Saturday Links

Testing for Asthma with Lasers
This one is straight out of a science fiction movie. Researchers at the University of Colorado of Boulder have figured out how to shoot a person’s breath with laser light to detect biomarkers for certain diseases, including asthma. As I understand it, if doctors can use the technology for diagnosis in the future, the test would work somewhat like the current one that measures exhaled nitric oxide as an indication of asthma.

Only, plus lasers.

How cool is that? The advantage of using the lasers lies in their simultaneous detection of carbonyl sulfide, carbon monoxide and hydrogen peroxide levels in addition to nitric oxide for an altogether more accurate result. The write-up also mentions cancer, liver and kidney disease, renal failure, and diabetes.

Would You Go to Wal-mart or Target for a Doctor’s Appointment?
Rahul K. Parikh, M.D. over at Salon.com discusses the implications of retail health clinics, why most of the medical community opposes them, and why they’re good for us. Some choice points from the article, but don’t miss the whole thing:

By giving doctors a run for their money, [retail clinics] force us to do something we don’t do well: innovate. At their best, retail clinics can make doctors look like smart entrepreneurs instead of a self-interest group futilely trying to protect archaic ways of doing business.

Despite having the brightest medical minds and therapies, basic medical quality in America remains poor.

Of course, there are potential pitfalls. Should walk-in clinics expand to become a medical home by offering physical exams and other comprehensive services like treating injuries, they stand to do patients a disservice.

So would you/do you use them? After having to taking AG’s sister to a walk-in clinic all the way on the other side of town for strep just because her pediatrician couldn’t get her in, I have to say yeah, I totally would. These clinics don’t, by the way, treat disorders like asthma.

Next Year’s Flu Vaccine Probably More Effective
Did influenza touch your family this year? It didn’t come to my house and I have no idea if my kids were exposed at school, although they got vaccinated last fall as they always do. Apparently, though, this year’s shot didn’t do much good for quite a few people. As a result, the FDA approved three new strains of influenza for next year’s vaccine.

And on a related note,

Let’s Pack the Flu Shot Full of All the Strains Already, Right?
Wrong. Slate’s Michelle Tsai explains why.

3 responses to “Saturday Links”

  1. freadom says:

    I used to think I knew more about asthma than anyone, but I now pass that torch to you. Whenever I want to learn something new I just open the door to your blog, or click on it.

  2. Asthmagirl says:

    I read the one about the lazers earlier this week and thought it was interesting. I wonder if it will ever be the norm?

  3. Amy says:

    Aw, thanks Rick. Now I’m blushing a little, but I’d place good money–GOOD money–on your superior knowledge of treatment and medication. I think you’ll realize just how much this week, when I post about steroids and hopefully don’t make too much of a fool of myself. 🙂

    Big AG–I know the other breath test is not so common yet, but starting to catch on more. I’ve been wondering if the whole lasers-are-more-accurate aspect of it might make this sort of test catch on more. If it did, I can’t imagine the difference this would make for parents of young children, to get the diagnosis so early.