Where did it come from?

Being in a closed and crowded place, especially one that is overheated, increases the risk of an infection.

Man with visible medical heart 521 (photo credit: MCT)
Man with visible medical heart 521
(photo credit: MCT)
 I am 63 years old, and have always been a physically active person. Since making aliya in May of last year, I have been sick twice, each for an entire month. I did not have fever, but I had no appetite and was easily fatigued, sometimes achy and a little congested. My doctor sent me for blood tests and lab work, and I was found to have a “respiratory infection,” which – as my doctor predicted – did clear up on its own. I had the exact same illness months later. A few days prior to the illness, I had been to my synagogue, and it was warm, very dry and poorly ventilated (reminiscent of the dry heat that used to cause my sinus infections in the US). I am fairly certain that this is what triggered my “respiratory infection.” Can this really be the cause? Can I do anything about this, short of staying away from that synagogue?
M.S., Jerusalem
Dr. Amnon Lahad, clinical senior lecturer of family medicine at the Hebrew University Medical Faculty, answers: It’s difficult to answer this without your being examined by a doctor. However, in general, it could be either of two common problems: a viral infection or an allergy to something. Being in a closed and crowded place, especially one that is overheated, increases the risk of an infection.
Even though most viruses do not vary from one country to another, there are slight variations that, during one’s first few years of living in another country, raise the danger of infection. In this case, one should avoid environments that could cause problems. Try to air out the room, or at least avoid being in crowded and stuffy places.
Less likely is an allergic reaction to something that causes similar reactions in different countries. Often, when the exposure ends, the symptoms could continue for a week, but not for a month. But if in the same place there is significant exposure – to cleaning materials, perhaps? – what you describe may be an allergy. When you’re well, try going to a different synagogue and see what happens.
I’m an 80-year-old Holocaust survivor, and am experiencing insufferable pain in my back and femur of my leg. Epidurals, physiotherapy, acupuncture, a complete hip replacement, a back operation, going privately to an orthopedic diagnostician and following a non-inflammatory diet have not mitigated my distress. My nephrologist forbids me to take a steroidal painkiller regularly because it would harm my (transplanted) kidney. I recently heard that medical cannabis effectively eliminates pain but that it can take up to two years to get a prescription. I need help quicker than that, as I’m sinking.
Can the prescription process be accelerated? My epidural anesthesiologist at Sheba Medical Center’s pain clinic opposes medical cannabis. My nephrologist at the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus is an advocate of it. I’m a Dutch woman and my cousin in Amsterdam tells me I can obtain it in Holland without difficulty. If I travel there to obtain it, am I allowed to bring it back with me into Israel?
R.R., via email
Dr. Yehuda Baruch, director of the Abarbanel State Mental Health Center in Bat Yam and head of the Health Ministry’s medical marijuana project, comments: The time it takes for such a request to be processed is about five weeks – not two years. I understand your problem, but I do not think you would qualify to get an import permit for medical cannabis, as it is strictly limited. But you should try. To apply, you need a recommendation from a pain clinic or your nephrologist, stating that you cannot get steroid treatment for the pain. Your family physician should send the request to the Health Ministry’s cannabis unit or to me directly in Jerusalem.Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or e-mail it to jsiegel@jpost.com, giving your initials, age and place of residence.