Make Chiangmai Mail | your Homepage | Bookmark

Chiangmai 's First English Language Newspaper

Pattaya Blatt | Pattaya Mail | Pattaya Mail TV

Update November 2017

Chiang Mai News
Classical Connections
Care for animals
Community Happenings
Doctor's Consultation
Dining Out & Recipes
Heart to Heart
Mail Bag
Mott the Dog
Daily Horoscope
About Us
Advertising Rates
Current Movies in
Chiangmai's Cinemas
Back Issues
Find out your Romantic Horoscope Now - Click Here!
Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern

Doctor's Consultation  by Dr. Iain Corness


Update Saturday, Nov. 18 - Nov. 24, 2017

Remember Al Whatsisname!

I have stopped worrying about Alzheimer’s Disease. What between Google and my 13 year old daughter, I can find anything. In the mornings when I leave home, there is Little Miss, index finger outstretched, showing me just where I parked the car last night and that I have forgotten my work book. And Google, the patron saint of writers, is always there to remind me of the names I had forgotten. Now all I have to do is get my brain hot-wired into a wireless network and I can meet the world head on.

However, we’re not quite there yet, so we (you and me) we have to retain as much cerebral function as we can. And it turns out that it is not all that difficult.

We have known for some time that if you don’t use your muscles, they waste away. By not using your hands for physical work, the skin on your hands gets thin. However, we also know that if you use your muscles again, the muscle tissue builds up and becomes strong once more. If you use your hands again, the skin builds up and becomes thicker. The message is simply that all is not lost! Recovery is possible.

However, we were always told that the one organ of the body that could not reverse the wasting process was the Central Nervous System. Once it started to fail, that was it. Dementia was just around the corner. Do not pass go, do not collect 200!

However, that view has recently been challenged and the results are comforting, to say the least. Experiments have been carried out that showed that by inducing stress in an animal resulted in chemicals being released. This on its own was nothing new, but what was new was the fact that some of these chemicals produced a difference in the brain’s anatomy! The idea that the brain could not change was incorrect! It could be ‘short-circuited’ resulting in a new wiring pathways.

What was even more exciting was that if the animal was restored to its own ‘safe’ and non-threatening environment, then the brain reverted to its pre-stressed anatomy! It was possible to ‘re-wire’ the brain.

In turn this has led to much research into the effects of stress and its reversal, and then on to Alzheimer’s Disease (if I have remembered to spell it correctly)! And if it were possible for its reversal too!

Returning to the research, we have shown that stress can physically damage nerve cells used in storing memory. We have also found that mindless watching of the goggle-box also produces a decline in brain function. In fact the numbers are more worrying than that. It has now been found that people with no stimulating leisure activities, and who are couch potatoes instead, are nearly four times more likely to develop dementia compared to those people who have leisure stimuli and do not waste hours in front of the TV.

Taking that a step further, and turning the scientific data around to be useful, it has been found that in being the converse to the couch potato, intellectually stimulating leisure activities had a ‘protective’ effect for the brain and its capabilities. What is more, they have also found that if you are doing a job you enjoy, then this was again protective, but a dull job with no stimulus or challenge was another way to head downhill.

This does not mean that we all have to take up chess tomorrow, because in place of intellectually stimulating hobbies, it has been found that physical exercise itself stops memory loss and stimulates growth of nerve cells.

Another protective factor appears to be marriage! Those who have never married have twice as high an incidence of dementia than those who are married. So there you are, rather than say that your wife is driving you insane, it appears that she is driving you towards sanity instead. (I have friends who would dispute that!)

So the secret towards staving off dementia and Al whatsisname’s disease is to have a job you enjoy, get some exercise, watch a very limited amount of TV and settle down with a good cook (sorry, that should have read “a good book”).

Update Saturday, Nov. 11 - Nov. 17, 2017

Thanks, Mum and Dad!

We all have much to thank our parents for. Just letting us grow up for starters. As an aside, if my young son continues much longer with the two year old tantrums, he’s going to be lucky to reach his third birthday, but no doubt his mother will shield him from paternal wrath.

However, heredity is one of the ‘clues’ to your health in the future, and what you can do to enjoy a long, lively and healthy one. This is where ‘thanks Mum and Dad’ comes in. One problem of being an orphan is that it leaves the person with no idea as to what ailments are going to befall them. Dad might have legged it or ‘fled the scene’, but did he live to tell the tale when he was 60?

With the increasing research into genetics, we are able to map out our likely futures and can predict such ailments as diabetes, epilepsy and other neurological problems like Huntington’s Chorea and Alzheimer’s Disease, some cancers such as breast, ovarian, lower bowel, prostate, skin and testicular, heart attacks, blood pressure problems, certain blood diseases like Sickle Cell anemia and so the list goes on.

However, you do not need to have multi-million baht examinations done on your DNA to see where you are headed, all you need to do is to start asking the older family members about your inheritance. Not the money - your genetic inheritance in the health stakes.

Have you ever wondered why the questionnaire for life insurance asks whether any close member of your family has ever suffered from diabetes, epilepsy and other ailments and then also asks you to write down how old your parents or brothers and sisters were when they died, and what they died from? All that they, the insurance companies, are doing is finding out the relative likelihood (or ‘risk’) of your succumbing early to an easily identifiable disease. This does not need a postgraduate Masters degree in rocket science. It needs a cursory application of family history.

If either of your parents had diabetes, your elder brother has diabetes, your younger brother has diabetes and your cousin has diabetes, what are the odds on your getting (or already having) diabetes? Again this is not rocket science. The answer is pretty damn high! And yet, I see families like this, where the individual members are totally surprised and amazed when they fall ill, go to hospital, and diabetes is diagnosed.

It does not really take very much time over a family lunch to begin to enquire about one’s forebears. After five minutes it will be obvious if there is some kind of common medical thread running through your family. That thread may not necessarily be life threatening, but could be something like arthritis for example.

Look at it this way - your future is being displayed by your family’s past. This could be considered frightening, when your father, his brother and your grandfather all died very early from heart attacks. Or, this could be considered as life saving, if it pushes you towards looking at you own cardiac health and overcoming an apparently disastrous medical history.

This is an advantage that you get provided you are not an orphan. You know what to look for before it becomes a problem. Going back to the family with diabetes, what should the younger members do? Well, if it were me, I would be having my blood sugar checked at least once a year from the age of 20. Any time I had reason to visit the doctor in between, I would also ask to have the level checked. We are talking about a very inexpensive test that could literally save you millions of baht in the future, as well as giving you a better quality of life, and a longer one.

Ask around the dinner table today and plan to check your medical future tomorrow. It’s called a ‘Check-up’!

Update Saturday, Nov. 4 - Nov. 10, 2017

Medical treatment costs

I was asked by one of the Chambers of Commerce for guidance on how individuals and families may secure the best possible medical treatment (and insurance cover) at a sensible and affordable cost.

Having been involved in health care for more years than I wish to remember, and having worked in the UK, Europe, Australia and Thailand, I believe I am qualified to comment on this.

However, this is a vexed question. Just what do people consider to be “sensible and affordable” costs? What is affordable for some people, may not be as affordable for others. A comparison can be drawn between private international school fees and “ordinary” private Thai school fees. Everything is relative, surely?

And then there is the question of insurance cover. I have always adhered to the dictum that medical insurance is a contract between the patient and the insurance company. It is not a contract between the insurance company and the healthcare provider, even though some private hospitals (mine included) do assist the patient with the transaction. However, I do not believe I am qualified to comment on medical insurance cover, I leave that to the individual, but I do counsel that one should always work through a reputable agent. I realize that a small saving on premiums may be available by purchasing direct from the insurance company, but in the event of a difference in opinion (for say is the ailment a pre-existing condition or otherwise) who will go to bat for you? The insurance company most certainly will not fight itself. That’s why you should have an agent as your representative! I believe that is actually very important.

Back to the Chamber’s question regarding “best possible medical treatment at a sensible and affordable cost.” If we then look at “cost” as the parameter, is this the correct yardstick? I’m sorry, but in this, as most things in life, you get what you pay for. The CEO’s Mercedes is better than your Toyota. Sorry, that is just one of the inequalities of life.

If we were to lower prices (and let’s face it, profit margins) there are very well understood end results. Cut-price medical treatment results in simply:

Crowded wards

Long Waiting lists

Outdated technology (pick any two)!

My experience tells me that this cut-price scenario does not represent the “best possible medical treatment.” I would rather have my gall bladder removed by today’s (relatively expensive) ‘key-hole’ surgery than by yesterday’s old (cheap) open abdomen surgery. I would rather have my brain visualized with (expensive) Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) than yesterday’s (cheap) simple X-Ray. Unfortunately, technology costs money.

I’m sorry to harp on this, but the CEO’s Mercedes is still better than your Toyota. If you want the best, you have to be ready to pay for it.

So is it a case of open slather in the private hospitals? Simple answer, it is not. There were 1,002 public hospitals, and 316 private hospitals registered with the Ministry of Public Health in 2010. There are obviously more by now. Costs will move according to prevailing free market forces. Like any business venture it is possible to price one’s self out of the market. The other 315 private hospitals will keep the 316th within the constraints of the market place. And if that is not enough, other surrounding countries such as India and Singapore are actively trying to attract patients from Thailand, using the “price” parameter.

Thailand’s private hospital fees, on a world scale, are very inexpensive. This is the reason that Medical Tourism to Thailand is continuing to grow. With procedure costs in Thailand between 30-50 percent of similar procedure fees in Australia or America, for example, Thailand is not considered to be expensive.

Returning to the question of how individuals and families may secure the “best possible medical treatment (and insurance cover) at a sensible and affordable cost,” there are some guidelines. Patients are medical consumers. Like all consumers you should shop around. Get more than one opinion both for the diagnosis and necessary treatment, and for the costs. Do not be afraid of hurting the doctor’s feelings. Second (and third) opinions are part of medical life, and a healthy part, I believe.

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Remember Al Whatsisname!

Thanks, Mum and Dad!

Medical treatment costs



Chiangmai Mail Publishing Co. Ltd.
189/22 Moo 5, T. Sansai Noi, A. Sansai, Chiang Mai 50210
Tel. 053 852 557, Fax. 053 014 195
Editor: 087 184 8508
E-mail: [email protected]
Administration: [email protected]
Website & Newsletter Advertising: [email protected]

Copyright © 2004 Chiangmai Mail. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.