Drug Allergy vs. Drug Intolerance

A mark of a great diagnostician is one who can avoid complications through a process of taking an expert medical history. One area of practice where taking a history is critical, if not life saving, is documenting the potential of side effects from prescribed medications, in particular antibiotics. Patients are quick to state, “I’m allergic to that medication”. But what do they mean by that? Allergies are not the same as drug sensitivity or intolerance, and the earnest clinician needs to fig...
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Where Does the HPV Go?

The alarming incidence of oral cancer connected to oral infections caused by the human papillomavirus, HPV, should rightly raise concern.  For too long healthcare has overlooked the potential of HPV to cause serious disease in the oral cavity, the pharynx and larynx.  Fortunately, early detection is key, and there is now a highly sensitive test that can identify early HPV infections called OraRisk ® HPV.  OraRisk ® HPV identifies the HPV infection often before any clinical symptoms can be se...
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What is “Differential Diagnosis”?

There is an old adage in medicine that says “When you hear hoof beats, think horses. Don’t think zebras.” This phrase can be applied to every patient and case; your eyes don’t tell the whole story. It is usually good advice to confirm the obvious, rather than spending time and resources investigating rare things. Consider the virtue of the “differential diagnosis”. In medicine, the differential diagnosis is a process by which the consideration of diagnosing one disease is distinguished fr...
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Connecting the Dots: A Role for Inflammation in Oral and Pharyngeal Cancers

September is sexual health awareness month. In recognition, enjoy a previous post by Dr McGlennen regarding oral health and sexual health. It is important to understand the role of human papillomavirus (HPV) in the development of squamous cancers of the head and neck. But it seems there is missing a fuller appreciation of other key risk factors at work with the virus, to cause bad things to happen to cells in the mouth and throat. HPV infection is very common, and with the sensitive molecular...
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Pharmacogenetics: Many medicines work differently on different people, Why?

Insights into the structure of the human genome have taught us much about the genetic basis of disease. But what about the genetic nature of health and more specifically, how we as individuals deal with medication? We are, as a species, 99.5% genetically the same. But that last 0.5% difference serves to explain the wide diversity we experience as people in general, including why some respond to medications, and others not as well, or not at all. Here is an example. People who suffer from ...
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