Entries in Gas (4)


Too Many Babies Receive Acid Reflux Meds, Says Pediatrician

John Foxx/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Babies will be babies, said Dr. Eric Hassall, staff pediatric gastroenterologist at Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation in San Francisco.  They cry and spit up.

Hassall strongly reiterates that point in a commentary he published in the Journal of Pediatrics in which he expresses worry over the drastic rise in the number of parents giving acid reflux medication to their infants in an attempt to keep them from spitting up.

Hassall found that the use of proton pump inhibitors, a group of drugs meant to reduce gastric acid production, grew exponentially for babies less than a year old over the past decade.

He blames advertising and pharmaceutical company promotion for the increase, as well as misleading misdiagnoses.  One study that analyzed data of more than one million babies found a sevenfold increase in the amount of acid reflux medication prescribed to infants between 1999 and 2004.  About .5 percent of the infants studied in the research received the medication within the first year of their lives, and half of those babies received the drugs before they were 4 months old.

While it is difficult for parents to watch their child scream and spit up from perceived pain, Hassall emphasized that spitting up and crying in an otherwise healthy baby is normal.  Despite this, babies are increasingly getting misdiagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, a condition in which food and liquid in the stomach leak backward into the esophagus.

"In the absence of better information and physician guidance, and fed by advertising and misinformation on the Internet, parent blogs have increasingly promoted the ''my-baby-has-acid-reflux-and-needs-drugs' concept," Hassall said in a statement.  "Parents, concerned by their infant's symptoms of apparent suffering take their concern to doctors, who very frequently comply and prescribe acid-suppressing medications for symptoms and signs that in most cases are not GERD.  GERD-mania is in full cry, so to speak."

The FDA has not approved these drugs for children under a year old because no studies have found them effective in that population.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Georgia McDonald's Toxic Fumes a Deadly Mystery

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(SAVANNAH, Ga.) -- The mysterious fumes that killed one person and sickened nine others inside a McDonald's restroom this week may have brought the most unwanted publicity to the city of Pooler, Ga., since Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman set up Union headquarters there before negotiating the peaceful surrender of Savannah in December 1864.

Local fire officials remained stumped Friday about what toxic chemical or chemical mixture knocked two women unconscious Wednesday at the fast-food restaurant in their east Georgia city of about 19,000. One of the women, Anne Felton, 80, of Ponte Vedra, Fla., died after going into cardiac arrest. Firefighters administered oxygen to Carol Barry, 56, of Jacksonville, Fla., before she was admitted to a Savannah hospital, Pooler Fire Chief G. Wade Simmons said.

"Every one of the 10 people that had some sort of symptoms ... had been or were in that restroom," Simmons said.

No one anywhere else in the restaurant was affected.

He was hoping that results of an autopsy conducted at Georgia's state crime lab in Savannah "will lead us in some direction."

Among other confounding aspects of the case, he said, was how quickly the gas disappeared. "It was there, and then it was gone in the next hour to hour and a half we were doing things at the scene," he said.

By the time a Savannah hazardous materials analyzed air samples from the restroom, they found nothing detectable.

That left law enforcement officials and toxicologists to speculate about what the victims might have inhaled, and how it ended up in the women's room. "We've heard everything from terrorist attacks to carbon monoxide to sewer gas to God knows else," Simmons said.

Much of the speculation centered on the possibility that the women were sickened by a noxious combination of cleaning chemicals. Labels on toilet bowl cleaners, drain openers, window and glass sprays and scouring powders usually caution against using more than one product at a time.

Simmons said that based on employees' routines at the Pooler McDonald's, workers would have cleaned the women's room early in the day, before serving up Egg McMuffins to the morning breakfast crowd. But the initial report of someone choking didn't get called in until just before noon Wednesday, further deepening the mystery of why people suddenly became ill so much later. None of the products on the cleaning cart had spilled, he said, and the cart wasn't even near the bathroom when patrons began developing symptoms.

"Cleaning chemicals are common culprits in bathrooms," said Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor, a medical toxicology specialist at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut. "Perhaps the people in the bathroom mixed together bleach and ammonia," which would produce chloramine gas, an irritant. "It doesn't usually cause people to die, but if it's in a high enough concentration and/or the person had underlying cardiopulmonary disease (such as asthma), it could certainly be potentially fatal."

Dr. Marcel J. Casavant, chief of pharmacology/toxicology at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, said he thought the most likely culprit was hydrogen sulfide, or "sewer gas," which blocks the body's ability to use oxygen. It's called a "rapid-knockdown" gas, he said.

"If the concentration is high enough, just a few breaths could be lethal," he said. "If the restroom has a floor drain connecting to the sewer, and the floor drain has a U-shaped pipe which generally stays full of water, thus keeping the sewer gas out of the restroom, but the water in the U dried up, then gas could freely enter the restroom. "

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


10 Tips to Avoid Fires, Injuries While Barbecuing

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Every year, 7,000 Americans are injured while using backyard barbecue grills.  It's usually a case of good products used incorrectly.

ABC News teamed up with Underwriters Laboratories, the non-profit company that puts the UL mark on products it has tested for safety, to highlight the most common mistakes and key safety tips.  Here are the top 10:


1. Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house.  Farther is even better.  This includes portions attached to your house like carports, garages, and porches.

2. Clean your grill regularly.  If you allow grease and fat to build up on your grill, they provide more fuel for a fire.

3. Check for gas leaks.  You can make sure no gas is leaking from your gas grill by making a solution of half liquid dish soap and half water and rubbing it on the hoses and connections.  Then, turn the gas on (with the grill lid open.)  If the soap forms large bubbles, that's a sign that the hoses have tiny holes or that the connections are not tight enough.

4. Keep decorations away from your grill.  Decorations like hanging baskets, pillows and umbrellas provide fuel for a fire.  To make matters worse, today's decor is mostly made of artificial fibers that burn fast and hot, making this tip even more important.

5. Keep a spray bottle of water handy.  That way, if you have a minor flare-up you can spray it with the water to instantly calm it.

6. Keep a fire extinguisher within a couple steps of your grill.


7. Turn on the gas while your grill lid is closed.  It causes gas to build up inside your grill, and when you do light it and open it, a fireball can explode in your face.

8. Leave a grill unattended.  Fires double in size every minute.

9. Overload your grill with food.  This applies especially to fatty meats.  If too much fat drips on the flames at once, it can cause a large flare-up that could light nearby things on fire.

10. Use a grill indoors.  In addition to the fire hazard, grills release carbon monoxide, the deadly colorless, odorless gas.  That gas needs to vent in fresh air or it can kill you, your family and pets.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Is Your Home Protected from Radon Gas?

Stockbyte/Thinkstock (NEW YORK) -- Radon can pose a potential threat to nearly every home in the U.S., according to HealthDay News.

This odorless, invisible, radioactive gas causes an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths yearly, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Radon is a byproduct of broken-down uranium in rocks, soil and water.  It becomes a risk to American households because it seeps into the foundation cracks of homes from the ground.

"It's a naturally occurring decay product of uranium," Dr. Michael Thun of the American Cancer Society told HealthDay.

But Dr. Thun added that the carcinogen is avoidable.  Thun said the best method for protection is to check for high levels present in the home.

"If one lives in an area where radon is prevalent, it's a good idea to have your home tested," he said.

The EPA suggests a two-level test.  Homeowners can purchase a short-term test that is left in the house for 90 days and sent to a lab for analysis.  Next, homeowners can perform a follow-up test, which is longer than 90 days.  Homeowners should have the home fixed if the average of the two tests remains above 4 pCi/L.

The testing process, called radio mitigation, can cost between $800 and $2,500, according to Kristy Miller, a spokeswoman for the EPA's indoor environments division.

Dr. Thun warned that individuals and families residing in the Northeast and Midwest are at greater risks. These regions tend to have higher radon levels than anywhere else in the United States.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio