Alzheimer’s Disease
EDP Column by Dr Ketan Dhatariya

In this column I hope to achieve two things. Firstly to demystify the ‘blurb’ that we in the medical profession are prone to using on prescriptions and also when talking to our patients. Secondly I hope to let you know who some of the people associated with particular conditions were. If you have anyone in particular you would like to know about, then do let me know.

If you look at a prescription then there are often odd abbreviations at the end of the name of the drug what do these mean?

These abbreviations allow the person filling in the prescription to communicate with the person dispensing the drug (usually the pharmacist) what to put on the label before the drugs are given to the patient. Examples of these are o.d., b.d., t.d.s. and q.d.s.. These abbreviations derive from omni die (once daily), bis die (twice a day), ter die semendus (three times a day) and quarter die sumendus (four times a day).

These can be quite confusing sometimes as very similar abbreviations can mean very different things. For example q.h. (quaque hora) means ‘every hour’, whereas q.l. (quantum libet) means ‘as much as you like’, and q.q.h. (quaque quarta hora) means’ every four hours’. Luckily, however, most of these abbreviations aren’t used very often.

It was fairly common for errors to occur between the doctor writing the prescription (no jokes about doctors writing please) and the prescription being ‘decoded’ by the pharmacist. In addition, in the days when prescriptions used to be written by hand, there was a lot more room for error. With modern technology ensuring that most prescriptions are printed by a computer, these errors should occur less and less.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Most people will have heard of this condition. It is a cause of dementia, which is associated with deteriorations in intellectual function – namely memory, concentration and judgement.

Alois Alzhemier was born in Bavaria in June 1864 and became a doctor in 1887. His original research was on the wax-producing glands of the ear; however his interest in psychiatry began after he spent several months travelling with a lady who was psychiatrically unwell. He eventually got a job at the asylum in Frankfurt where he specialised in the condition that now bears his name. His research found that the brains of affected individuals had abnormal amounts of a protein like substance.

After several years of successful research in lots of areas of brain disease and mental illness, Alzheimer died from an infection of his heart aged 51 in Breslau, Poland. The house where he was born in Marktbreit, Germany, is now a museum.

For more information about Alzheimer's Disease click these links: