DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am recuperating from a kidney infection (pyelitis). The doctor did a culture of my urine, which showed a gram negative rod. What kind of infection is that? — S.B.
ANSWER: The more common urinary tract infection is infection of the bladder — cystitis. Pyelitis (PIE-uh-LITE-iss), now usually called pyelonephritis, is an infection of the kidney itself. It is a much more serious infection, and one that usually makes people take to their bed.
Pyelitis causes high fever often alternating with chills. People have intense flank pain, the side area between the lowest rib and the upper part of the pelvis. The infection also might make people urinate more frequently and with pain. These two signs, however, are more apt to indicate bladder infection.
The most frequent cause of pyelitis is the bacterium E. coli. Bacteria are classifi ed into two large groups based on how they react to a stain used to visualize them with a microscope. The stain is the Gram stain, named after the doctor who devised it. Bacteria are either gram positive or gram negative. A gram positive bacterium turns blue with the stain; a gram negative turns red.
Bacteria also are classified by their shape. Some are elongated sticks — rods. Others are oval-shaped. E. coli is a gram negative rod.
Pyelitis is a situation that calls for immediate and usually intravenous antibiotic treatment. It responds promptly to such treatment. The temperature often returns to normal within two days .
Th e booklet on urinary tract infections describes both upper urinary tract infections (kidney — pyelitis) and lower urinary tract infections ( bladder — cystitis). Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 1204W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853- 6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 with the recipient’s printed name and address.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: have seborrheic keratoses and have had them for many years. Doctors say nothing can be done. I had them cut off and frozen off, but they come right back. Can you help?
ANSWER: Seborrheic (SEB-uh-REE-ik) keratoses are brown, warty-looking spots on the back, chest, arms, legs and sometimes the face. They are not cancers and don’t become cancers. There may be only a few, but there can be hundreds of them. Their cause is a mystery, but they appear at older ages, so aging is somehow involved. A doctor can scrape them off or freeze them. They might come back, but they can be retreated if they do. The tendency to develop them is inherited.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Years ago, after the birth of my son, the doctor said I had milk leg. It was very painful. What would this be called today? — A.R.
ANSWER: I’ve never heard the term “milk leg” used by a doctor, but I have seen it in print. Today the condition is called thrombophlebitis (THROM-bohflea BITE- iss) — a clot (thrombo) in an inflamed vein (phlebitis). In milk leg, the vein is the femoral vein, the large leg vein. It can be a complication of pregnancy even today.
Readers may write Dr. Donohue or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. ©2011 North America Synd.