Category Archives: Health

Migraines

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Migraine headaches often begin in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood. Migraines may progress through four stages, including prodrome, aura, headache and postdrome, though you may not experience all the stages.

Prodrome

One or two days before a migraine, you may notice subtle changes that signify an oncoming migraine, including:

  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Food cravings
  • Hyperactivity
  • Irritability
  • Neck stiffness
  • Uncontrollable yawning

Aura

Aura may occur before or during migraine headaches. Auras are nervous system symptoms that are usually visual disturbances, such as flashes of light. Sometimes auras can also be touching sensations (sensory), movement (motor) or speech (verbal) disturbances. Most people experience migraine headaches without aura. Each of these symptoms usually begins gradually, builds up over several minutes, and then commonly lasts for 20 to 60 minutes. Examples of aura include:

  • Visual phenomena, such as seeing various shapes, bright spots or flashes of light
  • Vision loss
  • Pins and needles sensations in an arm or leg
  • Speech or language problems (aphasia)

Less commonly, an aura may be associated with limb weakness (hemiplegic migraine).

Attack

When untreated, a migraine usually lasts from four to 72 hours, but the frequency with which headaches occur varies from person to person. You may have migraines several times a month or much less often. During a migraine, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain on one side or both sides of your head
  • Pain that has a pulsating, throbbing quality
  • Sensitivity to light, sounds and sometimes smells
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Lightheadedness, sometimes followed by fainting

Postdrome

The final phase, known as postdrome, occurs after a migraine attack. During this time you may feel drained and washed out, though some people report feeling mildly euphoric.

When to see a doctor

Migraine headaches are often undiagnosed and untreated. If you regularly experience signs and symptoms of migraine attacks, keep a record of your attacks and how you treated them. Then make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your headaches.

Even if you have a history of headaches, see your doctor if the pattern changes or your headaches suddenly feel different.

See your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if you have any of the following signs and symptoms, which may indicate other, more serious medical problems:

  • An abrupt, severe headache like a thunderclap
  • Headache with fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness or trouble speaking
  • Headache after a head injury, especially if the headache gets worse
  • A chronic headache that is worse after coughing, exertion, straining or a sudden movement

Simple Tips for Healthy Eyes

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Your eyes are an important part of your health. There are many things you can do to keep them healthy and make sure you are seeing your best. Follow these simple steps for maintaining healthy eyes well into your golden years.

Have a comprehensive dilated eye exam. You might think your vision is fine or that your eyes are healthy, but visiting your eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to really be sure. When it comes to common vision problems, some people don’t realize they could see better with glasses or contact lenses. In addition, many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration often have no warning signs. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their early stages.

During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, your eye care professional places drops in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupil to allow more light to enter the eye the same way an open door lets more light into a dark room. This enables your eye care professional to get a good look at the back of the eyes and examine them for any signs of damage or disease. Your eye care professional is the only one who can determine if your eyes are healthy and if you’re seeing your best.

Know your family’s eye health history. Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with a disease or condition since many are hereditary. This will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease or condition.

Eat right to protect your sight. You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes. But eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too.i Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut.

Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions, which can lead to vision loss, such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma. If you are having trouble maintaining a healthy weight, talk to your doctor.

Wear protective eyewear. Wear protective eyewear when playing sports or doing activities around the home. Protective eyewear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields, and eye guards specially designed to provide the correct protection for a certain activity. Most protective eyewear lenses are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics. Many eye care providers sell protective eyewear, as do some sporting goods stores.

Quit smoking or never start. Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataract, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.ii,iii

Be cool and wear your shades. Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.

Give your eyes a rest. If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focusing on any one thing, you sometimes forget to blink and your eyes can get fatigued. Try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This can help reduce eyestrain.

Clean your hands and your contact lensesproperly. To avoid the risk of infection, always wash your hands thoroughly before putting in or taking out your contact lenses. Make sure to disinfect contact lenses as instructed and replace them as appropriate.

Practice workplace eye safety. Employers are required to provide a safe work environment. When protective eyewear is required as a part of your job, make a habit of wearing the appropriate type at all times and encourage your coworkers to do the same.

How to fight acidity

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Acidity is a term used for a set of symptoms caused by excess production of acid by the gastric glands of the stomach. The stomach normally secretes hydrochloric acid which is required for the breakdown and digestion of food we eat. Acidity causes symptoms like dyspepsia,heartburn,  gastric inflammation and ulcers in the stomach.

Acidity is generally a consequence of several external factors like eating habits, fad diets, stress, smoking and alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity, irregularity in eating pattern. The incidence of acidity is higher in countries where individuals eat more of non-vegetarian, oily and spicy foods. Certain medications like non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s)also predisposes individuals to gastric acidity.

People suffering from acidity feel a burning sensation after eating a meal. Sour belching is also commonly seen. Sometimes, constipation and indigestion is also seen in people having acidity. Acidity can be treated with antacids and mainly by making changes in eating and lifestyle habits. A new technique called endostism can also provide relief from acid reflux. This section offers some really good home remedies for acidity which you can try. You can also read the importance of having an alkaline diet to reduce the symptoms of acidity.

CAUSES

Our stomach produces gastric acids to aid digestion. But, their corrosive effects are neutralised by the production of natural bicarbonate and prostaglandins secreted in the mucous lining. When the production of these chemicals is interrupted then it leads to damaged stomach lining which causes acidity.

  1. Stress
  2. Consumption of spicy and non-vegetarian foods
  3. Smoking and alcohol
  4. Stomach ailments like peptic ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease, stomach tumors, etc.
  5. Medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Read more about why acidity is rising among youngsters.

SYMPTOMS

The common signs and symptoms that you might experience are –

  1. Burning in the stomach
  2. Burning in the throat
  3. Restlessness
  4. Belching
  5. Nausea
  6. Sour taste
  7. Indigestion
  8. Constipation

TREATMENT

Usually, acidity is treated with the help of antacids which contain either magnesium or calcium or aluminium containing compounds. These antacids neutralise the excess acid in the stomach thus providing relief from the symptoms. Read about  food dos and don’ts for acidity.

Sometimes, histamine blocking agents (H2 receptor blockers) such as cimetidine, ranitidine, famotidine or nizatidine or proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole and lansoprazole can also be prescribed by your physician. In rare cases, surgery (vagotomy) is performed to reduce the acid sensation. Here’s how to relieve indigestion,gas and irritable bowel syndrome with yoga.

HOME REMEDIES

Here are 10 home remedies for acidity that actually work –

  • Bananas
  • Tulsi
  • Cold milk
  • Saunf or aniseed
  • Jeera
  • Clove
  • Elaichi
  • Mint leaves or pudina
  • Ginger
  • Amla

PREVENTION

Acidity can be prevented by the following methods:

  1. Don’t consume spicy food
  2. Eat more fruits and vegetables
  3. Eat small, regular meals
  4. Consume your last meal at least a few hours before sleeping
  5. Chew tulsi leaves, cloves, saunf, etc.
  6. Avoid medications like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and steroids
  7. Reduce stress

Fast Fixes for More Energy

 

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If you’re tired all the time, a change in what you eat (diet) or what you do all day (activity pattern) may be all you need to turn things around 180°.

You won’t be able to do everything on this list all the time — you’d tire yourself out trying to get more energy — but do try them all to see which ones work for you and your schedule. Add a few of these tips to your regular routine. Or mix them up to keep things interesting.

1. Change your socks for refreshment.

It’s an amazing trick. Bring a change of socks to work, and change your socks midway through the day (say, after lunch). You’ll be amazed at how much fresher you’ll feel. This trick is especially handy on days with lots of walking — like during a hike or family outing to the amusement park.

2. Rock out loud.

Whether you work alone or in a room with coworkers, a quick one-song rock out loud session is an effective way to beat back exhaustion.

In a cube farm? Get everyone to sing along! The key is to choose a song that everyone can sing along with. The energy boosting effect comes from bobbing your head and singing out loud. One song, 3 minutes. That’s a quick boost of adrenaline that lasts for a bit. You’ll be singing to yourself the rest of the never ending project delivery night.

3. Get rid of the stuffy nose.

If allergies have your sinuses blocked, you may be feeling more tired and cranky. An over-the-counter allergy medication should clear up your sinuses (and your mind).

4. Work with your body’s clock.

There is a natural ebb and flow of energy throughout the day. We start off sluggish after waking up, even after a solid 8 hours of sleep. Our energy peaks mid-morning, and it’s natural to want a siesta in the afternoon. We get a second spike of energy in the early evening, followed by our lowest energy point just before bedtime. Once you understand this natural rhythm of energy throughout the day, you can work on the important tasks during your peak hours and avoid early afternoon snoozefests (meetings).

5. Have a piece of chocolate.

Not too much, but if you’re going to have some candy, it might as well be chocolate. We get an endorphin buzz from chocolate (not to mention the energy boost from the slight bit of caffeine chocolate contains). Dark chocolate has more caffeine than milk chocolate.

6. Have an afternoon power snack.

A small healthy snack that is low in sugar and has protein and/or fiber a couple hours after lunch helps you finish off the day strong. Some suggestions:

  • mixed nuts
  • nonfat yogurt
  • apple and peanut butter
  • frozen berries smoothie
  • trail mix
  • granola bar

7. Hit up the water cooler for inconsequential banter.

A little midday gossip and random banter is a great pick-me-up for your tired mind. It works because it gets your mind on zero-stress thoughts for a while. The mental break for just a few minutes will revitalize you.

8. Eat lots of berries.

Especially berries that are blue, red, or purple. The color comes from anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant, that boosts energy. Any kind of berry will contain tons.

9. Wear brighter colors.

This trick is related to the mood you project to people, and the reciprocating mood they project towards you. If you wear dark, somber colors, you project a dark, somber attitude, and people will respond to you with a somber attitude. If you wear bright, happy colors, you’ll get that attitude projected towards you, which will boost your own mood and energy levels.

10. Take a power nap.

But do it in your chair. Don’t lie down on the sofa or you won’t get back up. Keep it short: 5-10 minutes max. Any longer and it will have the opposite effect of knocking you out for the rest of the day.

11. Flirt.

It’s fun, it’s harmless (keep it innocent), and it’s effective. Nothing quite gets the heart pumping like a little flirting.

 

7 strange-but-true health tips

A beautiful young girl with an apple lying on the grass and reading a book beside a basket of fruit is, on a background of green nature

A beautiful young girl with an apple lying on the grass and reading a book beside a basket of fruit is, on a background of green nature

1. Call your mom to beat stress

Mom might not be the first person you think of if you want to decrease your anxiety and stress. But while she might nag you from time to time, she also might be the best person to call if you need a little TLC. A study published in Proceedings B by researchers from the University of Wisconsin Madison put a group of girls ages 7-12 through a stressful task and then divided them into three groups: one group had 15 minutes in person with their mothers, another group called their moms and the last group watched a film. Researchers found that levels of oxytocin—the hormone linked to emotional bonding—were increased in both the groups that had physical contact with their moms and those that just talked to Mom on the phone. The researchers also saw that the levels of the stress hormone cortisol decreased in both the groups that talked to Mom.

2. Eat more to weigh less

If you think the key to weight loss is eating less food, think again. Eating small, healthy snacks throughout the day—in addition to your regular balanced meals—will keep your stomach full and stop you from running to the vending machine with major hunger pangs at 4 p.m. But keep in mind that not just any old snack will do—keep them healthy and focus on nutrients. Delicious, protein-rich foods such as peanut butter, cheese and yogurt are tasty snacks that can help improve your metabolism and encourage muscle building.

3. Slow down for running success

Running is simple, right? You just lace up your shoes, head outside and put one foot in front of the other. But what does it take to be a successful runner? A study by University of Ottawa researchers Bradley Young and John Samela found that paying attention to pace is what separated the successful runners from the others. The goal is to get your body to recognize what pace you’re going so that you don’t burn all of your energy at the start of a run.

4. Boost your energy with a glass of water

Water is nature’s magic elixir. It improves your oral health, promotes weight loss and energizes you. Ordinary water, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center found, raises alertness. The scientists discovered that water increases sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity. SNS is responsible for activating the body’s responses under stress, raising blood pressure, energy use and alertness. Next time you need an energy boost, skip the caffeine and turn on the tap.

5. Don’t overdo the beauty sleep

It’s important to get your sleep—it helps you feel your best, protects you against diabetes, wards off heart disease and even burns calories. But how much sleep do you really need? A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham School of Medicine found that those that slept more than eight hours a day—including naps—were 15 percent more likely to have metabolic syndrome than those who slept less. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors, linked to obesity, which increase your chance of having heart disease and other health problems, including diabetes and stroke. The authors of the study couldn’t say if the extra hours of sleep were the cause or the symptom of metabolic syndrome, but they suggested that “long sleepers” see health benefits from reducing the amount of sleep they get.

6. Boost brain power with music

To get you body in shape, you go to the gym. What should you do for your brain? Play an instrument! A study published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience pulled together data from around the world studying the effect of music on the brain. They found that musical training, or any interaction with music—including listening—improved the brain’s ability to handle communication. The research reviewed showed that children with musical training have better-than-average vocabulary and reading ability. Musical adults had more “neuroplasticity,” aiding their brains’ long-term ability to adapt and change. So every time you put on your ear buds to listen to the music, be it Ravel or Rihanna, you’re improving your brain’s fitness.

7. Improve your relationship to protect your heart

Relationships aren’t always perfect, but if you constantly feel anxious or needy, you could be putting yourself at higher risk of cardiovascular problems. People who or felt like their loved ones could leave them may actually end up with a broken heart, says a new study by the American Psychological Association. Researchers found that participants in the study who had “attachment insecurity” were strongly associated with higher risk of stroke, high blood pressure, ulcers and heart attack. The researchers are now looking into the health benefits of salving those apprehensive feelings.

Can Pickle Juice Cure a Hangover?

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I know what you’re thinking:

“I’ve tried every remedy in the book, and none of them have been able to stifle the crazed hangover zombie that takes over my body every morning after a long night out. Advil, water, sports drinks…continuing to drink more alcohol…none of them have ever come through for me when I feel like death and need to somehow make it to class. 

And seriously? PICKLE JUICE?? The thought alone of those floating green monsters is enough to make me wanna vom.”

Yes. Pickle juice is certainly an acquired taste. But research has shown that the age-old trick employed by those vodka-chugging Russians of drinking pickle juice to prevent and/or treat a hangover may actually have some merit. Before you work on trying to fix your hangover though, it helps to understand what is actually happening to your body when you feel one coming on.

You may think that tossing back shots all night is providing your body with fluids, but that is so far from the truth. Oh you had a vodka cranberry? And there was ice in it? So you’re hydrated? Nope, you’re not. Sorry.

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it literally drains water out of you. So no matter how much “liquid” you’re consuming–and come on, we know it’s a lot–you are still ridding your body of all the good stuff that keeps it hydrated when you hit the bars.  Hello, headache that might actually split your head in two.

Here’s the exciting news: you can prevent a hangover headache by tossing back around ¼ cup of pickle juice either right before you hit the sheets or first thing when you wake up in the morning.  The salt and vinegar in the pickle juice, aka the brine, will cause your body to start storing water and restoring electrolytes to put your body back in balance.

 

Be Aware: Your Tattoos Could Cause False-Positive Results for Cancer

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Your tattoo may do more than showcase your favorite body art—it can cause doctors to falsely believe you have cancer.

That’s what happened to a 32-year-old woman recently who is actually battling cervical cancer. Ink from her tattoos, which cover her legs and thighs, caused a body-imaging test called a PET scan to light up, leading doctors to believe that her cancer had spread.

California surgeon Ramez Eskander, M.D., told CBS Los Angeles that the ink lit up his patient’s lymph nodes, a typical sign that cancer is present.

It wasn’t until they were in the operating room that doctors realized that it was tattoo ink that caused the spots to appear, not cancer cells.

The woman still received a hysterectomy because she had cervical cancer, but didn’t need to undergo radiation since it hadn’t spread like the scans indicated.

But how did this happen? “When you tattoo, some of that ink will be absorbed in the cells in the lymphatic system and migrate to levels of lymph nodes,” explained Eskander.

He published his findings in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, noting in his paper that physicians should be aware of the possible effects of tattoos on body scans while developing a treatment plan for patients.

“When there is a PET scan that shows a bright lymph node, if a patient has significant tattoos or body art, then you have to be cognizant that these might be false positives,” he said.

So should you be worried if you have a tattoo? Maybe. It’s worth noting that this woman had a lot of tats (Eskander defined it as “excessive” in his paper), so if you have just a small one, you’re probably okay.

Can You Drink Too Much Water?

I typically drink far more than the recommended six to eight glasses per day, and feel dehydrated if I adhere to the guidelines. I have no underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, that would lead to increased thirst.

Absolutely, and if you do, you can develop a dangerous condition called hyponatremia, or water intoxication.

Under normal conditions, the body beautifully maintains its fluid balance. Lose fluids through sweating, for instance, and your body responds with the feeling of thirst. You drink. If you swallow more liquid than needed just then, your body typically responds by excreting the excess through urination.

But should you consume so much fluid that your body can’t easily rid itself of the surplus, you dilute sodium levels in your blood. Osmosis then draws water from the blood into body cells to equalize sodium levels, and those cells swell. At that point, you have hyponatremia. If the cellular bloating occurs in the brain, it can be fatal.

Until about 20 years ago, hyponatremia was extremely uncommon among healthy people. But then several marathon runners died from hyponatremia. In general, they had been middle- or back-of-the-pack, slower runners. They did not sweat much. But they drank plenty of water, trying to ensure that they would be well hydrated.

Today, most knowledgeable coaches and exercise experts warn athletes not to overdrink. “You should drink only when you need to, when you are actually thirsty,” said Dr. James Winger, a professor of family medicine at Loyola University Medical Center, who has studied the hydration habits of athletes.

If you’re not sure whether you’re drinking too much or too little during exercise, try weighing yourself before and after a lengthy workout, experts advise. If you have lost more than about 3 or 4 percent of your body weight, you’re probably flirting with dehydration and might want to drink a bit more next time. But if you have gained weight or your fingers seem swollen and your rings tight, you’re most likely drinking too much and should moderate intake.

Most important, listen to your body’s signals, Dr. Winger said. “Thirst is a very reliable indicator,” he said, of whether and how much to drink.

Build your immunity in seven days

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Fight off colds, flus and chronic disease with these immune-boosting tips.

Monday

Get more garlic. It has the powerful compound allicin, vitamins A, C, E and minerals selenium, sulfur and zinc (all vital to immune function). It also protects against infections, colds and flu, and has anti-bacterial, -fungal and -viral properties. Just add crushed cloves to pastas, sauces, salad dressings and dips.

Tuesday

Slip in a superfood. Seaweed is not only extremely nutritious, it boosts the immune system and reduces the risk of illness and infection. Seaweed is a good source of zinc and antioxidants that are important for immune health. Add strips of kelp, nori, or akrame to soups, salads and stir-fries.

Wednesday

Get some sun. Vitamin D protects us against illness and a range of chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Sunlight is the easiest and healthiest way to get sufficient vitamin D, so aim for 10 to 15 minutes a day (without sunscreen), on the face, arms and hands.

Thursday

Take echinacea regularly. It has phenolic compounds which increase the activity and number of immune cells such as macrophages and T-cells, making them more efficient in attacking bacteria and viruses such as colds and flu. Take echinacea in tablets, as fluid extracts or in tea (three cups a day is ideal).

Friday

Vitamin C is one of the best immune-boosting nutrients for treating and preventing all illnesses and chronic diseases. As a powerful antioxidant, it protects cells from free-radical damage, and has antiviral, antibacterial and anti-allergenic activity. Eat more citrus, parsley, berries, red capsicum and kiwifruit.

Saturday

Eat some yoghurt. This highly nutritious fermented food has the ability to improve digestion and boost our immune health. The live bacteria (acidophilus and bifidus) promote the health and growth of friendly bowel bacteria. Look for the “live and active cultures or bacteria” seal on the yoghurt you buy.

Sunday

Think zinc. It’s needed for the production of white blood cells which protect against colds and infections. Zinc has antioxidant activity, helping to fight free- radical damage, and is found in meats, dairy and wholegrains, but it’s lost in processing. If supplementing with tablets, take about 45 milligrams a day.

Depressed? You might be low on vitamin D

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Low levels of vitamin D, linked earlier with cardio diseases and neurological conditions, are also tied with the blues.
This new study helps clarify a debate that erupted after smaller studies produced conflicting results about the relationship between vitamin D and depression.

“Our findings suggest that screening for vitamin D levels in depressed patients – and perhaps screening for depression in people with low vitamin D levels – might be useful,” said E. Sherwood Brown, professor of psychiatry at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre and study author.
“But we don’t have enough information yet to recommend going out and taking supplements,” said Brown, who co-authored the study with The Cooper Institute, Dallas.

Researchers examined the results of almost 12,600 participants from late 2006 to late 2010, the journal Mayo Clinic Proceeding reports.
Brown and colleagues found that higher vitamin D levels were tied with a significantly decreased risk of current depression, particularly among people with a prior history of depression, according to a Texas statement.
Low vitamin D levels were tied with depressive symptoms, particularly those with a history of depression, so primary care patients with a history of depression may be an important target for assessing vitamin D levels.