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.
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 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.
Introduction: Depression is an important problem in primary care practice and is the commonest psychiatric disorder among the elderly.
Aim: To assess the prevalence of depression among the elderly patients attending a rural primary health care clinic in Malaysia and to identify its associated factors.
Method: The Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) questionnaire was used as a screening instrument. Patients with positive GDS scores for depression were further assessed for Major Depression.
Results: 14% of the patients were found to have depression. The associated factors identified were gender, marital status, educational level, total family monthly income, living arrangement and if they had someone to confide in. Further clinical evaluation using the DSM IV Criteria for major depression revealed that two-thirds of the patients with depression were suffering from major depression.
Conclusion: The prevalence of depression among the elderly patients at a rural primary health care clinic was high. Primary health care doctors and staff should take extra care to detect depression when managing elderly patients.
Overweight and obese adults are at increased risk of both mortality and morbidity, principally from cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus. Intentional weight loss of 5-1 0% is associated with substantial benefits. Weight reduction should be encouraged by dietary and behavioural modification initially, with realistic targets set over an initial 6-month period. It must be emphasised that these measures should continue indefinitely. This can be complemented by pharmacological intervention with orlistat, or perhaps sibutramine when available in the near future. Given the important impact environmental and social factors have on the aetiology of obesity, the community at large should effect programmes to encourage healthy lifestyles among the populace. Town and city planners should include readily available recreational and sporting facilities in residential districts, especially in the urban and sub-urban areas. Physical education sessions in schools in both primary and secondary levels should receive more emphasis to encourage the young to make sports and physical exercise a part of life, rather than being seen as a non examinable appendage of the school curriculum. The key to defeating obesity is prevention, and an effort to lose weight once it accumulates, can often be too little, too late.
Otitis media is a common disease presenting to family practitioners all over the world. There have been many changes in the way these patients were managed over the years. This article attempts to provide an overview to family physicians regarding the latest approach in managing this common condition. Keywords: Otitis, otitis media, otoscopy, eardrops.