Wednesday, October 14, 2009

House MD: Real or Bogus?

The TV drama, House has been on TV since 2004 and is now in its 6th season. For those who don’t know about the show, House is a medical drama that revolves around the work of Diagnostic specialist, Gregory House, played by actor Hugh Laurie. Dr. House is joined by his medical team, Eric Foreman (Omar Epps), Allison Cameron (Jennifer Morrison), and Robert Chase (Jesse Spencer). In the show, House and his team treat a number of patients at Princeton University in New Jersey. Each patient experiences bizarre symptoms and seeks medical help from House.
House is by far my favorite show. Every time I watch it, I just can’t help but think, “Are these diseases for real?” Most people do wonder that considering these are diseases that most of us have never even heard of. I decided to get to the bottom of this.
In the season 2 episode, “Heavy”, House treats a morbidly obese ten year old girl, Jessica, who has recently suffered from a heart attack. When first diagnosing the girl, the team concludes it is Metabolic Syndrome X. according to Medline Plus, Metabolic Syndrome is a disease that increases high blood pressure, sugar levels, triglycerides in your blood, and lowers levels of good cholesterol. Watching this episode, I had a hard time believing a ten year old could have a heart attack or this disease. Medical professionals say that anyone can have a heart attack, and it is not unheard of to have a 10 year old have a heart attack. In fact, 2 years ago, there was an actual case where an 8 year old boy died of a heart attack in Florida.
In The episode, “Heavy”, it turns out the doctors misdiagnosed Jessica. When treated for Metabolic Syndrome, Jessica’s chest began to break out in blood clots that were eating her skin. The doctors concluded it was not Metabolic Syndrome, but Cushing’s, which is a disease the effects normal human growth. Jessica did indeed have the Cushing’s tumor which affected her growth. Jessica lost over 100 pounds after leaving the hospital.
Another episode which amazed me was, “House vs. God”. In this episode, House treats a 15 year old boy who claims to be “a spiritual healer”. He says God speaks to him and tells him when people are in pain and hurting deep down. He was sent to the hospital after collapsing from lack of sodium in his blood stream. That was because he drinks a lot of water every day to “cleanse his body of impurities”. At the same time House was treating the boy, Boyd, Dr. James Wilson is treating a long time patient who has cancer. One night Boyd sleep walks and comes across the cancer patient, Grace, and tells her God sent him to “heal her” and places his hand on her face. The next morning, Wilson runs a scan on Grace to find out her cancer cells have shrunk. House is flabbergasted and determined to prove that there is no such thing as “spiritual healers”

House's patient, Boyd, played by Thomas Dekker.

Later on in the episode, Boyd develops a fever of 103 and rising. He screams at the nurses saying he wants no more “man’s medicine” and God will heal him. House comes up with a solution to Boyd’s illusions and fever. Boyd has Herpes. House and Wilson discover that by rubbing his hand in Grace’s face, the Herpes virus on Boyd’s hand slowed down the cancer cells. Now, can that really happen? Herpes is not yet proven to have been able to shrink tumors in humans, but according to Science Blog it has treated cancer cells in mice.
Now if that’s not amazing enough for you, it turns out, all that can actually happen! Metabolic Syndrome X and Cushing’s are both real diseases and Herpes can somewhat cure tumors, and FOX network got the symptoms right.

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