It’s that time of the year again: Watch out for Lyme disease

Charles Crutchfield
Dr. Charles Crutchfield

The good news is that Lyme disease can be effectively treated

The weather is finally nice again, and we are beginning to spend more time outdoors. Unfortunately, experts are saying that the presence of outdoor ticks is at record-high levels. With ticks can come tick-borne diseases, most notably Lyme disease. It is estimated that over a quarter of a million Americans will get infected with Lyme disease, annually.

Lyme disease is an illness that is transmitted by deer ticks. Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium by the name of Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacteria can live in the blood of animals and spread by tick bites. It is very common in the United States and Europe. Continue reading It’s that time of the year again: Watch out for Lyme disease

10 reasons why you should love & care for your liver

Charles CrutchfieldYour liver is an amazing organ that performs dozens of different bodily functions essential for life. The liver is the fourth-largest organ of the body. On average, the skin weighs 20 pounds, the intestines weigh eight pounds, and the lungs weigh five pounds; the liver weighs about 3½ pounds and is the size of a medium football.

The liver would be rubbery to the touch (if one ever touched it!). The liver is easy not to think about because it is inside the body and we never see it.

Your liver is located on your right side, below your ribs and above your abdomen. It is a red-brown organ with two lobes. In reality, it is involved with almost every function essential to life.

It stores energy, makes critical proteins for our blood, has immune system functions, and works hand-in-hand with the intestines, gall bladder and pancreas as part of our digestive system. The primary role of the liver is to filter blood coming from the intestines after absorbing food, and to capture and break down toxins, including medications and alcohol that we ingest.

Considering all the jobs the liver has, it is easy to understand why we can become so profoundly ill if the liver stops functioning properly.

The liver is an amazing blood filter and storage organ

As a filter for blood coming from the intestines, the liver can hold up to 10 percent of the total blood in the body when it is full. In fact, the liver can filter up to 90 liters of blood per hour.

The liver can regrow itself

The liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself. In fact, you can lose up to 75 percent of your liver, and it will regenerate itself and do so in robust fashion. It can reproduce itself back to normal size in as little as 15 days.

This super-growth fact is wonderful if one needs to donate a portion of a liver for a transplant. Doctors and researchers believe the liver has this unique and amazing regenerative property because of its vital role in the overall health of a person.

The brain depends on the liver

The liver is essential for a healthy brain. The liver controls the levels of both sugar and ammonia in the blood. A poorly functioning liver causes profound changes in brain health termed hepatic (liver) encephalopathy. A sick liver produces a sick brain.

The liver needs to be checked on

Liver problems are difficult to detect, especially early on. That is why it is important to engage in regular medical check-ups to maximize your best health. Your doctor will recommend the best medical check-up schedule for you.

The liver plays a vital role in digestion

The liver produces bile. Bile is a green fluid that is secreted into the intestines to help break down and absorb fat in food. Bile also contains toxic chemicals removed by the liver that get deposited into the intestines and eventually get released as stool.

Bile gives stool its characteristic brown color. If stool is not brown, it means the liver is not functioning properly and signals serious liver problems. Most people become familiar with bitter green bile when they are sick or they have ingested too much alcohol and are forced to visit the toilet on their knees.

The ability to absorb fat from food is essential for life. The liver can produce up to a liter of bile per day.

The liver can be damaged

Damage to the liver is called cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a serious condition that develops over many years, causing the liver to have extensive and irreversible scarring. With the liver fibrotic and scarred, it can’t function properly. The blood flow is restricted or even blocked, and without treatment the liver can completely fail.

There are many causes of liver cirrhosis, but the three most common causes are long-term alcohol consumption or abuse, viral infections (hepatitis), and fatty liver disease. In fatty liver disease, the liver becomes infiltrated and choked off by excessive fat deposits.

The causes of fatty liver disease are poorly understood, but most experts agree that being overweight, having chronic elevated lipids and cholesterol, diabetes and elevated blood sugar, sleep apnea, and poor thyroid function can all play a role in developing fatty liver disease.

Common signs of cirrhosis include yellowing of the skin, eyes and tongue (jaundice), breast development in men, enlarged abdomen, abdominal pain, red palms, severe intractable itching, and fatigue.

The liver protects the kidneys

We produce new blood all the time the old blood is broken down, and one of the products is something called bilirubin. Bilirubin is extremely toxic and can damage the kidneys. The liver processes the bilirubin to a form that is not damaging to the kidneys. This liver-processed bilirubin gives urine its characteristic yellow color.

The liver is a master storehouse

The liver stores energy (sugar or glucose as glycogen), iron, minerals and vitamins for body use.

The liver is a master factory

The liver also produces special proteins necessary for blood clotting. It also produces cholesterol, needed to make cell walls and essential hormones.

The liver makes medicines work

Most of the medicines we take need to be processed and activated by the liver in order to work properly.

Your liver is a miraculous organ. The importance of the liver is illustrated by the fact that all vertebrate animals (animals that have a spinal cord) have a liver, and every liver is similar in structure and function.

The liver is responsible for multiple essential functions, including the detoxification of harmful substances, purification of the blood, and the production of life-sustaining nutrients. In fact, the liver performs over 500 different functions and is a key for good health and life.

To keep your liver healthy, minimize alcohol intake and make sure to maintain a regular medical check-up schedule with your doctor.

Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD is a board certified dermatologist and Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He also has a private practice in Eagan, MN. He received his M.D. and Master’s Degree in Molecular Biology and Genomics from the Mayo Clinic. He has been selected as one of the top 10 dermatologists in the United States by Black Enterprise magazine. Dr. Crutchfield was recognized by Minnesota Medicine as one of the 100 Most Influential Healthcare Leaders in Minnesota. He is the team dermatologist for the Minnesota Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves, Wild and Lynx. Dr. Crutchfield is an active member of both the American and National Medical Associations.

How to respond to — and prevent — a measles outbreak

Dear Dr. Crutchfield: According to reports by the Minnesota Department of Health, there has recently been a limited outbreak of the measles in Minnesota. What are the measles?

The measles is an illness transmitted by a virus. It is extremely contagious. In fact, if you have not been vaccinated or have not had it before, the chances of anyone contracting it after being exposed to someone with it is extremely high.

Outbreaks in the United States are rare, but when they occur, they need to be addressed promptly. There are over 200 million cases of measles still reported annually worldwide.

not feeling well

What are the symptoms of the measles?

The symptoms start with a fever and flu-like symptoms. Then, shortly afterward, the patient develops a cough, very runny nose, little white bumps inside the mouth on the inner cheeks, and red, irritated eyes. Shortly after these symptoms appear, the classic red, bumpy rash starts on the face and neck and moves down, covering the entire body.

coughing

How is measles spread?

It is spread in water droplets that become airborne when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is extremely contagious, so if one is exposed (by being in a room where an infected person has coughed or sneezed) there is a very high chance that, if not immunized, the exposed person will get measles.

There currently are no active areas (natural reservoirs) in the United States with large cases of the measles, so the way measles is spread is from someone who has traveled from a country with areas of large numbers of measles cases (natural reservoirs), who then brings it back to the United States. In all the reported cases in Minnesota, the people who contracted measles had not been vaccinated.

doctors office

How serious is the measles?

In one-half to three-quarters of cases, patients recover well without long-term effects. Unfortunately, in about one-quarter of the cases, there are additional complications beyond fever, flu-like symptoms, runny nose, irritated eyes and skin rash. These additional complications include diarrhea, pneumonia, and ear infections. In rare but serious cases, the virus can infect the brain, causing swelling, pain, seizures and even death.

How can measles be prevented?

The best way to prevent measles is to vaccinate children on schedule. The vaccination is a combination vaccine that protects against three viral diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella. The first vaccine is given at around age one, and a second booster vaccine is given about the time children start kindergarten, at about age five.

The pediatrician will recommend the best schedule for your child. For children under age one and adults who may need a vaccination for the first time, consult your doctor for the best recommendations in these special circumstances.

babies

What about parents who do not wish to have their children vaccinated?

This is still a problem, but it is not as common as it once was. Unfortunately, false reports linking vaccinations and autism have put a terrible scare into parents. There has also been a concern with trace amounts of mercury (a preservative) contained in vaccines. The research that suggested the autism-vaccination connection has been completely debunked and discredited.

There are now vaccines that are free of preservatives. There are no scientifically valid reasons why children should not be vaccinated. The reason we vaccinate is to protect our children, so people who are worried about vaccines should look at the goal, which is protecting children.

These diseases can kill children. That is why we vaccinate.

What should a person do if they think a family member has the measles?

Rather than bringing them to a clinic and exposing others at the clinic, first call the clinic for directions. Often, the clinic will refer them to a children’s hospital with an emergency room that is much better equipped and prepared to treat such an infectious viral disease.

How are measles treated?

Because the disease is viral, the treatment is mostly supportive care. That means hydration, reducing fever, assisting breathing, and soothing the rash. In three-quarters of cases, the disease will resolve without additional complications, like recovering from a bad cold or flu. In the cases with significant further complications, additional medical support will be required.

The best thing to do to treat the measles is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. That means following the vaccination schedule recommended by the pediatrician. Remember, the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is extremely safe and effective.

Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD is a board certified dermatologist and Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He also has a private practice in Eagan, MN. He received his M.D. and Master’s Degree in Molecular Biology and Genomics from the Mayo Clinic. He has been selected as one of the top 10 dermatologists in the United States by Black Enterprise magazine. Dr. Crutchfield was recognized by Minnesota Medicine as one of the 100 Most Influential Healthcare Leaders in Minnesota. He is the team dermatologist for the Minnesota Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves, Wild and Lynx. Dr. Crutchfield is an active member of both the American and National Medical Associations.

Crutchfield Voted A Top Doctor For Women

Charles E. Crutchfield III, M.D. of Crutchfield Dermatology is Voted one of 2017 Top Doctors for Women Minnesota Monthly Magazine

Charles CrutchfieldDermatologist Charles E. Crutchfield III M.D. has been selected by a vote of his peers as one of the Top Doctors for Women 2017 as reported in Minnesota Monthly magazine. An independent survey of all certified and practicing doctors within the 11-county metro area, as well as Olmstead County. Thousands of votes were cast honoring excellence in the medial field and those that garnered the most votes were honored with this award. He has been the only dermatologist awarded this honor every year the poll has been taken by Minnesota Monthly magazine since 2006.

Dr. Crutchfield is the Medical Director of Crutchfield Dermatology and is a full clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Dr. Crutchfield specializes in the treatment of skin-of-color/ethnic skin concerns, acne, psoriasis, vitiligo, atopic dermatitis and aesthetic/cosmetic dermatology.

“I am honored to have been selected by my peers as a Top Doctor for Women. There is nothing more humbling and satisfying than to be recognized by my colleagues for quality service to patients and the best skin care in Minnesota. I truly appreciate their recognition and confidence in naming me for this honor,” said Dr. Crutchfield.

About Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD:
Charles E. Crutchfield III, M.D. is a graduate of the Mayo Clinic Medical School and a Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Dr. Crutchfield is an annual selection in the “Top Doctors” issue of Mpls. St. Paul magazine. He is the only dermatologist to have been selected as a “Best Doctor for Women” by Minnesota Monthly magazine since the inception of the survey. Dr. Crutchfield has been selected as one of the “Best Doctors in America,” an honor awarded to only 4% of all practicing physicians. Dr. Crutchfield is the co-author of a children’s book on sun protection and dermatology textbook. He is a member of the AΩA National Medical Honor Society, an expert consultant for WebMD and CNN, and a recipient of the Karis Humanitarian Award from the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine.

Crutchfield Dermatology is a proud member of Doctors for the Practice of Safe and Ethical Aesthetic Medicine (DPSEAM). DPSEAM is limited to board-certified physicians who maintain the appropriate physician – patient relationship by having a medical director or licensed physician on site during all treatments including laser and injection services, require that a qualified physician examines every patient before the initial treatment or course of treatment, analyze patients’ pre-existing conditions or contradictions that would render the procedure unsafe or ineffective, create care plans that demonstrate how and why patients will benefit from planned procedures, and maintain an environment where patients feel free to ask questions and secure additional information about expected outcomes, among other requirements that protect cosmetic patients.

Crutchfield Dermatology is located at 1185 Town Centre Dr., suite 101, Eagan, Minnesota. Please call 651-209-3600 for more information, or visit their website at http://www.crutchfielddermatology.com

Why can it be so darn hard to lose weight?

We all know people who can eat whatever they want, and it seems as though they never gain an ounce. Other people can just look at a piece of cake too long, and it seems like they gain weight.

Why is this?

It is all about numbers, all about calories “in” and calories “out.” In other words, it is about how many calories you eat and how many calories your body burns. If you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight. If you burn more calories than you eat, you lose weight.

Simple.

There are four factors that affect our weight: genetics, eating habits, exercise or other activities, and time. But there is a hidden factor in the “genetics” component of these factors. It is known as the basal metabolic rate (BMR). Continue reading Why can it be so darn hard to lose weight?

How do they “lift” faces?

Swayed by the high esteem in which youthful minds and youthful bodies are held these days, many people are turning to cosmetic surgery to smooth their furrowed brows and lift their sagging jowls. Although face lifts were first performed in Europe and the United States at the turn of the century, the process remained cloaked in secrecy, deemed unrespectable because it catered to vanity and often fostered quackery. Today, this difficult and complex surgery is considered an art, for the surgeon must not only solve the problem of wrinkles but restore the face without changing its character in the process. In short, the procedure, technically known as a rhytidoplasty or rhytidectomy, is this: a surgeon incises and detaches the skin of the face and neck, lifts and tightens the skin, trims off the excess skin, and closes the incisions. Continue reading How do they “lift” faces?

How close are we to finding the ‘Fountain of Youth’?

First of a two-part column

Dear Dr. Crutchfield: According to your article “Good news: We are winning the war on cancer” (MSR April 7, 2016), we have made significant advances in the treatment of many forms of cancer. What’s going on with respect to increasing the length of life?

DNA

I think we’d all agree that the goal is not just to have a longer life, but to have a quality life for a long time. There are several areas of longevity research that are quite promising. These are:

  • Cell Energy Research
  • Increasing the lifespan of our cells
  • Anti-Oxidant Research
  • Ultraviolet Protection

Continue reading How close are we to finding the ‘Fountain of Youth’?

Reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – SIDS

Dear Dr. Crutchfield, my sister is expecting a baby soon. I have heard about something called “SIDS.” What is SIDS, and what advice can I give her to prevent SIDS in her new baby?

SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as crib death. This is the sudden death of a child less than one year of age that occurs without explanation. In the United States, 2,500 babies die of SIDS every year. This is a stunning number of deaths.

Autopsy and complete death scene investigations demonstrate no definitive cause of death. Most deaths occur between midnight and 8 am. The majority of cases occur in babies between ages two and six months when the infant’s ability to wake up from certain stimuli is not fully developed. Continue reading Reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – SIDS