July 10, 2020

Ice Cream to the Rescue


Ice Cream to the Rescue
Ice cream is usually avoided at doctors' offices. Image by RitaE via Pixabay

Usually, doctors may tell patients to avoid eating ice cream for health reasons. Recently, however, one Russian doctor used his patient’s ice cream preferences as a clue to reach a tricky diagnosis. The head physician of the Moscow’s hospital No. 71 and TV presenter Alexander Myasnikov discussed how he identified an illness with the help of ice cream.

Myasnikov said that a patient who underwent heart surgery came to see him at the hospital. The patient also had diabetes and thyroid problems. Among his symptoms, the patient also complained that he could not swallow cold food, such as ice cream. Myasnikov suggested that the patient be examined for cancer and sent him to oncology for an examination. A blood test showed that the patient had a low hemoglobin level.

“That is, we discovered anemia, which only confirmed our thoughts about cancer,” said Myasnikov. The oncology department conducted other examinations, including gastroscopy, colonoscopy, tomography, and internal organ tests, but no cancer was detected.

Then Myasnikov recalled the patient’s complaint about eating ice cream, which led to a break in the case.

Myasnikov recalled a very specific disease, cold agglutinin disease: “When the temperature decreases, the body begins to produce antibodies to red blood cells, which destroy them, leading to anemia,” the doctor explained. Myasnikov asked a round of follow-up questions and discovered the patient’s cheeks become incredibly red in the cold, as if he were an alcoholic. This confirmed Myasnikov’s diagnosis, after which the patient was prescribed a drug to help treat the antibodies, and was also told to avoid the cold as much as possible. Were it not for the ice cream clue, this patient would still be waiting for a diagnosis!

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