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Am Fam Physician. 1998;58(6):1277

After more than 2,000 years, the mystery of Alexander the Great's death may have been solved. According to an analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine the likely deliverer of death was typhoid fever, rather than poisoning or malaria as was popularly believed. Researchers say that the symptoms recorded in the days before Alexander's death included severe abdominal pain, chills and high fever, among others. Accounts that Alexander's body did not begin to decay until several days after he died may be explained by the occurrence of a complication of typhoid fever called ascending paralysis, which would make a person appear dead, even if he is not.

People with epilepsy have just as many children as those without the disorder, reports a study published in Neurology. Past studies found that people with epilepsy have decreased fertility, but researchers say that a much higher percentage of those study participants were people with uncontrollable epilepsy, identified by epilepsy referral centers. The current study included all persons in Iceland who were diagnosed with epilepsy during a five-year period. The study showed that fertility rate was not affected by seizure type or the age at which epilepsy was diagnosed, and there was no difference in fertility between men and women.

If your partner snores, you could belong in one of these categories. A study by Bruskin/Goldring for Mission Pharmacal found that one in three adults has a partner who snores and that snoring has the following effect on relationships: 52 percent of partners just hear “white noise” because it's been so long; 15 percent are grumpy in the morning; 11 percent sleep in separate bedrooms; 6 percent began snoring, too; 5 percent have lost some hearing; and 11 percent report other effects, according to USA Today.

Are children really not listening? Or do they have some hearing loss? A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that nearly 15 percent of 6,166 children six to 19 years of age had low- or high-frequency hearing loss. High-frequency hearing loss, which may be caused by medications, noise or meningitis, was found in 12.7 percent of the children. Low-frequency hearing loss, which may be caused by ear infections, swelling of the auditory canal or impacted ear wax, was found in 7.1 percent of the children.

The next time you catch a whiff of a peculiar odor, it could be someone's new perfume. According to The Wall Street Journal, there's a new kid on the block in the perfume industry. Demeter Fragrances has launched a line of nostalgia-based scents. With fragrances ranging from Dirt and Tomato to Mint Chocolate and Ivy, these aren't your everyday florals and spices. They are intended to break away from the traditional and bring back childhood memories. What scents could be next? Quite possibly gasoline, sweat and puppies.

Is there a “mystery patient” in your waiting room? According to “Capitation Management Report,” physicians in capitated arrangements are now hiring mystery patients (much like “mystery shoppers” in the retail industry) to uncover weaknesses in customer service and administrative operations that might cause patients to seek help elsewhere. The entire appointment process is evaluated, including the first phone call to schedule an appointment, the time spent in the waiting room, the greeting and assessment by the nurse, and the time spent waiting to see the physician.

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Copyright © 1998 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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