Medical News Today: Intense light may boost heart health

A novel use of intense light therapy may help decrease the tissue damage experienced during heart attacks, reveals new research in mice.
woman holding her chest
New research introduces a potential novel therapy for heart attacks.

The study, out of the University of Colorado and appearing in the journal Cell Reports, shows that exposing lab mice to intense light for a week improved their outcomes after heart attacks.

The research also suggests that this procedure could benefit humans, and the researchers outline the reason why.

“We already knew that intense light can protect against heart attacks, but now we have found the mechanism behind it,” says the study’s senior author Dr. Tobias Eckle, professor of anesthesiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora.

Boosting specific gene protects heart

In the study, the researchers discovered that intense light influences the functions of the PER2 gene, which is expressed by a part of the brain that controls circadian rhythms.

By boosting this gene through intense light therapy, the researchers discovered that the mice’s heart tissue received extra protection when it experienced issues with oxygen, such as during a heart attack.

Additionally, this intense light also heightened cardiac adenosine, which is a specialized chemical that helps with blood flow regulation. In concert, both benefits helped protect heart health.

Also, when they studied the mice, the researchers found that being able to physically perceive light was vital, as blind mice experienced no benefits from the intense light.

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Humans had similar benefits

The next step was to see if humans could benefit from light therapy. The researchers worked with healthy human volunteers and exposed them to 30 minutes of intense light.

On five consecutive mornings, the researchers exposed the participants to 10,000 lumens of light and drew blood several times.

The researchers found that PER2 levels increased in response to light therapy in the human participants as it did in the mice. They also reported that the human volunteers saw a decreased level of plasma triglycerides and improved metabolism.

Dr. Eckle explained that light plays an essential part in human health, not only in regulating the circadian rhythm but in cardiovascular health as well.

He adds that according to prior studies, more people throughout the U.S. experience heart attacks during the darker months of winter, even in states that traditionally get more sunshine, such as Hawaii and Arizona.

Heart disease and its impact on U.S. adults

Heart disease is widespread throughout the United States. Around 610,000 people die from heart disease every year, which accounts for 1 out of every 4 deaths.

Coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart disease, and around 735,000 people in the U.S. experience a heart attack annually.

While most people know that chest pain is a sign of a heart attack, other less obvious signs include shortness of breath, upper body pain, nausea, cold sweats, lightheadedness, and discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach.

There are many ways that people can reduce their risk of developing heart disease, such as eating better and exercising more. However, it is vital that research to discover new ways to protect the cardiovascular system continues.

This study using intense light highlights how something seemingly unrelated to heart health can have such protective benefits.

This study could have a significant impact on the treatment of heart patients in the future. Eckle says that “if the therapy is given before high risk cardiac and non-cardiac surgery, it could offer protection against injury to the heart muscle which can be fatal.”

Eckle believes there are other possibilities, too, adding that “drugs could also be developed that offer similar protections based on these findings.”

However, future studies in humans will be necessary to understand the impact of intense light therapy and its potential for cardio protection.”

Dr. Tobias Eckle

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Medical News Today: Alzheimer’s: Death of key brain cells causes daytime sleepiness

Alzheimer’s: Death of key brain cells causes daytime sleepiness

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Medical News Today: The power of electromagnetic energy on breast cancer cells

The power of electromagnetic energy on breast cancer cells

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Medical News Today: Diabetes overtreatment seriously endangers health

People with diabetes, particularly those with type 1 diabetes, may have an increased risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if they receive too much glucose lowering therapy. New research now warns that many people with diabetes face that risk.
person checking their blood sugar levels
Many people receive too intensive a treatment for diabetes.

In 2018, Medical News Today reported on a study warning that many people with type 2 diabetes may be overmonitoring their glucose levels, which may lead to the misuse of tests and supply waste.

Now, new research from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, warns that the United States faces a much more dangerous problem: the overtreatment of diabetes.

According to the study paper — which now appears in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings — many people receive too much glucose lowering therapy.

This increases a person’s risk of hypoglycemia, or abnormally low blood sugar levels.

“Hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose, is one of the most common serious adverse effects of diabetes therapy, causing both immediate and long term harm to [people] who experience it,” explains lead researcher Dr. Rozalina McCoy.

“Severe hypoglycemia, defined by the need for another person to help the patient treat and terminate their hypoglycemic event, is associated with increased risk of death, cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, falls and fractures, and poor quality of life,” she adds.

The researchers found that in the U.S., people with diabetes often receive much more medication than their hemoglobin A1C levels would require. Hemoglobin A1C levels are a person’s average blood sugar levels over a period of around 3 months.

In the cohort they studied, this resulted in 4,774 hospital admissions and 4,804 emergency department visits in the span of 2 years.

“Importantly, these numbers are a large underestimation of the true scope of overtreatment-induced hypoglycemic events,” warns Dr. McCoy.

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Millions of people receive too much therapy

The researchers used 2011–2014 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, as well as information from the OptumLabs Data Warehouse.

The team’s first step was to estimate how prevalent intensive glucose lowering therapy was in the U.S. by using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data.

They defined “intensive therapy” as taking one type of medication to achieve hemoglobin A1C levels of 5.6% or under, or taking two or several types of medication to achieve hemoglobin A1C levels of 5.7 to 6.4%.

Then, they used information from the OptumLabs Data Warehouse to estimate how many people with diabetes had visited an emergency department or the hospital because of hypoglycemia related to overly intensive treatment.

The team determined that 10.7 million nonpregnant adults with diabetes had hemoglobin A1C levels within recommended levels (under 7%). Of these, however, almost 22% received intensive glucose lowering therapy.

This means that as many as 2.3 million people with diabetes received overly intensive treatment between 2011 and 2014 in the U.S., the researchers found.

This was regardless of whether or not they had clinically complex profiles, such as:

  • being aged 75 or over
  • being limited in two or more daily activities, including eating or getting dressed, and walking from room to room
  • having a diagnosis of end stage kidney disease
  • having three or more chronic conditions

According to the study, 32.3% of the 10.7 million people in the cohort had clinically complex profiles. However, this did not seem to have any bearing on whether or not an individual received intensive treatment for diabetes.

“Older people and others we consider clinically complex are more at risk to develop hypoglycemia, as well as experience other adverse events because of intensive or overtreatment,” notes Dr. McCoy.

“However, at the same time, these [people] are unlikely to benefit from intensive therapy rather than moderate glycemic control,” she notes.

When we develop a diabetes treatment plan, our goal should be to maximize benefit while reducing harm and burden of treatment.”

Dr. Rozalina McCoy

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Overtreatment as harmful as undertreatment

The researchers explain that currently, most policymakers and healthcare professionals are committed to controlling hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) and reducing instances of undertreatment.

However, Dr. McCoy notes, there also needs to be more awareness of the dangers of overtreatment.

“We need to align treatment regimens and goals with each patient’s clinical situation, health status, psychosocial situation, and reality of everyday life to ensure that care is consistent with their goals, preferences, and values,” she advises.

“While some episodes of hypoglycemia may be unavoidable, especially if caused by unmodifiable risk factors such as need for insulin therapy, others may be preventable, as in the case of overtreatment,” explains Dr. Mc Coy.

She says that going forward, it is important that healthcare providers hit a balance in the recommendations they issue to their patients with diabetes.

“It is important not only to ensure that we do not undertreat our patients with diabetes, but also that we do not overtreat them because both undertreatment and overtreatment can harm our patients,” stresses Dr. McCoy.

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Medical News Today: How to use essential oils for scars

Some people use certain essential oils — such as Helichrysum, lavender, or tea tree oils — on the skin to promote wound healing and reduce the appearance of scars.

While there has been little research into the effects of essential oils on scars, these oils may be helpful complements to traditional treatments.

This article investigates which essential oils may help with scarring, how to use them, and the evidence for their effectiveness.

Can essential oils help with scars?

Helichrysum which can be an Essential oil for scars
Helichrysum oil may help kill bacteria in a wound.

Essential oils are made from plants, and each oil has a different chemical makeup.

Aromatherapists and other practitioners of alternative medicine use these oils to treat a range of health issues. The issues could be physical, such as joint pain or nausea. Or, as in the case of stress or anxiety, the issues could relate to mental and emotional health.

Scars typically form when an injury penetrates past the first layer of skin. Scars can be sunken or raised, and they may be pink at first. After it heals, a scar usually looks darker or lighter than the skin around it.

Certain essential oils have anti-inflammatory or antimicrobial properties — or sometimes both. Keeping infection and inflammation at bay can help wounds heal and improve skin health overall.

Using essential oils while a wound is healing may help minimize any scarring. However, older scars are much harder to treat, and it may not be possible to make them less visible. Many scars fade over time with exposure to sunlight.

Use essential oils with care, as they can interact with medications and other remedies, and they may cause side effects. Essential oils are generally not safe to use during pregnancy.

Below, we look at the research into the effects of popular essential oils for scars and wound healing.

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There are more than 600 species of flowering plants in the Helichrysum genus, but the essential oil is known simply as Helichrysum oil.

These plants grow in Mediterranean countries, such as Italy and Spain, and many practitioners of traditional medicine in the region make use of the plants’ flowers and leaves.

Research in the laboratory indicates that one species, Helichrysum italicum, may have antimicrobial properties, meaning that it may kill microorganisms, such as bacteria. This could prevent infection and encourage wound healing, potentially resulting in less scarring.

The findings of other laboratory-based studies indicate that Helichrysum italicum may combat inflammation. An inflamed or irritated wound is slower to heal and may leave a worse scar.


a bottle of Lavender oil.
A person may find that lavender oil improves their sleep.

People commonly use lavender essential oil to promote calmness and encourage sleep. The oil comes from the flowers and leaves of the plant.

Some practitioners of alternative medicine use lavender to treat wounds and skin conditions. A 2016 study in rats suggested that lavender oil could promote healing.

When applied to a wound, the essential oil seemed to encourage new tissue to grow.


Manufacturers produce essential oil from the leaves of this flowering shrub. Some people use geranium oil to treat anxiety and stress, as well as skin disorders, such as eczema.

Some research indicates that geranium oil has antibacterial properties, meaning that it may help keep wounds clean and encourage healing, which can help prevent or reduce scarring.


Healers in ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt used chamomile as a medicinal herb. Today, it is a common ingredient in herbal teas, creams, and essential oil blends.

Some practitioners of alternative medicine use chamomile to treat anxiety, stomach problems, and skin conditions.

Like other essential oils, chamomile may help stop microbes from entering a wound. Researchers have also found that chamomile may promote wound healing and reduce inflammation.

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Tea tree

Tea tree oil is one of the most widely used essential oils. Manufacturers use steam to distill the oil from tea tree leaves.

Only apply tea tree oil to the skin — do not swallow it.

Tea tree oil may help support the immune system. A healthy immune system is better at healing injuries, which could result in reduced scarring.

Researchers have also long recognized the antimicrobial and antifungal effects of tea tree oil, which can help prevent infection in healing skin.

How to use essential oils

a woman applying oil to her skin.
A person should dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before applying them to the skin.

Use essential oils with care, as they can irritate the skin, interact with medications and other remedies, and cause other side effects.

To help wounds heal and prevent scars, apply the essential oil directly to the skin. However, make sure to dilute it first.

Dilute essential oils in a carrier oil. Below are common examples of carrier oils, with links to where they can be purchased online:

Adding 15 drops of essential oil to 1 ounce of carrier oil results in 2.5% dilution, which is effective for adults. If a person wishes, they can strengthen the solution, up to 10% dilution. This involves 60 drops of essential oil for every 1 ounce of carrier oil.

Learn more about carrier oils here.

Before using the blend of oils, mix it thoroughly. Thicker carrier oils, such as coconut oil, may need to be warmed slightly before it will mix well. Allow the mixture to cool before applying it to the skin.

Test the diluted essential oil mixture on a small patch of unbroken skin and leave it on for 24 hours. If the oil does not cause any irritation, it should be safe to use.

Apply a thin layer of the mixture to a scar or around a healing wound. Repeat the application as often as necessary, and stop using it if any irritation occurs.

Do not let undiluted essential oil touch the skin. Also, some oils can be dangerous to children, pregnant women, and pets, so it is important to consider others when using these remedies.

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To minimizing scarring, it is important to help the skin heal. Keep the wound and the area around it clean. Covering it and changing the dressing daily can help.

Essential oils may play a role in wound care. Using certain diluted essential oils may combat infection and inflammation.

If a person already has a scar, using a sunscreen with high SPF while outdoors can help the scar fade more quickly.

The essential oils above are available at health stores, drugstores, and online:

Shop for Helichrysum oil.

Shop for lavender oil.

Shop for geranium oil.

Shop for chamomile oil.

Shop for tea tree oil.

Determining the effects of essential oils will require further research. They may have benefits when a person uses them alongside more established treatments.

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Medical News Today: What can cause rectal pain?

The rectum is the lower part of the large intestine, and it ends at the anus. Injury, inflammation, and infections that affect the anus and rectum can cause rectal pain.

Several clues can help a healthcare professional determine the cause of rectal pain.

For instance, determining when the pain occurs — such as when sitting or during a bowel movement — and uncovering any additional symptoms can help narrow down the cause.

Other common symptoms include itching, stinging, bleeding, and stomach cramps.

Rectal pain has a wide variety of causes, from minor to serious. Because pain around the rectum has so many possible sources, it is important to get a proper diagnosis.

Causes of rectal pain include the following:


a woman in a dressing gown experiencing pain on the toilet.
Possible causes of rectal pain include hemorrhoids, muscle spasms, and fecal impaction.

Hemorrhoids are veins in the anus that have swollen up.

They may develop on the inside or outside of the rectum.

Hemorrhoids are a common cause of rectal discomfort, especially if they are on the inside.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, about 50% of adults over the age of 50 develop hemorrhoids.

The veins in the anus may swell more often when a person has trouble having a bowel movement and pushes forcefully. Pushing during childbirth also increases a person’s risk of developing hemorrhoids.

Along with rectal pain, hemorrhoids may cause additional symptoms, including:

  • swelling around the rectal opening
  • itching
  • burning

Anal fissures

An anal fissure is a small cut or tear in the skin that lines the rectal opening.

They usually develop due to stretching or straining the tissue at the opening of the rectum. Similar to hemorrhoids, anal fissures occur as a result of bearing down during childbirth or passing a hard stool.

Other symptoms of an anal fissure include:

  • burning
  • increased rectal pain during bowel movements
  • blood in the stool

Muscle spasms

Like all muscles, those around the rectum may spasm, and this can cause pain.

Rectal spasms may only last a few seconds or several minutes. Brief rectal spasms are called proctalgia fugax.

Certain things may trigger a spasm, such as having a bowel movement, sexual activity, or constipation. Spasms may also occur for no known reason.

Some research suggests that proctalgia is common and may occur in up to about 18% of the population. Proctalgia most often develops in adults ages 30–60, and it is more common in women.

Levator ani syndrome is a variation of proctalgia fugax. It involves spasms and rectal pain that may last for as long as 20 minutes. Other symptoms of rectal spasms include:

  • sudden rectal pain
  • pain that worsens when sitting

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Fecal impaction

Fecal impaction is a hard stool that is stuck in the rectum. Chronic constipation is the most frequent cause of fecal impaction.

Other symptoms of fecal impaction may include:

  • bloating
  • stomach pain
  • nausea

Bowel conditions

a woman suffering from stomach cramps
A bowel condition may cause stomach cramps, diarrhea, and a decreased appetite.

Certain bowel conditions can cause inflammation in the intestines, including the rectum.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can cause pain in the lower intestinal tract.

Other symptoms of these bowel conditions include:

  • stomach cramps
  • diarrhea
  • decreased appetite
  • blood in the stool

Sexually transmitted infections

Although not as common as other causes, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can spread to the rectum from the genitals and cause pain. Various types of STIs can spread, including human papillomavirus, herpes, and chlamydia.

Other symptoms of STIs affecting the rectum may include:

  • itching
  • rectal discharge
  • burning
  • bleeding

Rectal prolapse

A rectal prolapse occurs when part or all of the rectum slides out through the anal opening.

The condition is not common, and the cause is not clear. However, up to 67% of people who experience a rectal prolapse have long term constipation. It is also much more common in women over the age of 50.

Other symptoms of rectal prolapse include:

  • a bulge outside the anus
  • leaking stool
  • pain during bowel movements

Anal sex

The skin around the rectum is very sensitive. Friction from sexual activity involving the anus can cause small tears, irritation, swelling, or bleeding. This is partly because the anus does not produce its own lubrication.

Anal sex is mostly safe. If a person experiences pain during or after anal sex, they can try using foreplay and plenty of lubricant to prevent pain in future.

Learn about how practice anal sex safely here.

Rectal abscess

A rectal abscess is a pus filled infection in the glands or cavities that surround the rectum or the anus. Bacteria may get into the cavities, causing an infection.

Other symptoms of a rectal abscess may include:

  • painful urination
  • fever
  • swelling around the rectum

Inflammation of the rectal lining

Inflammation of the lining of the rectum develops most often from bowel disease. In addition to rectal discomfort, other symptoms of inflammation around the rectal lining may include:

  • rectal bleeding
  • diarrhea
  • a feeling of pressure in the rectum


Rectal or anal cancer can also cause rectal discomfort. However, most cases of rectal pain are not due to cancer.

Still, it is important to recognize other signs of rectal cancer, including:

  • a change in bowel habits
  • rectal pain that gets worse or does not go away
  • blood in the stool
  • unintentional weight loss

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Pain relief

The treatment options for rectal pain usually depend on the cause.

For example, treatment for fecal impaction may include a medical procedure to remove the impacted stool. Treatment for STIs often involves medications.

To relieve general rectal pain, people can try:

  • taking a sitz bath, or sitting in warm water for 15–20 minutes
  • applying a topical numbing ointment
  • taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication
  • eating a diet high in fiber and drinking plenty of water to prevent constipation and straining during a bowel movement
  • using a stool softener, which makes it easier and less painful to have a bowel movement
  • sitting on a cushion, which may decrease the pressure on the rectum
  • taking antibiotics for bacterial infections

When to see a doctor

female doctor speaking in office to female patient
A person should talk to their doctor if rectal pain lasts longer than a few days.

Rectal pain often goes away quickly without needing to see a healthcare provider. However, there are instances when it is important to see a doctor.

Consider visiting a healthcare provider if:

  • the pain lasts for longer than a few days
  • the pain becomes severe or spreads to other areas of the body
  • a fever is present
  • there is ongoing rectal bleeding
  • a lump is present at the anal opening
  • there has been trauma to the anus


Rectal pain might occur briefly and usually does not indicate a serious condition, especially when it only happens occasionally.

However, there are times when it is a symptom of something more serious, such as inflammatory bowel disease or an STI.

Although many cases of rectal pain are treatable with home remedies, it may be necessary to see a doctor in some instances, such as if rectal pain worsens or does not go away.

Anyone who develops rectal pain and is concerned should see their healthcare provider.

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Medical News Today: How to recognize Candida in stool

Candida is a type of yeast that grows in the body in areas such as the mouth, gut, and vagina. At normal levels, it does not cause any problems, but when a person has an overgrowth of Candida in the gut, it can appear in stools.

Environmental changes in the body, certain health issues, and the use of antibiotics can encourage the growth of Candida. If there is an overgrowth of Candida, it can cause an infection called candidiasis.

In this article, we discuss the signs and symptoms of Candida in stools and elsewhere in the body, as well as how to treat it.

Signs and symptoms

A man about to find out if he has candida in his stool
White, yellow, or brown mucus in the stool may indicate Candida.

Although the presence of Candida in stools can indicate an overgrowth, this is not always the case.

In fact, researchers have found Candida in around 65% of stools from healthy adults.

Most people might not know they have Candida in their stools until they become aware of the following:

  • white, yellow, or brown mucus
  • a white, yellow, or light brown string-like substance
  • froth or foam
  • loose stools or diarrhea

If people have a Candida overgrowth, they may also experience the following symptoms:

Other symptoms of a Candida overgrowth depend on where the yeast is in the body. In the sections below, we look at symptoms that may develop when Candidaoccurs in different locations within the body:


Symptoms include:

  • white areas inside the mouth
  • red, inflamed tissue underneath the white patches, which may bleed
  • cracked corners of the mouth


Symptoms include:

  • pain when swallowing
  • chest pain under the breastbone


Symptoms include:

  • itchy or sore vagina and vulva
  • thick, white discharge
  • pain during urination or sex
  • burning sensation


Sometimes, Candida can spread to infect the blood. This is known as deep, or invasive, candidiasis, and it can be life threatening.

Invasive candidiasis can cause shock and organ failure. If a person who is receiving antibacterial treatment for a Candida infection has fever and chills that do not go away, they should seek immediate medical attention.

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Medication use, certain health conditions, and lifestyle factors can all cause the balance of microbes and moisture levels in the body to change.

These changes can encourage the Candida yeast to grow and cause an infection.

In the sections below, we look at some possible causes in more detail:

Antibiotic use

Healthful bacteria help keep Candida in check.

Antibiotics kill good bacteria as well as bad bacteria, which can affect the balance of microbes in the body. This can cause an overgrowth of Candida.

Gastrointestinal disorders

woman holding stomach due to lactose intolerance or crohn s
A person with a gastrointestinal disorder may have high levels of Candida in their stool.

Some research found that people with gastrointestinal issues had high levels of Candida in their stool. These conditions included:

Many researchers believe that the inflammation these conditions cause and develop from promotes Candida growth, which then results in further inflammation.

Weakened immune system

People with health conditions that weaken the immune system — such as HIV, AIDS, and some cancers — may be more at risk of experiencing Candida overgrowth.

This is because the body is less able to fight off infections.


Diabetes can increase the risk of a Candida overgrowth because high blood sugar levels encourage the yeast to grow.

Learn how to manage diabetes better here.

Oral contraceptives

Oral contraceptives may increase the risk of vaginal candidiasis.


High levels of stress may increase the risk of a Candida infection.

One study from 2010 found that exposing healthy rats to stress led to increased levels of Candida on the rats’ tongues.


Smoking can also increase the risk of a Candida overgrowth, especially in the form of oral thrush.

One study from 2006 found that in participants who smoked, 58% had Candida present in their stools, while only 29% of nonsmokers had Candida present.

As well as reducing the risk of Candida overgrowth, quitting smoking has many other health benefits. Learn more here.

Other factors

Other risk factors for Candida overgrowth include the use of:

  • corticosteroids
  • excessive alcohol
  • herb medication


A doctor will take a stool sample to determine if there is a Candida overgrowth present.

Many healthy people have Candida in their stools, so a doctor may also carry out other tests to check for an overgrowth.

They will carry out a physical examination and take a medical history to determine if antibiotic use could be causing the Candida overgrowth.

If Candida is affecting a specific area of the body, the doctor may take a skin sample from the area.


woman speaking with her doctor
A person should talk to their doctor about possible treatment options for Candida.

A doctor may prescribe antifungal medication to treat the Candida overgrowth and return the fungi to normal levels.

Potential side effects of antifungal drugs may include feeling nauseous, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Common antifungal medication for Candida infections include:

  • polyenes, such as nystatin and amphotericin B
  • azoles, such as fluconazole, itraconazole, voriconazole

People can take antifungal medications orally to treat Candida infections in the mouth and esophagus.

Topical antifungal creams can treat Candida infections on the skin.

For vaginal Candida infections, antifungal medication is available as a cream, tablet, or suppository.

People with an invasive Candida infection will require intravenous antifungal medication.

Probiotics may also work to treat an overgrowth. Probiotics are live microorganisms that can help restore good bacteria in the body and restrict the growth of Candida.


People may be able to prevent a Candida overgrowth by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For example, a person can strive to:

  • keep the skin clean and dry, as fungi thrive in moist, warm environments
  • only use antibiotics when necessary and as intended
  • avoid or limit the intake of processed or sugary foods
  • keep blood sugar levels in check, as this can help prevent Candida infection
  • quit smoking or do not start
  • avoid heavy alcohol consumption

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People may notice an overgrowth of Candida if they find white mucus, foam, or a string-like substance in their stools.

Other symptoms of a Candida overgrowth depend on where the infection occurs in the body.

A Candida overgrowth is usually easily treatable, and with the correct treatment, it will have no long lasting health effects.

Otherwise healthy people may be able to treat a Candida overgrowth with a single dose of an antifungal medication.

Candida infections may take longer to treat and may reoccur in people who:

  • are taking or have taken antibiotics over a long period
  • have a weakened immune system
  • have a chronic illness

If a Candida infection spreads to the blood, early diagnosis and treatment are vital to prevent the infection from spreading to major organs.

A doctor will prescribe antifungal medication, or potentially probiotics, to treat an overgrowth of Candida.

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Medical News Today: Can a yeast infection cause bleeding?

Can a yeast infection cause bleeding? What you need to know

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Medical News Today: Apple cider vinegar pills: Health claims and evidence

Apple cider vinegar is a type of fermented vinegar made from apples. Pills made from apple cider vinegar make this sour liquid easier to consume. People who promote natural health products claim that this vinegar offers numerous health benefits.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) pills contain a dehydrated form of the vinegar. Some brands of ACV pills may include other ingredients, such as cayenne pepper or ginger.

This article outlines the scientific research on apple cider vinegar (ACV) for a range of different ailments. We also discuss the risks and potential side effects of ACV.

Claimed benefits

a woman about to swallow some Apple cider vinegar pills
There is little research into the health benefits of ACV pills.

Proponents of ACV claim that it offers numerous health benefits. We list some of the most popular claims below.

However, people should note that most research into ACV involves the vinegar in liquid form.

Very little information is available about ACV in pill form, and any findings relating to liquid ACV may not translate to ACV pills.

Controlling yeast and other fungi

People who promote ACV claim that it may help treat certain types of fungal infection, such as Candida infections. Candida is the fungus responsible for vaginal yeast infections and oral thrush. Candida inside the mouth can also infect dentures.

A 2014 study found that a denture soak containing 4% ACV could prevent Candida from sticking to dentures.

The 30-minute denture soak also did not affect the surface roughness of the dentures, nor did it change their color. This suggests that a denture soak containing ACV may be a safe and effective way to prevent fungal infections of dentures.

However, there is no evidence to suggest that ACV pills would have this effect.

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Lowering cholesterol and reducing heart disease risk

Lipids are fatty substances in blood and body tissues. High levels of specific lipids in the blood can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Supporters of ACV claim that it can lower the levels of blood lipids that damage health, such as triglycerides and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol.

A 2011 animal study investigated the effects of ACV in rats that ate a high cholesterol diet. Researchers found that ACV lowered the rats’ triglyceride levels. However, ACV also raised levels of LDL cholesterol and high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol.

So far, studies on ACV and heart disease have focused on animals. It is therefore not possible to conclude the effects of ACV on human health.

However, current research suggests that the benefits do not outweigh the risks. Many experts believe that lifestyle changes and medication are probably more effective.

Treating or preventing bacterial infections

A 2018 study found that ACV has antimicrobial properties that are effective against various strains of bacteria. This suggests ACV may be useful as a bacterial disinfectant. However, using ACV to treat wounds can irritate and even burn the skin.

Controlling blood glucose and diabetes

a man eating lunch at a table.
Consuming ACV at mealtimes may help people with metabolic disorders.

Some people claim that ACV can cure diabetes. While there is no evidence to support this claim, several small studies suggest that ACV may help to control blood glucose.

A 2017 meta-analysis found that consuming ACV at mealtimes helped lower post meal blood glucose and insulin levels. This was the case for people with metabolic disorders, as well as healthy controls.

ACV may, therefore, be useful alongside standard treatments for diabetes. However, scientists need to carry out further research to confirm these effects.

Supporting weight loss

Some smaller studies suggest that ACV may improve weight loss. A 2018 randomized controlled trial found that taking ACV could increase weight loss among people consuming a reduced calorie diet (RCD).

Researchers divided the participants into two groups. The first group consumed a RCD along with 30 milliliters (ml) of ACV per day, and the second group followed the RCD only. After 12 weeks, the researchers compared the two groups.

Participants in the first group showed significant reductions in body weight, hip circumference, appetite, and the amount of fat surrounding the internal organs.

This data does not point to ACV alone as a remedy for weight loss. However, it does suggest that it might help people following an RCD lose more weight.

Reducing blood pressure

Supporters of ACV claim that the vinegar may lower blood pressure. One small animal study investigated this claim. The study involved feeding either ACV or acetic acid to rats with high blood pressure. Acetic acid is the main therapeutic component of ACV.

The rats that received the acetic acid showed more significant reductions in blood pressure compared with the other rats. These rats also had lower levels of renin in the blood. Renin is an enzyme that is involved in increasing blood pressure.

The researchers suggest that the acetic acid in the vinegar was responsible for reducing renin levels, which in turn, caused the drop in blood pressure.

ACV may indirectly lower blood pressure by helping people lose weight. However, there is no evidence that ACV alone causes weight loss.

As a result, people who are concerned about weight or blood pressure should focus on dietary and lifestyle changes. People can also talk to their doctor about medical treatments.

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Risks and side effects

For most people, ACV is safe in moderate doses. However, being an acid, drinking ACV may erode tooth enamel. It may also cause stomach discomfort, especially in people with a history of reflux or ulcers. Very high doses can injure the throat.

Because ACV can affect blood glucose levels, some people, including those who take insulin and those with a with a history of low blood sugar, should check with a doctor before taking ACV.

Most of the evidence for ACV side effects come from individual case reports rather than well controlled clinical trials. For this reason, doctors cannot be sure about which side effects a person might experience, or at what dosage.

As a result, it is essential to start with a low dose and monitor any side effects. People with chronic health conditions should see a doctor before trying ACV.


a woman deciding what to buy from a pharmacy shelve.
ACV supplements are available in a range of concentrations.

Most research on ACV has focused on its liquid form, and not on pills. As such, the ideal dosage is unclear.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved ACV. Different manufacturers may sell the supplement in a range of concentrations. It is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and do not exceed the recommended dosage.

Many studies have looked at ACV dosages of around a tablespoon per day. Much higher dosages may increase the risk of side effects and injury.

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ACV pills are generally safe for healthy people to use. They are not a replacement for medications to lower blood pressure or cholesterol. However, they may complement prescription medications and increase the effects of a healthful diet.

ACV also possesses antibacterial and antifungal properties, which may protect against certain bacterial and fungal infections.

As with all supplements, talk to a doctor who is knowledgeable about supplements before trying ACV pills.

Apple cider vinegar pills are available to purchase in stores and online.

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Medical News Today: Why have my toes turned red?

A person’s toes can appear red due to cold weather, injury, infection, or other medical conditions. The redness usually goes away on its own, though some underlying causes require treatment.

This article will look at some of the most common causes of red toes. We also describe treatments and offer some tips for prevention.


Red Toes that have Chilblains. Image credit: Sapp, 2019
Chilblains may appear on the skin as a result of exposure to cold weather.
Image credit: Sapp, 2019

Chilblains are red or purple marks that appear after the skin has been exposed to cold weather. They may feel itchy. Another name for these marks is perniosis.

Chilblains develop shortly after exposure to the cold, and they often become more visible if a person warms the skin quickly, for example, in front of a fire or heater.

The exact cause is unknown, but they may occur when small blood vessels are warmed faster than the larger vessels can handle. This can cause blood to leak into the soft tissues.

They look like red or purple blotches and tend to appear on the toes, fingers, nose, cheeks, or ears. Chilblains can turn into blisters or ulcers over time, and these can be very painful.

Chilblains are more common in children and young and middle-aged women. The following factors also increase a person’s risk of developing them:

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Raynaud’s disease

Raynaud’s disease, or Raynaud’s phenomenon, is a rare condition that affects the blood vessels in the fingers and toes.

When someone with this condition is cold or stressed, their blood vessels can narrow. This keeps blood from reaching the surface of the skin in some areas of the body, and these areas may turn white or blue. The skin tends to turn red and tingle as the blood returns.

Experts do not know what causes Raynaud’s disease. It is more common in women and people over the age of 30. In severe cases, the loss of blood flow can lead to sores or death of the affected tissue, requiring amputation.

People with Raynaud’s disease are also more likely to develop chilblains after being exposed to cold weather.


Feet with Bunions
A person with low arches, flat feet, or loose joints may develop bunions.

A bunion is a fluid-filled sac that surrounds and cushions the joint of the big toe. It develops when the bone that connects the toe to the foot turns outward. This pushes the big toe inward, toward the other toes, and makes the joint jut out.

Most shoes put pressure on bunions. Over time, the joint can swell and become red, stiff, and painful.

Bunions tend to run in families because foot shape is hereditary. People with low arches, flat feet, or loose joints are more likely to develop them.

For those at risk, wearing narrow or high-heeled shoes can prompt the development of bunions or make them worse.

They are more common in females and more symptomatic in people who spend a lot of time on their feet.


Skin and nail infections can cause redness, swelling, and pain in the toes. Bacteria or fungi are usually responsible for these infections.

Nail infections, or paronychia, can cause a swollen bump to form around the nail, and this bump may leak pus.

Broken, or fractured, toes

The term “broken toe” refers to a fracture — possibly a traumatic or stress fracture — in the bone of the toe.

A traumatic fracture, also called an acute fracture, results from an impact or direct blow. This injury can occur when a person drops something heavy on the area or severely stubs their toe.

Signs of a traumatic fracture include:

  • a sound at the time of the injury
  • pain at the point of impact that may last for a few hours
  • a crooked or abnormal appearance to the toe
  • redness followed by bruising and swelling the next day

Stress fractures, or hairline fractures, do not usually cause bruising or redness. They are tiny breaks in the bone, and repetitive stress is usually the cause. They often affect athletes and people who have osteoporosis or foot abnormalities.

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When red toes require treatment, the best choice depends on the cause of the discoloration:


Over-the-counter steroid creams can treat chilblains. A person can find these in drugstores or choose between brands online.

Doctors also advise people not to scratch at the marks and to keep any blistered or ulcerated areas clean and dry to avoid infection.

To help prevent chilblains from forming on the toes, keep the feet warm and dry.

Anyone who experiences reoccurring chilblains should speak to a doctor, who may recommend treatment with a drug that makes the blood vessels thicker.

It is also worth noting that smoking damages blood circulation. Quitting smoking can help prevent chilblains.

Raynaud’s disease

A doctor may recommend medication that helps keep the blood vessels open.

The following tips can help people deal with the symptoms of Raynaud’s disease at home:

  • Soak the feet in warm water at the first sign of symptoms.
  • Always keep the hands and feet warm when the weather is cold.
  • Try to avoid triggers, such as certain medicines and stress.


Wearing shoes with wide, flexible soles and enough room for the toes can help ease the pain of bunions. Sandals, shoes made from soft materials, and low heels are good options.

Try to protect the bunion using a bandage or gel-filled pad. These pads are available for purchase online.

Maintaining a healthy weight will also help with the symptoms.

When a bunion becomes sore or irritated, try:

  • soaking the foot in warm water
  • wrapping the area in an ice pack
  • taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen
  • massaging the area

If the pain of bunions is interfering with activities, speak to a doctor. They may recommend cortisone injections or, in severe cases, surgery.

Traumatic toe fracture

a woman tying up her laces on her trainers
A person with a toe fracture should wear stiff-soled shoes until it heals.

Some traumatic toe fractures heal on their own with rest. Others require a splint to keep the bone in a fixed position while it heals.

The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons recommend that anyone with a fractured toe wear stiff-soled shoes to protect the toe and help keep it in position.

In severe cases, a doctor may recommend surgery. This usually involves fixation devices, such as pins.


A number of health issues can cause red toes. These range from short term injuries to long term disorders affecting blood circulation. Treatment and prevention will depend on the cause of the discoloration.

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