Medical News Today: Key brain area plays a crucial role in addiction

New research finds that the cerebellum, a large part of the human brain that scientists thought was primarily involved in motor control, may play a key role in reward-seeking and social behaviors. The findings may help inform future therapies for treating addiction.
man looking sad, checking phone
New research suggests the brain’s cerebellum may explain addiction.

Recent research has hinted at the fact that, in addition to movement, the brain’s cerebellum may also help to control cognitive functions, such as language, learning, and attention.

Now, scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY, suggest that this area could also regulate reward-processing and addiction.

Kamran Khodakhah, Ph.D., who is a professor and chair of the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience at Einstein, led the new study. The scientists conducted the study in mice.

Prof. Khodakhah and his team published their results in the journal Science. Ilaria Carta, a doctoral researcher at Einstein, and Christopher Chen, Ph.D., are both first authors of the paper.

Why study the cerebellum?

Prof. Khodakhah and his colleagues were prompted in their research endeavor by more recent studies that have hinted at the cerebellum’s role in addiction and social interaction.

For instance, some studies have found that the cerebellum does not function properly in people with addictive behavior, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), cognitive affective syndrome, and schizophrenia.

Other MRI studies have shown that the cerebellum of people living with addiction is hyperactive in response to stimuli that their addiction relates to, such as an image of a syringe.

“The notion that the cerebellum did much beyond controlling movement was met with a lot of skepticism,” explains the study’s senior author, “and no one had any real clues as to how the cerebellum might affect dopamine release.”

Scientists have dubbed dopamine the “sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll” neurotransmitter due to its key role in reward-seeking behavior. When humans — or primates — receive a pleasurable reward, be it at the end of a learning process or for recreational purposes, their body releases the hormone.

Another brain area that scientists have implicated in reward processing is the so-called ventral tegmental area (VTA). So, in the current study, the scientists hypothesized that the neurons in the cerebellum would somehow communicate with the VTA neurons, which are responsible for releasing dopamine.

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Using light to study neurons in mice

The scientists used optogenetics to test their hypothesis. Optogenetics is a technique in which scientists genetically modify neurons so that they respond to light.

By genetically inducing photosensitivity, the researchers could selectively activate the axons of the neurons in the cerebellum. By doing so, they wished to see how the neurons in the VTA would be affected.

A third of the VTA neurons fired in response to the stimulation of the axons, proving that the neurons in the cerebellum communicate with those in the VTA.

Next, the scientists wanted to see how, if at all, this interneuronal communication affected reward-seeking behavior. To examine this aspect, the researchers conducted a series of experiments in mice.

How the cerebellum affects reward seeking

In the first experiment, rodents were free to explore all four corners of a room, but when they reached one specific corner, the researchers stimulated the rodents’ cerebellar neurons using optogenetics.

The scientists hypothesized that, if the stimulation were pleasurable, the rodents would continue to seek the rewarding behavior — that is, they would repeatedly go back to the corner where they received the pleasurable stimulation.

As the team expected, the stimulated rodents opted to return to that same corner more often than the control mice.

Next, to confirm that stimulating the axons of the cerebellar neurons played a role in addiction, the researchers conditioned the mice to receive pleasurable stimulation of these axons in a brightly lit area.

Typically, mice avoid bright lights and tend to feel more comfortable in the dark, where they can avoid predators. But in this final experiment, they chose to go against their usual preference, for the sake of the pleasurable stimulation.

Even though mice normally shun bright areas, now they preferentially ran toward the light, because that’s where they remembered getting a reward […] This suggests that the cerebellum plays a role in addictive behaviors.”

Prof. Kamran Khodakhah

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The cerebellum also key for social behavior

Another experiment revealed that the pathway between the cerebellar axons and the VTA neurons also play a role in social behavior.

The researchers put mice in a box with three chambers. The rodents had the option to interact with an object, another mouse, or be alone in an empty area.

When they chose to interact socially, the cerebellar axons–VTA neurons pathway was most active. However, when the scientists used optogenetics to silence this neuronal pathway, the rodents chose either to be alone or to interact with the inanimate object.

The results suggested to the researchers that the cerebellar axons–VTA neurons pathway may be dysfunctional in people with ASD.

“Our data support a role for the cerebellum in reward processing and in control of social behavior,” conclude the authors.

“We propose that this […] pathway may explain, at least in part, the association between the cerebellum and addictive behaviors, and provides a basis for a role for the cerebellum in other motivated and social behaviors.”

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Medical News Today: What role does the immune system play in hypertension?

Millions of people in the United States and across the world have hypertension, a condition that, without proper management, can contribute to the risk of heart disease and stroke.
woman getting her blood pressure checked
Specialist white blood cells play an important role in the regulation of blood pressure, a new study finds.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that approximately 75 million adults in the U.S. live with hypertension.

American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines from 2017 define “hypertension” as systolic blood pressure (during a heartbeat) of 130 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher and diastolic blood pressure (when the heart is resting) of 80 mm Hg or higher.

The AHA also name lack of physical activity, an unhealthful diet, high cholesterol, and stress as some of the primary modifiable factors that increase the risk of hypertension.

New research by scientists at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom has now uncovered another factor that seems to play a role in the development of this condition.

The study, which the British Heart Foundation funded, found that a type of specialized immune cell could make a real difference to the risk of hypertension.

“Hypertension affects millions of people across the globe, including 70 percent of people over 70,” says lead researcher Prof. Matthew Bailey.

“Our discovery sheds light on risk factors and, crucially, opens routes to investigate new drugs that could help patients,” he adds.

Prof. Bailey and team’s findings appear in the European Heart Journal, and they are available online.

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Cellular debris-eaters and blood pressure

In the new study, the researchers worked with mouse models and zeroed in on macrophages, a type of white blood cell that forms part of the immune system.

The role of macrophages is to identify and “eat up” foreign bodies that are present due to injury and infection. The immune cells also “eat” cellular debris, which consists of the remains of cells that are no longer functional.

The current research has now uncovered a new role that macrophages play. It seems that they also consume molecules of endothelin, which is a hormone that acts as a vasoconstrictor, meaning that it can stimulate blood vessels to narrow.

Prof. Bailey and colleagues explain that, by controlling blood levels of endothelin, macrophages can ensure that blood vessels properly relax, which helps lower blood pressure.

The researchers verified this mechanism by feeding mice with lowered blood macrophage levels a high-salt diet (which increases the risk of high blood pressure) and monitoring their physiological reactions.

These rodents, the researchers soon found, experienced high blood pressure. However, when the team allowed macrophage levels to return to normal, the mice’s blood pressure became healthy again, which suggests that the specialist white blood cells had an important role to play.

When they repeated the experiment in mice that they had genetically modified to have poor endothelin system functioning, the findings remained consistent.

The researchers further verified the link between macrophages and blood pressure in rodents with drug-induced hypertension.

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A potential therapeutical target

To see whether these findings were also valid in humans, the research team analyzed macrophage activity in individuals who took drugs for the management of antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody vasculitis, a condition that affects the immune system and damages blood vessels.

The scientists found that the drugs that lowered macrophage levels, such as cyclophosphamide, led to higher blood pressure readings in the people who took them.

These findings, note Prof. Bailey and team, could help doctors better identify people who are most at risk of hypertension, and they could also lead to new and improved therapies for high blood pressure.

Still, the researchers caution that further studies are necessary before the interaction between macrophages and endothelin can get the go-ahead as a therapeutic target.

“Our next steps will be to investigate the role of macrophages in people living with hypertension,” says Prof. Bailey.

“[Undiagnosed high blood pressure] causes damage to the heart and blood vessels, putting you at risk of a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke. But, we still don’t fully understand all the mechanisms that lead to high blood pressure,” adds Jeremy Pearson, the associate medical director of the British Heart Foundation, who was not involved in the study.

This study shows for the first time that macrophages — a type of cell that helps regulate our immune responses — can be involved in the control of blood pressure. More research is needed but these cells could be a new target for drugs to treat the condition.”

Jeremy Pearson

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Medical News Today: Risks of leaving ulcerative colitis untreated

Ulcerative colitis is a long-term condition that affects the bowels. Without treatment, symptoms can get worse, and the inflammation may spread further along the colon, which can lead to complications.

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. In people with ulcerative colitis, an overactive immune system attacks the lining of the colon, causing ulcers and inflammation. Symptoms typically include:

  • frequent diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • bloody stools
  • stomach cramps

These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they tend to come and go in cycles.

When a person has few or no symptoms, doctors refer to it as being in remission. When symptoms suddenly get worse, they call it a flare-up.

In this article, we discuss the potential consequences of people leaving ulcerative colitis untreated, and whether a person can die from this condition.

We also cover when to see a doctor and treatment options.

Untreated ulcerative colitis

Middle-aged male patient in doctor's office
A person who believes they have ulcerative colitis should speak to a doctor.

Ulcerative colitis tends to be a progressive condition that does not get better on its own.

Without treatment, symptoms may persist and get worse, and inflammation may spread within the colon. There is also a risk for further damage to the lining of the colon with every flare-up. This can make it harder for a person to manage the condition, going forward.

In children, not treating ulcerative colitis can limit growth and interfere with their overall development.

If people do not treat ulcerative colitis, it may lead to:

  • nutritional deficiencies
  • loss of appetite
  • swollen abdomen
  • fatigue
  • unintended weight loss
  • anemia
  • fever
  • rapid heartbeat
  • bleeding from the rectum
  • ruptured bowel
  • greater risk of colon cancer

Ulcerative colitis may also increase the risk of physical and mental health complications, such as:

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Why is treatment important?

Surgeon speaking to patient in hospital bed
Untreated ulcerative colitis can increase the risk of colonic dysplasia and colorectal cancer.

The only cure for ulcerative colitis involves the surgical removal of the colon. However, medications and diet can relieve symptoms, slow progression, and help a person stay in remission for longer.

The earlier a person begins treatment, the more effective that treatment is likely to be.

A 2014 review indicates that, after achieving remission, individuals who follow their treatment plans reduce their risk of flare-ups by around 40 percent. In contrast, those who stop taking their medication have a five-times greater risk of relapse.

For people with severe ulcerative colitis, prompt treatment can help prevent complications. Research suggests that long-term inflammation in the large intestine can lead to colonic dysplasia and even colorectal cancer.

According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, around 5–8 percent of people develop colorectal cancer within 20 years of a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. This figure compares with 3–6 percent of people without the condition.

The risk of developing cancer increases in individuals with severe ulcerative colitis and in those who have had the disease for longer.

Can you die from ulcerative colitis?

According to a 2016 study, improvements in treatment mean that mortality rates are no higher for people with ulcerative colitis than they are for people without the condition.

Acute severe colitis is a serious complication of ulcerative colitis that can be life-threatening. Research indicates that it affects around 25 percent of people with ulcerative colitis. However, the use of steroid medications has reduced the mortality rates of this complication from 30–60 percent to 1–2.9 percent.

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When to see a doctor?

Anyone with symptoms of ulcerative colitis should see a medical professional for an evaluation.

Individuals who already have a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis should see a doctor if symptoms become worse. This development could be the sign of a flare-up, and appropriate treatment can help control inflammation.

People may want to consider seeking emergency assistance if symptoms are sudden and severe.

Treatment options

Woman taking dietary supplement with glass of water.
Dietary supplements may help ease the symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

Doctors can prescribe a range of medications to treat people with ulcerative colitis. Treatment aims to relieve symptoms and induce and maintain remission.

Available treatment options for ulcerative colitis can include:

  • Antidiarrheal medications: These can help reduce or stop diarrhea but are usually for short-term use.
  • Aminosalicylates: This class of drugs can help control inflammation in people with mild to moderate symptoms.
  • Corticosteroids: Doctors often prescribe these for short-term relief of more severe symptoms and to induce remission
  • Immunomodulators: These drugs suppress the immune system to help reduce inflammation in the colon. An immunomodulator might be necessary if treatment with an aminosalicylate was unsuccessful.
  • Biologics: These are antibodies that target specific parts of the immune system. Healthcare professionals typically reserve biologics for people with symptoms that do not respond to other treatments.
  • Dietary supplements: Supplements can help address anemia and other nutritional deficiencies.
  • Antibiotics: Infected abscesses and ulcers may require a course of antibiotics if untreated ulcerative colitis has caused them to occur.
  • Surgery: A healthcare professional may recommend surgery for people with severe or difficult-to-treat ulcerative colitis. This can involve removing part or all of a person’s colon.

Lifestyle changes may also help a person better manage their ulcerative colitis. For instance, research suggests that a low-fat diet with plenty of vegetables may reduce the risk of developing ulcerative colitis.

Lifestyle modifications that may help a person manage their symptoms include:

  • drinking more liquids but avoiding sodas and other fizzy drinks
  • replacing large meals with smaller, more frequent ones
  • using a journal to track foods that may trigger flare-ups
  • limiting high-fiber and high-fat foods, during flare-ups


Ulcerative colitis is a long-term disease that can vary in its symptoms and severity. Medications and diet can help relieve symptoms, maintain remission, and slow progression. The only cure for ulcerative colitis involves the surgical removal of the entire colon.

If left untreated, symptoms of ulcerative colitis can get worse and may become more challenging to treat in future. Successful treatment also reduces a person’s risk of developing severe and potentially life-threatening complications.

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Medical News Today: What is a stent? Everything you need to know

A stent is a tiny tube that a doctor places in an artery or duct to help keep it open and restore the flow of bodily fluids in the area.

Stents help relieve blockages and treat narrow or weakened arteries. Doctors may also insert stents in other areas of the body to support blood vessels in the brain or ducts that carry urine and bile.

A stent is usually a mesh-like metal tube, although fabric stents are also available. Sometimes, doctors will use dissolvable stents coated in medication as a temporary solution.

In this article, learn about why doctors use stents, as well as the benefits and possible risks.


Doctor holding up heart stent
A stent can open up blood vessels with plaque blockages.

One of the most common uses for a stent is to open up a blood vessel that has a plaque blockage.

Plaque is a buildup of cholesterol, fat, and other substances found in the blood. When this plaque collects in the bloodstream, it sticks to the walls of the arteries.

Over time, this buildup narrows the arteries, limiting the amount of fresh blood that can reach the body.

A buildup of plaque in the arteries is a cause of coronary heart disease. Over time, people with narrowed arteries may begin to notice warning symptoms, such as chest pain. If people with the condition do not receive treatment, they may be at a higher risk of complications, such as a heart attack or stroke.

If the artery is at risk of collapsing or becoming blocked again, doctors may recommend inserting a stent to keep it open.

Doctors put a stent into an artery in a procedure known as a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), or angioplasty with stent.

During PCI, doctors will insert a catheter into the artery. The catheter has a small balloon with a stent around it on one end.

When the catheter reaches the point of the blockage, the doctor will inflate the balloon. When the balloon inflates, the stent expands and locks into place. The doctor will then remove the catheter, leaving the stent in place to hold the artery open.

A doctor will decide whether or not to insert a stent based on a few factors, such as the size of the artery and where the blockage occurs.

Doctors may also use stents for:

  • blood vessels in the brain or aorta that are at risk of an aneurysm
  • bronchi in the lungs that are at risk of collapse
  • ureters, which carry urine from the kidneys into the bladder
  • bile ducts, which carry bile between the organs and small intestine

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Surgeon looking at screen in operating theatre
A surgeon can explain the risks and benefits of PCI.

PCI carries a small risk of complications, which include:

  • bleeding from the catheter insertion site
  • an infection
  • an allergic reaction
  • damage to the artery from inserting the catheter
  • damage to the kidneys
  • irregular heartbeat

In some cases, restenosis may occur. Restenosis is when too much tissue grows around the stent. This could narrow or block the artery again.

Doctors may recommend forms of radiation therapy or opt to insert a medication-coated stent to slow the growth of the tissue.

People at risk of complications include:

A stent can cause blood clotting, which may increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute state that about 1 to 2 percent of people who have stented arteries develop a blood clot at the site of the stent.

Doctors will usually prescribe one or more drugs to prevent clotting. Anti-clotting medications may carry their own risks and can cause irritating side effects, such as rashes.

In rare cases, a person’s body may reject the stent, or they may have an allergic reaction to the material in the stent. Anyone who has a known reaction to metals should talk to their doctor about alternatives.

What to expect

The surgeon will discuss the procedure with a person in advance, but it can help to know what to expect.

Before the surgery

A doctor will advise individuals on how they should prepare for a stent procedure. They will give them information on when to stop eating and drinking, as well as when to start or stop taking medications before the procedure.

Anyone who has any other health conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease, must tell their doctor. The doctor may then have to consider some additional steps.

Doctors may also give the person prescriptions to fill before having the stent inserted, as they will need to start taking the medications as soon as the procedure is complete.

During the surgery

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a stent procedure only takes about an hour and does not require general anesthesia.

The person remains awake during the entire process so can hear any instructions the doctors may have.

Doctors will administer medication to help the person relax. They will also numb the area where they insert the catheter.

Most people do not feel the catheter threading through the artery. They may, however, feel a bit of pain as the balloon expands and pushes the stent into place.

After placing the stent, doctors deflate the balloon and remove the catheter. They bandage the area where the catheter entered the skin and put pressure on the bandage to help prevent bleeding.

After the surgery

Most people will need to stay in the hospital for at least one night after having the procedure. This allows hospital staff to monitor the person. During the hospital stay, a nurse will regularly check the person’s heart rate and blood pressure. They may also change the dressings or clean the wound.

The person may leave the hospital the following day if there are no complications.

As the insertion site heals, it will bruise and may develop into a small knot of tissue, which is normal. The area may remain tender for at least a week.

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Patient in hospital bed.
A person may have to rest for about a week after surgery.

A successful stent surgery should reduce symptoms, such as chest pain and shortness of breath.

Many people may be able to return to work and most normal activities within a week of a successful stent surgery.

During recovery, doctors will prescribe antiplatelet drugs to help prevent blood clots from forming near the stent. Aspirin is an antiplatelet drug that a person will need to take daily for an indefinite period after having a stent inserted.

Doctors may also recommend a drug called a P2Y inhibitor. P2Y inhibitors include clopidogrel, ticagrelor, and prasugrel.

They will also provide the person with special recovery instructions, such as avoiding strenuous work or exercise while the body heals.

Long-term use

Most stents remain in the artery permanently to keep it open and prevent collapse and potentially life-threatening complications.

Some stents are temporary. Doctors may use stents coated in particular medications that help break down plaque or prevent it from building up in the area. These stents will dissolve over time.

While a stent may relieve symptoms, such as chest pain, it is not a cure for other underlying issues, such as atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Even with a stent, a person with these conditions may need to take steps to prevent further complications.

Doctors will recommend healthy lifestyle changes after inserting a stent to help prevent plaque building up in the body.

These recommendations often include:

  • eating a healthful diet
  • exercising regularly
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • quitting smoking and tobacco use
  • reducing stress

Stents are often just one part of treatment. Doctors may also prescribe medications for any underlying conditions.

If anyone experiences any bothersome side effects, it is best to talk to a doctor. They may recommend alternative medications or change the dose to help relieve side effects.

Do not stop taking any medications without consulting a doctor first, however.

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Doctors commonly insert stents to widen arteries and prevent complications from coronary heart disease and other conditions.

While a stent may provide relief, it is only one part of a treatment program. Even with a stent, it is possible for severe complications to occur.

Always follow a doctor’s advice about medications and recovery.

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Medical News Today: Our guide to the Mediterranean diet

Many doctors and dietitians recommend a Mediterranean diet to prevent disease and keep people healthy for longer.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and it includes less dairy and meat than a typical Western diet.

In this article, we explain what the Mediterranean diet is and provide a 7-day meal plan for people to follow.

What is a Mediterranean diet?

Foods from a Mediterranean diet
A Mediterranean diet includes fresh produce and some healthful fats and oils.

Essentially, following a Mediterranean diet means eating in the way that the people in the Mediterranean region traditionally ate.

A traditional diet from the Mediterranean region includes a generous portion of fresh produce, whole grains, and legumes, as well as some healthful fats and fish.

The general guidelines of the diet recommend that people eat:

  • a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
  • healthful fats, such as nuts, seeds, and olive oil
  • moderate amounts of dairy and fish
  • very little white meat and red meat
  • few eggs
  • red wine in moderation

The American Heart Association note that the average Mediterranean diet contains a high percentage of calories from fat.

Although more than half of the calories from fat come from monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, the diet may not be right for people who need to limit their fat intake.

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Building a meal plan

The Mediterranean diet puts a higher focus on plant foods than many other diets. It is not uncommon for vegetables, whole grains, and legumes to make up all or most of a meal.

People following the diet typically cook these foods using healthful fats, such as olive oil, and add plenty of flavorful spices.

Meals may include small portions of fish, meat, or eggs.

Water and sparkling water are common drink choices, as well as moderate amounts of red wine.

People on a Mediterranean diet avoid the following foods:

  • refined grains, such as white bread, white pasta, and pizza dough containing white flour
  • refined oils, which include canola oil and soybean oil
  • foods with added sugars, such as pastries, sodas, and candies
  • deli meats, hot dogs, and other processed meats
  • processed or packaged foods

7-day meal plan

Here is an example of a 7-day Mediterranean diet meal plan:

Day 1

Greek yoghurt with blueberries and walnuts
One breakfast option is greek yogurt with blueberries and walnuts.


  • one pan-fried egg
  • whole-wheat toast
  • grilled tomatoes

For additional calories, add another egg or some sliced avocado to the toast.


  • 2 cups of mixed salad greens with cherry tomatoes and olives on top and a dressing of olive oil and vinegar
  • whole-grain pita bread
  • 2 ounces (oz) of hummus


  • whole-grain pizza with tomato sauce, grilled vegetables, and low-fat cheese as toppings

For added calories, add some shredded chicken, ham, tuna, or pine nuts to the pizza.

Day 2


  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt
  • One-half of a cup of fruits, such as blueberries, raspberries, or chopped nectarines

For additional calories, add 1–2 oz of almonds or walnuts.


  • Whole-grain sandwich with grilled vegetables, such as eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, and onion

To increase the calorie content, spread hummus or avocado on the bread before adding the fillings.


  • one portion of baked cod or salmon with garlic and black pepper to add flavor
  • one roasted potato with olive oil and chives

Day 3


  • 1 cup of whole-grain oats with cinnamon, dates, and honey
  • top with low-sugar fruits, such as raspberries
  • 1 oz of shredded almonds (optional)


  • boiled white beans with spices, such as laurel, garlic, and cumin
  • 1 cup of arugula with an olive oil dressing and toppings of tomato, cucumber, and feta cheese


  • one-half of a cup of whole-grain pasta with tomato sauce, olive oil, and grilled vegetables
  • 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese

Day 4


  • two-egg scramble with bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes
  • top with 1 oz of queso fresco or one-quarter of an avocado


  • roasted anchovies in olive oil on whole-grain toast with a sprinkling of lemon juice
  • a warm salad comprising 2 cups of steamed kale and tomatoes


  • 2 cups of steamed spinach with a sprinkling of lemon juice and herbs
  • one boiled artichoke with olive oil, garlic powder, and salt

Add another artichoke for a hearty, filling meal.

Day 5


  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt with cinnamon and honey on top
  • mix in a chopped apple and shredded almonds


  • 1 cup of quinoa with bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives
  • roasted garbanzo beans with oregano and thyme
  • top with feta cheese crumbles or avocado (optional)


  • 2 cups of steamed kale with tomato, cucumber, olives, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese
  • a portion of grilled sardines with a slice of lemon

Day 6


  • two slices of whole-grain toast with soft cheese, such as ricotta, queso fresco, or goat cheese
  • add chopped blueberries or figs for sweetness


  • 2 cups of mixed greens with tomato and cucumber
  • a small portion of roasted chicken with a sprinkling of olive oil and lemon juice


    • oven-roasted vegetables, such as:
      • artichoke
      • carrot
      • zucchini
      • eggplant
      • sweet potato
      • tomato
    • toss in olive oil and heavy herbs before roasting
    • 1 cup of whole-grain couscous

    Day 7


    • whole-grain oats with cinnamon, dates, and maple syrup
    • top with low-sugar fruits, such as raspberries or blackberries


    • stewed zucchini, yellow squash, onion, and potato in a tomato and herb sauce


    • 2 cups of greens, such as arugula or spinach, with tomato, olives, and olive oil
    • a small portion of white fish
    • leftover vegetable stew from lunch

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    Avocado on toast
    Avocado on toast is a healthful snack for people on a Mediterranean diet.

    There are many snack options available as part of the Mediterranean diet.

    Suitable snacks include:

    • a small serving of nuts
    • whole fruits, such as oranges, plums, and grapes
    • dried fruits, including apricots and figs
    • a small serving of yogurt
    • hummus with celery, carrots, or other vegetables
    • avocado on whole-grain toast

    Health benefits

    The Mediterranean diet receives a lot of attention from the medical community because many studies verify its benefits.

    The benefits of a Mediterranean diet include:

    Lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease

    Evidence suggests that a Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. A study that featured in The New England Journal of Medicine compared two Mediterranean diets with a control diet for almost 5 years.

    The research suggested that the diet reduced the risk of cardiovascular issues, including stroke, heart attack, and death, by about 30 percent compared with the control group.

    More studies are necessary to determine whether lifestyle factors, such as more physical activity and extended social support systems, are partly responsible for the lower incidence of heart disease in Mediterranean countries than in the United States.

    Improving sleep quality

    In a 2018 study, researchers explored how the Mediterranean diet affects sleep.

    Their research suggested that adhering to a Mediterranean diet may improve sleep quality in older adults. The diet did not seem to affect sleep quality in younger people.

    Weight loss

    The Mediterranean diet may also be helpful for people who are trying to lose weight.

    The authors of a 2016 review noted that people who were overweight or had obesity lost more weight on the Mediterranean diet than on a low-fat diet. The Mediterranean diet group achieved results that were similar to those of the participants on other standard weight loss diets.

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    Following a Mediterranean diet involves making long-term, sustainable dietary changes.

    Generally speaking, a person should aim for a diet that is rich in natural foods, including plenty of vegetables, whole grains, and healthful fats.

    Anyone who finds that the diet does not feel satisfying should talk to a dietitian. They can recommend additional or alternative foods to help increase satiety.

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Medical News Today: Which skin conditions can mimic psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a common skin condition with characteristic symptoms, but several other skin conditions have similar symptoms, which can lead to a misdiagnosis of psoriasis.

Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the United States, affecting over 7.5 million people, or about 2.2 percent of the population.

If a person finds that their psoriasis treatment is not working, they may want to ask for a second opinion or further diagnostic tests. Other checks can include a skin biopsy to ensure the person has psoriasis rather than something else.

This article looks at the different types of psoriasis and other conditions with similar symptoms.

Is it psoriasis or something else?

Dermatologist uses dermoscopy to diagnose psoriasis on a woman's upper arm
It may be difficult to tell psoriasis apart from other skin conditions.

Doctors class psoriasis and other conditions that have similar effects on the skin in a group they refer to as psoriasiform dermatitis.

Even so, it can still be difficult for a dermatologist, who is a specialist skin doctor, to tell some of them apart.

We discuss some of these conditions in more detail below and explain how they differ from psoriasis.

Different types of psoriasis

There are five main types of psoriasis, with a range of different symptoms:

  • Plaque psoriasis: Showing patches of thick, scaly, silvery plaques on the skin. Around 80 percent of people with psoriasis have plaque psoriasis.
  • Guttate psoriasis: A large-scale rash consisting of small, reddish bumps.
  • Inverse psoriasis: Dry, red, scaly patches of skin in the skin folds, such as the armpits and genitals. Inverse psoriasis causes thinner scales than plaque psoriasis.
  • Pustular psoriasis: In this type, pus-filled blisters form on a person’s skin.
  • Erythrodermic psoriasis: An aggressive form of psoriasis that causes widespread skin peeling, intense burning, fever, and inflammation.

Plaque psoriasis causes the skin cells to multiply faster than usual. Symmetric, clear areas of inflamed skin with flaking, slivery white scaly plaques that may itch characterize it. These patches usually develop on the outer elbows and knees, lower back, hands, and scalp.

People with psoriasis may notice the Koebner phenomenon, where areas of psoriasis develop in places where a skin injury has occurred.


Doctors may misdiagnose or confuse psoriasis with eczema and vice versa. This is because they have a similar appearance, and dermatologists often base their diagnosis on a visual exam.

They will usually discuss a person’s medical history, as well, which can often be the same for psoriasis and eczema.

However, a dermatologist can typically distinguish between eczema and plaque psoriasis by looking at the specific symptoms and their location.

Eczema is more likely than psoriasis to affect the insides of the arms and knees. Psoriasis often occurs on the outside of the elbows and knees, lower back, and scalp.

Compared with eczema, psoriasis will tend to affect more well-defined areas of skin.

Seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a form of eczema that often affects the scalp. It causes rough, scaly skin to develop on the face and scalp.

Seborrheic dermatitis can cause similar symptoms as scalp psoriasis, such as:

  • flaking skin on the scalp
  • patches of itchy skin that can be inflamed
  • areas of skin redness

While psoriasis tends to cause thick scales to develop, seborrheic dermatitis produces thinner, slightly greasy-looking skin flakes.

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Pityriasis rubra pilaris

Pityriasis rubra pilaris refers to a group of skin conditions that cause inflammation and scaling.

Similarly to plaque psoriasis, symptoms of pityriasis rubra pilaris develop on the palms of the hands, the scalp, and the soles of the feet. People may also notice their nails become thickened and discolored.

A dermatologist can often tell these conditions apart by using dermoscopy. This procedure involves looking closely at the skin with a specialized handheld microscope without the need for a skin biopsy.


A fungus causes ringworm and not a worm. Ringworm and psoriasis both cause red, scaly patches of skin. These patches are more circular and uniform when ringworm rather than psoriasis is the cause.

Learn more about how to tell the difference between ringworm and psoriasis here.

Jock itch

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Jock itch tends to affect areas of the body where sweat accumulates.

Jock itch is a fungal infection originating from the fungus tinea cruris. This fungal organism causes a scaly rash in places where the skin folds and sweat accumulates.

The areas that jock itch favors include the groin, armpits, and genitals. These are the same spots that inverse psoriasis affects.

Smooth, red, shiny patches on folds of the skin, such as at the back of a person’s knee, under the arm or around the groin characterize inverse psoriasis, however.

Learn more about the differences between jock itch and psoriasis here.

Tinea versicolor

Tinea versicolor is a fungal infection that causes small, red, sometimes scaly marks on the skin. People may confuse tinea versicolor with guttate psoriasis, which produces similar small red marks.

Tinea versicolor can also cause patches of light and dark skin, and people can confuse it with vitiligo.

Learn more about the differences between tinea versicolor and psoriasis here.

Pityriasis rosea

Both pityriasis rosea and plaque psoriasis cause patches of scaly rash on the skin. Pityriasis rosea is characterized by one large, scaly patch, that doctors refer to as the mother patch, and smaller patches they call daughter patches.

Learn more about the differences between pityriasis rosea and psoriasis here.

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Lupus and psoriasis are both autoimmune conditions. Both cause skin rashes, though lupus also affects the internal organs. Lupus is also less common and more severe than psoriasis.

People may confuse lupus with psoriatic arthritis, as both conditions can cause joint pain. Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis.

Learn about the differences between lupus and psoriasis here.

Skin cancer

It is not common for a doctor to misdiagnose skin cancer and psoriasis. If a doctor suspects skin cancer, they will order diagnostic tests to find out more.

Some types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, can cause scaly, rough, or raised areas of skin that may itch.

It is unlikely that a person would mistake melanoma for psoriasis as the symptoms are different.

Learn about distinguishing skin cancers from psoriasis here.

Other psoriasis mimics

Woman lies awake on bed with covers off holding her hand to her head
Secondary syphilis can resemble plaque psoriasis, but it also causes fever and swollen lymph nodes.

Depending on the specific symptoms, people can receive a misdiagnosis of different types of psoriasis.

People might confuse plaque psoriasis as one of the following conditions:

  • Lichenified dermatitis, where a person’s skin becomes leathery.
  • Secondary syphilis, which includes a skin rash plus swollen lymph nodes and fever.
  • Mycosis fungoides, a rare type of skin cancer.
  • Inflammatory linear verrucous epidermal nevus, a genetic skin condition.

Inverse psoriasis can also mimic:

  • Intertriginous cutaneous candidiasis.
  • Dermatophytosis, a fungal infection.
  • Keratosis follicularis, a genetic disorder that causes papules around the scalp, forehead, and upper chest.
  • Benign familial chronic pemphigus, a genetic disorder that causes blistering.

Pustular psoriasis is distinctive by its white blisters on a person’s skin, most commonly found on their hands or feet.

People could confuse this form of psoriasis with a variety of systemic infections, or with a disease that causes similar white blisters. One such disease is acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis.

Erythrodermic psoriasis is a severe form of psoriasis, showing widespread areas of red, very sore, itchy skin. It can mimic other inflammatory skin conditions that cause widespread redness of a person’s skin, a symptom known as erythema.

Who does psoriasis affect?

Psoriasis affects men and women equally. It often develops between the ages of 15 and 35 years, but it can develop at any age. In rare cases, it can affect infants.

Psoriasis is more common in Caucasians compared with African-Americans. People with a family member who has psoriasis are also more likely to get it.

Tips for getting the right diagnosis

For the best chance of getting the right diagnosis, a person should make sure they give an accurate history when a doctor or dermatologist asks. The more information a medical professional has to work with, the more likely they are to diagnose a person’s illness correctly.

This is especially important with skin conditions such as psoriasis. A medical professional will typically rely on both a history and a visual assessment to work out what a person’s skin condition is. A visual assessment alone may not be enough.

If a person is unsure about their diagnosis, they can request further diagnostic tests. This may involve speaking to a dermatologist, who might use dermoscopy or recommend a skin biopsy.

A skin biopsy involves taking a small sample of the skin and sending it to a lab for testing.

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If a person’s treatment is not working, or if their symptoms are getting worse, they may have received a misdiagnosis of psoriasis.

Otherwise, they may not yet have found the most effective treatment that works for them. Different people may respond differently to the range of possible psoriasis treatments.

People can speak to their doctor or dermatologist about their concerns regarding a psoriasis diagnosis or misdiagnosis.

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Medical News Today: What is the difference between Augmentin and amoxicillin?

Augmentin and amoxicillin are two types of antibiotics. Antibiotics help treat bacterial infections that may be too strong for the body’s immune system to clear.

The two drugs are very similar. Amoxicillin is a very common type of antibiotic, and Augmentin contains amoxicillin and clavulanate or clavulanic acid, which may make it more effective against some types of infection.

In this article, learn about the difference between the two antibiotics and the potential side effects of each.

Augmentin vs. amoxicillin

pharmacist holding packets of medicine
Doctors commonly prescribe Augmentin or amoxicillin for bacterial infections.

Augmentin and amoxicillin are both in the penicillin drug class, which is a group of common antibiotics.

Augmentin contains amoxicillin, as the primary ingredient, and it also contains clavulanate. Clavulanate can help treat infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The two antibiotic drugs are generally the first line of defense against troublesome bacterial infections.

It is important to note that these types of drugs do not work on viral infections, such as the common cold or flu. Taking antibiotics unnecessarily may make them less effective over time and lead to antibiotic resistance.

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Doctors use amoxicillin and Augmentin to fight off bacterial infections. Learn more about their uses below:


Many people are familiar with amoxicillin. It is a conventional drug that doctors prescribe to treat bacterial infections in children and adults.

Children may be more likely to receive prescriptions for amoxicillin, as it is effective against several childhood infections, and it tends not to cause many troubling side effects.

Amoxicillin combats a wide range of bacteria, including gram-positive and gram-negative strains.

Doctors may recommend amoxicillin for infections such as:


Augmentin is a combination drug. It is a mixture of amoxicillin and clavulanate or clavulanic acid.

Clavulanate is a beta-lactamase blocker. It stops the enzymes that infectious bacteria produce to make themselves more resistant to antibiotics.

Because it contains clavulanate, Augmentin can treat some strains of bacteria that may be resistant to traditional antibiotics. As a result, the drug may be more effective for a wider range of bacteria.

Doctors may prescribe Augmentin to treat the same infections as amoxicillin. They may also prescribe it to treat infections that could be more drug-resistant, including:

  • sinus infections
  • stubborn or chronic ear infections
  • laryngitis
  • pharyngitis
  • severe skin infections, such as abscesses or erysipelas
  • bacterial infections related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Doctors may also prescribe Augmentin for people who have recurring infections, such as UTIs or strep throat.

Side effects

Amoxicillin and Augmentin share some side effects, while others are specific to Augmentin.

Side effects of both drugs

man standing at desk holding stomach in pain
Both medications may cause abdominal pain and diarrhea.

As both drugs contain amoxicillin, they have some common side effects, such as:

  • heartburn
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea that lasts longer than 1 day
  • easy bruising
  • bloody diarrhea
  • rashes

Augmentin and amoxicillin may also alter the healthy growth of bacteria in the intestines. This may lead to a temporary imbalance in the intestinal flora.

People who frequently use antibiotics may have a higher risk of these issues, because their gut bacteria may have less time to recover.

According to the authors of a 2015 review, consuming probiotic foods after a round of antibiotics could help reestablish balance in the gut bacteria.

As a review in the Canadian Medical Association Journal notes, Augmentin and amoxicillin may also increase the risk of yeast infections in some people. These are fungal infections that need antifungal treatment.

In very rare cases, some people may also experience seizures or low blood or platelet levels after taking these antibiotics.

It is also possible to be allergic to these medications. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology notes that 5–10 percent of drug reactions result from allergies.

A severe allergic reaction can lead to a dangerous complication called anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • swelling of the face, mouth, or throat
  • wheezing
  • vomiting
  • difficulty breathing
  • lightheadedness
  • shock

Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek emergency medical care.

Side effects of Augmentin

Augmentin may cause additional side effects, including:

Also, Augmentin may lead to an overgrowth of bacteria called Clostridium difficile. This can cause severe diarrhea that requires treatment to prevent complications.

It is essential to report any severe side effect to a doctor.

The United States Food and Drug Administration note that, while Augmentin has a low risk of toxicity, people who take it for a longer period should be under close supervision, as there may be a chance of damage to the kidney or liver.

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What to ask a doctor

senior woman speaking to male doctor
It is important to tell a doctor about any previous allergic reactions to antibiotics.

Anyone with questions about their antibiotics should consult a doctor or pharmacist.

Before taking any antibiotic, it is important to ensure that the infection is bacterial. Augmentin and amoxicillin will have no effect on viral or fungal infections.

Anyone who has experienced an allergic reaction to an antibiotic, especially penicillin, should inform their doctor before taking another antibiotic.

It is also best to check the packaging for additional ingredients, such as flavorings or coatings. Some medications contain lactose or gelatin. Discuss any potential allergens with a doctor before using either medication.

Some drugs or supplements can change how effective an antibiotic is. Doctors may ask people to stop taking certain supplements or medications while on the antibiotics, if possible.

Anyone who has had kidney or liver disease should consult their doctor before taking these drugs.

Augmentin may also make birth control pills less effective. Sexually active people should use other forms of birth control while taking Augmentin to avoid unwanted pregnancy.

Anyone who becomes pregnant or learns that they are pregnant while taking Augmentin should speak to a doctor. Women who are breastfeeding may also need to avoid taking Augmentin.


Amoxicillin and Augmentin are similar drugs that may help clear a wide range of bacterial infections. A doctor may recommend Augmentin if an infection could be antibiotic-resistant or if amoxicillin alone does not work.

The drugs are generally well-tolerated, but there is still a chance of side effects. Anyone taking these drugs should follow their dosage instructions closely.

A doctor may need to order other tests, such as kidney or liver function tests, to monitor a person’s overall health.

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Medical News Today: Multiple sclerosis: Small molecule could delay onset

Treatment with a small molecule could delay the damage that multiple sclerosis inflicts in the brain and other parts of the central nervous system, say scientists.
woman in wheelchair getting out of a car with carer
A new treatment for MS may soon be in sight.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disabling disease that destroys the myelin sheath that protects nerve fibers, causing loss of signaling and nerve cell damage in the central nervous system (CNS).

Now, a recent study from the University of Chicago in Illinois has revealed how a small molecule that bears the name Sephin1 can delay myelin damage in a mouse model of MS.

The journal Brain has recently published an account of the findings.

The study reveals that Sephin1 works by prolonging an inbuilt, integrated stress response (ISR) that reduces the harm that inflammation causes to myelin-producing cells, or oligodendrocytes.

First study author Yanan Chen, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Neurology, says that Sephin1 appears to offer “therapeutic potential with no measurable adverse effects.”

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A disease that damages the CNS

MS is a long-term disease that damages the CNS and whose symptoms vary from person to person.

The symptoms that develop in MS are unpredictable and largely depend on where the damage to the CNS — which comprises the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves — occurs. Flare-ups can come and go, or the symptoms can get worse over time.

People with MS typically experience numbness, exhaustion, disturbed vision, impaired coordination and balance, and speech difficulties. They can also struggle to remember and concentrate.

MS symptoms can progress to blindness, paralysis, and more.

While anyone at any age can develop MS, it most often strikes between the ages of 20 and 50 years, and women appear to be three times more susceptible to the disease than men.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, there are at least 2.3 million people with MS worldwide. In the United States, estimates suggest that there could be nearly 1 million people living with MS.

Experts believe that MS is an autoimmune disease, that is one in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue in the same way as it attacks disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and other threats.

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Autoimmune features of MS

The inflammatory attacks in MS destroy myelin, which is an insulating layer of fatty protein that covers nerve fibers. The ensuing damage disrupts the electrical signals that nerve cells carry around the CNS and between the CNS and the rest of the body.

The damage can extend to nerve fibers, nerve cells, and the oligodendrocytes that make the myelin.

However, what triggers the immune system to behave in this way is a mystery. Some studies have suggested that genes are involved, although none has proved that people can inherit MS. Others have shown that environmental factors, such as smoking and low levels of vitamin D, might also raise the risk for MS.

Current treatments for MS aim to reduce the inflammation attacks on myelin and oligodendrocytes. However, because these dampen the immune system, they are not without risk. They can, for example, make the brain vulnerable to “opportunistic infections.”

So, the researchers behind the recent study decided to explore another option: instead of dampening the immune system, why not help the cells that MS affects to resist the damage that inflammation inflicts?

The team decided to investigate the ISR because it is an innate process that protects tissue cells from inflammation attacks by the immune system.

Tests have revealed that the high blood pressure drug guanabenz can enhance ISR in oligodendrocytes. However, the drug also leads to side effects, which include headache, weakness, dry mouth, and sleepiness. It can also bring on coma.

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Sephin1 delays clinical symptoms

The team then discovered that Sephin1, which is a derivative of guanabenz but without measurable side effects, can also boost ISR in oligodendrocytes.

The small molecule helps to prolong ISR by blocking a pathway that shuts it down.

The team tested the effectiveness of Sephin1 in cell cultures and a mouse model of MS. In cell cultures, they found that the small molecule prolonged ISR in stressed oligodendrocytes.

In the mouse model, treatment with Sephin1 “delayed clinical symptoms” of MS.

The team linked the symptom delay to prolonging of ISR and a smaller loss of nerve fiber and oligodendrocytes. The treatment also led to a reduction of immune system T cells in the CNS.

The researchers further noticed that, by preserving oligodendrocytes and reducing the loss of myelin, the treatment resulted in less “myelin debris.” This could, in turn, reduce responses from the immune system.

In addition, it appears that Sephin1 may offer an even greater benefit if the scientists combine it with the existing MS drug interferon beta.

The authors conclude:

“Together, our results suggest that a neuroprotective treatment based on the enhancement of the integrated stress response would likely have significant therapeutic value for multiple sclerosis patients.”

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Medical News Today: Stress may raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

New research suggests that vital exhaustion, a marker of psychological distress, may raise the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
senior woman massaging her temples
Psychological distress in midlife may bring about dementia later on, suggests new research.

Many factors may increase Alzheimer’s risk, including age, family history, and genetic makeup.

Certain health issues, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, may also influence the odds of experiencing dementia because they impact the blood vessels.

New research indicates that psychological factors could also affect risk. Psychological distress, in particular, may increase the likelihood of developing dementia, suggests the new study.

Specifically, researchers led by Sabrina Islamoska, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, set out to investigate the possibility of a link between vital exhaustion and Alzheimer’s disease.

Vital exhaustion describes “a mental state of psychological distress” that manifests as irritability, fatigue, and a feeling of demoralization.

As the researchers explain, vital exhaustion may be a reaction to “unsolvable problems” in one’s life, especially when the person has been exposed to stressors for a prolonged period. So, vital exhaustion can be seen as a sign of psychological distress.

Previous studies have noted that vital exhaustion may raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, premature death, and obesity, among other conditions.

Islamoska and her colleagues published their findings in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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Stress may raise risk by up to 25 percent

The researchers analyzed data from a survey of almost 7,000 individuals who participated in the Copenhagen City Heart Study between 1991 and 1994. The participants had been 60 years old, on average, at the time.

As part of the survey, the participants had been asked questions about vital exhaustion.

Islamoska and her colleagues clinically followed the participants until the end of 2016. They also examined the participants’ hospital records and mortality and prescription registers in search of diagnoses of dementia.

The study revealed a dose-response link between vital exhaustion in midlife and the development of Alzheimer’s later on. The lead author reports, “For each additional symptom of vital exhaustion, we found that the risk of dementia rose by 2 percent.”

“Participants reporting five to nine symptoms had a 25 percent higher risk of dementia than those with no symptoms, while those reporting 10 to 17 symptoms had a 40 percent higher risk of dementia, compared with not having symptoms,” Islamoska continues.

The authors explain that the results are unlikely to be due to reverse causation, that is, it is unlikely that dementia causes vital exhaustion, rather than the other way around.

“We were particularly concerned whether the symptoms of vital exhaustion would be an early sign of dementia,” explains Islamoska. “Yet, we found an association of the same magnitude, even when separating the reporting of vital exhaustion and the dementia diagnoses with up to 20 years.”

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Regarding the possible mechanisms that may underpin the findings, the researchers point to excessive levels of the stress hormone cortisol and cardiovascular changes as potential culprits.

“Stress can have severe and harmful consequences, not just for our brain health, but our health in general,” says Islamoska.

“Cardiovascular risk factors are well-known, modifiable risk factors for dementia, and in some countries, a stagnation or even a decreasing incidence of dementia has been observed.”

“Our study indicates that we can go further in the prevention of dementia by addressing psychological risk factors for dementia,” Islamoska concludes.

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Medical News Today: What are the possible side effects of the hepatitis B vaccine?

Although it might cause the injection site to become sore or other mild side effects, the hepatitis B vaccine is very safe and effective at preventing the virus. More serious side effects are rare.

Hepatitis causes inflammation in the liver. The cause of hepatitis B is a virus that can spread through the blood or other bodily fluids.

Hepatitis B may not cause symptoms and will clear up without treatment in some cases. In other cases, however, it will require treatment and can cause issues such as digestive problems and flu-like symptoms. It can also have serious consequences, including permanent liver damage.

Developing hepatitis B is less common in countries such as the United States, but it is still a risk. The hepatitis B vaccine is highly effective at preventing the infection.

Is it safe?

Nurse giving a Hepatitis b vaccine
Reports suggest that there is no association between the hepatitis B vaccine and serious health outcomes.

The risks associated with the hepatitis B vaccine are negligible, including in children and people who are pregnant.

A report that appears in the journal Vaccine assesses adverse events in adults after receiving either a hepatitis A or B vaccine in 2001–2003.

Beyond mild side effects, the scientists found no association between the vaccine and any serious health outcomes.

However, the vaccine may cause reactions in people who are allergic to it. This could become serious if it leads to anaphylactic shock.

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Side effects

The hepatitis B vaccine causes common side effects in around 1 in 10 people who have it.

Uncommon side effects may occur in 1 in 100 people, with more serious side effects being rare and affecting only around 1 in 1,000 people.

Common side effects

Common side effects of the hepatitis B vaccine include:

  • discomfort around the injection site for hours or days after getting the shot
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • high temperature
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • stomach pain

Uncommon side effects

Uncommon side effects include:

  • flu-like symptoms
  • muscle ache
  • dizziness or disorientation

Rare side effects

Rare side effects include:

As with any medicine, it can be difficult to determine whether side effects are a direct result of the vaccination or something else. This is particularly true with rare side effects.

It is also possible that healthcare professionals will identify further side effects in the future. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have systems in place to continuously monitor the safety of vaccinations.

When to see a doctor

Most symptoms are mild and will go away on their own. It is common to experience discomfort at the injection site, which can last for 1 or 2 days.

Consult a doctor as soon as possible if uncommon or rare side effects occur. This is important to determine whether these are symptoms of an underlying health condition or if the vaccine is the cause.

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During pregnancy

Pregnant woman being given an injection
Data suggests that the hepatitis B vaccine does not have a negative impact on a developing fetus or the parent.

The available data indicate that the hepatitis B vaccine is safe for pregnant people. They also suggest that hepatitis B vaccines do not have a negative impact on developing fetuses or the parent.

It is crucial to prevent infection with the hepatitis virus during pregnancy, as it can cause serious harm to the parent and child.

Current U.S. recommendations state that everyone who receives prenatal care should undergo screening for hepatitis.

These screenings can help identify people who are at risk of the virus, such as those who regularly use needles.

It is particularly important that these people receive a vaccination to protect the baby from infection.

What vaccines are available?

There are four types of hepatitis B vaccine currently available in the U.S.:

  • Engerix-B
  • Recombivax HB
  • Pediarix
  • Twinrix

Each vaccine contains a protein from the hepatitis B virus. However, the vaccine is inactive, meaning that the protein from the virus is dead.

As a result, the vaccine cannot cause the virus.

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Hepatitis B can become a serious condition without proper treatment. It is also highly contagious and is easy to transmit.

The hepatitis B vaccine is effective at preventing the spread of the virus. All of the available data from several decades of use show that it is safe to use, including while pregnant and among children.

Mild side effects are relatively common and include discomfort at the injection site. More serious side effects are rare and should not be a cause for concern for most people.

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