Medical News Today: Study shows how gut bacteria may trigger MS

Alterations in gut bacteria at a young age could help to trigger and progress multiple sclerosis in people who are genetically predisposed to the autoimmune disease.
blue gut bacteria
Could changes to gut bacteria give rise to MS?

A team of researchers from Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, NJ, came to this conclusion after studying the effect of altered gut bacteria in mice genetically engineered to have a high risk of multiple sclerosis (MS). They report their findings in the journal PNAS.

A significant feature of the new study is that it suggests a mechanism through which altered gut bacteria and MS risk genes — acting during young adulthood — may collaborate to trigger the disease. Another is that the researchers engineered a unique mouse model to study MS.

MS is a lifelong autoimmune disease wherein the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in the central nervous system (CNS), which comprises the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.

The immune attacks disrupt the nerve signals between the brain and the body that carry messages and help us to move our limbs and use our senses.

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Clues on causes of MS increasing

There are many different symptoms of MS, depending both on which parts of the CNS come under attack and the extent of the damage.

These include: blurring and loss of vision; poor coordination and balance; tremors; extreme fatigue; numbness; slurred speech; paralysis; and difficulty concentrating and remembering. The symptoms can flare up and subside or they can stay and gradually get worse.

While MS can strike any person any age, most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50 and it is more common in women than in men.

In the United States, there is currently no formal consistent reporting of MS, but estimates suggest that there could be as many as 1 million people living with MS.

The exact causes of MS are still somewhat of a mystery, although scientists studying animal models of the disease have discovered many clues as to how the immune system and its inflammatory processes attack the myelin sheath and the nerve fibers inside.

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‘Gut dysbiosis’ linked to MS

One area that researchers are homing in on is the role that gut microbes, or gut microbiota, might play in MS.

Alterations in the composition of the gut microbiota — termed “gut dysbiosis” — are often observed in people with MS, but the mechanisms through which they might be contributing to the disease are yet to be described.

To explore the role of gut dysbiosis in MS further, the Rutgers researchers genetically engineered a unique breed of mice so that they had a high risk of developing MS. They did this by inserting human genes known to be linked to MS into the mice.

The team — including Prof. Suhayl Dhib-Jalbut, director of Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Center for Multiple Sclerosis — found that if the genetically engineered mice were raised in a germ-free, sterile environment, “they did not develop MS.”

However, when they moved the mice to a normal environment — that is, one that contains many types of bacteria — they found that the animals did develop symptoms that were very similar to human MS.

The mice also developed bowel inflammation, which suggested to the team that something to do with the gut bacteria might have triggered the MS-like disease.

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Age, gut dysbiosis, and risk genes

The team also found that the younger mice were more likely to develop MS than the older mice, suggesting that there was an age-related window of opportunity for the altered gut bacteria and MS risk genes to collaborate and trigger the disease.

During that period in young adulthood of the mice, the researchers observed a reduction in the “development of Foxp3+ Treg cells and expression of E3 ubiquitin ligase genes involved in protection from autoimmune diseases.”

The scientists therefore suggest that a direction for future study could be how to eliminate the harmful strains of bacteria or increase the beneficial strains to slow progression of MS. In their study, they identified some of these.

The team is already in receipt of funding to carry on their investigation in people with MS.

The findings could have therapeutic implications on slowing down MS progression by manipulating gut bacteria.”

Prof. Suhayl Dhib-Jalbut

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320123.php

Medical News Today: Can you overdose on melatonin?

Melatonin is a popular supplement that many people use to help them fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Melatonin varies in effectiveness from person to person, which may lead to an accidental overdose.

A melatonin overdose can cause unwanted and irritating side effects. It is important for people using melatonin to be mindful of side effects and always begin with the lowest dose possible.

What is melatonin?

Melatonin tablets piled on stone surface.
Melatonin supplements are used to resolve sleep-based problems, such as insomnia or a disrupted sleeping pattern.

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body that helps regulate the sleep cycle. It is produced by the pineal gland in the brain.

Melatonin levels increase and decrease throughout the day. Typically, melatonin levels rise through the evening and stay elevated overnight, allowing a person to sleep. In the morning, the levels drop back, allowing a person to wake up.

Melatonin is produced in the body, but a person can also acquire minimal amounts of melatonin from food. Some vegetables and fruit contain small amounts of melatonin, and it is also available as an over-the-counter supplement.

Taking a melatonin supplement may help alleviate insomnia and sleep-related problems. Some people take melatonin supplements while traveling to reduce jet lag.

Shift workers may also take it to help them fall asleep during the day or at irregular hours.

Due to potential side effects, it is essential that anyone starting to take melatonin supplements talk to a doctor first.


Symptoms of a melatonin overdose

The symptoms of a melatonin overdose will vary from person to person. Some people may find that too much melatonin may actually cause them to be more awake, which is the opposite of its intended purpose.

Others find that taking too much melatonin causes them to feel extremely sleepy during unintended times or cause intense dreams or nightmares.

Some additional symptoms of a melatonin overdose may include:

People with high blood pressure or who are taking medications that lower blood pressure should speak to a doctor before using melatonin.

Blood pressure medications may decrease a person’s natural production of melatonin, which may prompt them to take melatonin to help offset the imbalance. However, melatonin can cause changes in blood pressure, including unsafe and unexpected spikes.


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Correct dosage

Pharmacist discussing medicine prescription with customer.
A doctor or pharmacist can advise on the correct melatonin dose to take.

According to Sleep.org, an adult typically begins with a dose of between two-tenths of a milligram (mg) and 5 mg. If this dose is well-tolerated but not effective, the person can slowly increase the dose until they get the desired results.

The same dose may cause unwanted side effects in one individual while not making a noticeable difference in another adult. Age, weight, and overall sensitivity to the supplement affect how much melatonin a person should take.

Melatonin is not recommended for children unless they have a neurodevelopmental disorder that makes it difficult for them to sleep. If a doctor prescribes melatonin for a child, it is important to follow the exact dosage prescribed. Even small amounts of melatonin can cause seizures or other serious side effects.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate melatonin. Supplements may vary in strength between manufacturers, so a person should research consumer reports before choosing a brand of melatonin.


Medications that interact with melatonin

Melatonin can have a direct effect on a person’s sleep cycle. A person should avoid taking melatonin alongside products containing caffeine or alcohol, as both of these can affect a person’s ability to fall asleep.

Anyone who is taking other medications should discuss possible side effects with their prescribing doctor. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs can interact with melatonin supplements.

Some medications, such as birth control, can cause the body to produce more melatonin. Taking a supplement may cause levels of melatonin to increase too much, producing unwanted side effects.

Immune suppressors and some blood thinners may also react with melatonin. For example, melatonin may intensify the effects of some blood thinners, causing a risk of excessive bleeding.

When to see a doctor

Woman clutching her chest because of heart pain.
Sudden, unexplained pain in the chest may require immediate medical attention.

A person should speak to a doctor if they are considering taking melatonin for trouble sleeping. A doctor can recommend the correct dose and tell a person whether their medication is likely to cause unsafe side effects.

People should also report any unwanted side effects from melatonin to a doctor as soon as possible.

A person using melatonin should contact poison control, 911, or their local emergency number if they experience any of the following side effects:

  • extremely high blood pressure
  • shortness of breath
  • sudden chest pain


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Treating an overdose

Treatment for a melatonin overdose will depend on the severity of the symptoms. In an emergency situation, a doctor will focus on stabilizing the person’s condition. A person experiencing chest pain or trouble breathing may require additional medical interventions.

In most cases, the best treatment is to reduce or eliminate melatonin use. There is no research indicating that it is unsafe to stop using melatonin suddenly.

If a person has to stop using melatonin because of side effects, a doctor or sleep specialist may be able to recommend other methods to help the person fall asleep.

Outlook

Some people may find melatonin far more effective to help them fall and stay asleep throughout the night than others. Some people may not tolerate even small doses of melatonin and others may not experience any benefits from taking melatonin.

For some people struggling with insomnia or having trouble sleeping, a sleep specialist may be able to give additional suggestions. A sleep specialist may recommend cutting out caffeine or reducing alcohol consumption.

It is not likely that an adult taking melatonin will experience a medical emergency. On the other hand, children are far more likely to experience severe medical issues when they take melatonin supplements.

All people should start with the smallest dose of melatonin possible to avoid potential overdose, and consult a doctor before they begin.

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320094.php

Medical News Today: How to cope with social anxiety over Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving meal
What can you do to cope with social anxiety at Thanksgiving?
Social anxiety isn’t just nervousness; it can have a heavy impact on lifestyle, social relationships, and self-esteem. Thanksgiving is nearly here, and the thought of being surrounded by dozens of relatives may make you uneasy. So what are some things that you can do to keep anxiety at bay?

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) report that 6.8 percent of all adults in the United States experience social anxiety — also known as “social phobia” — each year. Of these, 29.9 percent of cases are classed as “severe.”

Social anxiety is defined as an “intense, persistent fear of being […] judged by others,” and standing out from the crowd. People who live with this disorder may struggle with school, work, and various other social situations such as parties, weddings, and other family celebrations, as they are constantly — and painfully — self-aware, scared of doing or saying the wrong thing.

In social anxiety, words and gestures are blown out of proportion, and individuals fear that the smallest thing that they’ve said or done may severely impact the way that others see them. This fear can become debilitating and put people with this type of anxiety off from attending events that others take great pleasure in.

With Thanksgiving drawing ever nearer, households across the U.S. are getting ready to celebrate love and gratitude with family members and friends. But how can you let these warm feelings shine, and how can you enjoy the event, if being around people makes you so anxious?

Below, we look at some methods that may help you to keep social anxiety manageable, so you can begin to relax a little and enjoy yourself this Thanksgiving.

1. Prepare in advance

If you already know that you’ll have to be around a large group of people — including relatives who you haven’t seen in months or years, or new girlfriends and boyfriends you’ve never even met — then it’s probably a good idea to do a little mental and practical preparation.

For instance, you may want to engage in something relaxing and enjoyable beforehand, such as meditation or breathing exercises. Many studies suggest that meditation and mindfulness techniques are effective in reducing stress and worry.

A useful breathing exercise for anxiety is to take a breath in, slowly, maybe counting to five, and feel the air fill your belly. Then, release the breath just as slowly, feeling first your belly and then your chest deplete completely. Repeat this a few times, until the tension in your body eases a little, and you feel more relaxed.

You may want to prepare a list of potential conversation topics in advance. If you get people talking about themselves — their children, pets, jobs, projects, and so forth — then you’ll be placing them in the limelight, and you won’t have to worry about your own performance.

Research has suggested that people with social anxiety tend to focus too much on the impression that they might leave on someone else. Switching the focus to other people — what they’ve been doing, what kind of things they enjoy, or what they plan to do come next weekend — can help to disperse some of that heavy self-consciousness.

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2. Make sure you a have a ‘job’ to do

Speaking of focusing on someone else, psychologist Anita Sanz — who had to cope with social anxiety for many years herself — explains that “giving herself a job to do” in a social setting has often helped her to alleviate anxiety.

In an interview, she explains that a sense of purpose allows her to forget that she’s worried about how others might perceive her.

I have found that the best way to manage social anxiety is to give myself a ‘job’ to do. I substitute purpose for confidence and meaning for fear. I don’t focus on how others are perceiving me or evaluating me when I am trying to accomplish something important or meaningful.”

Anita Sanz

setting the table
It may help if you give yourself a concrete ‘job’ to do, such as helping the host with the meal arrangements.

So, once you get to the Thanksgiving dinner party, make sure you have a practical job to do: set the table, check on the turkey, do some dishes, or decorate the dessert. This will keep you occupied and may allow you to avoid the hustle and bustle of the event.

As a bonus, studies have shown that performing an altruistic deed to help someone else boosts happiness and decreases stress levels.

Research reported by Medical News Today earlier this year, for instance, found that being generous and performing selfless acts activates the ventral striatum, which is a region of the brain linked with happiness and the reward cycle.

3. Try to turn anxiety into excitement

When you feel the wave of panic coming on, try to imagine that you’re excited instead. You can make this a general statement, repeating “I’m excited” to yourself, like a mantra. Or, you can make it specific, fooling your mind that you’re hyped about a coming event or situation. For instance, you can anticipate your upcoming hike, or an online shopping spree.

This way, you may be able to trick your brain into thinking that your anxiety is actually a feeling of intense anticipation felt in the lead-up to a good thing. In scientific terms, this technique is called “reappraisal.”

Prof. Alison Wood Brooks, from the Harvard Business School in Boston, MA — who published a paper on this topic — explains that it may be easier to transition from anxiety to excitement than from anxiety to a state of calmness. That is because anxiety and excitement are more similar to each other, and closer in intensity.

“The way we verbalize and think about our feelings,” explains Prof. Brooks, “helps to construct the way we actually feel. Saying ‘I am excited’ represents a simple, minimal intervention that can be used quickly and easily to prime an opportunity mindset and improve performance.”

A more recent study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology also suggests that reappraising your emotions can be helpful, at least in the short-term, in tackling situations that cause anxiety.

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4. Be in the moment, be curious

As mentioned above, being mindful and being “in the moment” can be helpful in reducing anxiety, which brings us to the next tip: try to be curious.

According to Todd Kashdan — a professor of psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA — curiosity is often key to turning anxiety into excitement, and daring to try out things that normally make you nervous.

In an article he published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, Prof. Kashdan and colleagues note that, “Socially anxious people who experience high levels of curiosity, or appraise certain events as having a high possibility to satisfy curiosity, may be more likely to engage in approach behavior amidst conflicting avoidance motivations.”

In the context of a Thanksgiving meal, you could achieve this by purposefully paying attention to the food — how it tastes, how it smells, and what the texture is like — as well as by listening to other guests’ conversations and being open to noticing small or surprising details in your surroundings.

Another study, which was published in the journal Neuron, found that curiosity engages with our brain’s reward circuitry: when we’re curious about something, we get pleasure by investigating it further, as the brain releases dopamine, the so-called feel good hormone.

5. Remember, you’re in charge

At the end of the day, however, it’s vital to take everything in your stride. If you start feeling tired due to the effort of socializing and being around so many people, then remember that you can always make a retreat and go home.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America advise “stepping back” and “taking a time-out” if your emotions become too intense. Just doing your best is enough, and it’s important to be able to recognize when you’d best spend some quality time on your own.

If you’re worried that your family won’t be too happy about you leaving the party early, also remember that simply acknowledging that you now need some space is nothing to be frowned upon. Admitting tiredness, for instance, won’t do any harm and will clearly indicate that it’s time you took your leave.

We hope the tips outlined in this article will help you to make the most of this Thanksgiving, as well as other social events in the upcoming holiday season. Social anxiety may be a part of your life right now, but it shouldn’t stand in the way of your happiness and enjoyment.

For more information on the best avenues for the treatment of social anxiety and how to overcome it in the long-term, please see the dedicated pages on the NIMH website.

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320109.php

Medical News Today: The 10 best blogs for ADHD

man using a smartphone next to his laptop
ADHD blogs are dedicated to supporting individuals with ADHD and their friends and family.
Blogs that specialize in ADHD can provide educational information, advice, and support for those with the disorder and their friends and family, and tips on day-to-day living with ADHD. We have selected the best blogs for the disorder.

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a condition that includes a combination of persistent behavioral symptoms, such as attention difficulties, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.

ADHD affects around 11 percent of children aged between 4 and 17 years in the United States and often continues into adulthood.

Children with ADHD may struggle with poor performance at school, low self-esteem, and have trouble with relationships. Adults with ADHD may have problems with organization and prioritizing, time management, and multitasking. They may also experience difficulties with focusing, frustration, mood swings, and coping with stress.

Although there is no cure for ADHD, treatments can help to reduce symptoms and improve functioning. Treatments often include education, training, psychological counseling, and medications.

ADHD blogs can provide strategies, recommendations, and suggestions for coping with daily tasks from both experts and those with the disorder, wirth the aim of empowering their readers.

Here are Medical News Today’s top 10 blogs for ADHD.

ADHD Kids Rock

ADHD Kids Rock logo

Jeff Rasmussen has just graduated from high school and is the creator of the website ADHD Kids Rock. Jeff was diagnosed with ADHD in Grade 7 and says that his biggest dream is to change the world for children, who, like him, “are punished daily for having ADHD.”

Jeff had many bad experiences at school as a result of his ADHD. Before he started taking medication, his teachers would take away his recess, gym classes, and suspend him from school. Through the ADHD Kids Rock blog, Jeff shares his experiences, strategies, and stories for kids, parents, teachers, and others about living with ADHD.

Recent posts on the blog include how summer camp is not all fun and games for kids with ADHD, how to avoid fights when faced with an angry bully who is out to prove a point, and why video games can be more helpful than you think for those with ADHD.

Visit the ADHD Kids Rock blog.

The ADHD Homestead

The ADHD Homestead logo

Jaclyn Paul is a stay-at-home mom and writer for the blog The ADHD Homestead. Jaclyn and her husband share a home, a preschooler, and a diagnosis of ADHD.

Jaclyn says, “It’s possible to calm the chaos!” Despite having ADHD, Jaclyn has created a satisfying life and a peaceful home for her and her family. Jaclyn achieved this by treating her ADHD, learning about her brain, and figuring out what works best to keep her home, relationships, and schedule under control.

Through her blog, The ADHD Homestead, Jaclyn shows others how to live happily with ADHD. Featured posts include how to handle kin-keeping when you are a woman with ADHD, how to make sure you catch all the important details when you read, and using music and songs to help with poor memory.

Visit The ADHD Homestead blog.

A Splintered Mind

A Splintered Mind logo

Douglas Cootey is the man behind A Splintered Mind blog. He has been blogging about mental health on the site since 2005. Douglas began blogging to primarily overcome the stigma of his ADHD and depression and talk about his conditions more openly without feeling shame.

Douglas also aims to reach out to others who are experiencing similar issues, to not only share how ADHD and depression affect him but also to learn how it affects others by reading their comments and emails.

A Splintered Mind gives an honest and sometimes humorous account of life with ADHD. Posts include a trip to the doctor’s office on the wrong day and how to prevent that from happening next time, tips to slay ADHD tardiness, and how to overcome an overwhelming sense of underachievement.

Visit A Splintered Mind blog.

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Raised on Ritalin

Raised on Ritalin logo

Raised on Ritalin is the blog of Tyler Page. Tyler was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 8 years old and says that it was just before his 9th birthday that he started medication and “became a hard drug user.”

Now in his 40s, Tyler is an artist who is based in Minneapolis. With the use of written posts and cartoon drawings, the Raised on Ritalin blog explores ADHD, treatments for the condition, and details of how ADHD has affected his life and the lives of his family. He has even released a graphic novel on his personal ADHD story.

Comic book posts on the blog include how cycling has helped with ADHD, how making comics clicked with the way Tyler’s brain works, and how Tyler’s ADHD education and research has changed the way he approaches his life.

Visit Raised on Ritalin blog.

ADHD Roller Coaster

ADHD Roller Coaster logo

Gina Pera is an “accidental adult ADHD expert” and writer of the blog ADHD Roller Coaster. Gina entered into the field of ADHD by chance after reading a book about the brain at the library, which changed her life, her husband’s life, and the lives of others.

In the book, Gina read about a condition called adult ADHD, which struck a chord with her and suddenly gave her a clue as to why her and her then-fiancée, a molecular biologist, constantly drove each other crazy. Gina’s husband was diagnosed with ADHD many years into their relationship, and she began to think that perhaps other couples could be in the same boat.

Gina has spent 17 years on a mission to reduce suffering and elevate the conversation around adult ADHD. Her latest blog posts include six ADHD management tools and strategies, the high cost of using fear-based management for ADHD, and whether ADHD can affect sense of smell.

Visit ADHD Roller Coaster blog.

Totally ADD

Totally ADD logo

Totally ADD is dedicated to supporting adults with ADHD and individuals affected by ADHD, such as family, employers, and healthcare professionals. Totally ADD’s mission is to liberate those with ADHD from fear, shame, and stigma so that they can create a life that they love.

The Totally ADD team is made up of individuals with ADD or people who are affected by it. They offer knowledge, social interaction, and a healthy dose of humor in their posts. The information on the site is reliable and presented in a way that is both memorable and fun.

Articles on the blog include strengths that are common to people with ADHD, whether ADD adults experience low self-esteem, and how to find out if you have ADHD.

Visit the Totally ADD blog.

An ADD Woman

An ADD Woman logo

Brenda Nicholson is the creator of An ADD Woman. Around 30 years ago, Brenda realized that her son had ADHD and has been passionate about helping others to figure out how to live their best life with ADHD ever since. Brenda was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 42, and her two daughters also have ADHD.

Brenda is an ADD coach and has been working with many women and young adults with ADHD since the year 2000. Brenda says that she is living proof that it is possible to live a full life with ADHD and that starts with understanding your ADHD and taking good care of yourself.

An ADD Woman includes ADHD-related posts such as whether women with ADHD are confident, how to be organized and get stuff done, and the things you can manage to get done around the house in 5 minutes or less.

Visit An ADD Woman blog.

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ImpactADHD

ImpactADHD logo

ImpactADHD is a space for parents of children with ADHD to receive vital support, coaching, and solutions. ImpactADHD point out that while many parents put everyone else before themselves, empowering yourself is the best possible way to empower your children.

ImpactADHD provide coaching to help parents remove obstacles and work toward success and satisfaction. They teach how to set realistic, attainable goals and how to communicate more effectively to reach a happier path of parenting.

The blog is categorized into overcoming school challenges, organizing life and family, maintaining healthy relationships, and managing emotions and impulses. Posts include how to help your child concentrate, some simple tricks to manage the morning madness, and how to create a relationship of trust with your child.

Visit the ImpactADHD blog.

ADD Consults

ADD Consults logo

Terry Matlen is a psychotherapist, ADHD coach specializing in ADHD in women, and is the founder of ADD Consults. Terry has ADHD, as does one of her two children.

Terry is passionate about raising awareness of the unique challenges that women with ADHD face and the issues they experience when their children are also diagnosed with ADHD. She is a nationally recognized speaker on the topic of ADHD and a Senior Certified Coach.

Blog posts on ADD Consults cover a range of ADHD topics, such as steps to take to make your relationship less destructive, tips on how to stay connected and become a better listener, and strategies to help families affected by ADHD improve relationships, self-esteem, and life in general.

Visit the ADD Consults blog.

Untapped Brilliance

Untapped Brilliance logo

Jacqueline Sinfield is an ADHD coach for adults and educates adults with ADHD how to manage their ADHD naturally through her site Untapped Brilliance.

Jacqueline always dreamed of being a nurse and pursued a career path practicing nursing until she realized her real passion was in speaking with patients and their families. She proceeded to take a career shift in psychology and coaching.

The Untapped Brilliance blog covers subjects such as ideas of what to include on your ADHD “don’t do” list, ways to eliminate afternoon crashes for those with ADHD, and facts about ADHD and shame.

Visit the Untapped Brilliance blog.

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320117.php

Medical News Today: How to get rid of a bruise: Home remedies

Bruising is a normal response to an injury. Tiny blood vessels beneath the skin can be damaged by even a small impact, leaving behind blood trapped beneath the skin.

This trapped blood is eventually reabsorbed by the body as the injury heals. In the meantime, it can leave a gray, bluish, or purple patch that is tender to the touch.

Bruises can be difficult to treat, as most of the damage is beneath the surface of the skin. However, some home remedies may be able to speed up healing, minimize their appearance, and prevent them from happening in the first place.

The following home remedies are safe for minor bruising and may help get rid of bruises faster.

1. Arnica montana

Bruise on person's arm.
Bruises usually fade by themselves, but there are ways to speed up recovery.

Arnica montana, or arnica, is an herb widely used for pain and bruising. This is because it contains compounds that are known to have an anti-inflammatory effect that can be absorbed through the skin.

Some research has found that arnica may be an effective remedy for bruising.

  • One study found that people who took oral arnica after a rhinoplasty (nose job) had improved appearance of post-surgery bruising.
  • Another study found that applying a 20 percent arnica ointment to the skin sped up healing time when compared with a placebo.

People should look for oral arnica, arnica gel, or arnica ointment that contains at least 20 percent arnica. It can be applied as directed on the product package.

If using oral arnica, it is usually best to let the pill dissolve under the tongue. An arnica mouth spray should also be used to coat the underside of the tongue.

A person should stop using the product if irritation or a rash develops.


2. Bromelain

Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes found in the pineapple plant. These enzymes may have anti-inflammatory properties and help reduce bruising and swelling when applied to the skin.

A study in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery found that oral bromelain improved pain and swelling after tooth extractions when compared to a painkiller and a placebo.

A person can apply a cream or gel containing bromelain two to three times a day or as otherwise directed.

Oral bromelain supplements can cause unwanted side effects, including digestive problems and increased heart rate. People who are allergic to pineapple should not use bromelain.

Bromelain supplements are sometimes recommended after surgery to help minimize bruising, but a person should only take bromelain by mouth if directed by a doctor.


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3. Quercetin

Person applying cream or ointment to bruised skin.
Some skin creams used to heal bruises contain quercetin.

Similar to bromelain, quercetin is a flavonoid derived from certain fruits. It may have natural anti-inflammatory powers that can help heal bruises.

Some skin creams and gels intended to help with bruising contain quercetin, usually in combination with bromelain, vitamin K, or other ingredients. Creams or gels containing quercetin can be used as directed on the package, typically twice a day.

Taking quercetin by mouth has not been proven to be safe. It can also interact with many medications. Avoid taking oral quercetin supplements unless directed by a healthcare professional.


4. Vitamin K cream

The body needs vitamin K to help the blood clot when necessary. But a pill may not be the best solution, especially for those taking blood thinners or other medications. Topical vitamin K, however, shows some promise as a remedy for bruises and is generally safe for most people to use.

A study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology found that people who applied a vitamin K gel after having a cosmetic procedure had less bruising than those who used a placebo.

Many different vitamin K products are available over-the-counter. A person should look for one that lists vitamin K near the beginning of its ingredients, and apply it as often as directed.

5. R.I.C.E.

R.I.C.E. stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Many people who have had surgery or have sprains or strains employ this tactic to aid recovery, but it has benefits for bruising as well.

These actions aim to temporarily reduce blood flow to the injured area, which can help prevent some swelling and bruising.

Elevating and resting the area, as well as applying ice for up to 20 minutes per hour and using a light compression bandage, can help decrease the blood flow and inflammation that contribute to bruising.

Following R.I.C.E. as soon as possible after an injury and throughout the healing process can also decrease pain.


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6. A bruise-healing diet

Pineapple being cut up.
Pineapple contains bromelain, which has anti-inflammatory properties that may encourage bruise healing.

A person’s diet can have an impact on all areas of health, including how their injuries and bruises heal. Certain foods can strengthen the body’s blood vessels, which may minimize bruising.

Other foods can help keep the body’s skin and tissues strong and pliable. Eating a healthful, balanced diet that includes the following foods may help prevent or heal bruises:

  • Pineapple. Eating fresh pineapple gives the body a natural dose of bromelain, which may help the bruise heal faster.
  • Fruits with natural quercetin. Foods with high amounts of quercetin include apples, citrus fruits, red onion, dark-colored berries and cherries, and leafy green vegetables.
  • Citrus fruits. One study found that citrus flavonoids significantly improved bruising in seniors who had senile purpura, or ongoing bruising. Citrus fruits include oranges, tangerines, and lemons.
  • Foods with vitamin K. A diet that includes vitamin K will prevent deficiency and may help a person bruise less. Good sources include kale, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, soybeans, strawberries, and blueberries.
  • Lean protein. Fish, poultry, tofu, and lean meat provide protein to help strengthen capillaries. Avoid sources of protein with high amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, such as hamburger or fried meats.
  • Zinc-rich foods. Zinc helps the body heal wounds and tissues. Good sources of zinc include crab, lobster, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and legumes.

7. Essential oils

Frankincense essential oil may help with pain relief and relaxation. It works well when a few drops are added to a Vitamin K or arnica product.

A person can create a soothing cold compress for injuries with a cool washcloth and a few drops of rosemary and lavender essential oils applied to the cloth.

It is important to dilute oils with a carrier oil or a lotion before putting directly on the skin unless directed otherwise. Using essential oils without diluting them can cause skin irritation.


When to see a doctor

Although bruises happen to everyone, some bruising may be a red flag for an underlying medical problem or nutritional deficiency. Symptoms to see a doctor about include:

  • bruises that appear without an obvious injury
  • frequent bruising
  • bruising very easily
  • bruises that suddenly appear after taking a new medication or supplement
  • bruises in strange places, such as the back or abdomen

Women tend to bruise more than men, and older people bruise more than younger people.

Antibiotics, blood thinners, and asthma medications also cause increased bruising in some people. However, a person should not stop taking a medication without first speaking with their doctor.

Takeaway

There is no magic trick to prevent or erase bruises. The good news is, most bruises are harmless, and there are home remedies to reduce their appearance and help them heal faster.

Most topical products are safe to try but do not take oral supplements for bruising without talking to a healthcare professional first.

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320090.php

Medical News Today: Study reveals what depression, anxiety look like in the brain

A sad woman sitting by the window
Researchers have uncovered specific brain abnormalities in people with depression and social anxiety.
People with depression and social anxiety have some common and specific structural abnormalities in their brains that can be spotted in imaging scans.

This was the major finding of a study from Sichuan University in Chengdu in China, which features this week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago, IL.

The researchers — Dr. Youjin Zhao and co-author Dr. Su Lui — came to their conclusions after examining high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans of 37 people with major depressive disorder (MDD), 24 with social anxiety disorder (SAD), and 41 people in good health (the controls).

They looked for differences in the gray matter of the brain, focusing specifically on the thickness of the cerebral cortex, a thick outer layer of tissue that is densely packed with neurons and deals with most of the brain’s information processing.

MDD, commonly referred to as depression, is a serious medical illness characterized by persistent sadness and irritability. It is a leading cause of disease and injury worldwide.

Depression causes people to lose interest in things that they used to enjoy and find fulfilling; in some cases, the illness is so severe that it can be an enormous struggle just to get out of bed. It damages not only the individuals affected but also their families, friends, and communities.

In the United States, depression is a significant public health issue that affects more than 16 million people at any one time and costs the nation some $210 billion a year.

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Depression and anxiety often occur together

SAD is an intense fear or anxiety of being judged or rejected in a social situation. The symptoms can be so debilitating that normal life becomes very difficult.

People with SAD struggle to find and keep friends and partners. There are around 15 million adults with SAD in the U.S.

It is not unusual for people diagnosed with depression to also have an anxiety disorder, and the other way around. Nearly half of people diagnosed with depression are also found to have an anxiety disorder.

Dr. Zhao explains that MDD and SAD also have some clinical symptoms in common that might suggest that they share some brain mechanisms. However, she notes that few studies have looked for similarities or differences in brain structure of people affected by MDD and SAD.

In their study, they found that the MMD and SAD patients had similar and different alterations in the thickness of parts of the cortex. Some of the alterations related to a thickening, while others to a thinning, of the affected region.

For example, both conditions showed differences in the “salience and dorsal attention “networks” compared with the healthy controls. These two networks comprise brain regions that help to decide what we pay attention to and focus on from the wealth of stimuli around us.

Another area of the cortex, the insular cortex, a region that is important for perception and self-awareness, also appeared to be thicker in both the MDD and SAD patients compared with the controls.

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What do the results mean?

The researchers say it is not clear what their findings mean. For instance, another area of the cortex that appears to be thicker in MDD and SAD patients is the anterior cingulate cortex, which is linked to emotion.

It is possible, says Dr. Zhao, “that a greater cortical thickness may reflect a compensatory mechanism that is related to inflammation or other aspects of the pathophysiology.”

But there could be another reason, she explains: “Greater anterior cingulate cortical thickness could be the result of both the continuous coping efforts and emotion regulation attempts of MDD and SAD patients.”

The researchers also found that patients with SAD had structural differences in their “fear circuitry,” and that the MDD patients had differences in the region that contains the “visual recognition network.”

Changes to the visual recognition network might explain why people with MDD sometimes have difficulty with selective attention and working memory, says Dr. Zhao.

The visual recognition network is involved in emotional facial processing, which is crucial for social functioning. Depression has been associated with structural alterations in these regions.”

Prof. Paolo Fiorina

The researchers note that their findings offer a starting point for further research, with larger groups of patients and healthy controls, together with “machine learning analysis,” to find out more about how structural MRI might help to diagnose and help decide treatments for MDD and SAD.

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320112.php

Medical News Today: Can aloe vera treat psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a long-term condition that causes excess skin cells to form inflamed, red, and scaly patches on the skin. Can aloe vera help manage the symptoms of this condition?

Psoriasis is caused by a problem with the immune system and does not currently have a cure. Also, up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis go on to develop psoriatic arthritis.

This article explores the potential benefits of aloe vera as a treatment for psoriasis and considers the scientific evidence available to support its use.

Does aloe vera help psoriasis?

Cut aloe vera for psoriasis
Aloe vera gel applied to psoriatic skin may reduce inflammation.

Psoriasis causes painful and uncomfortable patches of inflamed skin. Sometimes these patches can crack and bleed.

If psoriasis starts to affect people’s joints, it is called psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis can cause a person’s joints to become swollen, stiff, and painful.

Aloe vera is a type of succulent with gel-filled leaves. Applying pure aloe vera gel to psoriatic skin patches may have a soothing effect, reduce inflammation, and improve hydration. It may also be beneficial for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis.

Some studies suggest aloe vera gel can help manage specific symptoms associated with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. However, there is not much evidence to support aloe vera gel as a stand-alone treatment, so a person with psoriasis should talk to their doctor about medicated creams and other remedies.


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Benefits of aloe vera for psoriasis

A 2012 study found aloe vera gel to be over 81 percent effective in the treatment of psoriasis. However, this study used an animal model, so more research is needed to see if aloe vera gel has an equally beneficial effect on psoriasis in humans.

While the effects of aloe vera are unproven for psoriasis specifically, the following studies show it may be beneficial for certain symptoms:

Helps heal wounds

A 2015 review noted that aloe vera’s healing property is related to a compound called glucomannan, which affects skin cell growth and accelerates wound healing.

As a result, the wound healing properties of aloe vera gel may be beneficial if a person with psoriasis has skin patches that crack or bleed.

Helps the skin to make collagen

Aloe vera gel may lead to the skin making more collagen. As well as contributing to the healing process, collagen helps to keep the skin elastic and firm.

The glucomannan contained in aloe vera encourages collagen production and collagen improves skin elasticity, so increased collagen production may help to reduce the scaly patches caused by psoriasis.

Reduces inflammation

Aloe vera gel may be able to reduce inflammation, which is a symptom of both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

A 2008 study found aloe vera gel to be more effective than a placebo to treat skin conditions, such as UV-induced erythema. The study did not, however, look specifically at aloe vera’s role in treating psoriasis.

More research is needed to say with certainty that the anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera are beneficial for treating psoriasis.

Improves hydration

Aloe vera gel may help to improve skin hydration, although not when used on a regular basis.

A 2014 study found that aloe vera gel improved skin hydration after one application. However, after multiple uses, it decreased skin hydration.

Improved skin hydration may help a person with psoriasis prevent the patches on their skin from cracking. One-off applications of aloe vera gel could be useful in this way, but it may not be beneficial if used repeatedly.

More research is needed to see if aloe vera is a good moisturizer for people with psoriasis.

How to use aloe vera

Aloe vera gel is available over the counter at most pharmacies and health food stores.

People can also use aloe vera gel directly from the plant by snapping off a leaf and gently squeezing out the gel.

Aloe vera gel can be applied liberally to the affected areas of the skin up to three times a day.

Aloe vera is also available in tablet form. However, the National Psoriasis Foundation say aloe vera tablets are not beneficial for the condition.


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Risks and considerations

Aloe vera liquid being added to the skin
Some people may experience an allergic reaction to aloe vera, so a skin test is recommended.

Applying aloe vera gel to the skin is safe for most people, but some individuals may be allergic.

It is best to apply the gel to a small patch of skin to test for an allergy before using it more liberally. If there is no adverse reaction after 24 hours, it should be safe to apply aloe vera gel freely to the skin.

Also, some medications may interact with aloe vera gel. A person who is taking medications may wish to discuss aloe vera gel with their doctor before they start using it.

Other treatments for psoriasis

Aloe vera gel is a complementary treatment that may help manage psoriasis symptoms when used alongside other treatments.

Treatments that the doctor may recommend for psoriasis include:

  • salicylic acid
  • steroid-based creams
  • calcipotriene-containing ointments
  • coal tar ointments

Other home remedies for psoriasis that some people find beneficial include:

  • apple cider vinegar
  • dead sea salts
  • capsicum
  • tea tree oil


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Takeaway

Some studies suggest that aloe vera gel may improve specific symptoms associated with psoriasis, due to its healing properties.

More research is needed to prove whether aloe vera gel is an effective treatment for the skin condition, as a whole. In the meantime, aloe vera is generally safe to use as a moisturizer and on skin affected by psoriasis.

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320081.php

Medical News Today: Eight low-sugar fruits

All fruit contains sugar, although some varieties have a higher content than others. People looking to control their sugar intake will often give up or reduce their consumption of fizzy drinks, chocolate, or candy but may not think about fruit.

Of course, fruit is a healthful way to cater to a sweet tooth and add nutrients to the diet, but some fruit, such as bananas and mangoes, have a higher amount of sugar than many others.

In this article, we look at the best low-sugar fruits for anyone looking to reduce their daily sugar intake without compromising on taste and nutrition.

Eight low-sugar fruits

Low-sugar fruits can still provide the fiber, vitamins, and minerals a person requires.

Low-sugar fruits include:

1. Strawberries

Strawberries, like many other berries, are often high in fiber and contain very little sugar.

There are only about 8 grams (g) of sugar in eight medium-sized strawberries. They are also a good source of vitamin C.

2. Peaches

Although they taste sweet, a medium sized peach only contains around 13 g of sugar.

3. Blackberries

blackberries and strawberries
Some fruits have a higher sugar content than others and many berries contain very little sugar.

Like strawberries, these berries also contain between 4 and 5 g of sugar, 5.3 g of fiber, and 1.39 g of protein per 100 g.

They are also a good source of antioxidants.

It is interesting to note that blueberries contain around double the amount of sugar as blackberries.

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4. Lemons and limes

Not many people would pick up a lemon or lime to eat as a snack. However, with no more than 2 g of sugar per fruit and high levels of vitamin C, these are a great addition to a person’s diet.

People can squeeze a lemon or lime into sparkling water to replace other sugary carbonated beverages, or even squeeze lemon juice over a salad instead of using a salad dressing.

5. Honeydew melon

A popular summer snack, a slice of honeydew melon contains around 11 grams of digestible sugar.

Honeydew melon also contains potassium, vitamin C, and iron.

6. Oranges

A medium-sized orange has around 14 g of digestible sugar and is also an excellent source of vitamin C.

Orange juice and all other fruit juices bought from the supermarket may contain added sugars. If a person wants to limit their sugar intake, it is usually better to eat the fruit itself rather than drink its juice.

7. Grapefruit

This low-sugar fruit is a favorite breakfast food.

Half a medium-sized grapefruit contains around 11 g of sugar. If a person finds grapefruit too sharp, they may wish to drizzle a small amount of honey or sprinkle Stevia on top.

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8. Avocados

Avocados are almost sugar-free. They are also a good source of healthful fats and fiber.

Incorporating low-sugar fruits into your diet

salad with avocados and tomatoes
Fruit can be incorporated into every meal.

Regardless of its sugar content, fruit should be part of a balanced and healthful diet plan.

Benefits of increasing a person’s daily intake of fruit include:

  • losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight
  • getting essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber
  • reducing the risk of cancer and other diseases

In fact, the American Cancer Society recommends that a person consumes around 2 ½ cups of fruit and vegetables every day.

A person can incorporate low-sugar fruit into their diet in every meal:

Breakfast

People who usually eat cereal should be sure to choose cereal without added sugars. Try adding sliced berries or a peach on top. Alternatively, eating a handful of berries with plain low-fat yogurt is also a healthful option.

Instead of drinking fruit juice, which has a high sugar content, squeezing the juice of half a lemon or lime into sparkling water can be a refreshing alternative.

Lunch and dinner

Even a savory salad can include low-sugar fruit elements. Try using lemon or lime juice as a dressing, or slicing an avocado on top. Orange slices and berries also make great salad toppings.

Whole fruits make an excellent alternative to processed desserts. Low-sugar fruit can be eaten with plain yogurt or made into a fruit salad by adding a small amount of honey if required.

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Snacks

Low-sugar fruit can be a great snack alternative. A person can make snacking on fruit easier by pre-cutting larger fruit, such as melons, into bite-size pieces and keeping them in the fridge.

Takeaway

Most people can add more fruit to their diet, even if they are looking to reduce their sugar intake. A person can make choosing healthful fruits easier by:

  • aiming to eat at least 2 ½ cups of fruit or vegetables every day
  • preparing low-sugar fruit as a snack in advance, to avoid grabbing processed alternatives
  • eating whole fruits rather than drinking fruit juice

People with diabetes may wish to speak with a doctor or registered dietitian about the amount of fruit they should eat.

All fruits contain sugar, but they also contain healthful nutrients, fiber, and minerals, which make them a much better alternative to snacks that contain processed sugars.

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320078.php

Medical News Today: What you should know about pancytopenia?

Pancytopenia is a condition that occurs when a person has low counts for all three types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Pancytopenia is usually due to a problem with the bone marrow that produces the blood cells. However, there can be several different underlying causes.

The condition is not a disease, but a description of the laboratory findings of low blood cells.

In the most extreme cases of pancytopenia, a person can have infections, the signs of severe anemia, including fatigue and difficulty breathing, and bleeding.

What are the main symptoms of pancytopenia?

red and white blood cells and platelets in vein or artery.
Pancytopenia is characterized by a low count of all three types of blood cells.

It is necessary to understand what each of the three different types of blood cells do to recognize pancytopenia’s symptoms.

For example, red blood cells carry oxygen. Therefore, if a person does not have enough red blood cells due to pancytopenia, they may have difficulty breathing and feel fatigued.

Platelets are responsible for helping blood to clot, during wound healing. If a person’s platelets are low, they may bleed more easily.

White blood cells help to fight infection. Therefore, if a person has a low white blood cell count, they may be more prone to infection.

Additional symptoms associated with pancytopenia include:

  • easy bleeding, such as from gums or nose
  • easy bruising
  • fast heart rate
  • pale skin color
  • rashes
  • unexplained fatigue
  • weakness

A person should go or be taken to the emergency room immediately if they have the following symptoms, all of which can occur suddenly:

  • confusion
  • loss of consciousness
  • seizures
  • shortness of breath
  • significant blood loss


Causes

Cancer patient in hospital bed looking out of window.
Conditions that affect the bone marrow, including cancer, may cause pancytopenia.

Pancytopenia is usually due to some disruption of the bone marrow’s ability to produce new blood cells. Examples could include:

  • cancer that destroys the bone marrow cells
  • failure to make stem cells that turn into blood cells
  • fibrosis or scarring of bone marrow cells
  • immune system destroying healthy bone marrow cells
  • suppression of bone marrow function due to illness or medications

Some of the conditions that can cause pancytopenia include:

  • aplastic anemia
  • autoimmune conditions
  • cancer
  • chemotherapy treatments
  • exposure to toxins or pollutants, such as radiation or arsenic
  • Fanconi’s anemia
  • infection
  • leukemia, which impacts bone marrow function
  • megaloblastic anemia
  • lupus
  • deficiency of folate or vitamin B12 for making bone marrow
  • taking medications that affect bone marrow function
  • viruses, such as Epstein-Barr, HIV or hepatitis C

Medications that can affect bone marrow function include chloramphenicol, chemotherapy drugs, thiazide diuretics, anti-epileptic drugs, colchicine, azathioprine, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

The list here covers just some of the potential disease-related pancytopenia causes.


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Who is at risk

Those with cancers or who are taking medications associated with pancytopenia are at risk for the condition. Having a family history of blood disorders or pancytopenia also increases someone’s risk.

If a person has a known blood-related disorder, they should talk to their doctor about risks for and symptoms associated with pancytopenia.


Complications

Ultimately, a person needs their blood cells to live. If a person does not produce enough blood cells and experiences severe symptoms or infection, it is possible that they could die.

Therefore, it is important that someone seeks immediate medical attention if they are having severe pancytopenia symptoms, such as shortness of breath, high fevers, or severe bleeding.

Treatment

Blood transfusion bag being held up with gloved hands.
Blood transfusions may be recommended as a treatment option.

A doctor may order a transfusion of red blood cells or platelets if a person’s blood counts are extremely low or they are displaying severe symptoms associated with pancytopenia. Other treatments can include:

  • bone marrow transplant
  • stem cell transplant
  • medications

In the case of medications, these may be to stimulate bone marrow production or suppress the immune system if it is impairing bone marrow production.

Because there are so many different pancytopenia causes, the treatments vary widely from person to person.

In some instances, a doctor will expect pancytopenia to develop. This is true when a person has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy treatments to kill cancer cells.

These treatments can also kill healthy cell types. When a doctor expects this to happen, they may not treat pancytopenia unless the person has significant symptoms.


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Diagnosis

A doctor will typically diagnose pancytopenia by ordering what is known as a complete blood count or CBC. This blood test gives values of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

A doctor may also order other laboratory tests, such as liver function tests, vitamin B-12 levels, HIV and hepatitis testing.

As well as laboratory testing, a doctor will also consider a person’s symptoms related to pancytopenia.

They may perform a procedure to sample a person’s bone marrow. A sample of bone marrow is commonly taken from the hip after the area has been numbed.

The sample is sent to a laboratory where a doctor will examine the cells under a microscope. The cells’ appearances can help identify the potential underlying cause of pancytopenia.

Takeaway

Most pancytopenia causes are underlying blood disorders that a person cannot prevent.

In some cases, avoiding taking medications that are known to cause pancytopenia may help to reduce a person’s risk.

However, no one should stop taking a prescribed medication without the express direction of their doctor.

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320075.php

Medical News Today: What is bigeminy?

Bigeminy is the technical term for the sensation of the heart skipping a beat, which is also sometimes described as heart palpitations or fluttering.

While the heart does not literally skip a beat, it may feel that way. The reason is that the heart’s rhythm has become irregular and the movement of blood through it is different to what a person expects.

Most people will experience bigeminy at some point in their lives, and, mostly, it is not a cause for concern.

Learning more about bigeminy can help people understand their symptoms and understand when they may need to seek medical care.

Causes

Doctor pointing to arteries and aorta on model of human heart.
The cause of bigeminy may not always be clear, since there are many possible causes.

Palpitations that occur with bigeminy can have many causes, and it may not be possible to identify the cause.

One study of people treated for palpitations at a university medical center found:

  • 40 percent were caused by arrhythmia
  • 31 percent were due to anxiety or panic disorders
  • 16 percent had no identifiable causes
  • 6 percent were due to prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal drugs
  • 4 percent had non-cardiac causes
  • 3 percent had a cardiac cause other than arrhythmia

Experts might not always be able to say what causes each case of bigeminy, but the condition is linked to changes in the heart’s rhythm sparked by variations in the its electrical system.

Even though it is only the size of a fist, the human heart is an incredible rhythm machine. It beats 100,000 times a day and moves roughly 5 liters of blood throughout the body, a distance of almost 60,000 miles.

It does all this thanks to a rhythmic cycle of contraction and relaxation, which pumps blood through the four chambers of the heart.

This process is triggered by electrical impulses occurring 60–100 times a minute in a resting, healthy adult.

The characteristic sound of the heartbeat – lub-DUB, lub-DUB, lub-DUB – comes from the valves between the chambers opening and closing, as the blood circulates through the heart.

When the timing gets skewed, the rhythm gets skewed. The technical term for this is an arrhythmia, and there are many forms of it, including bigeminy.


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Symptoms

When bigeminy happens, it may feel as if the heart is skipping a beat or having palpitations. These unusual, early beats are also called ectopic contractions.

An individual may feel as if there is a pause between the beats of their heart.

It may feel like the heart is skipping a beat, but bigeminy is a kind of arrhythmia in which the heart beats too early, or prematurely.

If heart palpitations are accompanied by feeling faint, actually fainting, or dizziness, individuals should seek prompt medical care.

Diagnosis and when to see a doctor

Stressed man with headache in front of laptop.
To diagnose bigeminy, a doctor may enquire about a person’s stress levels and health conditions.

If bigeminy lasts for a long time, recurs, or someone has a personal or family history of heart disease, it is advisable to see a doctor to be diagnosed.

Doctors will ask someone about:

  • symptoms in their chest, such as palpitations
  • incidents of dizziness
  • heart issues, such as high blood pressure or previous arrhythmia
  • diabetes
  • thyroid problems
  • personal stress levels
  • exercise habits
  • use of tobacco
  • prescription drug use
  • use of supplements and over-the-counter drugs
  • consumption of caffeine and alcohol
  • use of cocaine and other illicit drugs

Doctors ask about these issues because they can all affect heart health. As heart problems may have a genetic link, doctors will also most likely take a detailed family health history.

A physical exam is important to diagnosing bigeminy, with doctors taking a close look at the condition of the heart. The first steps for this process involve:

  • taking pulse and blood pressure readings
  • listening to the heart rate and rhythm
  • checking for a heart murmur
  • looking for signs of heart failure, such as edema or swelling
  • checking thyroid health, and other possible causes of arrhythmia

The best way to examine the health of the heart’s rhythm section is with an electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG or EKG.

An ECG measures the timing and the level of the electrical waves passing through the heart and stimulating the different chambers to contract and relax.


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Treatment and lifestyle changes

Takeaway coffee cup surrounded by coffee beans.
Avoiding coffee, tea, and other drinks containing caffeine may help to treat bigeminy.

Bigeminy will not usually require complicated treatment and will frequently resolve on its own.

Medical experts have identified several substances as potential triggers for episodes of bigeminy. Limiting or avoiding intake of these can make it easier for the heart to keep a steady beat.

Potential substances and triggers to avoid include:

  • caffeine in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and some soft drinks
  • nicotine
  • alcohol
  • medications for seasonal allergies, asthma, and colds

High blood pressure may increase the likelihood of palpitations, which gives individuals with hypertension more reason to carefully manage their blood pressure.

Exercise may sometimes trigger episodes of bigeminy, so individuals who have had palpitations should use caution when starting or returning to fitness activities.

Doctors may prescribe drugs known as beta-blockers when bigeminy episodes are frequent and potentially serious.

In the rare cases of bigeminy that require more aggressive treatment, a surgical process known as catheter ablation may be used to treat heart tissue.


Takeaway

In most cases, when otherwise healthy people experience bigeminy, the symptoms go away on their own, and there is no need for treatment.

However, if episodes of bigeminy are frequent and severe, particularly if they are accompanied by dizziness and feeling faint, people should see a doctor for a thorough evaluation and treatment plan.

For those who already know they have heart disease, frequent episodes of bigeminy could be a sign that they are at increased risk for serious heart problems. These people should see their doctor to discuss adapting their treatment plans.

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320072.php