Medical News Today: Hypervolemia: What you need to know about fluid overload

Hypervolemia is a condition in which there is too much fluid in the blood. It is also known as fluid overload. Although the body does need plenty of fluid to remain healthy, too much can cause a dangerous imbalance.

Hypervolemia is usually a result of an underlying health problem. However, mild hypervolemia can occur after eating foods with too much sodium or during hormonal changes. Mild hypervolemia usually resolves on its own if there are no other health problems.

Hypervolemia is often treatable if caught early, but the underlying cause of hypervolemia should be addressed to keep it from recurring.

Causes of fluid overload

3d red blood cells
Mild hypervolemia can be caused by eating too much salt or hormonal changes.

Hypervolemia is usually caused by too much sodium (salt) in the body.

When there is too much salt present, the body retains water to balance it.

Usually, hypervolemia occurs because the body has a problem regulating sodium and water, but other causes include certain medications or medical procedures.

Congestive heart failure

Congestive heart failure is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. When the heart’s blood pumping ability decreases, the kidneys cannot work as they should, which leads to an excess of fluid in the body.

An article in Cardiac Failure Review found that hypervolemia is common in those with chronic heart failure, and for some people, hypervolemia never goes away completely, even with treatment.

Kidney failure

The kidneys help regulate the amount of sodium and fluid in the body, so people with kidney problems are at risk of hypervolemia.

One review states that hypervolemia is relatively widespread in people who have severe kidney problems and are in critical care units in the hospital. The authors of the study suggest that healthcare professionals monitor the fluid levels of these people very carefully because hypervolemia can lead to congestive heart failure, problems with wound healing, and bowel problems.

Another article suggests that hypervolemia caused by heart failure or end-stage kidney disease may lead to sleep apnea.

Cirrhosis of the liver

Hypervolemia may occur when the liver cannot properly store and process nutrients and filter toxins. Liver problems tend to cause fluid retention in the abdominal area and the extremities.

According to an article in the journal Hepatology, fluid accumulation in the abdomen is the most common complication of cirrhosis of the liver. This specific buildup in the abdominal area is known as ascites.

IV fluids

Intravenous (IV) fluids are life-saving when someone is dehydrated or cannot drink adequate fluids, such as after surgery. IV fluids typically contain sodium (salt) and water to replenish the body’s fluids and balance the sodium levels.

However, too much IV fluid can result in hypervolemia, especially if other health conditions are present.

One study found that too much IV fluid both during and after surgery was associated with hypervolemia and a higher risk of death after the surgery. The study looked at people undergoing surgery for esophageal cancer.


Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and pregnancy can cause the body to retain more sodium and water.

This often causes mild swelling, bloating, and discomfort. Pregnant women who notice excessive swelling or bloating should seek medical care, as this may be a sign of high blood pressure.


Medications that cause hormonal changes can also cause hypervolemia. Birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, and similar hormonal medicines can cause the body to retain too much salt and fluid.

Also, some antidepressants, blood pressure medications, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause mild hypervolemia.

Eating too much salt

The American Heart Association says the average American consumes 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day — well above the recommended limit of 2,300 mg.

Consuming too much sodium causes the body to retain water. This can result in mild hypervolemia and bloat.

One salty meal is unlikely to cause problems for otherwise healthy people. However, an extreme intake of salt can be life-threatening, especially for young children, older adults, and those with health problems.

Many people with congestive heart failure, kidney disease, or liver problems may be advised to follow a low-salt diet to avoid or minimize hypervolemia.

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man holding round stomach
One symptom of hypervolemia is unexplained and rapid weight gain.

Hypervolemia symptoms may vary depending on where the fluid is collecting and what other health problems are present.

The most common symptoms include:

  • unexplained and rapid weight gain
  • swelling in the arms and legs
  • abdominal swelling, which is common with liver problems
  • shortness of breath caused by fluid in the lungs


A doctor may diagnose hypervolemia by carrying out a physical exam to check for swelling. A doctor may also listen to a person’s lungs for signs of fluid.

The doctor may also recommend tests to check for sodium in the blood and urine. Because hypervolemia is often caused by other health problems, a doctor may also undertake a comprehensive checkup to look for underlying conditions, such as heart failure, kidney problems, and liver disease.

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small yellow pills in mans hand
Diuretics are often prescribed to treat hypervolemia.

There are several approaches to treatment for hypervolemia. One of the most common treatments for hypervolemia is diuretics. Diuretics are drugs that increase the amount of urine the body produces.

However, any underlying health conditions must also be addressed. For instance, someone with heart failure may need to take steps to manage their condition in addition to taking diuretics.

However, research states that diuretics may not work for people with severe kidney problems. Some people will need renal replacement therapies, such as dialysis or hemofiltration.

People with heart, kidney, or liver conditions may also need to follow a reduced-salt diet. This helps keep sodium levels within normal limits, which helps avoid hypervolemia.

People with congestive heart failure may need to limit the amount of fluid they drink each day. A doctor can recommend the proper amounts of fluid and salt intake based on an individual’s health history.

When to see a doctor

Some mild bloating after eating a salty meal or during the premenstrual phase of a woman’s cycle is normal.

Legs and feet may also experience minor swelling after a long day of standing or walking and on long flights. This is not usually a problem for people in good health and resolves within a few hours.

Anyone experiencing excessive swelling, weight gain, or water retention without an apparent cause should see a healthcare professional, especially if the person has a family history of heart, kidney, or liver problems.

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The cause of hypervolemia usually determines a person’s long-term outlook. Occasional, mild water retention is not usually serious for those without other health problems.

Hypervolemia related to heart, kidney, or liver disease requires medical attention and careful management.

Following a doctor’s advice on diet, medications, or other treatments can help a person reduce uncomfortable symptoms and live a healthier life.

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Medical News Today: What is Cladosporium and what are its health effects?

Cladosporium is a common mold that can affect the inside or outside of a person’s home.

Many people will have heard horror stories about mold causing mysterious illnesses. When a person finds they have mold in their home, it can cause concern because of these worrying stories.

Most kinds of Cladosporium are not dangerous to humans, but sometimes they may lead to allergies, or they may worsen asthma. In rare cases, the mold may lead to infections.


mould on tiles behind tap
Cladosporium is a type of fungus that includes many common indoor and outdoor molds.

Cladosporium is not a single species of mold. Rather Cladosporium is a genus of mold that includes more than 40 individual species of fungus.

Some species of Cladosporium can grow indoors while others thrive outdoors. Either way, the genus frequently occurs in humid areas or moist places.

Places where Cladosporium can be found indoors include:

  • basements
  • bathrooms
  • under sinks
  • around faucets
  • on carpets
  • in curtains
  • on upholstered furniture
  • near heating and cooling appliances
  • attics

Outside, Cladosporium can be found on:

  • decaying trees
  • dead plants
  • tree trunks

Cladosporium appears in clusters of black, yellow, or green spots. The spots spread quickly when not cleaned away. However, it is almost impossible to identify Cladosporium visually.

A person with mold in their home should consult with a mold-testing professional to identify the mold correctly.

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Most species of Cladosporium do not cause disease in humans. However, long-term exposure to a large amount of any mold, including Cladosporium, can cause adverse health effects, including allergies and asthma symptoms.

Other ailments caused by Cladosporium can include the following:

  • eye infections
  • ear infections
  • skin problems
  • sinus infections

The most common health issues from Cladosporium exposure are new or worsening allergies or asthma.

Cladosporium exposure affects people differently. Some people experience no effects from exposure at all. Others who develop an allergy to Cladosporium may have any combination of the following symptoms:

  • sneezing
  • dry skin
  • hives
  • itchy throat and eyes
  • watery eyes
  • coughing
  • stuffy or a runny nose
  • postnasal drip

In some cases, people with untreated mold allergies and prolonged exposure to molds develop allergic fungal sinusitis.

Sinusitis of this kind results from long-term exposure to an allergen, such as Cladosporium, that gets finely dispersed into the air. The allergen causes fungal debris to grow in a person’s sinus cavities.

In these cases, a person with allergic fungal sinusitis caused by Cladosporium may have the following symptoms:

  • long-term nasal congestion
  • postnasal drip
  • recurring sinus headaches

In other cases, people with Cladosporium allergies may experience asthma symptoms triggered by the exposure to the mold. In these cases, a person may have the following asthma symptoms, in addition to their allergy symptoms:

  • wheezing
  • tightness in the chest
  • coughing
  • shortness of breath

Exposure to Cladosporium can sometimes trigger severe asthma attacks, the symptoms of which include:

  • severe shortness of breath
  • difficulty breathing
  • chest tightness and pain
  • symptoms that do not respond to a fast-acting inhaler

Anyone experiencing a severe asthma attack should seek emergency medical attention.


young woman using nasal decongestant
Using a nasal decongestant may help to relieve the symptoms of a Cladosporium allergy.

There are several ways of treating Cladosporium-induced allergies, including the following:

  • limiting Cladosporium exposure by removal and prevention
  • over-the-counter allergy medication
  • prescription allergy medication
  • immunotherapy
  • nasal rinses

There are many medications that a doctor can recommend or prescribe to a person with a Cladosporium allergy. These medications may include a combination of the following:

  • prescription or over-the-counter nasal sprays
  • antihistamines
  • oral or nasal decongestants

People with allergic fungal sinusitis may need surgery to remove the mold particles and blockages from their sinus cavities.

People with asthma can be prescribed rescue inhalers or inhaled steroids to manage and reduce their asthma symptoms.

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hand removal of mold with spray
Bleach or a vinegar solution can be used to remove small areas of mold.

If Cladosporium is growing inside a person’s home, it can be removed to prevent further problems. A small area of mold can be treated with a vinegar solution or bleach.

A person with large areas of Cladosporium inside their home should consult with a mold removal professional. Many home insurance companies will cover a portion or all of the cost of mold removal.

If someone chooses to remove a large area of mold for themselves, they should remember that mold removal requires a lot of time and effort.

To remove mold, a person needs to buy bleach and antifungal agents. They should don protective clothing, including a mask and gloves, before entering the affected area to remove any item not affected by the mold first.

Next, the person must seal off the area with plastic sheets and run a negative air machine to prevent mold from spreading.

They should cut away any portion of the wall, carpet, or furniture that is damaged by the mold and dispose of it immediately. Remaining areas should be cleaned thoroughly with bleach or antifungal agents and allowed to dry completely before making any repairs.

Getting rid of mold is much more challenging than preventing it from growing or spreading in the first place. To stop Cladosporium or other mold from forming, a person can:

  • run a dehumidifier in basements or other humid rooms
  • fix all leaks, as quickly as possible
  • install a leak detector
  • use an antifungal paint to stop mold growth on walls
  • keep all plumbing joints in good condition
  • avoid putting carpets in rooms that can become damp, such as bathrooms or basements
  • use high-efficiency particulate air filters to trap mold


Once a person has removed Cladosporium from their home, their allergies or asthma symptoms should clear up.

While it may be impossible to avoid mold exposure completely, people with allergies or asthma can manage their symptoms through medicine and taking care to prevent mold from growing in their homes.

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Medical News Today: What is prolotherapy and what is it used to treat?

Prolotherapy is a procedure where a natural irritant is injected into the soft tissue of an injured joint. Supporters believe that it may provide significant relief for joint or back pain.

The disruption to the lives of those who experience joint and back pain can be serious. From missed work to decreased mobility, the impact of back and joint pain can affect nearly every aspect of someone’s life.

In this article, we examine what prolotherapy consists of, what someone should expect from this procedure, and how effective it is in reducing pain.

What is prolotherapy?

Person receiving prolotherapy injections to inflamed knee joint.
Prolotherapy involves injecting irritants into an injured or inflamed joint to stimulate healing.

Prolotherapy is a procedure where a natural irritant is injected into the soft tissue of an injured joint. The irritant kick-starts the body’s healing response.

Prolotherapy is not a surgical treatment. Because of this, it is also known as a regenerative joint injection or non-surgical ligament and tendon reconstruction.

Doctors mainly use prolotherapy to treat injured joints and ligaments. While it is most commonly used for the back, doctors may also use prolotherapy in the following areas of the body:

  • knees
  • hips
  • shoulders
  • other joints and ligaments

In some cases, people with chronic conditions, such as degenerative disc disease or arthritis, may wish to use prolotherapy to help ease their pain.

Although prolotherapy has been in existence since the early 1900s, its overall effectiveness is still questioned. Despite this doubt, many members of the medical community believe it to be a safe alternative or additional treatment for back and joint pain.

How does it work?

Prolotherapy is an injection that contains a potential irritant, such as a sarapin or saline solution. The irritant is thought to trigger the body’s healing response.

Once activated, the body will start to strengthen and repair damaged ligaments in the joint. The strengthening of the ligaments, over time, helps to stabilize the joint. Once the joint is better supported, the pain can disappear.

Prolotherapy requires several shots at the site of the injury or weakened area to be effective. An individual can expect anywhere from 4 to 15 shots per session, and for several sessions to occur over the course of 3 to 6 months.

The injection must be precise so that the irritant is placed at the area or areas requiring ligament repair.

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What to expect

Female doctor and patient discussing treatment and taking medical history.
A patient will need to be assessed for suitability before being recommended for prolotherapy.

Before receiving prolotherapy, a doctor will assess a person with joint or back pain to work out if they are a good candidate for the therapy.

Not all people are suitable for the procedure. People with chronic conditions, for example, may not see any effects from the prolotherapy so a doctor may suggest other alternatives.

During or before an assessment, a doctor will likely examine X-rays or other imaging results. The images will help them decide if the procedure is feasible, given the location and severity of the injury.

If the person is taking anti-inflammatory medication, this should be stopped 2 to 3 days before the procedure. Continuing to take anti-inflammatory medication may prevent the procedure from working.

On the day of the prolotherapy, it is important that a person eats well. Often, doctors recommend that the person undergoing prolotherapy eats a protein-rich meal.

During the procedure, doctors prepare the person’s skin with rubbing alcohol or another sterilizing solution. They may then apply numbing cream to the skin to reduce discomfort from the injection site.

In extreme cases, where the person is in considerable pain or discomfort, additional sedation may be used.

Once prepared, the doctor will use a long, thin needle to deliver the irritant solution to several different points around the target area in the back or joint. The number of injections used depends on the area or joint affected.


Medical professionals who support the use of prolotherapy believe that the strengthened joints will mean the pain is reduced. Also, the improved strength of the joint will help with stability and improve overall movement and function of the back and joints.

Prolotherapy is an all-natural, permanent treatment, as it relies on the body repairing itself to reduce pain.

In contrast, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications only provide temporary relief. Similarly, surgical options do not always work to stabilize a joint fully.

Risks and side effects

There have been few reported side effects from prolotherapy. In rare cases, the worst side effect is an infection at the site of an injection. A potential infection will show through fever and pain, and it is usually easy to treat with antibiotics.

Another side effect may be temporary swelling or pain where the injection occurred. Immediately following the procedure, the affected joint may feel worse before beginning to feel better.

Prolotherapy has not been researched extensively. This may mean that there are side effects that have yet to be discovered.

One potential concern involves the use of sugar in prolotherapy. Some doctors have suggested that the buildup of sugar in the joint could cause long-term damage to a person’s joints. However, this has yet to be proven or shown.

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Success rates

Person receiving injection in their back.
Though studies on prolotherapy have shown high rates of success, further research is needed.

According to the available research, people who receive prolotherapy experience high rates of success.

However, the study groups involved are often small in size, and the amount of research that has been done so far is not substantial.

For example, one study conducted and published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine used only 13 participants.

Another study tested 38 knees in participants, while a third study used 90 participants. Still, the results of these small studies indicated an overall success with the prolotherapy procedure.

As with any procedure, the skill of the doctor performing it will impact how well it works. Also, how an individual responds to the treatment is likely to vary.

Groups such as Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Veteran’s Administration do not currently recommend prolotherapy for third-party compensation.


Prolotherapy can be quite costly for an individual. Many insurance companies will not cover prolotherapy, so individuals have to pay for their treatment.

Costs seem to range from around $250 to $600 for the procedure. The exact cost depends on the site of the injections, who does it, and if any additional treatment is required.


Some researchers and doctors remain hopeful that prolotherapy will become more widely accepted. Initial research suggests that, overall, it is a safe, alternative procedure to medication or surgery.

Critics, on the other hand, are skeptical about the efficacy of prolotherapy. They cite a lack of substantial research to back the claims of its supporters. Study sizes are often small, casting doubt on the trustworthiness of the findings. In most cases, critics encourage people to discuss all the options before using prolotherapy.

Prolotherapy is controversial and needs more research to support its use. As a result, people may have difficulty getting insurance to cover the procedure or doctors to perform it.

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Medical News Today: Yes, you’ve locked the door: What drives your checking habit?

Most of us have suddenly thought, “Wait — did I actually lock the door?” For some people, this might lead to locking up with more intention next time. But for others, it may be an anxiety disorder. Researchers say it’s all about being afraid of losing control.
door left open
Are you quite sure you’ve locked the door? If you need to check repeatedly, it may all be about your fear of losing control.

I once had a neighbor who checked the door of his flat a dozen times before leaving for work and walked round and round his car as many times when he arrived back home, to make completely sure that everything was right.

I often imagined the terror he must live with all the time, going through imaginary scenarios of break-ins or the car ignition being left on.

This particular case may have been an instance of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by an uncontrollable checking behavior and recurring, bothersome thoughts.

However, many of us are exposed to sudden bursts of uncertainty. Did we switch off the gas before leaving for our holiday? Worse still, did we leave one of the children behind?

Absent-mindedness and the rush of getting to wherever we need to go can result in these lapses of memory and the sudden shock when we realize that we’re not sure if we did everything we should have.

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New research from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, has suggested that such a fear of losing control can result in recurrent checking behavior. This, say the researchers, may be at the core of many anxiety disorders, including OCD.

“We’ve shown that people who believe they’re going to lose control are significantly more likely to exhibit checking behavior with greater frequency,” says study co-author Adam Radomsky.

The scientists hope that the new findings allow them to find better ways of treating OCD and other anxiety disorders at their core.

“[W]hen we treat OCD in the clinic,” Radomsky explains, “we can try to reduce [the patients’] beliefs about losing control and that should reduce their symptoms.”

The researchers’ findings were recently published in the Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders.

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Lose your fear of losing control

Radomsky and paper co-author Jean-Philippe Gagné, a Ph.D. student, worked with 133 participants recruited from among the undergraduate student cohort.

“[Those] who participated were given bogus [electroencephalograms],” which is a method that is designed to measure electrical activity in the brain, Radomsky explains.

“They were randomly assigned false feedback that they were either at low or high risk of losing control over their thoughts and actions,” he adds.

Once they had convinced the students that they were either in complete control or at risk of losing control, the scientists asked them to complete a computer task that required them “to control the pace of pictures” by making them disappear before they faded from the screen on their own.

What the participants weren’t made aware of, however, was that they had no actual control over the images, which were programmed to float in and out of sight at specific paces.

The participants were instructed to use various key combinations to control the images, and press the space bar to confirm their command.

Radomsky and Gagné found that the participants who were convinced that they were at higher risk of losing control of their actions engaged in more meticulous checking behavior than their counterparts, who were told that they were likely to maintain control.

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‘Potential to improve’ anxiety therapy

What the team found most surprising was that none of the study participants identified as having OCD. This, the scientists think, is an indication that a fear of losing control stands at the core of many anxiety disorder symptoms.

If you can show that by leading people to believe they might be at risk of losing control, symptoms start to show themselves, then it can tell us something about what might be behind those symptoms in people who do struggle with the problem.”

Adam Radomsky

Yet Radomsky is hopeful, saying, “This gives us something we can try to treat.”

The findings verified the researchers’ initial working hypothesis, “[T]hat people’s fears and beliefs about losing control may put them at risk for a range of problems, including panic disorder, social phobia, OCD, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and others.”

Knowing that at the bottom of excessive checking behavior lies the worry of losing control over the situation may pave the way to more appropriate cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of a range of anxiety disorders, the researchers say.

According to Radomsky, “This work has the potential to vastly improve our ability to understand and treat the full range of anxiety-related problems.”

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Medical News Today: Causes and remedies for cold feet

Experiencing cold feet is normal from time to time. Changes in temperature, as well as health and lifestyle choices, are some of the most common causes of cold feet, and adjusting these factors will usually help relieve symptoms.

In this article, we look at these and several medical causes of cold feet. We also list home remedies people can try to keep the feet warm and comfortable.

Causes of cold feet

There can be a variety of reasons for cold feet, from winter temperatures to circulation and nerve disorders. Causes of cold feet include:

Cold temperatures

imprint of cold feet in shoe soles in the snow
Cold feet is common in cold temperatures. However, experiencing cold feet in normal or warm temperatures may be a sign of an underlying health problem.

Cold feet are one of the body’s normal reactions to colder temperatures. When the body enters a colder area, blood vessels in the extremities, such as the hands and feet, will constrict. This reduces the blood flow to these areas, which also reduces the amount of heat the body loses.

The extremities are the parts of the body furthest from the vital organs, so reducing blood flow to the extremities also helps keep warmth and blood flow in the more important body parts.

Over time this reduced blood flow can cause decreased oxygen in the tissues, which may cause them to take on a bluish color. When temporary, these symptoms are not usually serious, and the body will return to normal as it warms up again.

Some people have Raynaud’s phenomenon, where exposure to cold temperatures or high stress causes them to experience limited blood circulation, resulting in cold or numb fingers and toes.

High stress or anxiety

Being in a state of high stress or anxiety may also cause cold feet. One of the body’s natural responses to stress or nervousness is to pump adrenaline into the bloodstream.

As it circulates, adrenaline causes the blood vessels at the periphery to constrict, which decreases the flow of blood to the outermost areas of the body. This response reserves energy and prepares for any bodily harm that may happen, as a result of the high-stress situation.

The modern world is full of stressors, but not many of them put the body at immediate risk, so this protective response may be more harmful than helpful if it is making the feet or hands cold regularly. Reducing stress and tension may help reduce symptoms in these cases.

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Circulation issues

Person with thick winter socks on cold feet, perched on top of radiator heater.
Feet and hands are prone to feeling cold, as blood flow is restricted to the extremeties in cold temperatures.

Circulation issues are a very common cause of cold feet. A person with poor circulation will often struggle to get enough warm blood to their extremities, and may complain of cold hands and cold feet frequently.

Poor circulation can have a variety of causes. Living a sedentary lifestyle or sitting at a desk all day may reduce circulation to the legs and cause cold feet.

Smoking tobacco products can also make it more difficult for the blood to reach every area of the body, so people who smoke may be more likely to complain of cold feet.

High cholesterol can lead to plaques forming inside the arteries that can reduce circulation to the legs and feet, leading to cold feet.

Some heart conditions can also cause cold feet, so a person should speak to their doctor about any existing heart problems or risk factors.


Anemia is a condition that occurs when a person has too few normal red blood cells in their body. This can be due to many factors, including deficiency in iron, vitamin B12, or folate, or chronic kidney disease.

Moderate to severe cases of anemia may cause cold feet. Anemia usually responds well to changes in diet and supplements.

It is best to have anemia diagnosed by a doctor and to follow their treatment recommendations.

Diabetes mellitus

People with diabetes may be at risk of circulation problems, such as cold feet or hands.

Frequent high blood sugar levels can lead to narrowing of the arteries and a reduced blood supply to the tissues, which may cause cold feet.

In some people, diabetes can lead to diabetic peripheral neuropathy, a form of nerve damage. Diabetic nerve damage typically happens in people who have an uncontrolled, high blood sugar level for long periods of time.

Other symptoms of diabetic nerve damage include tingling or prickling sensations, numbness, or burning pain in the feet and legs. Symptoms may be worse at night.

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Nerve disorders

Other nerve disorders may also be the cause of regular cold feet. Nerve damage may be caused by trauma or injury, such as severe frostbite, or may be due to an underlying medical condition.

Peripheral neuropathy may also be caused by liver or kidney disease, infection, or genetics. It usually causes additional symptoms, including numbness and tingling. Treating symptoms, such as cold feet, can help a person reduce their discomfort while waiting for a proper diagnosis.


Hypothyroidism is caused by an underactive thyroid gland, producing a low level of thyroid hormone, which has a negative impact on the body’s metabolism.

The body’s metabolism affects circulation, heartbeat, and body temperature, so anything that impacts on thyroid function and causes hypothyroidism can lead to cold feet.

People with hypothyroidism may be more sensitive to cold in general, and may experience other symptoms, such as fatigue, weight gain, and memory problems.

Home remedies

Working directly with a doctor to diagnose any underlying cause of cold feet is the best way to prevent the symptom, as much as possible.

However, many home remedies can help warm the feet and keep a person comfortable.


Person tying laces on sports shows in the snow.
Regular movement, such as getting up from a sitting position periodically, may help to treat cold feet.

As simple as it seems, getting up and moving may be one of the easiest ways to warm the body and help blood flow to and from the feet.

People who experience cold feet due to their desk job may benefit from getting up periodically and walking around the office.

Getting blood circulating using cardioactivities, such as jogging or even doing jumping jacks, may be enough to keep the feet warm throughout the day.

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Socks and slippers

Warm, well-insulated socks are important for people with cold feet. While indoors, it may also help to wear well-insulated slippers, especially if a person does not have carpeted or heated floors.

Keeping the feet bundled up is a great way to help them stay warm and prevent any additional heat loss.

Foot baths

One of the quickest ways to relieve cold feet is to soak them in a warm footbath.

Filling a bathtub or basin with warm water and soaking the feet for 10 to 15 minutes may be enough to keep fresh blood circulating to the feet throughout the day. This may be especially helpful just before bed, as it can also relieve tension and relax the muscles.

People with diabetic nerve damage should avoid using hot water to warm the feet, as they may not be able to tell if the water is too hot or not. This can lead to accidental burns.

Heating pads or hot water bottles

For people who have trouble sleeping due to cold feet, placing a heating pad or hot water bottle at the foot of the bed can keep the area surrounding the feet warm at bedtime.

Heating pads may also be helpful to help soothe sore muscles after a long day of standing.

When to see a doctor

Although having occasional cold feet is normal, there are some instances when a visit to the doctor may be necessary. Anyone who experiences cold feet frequently or for no obvious reason should speak to their doctor about possible causes.

A person should also speak to a doctor if cold feet are accompanied by other symptoms, including:

  • fatigue
  • weight loss or gain
  • fever
  • significant joint pain
  • sores on the fingers or toes that take a long time to heal
  • skin changes, such as rashes, scales, or thick skin

If the feet feel cold internally, but the skin does not feel cold to the touch, a person should see a doctor, as this may be a sign of nerve damage or other neurological conditions.


Getting cold feet from time to time is perfectly normal. Persistent symptoms may be something to discuss with a doctor, but treating the underlying cause should help the feet return a better temperature.

In the meantime, taking immediate steps, such as wearing thick socks or using a hot footbath, can help warm the feet up quickly.

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Medical News Today: What to know about jugular vein distention (JVD)

Jugular vein distention occurs when the pressure inside the vena cava increases and appears as a bulge running down the right side of a person’s neck.

In this article, we look at the causes of jugular vein distention (JVD), additional symptoms, and how it is treated.

What is jugular vein distention?

Jugular vein distention. Image credit: Ferencga, (2003, one 25)
Jugular vein distention is when a vein on the side of the neck appears to bulge.
Image credit: Ferencga, (2003, June 25)

A person has jugular veins on both sides of their neck. They act as passageways for blood to move from a person’s head to the superior vena cava, which is the largest vein in the upper body. The superior vena cava then transports the blood to the heart and lungs.

The blood flow from the head to the heart is measured by central venous pressure or CVP.

Jugular vein distention or JVD is when the increased pressure of the superior vena cava causes the jugular vein to bulge, making it most visible on the right side of a person’s neck.

The appearance of the vein is similar to a rope or raised tube below the surface of the skin, and its height can be measured to indicate the CVP.

An increased volume of blood and high CVP are signs of heart failure. However, there are other reasons why JVD might occur, such as a blockage.

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There are several reasons why JVD may occur, including:

  • Right-sided heart failure. The right ventricle of the heart is responsible for pumping blood to the lungs to collect oxygen. The left ventricle is responsible for pumping the blood out to the rest of the body. People with right-sided heart failure have usually already experienced left-sided heart failure. The blood accumulation in the lungs caused by left ventricle failure means the right ventricle has to work harder and becomes weakened until it cannot pump effectively anymore. This failure causes the veins to bulge as blood accumulates.
  • Pulmonary hypertension. This condition occurs when the pressure in blood vessels becomes dangerously high, causing their walls to thicken and stiffen, meaning less blood can pass through. This can damage the right side of the heart and increase pressure in the superior vena cava.
  • Tricuspid valve stenosis. This is caused by a stiffening of the valve that separates the right atrium and the right ventricle of the heart. This results in blood backing up in the veins.
  • Superior vena cava obstruction. Superior vena cava obstruction can occur if a tumor growing in the chest or a clot in the superior vena cava restricts blood flow in the vein.
  • Constrictive pericarditis. If the pericardium or the fluid-filled sac around the heart becomes stiff, it can prevent the chambers of the hearts from filling up with blood properly. This situation can cause the blood to back up in the veins.
  • Cardiac tamponade. This is a condition that occurs when the sac around the heart fills up with fluid and no longer allows the heart to fill with blood properly. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including infection and bleeding. It causes heart failure as well as JVD.


person holding both hands over heart because of chest pains.
Symptoms of JVD may include chest pains, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath.

As well as the appearance of a bulging jugular vein, other symptoms may occur in a person with JVD. These additional symptoms can help determine the underlying cause of JVD.

Some symptoms that may occur alongside JVD are considered an emergency and require immediate medical attention. These symptoms include:

  • anxiety
  • excessive sweating
  • blue lips or fingernails
  • decreased alertness
  • passing out or becoming unresponsive
  • chest pain, tightness, or pressure
  • heart palpitations
  • not being able to produce any urine
  • rapid heart rate or tachycardia
  • rapid weight gain
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • wheezing or choking

Other symptoms that may occur alongside JVD are:

  • confusion
  • memory loss
  • coughing
  • feeling fatigued
  • swelling, especially of the lower extremities
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • increased need to urinate at night, known as nocturia
  • a decrease in appetite
  • changes in weight
  • shortness of breath or rapid breathing, known as tachypnea
  • weakness

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Risk factors

JVD can be the sign of a severe condition, including heart failure, so it is vital that a person is seen by a medical professional as soon as possible.

While heart failure can happen to anyone, risk factors for heart failure include:

Complications, including with a person’s circulation, can occur alongside JVD and may result in fatigue. They can also cause cognitive or memory difficulties, as well as potential liver and kidney problems.


Woman having throat and neck inspected by doctor.
Usually a diagnosis is made simply by inspecting the bulging vein itself.

The appearance of a bulging vein in a person’s neck is enough to diagnose them with JVD. However, determining the underlying cause usually requires further testing.

To find out if there is any immediate cause for concern, a doctor can estimate a person’s CVP by measuring the height of the bulge.

This measurement will be taken when a person is lying down with their head elevated at an angle of 45–60 degrees.

If the CVP is higher than normal, it may indicate heart failure or that there is high pressure in the lungs that is affecting the right side of the heart.

A doctor will ask about other symptoms, such as chest pain and shortness of breath to help make a diagnosis.

Additional tests may also be carried out to determine the underlying cause of JVD. Listening to the heart can help a doctor pick up signs, such as a heart murmur.

A blood test can also reveal problems with the kidney, liver, or thyroid, which may affect the heart and cardiovascular system, causing JVD.

A doctor may carry out other tests, including an electrocardiogram, which can reveal any problems with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat, or an echocardiogram, which can help diagnose heart failure and show signs of valve disease or a previous heart attack.

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In cases where heart failure is thought to be the underlying cause of JVD, a doctor will work closely with a person to help improve their health. Treatments include:

  • changes in lifestyle and diet
  • beta-blockers to decrease the activity of the heart and lower blood pressure
  • ACE inhibitors, which help to relax the blood vessels
  • diuretics, which help to lower blood pressure by flushing salt and fluid out of the body and relaxing blood vessels

In the most severe cases, a heart transplant may be necessary.


The most common underlying cause of JVD is heart failure. A person’s outlook depends on how early this is diagnosed, the extent of the damage, their overall health, and how well they respond to treatment.

Early diagnosis is more likely to have a more positive outlook. Anyone experiencing the symptoms of JVD should see a doctor as soon as possible.

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Medical News Today: What you should know about laser hair removal versus electrolysis

Although shaving, tweezing, or waxing can remove unwanted hair, many people are now looking for more long-term solutions. Two commonly used methods to achieve this are laser hair removal and electrolysis.

Both procedures target hair follicles under the surface of the skin to curb or prevent their growth. Although electrolysis is the only hair removal method endorsed by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for permanent hair removal, and according to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, laser hair removal is currently the more popular option in the United States.

Keep reading to discover the advantages and disadvantages of each procedure.

What is laser hair removal?

Laser hair removal
Laser hair removal does not eliminate unwanted hair forever.

Laser hair removal uses a laser to damage hair follicles sufficiently to reduce hair growth.

It will permanently diminish hair growth, but does not eliminate unwanted hair forever — eventually, the hair will grow back.

What does the procedure involve?

Before the procedure, the technician performing the laser surgery will trim the hair that is being treated close to the skin.

The technician will then adjust the laser’s settings based on the color and thickness of the hair being removed, as well as the area being treated. Preparations will likely also take into account the color of the person’s skin.

The technician will then apply a cold gel to the skin to protect it. Some people may be given a topical anesthetic to minimize discomfort. Anyone having their hair removed with a laser will need to wear eye protection during the treatment.


After the procedure, it may be necessary to apply ice packs to alleviate discomfort. For severe pain, a doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers or a steroid cream.

Most people will require up to 8 follow-up treatments to get the best results, which can be scheduled 4 to 6 weeks apart. Once hair growth has been sufficiently restrained, a person may require a once-or twice-yearly maintenance session.

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Advantages of laser hair removal

Some of the benefits of laser hair removal include:

  • Precision: The lasers quickly target coarse, dark hairs.
  • Speed: Laser pulses take just milliseconds, and can treat several hairs at once, which means that small areas can be treated in just minutes.
  • Lighter growth and color: New hair growth tends to be less dense than before, and the new hair is often a few shades lighter than the original hair.
  • Efficacy: Many people see long-term results after 3 to 8 sessions.

Disadvantages of laser hair removal

Laser hair removal is not suitable for everyone, and there are some risks involved. Its main disadvantages include:

  • Not suitable for all coloring: The laser works best on people with light skin and dark hair because the laser targets dark colors.
  • Risk of adverse reactions: Some of the more undesirable side effects of laser hair removal can include discolored skin, swelling, skin redness, blisters, and scarring. However, some of these resolve within hours of the treatment.
  • Photosensitivity: Lasers can increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight (photosensitivity); so direct exposure to the sun must be avoided immediately after the procedure. People having laser treatment should avoid sunlight for 6 weeks before treatment to prevent discoloration of the tanned skin.
  • Dangers of numbing products: According to the FDA, the use of skin-numbing products in laser hair removal has led to reports of serious and life-threatening side effects that occurred after individuals applied a numbing agent to large areas of the body.

People should use a fully trained, certified laser technician working under the direction of a board-certified healthcare provider to reduce the risk of severe and long-lasting side effects following laser hair removal.


Insurance companies consider laser hair removal to be a cosmetic procedure, and so they do not cover it.

Costs vary according to the area of the body being treated and the number of sessions required but can cost $200 to $400 per visit. Prices also vary depending on the geographic location of the laser treatment center.

It is also necessary to factor in the price of the yearly maintenance procedures when calculating the total cost of this treatment.

At-home therapies or salon treatments, although significantly cheaper, carry more significant risks.

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What is electrolysis?

Electrolysis can permanently remove hair follicles.

Electrolysis involves passing an electrical current through a hair follicle, which damages the follicle and prevents new hair growth.

Electrolysis is the only method of permanent hair removal available. To ensure efficacy and safety, a licensed, board-certified dermatologist or electrologist should carry out the procedure.

What does the procedure involve?

Before the procedure, a person will typically have a consultation with an electrologist to discuss their health and medical history.

The procedure itself involves the technician placing an ultra-thin needle into the targeted hair follicle. An electric current passes through the probe, killing the hair root.


Very little aftercare is necessary. Although the skin may feel irritated and appear slightly red, these symptoms tend to resolve within a few hours.

For permanent hair removal, a person will need several treatments. This is because the skin has multiple follicles for each hair, so dormant follicles may begin to grow hair between sessions. Follow-up sessions treat these newly active follicles.

The majority of people will require follow-up sessions every week or every other week for several weeks to eliminate hair on the target area.

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Advantages of electrolysis

Electrolysis has the following advantages:

  • Permanent: Electrolysis is the only FDA-approved method of permanent hair removal.
  • Versatility: According to the American Electrology Association, electrolysis is effective for people with any skin type, skin color, hair type, and hair color. Electrolysis is suitable for any area of the body — including the eyebrows.
  • No recovery time: People can resume their daily activities immediately after the procedure.
  • Maintenance-free: There is no need to schedule an annual electrolysis session — once the hair has been removed no more treatments are necessary.
  • No harsh chemicals: Unlike with laser hair removal or hair bleaching, electrolysis does not require the use of chemicals on the skin.

Disadvantages of electrolysis

Although there are many benefits to electrolysis, there are some risks and drawbacks to consider:

  • Several sessions: If larger areas are being treated with electrolysis, such as the legs or back, it can take several long sessions to achieve permanent results. Also, removing coarse hair, such as from around the bikini line, requires more sessions. Some people may require up to 30 treatments.
  • Discomfort: People undergoing electrolysis hair removal may experience some pain and discomfort. It may help to take a pain reliever before treatment and to apply ice following the session.
  • Potential for adverse effects: These include scarring in rare cases or infection from unsterilized needles. These risks highlight the importance of only using a board-certified dermatologist.


Most insurance will not cover electrolysis hair removal. However, depending on the area and the type of hair being treated, it can work out less expensive than laser hair removal.

For example, a 30-minute session targeting a small area can cost as little as $45.

People should keep in mind that they might require more sessions than they would with laser treatment.

What hair removal treatment is best?

Both laser hair removal and electrolysis treatments provide a long-term solution to unwanted hair growth.

All things considered, despite being a slower method of hair removal, electrolysis is more versatile, and permanently removes hair. It also typically causes fewer adverse reactions.

Those considering long-term hair removal treatments should speak with a skincare specialist about the best options for their needs.

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Medical News Today: Another work email out of hours? Why you should ignore it

It’s the weekend. You’re spending quality time with your family and friends. Suddenly, the unmistakable sound of a work email resonates from your phone. Do you read it now? Or do you wait until Monday? If you opt for the former, be warned: you might be putting your well-being at risk.
a man distracted by his phone
A study highlights how a lack of work-life balance can have negative effects on our well-being.

Researchers from the University of Zürich in Switzerland found that employees who allow their work to seep into their personal lives feel more emotionally exhausted and have a lower sense of well-being, compared with those who maintain a clear separation between work and their personal lives.

Sadly, this is likely to be a common problem; it seems that few of us manage to achieve work-life balance.

A survey from the Society of Human Resource Management suggests that around 89 percent of employees in the United States consider work-life balance to be a problem.

With longer working hours and increasing job demands, this is hardly a surprise. However, as the new study highlights, we need to be careful; letting our work trickle into our personal lives could have significant implications for our well-being.

This finding — as reported by the researchers in the Journal of Business and Psychology — may seem obvious, but what is interesting about the new study is that it sheds light on why failing to draw the line between work and our free time can have such negative effects. In a nutshell, it’s down to the amount of time we allow ourselves to recover from work demands.

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Studying almost 2,000 employees

Study co-author Ariane Wepfer — from the Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute at the University of Zürich — and her colleagues came to their results by analyzing the data of 1,916 employees from German-speaking countries. Of these employees, around 50 percent worked at least 40 hours per week.

Each employee took part in an online survey, which assessed how well they separated their work from their personal lives. For example, they were asked whether they thought about work in their free time, and how often they worked at weekends.

Respondents were also asked whether they allowed themselves time to relax out of work to enjoy some hobbies or socialize. The survey also gathered information about the employees’ sense of physical and emotional exhaustion, and whether they felt they had a good work-life balance.

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Less recovery time leads to exhaustion

The results of the survey demonstrated that employees’ who did not draw the line between work and their personal lives were less likely to take part in hobbies and other activities that may help them to recover from work demands.

As a result, these employees reported greater exhaustion, compared with those who put strict boundaries between their work and personal lives.

“Employees who integrated work into their non-work life,” says Wepfer, “reported being more exhausted because they recovered less. This lack of recovery activities furthermore explains why people who integrate their work into the rest of their lives have a lower sense of well-being.”

According to the researchers, these findings should further encourage employers to put policies in place to ensure employees maintain a good work-life balance.

“Organizational policy and culture should be adjusted to help employees manage their work-non-work boundaries in a way that does not impair their well-being,” says Wepfer. “After all, impaired well-being goes hand in hand with reduced productivity and reduced creativity.”

So, the next time work demands try to creep into your personal life, tell yourself that it can wait. You’ll be doing your well-being the world of good.

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Medical News Today: Ketamine ‘rapid and effective’ for reducing suicidal thoughts

Ketamine — a medication primarily used as an anesthetic — may offer a fast and effective way to reduce suicidal thoughts among individuals with depression. This is the finding of a new study by researchers from Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, NY.
a sad woman looking out of a window
Research suggests that ketamine could be a fast-acting and effective treatment to reduce suicidal thoughts.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States; each year, around 44,193 people in the U.S. take their own lives, and a further 494,169 are hospitalized for self-harm injuries.

Depression is by far the most common disorder underlying a suicide attempt; around 30–70 percent of those who attempt suicide have major depression or bipolar disorder.

But how can you tell if a friend or loved one with depression is having suicidal thoughts? Verbal threats of suicide or being a burden to others, an increase in the use of drugs or alcohol, and changes in mood can all be warning signs.

Of course, it is not possible to predict whether a person will attempt suicide, which highlights the need for speedy treatments that can reduce suicidal thoughts.

“There is a critical window in which depressed patients who are suicidal need rapid relief to prevent self-harm,” explains study leader Dr. Michael Grunebaum, a research psychiatrist at Columbia University Medical Center.

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“Currently available antidepressants can be effective in reducing suicidal thoughts in patients with depression,” he adds, “but they can take weeks to have an effect.”

Dr. Grunebaum explains, “Suicidal, depressed patients need treatments that are rapidly effective in reducing suicidal thoughts when they are at highest risk. Currently, there is no such treatment for rapid relief of suicidal thoughts in depressed patients.”

Previous research, however, has pointed to ketamine as a potential candidate, after finding that low doses of the drug may help to reduce suicidal ideation in people with depression.

Dr. Grunebaum and colleagues set out to investigate this association further with their new study. Specifically, they investigated whether or not ketamine could reduce suicidal thoughts within 24 hours of administration.

The findings were recently published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Ketamine quickly halved suicidal thoughts

The research included 80 adults who had major depression. All participants had suicidal thoughts, as determined by their scores on the Scale for Suicidal Ideation (SSI).

The participants were randomized to one of two treatment groups. One group received a low-dose of ketamine, while the other group received a low-dose of midazolam, a sedative.

Using the SSI, the researchers assessed the presence of suicidal thoughts at 24 hours after each drug was administered.

While both groups saw a clinically significant reduction in suicidal thoughts, this reduction was greater for subjects who received ketamine: 55 percent of the ketamine group experienced a 50 percent or higher reduction in suicidal thoughts, compared with 30 percent of the midazolam group.

Ketamine’s effects on suicidal thoughts remained for up to 6 weeks, the team reports. Furthermore, those who received ketamine experienced greater improvements in mood, depression, and fatigue, compared with those who received midazolam.

The team notes the effects of ketamine on depression accounted for around a third of the drug’s effects on SSI scores, which suggests that ketamine can directly target suicidal thoughts.

The most common side effects of ketamine were dissociation and an increase in blood pressure upon administration. However, the team notes that these side effects soon subsided.

Overall, the researchers say that their findings show that “ketamine offers promise as a rapidly acting treatment for reducing suicidal thoughts in patients with depression.”

Additional research to evaluate ketamine’s antidepressant and anti-suicidal effects may pave the way for the development of new antidepressant medications that are faster-acting and have the potential to help individuals who do not respond to currently available treatments.”

Dr. Michael Grunebaum

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