous meningitis and tuberculous osteomyelitis. After initial response to anti-tuberculous therapy, his symptoms recurred with the appearance of cerebral mass lesions. A presumptive diagnosis of toxoplasma encephalitis was made based on clinical, serological and radiological evidence. He showed clinical improGement with anti-toxoplasmic therapy.
Epilepsy is the most common neurological disorder in pregnancy. The effects of epilepsy include congenital abnormalities which are increased 2-3 fold. The babies born suffer from haemorrhagic disease of newborn. Preconception management and folic acid supplementation is important in optimizing outcome. With close monitoring and proper management, more than 90% of mothers have no complications throughout their pregnancy. Hormonal contraception dosage need to be increased due to the enzyme inducing nature of the anti epileptics drugs.
Thyroid diseases are common in women, including at the time of pregnancies. Many typical features of hyperthyroidism are common in normal pregnancies and this may delay or mask the diagnosis. Uncontrolled thyrotoxicosis increases the rate of miscarriage, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), premature labour and perinatal mortality. Multi-disciplinary efforts are required to achieve optimal control of thyrotoxicosis. Anti-thyroid drugs are safe and should be used with the lowest possible doses. Radioiodine treatment is contraindicated during pregnancy and lactation. Indications of surgery include: compression symptoms, thyroid malignancy, non-compliance to medications or when the patient develop drugs side effects. Keywords: Hyperthyroidism, pregnancy
A quality assurance exercise for non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus in the Family Practice Clinic, University Hospital Kuala Lumpur, was conducted using HbA1c as an indicator. We found that about 60% of the 163 patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus had fair to optimal control. The HbA1c correlated well with fasting and post-prandial blood glucose level (r=0.79 and r=0.54, respectively, p<0.001). The mean HbA1c was significantly higher in Malay compared to the other races, in those with longer duration of diabetes and in patients on two types of oral hypoglycaemic agent.
Study site: Family Practice Clinic, University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A cross-sectional study was conducted in four Orang Asli settlements, in the district of Kuala Langat, to determine the knowledge and practice associated with diarrhoeal disease among the Orang asli children (0-5 years). It was seen that the social and environmental factors of the settlements were poor. Only 26% of the households had sanitary latrines and 36% had access to safer water supplies. Ninety-five percent of them had monthly income below the national poverty line. The diarrhoeal incidence was high, ie 240/1000 and the most affected were the older children in the age group of 49 - 60 months. Knowledge of diarrhoeal disease was poor. But the majority (84.2%) knew that breast feeding is the best milk for the child in order to avoid diarrhoeal disease.
This article highlighted the recent development in the prevention and management of child abuse in Malaysia. There is now a willingness to recognise the conlplex social, moral, medical, educational, legal and economic problems related to child abuse. Multidisciplinary research, comprehensive and longitudinal targeted services to prevent child abuse and neglect are needed.
Emotional disorders are common human emotional states that include anxiety, depression, social impairment and somatic symptoms. Emotional disorders are common in the community and therefore an important issue in primary care practice. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of emotional disorders among adults at a rural primary care clinic in Malaysia and to identify the associated factors. A cross-sectional study was conducted at Klinik Kesihatan Sungai Mati, Muar, Johor from 1st November to 31st December 1998. A self-administered 30-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-30) was used to screen for emotional disorders. Out of 414 patients seen during the study period, 368 fulfilled the selection criteria and agreed to participate in the study (response rate 88.9%). The prevalence of emotional disorders among the adult patients in this study was 15.2%. Factors such as age, race, gender, marital status, education level and employment were analyzed for association with emotional disorders. However, none of these factors were found to be significantly associated with emotional disorders in this study.