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Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023

The Healthy Geezer

Defibrillators, pacemakers, rosacea and stomach issues

Q. My brother-in-law is getting a defibrillator. How is that different from a pacemaker?

An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) and a pacemaker are battery-powered devices installed in the chest to deliver electrical impulses to the heart. Generally, a pacemaker is used when the heart beats too slowly; an ICD is used when the heart beats too quickly.

Pacemakers jog the heart with mild reminders that patients usually can’t feel.

Pacemakers are small; some are only as big as a quarter.

The electrical impulses from an ICD can feel like being whacked in the chest. These devices are about the size of a stack of three silver dollars.

If you’ve ever watched shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” or “ER,” you’ve probably seen a cliche scene in which a doctor uses electrified paddles to shock a troubled heart. An ICD works inside the chest like these paddles.

ICDs monitor for abnormal rhythms and try to correct them. An ICD is considered effective in fighting cardiac arrest more than nine times out of 10.

Q. Does drinking alcohol cause rosacea?

Rosacea (roh-ZAY-shee-uh) is a chronic skin disease that causes redness and swelling. It usually affects the face. It can also strike the scalp, neck, ears, chest and back. You can also get it in your eyes; this condition is called ocular rosacea. The disease can make the eyes look bloodshot.

Research has debunked the old tale that rosacea is caused by heavy drinking. Alcohol aggravates rosacea but does not cause it.

Another myth is that rosacea is “adult acne.” The disease has little to do with the pimples and blackheads of acne.

There is no cure for rosacea, and science hasn’t found a cause. However, dermatologists can attack the symptoms with medication, laser surgery and other treatments if the disease is caught early. It may take two months of treatment before skin affected by rosacea looks better.

Some believe that early treatment may reverse the disease. If ignored, rosacea often worsens and becomes difficult to treat. Rosacea may last for years. For most people, it tends to get better and then flare up again.

People with fair skin tend to get rosacea.

Women are afflicted more often than men, but men get more severe forms of the disease. Rosacea often runs in families.

Q. Do older people suffer from diarrhea more often than younger people?

Here’s a question for you. Ever notice how often diarrhea is mentioned as a side effect in the package inserts for medicines?

Seniors often get diarrhea from medicine.

The first issue is that seniors take a lot more medicine than younger people. The average older person takes more than four prescription drugs and two over-the-counter drugs daily. The high intake of medicine increases the odds that one or more of these medicines could give you diarrhea.

Older people have more health problems, and these add to the mix of potential causes of diarrhea. Older bodies process drugs slowly so that they tend to stay in our bodies longer. And some drugs work differently on older people.

Then there are the problems of drug-drug interactions and overdoses because we take so much medicine and retain it in our systems.

You should see a doctor if your diarrhea lasts more than three days, or if you have dehydration symptoms, severe abdominal or rectal pain, a fever of 102°F or higher, or blood in your stools.

Fred Cicetti is a freelance writer who specializes in health. He has been writing professionally since 1963. Before he began freelancing, he was a reporter and columnist for three daily newspapers in New Jersey. If you would like to ask a question, write to fred@healthygeezer.com.


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