Jewish World Review Sept. 9, 2000 / 8 Elul, 5760
Peter H. Gott, M.D.
When pseudomonas double pneumonia returns;
Making vitamin C last
DEAR DR. GOTT: Last year I was hospitalized for pseudomonas double pneumonia. IV antibiotics cured me, but on two separate occasions, I've had minor recurrences. Please explain pseudomonas. Does anxiety make me more susceptible to these lung infections?
DEAR READER: Pseudomonas, a common type of bacterium, can cause infection anywhere in the body. They are particularly dangerous, however, because they -- unlike other bacteria (such as strep and staph) -- are resistant to traditional antibiotics.
Pseudomonas pneumonia is unusual. The fact that you had it on several occasions suggests that your lung resistance to infection is somehow defective. This could be due to severe chronic bronchitis, lung abscess or similar conditions.
Because many newer antibiotics are effective against pseudomonas, such infections no longer carry a high mortality rate. Nonetheless, as you've discovered, therapy is not consistently curative; either you failed to receive the proper amount of antibiotic or your immunity is deficient, resulting in repeated infections.
Your case is unusual. Therefore, I suggest that you query your physician about the reasons for your pneumonia -- and your prognosis. If your pulmonary resistance is compromised by, say, a chronic infection, your doctor may choose to administer long-term antibiotic therapy or refer you to a pulmonologist (lung specialist) for further testing and treatment.
Anxiety does not play a role in your susceptibility to infection, which is caused by bacteria. However, I can understand why you would experience the consequences of stress as a result of your predisposition to pneumonia and the uncertainty about having another flare-up. Your doctor, by answering your questions, should be able to alleviate your anxiety as well as to plan a sensible approach to your physical problem.
DEAR DR. GOTT: I know that vitamin C is destroyed by heat, sunlight and air. Is there any left in frozen, canned or bottled juice?
DEAR READER: Because vitamin C is, as you mentioned, somewhat unstable, companies that process orange juice and other products take special pains to preserve it. The vitamin is not affected by freezing. Cans keep out light. Bottled juice is vacuum-packed to seal in freshness.
The primary problem with orange juice is its tendency to lose vitamin C once out of its original container -- when the juice has, for example, been reconstituted and left open to the air or put in the refrigerator.
Therefore, for maximum benefit, processed orange juice is best when not stored after opening. Of course, the most effective container is the orange skin itself; perhaps this is why fresh-squeezed orange juice remains the gold standard for us
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