Medical News Today: Autism: Anti-cancer drug may improve social behavior

New research led by the State University of New York at Buffalo suggests that an anti-cancer drug may be able to reverse social impairments associated with autism.
sad boy sitting alone
How might an anti-cancer drug help to treat the symptoms of autism?

In a paper now published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, the investigators report how low doses of romidepsin — a drug approved in the United States for the treatment of lymphoma — “restored gene expression and reversed social deficits” in a mouse model of autism.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which is a developmental condition, affects behavior, social interaction, and communication.

Statistics that were compiled in the U.S. suggest that 1 in 68 children have ASD and that it is around four to five times more common in boys than in girls.

Although it is possible to diagnose the disorder at age 2, most diagnoses of ASD are not confirmed before the age of 4.

The economic costs in the U.S. for children with ASD are estimated to be in the range $11.5 billion to $60.9 billion.

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Low doses ‘reversed social deficits’

Of all the challenging and devastating symptoms that accompany ASD, difficulty interacting with others and forming relationships is particularly upsetting and there is currently no effective treatment.

The new study is thought to be the first to show that it may be possible to alleviate this primary symptom of ASD by targeting a large number of genes associated with the disorder.

“We have discovered,” says senior study author Zhen Yan, who is a professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, “a small molecule compound that shows a profound and prolonged effect on autism-like social deficits without obvious side effects […].”

This, she believes, is particularly important because “many currently used compounds for treating a variety of psychiatric diseases have failed to exhibit the therapeutic efficacy for this core symptom of autism.”

In their study, Prof. Yan and her team found that 3 days of treatment with low doses of romidepsin “reversed social deficits” in mice with a deficient SHANK3 gene, which is a known risk factor for ASD.

The reversal in social deficits lasted for 3 weeks, from juvenile into late adolescence — which is a critical period in mice for developing communication and social skills and is equivalent to several human years.

This indicates that a similar treatment might be long-lasting in humans, suggest the researchers.

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Epigenetic mechanism

This new study builds on previous work with mice by Prof. Yan and team that showed how loss of SHANK3 disrupts the n-methyl-D-aspartate receptor, which helps regulate emotion and cognition. The disruption caused problems in communication between brain cells and led to ASD-related social deficits.

To measure social deficits in the mice, the scientists placed them in controlled environments where they could assess their preference for social stimuli (such as interacting with another mouse) versus preference for non-social stimuli (such as exploring an inanimate object).

The researchers showed how romidepsin was able to reverse the social deficits by restoring the function of genes through an epigenetic mechanism.

Epigenetic mechanisms are genetic processes capable of switching genes on and off and altering their expression without changing their underlying DNA code.

Prof. Yan says that previous studies have suggested that epigenetic alterations may have a major impact in ASD.

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Chromatin remodeling opened up ASD genes

There are several ways that epigenetic mechanisms can alter gene expression without changing their DNA. For example, they can silence genes by attaching chemical tags to their DNA.

However, Prof. Yan says that the main epigenetic mechanism at work in ASD is one that remodels the structure of chromatin, which is the complex of DNA and the packaging proteins that help to compress it into the nucleus of the cell.

“The extensive overlap,” notes Prof. Yan, “in risk genes for autism and cancer, many of which are chromatin remodeling factors, supports the idea of repurposing epigenetic drugs used in cancer treatment as targeted treatments for autism.”

One of the important results of the new study is that it shows that it might be possible to target a large number of ASD-related genes with just one drug.

Romidepsin is a histone modifier, which is a type of compound that alters the proteins, or histones, that help to organize the DNA in the nucleus.

The drug “loosens up the densely packed chromatin,” Prof. Yan explains. The result is to restore gene expression by making the genes more accessible to the molecules that translate their instructions.

With the help of genome-wide screening, the researchers found that romidepsin restored gene expression in the majority of the 200-plus genes that were silenced in the autism mouse model used in the study.

The advantage of being able to adjust a set of genes identified as key autism risk factors may explain the strong and long-lasting efficacy of this therapeutic agent for autism.”

Prof. Zhen Yan

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Medical News Today: The best diets for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s disease is the most common autoimmune condition and the leading cause of hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid. It is sometimes called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or shortened to Hashimoto’s.

The thyroid gland plays a major role in metabolism, hormone regulation, and body temperature. When a person has Hashimoto’s, their thyroid is chronically inflamed and cannot function as well as a healthy thyroid.

The thyroid often slows or stops the production of essential hormones, which can cause weight gain, dry skin, hair loss, fatigue, constipation, and sensitivity to cold.

In this article, learn about what foods to eat and what foods to avoid to help ease symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease.

Best diets for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

Image of salmon fillet which may be recommended for Hashimoto diet
The Paleo diet may be recommended to treat Hashimotos’s thyroiditis.

There is no specific diet proven to treat everyone with Hashimoto’s. An individualized approach to nutrition is necessary.

Some clinical evidence has shown that the following diets have helped some people with Hashimoto’s:

  • gluten-free diet
  • sugar-free diet
  • Paleo diet
  • grain-free diet
  • dairy-free diet
  • autoimmune modified paleo diet
  • low glycemic index diet

We take a closer look at some of these diets below.

Gluten-free or grain-free

Many people with Hashimoto’s also experience food sensitivities, especially to gluten. There is no current research to support a gluten-free diet for all people with Hashimoto’s unless they also have celiac disease.

However, in a survey of 2232 people with Hashimoto’s, 76 percent of respondents believed they were sensitive to gluten. Those respondents cited constipation, diarrhea, cramping, bloating, nausea, reflux, gas, headaches, fatigue, and brain fog as symptoms of their reactions to gluten.

Of the respondents, 88 percent of those who attempted a gluten-free diet felt better. Many people also reported improvements in digestion, mood, energy levels, and weight reduction.

Gluten-free diets remove all foods with containing gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains.

Gluten is commonly found in pasta, bread, baked goods, beer, soups, and cereals. The best way to go gluten-free is to focus on foods that are naturally gluten-free, such as vegetables, fruits, lean meats, seafood, beans, legumes, nuts, and eggs.

Grain-free diet

A grain-free diet is very similar to gluten-free, except grains are also off-limits. These grains include:

  • amaranth
  • teff
  • quinoa
  • millet
  • oats
  • buckwheat

There is little evidence, however, that cutting out non-gluten grains is beneficial for health. Cutting out these grains may also eliminate fiber and other sources of essential nutrients, such as selenium, which are important for people with Hashimoto’s.

Paleo or Autoimmune Paleo

The Paleo diet attempts to mimic the eating patterns of our early ancestors, with an emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods.

Grains, dairy, potatoes, beans, lentils, refined sugar, and refined oils are not allowed. Cage-free and grass-fed meats are encouraged, as are vegetables, nuts (except peanuts), seeds, seafood, and healthful fats, such as avocado and olive oil.

The Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) diet aims to decrease foods that may cause inflammation and damage to the gut. It begins with the basic principals of the Paleo diet but also cuts out nightshade vegetables, such as tomatoes, eggs, nuts, and seeds.

Low-GI diet

A low glycemic index or low-GI diet is based on an index that measures how each food affects a person’s blood sugar levels.

Some people with type 2 diabetes use this diet; the diet can also lower the risk of heart disease and may help some people lose weight.


Kale which may be used for Hashimoto diet
A nutrient-dense diet plan that includes leafy greens, such as kale, may be recommended.

For people who do not want to focus on what foods to cut out, opting for a nutrient-dense diet plan may be the best option.

A nutrient dense diet includes variety and focuses on whole foods with a selection of colorful fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, lean proteins, and fibrous carbohydrates. Foods include:

  • leafy greens, such as kale and spinach
  • fatty fish, including salmon
  • a variety of colored vegetables, such as brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots, beets, and red, yellow, and orange peppers
  • fruits, including berries, apples, and bananas
  • healthful fats, including avocado and walnuts
  • lean proteins, including tofu, eggs, nuts, beans, and fish
  • fibrous foods, including beans and legumes

Having these foods as the primary focus of the diet will leave less room for processed and refined sugar foods.

Anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric, ginger, and garlic are also encouraged.

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Nutrients for hypothyroidism

Research suggests that certain nutrients also play a role in Hashimoto’s disease. These include:

Vitamin D

Several studies have found a link between low vitamin D levels and Hashimoto’s. In one study of 218 people with Hashimoto’s, 85 percent had insufficient vitamin D levels.

Anyone diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease should be sure to get their vitamin D levels tested. Vitamin D can be produced in the body during sun exposure or consumed through food or supplements.

As many adults now spend most of their days indoors, low vitamin D levels are becoming more common.

According to the National Institutes for Health (NIH), “approximately 5–30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen usually lead to sufficient vitamin D.”

If consistent sun exposure is not possible, it is a good idea to take supplements, since very few foods contain adequate amounts of vitamin D.

The best food sources of vitamin D include:

  • cod liver oil
  • swordfish
  • salmon
  • tuna
  • fortified orange juice
  • fortified milk
  • sardines
  • mushrooms


Brazil nuts may be recommended as part of Hashimoto diet
Brazil nuts are a good source of selenium.

Low selenium levels are common in many people with Hashimoto’s. Selenium is an essential trace mineral important for brain function, immunity, and fertility.

The highest amount of selenium found in the body is stored in the thyroid gland. Several studies have shown that selenium supplementation can be beneficial for people with thyroid dysfunction.

Best food sources of selenium:

  • Brazil nuts
  • halibut
  • tuna
  • oysters
  • sardines
  • lobster
  • liver
  • grass-fed beef
  • sunflower seeds
  • eggs

Foods to avoid

Every person is different, but some people with Hashimoto’s have reported improved symptoms when avoiding:

  • foods with gluten
  • foods with refined or added sugar
  • processed foods

Anyone thinking about starting a gluten-free diet should talk to their doctor, as they may be able to help determine if a person has a gluten sensitivity.

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It is more important for a person to follow a well-balanced diet that works for their lifestyle than to try to put a label on their eating habits. People should focus on whole, unprocessed foods and eat foods that grow in the ground, not foods that come in a box or a bag.

While a gluten-free diet or autoimmune protocol may help alleviate symptoms for one person, it may not work for everyone.

People with Hashimoto’s should be open to trying different eating styles until they find the one that makes them feel best. They should also speak to a doctor or dietitian about how to make sure they get all of the essential nutrients.

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Medical News Today: Why do I cough after I eat?

It is not uncommon to cough after eating. Coughing is a typical reaction of the body trying to clear irritants from the airways. Irritants are sometimes introduced into the body when eating, and this can lead to coughing.

If coughing after eating happens frequently, people should consult a doctor to determine a cause. Once the cause is known, a person can make some lifestyle changes or take medications to treat it.

Some of the most common causes include the following:

Causes of a cough after eating

There are many potential causes of coughing after eating:

Food allergies

Woman coughing after eating with hand covering her mouth.
Food allergies may cause shortness of breath and coughing after eating.

Allergies are a common cause of coughing after eating. They can develop at any age but typically develop during childhood.

When someone has a food allergy, their body’s immune system is overreacting to what it believes is a harmful substance. People may also experience:

  • wheezing
  • shortness of breath
  • a runny nose
  • anaphylaxis

Common foods people are allergic to include:

  • milk
  • soy
  • peanuts
  • tree nuts
  • eggs
  • shellfish

People can have an allergy to one or more foods. If a person coughs because of a food allergy, it is essential that they find out what foods trigger the coughing.

A doctor can help pinpoint the foods causing the reaction.


Asthma affects the airways and develops after exposure to an irritant, which can include food.

Sulfite is a common additive found in many drinks and food that often cause asthma symptoms. Foods that contain sulfites and should be avoided include:

  • beers
  • wines
  • dried fruit
  • pickled onions
  • soft drinks

However, any food that causes a person to experience an allergic reaction may trigger an asthma attack as well.

In addition to coughing, a person may experience:

  • wheezing
  • tightness in the chest
  • trouble breathing


Dysphagia causes difficulty when swallowing. When dysphagia occurs, a person’s body has great difficulty moving food and drink from the mouth to the stomach. It can result in pain or discomfort.

Dysphagia may make a person feel as if food has become lodged in the throat. This feeling can lead to gagging or coughing after eating as the body tries to clear the perceived blockage from the throat.

Conditions such as acid reflux often cause dysphagia. A doctor can determine the underlying cause.

Acid reflux

Man eating food suffering from acid reflux, touching chest in pain.
Acid reflux may irritate the food pipe, causing coughing after eating.

Acid reflux occurs when acid from the stomach travels up the food pipe. The acid may make its way into the upper food pipe or throat through the opening of the stomach, known as the lower esophageal sphincter.

When a person is eating, the sphincter relaxes to allow food to travel to the stomach. In some cases, the sphincter does not close entirely. The resulting gap allows acid from the stomach to travel upward.

The acid can irritate the food pipe, causing coughing. People may also experience:

  • a sour or bitter taste
  • a sore throat
  • burning sensation in the chest

More frequent acid reflux can be caused by:

  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR)

GERD is a chronic condition that causes a more severe form of acid reflux. When someone has GERD, they are very likely going to experience a cough as well as:

  • trouble swallowing
  • wheezing
  • nausea vomiting
  • reflux occurring two or more times a week
  • excessive stomach gas

LPR does not have the same symptoms of GERD. When it occurs, stomach acid may travel as far up as the nasal passages. Similarly to GERD, it can cause coughing as well as:

  • post nasal drip
  • hoarseness
  • need to clear throat

A doctor can treat these two conditions with medications. A person can also control these conditions with diet modifications. However, there is no cure for them.

Aspiration pneumonia

It is possible to inhale small particles of liquid or food when eating. In healthy people, the lungs will expel these particles through coughing.

Sometimes, the lungs may not be healthy enough to remove the tiny particles. When this occurs, bacteria from the food may become trapped in the lungs, resulting in aspiration pneumonia.

People are at an increased risk for developing aspiration pneumonia if they have acid reflux or trouble swallowing.

Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia include:

  • a wet or wheezing cough following eating
  • painful swallowing
  • extra saliva
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • congestion after eating and drinking
  • heartburn
  • fever shortly after eating

When someone experiences these symptoms, it is essential they speak to a doctor. Aspiration pneumonia can cause serious medical problems, such as respiratory failure or lung abscess.


People might experience a cough caused by an infection in the upper respiratory system. If a cough does not clear up properly, it can lead to a person coughing immediately following eating or drinking.

This type of cough is difficult to treat as it irritates the throat, causing the person to cough more and preventing healing.

It is possible to develop an infection in the food pipe or larynx. This type of infection may be caused by a virus, fungus, or bacteria. The throat may become inflamed and irritated when infected. The inflammation causes a person to cough, particularly following meals.

Treating the infection will stop the coughing.

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When to see a doctor

Doctor and patient getting diagnosis.
A cough that persists for over 2 weeks or has no obvious cause should be assessed by a doctor.

Not everyone who experiences a cough after eating will need to see a doctor. However, it is a good idea to see a doctor for a post-eating cough when:

  • it occurs frequently
  • it lasts longer than 2 weeks
  • the reason for the cough is unknown
  • there is blood in the mucus
  • the person experiencing the cough is an active smoker
  • coughing worsens
  • the person experiencing the cough experiences other symptoms

Treatment and prevention

Treatment will vary based on the cause. Treatment may be as simple as avoiding trigger foods or treating the condition with medications.

Treatment often focuses on prevention. Steps to prevent coughing following eating or drinking include:

  • slow down when eating
  • drink more water during meals
  • track foods to help determine which cause coughing
  • take all prescribed medications
  • stop eating during a coughing attack
  • use a humidifier to prevent a dry throat
  • try supplements to aid digestion

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People can often avoid coughing following eating with some simple prevention strategies.

Avoiding foods that trigger coughing is often a good first step. However, people should remain aware of changes in their cough, other symptoms, and how frequent and long the cough is lasting.

People should see a doctor if they have any concerns or doubts.

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Medical News Today: What is basophilia? Causes and symptoms

Basophilia refers to when there are too many basophils in a person’s blood. Basophils are a type of white blood cell.

Basophilia is not a condition on its own but can be an important marker of other underlying medical problems.

What is basophilia?

white blood cells
Basophilia generally indicates the existence of another underlying medical condition.

In healthy individuals, basophils account for a minimal amount of the body’s cell population. However, people with basophilia have an abnormally high amount of basophils.

Basophils are a type of white blood cell produced in the bone marrow. White blood cells help the body fight infections.

A high level of white blood cells can indicate an immune response in the body, which protects the body from infections and other problems. However, when a person has basophilia, the increase in white blood cells may be due to more serious causes.

Basophilia rarely exists independently and most often indicates the presence of another condition.

Causes and risk factors

The most common causes of basophilia include:

  • infections
  • allergies
  • disorders and diseases characterized by chronic inflammation
  • myeloproliferative disorders


Infections often trigger an inflammatory response in the body, which may make a person more likely to develop basophilia.

However, developing basophilia as a result of an acute infection or illness is rare. Certain diseases, including chicken pox and tuberculosis, may make a person more likely to develop basophilia.


Allergies and allergic reactions to foods and drugs can cause basophilia. The severity of the allergy or the response may correlate with the severity of the basophilia.

Chronic inflammation

Many disorders and diseases are directly related to chronic inflammation. A person with a condition characterized by inflammation may be more likely to develop basophilia.

Conditions that cause chronic inflammation include:

Myeloproliferative disorders

Myeloproliferative disorders cause the bone marrow to overproduce different types of blood cells including basophils.

Myeloproliferative disorders that can cause basophilia include the following:

  • essential thrombocythemia
  • chronic myelogenous leukemia
  • polycythemia vera
  • primary myelofibrosis
  • systemic mastocytosis
  • hypereosinophilic syndrome

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young woman lying on settee holding stomach
The symptoms of basophilia vary but may include fatigue, abdominal pain, and cramping.

An abnormally high amount of basophils can cause a variety of non-specific symptoms.

Basophilia may cause:

  • abdominal pain and cramping
  • itching
  • unexplained weight loss
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • malaise or general feelings of being unwell

However, the symptoms a person with basophilia experiences will vary depending on their underlying medical condition.

People that have basophilia due to an infection will have symptoms of the infection, which may include fever, fatigue, and malaise.

A person with basophilia as a result of allergies will have typical allergy symptoms, including:

  • sneezing
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • itchy eyes
  • rash or hives
  • wheezing
  • swelling

A person who has basophilia as a result of IBD may experience:

  • abdominal cramping
  • diarrhea
  • bleeding from rectum
  • pain in the rectal area

Basophilia caused by a condition that causes chronic inflammation may cause symptoms such as:

  • fatigue
  • muscle aches and pains
  • swelling
  • mild fever
  • numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • skin rashes, in the case of psoriasis

People with basophilia as a result of a myeloproliferative disorder may have varying symptoms depending on which disorder they have. Symptoms may include:

  • weakness
  • headaches
  • vision changes
  • easy bleeding and bruising
  • shortness of breath
  • numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
  • bone pain

Symptoms of the underlying causes of basophilia are different for everyone. People with unexplained symptoms that do not resolve over time should visit their doctor.


Doctors often notice basophilia during a complete blood count with differential (CBC with diff). When the differential reveals high levels of basophils, a doctor will likely order more tests to determine the cause.

Based on a person’s other symptoms, these tests can include a combination of the following:

  • blood tests
  • bone marrow biopsy
  • ultrasounds and imaging tests
  • genetic testing


Basophilia alone does not cause complications, but the underlying causes of basophilia may. Complications vary based on the cause of basophilia and may be severe.

These include the following:

  • heavy bleeding
  • enlarged spleen
  • frequent infections

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small white pill in hand
Taking antihistamines can help prevent allergy symptoms.

Basophilia is not likely to be treated directly. Instead, treatment will focus on the person’s underlying medical condition.

Bacterial infections that cause basophilia will require antibiotics. A doctor may also recommend rest and plenty of fluids.

Treatments for allergies include:

  • avoiding the allergen
  • antihistamines
  • hydrocortisone cream
  • corticosteroids
  • epinephrine

Treatment for inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and IBD, may include immunosuppressants and anti-inflammatory medications.

Treatment for a myeloproliferative disorder is likely to be complex and will vary depending on an individual’s situation. It may include the following:


The outlook for people with basophilia varies based on the underlying cause. Mild infections should clear up with rest and treatment.

Inflammatory diseases and allergies are often life-long conditions that can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes.

People with basophilia caused by a severe condition, such as a myeloproliferative disorder, should develop an individualized treatment plan with their doctor.

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Medical News Today: These genes could make us prone to insomnia

Do you have problems sleeping but you don’t know why? A new study may provide some answers. Researchers have discovered specific genes that could make us more susceptible to insomnia.
A woman with insomnia
Researchers have identified genes associated with insomnia.

What is more, the researchers — led by Murray Stein, of the University of California, San Diego — found that these genes may also be tied to mental health disorders and metabolic heath conditions.

Stein and team recently published the results of their study in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

It is recommended that for optimal health and well-being, adults get around 7–9 hours of sleep every night.

However, many of us do not meet this recommendation; around 50–70 million adults in the United States have some form of sleep disorder, with insomnia being the most common.

Insomnia is characterized by trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. It is estimated that around 30 percent of adults in the U.S. have short-term insomnia. Around 10 percent of U.S. adults have chronic insomnia, which is defined as sleep problems that persist for at least 1 month.

Common risk factors for insomnia include stress, abnormal working patterns, and inactivity. The new study from Stein and colleagues, however, suggests that our genes could also play a role.

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Insomnia genes linked to depression

The researchers came to their finding by analyzing the DNA samples of more than 33,000 soldiers who were a part of the Army Study To Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers.

The data were then compared with data from two other studies that included genetic information from UK Biobank, which is a health database of around 500,000 adults.

From their overall analysis, Stein and his colleagues identified a specific genetic variant located on chromosome 7 — called q11.22 — that was associated with the risk of insomnia. Among subjects of European descent, a certain variant in the gene RFX3 — which is located on chromosome 9 — was also linked to insomnia risk.

“Several of these variants rest comfortably among locations and pathways already known to be related to sleep and circadian rhythms,” notes Stein.

Interestingly, the scientists found that the genetic variants for insomnia were “significantly positively correlated with major depressive disorder and type 2 diabetes.”

They note that insomnia often co-occurs with depression and other mental health disorders, and the sleep disorder has also been linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes. These new findings may have uncovered a genetic explanation for these associations.

Stein and colleagues conclude:

Such insomnia-associated loci may contribute to the genetic risk underlying a range of health conditions, including psychiatric disorders and metabolic disease.”

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Medical News Today: What happens if you have prostate surgery?

After a person reaches the age of 40 years old, cells in the prostate gland can sometimes begin to multiply. This growth can lead to enlargement of the gland, causing it to squeeze the urethra, often interfering with urination.

This condition is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or benign prostatic enlargement (BPE). It is not related to cancer and is usually harmless, though it can cause unpleasant symptoms.

The prostate is a walnut-sized reproductive gland responsible for producing some of the fluid components of semen. The fluid combines with sperm from the testicles when it enters the urethra during ejaculation.

The most common surgery for BPH is called transurethral resection of the prostate or TURP. During the procedure, surgeons remove the excess prostate tissue through the urethra.

Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP)

Transurethral resection of the prostate for BPH surgery
To perform a transurethral resection of the prostate, a surgeon will insert a resectoscope into the urethra.

According to the American Urological Association, transurethral resection of the prostate or TURP is the most common type of surgery used to treat BPH. Every year, doctors perform it on around 150,000 American men.

Surgeons perform most TURP procedures when the patient is under general anesthesia and unconscious or asleep.

Alternatively, they use spinal anesthesia, where a needle is placed in the spine to stop any sensation below the waist.

How does the procedure work?

After anesthesia, a surgeon will insert a tool called a resectoscope into the urethra. In some cases, a separate device will be used to flush sterile fluid through the surgical site.

Once the surgeon has positioned the resectoscope, they will use it to cut away abnormal prostate tissues and seal broken blood vessels.

Finally, the surgeon will insert a long plastic tube called a catheter into the urethra and flush destroyed prostate tissues into the bladder where they are excreted through urine.


Most TURP surgeries take between 1 and 2 hours and require several hours recovery under continuous monitoring.

The catheter is usually kept in place for 2 to 3 days after TURP surgeries and removed when the bladder has been completely flushed.

What are the side effects?

Initially, the urethra and surrounding area will be inflamed, and it will be difficult to urinate. The catheter and flushing process can also be uncomfortable and cause bladder cramping.

The urethra, penis, and lower abdominal area will be tender, red, and swollen for a few weeks after surgery, which can interfere with urination. Most people also feel very weak and tire easily for several weeks.

Common side effects of TURP surgeries include:

  • difficulty completely emptying the bladder
  • urinary incontinence or leakage
  • urinary urgency or the sudden urge to urinate
  • discomfort during urination
  • small dribbles or clots of blood in the urine, for up to 6 weeks

The minor side effects associated with TURP surgeries usually go away as the urethra and prostate tissues become less inflamed, usually within a few weeks.

Though TURP surgeries may or may not be associated with erectile difficulty in some people, they can decrease the volume of semen produced during ejaculation.

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Are there any complications or risks?

surgeon wearing face mask and glasses
Some side effects of BPH surgery include excessive bleeding, retrograde ejaculation, and impotence.

As with any medical procedure, especially those involving anesthesia, the surgery for BPH is associated with some medical complications.

Possible but rare risks associated with TURP procedures include:

  • excessive bleeding
  • urinary tract infections
  • retrograde ejaculation, where semen flows backward into the bladder during ejaculation
  • chronic urinary problems, especially incontinence
  • prostate regrowth or scarring, with about 10 percent of men requiring further surgery within 5 years
  • impotence or erectile dysfunction
  • a split stream of urine caused by urethral narrowing
  • chronic prostatitis or inflammation of the prostate
  • allergic or abnormal reaction to anesthesia

Post-TURP syndrome

In rare cases, post-TURP syndrome occurs. This is where too much of the fluid used for surgical flushing is absorbed by the body, leading to major electrolyte, fluid, and blood volume imbalances.

Early signs of post-TURP syndrome include:

  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • restlessness
  • abdominal pain
  • tightness in the chest

Signs of severe post-TURP syndrome include:

  • confusion
  • difficulty breathing
  • blurred vision
  • seizure
  • coma

Though rare, post-TURP syndrome can be fatal if it is not treated early enough.

Recovery time

It is usually safe to return to basic everyday activities 1 to 2 weeks after TURP procedures, and safe to return to strenuous activities after 1 to 2 months.

Tips for better recovery

glass of water on table
Tips for a better recovery include eating a healthful diet, avoiding sexual intercourse for a few weeks, and staying hydrated.

There are several ways to reduce the risk of complications after TURP surgery.

Common tips include:

  • staying hydrated
  • eating a healthful, balanced diet
  • avoiding sexual intercourse for between 1 and 2 months
  • avoiding heavy lifting for 1 to 2 months
  • limiting exercises that put a strain on the groin or lower abdominal area
  • avoiding stimulants, such as caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine
  • limiting the use of over-the-counter medications that can cause dehydration, such as decongestants and anti-histamines

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When to see a doctor

Most people begin to feel better and have an improved urine flow within 4 to 6 weeks after TURP surgery.

Overall, the risk of serious complications after TURP surgery is quite low. But as with all surgeries, there are some potential health risks associated with the procedure that require medical attention and intervention.

Reasons to seek medical attention after TURP surgery include:

  • bleeding from the urethra, outer prostate, or penis
  • inflammation and pain in the urethra, prostate, or penis lasting longer than 2 weeks or worsening
  • reduced urine flow or urinary symptoms, such as incontinence or urinary urgency 6 weeks post-surgery
  • blood in the urine that is severe or lasts longer than 4 to 6 weeks
  • severe clots of blood in urine or urine that is entirely red
  • weakness and fatigue that does not improve after 4 weeks
  • impotence or erectile dysfunction
  • difficulty ejaculating
  • dizziness, shortness of breath, or confusion
  • severe or intensifying abdominal pain or discomfort

What are the other types of BPH surgery?

Though TURP remains the commonly performed BPH surgery, several other procedures are available to treat BPH that may be more appropriate for some people or carry a lower risk of complications.

Transutheral incision of the prostate (TUIP)

The TUIP procedure is used in cases where the prostate is fairly small, but urethral constriction is severe.

During TUIP procedures, the surgeon will insert a cystoscope into the urethra and widen the urethra by making tiny cuts in the prostate, and the area where the urethra connects to the bladder.

The TUIP procedure usually relieves urethral pressure immediately, making urination easier.

As with TURP, TUIP surgery takes a few hours, requires a few days of hospitalization, and insertion of a catheter.

Many of the side effects, complications, and risks associated with TUIP are similar to those of TURP.

Laser prostatectomy (HoLEP and PVP)

Laser prostatectomy techniques include holmium laser enucleation of prostate (HoLEP) or photoselective vaporization (PVP).

These procedures are similar to TURP except they use a laser to destroy or vaporize prostate tissues instead of cutting them away with an electrical wire.

Because there is less cutting involved, there are fewer side effects associated with HoLEP surgeries than with traditional TURP surgeries, and less risk of serious complications.

Many HoLEP surgeries also only require one night of hospitalization and catheter use.

Prostatic urethral lifts

In minor cases of BPH, prostatic devices may be inserted into the prostate that helps lift it away from the urethra, reducing urethral pressure and constriction.

Transurethral needle ablation (TUNA) and transurethral microwave thermotherapy (TUMT)

A fairly new procedure, TUNA uses fine needles to deliver low-frequency radio waves to target prostate tissues and destroy them. During TUNA procedures the urethra is protected from the radio waves with a shield.

During the TUMT procedure, a urologist inserts a catheter with an attached microwave generator through the urethra and into the prostate. It is then used to heat and destroy prostate tissues.

Both TUNA and TUMT are procedures that can be done in an outpatient setting, such as a clinic, and have short recovery times.

But while the procedures have been shown to be better at reducing BPH symptoms than medications alone, they are not considered as good as TURP or TUIP surgeries.

Open prostatectomy

In severe cases of BPH — usually those that do not respond to any other type of treatment — the prostate may be partially or entirely removed.

Open prostatectomies are associated with a higher rate of side effects and risk of complications. As a consequence, they require longer hospital stays and rehabilitation than most procedures used to treat BPH.

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Medical News Today: How daytime sleepiness may raise Alzheimer’s risk

Alzheimer’s — a progressive, neurodegenerative condition — is characterized by memory loss and cognitive impairments. Early warning signs include confusion regarding habitual tasks and severe changes to behavior. But are there any less intuitive signals to watch out for?
older man resting in an armchair
Older people who feel excessively sleepy during the daytime may be more prone to Alzheimer’s.

Some recent studies have paid a lot of attention to the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias before the onset of more telling symptoms, such as memory loss.

Understanding the early alarm bells might allow us to target the basic risk factors before it gets the chance to set in, since Alzheimer’s has no cure and treatments currently focus on the management of symptoms.

Some unintuitive signals linked to the risk of Alzheimer’s that researchers have identified over the past few months include loss of the sense of smell and impaired hearing.

Now, specialists are asking whether there might be other avenues for exploration when it comes to early warning signs. A new study led by Prashanthi Vemuri — from the Department of Radiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN — suggests that older people who struggle with excessive sleepiness during the daytime may be at risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

This may not be an altogether new idea, but beyond pointing out this correlation, the researchers involved with the new study aim to better understand the possible mechanisms behind it.

The study’s results were published in the journal JAMA Neurology.

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What are the risks of excessive sleepiness?

The researchers were motivated to look at the relationship between excessive daytime sleepiness — defined for the study as “difficulty in maintaining desired wakefulness or as a complaint of an excessive amount of sleep” — and neurodegenerative disease due to several links found by previous studies.

They point out that daytime sleepiness is a common symptom of aging, and that experiencing somnolence in excess has been tied to negative health outcomes.

Also, several longitudinal studies have shown that excessive daytime sleepiness in older adults is linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline.

What the team was interested in exploring were the underlying mechanisms that might explain the link between neurodegeneration and excessive somnolence.

The scientists conjectured that the answer to this may lie in the production of beta-amyloid, which is a compound whose excessive accumulation has been observed in Alzheimer’s disease.

In this exploratory work, we hypothesized that [excessive daytime sleepiness] in the elderly population may be associated with an increased vulnerability to [beta-amyloid] accumulation.”

Prior research has suggested that a good night’s sleep could help to clear beta-amyloid from brain tissue. This may mean that a sleep cycle that is regularly disturbed — leading to fatigue during the day — may have the opposite effect, thereby allowing this harmful compound to build up.

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The accumulation of harmful compounds

The researchers analyzed data from 283 participants aged 70 or older who had been recruited though the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. None of the participants had an existing diagnosis of dementia. At recruitment, everyone completed surveys reporting their degree of daytime sleepiness.

Participants also agreed to undergo at least two consecutive positron emission tomography brain scans between 2009 and 2016.

The scientists found that 63 participants qualified as experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness. In these people, this state of abnormal somnolence was also associated with increased levels of beta-amyloid in two relevant regions of the brain.

“Our study showed,” they say, “that [excessive daytime sleepiness] in elderly persons without dementia may be associated with longitudinal [beta-amyloid] accumulation, particularly in the cingulate gyrus and precuneus.”

They continue, saying, “This finding supports previous literature suggesting that [excessive daytime sleepiness] is a risk factor for cognitive decline or dementia.”

However, they admit that the study has some limitations, including the fact that it lacked “objective measures of sleep disturbance,” and that it did not assess exactly how much sleep the participants were getting per night.

The study authors also report possible conflicts of interest; several of them have professional ties with pharmaceutical companies and have received financial support from private foundations or medical research companies.

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Medical News Today: What to know about Lamictal rash

Lamictal rash is the most common side effect of the anti-seizure drug Lamictal, which contains a medicine known as lamotrigine. The rash ranges from a mild annoyance to a possibly life-threatening complication.

A person who develops a rash within the first 8 weeks of taking lamotrigine should immediately tell their doctor.

In this article, we cover the frequency of Lamictal rash, symptoms, treatment, and possible complications.

What to know about Lamictal rash

Lamictal rash
Lamictal rash is a side effect of the drug Lamictal.

Lamotrigine is a highly effective anti-seizure medication, which is also available under the brand name Lamictal. It may also be used to treat bipolar disorder.

Around 10 percent of people, or 1 in 10 users, will experience a rash. This side effect may be more common in people who also take valproate, including divalproex sodium and valproic acid, which are also anti-epileptic medications.

A Lamictal rash usually appears within 8 weeks of starting treatment. It usually goes away on its own when medication is stopped, with no other serious side effects.

In a small number of people, shown to be between 0.08 and 1.3 percent, the rash can become dangerous and possibly life-threatening.

The risk of a serious rash is increased if a person is also taking another medication, and it is more common in children aged 2 to 16 years.

When the rash occurs with other symptoms or is present across much of the body, it could be a sign of:

  • Stevens-Johnson syndrome
  • toxic epidermal necrolysis
  • DRESS syndrome (drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms)

In some cases, it is possible that the rash is simply a coincidence caused by something else.

It is not possible to tell which rashes are benign or could be serious, so if any rash appears, a person should stop taking lamotrigine.

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Only a doctor can properly diagnose a Lamictal rash and decide whether it is serious. However, knowing the symptoms of this rash can be helpful for determining if a rash may be due to Lamictal and whether it is bad enough to be an emergency.

Signs and symptoms of the rash typically include:

  • red blisters in one or more areas, often the face or mouth
  • itching skin
  • hives
  • general feeling of being unwell
  • fever

Indications of a more serious rash include:

  • peeling skin
  • very painful blisters
  • redness, swelling, and inflammation in or around the eyes
  • body aches
  • a cough
  • flu-like symptoms
  • swollen lymph nodes

Serious rashes typically develop within 5 days to 8 weeks of starting Lamictal.

Complications of Lamictal rash

Lamictal drug up close
If a person develops a rash they should stop taking the medication.
Image credit: Parhamr, 2008

For the vast majority of people, a rash from Lamictal requires no treatment other than stopping this medication. In other cases, the rash could signal a serious medical condition.

Two severe complications, Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis, occur in only 0.04 percent of people or 1 in every 2,500 taking lamotrigine.

The presence of a serious rash after taking Lamictal could indicate:

Stevens-Johnson syndrome

Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a rare and possibly severe reaction to lamotrigine. About 50 percent of diagnoses are due to medications, but it can also be caused by infections and vaccination.

Symptoms of Stevens-Johnson syndrome include:

  • flu-like signs
  • purple blisters
  • red and swollen eyes
  • a cough
  • a rash covering less than 10 percent of the body

Left untreated, Stevens-Johnson can cause sight loss, burn-like damage to the skin and mucous membranes. It can also be fatal.

Toxic epidermal necrolysis

Toxic epidermal necrolysis is a severe reaction that can cause the skin to peel off. This can cause serious infections.

Symptoms may include:

  • very painful skin
  • a fever
  • peeling skin
  • eye irritation
  • a red area of skin that spreads quickly

The symptoms mimic those of severe burns. Even with early treatment, this disorder may be fatal in around 10 percent of people.

DRESS syndrome

DRESS syndrome is a rare drug side effect that remains poorly understood. Any drug can cause this condition.

Doctors think that genetic factors may play a role in who develops DRESS. Viruses such as Epstein-Barr, which causes the infection known as mono, might also increase the risk.

DRESS causes widespread symptoms. The body reacts by producing too many white blood cells, which can result in severe flu-like symptoms. Left untreated, DRESS can cause liver or heart failure and can be fatal in around 10 percent of people.

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When to see a doctor

emergency sign at hospital
Serious symptoms, including peeling skin and a high fever, will require an immediate trip to the emergency room.

A reaction to medication always warrants a call to the doctor. The early stages of severe complications can look a lot like a minor rash, so it is important to tell a doctor promptly about all symptoms.

People should go to the emergency room immediately if they have serious symptoms, including:

  • peeling skin
  • a high fever
  • flu-like symptoms
  • vision changes

Delaying treatment by even a few hours can endanger a person’s life.

Treating Lamictal rashes

Treatment depends on the severity of the reaction. In most cases, a doctor will recommend ending Lamictal treatment.

If the rash is mild, a doctor may instead advise waiting to see if it goes away on its own.

Treatment for more severe reactions always includes stopping the drug.

Stevens-Johnson syndrome requires hospitalization, often in a burn unit. Drugs that target the immune system may be helpful in some people, but the most effective treatment strategy is still not known. People with this condition will get care to manage and treat symptoms as they occur.

Toxic epidermal necrolysis usually requires hospitalization. A person may need intravenous (IV) antibiotics, fluids, isolation from others to prevent infection, or immune therapy. Treatment will depend on a person’s symptoms. Because the disease progresses quickly, early treatment is vital.

DRESS syndrome may require a wide range of supportive therapies in the hospital, including treatment with drugs that suppress the immune system and corticosteroids. A person may need additional treatments for complications, such as heart, kidney, or liver failure.

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People with a Lamictal rash will usually get better when they stop taking the drug. But complications can be serious, so it is important to monitor for signs of a rash.

People with conditions such as epilepsy who are no longer able to use Lamictal can often switch to another drug. They may need to be closely monitored for signs of another reaction.

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Medical News Today: What causes the outside of your foot to hurt?

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Medical News Today: Why you should talk to your dog

It is known that talking to one’s baby improves bonding between parent and child. Well, many pet owners view their pets as their own children, but does talking to your dog in the same way as you would a human infant have the same bonding effect? A recent study suggests so.
man talking to his dog
Keep talking to your dog; it will make them like you more.

If you have a dog, you’re likely in the habit of asking them, “Who’s a good boy?” in a really high-pitched and affectionate tone of voice — sometimes to the amusement of those around you.

Pet owners do this instinctively because they feel just as attached to their pets as they may to their infant. But does this sort of “baby talk” do anything for the dog?

Researchers Alex Benjamin and Katie Slocombe, at the University of York in the United Kingdom, set out to investigate if so-called dog-speak improves bonding between pets and humans, and specifically, whether it is useful for the dogs.

Slocombe explains the motivation behind the research, saying, “A special speech register, known as infant-directed speech, is thought to aid language acquisition and improve the way a human baby bonds with an adult.”

“This form of speech,” she adds, “is known to share some similarities with the way in which humans talk to their pet dogs, known as dog-directed speech.”

“This high-pitched rhythmic speech is common in human interactions with dogs in Western cultures, but there isn’t a great deal known about whether it benefits a dog in the same way that it does a baby.”

“We wanted to look at this question and see whether social bonding between animals and humans was influenced by the type and content of the communication,” Slocombe says.

Their findings were published in the journal Animal Cognition.

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Proof that dogs prefer dog-speak

For the study, the researchers designed two experiments in which humans interacted with dogs. In the first, the researchers tested adult-directed speech versus dog-directed speech.

The latter was tailored for dogs both in terms of content (that is, the dogs were told things such as “You’re a good dog” and “Shall we go for a walk?”) and in prosody (that is, in stress patterns and intonation).

By contrast, adult-directed speech contained sentences such as “I went to the cinema last night,” which were spoken in a “normal” tone of voice.

The dogs’ attention spans were measured during the two speech types, and after hearing them, the dogs were invited to choose which speaker they wanted to interact with.

This first experiment revealed that the dogs strongly preferred humans who had addressed them using dog-directed speech. However, there was the possibility that it was simply the emotional tone that appealed to the dogs and that the content didn’t have anything to do with their preference.

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‘Dogs need to hear dog-relevant words’

So, in the second experiment, “the content from experiment one was reproduced but with reversed prosody such that the dog-related content was spoken with the prosody of [adult-directed speech] and vice versa.”

Benjamin — who is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology at the University of York — summarizes the findings.

“We found that adult dogs were more likely to want to interact and spend time with the speaker that used dog-directed speech with dog-related content, than they did those that used adult-directed speech with no dog-related content.”

“When we mixed-up the two types of speech and content,” he adds, “the dogs showed no preference for one speaker over the other.”

This suggests that adult dogs need to hear dog-relevant words spoken in a high-pitched emotional voice in order to find it relevant.”

Alex Benjamin

“We hope this research will be useful for pet owners interacting with their dogs, and also for veterinary professionals and rescue workers,” Benjamin adds.

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