Medical News Today: What is myxedema and how is it treated?

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Medical News Today: What can cause a burning sensation?

A burning sensation can affect any part of the body. It may feel like pins and needles, heat, or a sharp, prickly pain. A wide variety of conditions can cause it, so it is important to seek medical advice and receive a correct diagnosis.

In this article, we look at the causes of burning sensations, when to see a doctor, and what treatments are available.

Causes of burning sensations

Burning sensation in the skin
A burning sensation can occur anywhere on the body.

The location of the sensation can give a good indication of its cause. For example, a burning feeling in the muscles may be the result of an injury, while a burning sensation on the skin is likely the result of having come into contact with an allergen or an irritant, such as poison ivy.

Below are some of the most common locations of burning sensations and possible underlying causes:

While urinating

Feeling pain or a burning sensation while urinating is often a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI). UTIs are much more common in women, and other symptoms can include a fever and a strong, continual urge to urinate.

Infections can affect the bladder, kidneys, or urethra. If left untreated, an infection can spread to other areas of the body. It can also harm the kidneys, and anyone who suspects that they have a UTI should see a doctor. UTIs are usually treated with antibiotics.

The following can also cause a burning sensation during urination:

  • sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • prostatitis, which refers to inflammation of the prostate
  • a physical injury to the urethra or surrounding tissue — often the result of shaving, sexual intercourse, or friction from clothing


Throughout the day, the skin comes into contact with a range of possible irritants. The following sources of irritation can lead to a burning sensation:

  • sunburn
  • plants that sting or cause a rash, such as nettles, poison ivy, or poison sumac
  • insect bites and stings, such as from wasps, bees, and spiders
  • allergic reactions to lotions, perfumes, detergents, or other substances that come into contact with the skin
  • very dry skin, particularly during the winter months
  • conditions such as eczema
  • anxiety or stress, particularly if a person is worried about skin conditions
  • nerve damage resulting from degenerative conditions such as multiple sclerosis

An intense burning sensation on the skin can also be caused by cellulitis. Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deepest layers of skin. It is treated with antibiotics.

Cellulitis can spread quickly, so it is important to receive treatment right away. See a doctor if a burning sensation is accompanied by:

  • fever
  • swelling, heat, or redness of the skin
  • swollen and painful glands

Hands and feet

A burning sensation in the hands and feet is often caused by one of the skin issues mentioned in the previous section.

However, burning in the fingers or toes could be a symptom of nerve damage. The medical community refers to this as peripheral neuropathy.

Up to 50 percent of people with diabetes may have peripheral neuropathy. A person with diabetes should speak with a doctor if they experience any of the following in the hands or feet:

  • pain
  • burning
  • tingling
  • numbness
  • weakness

Some other medical problems that may cause peripheral neuropathy include:

Raynaud’s phenomenon can also cause a burning sensation in the hands and feet. It causes the small arteries in these extremities to spasm and close when exposed to the cold. Consequently, the fingers and toes receive less blood. They can turn white, and a person may feel a burning or stinging sensation, as well as numbness.

This condition can similarly affect the nose, lips, and ears. Symptoms disappear when a person warms themselves, increasing blood flow.


Burning sensation after working out
The feeling of burning in the muscles after working out is typically due to the release of lactic acid.

A person may feel a burning sensation in certain muscles when lifting weights or doing other strenuous exercises. This is typically due to the release of lactic acid.

A person may also feel this when they try a new exercise or start exercising more often. The soreness and burning sensation may be delayed. These symptoms are usually mild and tend to go away after a few days.

An intense burning sensation may indicate a muscle injury, such as a sprain or strain. If this feeling does not get better over time or spreads to several muscles, a person may have a chronic condition, such as fibromyalgia.

Other causes of a burning sensation in the muscles include:

Mouth or throat

A burning sensation in the throat is often the result of an infection, such as strep throat. A person with strep throat may feel worse pain when talking, and the area may feel raw and scratchy. Strep throat is often accompanied by fever, chills, and other cold- or flu-like symptoms.

Strep throat is common in children, but relatively uncommon in adults.

Acid reflux can also cause a burning sensation in the throat. The sensation may be intermittent, but it tends to follow an acidic meal. People with acid reflux may also experience a feeling of burning in the chest, belching, and stomach discomfort.

Burning sensations in the mouth and gums are often the result of irritation caused by:

Canker sores can also cause this feeling. They are small, red or white sores that often appear on the lips or tongue. They can be quite painful but typically go away on their own after several days.


A burning sensation in or around the genitals can result from skin irritation, such as that caused by getting soap in the vagina.

Tiny wounds caused by shaving or sexual intercourse can also lead to a temporary feeling of burning.

Infections are often responsible for a burning sensation in the genitals. Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis commonly lead to a feeling of burning, itchiness, and unusual discharge, for example, and bacterial vaginosis can also cause a fishy vaginal odor.

Genital burning can also result from a wide range of STIs.

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When to see a doctor

Burning sensation spreading into skin rash
A person should contact a doctor within 24 hours if they have a rapidly spreading rash.

It is usually safe to wait for a few days and see whether the sensation goes away. See a doctor if the feeling of burning persists.

Contact a doctor within 24 hours if any of the following symptoms occur:

  • a rapidly spreading rash
  • a fever
  • an intense burning sensation during urination
  • a burning sensation following a physical injury
  • other worrisome symptoms, such as bloody diarrhea or vomiting

Also, see a doctor if a burning sensation:

  • recurs
  • is associated with a chronic illness, such as liver failure or diabetes
  • gets worse in response to medication


Treatment will depend on the cause. For example, many STIs and other infections can be eliminated with antibiotics.

When no cure exists, treatment will involve managing symptoms. Fibromyalgia, for instance, remains poorly understood and difficult to treat. A doctor will develop a plan to alleviate pain and other symptoms.

Work a doctor to find a treatment that works, and report any negative reactions to medication. If symptoms do not improve, ask about other treatment options.

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A burning sensation is often a temporary annoyance that disappears on its own. Rashes typically clear up in a few days, and canker sores rarely require medical treatment. Speak with a doctor if symptoms grow worse or last longer than expected.

Anyone who suspects that they have an infection, such as cellulitis or a UTI, should see a doctor as soon as possible. These can spread and become more severe if left untreated.

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Medical News Today: How long does numbness last after the dentist?

The numbing effects of Novocaine typically wear off after 30 to 60 minutes, although several other factors play a role in how long the drug’s effects last.

Novocaine is the brand name for a local anesthetic called procaine. It is a local anesthetic medication that is used to numb a particular part of the body. It is most commonly used in dental procedures to numb the area around a tooth.

In this article, we take a closer look at Novocaine and its effects.

How long does Novocaine last?

Novocaine is one of the shortest-acting local anesthetic shots. Its effects typically last for 30 to 60 minutes. If Novocaine is given alongside epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, it may continue to work for up to 90 minutes.

The exact length of time that Novocaine works for depends on several factors, including:

1. The dose

Local anesthetic in needle
The dose of Novocaine administered will depend on the procedure being performed.

The higher the dose of Novocaine, the longer its numbing effects will last.

The amount administered depends on:

  • the type of procedure being performed
  • the number of nerves being numbed
  • the size of the area being treated

A root canal treatment will require more Novocaine than a simple filling, for example.

2. The individual

Anesthetic effects vary slightly from person-to-person. The presence of certain medical conditions may also affect how the body breaks Novocaine down.

Novocaine is broken down in the body by an enzyme called pseudocholinesterase.

However, approximately 1 in every 5,000 people have a pseudocholinesterase deficiency and cannot metabolize Novocaine or other anesthetics. As a result, the effects of Novocaine last much longer in people with this condition.

Other conditions can cause people to be less sensitive to local anesthetics. People with a rare disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, for example, may require higher amounts of anesthetic to achieve numbness.

3. Presence of infection

Anesthetic is less effective when used on an infected tooth. An infection causes the tissue to become more acidic, and local anesthetic is sensitive to pH levels. Inflammation also reduces the effectiveness of local anesthetic, especially during dental procedures.

Because of this, a dentist may need to use more Novocaine on an infected tooth than they do on a healthy tooth.

4. Use of epinephrine

The use of epinephrine with Novocaine is probably the most important factor in determining the length of time an area will remain numb.

Epinephrine causes the blood vessels to get smaller. This reduces blood flow around the injection site and keeps the anesthetic confined to that area for longer than usual. Epinephrine also minimizes bleeding.

People with some medical problems, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, may require an epinephrine-free shot.

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What is Novocaine used for?

Woman receieving novocaine anesthesia from dentist during operation.
Novocaine is commonly used during dental procedures.

Novocaine was developed in 1905 and became the first widely used local anesthetic in the United States. Local anesthesia does not cause a loss of consciousness before a medical procedure, unlike a general anesthetic.

People who get a local anesthetic are still awake for the procedure but cannot feel the area of the body being treated.

Novocaine and similar drugs work by stopping nerves in the body from sending pain signals to the brain.

Local anesthetics are commonly used during dental procedures, such as removing a tooth or filling a cavity.

They are also used during other minor procedures, including:

  • mole or wart removal
  • cataract removal
  • a biopsy, which involves taking a tissue sample for examination
  • pacemaker insertion

In recent years, Novocaine has been replaced by newer local anesthetics because their numbing effects last longer. Novocaine may however still be used during some procedures.

What does getting Novocaine feel like?

First, a dentist will use cotton rolls or air to dry the part of the mouth being treated. Then they will apply a numbing gel to the skin.

Next, the dentist will slowly inject Novocaine into the gum tissue around the affected tooth. Most people experience a stinging sensation at this point. This feeling is not caused by the needle, but by the anesthetic entering the tissue.

Novocaine acts quickly, causing people to lose feeling in the affected area within 5 minutes or so. People should no longer feel pain at this point, although they may be able to feel pressure or movement around the area being treated.

Once the anesthetic begins to wear off, people regain feeling in the tooth first, followed by the lips and tongue People may find it difficult to eat, drink, or speak clearly until the numbness subsides.

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Risks and side effects

Man with a headache
Headaches and drowsiness are potential side effects of Novocaine.

Novocaine is considered very safe. The most common side effects include:

  • tingling and minor pain at the injection site
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • drowsiness
  • twitching muscles

These effects are usually mild and wear off within a few hours.

More severe side effects are associated with a Novocaine allergy, but this is very rare. Allergy symptoms require immediate medical attention and include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • hives
  • itching
  • loss of consciousness
  • swelling

Other very rare side effects that require emergency medical intervention include:

  • chest pain
  • irregular heartbeat
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • trembling
  • seizures

It is essential that people tell their dentist about any over-the-counter or prescription medications they are taking as some medications can interact with Novocaine.

It is also important that people inform the dentist of any health conditions they may have so they can choose the best anesthetic for them, and administer it in the right dose.

How to help Novocaine wear off faster

Usually, Novocaine’s effects wear off once blood circulation increases and carries the drug away in the bloodstream. This happens relatively quickly, but some people may wish to speed up the process.

Local anesthetic may be broken down faster if the person goes for a walk or engages in activity after their treatment. Physical activity increases blood flow in the body. However, it is important to get the go-ahead from a doctor or dentist before engaging in exercise soon after a procedure.

Alternatively, a dentist can use a substance called OraVerse to reverse the effects of an anesthetic. A dentist can inject this medication after the procedure to make the numbing go away.

Research suggests that OraVerse is safe to use and does not interact with other medications. It costs extra, however, and insurance does not cover it.

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Novocaine is a safe and effective local anesthetic. It is most commonly used in dentistry for procedures that take less than 90 minutes to perform. Several factors affect the time Novocaine lasts, including the dose and the use of epinephrine.

In recent years, newer local anesthetics have been used instead of Novocaine, including lidocaine (Xylocaine) and articaine. These drugs are also very safe to use, and their effects tend to last longer than Novocaine.

People undergoing a medical or dental procedure should discuss their questions and concerns with their doctor or dentist.

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Medical News Today: What to know about centrilobular emphysema

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Medical News Today: Inflammatory bowel disease may raise Parkinson’s risk

A new nationwide Danish population study that covers nearly 40 years has revealed that people with inflammatory bowel disease have a 22 percent higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease than people without the long-term gut disorder.
older man with stomach pain
Having IBD could raise your risk of Parkinson’s disease by 22 percent.

The study supports the notion of a “gut-brain axis,” note the researchers in a paper on their work that is now published in the journal Gut.

The gut-brain axis theory proposes that what goes on in the gastrointestinal tract (GI) affects the central nervous system.

It is supported by evidence that shows that the gut and nervous system talk to each other, and that microbe activity in the gut can regulate brain chemistry.

Publication of the Danish study comes hot on the heels of another report of an observational study conducted in the United States that found that having inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) was linked to a 28 percent higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

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IBD and Parkinson’s disease

IBD is a chronic condition that inflames the GI, or gut, because the immune system attacks healthy tissue cells in the intestines and the beneficial bacteria that live there.

There are two main types of IBD: ulcerative colitis, which mainly affects the colon; and Crohn’s disease, which can affect any part of the gut from the mouth to the anus.

Estimates suggest that around 3 million adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with IBD at some time in their lives.

IBD should not be confused with two other gut conditions: irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and celiac disease.

Although IBS does damage the gut, the cause is not inflammation. And, while celiac disease does inflame the gut, the cause is a specific reaction to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat and other grains.

Parkinson’s disease is a gradually worsening movement disorder caused by death of brain cells. The most common symptoms include muscle rigidity, tremors, slowness of movement, and impaired coordination and balance.

It can also present with non-movement symptoms such as depression, anxiety, fatigue, disordered sleep, and gut-related problems.

Estimates suggest that more than 10 million people worldwide have Parkinson’s disease, around 1 million of whom live in the U.S.

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Gut inflammation and Parkinson’s

Previous studies have proposed that gut inflammation influences the development of Parkinson’s disease and multiple system atrophy (MSA), which is a rare neurological disorder that has symptoms similar to Parkinson’s.

In their study paper, the researchers — including corresponding author Dr. Tomasz Brudek, of the Research Laboratory for Stereology and Neuroscience at Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital in Copenhagen — note that GI dysfunctions arise early in Parkinson’s and “add significantly” to disease-related complications.

Dr. Brudek and his colleagues decided to investigate whether there might a link between IBD and risk of developing Parkinson’s disease or MSA.

They identified all residents of Denmark who were diagnosed with IBD between 1977 and 2014 and matched each of them to “comparable” members of the population at large who did not have IBD. Altogether, the study followed 76,477 individuals with IBD and more than 7.5 million without IBD.

The 37 years of follow-up started from day of diagnosis to “occurrence” of Parkinson’s or MSA, which was determined from records in the Danish National Patient Register.

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Study does not prove causation

The analysis revealed that people diagnosed with IBD had a 22 percent higher risk of developing Parkinson’s compared with their non-IBD counterparts.

The higher risk of Parkinson’s was not affected by gender, the age at diagnosis of IBD, or follow-up length. The study authors note, however, that people with IBD with ulcerative colitis “had slightly higher risk than” those with Crohn’s disease.

The analysis also suggested that there might be a 41 percent higher risk of MSA in individuals with IBD compared with their non-IBD counterparts, but this was based on a very low incidence of MSA.

The researchers point out that, since theirs was an observational study, they cannot say for certain whether IBD raises the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

However, because they did find a link — and because their study is the first “epidemiological study investigating the risk of parkinsonism in an unselected, nationwide cohort of patients with IBD with long-term follow-up” — they urge that clinicians “should be aware of symptoms of parkinsonism in patients with IBD.” They also suggest that:

“The identification of risk factors associated with prodromal phases of Parkinson’s disease may allow for early intervention studies that could modify or slow down disease progress.”

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Medical News Today: What to know about ulnar tunnel syndrome

Ulnar tunnel syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve in the wrist becomes compressed by a cyst or repeated strain.

The nerve compression in ulnar tunnel syndrome can cause numbness or tingling in the hands or fingers. Surgery or wearing a wrist brace can often treat ulnar tunnel syndrome. Home exercises may also help.

In this article, learn more about the causes and symptoms of ulnar tunnel syndrome, and how to manage it with treatments and home remedies.

What is ulnar tunnel syndrome?

The ulnar nerve runs from a person’s neck down to their hand. At the wrist, the ulnar nerve enters the hand through Guyon’s canal. If the nerve becomes compressed here, it causes ulnar tunnel syndrome. Compression of this nerve at the elbow is called cubital tunnel syndrome.

Ulnar tunnel syndrome is less common than cubital tunnel syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome.

While bones and muscles protect many nerves in the human body, the ulnar nerve is not so well protected and is therefore at more risk of injury.


Ulnar tunnel syndrome in person holding wrist.
Ulnar tunnel syndrome affects the outers side of the wrist and hand.

Ulnar tunnel syndrome usually produces symptoms in the hands and wrist, especially the little finger and ring finger. A person with ulnar tunnel syndrome may experience the following:

  • numbness or tingling sensations (paresthesia)
  • a burning pain
  • muscle weakness in the hand
  • difficulty gripping with the fingers and thumb
  • the hands and fingers bending into a claw shape

These symptoms can affect the hand, wrist, and fingers and may get progressively worse over time, especially if left untreated. The location of the compression will determine the severity of the symptoms.

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Ulnar tunnel syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve becomes compressed in the Guyon’s canal region. This is often due to a ganglion developing in the wrist. A ganglion is a fluid-filled lump also known as a cyst and is benign.

However, anything which places pressure on the ulnar nerve in the wrist can cause ulnar tunnel syndrome, including:

  • changes in osteoarthritis that cause pressure on the nerve
  • tumors in the wrist tissue
  • enlargement of the bursa (fluid-filled sacs) in the wrist
  • abnormalities in the muscles or ganglions
  • fracture of the hook of the hamate in the wrist, a type of injury that golfers or baseball players might experience

Ulnar tunnel syndrome can also result from repetitive strain or injury due to sports that put a strain on the wrist. Examples include weight lifting and cycling.

The risk of developing ulnar tunnel syndrome is greater if a person:

  • has had a previous injury to their wrist
  • performs repetitive tasks with the hands, such as typing
  • does activities or sports that put the wrist under strain
  • uses vibrating tools


Problems in the wrists and hands can get in the way of daily life. Exercises and physical therapy can help speed up recovery, and a doctor should be able to provide advice on how a person can reduce their recovery time.

If the condition is caused by a ganglion or cyst, these should be removed where possible. This surgery should provide relief from pain, numbness, weakness, or tingling. However, recovery from this type of surgery takes time, and it may be several months before the nerve has completely healed.

If a fracture of the hook of the hamate causes the condition, surgery is usually required to remove any bone fragments to take pressure off the nerve.

Alternatively, a surgeon may cut a ligament to relieve the pressure in the wrist.

When repetitive strain causes ulnar tunnel syndrome, a person should reduce repetitive movements where possible to avoid further irritation of the ulnar nerve. A person can also wear a wrist brace to prevent the nerve from moving, allowing it time to heal. Bicyclists often wear padded gloves to take pressure off the nerve.


When ulnar tunnel syndrome is caused by factors that are not treatable with surgery, home exercises may help to relieve symptoms.

Specific exercises designed to stretch, slide, and move the nerve to encourage smooth movement can help reduce pain and weakness in the hand. A systematic review from 2008 suggests that this type of physical therapy, called neural mobilization, may be useful for a range of nerve-related issues.

Before undertaking any exercises to treat ulnar tunnel syndrome a person should first seek advice from their doctor. The following are examples of ulnar gliding exercises:

Forehead touch

The forehead touch is a simple exercise. To do this, use the following steps.

  1. stand straight with arms at the sides
  2. raise one hand, so the palm is resting on the forehead
  3. hold it here for a few seconds then slowly bring the hand down again
  4. repeat the exercise

Hand curl

The hand curl is another exerise that stretches the ulnar nerve. To do this, use the following steps:

  1. stand or sit upright with the arm held straight in front of the body with the elbow straight
  2. curl the wrist and fingers towards the body
  3. then, extend the hand away from the body to feel a stretch in the wrist
  4. finally, bend the elbow and raise the hand upwards
  5. repeat the exercise

Tips while exercising to treat ulnar tunnel syndrome:

  • Avoid overstretching the nerve. If exercises are painful, speak to a doctor before continuing.
  • Using an ice pack can help to relieve any pain before exercising.
  • Build strength slowly by increasing the number of repetitions of each exercise. A physiotherapist will be able to advise on how many repetitions a person should do.
  • A person may find that short, frequent sessions of 5–10 minutes are more beneficial than one long session.

While some aching and discomfort are normal, severe pain that lingers may mean that a person is performing the exercises too often or too forcefully. Reduce their frequency and intensity, and if this does not help, make an appointment with a physiotherapist.

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Home remedies

There are also some practical home remedies and lifestyle tips that may help a person with ulnar tunnel syndrome.

Some useful tips and home remedies include:

  • Avoiding resting the elbow on the arms of chairs or desktops, as this can put pressure on the nerve. Instead, place the hands in the lap when not using them.
  • Wearing a wrist brace for additional support, especially when using the hand or wrist.
  • Using ergonomic or padded tools to reduce pressure on the wrist
  • Avoiding repetitive tasks and taking regular breaks while at work.
  • Keeping hands and wrists warm.


If a person suspects they have ulnar tunnel syndrome they should make an appointment with their doctor. A doctor will ask questions about medical history and daily activities as well as any previous injuries that may cause ulnar tunnel syndrome to develop.

A doctor will then perform a physical examination of the elbow, wrist, and hand and may tap specific points on the ulnar nerve to work out where the problem lies.

A doctor may also suggest further imaging tests such as:

  • X-rays
  • a computed tomography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • electromyography
  • a nerve conduction study

Below is a 3-D model of ulnar tunnel syndrome, which is fully interactive.

Explore the model using your mouse pad or touchscreen to understand more about ulnar tunnel syndrome.

Once a doctor has made an accurate diagnosis they can work out the best treatment plan for an individual.


Ulnar tunnel syndrome can cause pain, weakness, and numbness in the hands and fingers. If left untreated these symptoms may worsen, and in severe cases, a person may be unable to grip with their hand.

Ulnar tunnel syndrome can be treated in a variety of ways depending on the cause. Treating the condition is essential, as if it is left untreated it could cause permanent damage, such as paralysis of a loss of feeling in some regions of the arm or hand.

Often, a cyst or growth in the wrist area causes ulnar tunnel syndrome. This can be corrected through surgery.

Otherwise, this condition can develop from nerve irritation from repetitive movements. In these cases, nonsurgical options can correct the problem, such as a wrist brace and ulnar nerve exercises.

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Medical News Today: Is honey good for asthma?

Honey has anti-inflammatory properties, and it is a common ingredient in cold and flu remedies. But can honey treat asthma?

Honey is a common home remedy for coughing and a sore throat, and it may reduce these symptoms in people with asthma.

Below, we explore the research behind using honey for asthma. We also describe the risks involved.

Does honey treat asthma symptoms?

Honey for asthma treatment
Honey increases saliva production, which may reduce coughing and throat irritation.

It appears that honey may have some benefits for people with asthma. It may be especially effective at controlling coughing.

Honey increases saliva production. As saliva lubricates the airways and reduces irritation in the throat, a cough can diminish.

Honey also has anti-inflammatory properties and may decrease the swelling of the airways that accompanies asthma.

The health department of the University of California, Los Angeles recommends that adults take 2 teaspoons of honey at bedtime to reduce coughing.

Evidence has not supported other theories about honey as a treatment for asthma.

For example, some proponents of honey for asthma claim that this method may help to desensitize an individual to pollen. Pollen is a common allergen that can trigger asthma attacks.

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What does the research say?

Most relevant research has tested the effectiveness of honey as a cough suppressant.

It is important to note that many of these studies explored the effects of honey on upper respiratory infections, not asthma, though the two conditions can have similar symptoms.

A study from 2012 included 300 children aged 1–5 years with upper respiratory infections. Researchers gave some children citrus honey, eucalyptus honey, or Labiatae honey. Others received a placebo.

Children who took honey had relief from nighttime coughing, which resulted in improved sleep.

A review from 2012 looked at results of two clinical trials that included a total of 265 children with acute coughs.

When comparing the effectiveness of honey and cough suppressants, researchers found that honey was as effective or slightly more effective than diphenhydramine or dextromethorphan, two common ingredients in cough suppressants. Honey was also better able to treat a cough than no treatment at all.

Most studies involved honey taken orally, but an animal study from 2014 tested whether inhaled honey could reduce asthma symptoms. Results indicated that honey was effective. However, additional research is needed in humans.


While taking 1 or 2 teaspoons of honey is usually safe for most people, there are a few exceptions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infants under the age of 1 should not be given honey, due to the risk of botulism.

Botulism is a rare type of poisoning caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. Botulism may cause vomiting, trouble breathing, and paralysis, and it can be life-threatening. It is primarily transmitted through contaminated soil and food.

Honey can contain botulism spores. While the natural defenses in adults and older children stop the bacteria from growing, infants have weaker immune systems, and spores they consume can grow and release toxins. Pasteurizing honey does not remove the risk of botulism. Infants under 12 months should not have honey.

People can also be allergic to honey. This allergy is usually related to the honey’s contamination with pollen, not bee venom. A person who is allergic to bee stings is not necessarily allergic to honey.

As honey is produced, it may become contaminated with pollen from trees and other plants. Someone with a pollen allergy may experience symptoms when they eat honey.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction to honey include:

  • sneezing
  • hives
  • watery eyes
  • a runny nose

If the reaction is severe, it can lead to wheezing, a feeling of tightness in the chest, and difficulty breathing. A severe allergic reaction is a medical emergency and requires immediate care.

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Other treatments for asthma

Honey for asthma can help reduce symptoms brought on by allergens
Being exposed to an allergen may trigger asthma symptoms.

Honey may help to ease some symptoms of asthma, but honey alone cannot manage asthma effectively.

Additional treatments may include:

Decreasing exposure to allergens

Asthma is closely associated with allergies. In some instances, coming into contact with an allergen can trigger asthma symptoms.

Identifying allergens can help a person to avoid future exposure. For example, a person with a pollen allergy should limit the time they spend outdoors and close their windows on days when the pollen count is high.

Not smoking

Smoking is especially harmful to people with asthma. Smoking damages the cilia, which are hair-like fibers in the airway.

People with asthma already have sensitive airways, and damage sustained by smoking can make breathing even more difficult.

Using an inhaler

To treat symptoms that arise suddenly, people often use inhalers containing a bronchodilator. These medications relax the tightened muscles in the airways, making breathing easier.

Some asthma inhalers contain medicines developed to prevent asthma symptoms.

A doctor may prescribe long-term bronchodilators and corticosteroid inhalers for daily use to keep asthma symptoms at bay.


A little honey may help to ease coughing in children and adults with asthma, but it should not be given to infants.

Research does not indicate that honey is an alternative to asthma medications.

Honey can be purchased in many grocery stores, health food stores, and online.

Anyone noticing asthma symptoms should talk with a doctor. Effective treatments are available.

Asthma attacks can be severe, and it is essential to follow a plan prescribed by a doctor.

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Medical News Today: What causes abdominal bloating?

There are many possible causes of abdominal bloating, including fluid retention, irritable bowel syndrome, and infection. However, for most people, the cause of bloating will be fairly harmless, and it can be treated at home.

Abdominal bloating can be alarming, particularly when it is very painful. Some people notice that their belly looks swollen or misshapen, or they may experience sharp abdominal pain. Yet in many cases, the cause may be something as simple as indigestion or too much gas building up in the stomach and bowels.

Bloating is rarely a cause for concern if it:

  • is associated with food or eating
  • does not get worse with time
  • goes away within a day or two

In this article, we look at the causes of abdominal bloating, how to treat it, and when to see a doctor.


Abdominal bloating is not unusual. Many people experience the same type of bloating again and again. Bloating that follows a predictable pattern is usually nothing to worry about.

When the pattern changes or the bloating becomes worse than normal, it may be because of one of the following conditions:


woman sitting on the bed holding her stomach
Many causes of abdominal bloating are nothing to worry about and can be treated at home.

A buildup of gas in the stomach and intestines is among the most common causes of bloating. Other possible symptoms include:

  • excessive belching
  • excessive flatulence
  • feeling an intense urge to have a bowel movement
  • feeling nauseous

Bloating caused by gas ranges from mild discomfort to intense pain. Some people describe feeling as if there is something trapped inside their stomach.

Gas can be caused by:

  • certain foods, including cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage
  • a stomach infection
  • chronic illnesses, such as Crohn’s disease
  • indigestion
  • a range of other conditions

In most cases, gas goes away on its own after a few hours.


Indigestion, sometimes called dyspepsia, is discomfort or pain in the stomach. Most people experience brief episodes of indigestion from time to time.

It is often caused by:

  • eating too much
  • excessive alcohol
  • medications that irritate the stomach, such as ibuprofen
  • a minor stomach infection

Frequent indigestion that does not appear to be associated with food or other apparent causes could be a sign of something more serious. Possible causes include a stomach ulcer, cancer, or liver failure.


Stomach infections can cause gas, which may also be accompanied by:

These are often due to bacteria such as Escherichia coli or Helicobacter pylori, or a viral infection such as norovirus or rotavirus.

Stomach infections usually go away on their own after a few days. However, some people may become severely dehydrated or continue to get worse over several days. These individuals should see a doctor if the bloating coincides with:

  • fever
  • bloody stool
  • severe and frequent vomiting

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)

The stomach and intestines are home to a variety of bacteria, many of which help the body digest food. Disturbing the balance of these bacteria can lead to an increase in harmful bacteria present in the small intestine. This is known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO.

SIBO can cause bloating, frequent diarrhea, and may lead to difficulties digesting food and absorbing nutrients. For some people, SIBO can lead to osteoporosis or unintentional weight loss.

Fluid retention

Eating salty foods, having food intolerances, and experiencing changes in hormone levels can all cause a person’s body to retain more fluid than it would otherwise. Some women find that they are bloated immediately before getting their periods or early in pregnancy.

Chronic bloating due to fluid retention could have a more serious cause, such as diabetes or kidney failure. If the bloating does not go away, a person should speak to a doctor.

Food intolerances

Some people become bloated after eating certain foods. For example, people who are lactose intolerant, or who have a gluten allergy or celiac disease. The bloating usually goes away on its own but may be linked to diarrhea or stomach pain.

Chronic disorders

Chronic gut disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease, can also cause frequent bloating. Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of the digestive tract, whereas IBS is poorly understood and is often diagnosed when chronic gut symptoms have no obvious cause.

Both IBS and Crohn’s can cause gas, diarrhea, vomiting, and unintentional weight loss.


Gastroparesis is a disorder that affects normal stomach emptying. The stomach muscles stop working properly, which causes food to pass much more slowly through the stomach and intestines.

Symptoms include:

  • bloating
  • constipation
  • feeling full very quickly when eating
  • loss of appetite
  • heartburn
  • nausea and vomiting
  • pain and discomfort

Another condition, such as diabetes or hypothyroidism, usually causes gastroparesis.

Gynecological disorders

Some gynecological problems cause stomach pain. In some women, endometriosis can cause cramping and bloating. This happens when the lining of the womb attaches to the stomach or intestines.

Referred pain from the pelvis may also resemble that of bloating.


Constipation often causes bloating. Causes of constipation include:

  • dehydration
  • not enough fiber in the diet
  • food intolerance
  • pregnancy
  • certain bowel disorders
  • nutrient deficiencies, including magnesium
  • certain medicines

In most people, episodes of constipation are short-lived.

Other causes

Less commonly, abdominal bloating may be due to other serious conditions. People with gallstones or gallbladder disease may experience intense abdominal pain that mimics bloating. Cancers of the stomach or intestines may also lead to abdominal discomfort and bloating.

Ascites is another condition that leads to abdominal pain and bloating. Ascites is a buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity over a period of time. The most common cause of this is liver disease.

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Treatments and home remedies

a cup of mint tea
Consuming peppermint may help to reduce the symptoms of abdominal bloating.

Bloating can usually be safely treated at home. Some options that may help include:

  • over-the-counter medications, including antacids or bismuth salicylate (Pepto-Bismol)
  • applying a heat pad to the stomach
  • drinking water
  • eating peppermint
  • drinking carbonated water
  • taking a laxative to relieve constipation

Keeping a food diary to monitor bloating can also be useful. This can help with diagnosing food intolerances and making healthy lifestyle changes. Many people find that simply avoiding certain foods can prevent bloating and other gastrointestinal health issues.

When to see a doctor

Rarely, bloating could be a sign of something more serious. A person should see a doctor for bloating associated with:

  • intense pain
  • a fever
  • vomiting lasts longer than 24 hours, or if it is impossible to keep any food down
  • bloody stools
  • a physical injury, such as a punch to the stomach or a car accident
  • rapid swelling of the abdomen or anywhere else in the body
  • surgery
  • liver or kidney failure

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Abdominal bloating can be disconcerting and painful. For most people, the cause can be treated at home and will be something simple. A person should speak to a doctor if the symptoms get worse or do not go away after a few days.

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Medical News Today: Could Viagra and a flu shot kill cancer?

After tumor removal surgery, treatment with erectile dysfunction drugs and a flu vaccine may help to stop the cancer returning.
pills and syringes on blue background
These common medications could help to prevent cancer returning.

These drugs, aided by the flu vaccine, remove a block to the immune system that can sometimes result from cancer surgery and also give it a boost.

This was the conclusion that researchers at the University of Ottawa in Canada came to after they tested the effect of tadalafil (Cialis), sildenafil (Viagra), and an inactivated version of the flu vaccine Agriflu in mouse models of post-surgery metastasis.

In a paper now published in the journal OncoImmunology, they report how the unusual combination reduced cancer spread in the mice by over 90 percent.

A clinical trial to test the effects and safety of the treatment in humans is already under way.

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Surgery can promote metastasis

“Surgery,” says senior study author Rebecca C. Auer, an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, “is very effective in removing solid tumors.”

But, as she and her colleagues explain in their paper, “cancer surgery” can also block the immune system’s ability to eliminate any remaining cancer cells, which can then spread to form new, secondary tumors in a process known as metastasis.

Metastasis accounts for the vast majority of deaths to cancer and is the main reason that the disease is so serious.

The immune system has many cells that patrol the body in search of potentially harmful agents to destroy. These agents are not just bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, but also cancer cells.

Cancer surgery can undermine the immune system by “altering the function of natural killer (NK) cells,” which are white blood cells that play a key role in clearing away metastatic cancer cells.

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Surgery weakens natural killer cells

Tests of animals and human patients have shown that tumor surgery can weaken the ability of NK cells to attack and kill cancer cells for up to 1 month after the procedure.

Prof. Auer and colleagues found that surgery does this in a roundabout way: it stimulates another group of immune cells called myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), which, in turn, will then inhibit the NK cells.

The new study shows that the erectile dysfunction drugs remove the brakes on the NK cells by targeting the “surgery-induced” MDSCs, while the flu vaccine gives the NK cells an additional boost.

The researchers tested various combinations of the drugs and vaccine in mouse models of post-operative metastasis. They evaluated the effectiveness of treatment by counting the number of metastases that arose in the lungs of the animals.

The results showed that, on average:

    • Without surgery, the cancer spread and gave rise to 37 metastases.
    • Surgery with no drugs or vaccine resulted in 129 metastases.
    • Giving one erectile dysfunction drug and the flu vaccine after surgery limited spread to just 11 metastases.

    Clinical trial

    The clinical trial that is already under way involves 24 patients who are having surgery to remove an abdominal tumor at The Ottawa Hospital.

    The purpose of the small trial is to evaluate the safety of the treatment — which is based on Cialis and Agriflu — and observe how it affects the immune system.

    Should the trial be successful, the next stage will be larger trials that assess the potential benefits.

    Prof. Auer says that she and her colleagues are “really excited” about their work because it may show that “two safe and relatively inexpensive therapies may be able to solve a big problem in cancer.”

    If confirmed in clinical trials, this could become the first therapy to address the immune problems caused by cancer surgery.”

    Prof. Rebecca C. Auer

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Medical News Today: What to know about tricompartmental osteoarthritis

Tricompartmental osteoarthritis occurs when all three compartments in the knee are affected by arthritis symptoms.

The condition causes degenerative changes in the joint. Because of its widespread nature, tricompartmental osteoarthritis may be more severe than other forms of osteoarthritis.

In this article, we take an in-depth look at tricompartmental osteoarthritis, including the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment for this painful condition.

What is tricompartmental osteoarthritis?

Man holding his knee due to tricompartmental osteoarthritis
Localized pain, inflammation, and weakness in the knee may be symptoms of tricompartmental osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis, or osteoarthrosis, is the most common condition that affects the joints. According to the Arthritis Foundation, osteoarthritis affects approximately 27 million people in the United States alone.

The condition most commonly affects the knees and is also referred to as wear-and-tear arthritis, as it occurs due to the cartilage in the joints breaking down over time.

This wear-and-tear process is referred to as degenerative changes, and it leads to symptoms that include stiffness, pain, and joint effusion or an increased amount of fluid in the joint.

Four bones meet at the knee. The tibia and fibula connect from below the joint. The femur connects from above, and the patella or kneecap sits just atop the femur and the connecting cartilage.

The meeting of these bones creates the three compartments in the knee:

  • patellofemoral compartment, where the kneecap and femur meet
  • medial femorotibial compartment, or the inside of the knee
  • lateral femorotibial compartment, or the outside of the knee

Osteoarthritis can occur in any of these compartments, but tricompartmental osteoarthritis happens when all three compartments of the knee are affected.

Tricompartmental osteoarthritis is often considered to be worse than other forms of osteoarthritis, as the entire area of the knee is affected and loss of cartilage or the synovium or joint lining may be more widespread.

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Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage and synovium in the knee to wear down, often leading to bone spurs growing in their place. The cartilage may also get rough or break down completely. This process gets worse over time and often cause symptoms, including:

  • localized pain and inflammation
  • joint effusion or water on the knee
  • chondrosis, where the soft or smooth cartilage breaks down
  • joint stiffness and difficulty moving the joint, especially after long periods of inactivity
  • bone spurs or exostosis in the knee that can be seen on X-ray images
  • knees that lock up due to bone spurs
  • weakness or buckling in the knees
  • a change in gait, typically a knock-kneed or bowl-legged walking gait

Symptoms may get worse after sitting or resting for a long time, and impact type of exercises may also cause more pain and swelling in the joint.


Doctor examining knee to diagnose tricompartmental osteoarthritis
A doctor will do a physical exam to diagnose tricompartmental osteoarthritis.

To correctly diagnose tricompartmental osteoarthritis, a doctor may first ask questions and perform a physical exam.

Osteoarthritis involves knee pain and several other symptoms, so doctors may ask if the person has symptoms such as:

  • cracking or popping in the knee
  • grating feeling whenever the knee is moved
  • stiffness in the knees in the morning or after periods of sitting or resting
  • tenderness and swelling in the area
  • feeling as if the joints are colder than normal

Doctors will often use imaging tests, such as X-rays, to confirm the diagnosis. They will look for any signs of cartilage that has worn away or extra bony growths where the cartilage should be. Osteoarthritis may be more challenging to diagnose in its early stages but easier in later stages.

If there is still any doubt, doctors may recommend a soft tissue scan, using an MRI scanner, to thoroughly check the ligaments, cartilage, and synovium.

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Causes and risk factors

Osteoarthritis can occur from normal wear and tear of the joints, so anyone could potentially be diagnosed with the disorder. However, some risk factors may make diagnosis more likely.

  • Age. Osteoarthritis symptoms develop over time, so the joints of an older person may be more worn than a young person’s, increasing the risk of osteoarthritis. Staying active and stretching or doing low-impact exercises may help to slow down the normal degeneration as someone ages.
  • Obesity. Carrying extra weight around can be hard on the joints, especially on the hips and knees, which are stress-bearing joints. Weight loss may help reduce the impact on the joints and reduce symptoms. A recent study posted to the journal Obesity Reviews indicated that losing just 10 percent of body weight may reduce symptoms, including pain, and increase the physical function in the joint.
  • Genes. A person’s genes may also play a role. Someone with a close family member who has or had osteoarthritis may be more likely to experience it themselves.
  • Sex. A review published in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage noted that sex and hormones might play a role in osteoarthritis, with women being more likely to experience knee osteoarthritis than men, though it is unclear why this happens. Women going through menopause may also be more likely to experience symptoms, leading researchers to believe hormones, such as estrogen, may play a role.
  • Stressful activities. Physical activity that is especially demanding for the knees may be a risk factor for more wear and tear damage. Manual labor, carrying heavy loads, or high-impact exercises such as running may be risks for some people over time.
  • Traumatic injuries. Injuries directly to the knee or in an area that indirectly affects the knee, such as the foot or leg, may be an influencing factor in osteoarthritis symptoms later in life.
  • Abnormalities at birth. Some people may be born with abnormalities in the bones, cartilage, ligaments, or synovium that make them more likely to experience symptoms of osteoarthritis later in life.


Man using an ice pack on his knee
An ice pack may help with the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

There is currently no cure for osteoarthritis because cartilage cannot be replaced once it has eroded.

The optimal treatment for tricompartmental osteoarthritis varies based on the severity of the condition. Treatment usually involves managing symptoms, preventing progression of the disorder, or surgery.

The following treatments can help with the symptoms of osteoarthritis:

  • Ice and heat. Pain and swelling in the knee may respond well to ice and heat packs at different times of the day. Elevation may also reduce swelling around the knee.
  • Pain relievers. Over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatories and painkillers can reduce pain and swelling in many cases. Prescription medications and COX-2 inhibitors may help if OTC versions are not effective.
  • Corticosteroid injections. A doctor can inject corticosteroids directly into the knee to relieve pain and inflammation if other medications have not worked.
  • Lifestyle changes. A person can reduce stress on their knee by avoiding high-impact exercises, and replacing these with low-impact ones, for example, swimming or cycling. Low impact exercise may strengthen the areas around the joint to reduce impact on the joint itself.
  • Medical devices. Using medical devices can help to reduce pressure in the joints. These can include canes for walking, wearing shock-absorbing shoes or wedge insoles, or using a sleeve or brace to stabilize the knee.
  • Injection to the knee. A doctor can administer an injection, a form of hyalagan, into the knee to improve symptoms.
  • Surgery. In well-advanced cases or ones that do not respond to other treatments, surgery may be recommended. It is usually reserved for people who cannot function due to osteoarthritis, as surgery on the knee can be complicated.

If a doctor recommends surgery for tricompartmental osteoarthritis, this often involves a total knee replacement or total knee arthroplasty. In this surgery, doctors replace the damaged bone and joint with a plastic and metal joint.

It can take several months to recover from total knee arthroplasty. Regular physical therapy sessions will help strengthen the legs and allow a person to walk normally again.


Osteoarthritis is a common chronic degenerative condition, currently without a complete cure. Tricompartmental osteoarthritis symptoms affect the entire knee and may be more widespread.

Managing these symptoms may help in many cases, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle may also slow the progression of the disorder. Surgery can help restore function in the affected knee if other interventions do not work.

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