Venus Williams diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome

2011/09/01

The sports world got a jolt today with the announcement that tennis star Venus Williams has been diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome. 

Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease that comes with many painful and irritating symptoms – inflammation of the salivary glands and tear ducts, joint pain, fatigue, and dry mouth,  dry eyes and myalgia (muscle pain).

Many people have not heard of Sjögren’s syndrome. I hadn’t until a family member was diagnosed with it last fall.

It’s not an uncommon disease, but it’s often difficult to diagnose as it masks as other diseases such as lupus. Sjögren’s syndrome can often go on to become lupus, and there’s no known way to prevent that from happening.

Also, there’s no known cause for Sjögren’s syndrome – there’s thought to be genetic and environment factors that trigger the disease, but no real connection has been found. It’s most prevalent in women, and a study by the Mayo clinic reports that about 1% of the nation may be affected.

I’ve seen the effects of this disease first-hand, and it can be both physically and mentally debilitating. It took many months for my relative to be diagnosed, and during that time she experienced terrible mouth ulcers, joint pain that made it difficult to walk or even get out of bed, dry and red eyes, and extreme fatigue.

The symptoms came on very fast – her life changed drastically within a few days time and hasn’t been the same since. Some days she couldn’t raise her arms to get dressed, the pain was so bad. Upon starting treatment, the symptoms have fluctuated and become less severe, but have yet to go away completely.

Upon diagnosis, she moved here to St. Louis so that she could be closer to family, and as it happens, one of the leading Sjögren’s syndrome physicians in the country, Dr. Richard Brasington, is here at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. A Washington University rheumatologist and an expert on Sjögren’s syndrome, Dr. Brasington has helped treat many patients diagnosed with this disease.

It’s difficult to watch someone you love live with a disease like Sjögren’s syndrome. My hope is that Ms. Williams’ disease is treatable and that she can continue on with a normal, active life.

 


10 Reasons to drop 10 lbs

2011/01/17

So we’re on week 3 of the new year – how are your fitness and nutrition goals shaping up?  Holding steady or waning?

If you need some motivation for keeping on track with your weight loss and healthy eating regime, we’ve got 10 reason why you may want to stick to your healthful resolutions, courtesy of Dr. Mehmet Oz.  According to the physician, losing just 10 lbs can make big differences in your life, such as:

  • Lowering your cholesterol – high levels of HDL are linked to being overweight.
  • Lowering your blood pressure – the more heavy you are, the more your heart has to work, which can build up plaque,  block arteries and increase blood pressure.
  • Reduce your risk of a heart attack – again, the plaque build-up thing.
  • Reduce risk for dementia – the more visceral fat you have, the more inflammation-causing chemicals in your body, and the higher your risk of developing dementia.
  • Reduce risk for sleep apnea – a dangerous condition resulting from a narrowed airway due to a thicker windpipe wall, tongue and tonsils.
  • Reduce joint pain – 10 extra lbs equals 30 lbs of pressure on your joints.
  • Reduce cancer risk – fat cells are very active, and for reasons unknown have been linked to cancer.
  • Reduce risk of diabetes – the more weight, the less sensitive your cells become to insulin, which could lead to insulin resistance.
  • Improved sex life – I don’t think I need to elaborate on this one.
  • Taking less medications – save yourself time, money, and the chemicals.

So if you’re in a rut, pick a reason from above and keep at it.  You can do it!

 


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