If a child’s pineal gland does not secrete enough melatonin at night, they may develop insomnia or delayed sleep phase disorder. This condition extends wakefulness at nighttime, even when a person feels tired, and it often appears during teenage years.
For people with HCV who receive a diagnosis before any liver damage or scarring occurs, the prognosis will tend to be better than for people who receive a diagnosis after scarring or liver damage has already occurred.
Treatment will vary based on the genotype of the virus and the presence of any other health conditions a person has. Treatments are continually improving, making it possible for a person to live an active and normal life with HCV.
Following treatment, a person’s doctor will often check again for the viral load, or the amount of virus, in their blood. Treatment usually completely rids the body of the virus.
In other cases, a person may need to change their medications to better treat the virus.
In the United States, typical treatments for HCV used to include interferon, which is an injection, and ribavirin, which is an oral medication. However, newer medications called direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) are starting to make the treatment process shorter and more effective.
Certain DAAs can target specific genotypes of HCV. Targeted treatments can help improve the outcome for some people.
The prognosis of chronic HCV is typically very good, and as treatment continues to improve, it will only get better. Most people with chronic HCV can live a normal life, providing that doctors are able to diagnose it before any liver damage or other complications occur.
Many women experience the “baby blues” for a week or two after giving birth, the effects of which usually include mild anxiety, fatigue, and a relatively reduced mood.
Around 15% of all U.S. women experience a type of depression called postpartum depression, or major depressive disorder with peripartum onset, after giving birth. This condition can cause significant depressive episodes.
Researchers believe that postpartum depression develops for a number of reasons, including sudden changes to estrogen and progesterone levels, a lack of sleep, and having a history of depression.
Women with postpartum depression may feel exhaustion and extreme sadness to the extent that it makes it hard for them to care for themselves and their babies.
They may need treatment to prevent long-term complications. In extreme cases, without proper treatment, postpartum depression can lead some women toward harming themselves or their babies.
Doctors commonly prescribe metformin to help people with type 2 diabetes lower their blood sugar levels. The drug increases insulin sensitivity through its effects on glucose metabolism.
However, although there is clear evidence of metformin’s effectiveness, scientists do not fully understand how it interacts with cells and tissues at the molecular level.
Now, a new Cell Reports study has mapped metformin activity in the liver and yielded some surprising results.
Using cell cultures and mice, the researchers identified numerous biochemical switches for turning various cell and molecular processes on and off.
The findings shed light not only on metformin’s mechanism of glucose control, but also on a surprising number of other reactions and pathways.
The researchers suggest, for instance, that the new findings could help explain recent revelations about metformin’s apparent ability to promote healthy aging.
Large-scale clinical trials of metformin are already under way to test the drug’s effectiveness in extending life span and health span — that is, the proportion of a person’s life span that they spend in good health. However, the underlying biochemistry has been unclear.
Teams from three research centers worked on the study: the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the Scripps Research Institute — both in La Jolla, CA — and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.
“These results,” says Reuben J. Shaw, one of the study’s corresponding authors, “provide us with new avenues to explore in order to understand how metformin works as a diabetes drug, along with its health-span-extending effects.”
“These are pathways that neither we, nor anyone else, would have imagined,” he adds.
Shaw is a professor of molecular and cell biology at the Salk Institute and director of the Salk Cancer Center.
More recently, scientists have found that metformin may be effective in a number of other conditions, including obesity, cancer, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Other recent research has also suggested that metformin may have anti-aging effects and an ability to protect bone, especially during the early phases of rheumatoid arthritis.
Until the new study, scientists’ understanding of the biochemical effects of metformin was limited to knowing that the drug activates a signaling pathway called AMPK. This pathway plays a key role in balancing energy levels in cells.
Prof. Shaw had also discovered that when nutrients levels are low, the AMPK pathway holds back cell growth and alters metabolism. Researchers have seen this effect in cancer. Knowing this led Prof. Shaw and colleagues to wonder if metformin might also work through other pathways.
New pathways may explain anti-aging effects
For the new study, the teams used a “quantitative proteomics platform” to screen kinases. These are signaling proteins that can switch cell processes on and off.
The researchers found hundreds of kinases whose switching activity responds rapidly to metformin with potential impact on healthy aging. Many of the signaling pathways work independently of AMPK.
Scientists were already aware of two of the pathways — protein kinase D and MAPKAPK2 — and that they concern cellular stress. This could explain the link with healthy aging and the impacts on extending life span and health span.
The new findings suggest that metformin’s benefits to healthy aging could be through its interaction with protein kinase D and MAPKAPK2.
“We never imagined these two kinases would have anything to do with metformin,” Prof. Shaw remarks.
The researchers also identified new targets and cell mechanisms that the AMPK pathway controls that may also be crucial to metformin’s success.
The teams plan to continue studying the new signaling pathways to deepen their understanding of the many effects of metformin.
They are keen to find out how all individuals, not just those with type 2 diabetes, might benefit from metformin and which targets might be involved.
“The results broaden our understanding of how metformin induces a mild stress that triggers sensors to restore metabolic balance, explaining some of the benefits previously reported, such as extended healthy aging in model organisms taking metformin.”
Research on this subject is very limited. However, one small study from 1998 found that in eight participants, there was a decrease in after-meal glucose levels when they took fig leaf extracts.
The study participants also needed lower doses of insulin when they supplemented with fig leaf extract.
In a study that used rats with type 2 diabetes, the researchers found that fig leaf extract could improve insulin levels and lower blood glucose levels.
In a different study using mice with diabetes, the researchers revealed that fig leaf extract could stop or slow down the production of glucose in the liver.
Some people consider certain plants to be aphrodisiacs due to their potential ability to stimulate sexual arousal. Indeed, some people use figs for their alleged aphrodisiac properties.
A study in rats tested the aphrodisiac abilities of three plants: earth smoke, Chinese cinnamon, and figs.
The researchers measured the effectiveness of a mixture of these plants by studying the increase in mounting behavior. The rats that received this mixture had increased sexual activity, compared with the control group.
However, it is difficult to determine which of the three plants was responsible for the increased sexual activity.
Researchers have not yet examined the aphrodisiac effects of figs in humans. Further studies are necessary before doctors can recommend using figs for erectile dysfunction.
An older study in the International Journal of Dermatology compared the effects of fig tree latex with those of cryotherapy on common warts.
In the study, 25 participants with common warts on both sides of their body applied fig tree latex on one side. On the other side, doctors used cryotherapy.
The researchers found that in 44% of the participants, the fig tree latex completely resolved the warts. Cryotherapy was more effective, however, resulting in a complete reversal in 56% of the participants.
Researchers do not yet understand why figs can help resolve warts, but fig tree latex could offer a safe and easy-to-use treatment option that presents little or no side effects.
Very few studies have looked at the connection between figs and hair health. However, figs are very high in iron, which is an important mineral for helping maintain healthy hair.
Before a person starts taking extracts or supplements for hair health, they should speak with their doctor to ensure that it is safe for them.
More research is necessary to test the effect of figs on fever. However, a study in rats showed that a dose of a fig alcohol extract reduced body temperature for up to 5 hours.
Further studies are needed to confirm these findings, however, as researchers are still unsure how to explain the body temperature-lowering effect of figs.
Due to the fruit’s laxative properties, people commonly use fig syrup to help treat constipation. However, only a few studies have ever provided evidence of figs helping with constipation.
In one study, the researchers gave rats loperamide (Imodium) to cause constipation. The rats that received fig paste had fewer episodes of constipation than the control group.
Another study compared the effects of figs and fiber supplements in people with functional constipation. Figs improved the majority of constipation symptoms, including:
bowel movement time
number of bowel movements
stomach pain and discomfort
Figs also decreased the effort necessary to pass a stool and improved the sense of incomplete evacuation.
The researchers did not note any differences in constipation relief between fiber supplements and figs.
Various factors can cause changes in the color of a baby’s stools. Common colors and their causes include:
In newborns younger than 1 week, black is a healthy color for stool. After this time, however, it could indicate a health problem.
During the first 24 hours of life, a newborn will pass meconium. This is thick, black stool. It is made up of cells, amniotic fluid, bile, and mucus ingested while in the womb. Meconium is sterile, so it usually does not smell.
Over the first few days of life, a newborn will continue to pass meconium. The color should gradually change from black to dark green, then yellow.
After 1 week of life, stool should no longer be black. If a black color persists, seek medical advice. It could mean that there is some bleeding in the digestive system.
This is a normal color of poop from a breastfed baby. Their poop tends to be dark yellow
and may have small flecks in it.
These flecks come from breastmilk and are harmless. Poop from breastfed babies is often described as “seedy.” The so-called seeds may resemble curds in cottage cheese but are yellow.
Brown or orange
This is a normal color of poop from a formula-fed baby.
When a baby drinks formula, their poop tends to light brown or orange. It may be slightly darker and firmer than stool from a breastfed baby.
Many babies occasionally have green poop. Some possible causes include:
slow digestion, usually because the baby has eaten more than usual
green foods in the diet of the breastfeeding mother
Poop is usually red because there is blood in it. Seek medical advice.
The baby may have a health problem, or they may have swallowed a small amount of blood. This could happen if a breastfeeding mother has cracked or bleeding nipples. Another cause of red poop is bleeding from the baby’s bottom.
This is not a healthy color for stool.
White poop is uncommon and could indicate a liver problem.
Jaundice, for example, is highly common in newborns, affecting as many as 80% of these babies in their first few days of life. It usually goes away within the first 2 weeks.
Anyone who suspects that their baby still has jaundice after 14 days should check the color of their poop. Pale or white poop may suggest liver disease. Another sign to look for is yellow pee.
If the baby has white or pale stool, the doctor may test their bilirubin levels. Bilirubin is a compound that helps the body get rid of waste. There are two types of bilirubin, and if levels of one type are too high, it can cause health problems.
The brain sends electrical signals, or nerve impulses, to trigger muscle movement. Muscles can either contract or relax, depending on the message that they receive from the brain.
Muscle tension occurs when a muscle stays contracted despite receiving signals from the brain that tell it to relax. If a muscle remains contracted for too long, it can cause pain.
People can develop neck tension for numerous reasons. Common causes of neck tension include:
Poor posture can affect the neck muscles. People who find themselves hunching over their computer or slouching in their chair all day may notice some neck tension after a while.
The authors of a 2016 study involving 126 college students found a correlation between a forward head position and increased neck pain and disability.
Poor posture can cause the weight of the head to shift forward and away from the center of the body, forcing the neck muscles to work harder to support the head.
Hunching over a computer or looking down at a phone not only moves the head forward but also forces the neck to bend with it. This bending can overextend the muscles in the back of the neck, resulting in pain and inflammation.
Sleeping in the wrong position
Posture affects the body at all times, even during sleep. People who sleep on their stomachs tend to rest one side of their face on the pillow. Doing this can overextend the muscles on that side of the neck.
Sleeping with large pillows can elevate the head too high, forcing the neck to bend forward. Staying in this position throughout the night may result in neck tension the following morning.
Repetitive neck movements
People who perform repetitive movements throughout the day can develop repetitive motion disorders.
Without treatment, repetitive motion disorders can lead to pain, swelling, and even permanent tissue damage.
Bruxism is a condition in which people grind or clench their teeth while they sleep. Grinding or clenching the teeth puts pressure on the muscles in the jaw and neck, which can cause neck tension, pain, and headaches.
A person can injure the muscles in their neck if they lift heavy weights, play impact sports, or experience whiplash from a car accident.
These types of injuries can cause mild-to-severe muscle strains, which may require medical treatment or physical therapy.
Untreated muscle strains can lead to persistent neck pain and even permanent damage that reduces the range of motion and flexibility in the neck.
Stress has a powerful effect on the entire body. When the brain senses stress, it signals the release of several hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine. These hormones increase the heart rate and blood pressure, as well as tightening the muscles.
When a person experiences stress regularly, their muscles remain tense and contracted for longer periods, which can result in neck and shoulder tension.
According to a 2017 study involving 148 people with migraine, nearly 67% of the participants also experienced tension-type headaches and neck pain.
These individuals also reported higher levels of stress, engaged in less physical activity, and rated their health poorly in comparison with the participants who had migraine without tension headaches and neck pain.
In the majority of cases, there is no underlying health issue responsible for bleeding after a Pap smear. Therefore, people who experience temporary light bleeding with no other symptoms do not generally need to worry.
The most likely causes of bleeding after a Pap smear include:
During a Pap smear, a healthcare professional takes a small sample of cervical cells to screen for cervical cancer.
Collecting cells from the cervix can cause light bleeding or spotting that may last for 1–2 days.
Bleeding usually happens because the test irritates the cervix rather than because there is anything wrong. For most people, the bleeding stops and does not reoccur.
During pregnancy, the cervix has more blood vessels and increased blood flow. As a result, it bleeds more easily from irritation, even very early in a pregnancy.
As pregnancy progresses, and the weight of the uterus puts pressure on the cervix, the cervix becomes even more prone to bleeding.
A Pap smear may irritate delicate blood vessels and trigger bleeding.
A Pap smear will not cause pregnancy loss, and light bleeding after a Pap smear does not mean that a person is going to have a miscarriage. However, a person should see their doctor if the bleeding gets progressively heavier or causes cramps.
A person who has a Pap smear a few days before their period may notice light spotting after the test, with heavy bleeding following a few days later. This type of bleeding may be coincidental and not a sign of a serious problem.
The typical signs that bleeding after the test is due to the timing of menstruation include:
spotting a few days before the period is due
bleeding around the time when the period would usually appear
the blood flow following the person’s usual bleeding pattern
Less likely reasons for bleeding after a Pap smear include:
Early cervical cancer tends to have few symptoms. However, there may be some abnormal vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods in the early stages of cervical cancer and severe vaginal bleeding in the advanced stages.
Although a Pap smear will not trigger this type of bleeding, it may cause additional bleeding.
People with cervical cancer may experience bleeding:
during or after sex
during or after exercise
Some people notice bleeding for the first time not because it is new but because they pay closer attention to vaginal symptoms after the Pap smear.
Anyone who develops vaginal bleeding that is inconsistent with their usual pattern or notices any bleeding after menopause should contact a doctor.
A friable cervix means that the cervix is unusually sensitive and prone to irritation.
Many people have a friable cervix with no other symptoms, and they have often not received a diagnosis. Sometimes, a friable cervix happens because of a disease that irritates the blood vessels in the cervix.
Some medical conditions that can cause a friable cervix include:
Men and women tend to show different signs of a heart attack.
Women are less likely than males to feel an overwhelming amount of pressure in their chest. Instead, they are more likely to experience dizziness, fatigue, or nausea. They may also have pain in both arms, rather than just the left arm.
Any woman who experiences any of these symptoms should call 911 or seek emergency medical care immediately.