Medical News Today: What can cause stomach pain and nausea?

Stomach pain and nausea are common health complaints in both children and adults.

Causes can range from overeating and anxiety to infection and gastrointestinal disorders.

Stomach pain and nausea can be either acute or chronic. Acute means that symptoms are short-lived and may come on suddenly. Chronic means that the condition is persistent.

In this article, we look at some of the acute and chronic causes of stomach pain and nausea. We also discuss self-care, when to see a doctor, medical treatment, complications, and prevention.

Acute causes

Woman on a sofa holding her stomach due to stomach pain and nausea
Stomach pain and nausea can be side effects of medications or occur due to viral gastroenteritis or stress.

Causes of acute stomach pain and nausea can include:

Viral gastroenteritis is a common cause of stomach pain and nausea. Although people often refer to this condition as “stomach flu,” it is actually an infection of the intestines and does not involve the flu virus.

The most common cause of viral gastroenteritis is norovirus, but rotavirus infection is often the cause of this condition in infants and young children.

Other symptoms of viral gastroenteritis include watery diarrhea and vomiting, and some people may develop a fever.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), viral gastroenteritis usually lasts less than a week and gets better without medical treatment. However, frequent vomiting and diarrhea can lead to severe dehydration, which is particularly dangerous in children and older adults. People with symptoms of dehydration should seek prompt medical attention.

Gastroenteritis can also result from eating contaminated food, which can allow harmful bacteria, viruses, or parasites to enter the body. The symptoms of food poisoning are similar to those of viral gastroenteritis, and people should see a doctor if they develop dehydration or their symptoms become severe.

Acute bouts of stomach pain and nausea can be common in children, and stress and anxiety can sometimes be causative factors. If a child complains about an upset stomach before a test or competitive sports event at school, this may be a sign of anxiety. Helping the child cope with stress and anxiety may also help reduce stomach problems.


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Chronic causes

Causes of chronic stomach pain and nausea can include:

Gastritis

Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining. This inflammation can be acute or chronic. In addition to stomach pain and nausea, gastritis can also cause vomiting.

The most common cause of gastritis is infection with a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. Other causes include damage to the stomach lining, potentially from alcohol or the frequent use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which include ibuprofen and aspirin.

Intestinal obstructions

Obstructions in the intestines can cause stomach pain, vomiting, bloating, and constipation. Intestinal obstructions can lead to serious complications if a person does not receive treatment.

Causes of intestinal obstructions can include:

  • adhesions, which are bands of tissue that can form following surgery
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • diverticulitis
  • cancer

Functional gastrointestinal disorders

These are a group of disorders in which the gastrointestinal tract does not work as it should, and there are visible structural problems.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional dyspepsia are examples of functional gastrointestinal disorders.

IBS can cause abdominal pain or cramps as well as bloating and either diarrhea or constipation. The symptoms of functional dyspepsia can include pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, and vomiting.

According to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, functional gastrointestinal disorders affect about one in four people in the United States.

Other chronic causes

Other causes of chronic stomach pain and nausea can include the following:

  • pregnancy can cause nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain, particularly in the early stages
  • central nervous system problems, including migraine headaches, intracranial pressure, seizures, and strokes, can cause nausea
  • inner ear problems, such as infections and inflammation, can cause dizziness and nausea
  • stress, anxiety, and depression can lead to stomach problems in some people

When to see a doctor

man holding chest in pain due to diaphragm spasm
A person should see a doctor if pain in the chest accompanies abdominal discomfort.

Stomach pain and nausea are often short-lived and get better on their own. However, persistent symptoms may be a sign of a more serious condition.

The NIDDK recommend that people see a doctor if their indigestion, which can cause symptoms such as stomach pain and nausea, lasts for more than 2 weeks.

People should see a doctor right away if any of the following symptoms accompany abdominal discomfort:

  • frequent vomiting or blood in the vomit
  • diarrhea that lasts for more than 2 days
  • bloody or black and tarry stools
  • pain in the chest, arm, neck, or jaw
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • unexplained weight loss
  • dehydration


Self-care

Stomach pain and nausea usually resolve without treatment in a few days. However, resting and drinking plenty of fluids can aid recovery.

People experiencing frequent diarrhea, vomiting, or both will need to replace lost fluids and electrolytes to avoid dehydration. Drinks that can help with this include:

  • water
  • clear broths
  • sports drinks
  • fruit juices

Medical treatment

The type of medical treatment for stomach pain and nausea will generally depend on the underlying cause and the severity of the symptoms.

For people with severe diarrhea or vomiting, a doctor may prescribe an oral rehydration solution to treat dehydration. They may also prescribe antiemetics, which are drugs that can help counteract nausea and vomiting.

If a doctor suspects that a person may have gastritis or another type of gastrointestinal disorder, they may order medical tests, such as an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy.

People with gastritis due to H. pylori infection are likely to have to complete a course of antibiotics.


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Complications

Dehydration is a common complication of conditions that cause severe vomiting or diarrhea. Signs of dehydration can include:

  • thirst
  • dry mouth
  • fatigue
  • dark urine and urinating less than normal
  • no tears when crying
  • sunken cheeks or eyes
  • feeling lightheaded or dizzy

Other potential complications of stomach pain and nausea depend on the underlying cause. For example, anemia is a possible complication of erosive gastritis, due to the chronic bleeding that the condition causes in the stomach.

Prevention

person washing their hands to remove germs
Washing the hands frequently can help a person avoid germs that cause stomach pain and nausea.

Viral gastroenteritis and food poisoning are common causes of stomach pain and nausea. Good hygiene can help prevent these health issues.

Good hygiene is key to avoiding many germs that can cause stomach pain and nausea. People can try adopting the following practices as standard:

  • washing the hands frequently with soap and water, particularly after using the bathroom and before and after handling food
  • storing, cleaning, and preparing food carefully and correctly
  • cooking or reheating food thoroughly
  • disinfecting contaminated surfaces
  • handling soiled clothes and bedding carefully and always washing them thoroughly


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Summary

Stomach pain and nausea are common symptoms in both adults and children. Causes can include overeating, intestinal infections, stress and anxiety, and chronic gastrointestinal disorders.

Stomach pain and nausea are usually short-lived and get better on their own. However, people with persistent symptoms should see a doctor for an evaluation.

It is important for people whose symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Individuals with symptoms of dehydration should seek prompt medical care.

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Medical News Today: MiraLAX (Polyethylene glycol 3350)

What is MiraLAX?

MiraLAX is a brand-name, over-the-counter (OTC) medication. It’s classified as an osmotic laxative.

MiraLAX is used to treat constipation. It’s typically used for short-term treatment, but in some cases, it’s used long-term to treat chronic (long-lasting) constipation. MiraLAX is also sometimes used for colonoscopy bowel preparation.

For most people, taking MiraLAX will cause a bowel movement within one to three days of taking it. One study of its effectiveness focused on people who had fewer than two bowel movements per week. MiraLAX increased their number of bowel movements to 4.5 per week, compared to 2.7 per week in people taking a placebo.

Another study found that 52 percent of people with chronic constipation were successfully treated with MiraLAX.

MiraLAX comes as a flavorless powder that you mix with four to eight ounces of water, juice, or other liquid. The powder comes in bottles or single-serve packets.

MiraLAX generic

MiraLAX contains the ingredient polyethylene glycol 3350 (PEG 3350).

MiraLAX is also available in generic versions, which are usually store brands. These store brands often cost less than brand-name MiraLAX.

MiraLAX for kids and babies

MiraLAX is approved for over-the-counter (OTC) use in adults and adolescents aged 17 years and older. It’s also effective for treating constipation in younger children, including babies younger than 2 years of age.

According to the North American Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, MiraLAX is a first-choice medication for treating and preventing constipation in children. However, it shouldn’t be used in young children without the direction of your child’s doctor.


MiraLAX dosage

MiraLAX dosage will depend on several factors. These include:

  • the reason MiraLAX is being used
  • the age of the person using MiraLAX

Typically, you should use the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect.

The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. If you’re unsure about what dosage to use, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Dosage for kids, toddlers, and infants

Before giving MiraLAX to your child, talk with your child’s doctor. They can recommend the most appropriate dosage of MiraLAX for your child. The manufacturer of MiraLAX doesn’t provide this information. They advise getting a doctor’s recommendation for children’s dosage.

It’s also important to talk to your child’s doctor because they may want to evaluate your child to determine the cause of constipation. Depending on the cause, other treatments may be needed.

Dosage for adults

The typical dosage of MiraLAX for adults is 17 grams. The product will come with a measuring cap or device to help you determine the correct dose.

The powder is mixed and dissolved in four to eight ounces of water or another beverage and consumed once daily.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it’s almost time for your next dose, just take that one dose. Don’t try to catch up by taking two doses at once.

Will I need to use this drug long-term?

MiraLAX is intended for the short-term treatment of constipation. If you have chronic (long-lasting) constipation, you should be evaluated by your doctor. Your doctor will decide the best treatment for you, which may include long-term treatment with MiraLAX.

MiraLAX side effects

MiraLAX can cause mild or serious side effects. The following list contains some of the key side effects that may occur while taking MiraLAX. This list does not include all possible side effects.

For more information on the possible side effects of MiraLAX, or tips on how to deal with a troubling side effect, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

More common side effects

The more common side effects of MiraLAX include:

These side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Dehydration. Diarrhea caused by MiraLAX can cause fluid loss and dehydration. Seniors have a higher risk of diarrhea and dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include:
    • thirst
    • fatigue
    • dizziness
    • confusion
    • dry mouth
    • irritability
    • no tears when crying (in children)
    • no wet diapers for several hours (in children)
  • Allergic reactions. Although not common, some people can have an allergic reaction to MiraLAX. In rare cases, allergic reactions can be severe and include anaphylaxis. Symptoms of allergic reaction can include:
    • rash
    • itchy skin
    • runny nose
    • trouble breathing
    • swollen lips, tongue, or throat

Diarrhea

Diarrhea or loose stools are side effects of MiraLAX. Diarrhea is more likely to happen if you take more than the recommended dosage. Seniors also have a higher risk of diarrhea.

In one study, about 11 percent of those taking MiraLAX for chronic constipation had diarrhea as a side effect. In seniors, about 13 percent had diarrhea. For those who have diarrhea, the dosage may need to be reduced.

Bloating

Some people who take MiraLAX have bloating. In one study, about 3 percent of people taking MiraLAX for chronic constipation had bloating as a side effect. This side effect may decrease or go away with continued use of MiraLAX.

Nausea

Some people who take MiraLAX have nausea. In one study, about 6 percent of people taking MiraLAX for chronic constipation had nausea as a side effect. This side effect may decrease or go away with continued use of MiraLAX.

Weight gain

Some people have said they gained weight while taking MiraLAX. However, it’s not clear if MiraLAX is the cause of weight gain.

Headache

Some people have said they had headaches while taking MiraLAX. However, it’s not clear if MiraLAX is the cause of headaches.

Long-term side effects

The short-term and long-term side effects of MiraLAX are similar. In a study lasting 12 months, the most common side effects of MiraLAX were:

  • diarrhea or loose stools
  • gas (flatulence)
  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • bloating

Side effects are more likely to occur in the first weeks of MiraLAX use and may decrease over time.

Side effects in children

The same side effects that occur in adults can also happen in children.

There’s also some concern about other safety problems in children who take MiraLAX. There have been reports to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about unusual side effects in some children, such as:

  • anger
  • aggression
  • mood swings
  • tremors
  • seizure

The FDA found that MiraLAX may contain small amounts of chemicals such as ethylene glycol that could cause these side effects if ingested in large amounts. However, a study funded by the FDA found that children taking MiraLAX did not have higher levels of these chemicals in their blood compared to children who weren’t taking MiraLAX.

These side effects have not occurred in clinical studies of MiraLAX in children, and it’s not clear if they’re caused by MiraLAX or something else. The FDA is funding additional research to investigate the concerns.

Despite these concerns, the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition continues to consider MiraLAX a first-choice medication for short- and long-term treatment of constipation in children.

If you have concerns about these side effects, talk with your doctor.


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MiraLAX forms

MiraLAX only comes as a powder. You mix MiraLAX powder into four to eight ounces of water or another beverage and drink it as a liquid. MiraLAX itself doesn’t come in a liquid form. It also doesn’t come as a tablet or pill.

Bottles of MiraLAX powder contain either 7 doses, 14 doses, 30 doses, or 45 doses. Also available are boxes containing single-serve packets of MiraLAX powder. The boxes contain 10 or 20 packets each.

MiraLAX and pregnancy

According to the American Gastroenterological Association, MiraLAX is considered a first-choice laxative for use during pregnancy. This means it’s safe to use MiraLAX while you’re pregnant.

Although human studies have not evaluated MiraLAX during pregnancy, we know that very little MiraLAX is absorbed by the body. Therefore, it’s unlikely to affect the fetus of a pregnant woman taking MiraLAX. In studies of pregnant animals given MiraLAX, no harm to a fetus was found.


MiraLAX and breastfeeding

According to the American Gastroenterological Association, MiraLAX is considered low-risk for use during breastfeeding.

Although human studies have not evaluated MiraLAX during breastfeeding, we know that very little MiraLAX is absorbed by the body. Therefore, it’s unlikely to affect a child who breastfeeds while the mother takes MiraLAX.

MiraLAX uses

MiraLAX is an over-the-counter (OTC) drug that’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for certain purposes.

Recommended uses for MiraLAX

MiraLAX is approved for treating short-term constipation. It’s also recommended for other uses.

MiraLAX for constipation

MiraLAX is approved for the short-term treatment of constipation in adults and adolescents aged 17 years and older.

Your doctor may also recommend it for treating constipation in younger children, including babies younger than 2 years of age.

Don’t take MiraLAX for more than seven days without talking to your doctor. Your doctor may want to evaluate the cause of your constipation. Your doctor may find that you need other treatments.

MiraLAX is often recommended by doctors for treating chronic (long-lasting) constipation. The American College of Gastroenterology and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons recommend MiraLAX as an effective first-choice treatment for chronic constipation.

MiraLAX for colonoscopy prep

MiraLAX may be recommended by your doctor for colonoscopy bowel preparation. This is a procedure to clear out the contents of your gastrointestinal tract before you have a colonoscopy. According to one study, using MiraLAX is effective for this use, but may not be as effective as other options.

If your doctor recommends MiraLAX for bowel prep, you’ll be given specific instructions on how to use it. You may also need to take other medications for this purpose.

MiraLAX for IBS

MiraLAX is sometimes used by people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) who have constipation. MiraLAX may improve symptoms of constipation, but it hasn’t been found to improve other symptoms of IBS, such as stomach upset or pain.

MiraLAX for diverticulitis

Some people with diverticulitis also have constipation. If you have diverticulitis and constipation, talk with your doctor. Your doctor may recommend MiraLAX or other laxative options for your constipation. You may also need other treatments.

Uses that are not recommended

Not all potential uses for MiraLAX are recommended.

MiraLAX for weight loss

Some people take laxatives, including MiraLAX, with the hope of losing weight. However, MiraLAX and other laxatives are not effective for weight loss. In addition, they may cause harmful side effects if they’re used inappropriately. These can include diarrhea, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalances.

If you would like to lose weight, don’t use MiraLAX for that purpose. Instead, talk to your doctor about weight-loss approaches that can work well for you.

How to use MiraLAX

Take MiraLAX according to the instructions on the package or according to the directions you’ve received from your doctor.

Timing

MiraLAX can be taken at any time of the day. However, it may be best to take it in the morning. That way, if it causes you to have a bowel movement, you’ll be able to go during the day rather than during the night. You should only take MiraLAX once a day, unless your doctor gives you different instructions.

Taking MiraLAX with food

MiraLAX can be taken with or without food.

MiraLAX for colonoscopy prep

Your doctor may recommend MiraLAX for colonoscopy bowel preparation. This is a procedure that’s used to clear out the contents of your gastrointestinal tract before you have a colonoscopy. For this purpose, MiraLAX is sometimes used by itself or in combination with other laxatives.

If your doctor would like you to use MiraLAX for bowel prep, they’ll recommend a specific way to use it. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. To give you an idea of what they might be like, here’s an example of bowel prep instructions:

  • The day before your colonoscopy:
    • Begin a clear liquid diet.
    • At 12 pm (noon), take two laxative tablets such as Dulcolax. Also at this time, mix 8.3 ounces of MiraLAX in 64 ounces of a liquid such as Gatorade. This mixture should be refrigerated.
    • At 5:00 pm, drink an 8-ounce glass of the MiraLAX-Gatorade mixture. Do this every 15 minutes until you’ve consumed a total of four 8-ounce glasses of the mixture (total of 32 ounces).
  • The day of your colonoscopy:
    • Five hours before the procedure, drink the remaining 32 ounces of the MiraLAX-Gatorade mixture.
    • Two hours before the procedure, stop all eating and drinking.

Bowel prep procedures will cause diarrhea. Therefore, you should stay near a toilet as you conduct the procedure.


How MiraLAX works

MiraLAX is classified as an osmotic laxative. This means that it works by drawing water into the colon. The water softens the stool and may naturally stimulate the colon to contract. These actions help ease bowel movements.

How long does it take to work?

MiraLAX doesn’t usually cause a bowel movement immediately after it’s taken. For most people, it causes a bowel movement within one to three days after it’s taken. (The timing will be different if it’s used for colonoscopy bowel prep, as described above).

Alternatives to MiraLAX

MiraLAX is an osmotic laxative used to treat constipation. There are other osmotic laxatives, and other types of laxatives, that can also be used to treat constipation. Examples of these laxatives include:

  • Osmotic laxatives. These products work by drawing water into the colon (large intestine), which softens the stool and can cause the colon to contract. These effects help to produce a bowel movement. Examples of osmotic laxatives include:
    • lactulose (Enulose, Kristalose)
    • magnesium citrate
    • magnesium hydroxide (Milk of Magnesia)
  • Bulk-forming laxatives. These products work like osmotic laxatives, drawing water into the colon to make the stool softer. But in addition to that, they contain fiber to bulk up the stool, which naturally stimulates movement of the colon to pass the stool. Examples of bulk-forming laxatives include:
    • calcium polycarbophil (FiberCon, Fiber-Lax)
    • wheat dextrin (Benefiber)
    • methylcellulose (Citrucel)
    • psyllium (Konsyl, Metamucil, others)
  • Stool softeners. These products work by drawing water into the stool itself to make it softer and easier to pass. They don’t stimulate a bowel movement, as many laxatives do. Examples of stool softeners include:
    • docusate (Colace, Kao-Tin, Surfak, others)
  • Stimulant laxatives. These products work by irritating the intestines and causing them to contract. They also work by increasing water in the intestines. Both of these actions help cause a bowel movement. Examples of stimulant laxatives include:
    • bisacodyl (Dulcolax, others)
    • senna (Ex-Lax, Senokot, others)

MiraLAX vs. other drugs

You may wonder how certain products compare to MiraLAX. Below are comparisons between MiraLAX and several other treatments.

MiraLAX vs. Metamucil

MiraLAX and Metamucil are both laxatives, but they work in different ways.

MiraLAX is an osmotic laxative. That means it draws water into the colon, which softens the stool and may naturally stimulate the colon to contract. These actions help ease bowel movements.

Metamucil is a psyllium fiber supplement that works as a bulk-forming laxative. Like osmotic laxatives, Metamucil draws water into the colon and makes the stool softer. But in addition to that, its fiber content bulks up the stool, which naturally stimulates movement of the colon to pass the stool.

Uses

MiraLAX is used for short-term treatment of constipation and long-term treatment of chronic constipation. It’s also used for bowel prep before colonoscopy.

Metamucil is primarily used for preventing constipation. However, it may also be used for short-term treatment of constipation, as well as long-term treatment of chronic constipation. Metamucil is also used to help treat diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulosis, and high cholesterol.

Drug forms

MiraLAX comes as a powder in bottles and single-serve packets. You mix the powder with four to eight ounces of liquid and drink it once daily.

Metamucil is available as a powder and as a capsule. You mix the powder with 8 ounces of water and drink it one to three times daily. For the capsule, you typically take two to five capsules up to four times daily.

Side effects and risks

MiraLAX and Metamucil have very similar common side effects. These can include:

  • diarrhea or loose stools
  • stomach pain
  • bloating
  • gas (flatulence)
  • nausea

Some people may have more gas or bloating with Metamucil compared to MiraLAX. However, this side effect may decrease or go away with continued use of either product.

Taking Metamucil without adequate liquid can cause choking. Be sure to take Metamucil with at least 8 ounces of liquid. If you have swallowing problems, don’t take Metamucil.

Effectiveness

MiraLAX and Metamucil are both effective for treating constipation, but they have not been compared in clinical studies.

Guidelines from the American College of Gastroenterology and American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons recommend increasing dietary fiber or using fiber supplements such as Metamucil as a first-choice option to prevent and treat constipation, including chronic constipation.

They also recommend osmotic laxatives such as MiraLAX for treating constipation, including chronic constipation.

Both MiraLAX and Metamucil usually take one to three days to cause a bowel movement.

MiraLAX vs. Colace

MiraLAX is an osmotic laxative. That means it draws water into the colon, which softens the stool and may naturally stimulate the colon to contract. These actions help ease bowel movements.

Colace is a stool softener. It helps to draw water into the stool itself to make it softer and easier to pass. It doesn’t stimulate a bowel movement, as many laxatives do.

Uses

MiraLAX is used for short-term treatment of constipation and long-term treatment of chronic constipation. It’s also used for bowel prep before colonoscopy.

Colace is used short-term to prevent and to treat constipation. It’s not currently recommended for long-term treatment of chronic constipation. Colace is commonly used after surgical procedures to help prevent constipation.

Drug forms

MiraLAX comes as a powder in bottles and single-serve packets. You mix the powder with four to eight ounces of liquid and drink it once daily.

Colace comes as a capsule you typically take twice daily.

Side effects and risks

Common MiraLAX side effects include:

  • diarrhea or loose stools
  • stomach pain
  • bloating
  • gas (flatulence)
  • nausea

Colace doesn’t commonly cause side effects. In some cases, it causes loose stools. Diarrhea is considered a rare side effect.

Effectiveness

MiraLAX and Colace are both effective for treating constipation. However, their effectiveness hasn’t been compared in clinical studies.

Guidelines from the American College of Gastroenterology and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons recommend osmotic laxatives, including MiraLAX, for treating constipation, including chronic constipation.

Although Colace is very commonly used to treat constipation, these guidelines don’t recommend it for this use due to a lack of evidence showing benefit.

Both MiraLAX and Colace usually take one to three days to cause a bowel movement.

MiraLAX vs. Dulcolax

MiraLAX is an osmotic laxative. That means it draws water into the colon, which softens the stool and may naturally stimulate the colon to contract. These actions help ease bowel movements.

Dulocolax (bisacodyl) is a stimulant laxative. It works by irritating the intestines and causing them to contract. It also works by increasing water in the intestines. Both of these actions help cause a bowel movement.

Uses

MiraLAX is used for short-term treatment of constipation and long-term treatment of chronic constipation. It’s also used for bowel prep before colonoscopy.

Dulcolax is used for short-term treatment of constipation. It should not be used long-term. Dulcolax may also be used in combination with other laxatives (including MiraLAX) for bowel prep before colonoscopy or other procedures.

Drug forms

MiraLAX comes as a powder in bottles and single-serve packets. You mix the powder with four to eight ounces of liquid and drink it once daily.

Dulcolax comes as tablets and rectal suppositories. Both forms are used once per day.

Side effects and risks

Common side effects from both MiraLAX and Dulcolax include:

  • diarrhea or loose stools
  • bloating
  • gas (flatulence)
  • nausea

The following side effects can occur with both MiraLAX and Dulcolax, but are more common with Dulcolax:

  • stomach pain
  • cramping
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • electrolyte problems such as low potassium

Stimulant laxatives, including Dulcolax, are also more likely to cause laxative dependence when used long-term. This can cause severe constipation when the medication is stopped.

Effectiveness

MiraLAX and Dulcolax are both effective for treating constipation. However, their effectiveness hasn’t been compared in clinical studies.

Guidelines from the American College of Gastroenterology and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons recommend osmotic laxatives such as MiraLAX for treating constipation, including chronic constipation.

Dulcolax is considered a second-choice option for short-term treatment of constipation. Also, it shouldn’t be used long-term.

Another difference is how long these products take to work. MiraLAX usually takes one to three days to cause a bowel movement. Dulcolax tablets, on the other hand, usually cause a bowel movement within 6 to 12 hours. And Dulcolax suppositories typically do so within 15 minutes to an hour.

MiraLAX vs. milk of magnesia

MiraLAX is an osmotic laxative. That means it draws water into the colon, which softens the stool and may naturally stimulate the colon to contract. These actions help ease bowel movements.

Milk of magnesia (Phillip’s Milk of Magnesia and others) is another name for magnesium hydroxide. It works like an osmotic laxative.

Uses

MiraLAX is used for short-term treatment of constipation and long-term treatment of chronic constipation. It’s also used for bowel prep before colonoscopy.

Milk of magnesia is used for short-term treatment of constipation. It’s not currently recommended for long-term treatment of chronic constipation.

Drug forms

MiraLAX comes as a powder in bottles and single-serve packets. You mix the powder with four to eight ounces of liquid and drink it once daily.

Milk of magnesia is the liquid form of magnesium hydroxide. Milk of magnesia products come as liquid suspensions. They’re usually taken once daily, but may be taken more often if needed.

Magnesium hydroxide products also come as oral tablets or caplets that are typically taken once daily.

Side effects and risks

Common side effects of MiraLAX include:

  • diarrhea or loose stools
  • stomach pain
  • bloating
  • gas (flatulence)
  • nausea

Milk of magnesia and other magnesium hydroxide products can cause the same side effects as MiraLAX, as well as:

  • cramping
  • vomiting
  • chalky taste

If you have kidney problems, you should not use milk of magnesia or other magnesium hydroxide products. These products can cause high magnesium levels in the body, which can cause dangerous side effects such as:

Effectiveness

An analysis of studies comparing MiraLAX and milk of magnesia for constipation in children found conflicting results. Some of these studies show that MiraLAX might be slightly more effective than milk of magnesia. However, another study in the analysis found that milk of magnesia may be more effective.

Guidelines for treating constipation in children recommend MiraLAX as a first choice for short- and long-term treatment of constipation. Milk of magnesia is considered a second-choice option.

For adults, guidelines from the American College of Gastroenterology and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons recommend osmotic laxatives such as MiraLAX for treating constipation, including chronic constipation.

Even though milk of magnesia and other magnesium hydroxide products are very commonly used for treating constipation in adults, these guidelines don’t recommend them for this purpose because there’s not a lot of evidence showing benefit.

Another difference between MiraLAX and milk of magnesia is how long they take to work. MiraLAX usually takes one to three days to cause a bowel movement. Milk of magnesia, on the other hand, usually causes a bowel movement within 30 minutes to 6 hours.

MiraLAX vs. Benefiber

MiraLAX and Benefiber are both laxatives but work in different ways.

MiraLAX is an osmotic laxative. That means it draws water into the colon, which softens the stool and may naturally stimulate the colon to contract. These actions help ease bowel movements.

Benefiber is a wheat dextrin fiber supplement that works as a bulk-forming laxative. Like osmotic laxatives, Benefiber draws water into the colon and makes the stool softer. But in addition to that, its fiber content bulks up the stool, which naturally stimulates movement of the colon to pass the stool.

Uses

MiraLAX is used for short-term treatment of constipation and long-term treatment of chronic constipation. It’s also used for bowel prep before colonoscopy.

Benefiber is primarily used for preventing constipation. However, it may also be used for short-term treatment of constipation, as well as long-term treatment of chronic constipation.

Drug forms

MiraLAX comes as a powder in bottles and single-serve packets. You mix the powder with four to eight ounces of liquid and drink it once daily.

Benefiber comes as a bulk powder and in single-serving packets. The powder is mixed with 4 to 8 ounces of water or another non-carbonated beverage and taken 1 to 3 times daily. It can also be mixed into soft foods such as yogurt, pudding, or applesauce.

Side effects and risks

MiraLAX and Benefiber have very similar common side effects. These can include:

  • diarrhea or loose stools
  • stomach pain
  • bloating
  • gas (flatulence)
  • nausea

People with gluten intolerance may want to avoid using Benefiber. This is because Benefiber contains wheat dextrin. The manufacturer says that it contains less than 20 ppm of gluten.

Effectiveness

MiraLAX and Benefiber are both effective for treating constipation. However, no clinical studies have directly compared their effectiveness.

Guidelines from the American College of Gastroenterology and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons recommend increasing dietary fiber or using fiber supplements such as Benefiber as a first-choice treatment to prevent and treat constipation, including chronic constipation.

They also recommend osmotic laxatives such as MiraLAX for treating constipation, including chronic constipation.

Both MiraLAX and Benefiber usually take one to three days to cause a bowel movement.

MiraLAX vs. Lactulose

Both MiraLAX and lactulose are osmotic laxatives. They work by drawing water into the colon, which softens the stool and can naturally cause the colon to contract. These actions help ease bowel movements.

MiraLAX is available over-the-counter. Lactulose requires a prescription from your doctor.

Uses

MiraLAX is used for short-term treatment of constipation and long-term treatment of chronic constipation. It’s also used for bowel prep before colonoscopy.

Lactulose is used for short-term treatment of constipation and long-term treatment of chronic constipation. Lactulose is also used for people with severe liver disease who have a condition called hepatic encephalopathy.

Drug forms

MiraLAX comes as a powder in bottles and single-serve packets. You mix the powder with four to eight ounces of liquid and drink it once daily.

Lactulose comes as an oral solution and as a powder that you mix with water and drink. You take either form once daily.

Side effects and risks

MiraLAX and lactulose have very similar common side effects. These can include:

  • diarrhea or loose stools
  • stomach pain
  • bloating
  • gas (flatulence)
  • nausea

These side effects may be more common with lactulose. Lactulose may also be more likely to cause electrolyte imbalances as a result of diarrhea. Decreasing the dosage of lactulose may reduce these side effects.

Effectiveness

MiraLAX and lactulose are both effective for treating constipation. Both usually take one to three days to cause a bowel movement.

Guidelines from the American College of Gastroenterology and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons recommend osmotic laxatives such as these products for treating constipation, including chronic constipation, in adults.

An analysis of studies in children with constipation found that MiraLAX may be more effective than lactulose for increasing bowel movements.

Guidelines for treating constipation in children recommend MiraLAX as a first-choice option for short- and long-term treatment of constipation. Lactulose is considered a second-choice option.

MiraLAX vs. GoLytely

MiraLAX and GoLytely are both osmotic laxatives. That means they draw water into the colon, which softens the stool and may naturally stimulate the colon to contract. These actions help ease bowel movements.

MiraLAX and GoLytely also contain the same main ingredient, polyethylene glycol. In addition, GoLytely contains the electrolytes potassium and sodium.

MiraLAX is an over-the-counter, brand-name product. GoLytely requires a prescription from your doctor.

Uses

MiraLAX is used for short-term treatment of constipation and long-term treatment of chronic constipation. It’s also used for bowel prep before colonoscopy.

GoLytely is only used for bowel prep before colonoscopy or other procedures.

Drug forms

MiraLAX comes as a powder in bottles and single-serve packets. You mix the powder with four to eight ounces of liquid and drink it once daily when used for constipation. When used for bowel prep, larger doses are taken over a period of two days.

GoLytely comes as a powder in a large 4-liter jug. You need to add water to the jug, and then drink the solution as part of a bowel preparation procedure.

Side effects and risks

MiraLAX and GoLytely share some similar side effects, but GoLytely also has additional effects.

More common side effects

Using MiraLAX and GoLytely for bowel prep before colonoscopy or other procedures can cause similar common side effects, such as:

  • bloating
  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • thirst

Loose stools and diarrhea are expected to occur with bowel prep procedures.

Serious side effects

Although uncommon, some serious side effects have happened in people using GoLytely bowel preparation, such as:

Other considerations

If you have certain health problems, your doctor may do special tests before prescribing GoLytely. Or, they may recommend other products. These health problems include:

  • heart arrhythmia
  • heart failure
  • seizures
  • kidney problems
  • ulcerative colitis
  • blockage in the intestine

Effectiveness

MiraLAX and GoLytely have been directly compared in clinical studies. In one study, GoLytely was more effective than MiraLAX mixed with Gatorade for bowel cleansing before colonoscopy.

In another study, a combination of MiraLAX in Gatorade plus Dulcolax worked as well as GoLytely for bowel cleansing before colonoscopy.

MiraLAX vs. Citrucel

MiraLAX and Citrucel are both laxatives but work in different ways.

MiraLAX is an osmotic laxative. That means it draws water into the colon, which softens the stool and may naturally stimulate the colon to contract. These actions help ease bowel movements.

Citrucel is a methylcellulose fiber supplement that works as a bulk-forming laxative. Like osmotic laxatives, Citrucel draws water into the colon and makes the stool softer. But in addition to that, its fiber content bulks up the stool, which naturally stimulates movement of the colon to pass the stool.

Uses

MiraLAX is used for short-term treatment of constipation and long-term treatment of chronic constipation. It’s also used for bowel prep before colonoscopy.

Citrucel is primarily used for preventing constipation. However, it may also be used for short-term treatment of constipation, as well as long-term treatment of chronic constipation.

Drug forms

MiraLAX comes as a powder in bottles and single-serve packets. You mix the powder with four to eight ounces of liquid and drink it once daily.

Citrucel is available as a bulk powder and in caplets (coated oval tablets). You mix the powder with eight ounces of liquid and drink it one to three times daily. You take the caplet one to six times daily.

Side effects and risks

MiraLAX and Citrucel have very similar common side effects. These can include:

  • diarrhea or loose stools
  • stomach pain or bloating
  • gas or flatulence
  • nausea

These side effects may decrease or go away with continued use of the products.

Taking Citrucel without adequate liquid can cause choking. Be sure to take Citrucel with at least eight ounces of liquid. If you have swallowing problems, don’t take Citrucel.

Effectiveness

MiraLAX and Citrucel are both effective for constipation. Both products usually take one to three days to cause a bowel movement.

Guidelines from the American College of Gastroenterology and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons recommend increasing dietary fiber or using fiber supplements such as Citrucel as a first-choice option to prevent and treat constipation, including chronic constipation.

The guidelines also recommend osmotic laxatives such as MiraLAX for treating constipation, including chronic constipation.

MiraLAX vs. PediaLax

MiraLAX is an osmotic laxative. That means it draws water into the colon, which softens the stool and may naturally stimulate the colon to contract. These actions help ease bowel movements.

PediaLax (magnesium hydroxide) reduces acid levels in the stomach. It also works like an osmotic laxative. It draws water into the colon, which softens the stool and can naturally stimulate the colon to contract. These effects help produce a bowel movement. (This comparison addresses only the chewable tablet form of PediaLax.)

Uses

MiraLAX is used for short-term treatment of constipation and long-term treatment of chronic constipation. It’s also used for bowel prep before colonoscopy.

MiraLAX is approved for over-the-counter use in adults and children aged 17 years and older. When recommended or prescribed by a doctor, it may also be used in younger children with ages ranging from under 2 years to 16 years.

PediaLax is used for short-term treatment of constipation. It’s not recommended for long-term treatment of chronic constipation.

PediaLax is approved for over-the-counter use in children ages 2 to 11 years.

Drug forms

MiraLAX comes as a powder in bottles and single-serve packets. You mix the powder with four to eight ounces of liquid and drink it once daily.

PediaLax comes as a chewable tablet that may be taken one to six times daily, depending on the child’s age.

Side effects and risks

Common side effects of MiraLAX include:

  • diarrhea or loose stools
  • stomach pain or bloating
  • gas or flatulence
  • nausea

PediaLax can cause the same side effects as MiraLAX, as well as:

  • cramping
  • vomiting
  • chalky taste

If your child has kidney problems, they should not use PediaLax. This product can cause high magnesium levels in the body, which can cause dangerous side effects such as:

  • muscle weakness
  • low blood pressure
  • confusion
  • heart rhythm changes

Effectiveness

MiraLAX and PediaLax are both effective for treating constipation in children. According to the North American Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, MiraLAX is a first-choice medication for treating and preventing constipation in children.

Products that contain magnesium hydroxide, such as PediaLax, are recommended as second-choice options.

Another difference between the two products is how long they take to work. MiraLAX usually takes one to three days to cause a bowel movement. PediaLax, on the other hand, usually causes a bowel movement within 30 minutes to 6 hours.

Before giving MiraLAX or PediaLax to your child, talk with your child’s doctor. They may want to evaluate your child to determine the cause of constipation. Depending on the cause, other treatments may be needed.

MiraLAX and alcohol

If you’re taking MiraLAX to treat or prevent constipation, you should avoid drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol, especially excessive drinking, can cause stomach problems and might worsen side effects caused by MiraLAX, such as:

  • diarrhea
  • stomach pain
  • bloating
  • dehydration
  • nausea

If you’re using MiraLAX for bowel prep before colonoscopy or another procedure, you shouldn’t drink alcohol. Bowel prep procedures usually allow drinking clear liquids but don’t allow alcoholic drinks.


MiraLAX interactions

MiraLAX can interact with several other medications. You may also wonder how it might interact with fiber and certain foods.

MiraLAX and other medications

Below is a list of medications that can interact with MiraLAX. This list does not contain all drugs that may interact with MiraLAX.

Different drug interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some can interfere with how well a drug works, while others can cause increased side effects.

Before taking MiraLAX, be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Diuretics

MiraLAX and other laxatives can sometimes cause electrolyte imbalances. Certain diuretics can also cause these problems. Taking laxatives with diuretics might increase the risk of serious side effects caused by electrolyte imbalances, such as muscle weakness and heart rhythm problems.

Examples of these diuretics include:

  • furosemide (Lasix)
  • bumetanide (Bumex)
  • torsemide (Demadex)

Drugs that prolong the QT interval

Certain medications prolong your QT interval, which means they might affect the rhythm of your heartbeat.

Although it’s not common, MiraLAX and other laxatives can cause electrolyte imbalances. These imbalances can increase the risk of a serious heart arrhythmia in people who have a prolonged QT interval. If you have electrolyte imbalances caused by MiraLAX or other laxatives, you should not take medications that prolong the QT interval.

Examples of these medications include:

  • amiodarone (Pacerone)
  • antipsychotic medications such as pimozide (Orap), haloperidol, quetiapine (Seroquel, Seroquel XR), and ziprasidone (Geodon)
  • macrolide antibiotics such as erythromycin (Ery-Tab)
  • quinidine
  • procainamide
  • tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline, desipramine (Norpramin), and imipramine (Tofranil)
  • sotalol (Sotylize, Betapace, Betapace AF, Sorine)

Oral medications

You shouldn’t take oral medications (drugs you take by mouth) during the hour before you use MiraLAX for bowel prep before colonoscopy or other procedures. MiraLAX bowel prep procedures may decrease the amount of these drugs that your body absorbs.

MiraLAX and fiber

Many people take daily fiber products to prevent constipation or for general digestive health. Fiber products are usually a first choice for preventing and treating constipation.

When fiber alone isn’t enough for preventing or treating constipation, MiraLAX may be taken along with it until constipation goes away.

MiraLAX and foods

MiraLAX powder should be added to four to eight ounces of water or other liquids. These other liquids can include milk or coffee.

MiraLAX and milk

MiraLAX can be mixed with and consumed in milk. Be sure to mix it with at least four to eight ounces of milk.

MiraLAX in coffee

MiraLAX can be mixed with and consumed in coffee. Be sure to mix it with at least four to eight ounces of coffee.

Common questions about MiraLAX

Here are answers to some common questions about MiraLAX.

Is MiraLAX a stool softener?

MiraLAX is classified as an osmotic laxative, not a stool softener. However, both products do soften the stool. Osmotic laxatives do this by drawing water into the colon (large intestine). Stool softeners do it by drawing water into the stool itself.

Is MiraLAX a laxative?

Yes, MiraLAX is a laxative. It’s called an osmotic laxative. This means it works by drawing water into the colon. The water softens the stool and may naturally stimulate the colon to contract. These actions help ease bowel movements.

MiraLAX is not a stimulant laxative.

Is MiraLAX fiber?

No, MiraLAX is not fiber.

Can I take MiraLAX with fiber?

Yes, you can take MiraLAX with fiber. Many people take fiber daily to prevent constipation and for general digestive health. Fiber products are usually a first choice for preventing and treating constipation.

When fiber isn’t enough for preventing or treating constipation, MiraLAX may also be taken until constipation goes away.

How fast does MiraLAX work?

MiraLAX usually causes a bowel movement within one to three days.

Is it safe to use MiraLAX long-term?

Over-the-counter MiraLAX and other laxatives are usually only recommended for short-term use, up to a week.

If your constipation lasts longer than a week, you should see your doctor. Your doctor may want to evaluate the cause of your constipation. Depending on the cause, your doctor may recommend long-term use of MiraLAX or other treatments.

Does MiraLAX come in a prescription form?

MiraLAX is not available in prescription form. Similar products such as GoLytely are available by prescription from a doctor.

Is MiraLAX safe for use after surgery?

MiraLAX is sometimes used after surgery to prevent and treat constipation. However, if you’ve had surgery and are having constipation, talk with your doctor. Your doctor may want to evaluate the cause of your symptoms. Depending on the cause, your doctor may recommend MiraLAX or other treatments.


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MiraLAX overdose

Taking too much MiraLAX can increase your risk of side effects.

Overdose symptoms

Symptoms of an overdose can include:

  • bloating
  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • excessive diarrhea
  • dehydration
  • electrolyte imbalances
  • thirst

What to do in case of overdose

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or seek guidance from the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or through their online tool. But if your symptoms are severe, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

MiraLAX warnings

Before taking MiraLAX, talk with your doctor about your health history. MiraLAX may not be appropriate for you if you have certain medical conditions.

  • For people with kidney disease: Although it’s not common, MiraLAX and other laxatives can cause electrolyte imbalances. This problem can be worse in people with kidney disease. If you have kidney disease, talk with your doctor before using MiraLAX or other laxatives.
  • For people with stomach problems: If you have stomach problems such as nausea, vomiting, bloating, or stomach pain, talk with your doctor before using MiraLAX or other laxatives. Your doctor may need to evaluate the cause of your symptoms to see if MiraLAX or other laxatives are safe for you.
  • For people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): MiraLAX and other laxatives may worsen some symptoms of IBS. If you have IBS, talk with your doctor before taking MiraLAX or other laxatives.
  • For people with swallowing problems: MiraLAX may cause choking when used by people with swallowing problems. If you have swallowing problems, talk with your doctor before using MiraLAX.


MiraLAX expiration

Each MiraLAX package is given an expiration date by the manufacturer of the product. This date is printed on the package. The purpose of the expiration date is to guarantee the effectiveness of the medication during this time.

The current stance of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to avoid using expired medications. However, an FDA study showed that many medications may still be good beyond the expiration date listed on the bottle.

How long a medication remains good can depend on many factors, including how and where the medication is stored. MiraLAX should be stored at room temperature in its original container.

If you have unused medication that has gone past the expiration date, talk to your pharmacist about whether you might still be able to use it.

Professional information for MiraLAX

The following information is provided for clinicians and other healthcare professionals.

Mechanism of action

MiraLAX is an osmotic laxative. In the gastrointestinal tract, it retains water in the colon and within the stool. The increased water in the colon may also naturally stimulate contraction. MiraLAX increases stool weight, softens the stool, and increases stool frequency.

Pharmacokinetics and metabolism

When taken orally, less than 0.2 percent of MiraLAX is absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract. The remainder of the oral dose is recovered in the stool. MiraLAX is not fermented or metabolized in the gastrointestinal tract.

Contraindications

MiraLAX is contraindicated in patients with:

  • known or suspected gastrointestinal obstruction
  • known hypersensitivity to polyethylene glycol

Storage

MiraLAX should be stored at room temperature, 68 degrees F to 77 degrees F, in its original container.

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Medical News Today: Can a hot toddy help with a cold?

Many people believe in the healing abilities of a hot toddy for colds and flu, but does this popular home remedy work?

A hot toddy is a mixture of hot water, honey, lemon, and whiskey. Some of these ingredients may have beneficial effects, but research has not looked specifically at the effectiveness of hot toddies on the symptoms of a cold.

This article covers whether or not a hot toddy may help with a cold, how to make one, and alternative drinks that could help relieve symptoms.

Can a hot toddy help?

Hot toddy drink of whiskey, tea, cinnamon, lemon, sugar, and honey.
A hot toddy is a drink that combines whiskey, lemon, and honey.

There is currently no cure for the common cold. However, people can usually manage their symptoms using home treatments and by taking over-the-counter medication.

Honey has anti-inflammatory properties and lemon contains powerful antioxidants. Despite this, no research has specifically linked hot toddies to relieving a cold.

Many people believe that drinking a hot toddy can relieve the symptoms of a cold, some of which include:

Hot drinks are among the most common home remedies for colds and flu. One study from 2008 reported that drinking a hot fruit drink reduced sore throat, chillness, and tiredness compared with drinking a room-temperature beverage in 30 people with colds or flu.


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Effects of each ingredient

The individual ingredients in a hot toddy may have beneficial effects that can improve the symptoms of a cold. Many people make hot toddies using lemon, honey, ginger, and whiskey.

Lemon

Lemon is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that could be useful for treating colds. One systematic review from 2013 suggested that regular doses of vitamin C may reduce the duration and severity of a cold. However, the review also found that vitamin C reduced the risk of a cold occurring in the first place.

Lemon is also an active ingredient in several sore throat medications. A sore throat is a common symptom of a cold.

However, there is currently little scientific evidence suggesting that lemon can treat a sore throat.

Honey

Honey has a long history in medicine, particularly for treating cold symptoms such as a sore throat.

There is a reasonable amount of evidence to suggest that taking a dose of honey before bedtime can reduce cold symptoms in children over the age of 1. This includes reducing coughs and improving the quality of sleep.

However, little evidence is available for these effects in adults.

Ginger

Some people add other spices, such as ginger, to a hot toddy. Ginger is herb with a wide range of uses in traditional medicine.

Ginger has certain properties that may be useful in treating sore throats. For example, ginger has anti-inflammatory effects, which could help relieve a sore throat.

However, there is no evidence to support the effectiveness of ginger itself for treating a sore throat.

That said, there is some evidence to suggest that ginger may be helpful for treating nausea and vomiting. These symptoms may occur in some colds, but this is less common.

Whiskey

Although some ingredients of a hot toddy could therefore improve the symptoms of a cold on their own, it is unclear whether the combination in a hot toddy would reduce cold symptoms.

It is possible that the whiskey element counteracts some of these effects or causes negative effects. Alcohol can cause dehydration and lower immune system function, which may worsen cold symptoms.

Alcohol can also interact with popular cold and flu medication, so a person should exercise caution when mixing alcohol and medication.

How to make a hot toddy

Herbal tea with lemon and honey.
A person can replace whiskey with tea for a nonalcoholic version.

There are many varieties of hot toddy and several different ways of making it. A classic hot toddy includes:

  • water
  • whiskey
  • honey
  • lemon juice
  • a chunk of lemon and cinnamon stick to garnish

To make a hot toddy, boil water in a kettle or saucepan. Mix 25–50 milliliters of whiskey with 3 teaspoons of honey and a splash of lemon juice in a heat-proof container.

Add the boiling water and mix all the ingredients together. Finally, garnish with a chunk of lemon and a cinnamon stick.

To make a nonalcoholic version, swap the whiskey for tea. This can be black, green, or any type of fruit tea.


Alternatives

Many similar alternatives to a hot toddy could help reduce the symptoms of a cold. These could include:

  • lemon and ginger tea
  • honey and lemon tea
  • green tea
  • black tea
  • a fruit smoothie
  • grapefruit or orange juice
  • water


Summary

Although there are no cures for the common cold, people can treat some of the symptoms. A hot toddy contains several ingredients that may be able to reduce cold symptoms, such as lemon, honey, and hot water.

Adding spices, such as ginger, to a hot toddy may also have benefits. There is, however, no evidence to suggest that alcohol can help with the symptoms.

Doctors often recommend that people avoid drinking alcohol when they have a cold or flu. This is because it can reduce immune system function and may make the cold worse.

Overall, though some people find this remedy helpful, research has not yet confirmed whether a hot toddy can reliably help with the symptoms of a cold.

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Medical News Today: A guide to low-carb diets for diabetes

A low-carb diet can help people with diabetes better manage their blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates or carbs raise blood glucose more than other foods, meaning the body must produce more insulin to digest them.

Reducing carb intake can help stabilize blood glucose. It may also counteract some other effects of diabetes, such as weight gain and heart disease.

Despite this, low-carb diets also carry some risks, including vitamin and mineral deficiencies. For some people, low-carb diets are challenging to stick to over time.

In this article, learn more about a low-carb diet for people with diabetes. People should remember to speak to a doctor before making significant dietary changes, especially ones that affect diabetes management.


Carb recommendations

salmon, nuts and avocado on a board which are part of low carb diet for diabetics
A low-carb diet could include lean protein, nuts, and avocado.

There is no longer any expert-recommended standard carb intake for people with diabetes.

A person’s carb needs vary with their activity level, weight, health goals, and other factors. Working with a doctor or dietitian can help people set specific carb targets.

A very low-carb diet includes just 30 grams (g) or less per day. Low-carb diets include 130 g or fewer of carbs, while moderate-carb diets include between 130 and 225 g of carbs.

To get an idea of how significant a change in diet will be, people can try counting their daily carb intake for a few days, then set a new target.

Another strategy — which may be more sustainable — is to slowly and steadily reduce carb intake and see how blood glucose levels change.

For example, a person might replace their morning toast with a hard-boiled egg, then slowly replace other carbs with further nutrient-rich alternatives.


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Foods to eat and avoid

Most of the calories in a low-carb diet should come from healthful, natural sources, including:

  • vegetables
  • lean protein, such as eggs, fish, nuts, and tofu
  • good fats, such as olives or avocados
  • fruit in moderation

People following a very low-carb diet may wish to limit fruit intake since fruit also contains sugar. For most people, however, fruit is a healthful substitute for sugary snacks and processed foods.

As part of a healthful, low-carb diet, people should avoid or limit intake of the following:

  • processed foods, such as prepackaged meals and salty snacks
  • sugar-rich foods, such as cakes, candies, pastries, cookies, sodas, and juices
  • starches, especially white bread or bagels
  • alcoholic beverages
  • potatoes, including potato chips
  • other starchy vegetables
  • white pasta

Whole-grain bread, lentils, and beans are also high in carbs, but they can be a vital part of a healthful diet. Eat these foods in moderation or as a substitute for unhealthful carbs, such as cakes and pies.

Meal plan

Cauliflower pizza with pesto for a low carb diet for diabetics
Pizza with a cauliflower crust is a simple idea for a low-carb meal.

When devising a low-carb meal plan, it is useful to know how many calories a person needs each day and to stay within that range. Daily calorie intake varies depending on a person’s height, weight, and activity level.

Learn more about individual calorie intake needs in this article.

Variety can help make meals more enjoyable, so a person may wish to develop a list of tasty low-carb options.

Some simple ideas for meals include:

Breakfast

  • hard-boiled eggs
  • low-sodium cottage cheese
  • sliced avocados
  • fiber-rich smoothies with avocado, frozen berries, and a banana
  • low-fat yogurt
  • eggs and vegetables fried in extra virgin olive oil

Lunch and dinner

  • baked or grilled chicken
  • cauliflower rice with vegetables and tofu
  • salmon
  • salad with toasted nuts
  • zucchini noodles
  • bunless hamburgers or cheeseburgers
  • pizza with a cauliflower crust
  • chicken stuffed with vegetables and cheese
  • whole-grain pasta with vegetables or fish
  • tuna, including packaged tuna and tuna steaks
  • spaghetti squash stuffed with vegetables
  • eggplant lasagna

Snacks

  • nuts
  • fruit
  • hummus and vegetables
  • string cheese
  • beef jerky
  • olives
  • dark chocolate
  • kale chips
  • apples and peanut butter
  • steamed edamame
  • sardines


How do carbs affect diabetes?

A low-carb diet may be one of the most effective diabetes management strategies, especially for people who might be able to avoid medication.

Carbs elevate blood glucose more than any other food. For people with insulin resistance, blood glucose may remain elevated for hours after eating carbs.

For those with type 1 diabetes who do not produce enough insulin, carbs can also cause blood glucose spikes, so a low-carb diet may help people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Carbs can also affect a person’s health in other ways. Carb-rich foods tend to be high in calories but low in some important nutrients, such as protein. Eating too many of these “empty calories” can lead to weight gain.

Research shows that people who eat carb-rich foods may also feel more hunger between meals, causing them to overeat.

A low-carb diet may also:

  • give a person more energy
  • lower average blood glucose, or HbA1c levels
  • reduce food cravings, especially for sugar
  • lower the risk of hypoglycemia
  • aid weight loss efforts
  • decrease the risk of long-term diabetes complications
  • lower cholesterol

Risks and considerations

Woman speaking to a dietician
A person should speak to a doctor or dietitian if they are considering a low-carb diet to manage diabetes.

Without proper planning, a low-carb diet can make it more difficult to get specific nutrients.

People on a low-carb diet may also eat large amounts of protein, which may accelerate kidney damage if they already have kidney disease.

Other risks include:

These risks may be due to eating too many processed protein sources, such as cold cuts and red meat. Limiting fruit and whole-grains can also be problematic if a person is not getting enough fiber.

Some people struggle to maintain a low-carb diet in the long term. Eating a low-carb diet may cause some people to feel hungry, moody, or have trouble concentrating.

Anyone who wants to try a low-carb diet to help manage diabetes may want to speak to a doctor or dietitian first, as healthcare professionals can help ensure they get all the nutrients they need.


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Summary

A low-carb diet can help people with diabetes avoid complications. It can help keep blood pressure low, reduce energy slumps, aid weight loss, and even reverse the course of the disease.

For people who want to avoid medication or whose doctor has only recently diagnosed diabetes, a low-carb diet may be the first line of treatment.

Low-carb diets are not for everyone as an unhealthful low-carb diet — such as living off of fried, fatty meats — can be even more harmful to a person’s health than lots of carbs.

Likewise, a person must be able to stick with a low-carb diet long-term to fully reap its benefits.

Before trying any new diet, always talk to a doctor or dietitian. People can consider keeping a log of their symptoms and what they have eaten, to measure how the diet affects their health over time.

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325195.php

Medical News Today: What to know about EEG tests

An electroencephalogram, or EEG, is a test that helps doctors diagnose problems with the brain’s electrical activity, such as seizures. An EEG test uses a special cap with electrodes to detect the electrical activity of the brain.

The EEG test is one of the best diagnostic tools for epilepsy and other seizure disorders. Doctors may use an EEG alongside imaging scans, such as CT scans or MRI scans, and laboratory tests to diagnose epilepsy.

Doctors also use EEG tests to look at how other brain disorders affect the patterns of electricity, or brain waves, in the brain.

In this article, we take a close look at EEG tests, including their uses and possible results. We also explain how healthcare professionals carry out the test and how to prepare for it.

Uses

Woman having an electroencephalogram or EEG test.
An EEG test can help with diagnosing and assessing a range of conditions.

Brain cells communicate with one another using electrical signals. Certain brain-related disorders can disrupt these signals. An EEG test measures changes in the brain’s electrical activity.

Doctors primarily use EEG tests to diagnose different types of seizure disorder. The tests can detect the presence of a seizure and identify where in the brain it has started.

EEGs can also help doctors evaluate other conditions, including:

  • confusion
  • dementia
  • head injuries
  • infections
  • tumors
  • sleep disorders
  • degenerative diseases
  • metabolic disturbances that affect brain function


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Procedure and what to expect

During an EEG test, a skilled EEG technician will place an electrode cap on the person’s head. This cap contains between 16 and 25 flat metal discs called electrodes, which measure the electrical activity of the brain.

The EEG test is not invasive, painful, or harmful, and it has no lasting effects.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, the procedure usually lasts approximately 20 to 40 minutes. Including the preparation time, the entire test may take 1 to 1.5 hours. The person will relax in a chair or lie on a bed during the test.

The EEG technician will measure the person’s head, and they might use a wax crayon to mark where the electrodes should go. They will rub a paste called conductive gel between the electrodes and the scalp to make sure that the electrodes receive a strong signal from the brain. Doing this helps ensure that the recording will be of high quality.

During the test, the room will be quiet and dark. The technician may ask the individual to perform various commands, such as blinking the eyes, looking at flashing lights, or breathing deeply, because these behaviors might bring on abnormal electrical signals.

Sometimes, a doctor will record an EEG on video so that they can compare the electrical signals with what is happening to the body.

If the person has a seizure during the EEG, the technician will respond appropriately to help them.

After the procedure, the technician will remove the electrodes, and the person can usually go home unless their doctor advises against it. It is easy to wash the EEG gel out of the hair.

Preparation

Person squirting hair styling mousse foam or cream into their hand
Hair styling creams or gels can affect the procedure.

Doctors will usually advise a person to avoid caffeine for 8 hours before an EEG test. A person should also not use styling creams or gels in their hair before undergoing this procedure.

If a person takes any medication for a seizure disorder, they should speak to their doctor about whether it is safe to take before the test.

A doctor may ask a person to limit their sleep before an EEG so that they are sleep-deprived during the test. An EEG test during sleep or following sleep deprivation has a better chance of showing irregular brain activity.


Normal ranges

The EEG test records electrical activity and looks for any abnormalities.

Doctors can recognize the changes that indicate seizure-related brain activity, which they refer to as epileptiform brain activity. The EEG test can sometimes detect this activity even when a person is not currently having a seizure. An EEG may involve deep breathing or flashing lights, both of which can bring on epileptiform activity.

A trained professional will look at the output from the electrical recordings and interpret whether the results are typical or whether there are signs of abnormal activity, including seizures.

Having normal EEG results does not always rule out epilepsy as it does not show what happens to the brain at other times. Also, it is possible to have abnormal findings on an EEG and not have epilepsy. Some types of epilepsy are more difficult than others to detect using just an EEG on the scalp.

Interpreting the results

EEG results
A doctor can help with interpreting EEG results.

EEG tests demonstrate what is happening in the brain at the time of the test. If a person has a seizure during an EEG, this interrupts normal brain activity, and the technician can see abnormal brain waves. These patterns help diagnose epilepsy.

During an EEG, the technician will place the electrodes in a particular arrangement called the 10-20 system. They will place each electrode either 10% or 20% of the distance between specific points on the head. Each electrode has a number, and the technician will put the electrodes with odd numbers on the left side of the head and those with even numbers on the right.

Each electrode also has an assigned letter, which will be either F for frontal lobe, P for parietal lobe, O for occipital lobe, T for temporal lobe, or Z for the midline. The different lobes of the brain are responsible for particular functions, such as language, memory, or speech.

Therefore, when a technician or doctor looks at the EEG results, they can identify the part of the brain in which the abnormal electrical activity is occurring.

In a partial or focal seizure, only some electrodes will detect abnormal activity. In a generalized seizure, any unusual activity will show up on all of the electrodes.

The various types of brain wave on an EEG have different names, and doctors categorize them by their frequency, which is the number of waves per second. Examples include alpha waves, delta waves, and spike waves. Certain types of wave occur at specific times or in particular areas of the brain.

Together, all of the information on abnormal brain waves that an EEG test provides can help doctors identify a seizure disorder or another disorder of the brain.


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Summary

An EEG test, along with other diagnostic tests, can help identify if a person has epilepsy or another seizure disorder. It can also provide doctors with more information about other disorders relating to the brain.

An EEG is typically brief and often takes place in an outpatient setting. An EEG technician will monitor the person during the test.

A doctor will review the results of the EEG once the test is complete. A person can follow up with their doctor regarding the results of the test and ask them any questions they may have.

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325191.php

Medical News Today: Second-degree burn: Everything you need to know

Second-degree burns, or partial thickness burns, are more severe than first-degree burns. They affect the outer layer of skin, called the epidermis, and part of the second layer of skin, called the dermis.

Second-degree burns can be very painful and often take several weeks to heal. Burns that affect large areas of skin can cause serious complications and may be prone to infection.

In this article, learn more about second-degree burns, including the symptoms and when to see a doctor.

What is a second-degree burn?

Second degree burn on arm.
Second-degree burns affect multiple layers of skin.

Doctors categorize burns according to the amount of damage they cause to the skin and surrounding tissue.

  • First-degree burns are generally minor and affect only the outer layer of skin. They are the most common type of burn. Most sunburns fall into this category. Learn more about first-degree burns here.
  • Second-degree burns are more serious burns that affect the outer layer of skin and the next layer, the dermis. They take longer to heal and are more serious.
  • Third-degree burns are the most serious types of burn. They affect both layers of skin and may also affect other tissue, such as sweat glands. Third-degree burns usually need a skin graft.

Second-degree burns can be relatively minor, such as when a burn from a stove or iron burns deeper into the skin. They can also be very serious and even life-threatening.

Second-degree burns are more dangerous when:

  • They affect large areas of the body.
  • They affect the joints, face, or hands.
  • They affect the genitals or buttocks.
  • They occur in someone with a weakened immune system, such as someone who is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

Second-degree burns can cause serious infections, especially if they cover large areas of the body or if a person does not receive the right treatment.


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Causes

Physical sources of heat, such as the sun and stoves, can cause second-degree burns. Certain chemicals, including bleach and other cleaning products, can also cause burns.

Some common causes of second-degree burns include:

  • severe sunburn, such as when a person with very fair skin sits in the sun for an extended period
  • accidents with ovens and stoves
  • exposure to fire
  • contact with boiling water

Accidental injuries are a common reason for second-degree burns. For example, a child might place their hand on a hot burner.

Intentional abuse, such as during acid attacks, can also cause second-degree burns.

Symptoms

A second-degree burn that covers a large part of the body will require medical attention.
A second-degree burn that covers a large part of the body will require medical attention.

Any serious burn, especially on exposed areas of the skin or on large sections of the body, warrants a trip to the doctor.

Some common symptoms of second-degree burns include:

  • a wet-looking or seeping wound
  • blisters
  • a burn with an irregular pattern
  • intense pain or skin sensitivity
  • skin that looks white, very deep red, or very dark brown

A person who develops a fever or feels ill after sustaining a burn may have an infection.


Diagnosis

A doctor or other healthcare professional can diagnose the severity of a burn by looking at it. They will ask questions about what caused the burn, as well as whether the person has any other medical conditions.

In some cases, a doctor will also estimate the percentage of the body the burn covers, as this can help with assessing the risk of infection and serious complications.

Treatment

People who think they have sustained second-degree burns should seek medical care. Receiving the right first aid can prevent serious complications.

While a person is waiting to be examined, performing the following steps may help:

  • Remove any clothing, pieces of jewelry, or other objects that cover the burn. They may be hot, continuing to burn the skin and intensifying the severity of the burn. If it is not possible to remove clothing without damaging the skin, leave it on.
  • Cool the burn by running it under cool, but not cold, water. Do not apply ice to the burn.
  • Drink plenty of water or electrolyte fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Cover the burn with gauze or a loose dressing. Do not wrap the cover tightly, as this can cut off circulation.
  • Do not break open blisters.
  • Avoid applying butter or other home remedies, especially immediately after sustaining the burn.

Medical treatment depends on the severity and location of the burn. A doctor may clean the burn or apply an antibiotic cream.

If the burn is very severe or covers much of the body, a person may need to stay in the hospital for monitoring.

A doctor may also prescribe antibiotics, especially if a person has an infection or is at high risk of developing one. Severe infections might require treatment with intravenous antibiotics.

Very serious second-degree burns may need a skin graft. During a skin graft, a surgeon will transplant skin from one area of the body to another to replace the damaged skin.


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Recovery

Applying moisturizer to a closed burn wound can help promote healing and prevent scarring.
Applying moisturizer to a closed burn wound can help promote healing and prevent scarring.

Recovering from second-degree burns can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. If a person develops complications, recovery might take longer.

Home management varies depending on the severity of the burn and the overall health of the person who sustained it. It is vital to ask for clear burn management guidelines from the doctor who treated it.

To speed up recovery and help reduce pain, a person can try the following strategies:

  • Take over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Keep the burn clean and covered.
  • Regularly moisturize the burn once the wound closes and stops draining. This can speed healing and may reduce or prevent scarring.
  • Apply an OTC antibiotic ointment to the wound to keep it clean and prevent infection.
  • Avoid rubbing, scratching, or picking at the burn, as this can reopen the wound, increasing the risk of infection.

If a person develops a fever, notices red streaks around the burn, or believes that their symptoms have suddenly worsened, they may have an infection. In this case, they should see a doctor.

Summary

Many common accidents can cause second-degree burns, including spilling something hot on the skin or touching a hot appliance.

Receiving prompt treatment can help prevent scarring, infections, and other serious complications, so it is best to see a doctor as soon as possible. If the burn is large or intensely painful, go to the emergency room.

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325189.php

Medical News Today: What are the side effects of Adderall?

Adderall is a drug that children, adolescents, and adults with ADHD can take to help relieve their symptoms. Some people may experience mild to severe side effects while taking Adderall.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can cause a lack of attention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Most people with ADHD receive their diagnosis before the age of 16, and about 60% of people find that their symptoms continue to affect them in adulthood.

Adderall is a stimulant drug. Its generic name is amphetamine. Stimulant drugs tend to be the first treatment choice for the symptoms of ADHD.

The side effects of Adderall are similar to those of other stimulant drugs that people take to relieve ADHD symptoms.

In this article, we discuss the possible short- and long-term side effects of taking Adderall.

Common side effects

Woman in bed with headache, insomnia, and difficulty sleeping.
Adderall can cause headaches and difficulty sleeping.

The most common side effects of Adderall are:


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Less common side effects

There are a number of other side effects of Adderall. However, scientists have not yet determined how common they are. Such side effects may include:

Severe side effects

A heart attack is a rare possible side effect of most ADHD medication.
A heart attack is a rare possible side effect of most ADHD medication.

It is also possible to experience more severe side effects when taking Adderall. These can occur in people taking the drug at usual dosages.

Some more serious side effects of Adderall include:

  • diseases of the heart muscle
  • heart attack
  • seizures
  • severe allergic reactions
  • behavioral changes
  • psychiatric disorders
  • sudden death

These more severe side effects are not specific to Adderall but can occur with any of the stimulant drugs that people take for ADHD.

Anyone who experiences these side effects, or notices them in another person, should seek immediate medical attention.

Effects on the heart

Before prescribing Adderall, the doctor will make sure that the person does not have a heart abnormality or other serious cardiovascular issue. Taking Adderall or other stimulants can worsen preexisting heart conditions.

Adderall may increase a person’s blood pressure by 2–4 millimeters of mercury and heart rate by 3–6 beats per minute.

Some people may observe larger increases in their blood pressure and heart rate. People who already have high blood pressure or a fast heart rate should exercise caution when taking Adderall.

Seizures

Taking Adderall can lower the seizure threshold. If a person has a seizure while taking Adderall, the doctor will stop the treatment immediately.

Mental health

Taking Adderall can cause hallucinations, delusional thinking, and mania in people who do not have a history of psychotic conditions. A doctor may discontinue the treatment if symptoms of psychosis appear.

Doctors can prescribe Adderall to people with preexisting disorders involving psychosis, such as bipolar disorder. However, they will closely monitor a person for any signs of symptoms getting worse.


Long- and short-term side effects

One of the most common side effects of Adderall and other stimulants is appetite loss.

Children with a reduced appetite from taking Adderall may experience a stunt in growth if they do not get enough nutrients.

While a child is taking Adderall, their doctor will monitor their weight and height closely. If the child is not gaining enough weight, the doctor may stop Adderall treatment and suggest another approach.

Blood pressure and heart rate increases are long-term side effects of Adderall. These side effects can affect children, adolescents, and adults alike. However, the doctor will monitor these measurements at follow-up appointments.

Once a person stops taking the drug, the side effects should disappear.

Sex and age differences

There are no reported differences in side effects between females and males taking Adderall.

Children, adolescents, and adults may experience different side effects of differing severities. That said, people of all age groups may report loss of appetite and insomnia.

Adults may experience dry mouth when taking Adderall, whereas children and adolescents may not. Adults may experience abnormal physical weakness and lack of energy more often than children.

Children are more likely to vomit when taking Adderall, but nausea is common in all age groups.

Adolescents and children tend to report nervousness more often than adults. However, adults may experience higher rates of anxiety and agitation.


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Interactions and effects

Doctor holding prescription medication bottle and showing it with clipboard to patient.
A doctor can advise on the risk of Adderall interacting with other medications.

Adderall may interact with other drugs, including those that people take to treat depression and anxiety.

Many people with ADHD do have other psychiatric conditions, such as depression and anxiety. About 33% of children and 50% of adults with ADHD have anxiety.

A doctor may therefore prescribe antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications along with Adderall. It is important for doctors and pharmacists to be sure that Adderall is safe when combined with other medications.

Like other stimulants, people should not take Adderall within 14 days of taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor antidepressant. This is because the combination may increase the effect of the stimulant.

The most dangerous side effect of taking Adderall with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor is a hypertensive crisis. This can cause stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and even death.

Other medications to avoid while taking Adderall are serotonergic drugs. Serotonergic drugs include the following antidepressants:

  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
  • tricyclic antidepressants

Combining serotonergic drugs with Adderall may cause serotonin syndrome, which may cause the following symptoms:

These symptoms can range from barely noticeable to life-threatening.

When to see a doctor

Doctors will schedule follow-up appointments to ensure that the person is taking the proper dosage of Adderall. They will make sure that the medicine has the desired effect, and that a person is tolerating it and any side effects well.

People taking Adderall should discuss the side effects they are experiencing with their doctor or a pharmacist.

Anyone experiencing serious side effects relating to the cardiovascular system should seek emergency medical attention.

Seizures and severe allergic reactions, including skin reactions, also require immediate medical attention.


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Summary

Adderall is a drug that people take to relieve the symptoms of ADHD. It acts as a central nervous system stimulant.

Many different drugs can interact with Adderall to cause life-threatening side effects. Some antidepressants interact with stimulants. Doctors and pharmacists should review a person’s medication history before prescribing Adderall.

The side effects of Adderall are similar to those of other stimulant drugs that people take to reduce the impact of ADHD symptoms. It is important to note that side effects can occur at usual dosages of Adderall.

People taking Adderall should be aware of the possible serious side effects and discuss any concerns with their doctor or pharmacist.

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325188.php

Medical News Today: What foods reduce testosterone?

Some foods, including soy, dairy, and specific fats, may lower testosterone levels in the body.

However, a person can also increase testosterone levels naturally, by exercising regularly and maintaining a healthful weight.

The food a person eats can affect many aspects of their health, not just their waistline. Food powers the cells and may affect some of the body’s other components, including hormones, such as testosterone.

Consuming too much of certain foods may throw the body’s hormones out of balance or make it more difficult for the body to use hormones correctly.

Foods that may reduce testosterone

edamame and beer on a table are foods that kill testosterone
Soy and alcohol may reduce testosterone.

Testosterone is one of the major sex hormones in the body. Although men produce more testosterone, it is an important hormone for women as well. Testosterone promotes an increase in muscle mass, bone mass, body hair, and influences reproduction.

Typically, the body does an effective job regulating the hormones and keeping levels of testosterone where they need to be.

However, some foods may interfere with this process by unbalancing the hormone levels. People worried about their testosterone levels might choose to avoid the following foods.


1. Soy products

Soy foods, such as tofu, edamame, and soy protein isolates, contain phytoestrogens. These compounds are physically similar to the estrogen in the body and function in a similar way.

A study in the journal German Medical Science notes that although scientists have carried out a lot of research into soy, they still do not understand it fully.

The paper notes that many studies have not found a connection between eating soy products and altered serum testosterone or estrogen levels. However, another study showed that breast tenderness and estrogen concentrations returned to normal after a man stopped using soy.

The researchers suggested that phytoestrogens in soy might affect the body without changing the body’s hormone levels, which could cause symptoms of high estrogen.

Researchers need to do more high-quality research in both males and females to identify the exact effects of soy in the body.


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2. Dairy products

Many people looking to raise their testosterone levels might choose to avoid dairy products. This may be because some cow’s milk contains synthetic or natural hormones, which might affect a person’s testosterone levels.

Also, animal feed may contain soy, which could increase the levels of estrogen in the cow’s milk.


3. Alcohol

Anyone with concerns about their testosterone levels might also consider giving up or limiting drinking alcohol. This may be especially true for males.

While some studies have found evidence that a small amount of alcohol increases testosterone levels in men, this is generally not the case. As a study posted to Current Drug Abuse Review notes, heavy drinking or regular drinking over long periods causes a decrease of testosterone in males.

The paper also notes that alcohol consumption causes an increase in testosterone levels in women.

4. Mint

mint tea in a clear teacup
Studies suggest that mint may reduce testosterone levels.

Peppermint and spearmint may make a calming tea, but the menthol in mint may reduce testosterone levels.

According to a study paper in Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin, scientists treated female rats with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) with spearmint essential oil to test its effects on the disorder. Researchers noted that spearmint essential oil reduced testosterone levels in these rats.

A review posted to BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine also noted that there is some high-quality evidence showing that mint lowers testosterone levels in women with PCOS. However, there is not enough high-quality evidence surrounding the effect of the herb in general.

Most of the research on the topic focuses on animal models or women. Future studies should investigate the effects of mint in both sexes to get a better overall picture.


5. Bread, pastries, and desserts

A study in the journal Nutrients linked a diet high in bread, pastries, and other desserts to low total testosterone levels in Taiwanese men. Additional factors included high dairy consumption, eating out regularly, and not eating enough dark green vegetables.

According to the article, these men also had decreased muscle mass and increased body fat.

6. Licorice root

A study in Integrative Medicine Research notes that licorice root can reduce testosterone in healthy women during menstrual cycles. Animal studies also show that licorice supplementation can reduce testosterone levels.

Ideally, any future studies would look into the effects of licorice on both sexes to better understand how the herb acts in general.


7. Certain fats

The type of fat a person eats may also affect their testosterone levels and function. A study in the Asian Journal of Andrology looked at the dietary patterns of young, healthy men in regards to their hormone levels and testicular function.

Their research indicated that eating trans fats may lower testosterone levels in the body. They also found that too many omega-6 fatty acids appear to reduce testicular size and function.

However, eating plenty of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids may increase testicle size and improve function. The researchers called for more studies to confirm their findings, but people who are worried about their testosterone levels may want to avoid trans fats and limit omega-6 fats.


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Other factors

man smoking at his computer
A person who smokes may have a hormone imbalance.

Other factors that may influence hormone imbalances or low testosterone include:

  • aging
  • a sedentary lifestyle
  • chronic drug, tobacco, and marijuana use
  • obesity
  • diabetes


Ways to boost testosterone naturally

There may also be some ways to boost testosterone naturally, including:

  • eating a more balanced diet focused on fresh foods
  • avoiding overeating
  • avoiding obesity
  • doing regular exercise
  • getting plenty of sleep each night

Summary

Diet and exercise play an essential role in maintaining good health and keeping the hormones balanced. Some foods, such as dairy, fats, and soy, may reduce testosterone levels in the body. Anyone who has concerns about their testosterone levels may want to avoid these foods.

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325186.php

Medical News Today: What to know about ulcerative colitis and pregnancy

Women with ulcerative colitis may have concerns about the course of this disease during pregnancy. However, the condition does not necessarily affect the chances of becoming pregnant, and women with ulcerative colitis can have a healthy pregnancy and a safe delivery.

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that occurs when the lining of the large intestine or rectum becomes inflamed. As the disease progresses, there are periods of flare-ups during which the symptoms become worse.

In this article, we discuss some of the important things to consider to keep both the woman and baby healthy throughout the pregnancy.

Pregnancy and ulcerative colitis links

Pregnant woman with ulcerative colitis speaking to doctor, obstetrician, or gynecologist in office.
Women with UC can speak to their doctor about pregnancy.

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation note that the best time for a woman to become pregnant is when her IBD has been in remission for at least 3–6 months and she is not taking steroids or starting a new medication.

A study in Gastroenterology & Hepatology found that about 80% of women who conceive while their IBD is in remission will stay in remission for their entire pregnancy. Most doctors will, therefore, recommend that women aim to get the disease under control before trying to get pregnant. However, this is not always possible.

The study also showed that in up to 45% of women with UC who conceive while the disease is active, symptoms get worse during pregnancy. An additional 24% of women see their disease remain active but stable. Together, these findings mean that about two out of three women who get pregnant while their disease is active will continue to experience symptoms throughout pregnancy.

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How ulcerative colitis affects pregnancy

UC may also make complications from pregnancy more likely. A woman with UC has a higher risk of the following than a woman of a similar age without this condition:

  • pregnancy loss
  • premature birth
  • complications with delivery and labor

Women who have undergone certain operations for UC also appear to have slightly decreased fertility rates.

However, a report in the journal Gastroenterology notes that women who have the disease under control and who have never had surgery have the same chance as other women of getting pregnant.

How pregnancy affects ulcerative colitis

Experiencing a flare-up during pregnancy can be concerning. Flare-ups are more likely to occur early on in the first trimester of pregnancy or immediately after delivery.

Stopping a medication during pregnancy increases the risk of a flare-up and worsening disease activity, which is the most significant known risk to the pregnancy.

There is also a minimal chance of a woman passing UC to the baby. The risk is about 1.6% if the mother alone has UC, but it rises to over 30% if both parents have a form of IBD.

What to do if you are pregnant with ulcerative colitis

Any woman with UC who wants to become pregnant or discovers that she is pregnant should work closely with her doctor every step of the way to minimize the risks.

Doctors will treat a pregnant woman with UC as high-risk, meaning that they will want to check in regularly and take extra steps to avoid or manage complications that may arise from the condition.

Diagnosis

A doctor may recommend an ultrasound to diagnose ulcerative colitis.
A doctor may recommend an ultrasound to monitor UC during pregnancy.

Some standard medical procedures are effectively off-limits during pregnancy, as they may put either the woman or the fetus at risk. However, many diagnostic tools that doctors use to monitor and diagnose UC are safe to perform during pregnancy.

These procedures include:

Doctors will not usually order other imaging tests, such as CT scans or X-rays, unless it is an emergency. They might also request a pregnancy-safe MRI without the use of gadolinium, which is a substance that may increase the risk of complications.

Treatment

Although doctors will want to avoid some UC treatment options during pregnancy, several treatments present only a low risk.

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Medical treatments

Women who become pregnant may still be able to continue taking some medical treatments for UC. The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation note that many of the medications that doctors recommend to treat UC should be safe for a pregnant woman and the unborn child.

Additionally, many of these same medications are safe to use while breastfeeding.

Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding should always check in with a doctor as soon as possible to discuss their treatments before moving forward. In some cases, stopping a medication may make symptoms or the overall condition worse.

Medications for UC that appear to be low-risk during pregnancy include:

  • aminosalicylates, such as sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) and mesalamine (Asacol, Pentasa)
  • immunomodulators, including azathioprine (Imuran), cyclosporine A (Neoral, Sandimmune), and 6-mercaptopurine (Purinethol)
  • biologics, such as infliximab (Remicade) and adalimumab (Humira)

In other situations, doctors will want to adjust the dosage. For instance, if the woman is using corticosteroids when she becomes pregnant, doctors will want to lower the dosage as much as possible. Most doctors will not recommend steroids for UC maintenance therapy during pregnancy.

Other higher risk drugs that doctors may recommend avoiding during pregnancy include:

  • antibiotics
  • thalidomide
  • some biologics late in pregnancy

Surgery

Previous operations for UC do not appear to have negative effects on pregnancy, although certain procedures may affect fertility.

Women who require surgery but then get pregnant should wait until after the pregnancy to have the operation unless the condition is severe and does not respond to medication.

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Diet

Taking pre-natal supplements can help prevent folic acid deficiency.
Taking prenatal supplements can help prevent folic acid deficiency.

In people with UC, the large intestine has difficulty absorbing vital nutrients. Therefore, it is crucial to focus on proper nutrition while pregnant.

Anyone with UC who becomes pregnant should ask their doctor about seeing a dietitian. A dietitian can help a pregnant woman create a diet plan that is effective for her condition, and this may make a significant difference both to how she feels and to the health of the baby. The dietitian will recommend foods that the woman should eat or avoid to provide her and the fetus with proper nutrition.

Most women will take prenatal vitamins as part of their pregnancy care. These supplements should provide essential compounds, such as folic acid. These nutrients are especially important for UC treatments that lower folic acid levels in the body, such as aminosalicylates.

Doctors are also likely to recommend that all pregnant women minimize their caffeine and alcohol intake and quit any potentially dangerous habits, such as smoking cigarettes or marijuana.


Outlook

Complications from pregnancy may be slightly more likely for a woman with UC, but many women with the disease have few or no complications during pregnancy.

Most doctors will advise a woman to try to get pregnant when she has been symptom-free for a few months and is not on steroids or starting other medications.

The course of ulcerative colitis varies among individuals. As such, there are no guarantees of a pregnancy that is free from complications. However, this is the case for all pregnancies. Working closely with a doctor throughout the entire pregnancy will give a woman the best chance of avoiding or managing any complications.

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325184.php

Medical News Today: Melatonin for sleep: What to know

Melatonin is a natural hormone that the brain releases in response to changes in light. It helps regulate the body’s internal clock, signaling that it is time to go to sleep.

Melatonin supplements may help with a wide range of sleep issues, including insomnia, shift work sleep disorder, and sleep problems in children.

In this article, learn more about melatonin for sleep, including its side effects, the right dosage, and how it works.

What is melatonin?

person holding a melatonin pill for sleep
Melatonin supplements may improve sleep.

Melatonin is a hormone that tells the body that it is time to sleep. In people who do not have problems sleeping, the body follows an internal clock of roughly 24 hours called a circadian rhythm.

Changes in light and temperature help tell the body when to feel tired. The brain releases melatonin when it is dark, suggesting that melatonin helps regulate sleepiness in these conditions.

Exposure to light may block the production of melatonin, which is why it is important to sleep in a dark room.

A 2015 study examined zebrafish with a rare mutation that stopped them from producing melatonin. These fish slept very little, even when researchers ensured that they had adequate exposure to darkness.

These findings suggest that the body depends on melatonin, not just changes in light, to help it get to sleep.


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How does it work?

Melatonin supplements may improve sleep by boosting melatonin levels in people whose bodies do not produce enough of this hormone.

These supplements may also improve sleep in people who produce enough melatonin but still struggle to sleep for other reasons.

Melatonin changes how the body responds to darkness, helping it enter a rhythm of nighttime drowsiness.

Exposure to light at night — including light from computer and television screens — may suppress the body’s natural melatonin production and disrupt sleep.

Likewise, people who sleep during the day because they work at night may not produce melatonin when it is time to sleep. Melatonin supplements can help counteract this effect.

Research consistently shows that melatonin can help people sleep longer and fall asleep more quickly.

A 2013 meta-analysis that included 1,683 study participants found that melatonin decreased the amount of time that it took the participants to fall asleep compared with a placebo. It also increased the duration of their sleep.

Other research has suggested that melatonin can improve sleep in people with:

Dosage

The ideal dosage for melatonin varies from person to person. Various factors, such as body weight, metabolism, and overall health, may also influence the way that the body responds to melatonin.

The National Sleep Foundation recommend a dosage of between 0.2 milligrams (mg) and 5 mg for adults each day, which it is best to take 1 hour before going to bed.

People can try starting with a low dose and looking for any adverse side effects. They can then gradually increase the dose until their sleep improves, if necessary. It is important not to take more than 5 mg unless a doctor recommends a higher dose.


Side effects

One of the most common side effects of melatonin is drowsiness. Some people may notice that they feel sleepy or groggy the morning after taking melatonin.

Taking melatonin earlier in the evening or reducing the dose may help a person wake up feeling refreshed.

Other possible side effects include:

In some people with dementia, melatonin may trigger a bad mood.

Although melatonin is a natural chemical, it is important to treat it the same as any other medication. It is possible for melatonin to interact harmfully with other drugs by reducing their effectiveness, triggering negative side effects, or changing the way that the body metabolizes the drug. People who take other medications should talk to a doctor before trying melatonin.

As with any medication, an allergic reaction is possible. People with a history of allergic reactions to supplements should avoid melatonin.

Anyone who notices signs of an allergic reaction, such as itching or hives, should contact a doctor. If a person has trouble breathing or feels as though they are choking, they should go to the emergency room or call 911.

Risks

Very limited data suggest that melatonin might increase the risk of seizures, but other studies have found that it may actually lower this risk.

People with seizure disorders or a family history of seizures should consult a doctor before trying melatonin.

Some research involving children also suggests that melatonin could alter the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. In turn, this could change how the body produces or metabolizes hormones, potentially affecting the child’s growth. However, this research is inconclusive.


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For children

Doctor speaking with patient and child
A person should speak to a doctor before giving melatonin to children.

Short-term studies of melatonin in children show that it is safe, including in children with autism.

Before trying melatonin, parents and caregivers should help a child adopt good sleep practices, such as:

  • maintaining a regular, predictable sleep routine
  • scheduling dinner at least 2 hours before bedtime
  • avoiding caffeine and other stimulant drugs
  • keeping the sleep environment quiet, dark, and cool
  • not using screens for at least an hour before bedtime

Choosing the right melatonin dosage for children can be challenging as the drug is a supplement with no approved dosing guidelines. When in doubt, it is best to consult a doctor.

The authors of a paper on the use of melatonin in Canada noted that typical doses were 0.75 mg to 1 mg in children younger than 6 years, 1.5 mg to 3 mg in older children, and 5 mg to 10 mg in adolescents. It is best for children to take it between 30 and 60 minutes before bedtime.

They also stated that there was no evidence to support the use of melatonin in children younger than 2 years.

A small 2011 study of children with autism found that a lower dose could be effective. Just 1 mg or 3 mg of melatonin was beneficial for most children in the study.

Although there is no reason to suspect that melatonin might cause long-term harm, no research has established that it is safe to use for extended periods.

For this reason, parents and caregivers should use melatonin for the shortest possible period and consult a doctor before giving their child melatonin or any other supplement.

Summary

Sleep difficulties are common. While some people only experience occasional sleeplessness, others deal with chronic sleep problems. Melatonin offers a natural solution that mimics the hormone that the brain already produces.

For many people, melatonin is an effective alternative to prescription medications for sleep. However, people should treat melatonin the same as any other medication and carefully watch for side effects.

Melatonin supplements for sleep are available in pharmacies, some natural health stores, and online.

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