Medical News Today: Nanoparticles in food packaging may disrupt gut function

Zinc oxide nanoparticles are added to many different types of food packaging. A new study finds that these minute particles might disrupt the way that our intestines absorb nutrients.
Open tin of tuna
Many tinned foods contain zinc nanoparticles.

Nanoparticles are between 1 and 100 nanometers in diameter.

To put that into perspective, a human hair is around 75,000 nanometers across, and a red blood cell is roughly 7,000 nanometers across.

So, nanoparticles are very small indeed. And, worryingly, they are everywhere.

Nanoparticles have a relatively large surface area, which makes them more chemically reactive. This increased reactivity gives them unique properties that are utilized by the manufacturers of a vast range of products, including paints, cosmetics, windows, sunscreens, fabrics, and cars.

As nanoparticles are used ever more liberally, some scientists are becoming increasingly concerned about their potential impact on human health.

Because they are so common and so small, it is very easy for nanoparticles to enter our bodies. And, even more worryingly, they are small enough to pass through cell membranes, potentially disrupting their activity. However, little is known about how they might interfere with biological processes.

Looking to investigate these interactions, researchers from Binghamton University in New York looked at zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles in food packaging in particular.

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Why is zinc in food packaging?

ZnO nanoparticles are included in the packaging of certain food items, such as corn, chicken, tuna, and asparagus, because they have antimicrobial properties. Also, when sulfur-producing foods come into contact with a tin can, it produces a black discoloration; ZnO prevents this reaction, keeping the food fresh-looking.

The researchers — led by Gretchen Mahler, an associate professor of bioengineering — wanted to understand whether the levels present in the food could cause disruptions to the digestive system.

Firstly, using mass spectrometry, they assessed how much ZnO could realistically be transferred from the packaging into the food.

The food was found to contain “100 times the daily dietary allowance of zinc.”

Previous studies have investigated the effect of nanoparticles on intestinal cells, but they tended to use higher levels to look for more obvious damage, such as cell death. Mahler and her team were using a different approach.

She explains, “We are looking at cell function, which is a much more subtle effect, and looking at nanoparticle doses that are closer to what you might really be exposed to.”

Using a model of intestinal cells, the team assessed what kind of influence the ZnO nanoparticles might have on our intestines. Their results are published in the journal Food and Function.

Mahler explains what they uncovered:

“We found that [ZnO] nanoparticles at doses that are relevant to what you might normally eat in a meal or a day can change the way that your intestine absorbs nutrients.”

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Zinc nanoparticles and microvilli

The particles were observed settling on structures that represent the intestine’s microvilli. These are tiny, finger-like projections that increase the surface area of the intestine that is available for nutrient absorption.

By attaching to the microvilli, the nanoparticles potentially reduced the ability of the lining to take on nutrients. “This loss of surface area,” explains Mahler, “tends to result in a decrease in nutrient absorption.”

“Some of the nanoparticles also cause pro-inflammatory signaling at high doses, and this can increase the permeability of the intestinal model,” she adds.

An increase in intestinal permeability is not a good thing — it means that compounds that are not supposed to pass through into the bloodstream might be able to.”

Gretchen Mahler

Although this certainly seems worrying, the authors are quick to note that this study was conducted in the laboratory, rather than in an animal. Thus, at this stage, the findings cannot be extrapolated. To fully understand the long-term health implications, much more research will be needed. However, she concludes:

“What I can say is that our model shows that the nanoparticles do have effects on our in vitro model, and that understanding how they affect gut function is an important area of study for consumer safety.”

Already, the team is investigating the effects of nanoparticles on other animals. A paper published last month in the journal Nanotoxicology looked at how titanium dioxide nanoparticles — which are found in many cosmetics — affect the gut of a fruit fly. Again, they found changes in microvilli, which affected glucose absorption.

In another ongoing study in chickens, Mahler says that preliminary findings are “similar to the cell culture study” discussed in this article. They have also found that “gut microbial populations are affected,” which opens a whole new line of inquiry.

The team now plans to continue in this vein and will be concentrating its efforts on the potential interaction between nanoparticles and gut bacteria.

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Medical News Today: What should you eat if you have endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue resembling the uterus lining grows outside of the uterus, causing painful symptoms. Following a specific diet may help to reduce symptoms, though more research is needed.

Avoiding foods and drinks that cause inflammation and increase estrogen production may help to tackle the painful symptoms of endometriosis.

In this article, we look at the links between diet and endometriosis, which foods to eat, and which to avoid.

The link between endometriosis and diet

Fruit at a market may help with an endometriosis diet
Vegetables and fruits may help to improve endometriosis symptoms.

Little research has investigated the relationship between diet and endometriosis symptoms. However, some people do find that eating certain foods tends to trigger or relieve their symptoms.

A 2013 study suggested that women who ate more vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids were more protected from symptoms of endometriosis, while those who consumed red meat, trans fats, and coffee may have experienced the opposite effect. However, these results are not consistent across studies, so more research is needed.

A 2015 literature review published in Brazil, suggested that eating a healthful diet can prevent endometriosis from developing, and perhaps, even worsening. Foods in this diet included:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • omega-3 fatty acids

A person cannot prevent endometriosis, but according to the Office on Women’s Health, they can reduce their risk of developing it by avoiding foods and chemicals that increase their estrogen levels. These substances include caffeine and alcohol.

It is essential, however, to recognize that dietary and lifestyle changes will not cure endometriosis but may help to improve its symptoms.

To find out whether food is having an effect on their symptoms, a person with endometriosis could keep a food journal. It is essential that they record everything they eat throughout the day, as well as any symptoms they experience.

A person may need to keep the diary for some time, as a clear pattern may not emerge right away.

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Diet for endometriosis

olive oil may be used in an endometriosis diet
Healthful fats, such as olive oil, may benefit people with endometriosis.

A person with endometriosis might consider reducing foods that either cause inflammation or raise estrogen levels, both of which may contribute to the disorder or its symptoms. However, more research is needed to establish the link between endometriosis and diet.

A person with endometriosis may benefit from eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Plant-based proteins, lean meats, and healthful fats may also help.

Healthful fats are available in many foods, including:

  • avocado
  • olive oil
  • olives
  • nuts
  • salmon
  • other fatty fish

A person with endometriosis should also reduce their caffeine and alcohol intake, as these can increase estrogen levels.

If a person does not eat fish, it is possible to introduce omega-3 fatty acids into the diet using supplements. These can be purchased at a pharmacy or bought online.

A person can also increase their fiber intake. Fiber is an essential part of a healthful diet and may help to lower estrogen levels. In addition to providing lots of vitamins and minerals, eating fresh sources of fiber can also provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can reduce inflammation.

There are also some special diets that may help people with endometriosis. These include:

Gluten-free diet

Going gluten-free has become a common diet and lifestyle trend over the last several years. It remains unclear whether this diet is effective for people without celiac disease, which makes a person sensitive to proteins found in wheat.

However, a 2012 study suggests that 75 percent of the 156 women who took part in the study reported a decrease in painful symptoms after following a gluten-free diet for 12 months.


With the FODMAP diet, a person eliminates certain carbohydrates from their diet to reduce their intake of potentially irritating foods. The aim is to allow the gastrointestinal system to heal.

After a person eliminates these foods, they can slowly re-introduce specific foods to see how the body tolerates them. This kind of diet can be difficult for some people, because it involves eliminating a high number of food types from their diet, including:

  • dairy
  • gluten
  • processed foods
  • added sugars

It is a good idea to track symptoms in a food log to see if they get better after removing certain foods from the diet, or get worse after reintroducing something.

A doctor or dietitian can help a person plan the FODMAP diet elimination program. They can help to track symptoms and identify potentially problematic foods. They can also make sure that this type of a restrictive diet is appropriate for a specific medical or health situation.

Preparation is crucial for success with this type of diet. Planning out each meal, as well as shopping and preparing it ahead of time, can make it much easier to stay on track. A quick Internet search can help a person to quickly and easily find some new meal ideas that work for them.

Other home remedies for endometriosis

woman sprinting
Regular exercise is recommended for endometriosis.

In addition to dietary changes and traditional medical treatments for endometriosis, some people try other home remedies to help manage the condition or its symptoms. Therapies can include:

As always, consult with the doctor before starting to take any herbal or over-the-counter supplements.

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What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis occurs when uterus-like tissue develops outside the uterus. This tissue can grow on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or intestines. Though rare, it can grow on other parts of the body as well.

Sometimes, this does not cause any symptoms at all, but other times, it can cause significant pain and discomfort during monthly menstruation. Other symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • pain in the pelvis, abdomen, or back
  • infertility
  • heavy periods
  • bleeding between periods
  • severe menstrual cramps

Typically, the tissue lining the uterus sheds and leaves the body during menstruation. With endometriosis, the tissue outside of the uterus still sheds in response to changing estrogen levels but is unable to leave the body. As a result, it can cause painful symptoms, inflammation, infertility, scar tissue and bowel problems.

There is no cure for endometriosis. Sometimes, doctors can remove the extra tissue surgically, but it does not cure the disease.


The outlook for someone with endometriosis is excellent. While it can cause a significant amount of pain or discomfort, the disease does not cause severe disability or death.

Specific changes in the diet may help some people find relief, though more research is needed. With a treatment plan and pain management strategies, most people can get their endometriosis under control.

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Medical News Today: Rats better at diagnosing TB than standard tests

New research shows that rats can detect up to 70 percent more cases of tuberculosis in children than standard smear tests. The findings may help to treat a significant number of children who have previously been overlooked.
doctor looking at lung scan
Doctors need better tools to detect TB in children.

The World Health Organization (WHO) say that tuberculosis (TB) remains “one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.”

The vast majority of TB-related deaths — that is, over 95 percent of them — tend to occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Such countries include India, Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, and South Africa.

But in the United States, too, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain, “too many people” are affected by the disease, with 9,272 cases being diagnosed in 2016.

In that same year, the WHO estimate that 1 million children contracted TB worldwide, and a quarter of them died from the disease.

Detecting TB in children is particularly tricky because standard diagnosis tests require a fair amount of sputum to be tested, which is something that cannot be collected from very young children.

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Why we need better TB detection tools

This is why a team — led by Georgies Mgode, of the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania — set out to investigate alternative ways of detecting the disease.

In the new study — which has been published in the journal Pediatric Research — Mgode explains that anecdotal evidence of people who have TB emitting a specific smell was what motivated the team to explore the possibility of devising a “sniff test” using rats.

The researchers were also prompted by the lack of appropriate detection tests, particularly in low-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia, where TB is most widespread.

“[M]any children with TB are not bacteriologically confirmed or even diagnosed, which then has major implications for their possible successful treatment,” says Mgode.

“There is a need for new diagnostic tests to better detect TB in children, especially in low- and middle-income countries,” he adds.

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Rats detect 68 percent more cases of TB

The researchers used a species of rat called Cricetomys ansorgei, or the African giant pouched rat. Previous research had shown that these rodents can detect the odor emitted by Mycobacterium tuberculosis molecules.

As the scientists explain, the technique used to train the rats is similar to that used to enable them to detect landmines.

Mgode and colleagues analyzed sputum samples from 982 children under 5 years old, all of whom had been screened for TB using standard microscopy tests in Tanzanian clinics.

The standard tests detected TB in 34 children, but when the researchers used rats, a further 57 cases were found and confirmed. This amounts to almost 68 percent more cases.

The scientists conclude, “Trained rats increase pediatric TB detection significantly and could help address the pediatric TB diagnosis challenges.”

Mgode comments on the clinical significance of the findings.

This intervention involving […] trained rats and community-based patient tracking of new TB patients missed by hospitals enables treatment initiation of up to 70 percent.”

Georgies Mgode

“This is a significant proportion,” he adds, “given that these additional patients were considered TB negative in hospitals, hence were initially left untreated.”

However, “Further determination of accuracy of rats involving other sample types is still needed,” admit the researchers.

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Medical News Today: Zyrtec vs. Claritin for treating allergies

Many people use antihistamines to treat allergy symptoms. Zyrtec and Claritin are two of the most popular brands, but which is best?

Antihistamines can reduce allergy symptoms, such as watering eyes, itchy skin, hives, and swelling. They may also help with dermatitis or even mosquito bites, but are usually marketed for specific allergies.

Zyrtec and Claritin are in the same class of medications. Both are second-generation antihistamines, and they generally work the same way in the body. Neither is clearly better than the other.

In this article, we provide detail about the differences between Zyrtec and Claritin. We also compare them to two other popular brands of antihistamines: Benadryl and Allegra.

Zyrtec vs. Claritin

Zyrtec vs. claritin stock photo
Zyrtec and Claritin can be purchased without prescription and are available as pills, chewable tablets, and syrups.

Zyrtec and Claritin can be bought over the counter, and they are available in various forms, including pills, chewable tablets, and syrups.

Regardless of marketing claims, little scientific evidence shows that either is more effective.

Zyrtec, Claritin, and other popular brands can be purchased without a prescription from supermarkets, pharmacies, and online stores.

Active ingredients

Zyrtec and Claritin have different active compounds.

Zyrtec contains cetirizine hydrochloride, also called cetirizine HCL, while Claritin contains loratadine.


Zyrtec and Claritin are second-generation antihistamines. They are less likely to make a person feel drowsy or otherwise affect alertness than older, first-generation antihistamines.

However, Zyrtec is more likely to cause drowsiness than Claritin.

The labeling of Zyrtec says that a person should not take it when driving a vehicle or using machinery. Avoid taking Zyrtec with alcohol or other medicines that could cause drowsiness.


Zyrtec and Claritin are effective for about 24 hours. They should only be taken once per day. The body absorbs both antihistamines quickly, but Zyrtec seems to work faster for some people.

A 2014 study found that both drugs were absorbed into the bloodstream within 1–2 hours of taking the medication. Other studies suggest that most people respond to Zyrtec within 1 hour, while it can take 1–3 hours to respond to Claritin.

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Comparisons with other allergy medications

Researchers are often studying, comparing, and improving antihistamines. Other popular brands on the market today are Allegra and Benadryl.

  • Allegra contains the active ingredient fexofenadine. Allegra is non-sedating, so it should not make a person feel drowsy.
  • Benadryl contains the active ingredient diphenhydramine. This acts faster than the other three and is designed to treat minor skin reactions, not seasonal allergies. Benadryl is a sedating antihistamine, so people tend to feel drowsy after taking it.

How do allergy medications work?

When a person comes into contact with an allergen, their immune system reacts and produces a chemical called histamine.

Histamine causes many allergy symptoms, including inflammation of the skin or sinuses, pain, redness, and wheezing.

Immune responses also encourage extra mucus to develop, which helps to clear allergens from the nose and throat.

Allergy medications block histamine responses. This dulls the body’s response to minor or harmless allergens, such as pollen, dust, and pet dander.

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Zyrtec vs. claritin side effects
Zyrtec and Claritin are safe for most people with minor allergies, but side effects can include headaches and dizziness.

Claritin and Zyrtec are considered extremely effective and safe for most people with minor allergies. However, as with all medications, there are some potential side effects.

Loratadine may not be safe for people with severe liver conditions. The liver has to break down loratadine, while cetirizine is excreted in urine largely unchanged.

Claritin is more likely to interact with other drugs than Zyrtec. Claritin is broken down in the liver by enzymes that other drugs can inhibit. This may lead to Claritin building up in the body, which increases the risk of side effects.


Everyone reacts to medications differently, but Claritin and Zyrtec are associated with the following potential side effects:

Some people experience a severe allergic response called anaphylaxis after taking antihistamines. Seek emergency medical attention if any of the following symptoms are present:

  • hives
  • a swollen throat
  • swollen lips or face
  • trouble breathing or other respiratory symptoms
  • a racing heartbeat

Some antihistamines are safe for children, but it is a good idea to talk with a doctor or check the label carefully before giving antihistamines to a child.

A review from 2012 determined that using antihistamines during pregnancy may be problematic. Much research has established the safety of first-generation antihistamines, but less is known about the effects of second-generation brands like Claritin and Zyrtec on fetal development.

While the United Kingdom’s National Health Service state that loratadine and cetirizine should be safe to use during pregnancy, it is best to ask a doctor when considering any antihistamine.

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Claritin and Zyrtec are popular over-the-counter antihistamines. They are considered very safe and effective treatments for minor allergies.

Both are second-generation and cause less drowsiness than first-generation antihistamines. However, Zyrtec is more commonly associated with drowsiness than Claritin.

No research has concluded that Zyrtec or Claritin is more effective, but some people report better responses with one or the other. The slight differences between the two may make one drug more appropriate for some people.

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Medical News Today: How blood flow helps cancer to spread

Metastasis is the spread of cancer to other parts of the body and the main reason why the disease is so serious. Now, brand new research reveals that blood flow is a key factor in this process.
red blood cells flowing
What role does blood play in the spread of cancer?

In a paper that has now been published in the journal Developmental Cell, the scientists — who are from the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in France — describe their tests on zebrafish and humans.

The experiments confirmed that blood flow influences the locations at which migrating cancer cells “arrest” inside blood vessels.

They also detail how these cancer cells exit through the blood vessel walls and set up secondary tumor sites.

“A long-standing idea in the field,” explains senior study author Dr. Jacky G. Goetz, head of the laboratory at the University of Strasbourg in France — where the study was conducted — “is that arrest is triggered when circulating tumor cells end up in capillaries with a very small diameter simply because of size constraints.”

However, as Dr. Goetz explains, their findings show that “physical constraint” is not the only driver of metastasis, because “blood flow has a strong impact on allowing the tumor cells to establish adhesion with the vessel wall.”

Metastasis and its main steps

Metastasis is the process through which tumor cells depart and migrate from their primary sites and travel through the lymph system or bloodstream to establish secondary, or metastatic, tumors in distant parts of the body.

Metastasis is a leading cause of cancer death and of “primary importance in the prognosis of cancer patients.”

It is a complex process and proceeds as a sequence of steps, each of which must be completed in order for the secondary tumor to flourish. The series of steps, known as the “metastatic cascade,” proceeds as follows:

  1. invading nearby healthy tissue
  2. crossing the walls of neighboring blood vessels and lymph nodes
  3. traveling through the bloodstream or lymph system to distant parts of the body
  4. arresting in remote, small blood vessels, or capillaries, invading their walls, and crossing over into the surrounding healthy tissue
  5. seeding a viable, tiny tumor in the healthy tissue
  6. generating a dedicated blood supply by growing new blood vessels to feed the new tumor

The new study concerns the fourth step, in which circulating tumor cells arrest in a capillary and cross through their endothelium, or the barrier of cells that line the vessel walls, into the surrounding tissue.

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Study explores ‘mechanical cues’ in blood

In their study paper, the authors explain that “very little is known about how [circulating tumor cells] arrest and adhere to the endothelium of small capillaries and leave the bloodstream by crossing the vascular wall.”

An area that is particularly unclear, they add, is the “role played by mechanical cues encountered in the blood” during this step.

For their study, the scientists developed “an original experimental approach” in which they tagged and followed circulating tumor cells as they traveled through blood vessels in zebrafish embryos. The model also allowed them to vary and measure blood flow in the vessels.

The results showed that the locations in the blood vessels at which the circulating tumor cells stop traveling is closely linked to flow rates.

The authors note that the “threshold velocity value for efficient adhesion […] ranges from 400 to 600 [micrometers per second].”

‘Endothelial cells curled around tumor cells’

The team also found that blood flow is essential for “extravasation,” the process through which the tumor cells exit the blood vessels.

This was evident in timelapse imaging that showed endothelial cells “curling” around the arrested tumor cells in the zebrafish embryos’ blood vessels.

Blood flow at this step is essential. Without flow, endothelial remodeling does not occur. You need a certain amount of flow to keep the endothelium active so that it can remodel around the tumor cell.”

Dr. Jacky G. Goetz

The researchers came to the same results when they observed the progress of brain metastases in mice.

For this experiment, they used an imaging technique called intravital correlative microscopy, which combines living cell models with electron microscopy so that the dynamics can be observed in a live animal.

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Flow controls place, onset of second tumor

Finally, the team confirmed the findings by observing secondary tumors in the brains of 100 human patients, whose primary tumors were in various parts of the body.

As with the zebrafish model, they used an imaging technique to map the locations of the secondary tumors.

When they merged the brain metastases map with a blood flow map of a healthy control patient, the researchers found that it matched what they found in the zebrafish model, confirming that secondary tumors prefer to grow in areas where the blood flow is within a certain range.

The authors conclude that their findings reveal that blood flow controls not only the location, but also the onset of “metastatic outgrowth.”

They now want to explore ways to block endothelium remodeling around the circulating tumor cell as a way to disrupt its exit into surrounding tissue. Such an achievement could prevent metastasis from completing the steps necessary for the successful growth of a secondary tumor.

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Medical News Today: Can endometriosis cause leg pain?

Many people with endometriosis experience painful, heavy periods and pelvic pain. Sometimes, endometriosis growths can impact the nerves surrounding the pelvis, which can cause pain in the legs, hips, and buttocks.

Experts have only recently begun to recognize how widespread leg pain may be in people with endometriosis. A 2016 study reports that as many as 50 percent of people with endometriosis may experience some form of leg pain.

A person with endometriosis may feel pain in their lower body if the condition affects the nerves in and around their pelvis. Diagnosing endometriosis-related leg pain can be tricky because a wide range of other medical conditions that are better understood and easier to diagnose can also cause leg pain.

In this article, we look at why endometriosis might cause leg pain, and what a person can do to treat it at home, or with a doctor’s help.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a chronic, noncancerous condition where cells that resemble the uterus lining, called endometrial cells, grow outside the uterus. This causes chronic inflammation and can lead to scarring.

It is difficult to estimate how many people have endometriosis because the condition often goes undiagnosed. By some estimates, at least 1 in 10 women in the United States have endometriosis.

Below is a 3-D model showing endometrial tissue growing outside the uterus, which is fully interactive.

Explore the model using your mouse pad or touchscreen to understand more about endometriosis.

Can endometriosis cause leg pain?

During regular menstruation, the uterus lining sheds and leaves the body through the vagina. This happens in response to changing hormone levels. When endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus, the cells still shed, but they cannot leave the body, causing painful symptoms.

In some cases, endometrial tissues grow in and around the many nerves that travel through the pelvis and hip. These nerves supply sensation to the leg.

Abnormal growths can put pressure on the pelvic nerves. This may cause pain and numbness in the hips, buttock, and legs. Nearly all of the documented cases of leg pain associated with endometriosis involve abnormal growths on the sciatic nerve or one of its branches.

The sciatic nerve is considered the largest and longest nerve in the human body. It begins in the lower back, runs through the pelvis, and down the leg into the foot, branching into several smaller nerves along the way. Pressure on this nerve can cause pain in the lower body.

What does this pain feel like?

The sciatic nerve provides sensation to most of the lower portion of the body. Pressure on the sciatic nerve can, therefore, cause a lot of different symptoms, most commonly pain, numbness, and tingling that radiates into the following areas:

  • outside of the leg
  • back of the thighs and calf
  • knee
  • sole, heel, and top of the foot
  • hips
  • buttock

Treating endometriosis leg pain

Leg injury in woman outdoors in running gear.
Gentle stretching and walking may help to treat leg pain caused by endometriosis.

There are several ways to help manage lower limb pain associated with endometriosis at home. Many of the methods that help reduce leg pain from endometriosis also help reduce the other common symptoms of the condition.

Everyday tips for finding relief include:

  • Gentle stretching, focusing on the buttocks, thighs, calf, and feet muscles.
  • Gentle exercise, such as yoga, swimming, or walking can often help ease inflammation.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin to ease inflammation and pain.
  • Use over-the-counter pain-relieving topical treatments, such as tiger balm, on the painful areas.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables, especially foods rich in fiber and antioxidants, such as leafy green vegetables, berries, and citrus fruits.
  • Eat lean meats and nuts that contain anti-inflammatory compounds, such as omega-3. This might include fish, walnuts, almonds, or sesame seeds.
  • Limit foods linked with inflammation, such as red meat, alcohol, and heavily refined or preserved foods.
  • Stay hydrated, as dehydration can intensify inflammation and pain throughout the whole body.
  • Apply ice to the affected area using an icepack wrapped in a towel or dishcloth for 15 minutes sessions several times daily.
  • Apply heat to the affected area using a heating bag or hot water bottle several times daily.
  • Minimize stress, especially during or after menstruation or when symptoms are their worst.
  • Talk with a mental health professional to get help managing the stress of living with chronic pain.
  • Learn and practice mindful exercises, such as meditation and guided visualization, to help distract the mind from pain and stress.
  • Seek alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and massage therapy.

A person may also find that taking natural supplements that contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds can help with symptoms. Natural supplements may include:

  • probiotics
  • vitamins C, E, and A
  • magnesium glycinate
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • ginger
  • turmeric
  • devil’s claw
  • capsicum
  • glucosamine

Other symptoms of endometriosis

A person with endometrial tissue growth on their pelvic nerves may also have growths on other organs and structures in the pelvic region. This means that people who have leg pain may also experience some of the more common symptoms of the condition.

Common symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • extremely painful, heavy periods, called dysmenorrhea
  • chronic pelvic, abdominal, and sometimes lower back cramps and pain
  • blood in urine or stool during menstruation
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • pain when using the washroom during menstruation
  • migraine headaches
  • pain after or during sexual activity, called dyspareunia
  • nausea and vomiting
  • unexplained fatigue
  • frequent or chronic yeast infections

Some people with endometriosis experience symptoms randomly or sporadically, especially when the growths are blocking or restraining a pelvic or abdominal organ.

Individuals with chronic, untreated endometriosis may eventually feel pelvic or abdominal pain most of the time.

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Complications of endometriosis

Female doctor with female patient explaining complications of condition.
Those with endometriosis should be aware of any changes in their symptoms and address them with a doctor.

One of the most significant complications of endometriosis, aside from chronic pain and discomfort, is infertility. Around 30 to 40 percent of people with endometriosis are unable to become pregnant because of internal scarring.

The severity of the complications usually depends on the location, size, and thickness of the abnormal growths in the pelvis.

When endometriosis involves leg pain, additional complications may include:

  • difficulty sitting, especially for long periods of time or on hard surfaces
  • difficulty walking
  • limping
  • inactivity
  • loss of muscle mass in the buttocks, thighs, and calves
  • altered sensation in the legs and feet
  • trouble falling and staying asleep
  • restless leg syndrome
  • missing work or being unable to do day-to-day tasks because of pain, especially in the time before and during menstruation
  • depression or anxiety because of pain and stress of living with a chronic condition

In very rare cases, a person with leg, hip, and buttock pain caused by untreated endometriosis may lose some sensation in their legs or feet.


Endometriosis can affect a range of pelvic or abdominal organs and structures, including the pelvic nerves that supply sensation to the legs.

Though it was once considered rare, more people may experience leg pain linked to endometriosis than previously thought.

A person should talk to their doctor about chronic leg pain, especially if it gets much worse during menstruation. Left untreated, chronic endometriosis growths on the sciatic nerve or one of its branches can have more serious consequences.

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Medical News Today: What do the cramps feel like in early pregnancy?

Implantation cramping may be an early sign of pregnancy. Understanding the causes and key differences between implantation cramps and period cramps will help people to recognize them.

Implantation cramping is a type of pain sometimes experienced when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. This process is called implantation. Cramping sometimes occurs when this happens, but it does not always cause pain.

Anyone experiencing implantation cramps should avoid taking some anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin. This is because taking anti-inflammatory medicines around the time of conception might increase the risk of miscarriage, according to a 2003 study.

Implantation cramps vs. period cramps

Woman holding her stomach possibly due to Implantation cramping
Cramping sometimes occurs when a fertilised egg attaches itself to the uterus lining.

Implantation cramps are not the same as period or menstrual cramps.

Menstrual cramps happen during a period, which occurs approximately once every 28 days, so long as there is no pregnancy.

Menstrual cramps happen when the uterus contracts to expel its lining.

Substances called prostaglandins trigger the uterine muscles to contract.

Prostaglandins are associated with pain and inflammation. This process may cause cramping.

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Are cramps and bleeding common?

Not everyone gets implantation cramps and bleeding when they first become pregnant.

One-quarter of participants in a 2010 study reported bleeding in their first trimester. Only 8 percent of those had heavy bleeding.

28 percent of those that had spotting and light bleeding also reported pain. 54 percent of those with heavy bleeding also experienced pain.

How to recognize implantation cramps

Not everyone has cramps during implantation. And for those that do, the cramps may be mild or moderate.

Some describe the sensation as:

  • pricking
  • pulling
  • tingling feeling

This can help differentiate it from a menstrual cramp.

It is unusual to have intense cramping pain during implantation, so anyone who experiences painful cramping between periods should be assessed by a doctor.

Implantation tends to happen 6 to 12 days after ovulation when pregnancy occurs. This is about the same time that a person would usually expect a period to start.

If an egg has been fertilized, the body prepares the uterus lining to receive and protect the egg.

Some light bleeding or spotting may accompany implantation cramping. This is called implantation bleeding and is lighter than a regular period.

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Other early signs of pregnancy

woman laying on a sofa holding her head
Signs of early pregnancy may include extreme tiredness, headaches, and raised body temperature.

Implantation cramping or bleeding may be an early sign of pregnancy.

It is easy to mistake period cramping or a light period for symptoms of implantation.

Because of the similarity of symptoms between menstruation and implantation, it helps to know the other early signs of pregnancy.

Other early signs of pregnancy include:

  • swollen, tender, heavier, or fuller breasts
  • extreme tiredness
  • feeling sick or vomiting
  • food aversions or cravings
  • headaches
  • constipation
  • mood swings
  • feeling tearful
  • dizziness or faintness
  • raised body temperature
  • missed period

When to see a doctor

If someone thinks they are pregnant, it is a good idea to take a home pregnancy test. A good time to do this is 1 to 2 weeks after noticing the early signs of pregnancy.

If a fertilized egg has implanted into the uterus wall, the body will already have started to form the placenta. In this situation, the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), begins to rise.

Around 2 weeks after implantation, hCG levels will be high enough for a pregnancy test to be positive.

If the pregnancy test is positive, the next step is to make an appointment with a doctor. The doctor can confirm whether the home test is correct.

Anyone who already knows they are pregnant and is experiencing heavy bleeding or cramping should speak to a doctor. These symptoms may indicate a problem with the pregnancy.

Sometimes, individuals who are not pregnant may experience painful cramping or bleeding in between periods. If this occurs, it is a good idea to discuss the issue with a doctor.

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Implantation cramping and light bleeding may be an early sign of pregnancy. It is easy to mistake these symptoms as menstrual cramping or light bleeding.

For this reason, it is important to recognize the other early signs of pregnancy. However, these symptoms alone do not prove a pregnancy. Taking a home pregnancy test and having the results verified by a doctor is the best way to confirm pregnancy.

Once a pregnancy is confirmed, individuals can consider the option of continuing with the pregnancy. A person can discuss all options with a doctor.

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Medical News Today: Can endometriosis make you tired all the time?

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Medical News Today: Even minor stress can impact long-term health, study warns

A recent study, supported by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institutes of Health, suggests that even small daily stress factors can lead to health problems later in life.
stressed woman at work
Allowing small stress factors to cause lingering negative emotions may be harmful for your long-term health.

That exposure to stress is a risk factor for many health problems, such as cardiovascular issues, anxiety and depression, and chronic pain, is a familiar idea.

Yet we may think that it’s only certain kinds of major stressors — such as getting fired, going through a breakup, or undergoing surgery — that significantly impact our lives.

But, recent research explains that even small stressors can harm our long-term health if we hold on to how they make us feel.

For example, a misunderstanding with a friend today might lead to health issues later in life if we let this stress factor carry over into the next day.

This is just what a study conducted by Kate Leger — from the University of California, Irvine — and colleagues concludes.

“Our research,” Leger explains, “shows that negative emotions that linger after even minor, daily stressors have important implications for our long-term physical health.”

These findings have now been published in the journal Psychological Science, of the Association for Psychological Science.

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There’s no such thing as negligible stress

“When sharing the frustrations we feel after having an argument with a friend,” the authors write, “or learning of an unexpected work deadline, people often will tell us to ‘just let it go.’ Yet surprisingly few studies have tested the utility of this advice.”

Their study aimed to test that idea: is it actually helpful to try to “let go” of daily frustrations as soon as they arise? And what happens when we’re unable to get over such stressors easily?

In order to answer these questions, Leger and team looked at data sourced from the Midlife in the United States National Longitudinal Study of Health and Well-being. In the beginning of the study, participants were asked to fill in an 8-day survey recording their daily emotional states.

Every day throughout this period, the participants had to record “how much of the time over the past 24 hours” they had experienced each of the following negative emotions: nervousness, worthlessness, hopelessness, loneliness, fear, jitteriness, irritability, shame, upset, anger, frustration, restlessness, or feeling “that everything was an effort.”

    Additionally, they were asked to explain what daily stressors triggered the emotions they experienced.

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    Ten years after this initial survey, the participants were asked to report whether or not they had developed any chronic illnesses, and whether they experienced any other health issues that interfered with their daily life and made regular tasks — such as getting dressed or carrying shopping bags — difficult.

    The researchers found that those who were unable to let go of negative emotions caused by daily stressors, allowing them to carry on into the next day, tended to experience more health issues, including chronic illnesses and functional limitations, later in life.

    “When most people think of the types of stressors that impact health,” says Leger, “they think of the big things, major life events that severely impact their lives, such as the death of a loved one or getting divorced.”

    But accumulating findings suggest that it’s not just the big events, but minor, everyday stressors that can impact our health as well.”

    Kate Leger

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    ‘Just let it go’?

    The links between lingering stress and the development of health conditions 10 years later were consistent, even after Leger and team adjusted their results to reflect the participants’ emotional responses to recent stress factors and the average number of stressors they had to contend with.

    Furthermore, the effects of stress on long-term health were the same regardless of gender, level of education, and health at baseline.

    “This means,” Leger emphasizes, “that health outcomes don’t just reflect how people react to daily stressors, or the number of stressors they are exposed to — there is something unique about how negative they feel the next day that has important consequences for physical health.”

    Why do even minor situations of stress trigger health issues? The researchers think that there may be two plausible reasons.

    First, lingering negative emotions activate stress-related systems on a “persistent” basis, thereby weakening the body and rendering it more susceptible to disease.

    A second explanation could be that negative moods can lead to damaging behaviors that, in the long run, may cause an individual’s health to deteriorate.

    How can we offset this risk factor? Although this is certainly easier said than done, people must try to dismiss small frustrations if they want to guard their own well-being.

    “Stress is common in our everyday lives. It happens at work, it happens at school, it happens at home and in our relationships. Our research shows that the strategy to ‘just let it go’ could be beneficial to our long-term physical health,” Leger concludes.

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