Medical News Today: What to know about breast cancer and back pain

Back pain is unlikely to be an early symptom of breast cancer, but it can be a factor in the later stages of the disease. Medication and treatment for breast cancer can also be causes. We find out more about the links between the disease and back pain.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in the United States with 252,710 estimated new cases in 2017. There is a good chance of recovery if the disease is found early.

Women aged 45 years old and above, and those who have a family history of the disease, are recommended to have breast cancer screening. All women should do a breast self-exam regularly to check for any changes that could indicate breast cancer.

How are breast cancer and back pain linked?

Woman sitting on bed suffering back pain because of breast cancer,
Metastatic breast cancer may cause back pain, though it is not the only cause.

Breast cancer that has reached an advanced stage is known as metastatic or stage 4 breast cancer. This classification means that cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Back pain is one symptom of metastatic breast cancer and can appear in the later stages of the disease.

But back pain is also common in the population, and there are many other reasons for it to happen, such as pulling a muscle.

There are three key causes of back pain linked to breast cancer:

  1. Breast cancer that has spread to the bones may weaken them and cause pain.
  2. A tumor that is growing can push into healthy tissue, which may be painful.
  3. Some medication and therapies used to treat breast cancer can cause back pain.

Finding the cause of back pain will determine the best treatment.

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Back pain is unlikely to be an early symptom of breast cancer but could be an indication that it is spreading.

Some medications for the disease can be the cause of back pain if breast cancer is already diagnosed. These include:

  • Faslodex and Femara: These are hormonal therapies to control levels of estrogen.
  • Novantrone: A chemotherapy medication that kills the cancer cells.
  • Kisqali: A medication that stops the cancer cells from dividing and growing.

It may be possible to change to a different medication or therapies that do not cause back pain. A switch is not always an option, however, so a person may need to find other ways to manage their pain.

A doctor will check for advanced breast cancer with a physical examination and by asking about symptoms. If further tests are needed, the most common are:

  • CT scan: This takes X-rays of areas of the body from different angles.
  • MRI scan: This uses a machine to scan the body using radio waves.
  • Ultrasound scan: A device giving off sound waves builds a picture of the inside of the body.
  • Bone scans and positron emission tomography (PET) scans: These two tests use radioactive substances to highlight areas of cancer.

All these tests can show whether there are cancerous growths in the body that are the cause of back pain.

If advanced breast cancer is diagnosed, a doctor should give clear information and advice on treatment options and support.

How do you know if the pain is unrelated?

Mature patient speaking to nurse.
Back pain is a common problem, and has many potential causes aside from breast cancer. If back pain is present alongside the signs of breast cancer, a diagnosis should be sought.

Back pain has many causes, from straining muscles when lifting something heavy, to poor posture. It is not always easy to determine what is the cause.

Pain in any part of the back is common. If someone does not have a diagnosis of breast cancer and is in a low-risk group, back pain is unlikely to be a symptom of the disease.

Tests and exams to find the early signs of breast cancer are known as screening. This is recommended for people with a family history of the disease and women of 45 years of age or more.

Someone who is in these higher risk groups should make themselves aware of the symptoms of breast cancer.

If back pain is experienced alongside other symptoms of breast cancer, or the disease has already been diagnosed, a person should see a doctor for further advice and testing.

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Is the back the first place for it to spread?

The most common sites for breast cancer to spread to are:

  • lungs
  • brain
  • liver
  • bone

Cancer cells move into healthy tissue to form new tumors, and this will usually start with the tissue nearest to where the cancer first formed.

Breast cancer may not spread to all of these areas of the body. The bones most commonly affected are:

  • ribs
  • spine
  • pelvis
  • upper bones in the arms and legs
  • skull

If breast cancer has spread to the bones, a person is likely to feel pain or an ache in that place, and this may include the back.

Treatment and self-care

Woman performing yoga stretches at home to improve back pain.
Gentle stretches and exercise may help to ease back pain.

The first steps to treating back pain at home are:

  • taking anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen
  • doing gentle back exercises and stretches
  • applying a hot or cold pack to the area
  • trying to relax to ease muscle tension

If the pain goes away after these treatments, it is likely that it has been caused by a strain or injury.

But a person should go and see their doctor if treating back pain at home does not work after a few days, or the pain is particularly bad.

Back pain caused by stage 4 breast cancer may be treated with surgery or radiation therapy. This can prevent bone fractures or reduce pain when a tumor is pressing on the spine.

General treatments for advanced breast cancer include chemotherapy, hormonal therapies, and targeted therapy. These methods all aim to reduce the size of tumors or prevent them growing, help with symptoms, and extend someone’s life.

A person can seek advice and support from a doctor to make a plan to manage and reduce their pain. This type of symptom can range from severe or occasional pain, to emotional distress caused by the disease.

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If someone has breast cancer, any pain can be worrying. It is good to remember that back pain is very common and unlikely to be caused by cancer that is getting worse. A person should seek medical advice if the back pain lasts for a long time or is severe.

A person with the disease should be aware of the symptoms of stage 4 breast cancer. At this advanced stage of the disease, it is not usually curable. However, a wide range of treatments can reduce the growth of tumors and help with pain.

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Medical News Today: Exposure to pollution counters benefits of exercise in seniors

Exercise is known to bring a myraid of health benefits, but new research shows that exposure to air pollution in busy cities renders the effort futile.
a busy street
A walk is always healthy — or is it? A new study suggests that walking in a polluted environment can strip away the health benefits of exercise.

“Be active” appears to be the motto that many studies promote nowadays. Exercise has been shown to boost memory, promote gut health, and protect against heart disease, to name a few benefits recently uncovered by researchers.

Still, the effort it takes to get up and go about your physical activity routine may all come to nothing if you live in a big city and find yourself habitually exposed to exhaust fumes and other air pollution factors, a new study suggests.

Researchers from Imperial College London in the United Kingdom and Duke University in Durham, NC, set out to study the effects of pollution on physically active adults aged 60 years and older. Their investigation showed that even a short-term exposure to polluted air can cancel the hard-earned benefits of exercise.

This was also the first time that researchers had looked at the effects of pollution on healthy older adults, as well as on individuals diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or coronary heart disease.

According to study co-author Prof. Junfeng Zhang, of Duke University, the new study “adds to the growing body of evidence showing the negative cardiovascular and respiratory impacts of even a short, 2-hour exposure to motor traffic pollution.” The results, he adds, “[Highlight] the need for stricter air quality limits and better traffic-control measures in our cities.”

Prof. Zhang and colleagues recently published their findings in The Lancet.

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A walk in the park for heart and lung health

For the purpose of the study, the researchers recruited 119 participants over 60 years of age, of whom 40 were healthy, 40 had a pre-existing diagnosis of COPD, and 39 had ischemic heart disease.

The participants were asked to take a 2-hour walk at midday either in a quiet part of Hyde Park in London, U.K., or along the busy Oxford Street — one of the most polluted spots of the British capital.

Both before and after the walk, the participants underwent tests measuring the effects on heart and lung health, taking into account elements such as lung capacity, blood flow and pressure, and arterial stiffness.

The researchers found that — regardless of their initial state of health — the participants who had gone for a walk in Hyde Park experienced a marked improvement of lung capacity within the first hour.

This benefit was prolonged for more than 24 hours in the case of many of the park-going participants.

At the same time, the volunteers who were asked to walk along Oxford Street experienced a limited lung capacity increase to begin with, which was not maintained throughout the hours following the walk.

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A walk in Hyde Park was also seen to counteract arterial stiffness, reducing it by over 24 percent in healthy participants and participants with COPD, and by over 19 percent in individuals with heart disease.

Those who walked along the busy London street did not experience significant improvements in this regard, with healthy participants reaching only a 4.6 percent reduction in arterial stiffness.

Participants with COPD experienced a 16 percent reduction, and those with a heart disease diagnosis exhibited a reduction in arterial stiffness of only 8.6 percent.

However, the team did acknowledge some limitations to the study, noting that the stress levels experienced on the busy street of a capital city — produced by exposure to loud noise and lively crowds — might have influenced the results.

They also noticed that the participants taking drugs for cardiovascular symptoms were affected less by exposure to air pollution. In the study paper, the researchers write that “our data suggest that cardioprotective drugs taken by participants with ischemic heart disease are beneficial when walking in polluted areas.”

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No tolerance for current levels of air pollution

Despite any drawbacks in the study design, the researchers express concern following their findings.

They say that most worryingly, older adults or those diagnosed with chronic heart or lung diseases might have few options when it comes to exercise. In their case, walking may be the most readily available physical activity, so the environment to which they are exposed is extremely important.

For many people, such as the elderly or those with chronic disease, the only exercise they very often can do is to walk. Our study suggests that we might advise these people to walk in green spaces, away from built-up areas and pollution from traffic. But for those living in inner cities, this may be difficult to do […]”

Study co-author Prof. Kian Fan Chung, National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College London

The researchers call for a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to high pollution levels, and they suggest that more stringent measures should be taken in this respect.

Prof. Fan Chung says, “Combined with evidence from other recent studies, our findings underscore that we can’t really tolerate the levels of air pollution that we currently find on our busy streets.”

He adds that he and his colleagues “call for greater access to urban green spaces for people to exercise,” following the significant heart and lung health improvements seen in those who spent time walking in the quiet, fresh environment of the London park.

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Medical News Today: Money only buys a certain kind of happiness, study shows

Can money buy happiness? Well, that depends on how much money you have, and the type of happiness you’re after, new research suggests.
woman shaking piggy bank
How much money we have may predispose us to different kinds of happiness, suggests a new study.

“If you should ask me the amount/In my bank account/I’d have to confess that I’m slippin'” sang Louis Armstrong in 1945.

However, having little money in his account didn’t prevent Satchmo from being happy. In actual fact, the song “I’m just a lucky so-and-so” is about the feeling of happiness that one gets from being close to loved ones and being able to admire the beauty of the world.

Is there any truth to the idea that we don’t need money to be happy? Or is this just a myth that was invented by the wealthy to keep the poor content?

Between these extremes, there may be some middle ground, according to a new study published in the journal Emotion.

Paul K. Piff, Ph.D., and Jake P. Moskowitz, both from the University of California, Irvine, examined a range of positive emotions associated with different incomes and found that money buys different types of happiness for different people.

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Low-income versus high-income happiness

“Higher income has many benefits,” says Piff, “including improved health and life satisfaction, but is it associated with greater happiness?”

This question prompted the researchers to survey 1,519 Americans. This nationally representative sample of participants was asked to answer questions about seven positive emotions considered central to happiness.

The emotions were amusement, awe, compassion, contentment, enthusiasm, love, and pride. The subjects answered questions that were designed to measure the degree to which they tended to experience these emotions.

For instance, participants were asked to rate how much they either agreed or disagreed with the statement, “Nurturing others gives me a warm feeling inside” in order to measure compassion.

Some other statements included, “Many things are funny to me,” designed to measure amusement, “I develop strong emotions toward people I can rely on,” meant to measure love, and, “It feels good to know that people look up to me,” as a measurement of pride.

The researchers also asked the participants questions about their household income.

It was found that those who had a higher income were more likely to experience emotions that focused on themselves, such as pride, contentment, and amusement.

By contrast, those with a lower income had a stronger tendency to experience emotions centered on others, such as compassion and love. Those with a lower income were also likelier to feel awe and an overwhelming sense of beauty in the world.

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Money buys an ‘individual’ kind of happiness

“These findings indicate that wealth is not unequivocally associated with happiness,” explains Piff.

“What seems to be the case,” he continues, “is that your wealth predisposes you to different kinds of happiness. While wealthier individuals may find greater positivity in their accomplishments, status, and individual achievements, less wealthy individuals seem to find more positivity and happiness in their relationships, their ability to care for and connect with others.”

Having money, therefore, appears to make it easier to achieve only a certain kind of happiness.

“Wealth doesn’t guarantee you happiness,” notes Piff, “but it may predispose you to experiencing different forms of it — for example, whether you delight in yourself versus in your friends and relationships.”

These findings suggest that lower-income individuals have devised ways to cope, to find meaning, joy, and happiness in their lives despite their relatively less favorable circumstances.”

Paul K. Piff, Ph.D.

So, when Louis Armstrong sang, “And when the day is through/Each night I hurry to/A home where love waits, I know/I guess I’m just a lucky so-and-so,” perhaps he was merely devising a “happiness strategy,” or a way to cope with what was surely, at the time, a difficult society to live in.

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Medical News Today: All you need to know about egg yolk

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Medical News Today: What to know about yoga for erectile dysfunction

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Medical News Today: Causes and treatment of ovary pain

While most women are not regularly aware of their ovaries, many women do experience pain or discomfort in that area from time to time.

The ovaries are two small glands situated on either side of the lower pelvis. They play a vital role in reproduction, the menstrual cycle, and the development of sexual characteristics in women.

Each month, one follicle will mature into an egg, which is released from the ovary in a process known as ovulation. For most women, this occurs regularly from puberty until menopause.

Causes of ovary pain

Here are seven of the most common causes of ovarian pain:

1. Ovulation

Ovary pain
Some women may feel discomfort for minutes or hours during ovulation.

Ovulation pain is also known as Mittelschmerz, which comes from the German words for “pain” and “middle.”

Ovulation is the process of an egg being released from the ovary and occurs on or around day 14 of the average menstrual cycle.

Some women do not feel anything during ovulation, but other women feel severe discomfort for several minutes or hours when they ovulate.

Mittelschmerz can occur on one or both sides of the body and is sometimes accompanied by nausea, bleeding, or increased vaginal discharge.


There is no treatment necessary for Mittelschmerz, although some women take the birth control pill to prevent ovulation and the discomfort that comes with it.

2. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection that has spread to the uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes. Most of the time, the bacteria causing PID is sexually transmitted, such as from gonorrhea or chlamydia.

It is also possible to get PID from an infection after childbirth, IUD insertion, miscarriage, abortion, or another invasive procedure.


PID requires antibiotics to treat the underlying infection. Mild PID can be treated with a single injection, while more severe PID may require a stay in the hospital for intravenous antibiotics.

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3. Torsion

The ovary is connected to the abdominal wall by a thin ligament, through which the blood vessels and nerves that supply the ovary also pass. It is possible for that ligament to twist, or even become knotted.

Torsion is more common if there is a cyst on the ovary because the cyst makes the ovary heavier or larger than usual.


Ovarian torsion causes severe ovarian pain and is a medical emergency. Without quick treatment, the ovary may die because of the loss of blood supply.

4. Endometriosis

Endometriosis is the abnormal growth of menstrual tissue outside of the uterus. This tissue can grow anywhere in the abdomen or pelvis, including on the ovary, and it behaves in the same way as it does during a menstrual cycle.

At the beginning of the cycle, the tissue grows in response to the hormones in the body.

Once menstruation begins, the tissue also starts to peel off and shed, just like the lining of the uterus. This can cause internal bleeding, scar tissue, and severe abdominal or pelvic pain.


Treatment for endometriosis can be either medical or surgical, depending on how severe it is. There is no cure for endometriosis, but women can manage it with pain medications, hormonal medications, and surgery.

5. Ovarian cyst

diagram of an ovary
A woman’s ovary may grow a cyst. Symptoms can include bloating, pain, and changes to the menstrual period.

An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that grows on a woman’s ovary. Ovarian cysts are very common and in most cases do not cause any symptoms.

A large or ruptured cyst, however, can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • pain
  • bloating
  • changes in menstrual periods
  • frequent urge to urinate
  • feeling full
  • general discomfort

Most cysts are benign (non-cancerous), but in extremely rare cases they may be cancerous.


If an ovarian cyst is small, the recommended treatment may be to watch and wait to see if it goes away.

Some doctors will prescribe a birth control pill to help the cyst shrink. If the cyst is very large, surgery to remove the cyst may be necessary.

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6. Ovarian remnant syndrome

Ovarian remnant syndrome only occurs in women who have had their ovaries and fallopian tubes surgically removed.

If any of the ovarian tissue remains in the pelvis, it can continue to respond to and produce hormones.

This can cause pain that is either constant or comes and goes. Women with ovarian remnant syndrome can also experience pain during sex, when urinating, or having a bowel movement.


A woman with ovarian remnant syndrome may need medication or radiation treatment to destroy any remaining ovarian tissue. This will reduce the hormones produced by the leftover tissue.

7. Referred pain

It is possible that a medical condition in another organ can cause pain that feels like it is coming from the ovaries. These can include appendicitis, ectopic pregnancy, kidney stones, constipation, or early pregnancy.


A doctor will first need to determine what is causing the pain, and then figure out the best course of treatment.

This may mean surgery to remove an appendix or ectopic pregnancy, laxatives to relieve constipation, or pain relief until a kidney stone has passed.

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When to see a doctor

mature female patient speaking to female doctor
Any unusal pelvic pain should be referred to a healthcare professional.

Anytime a woman is having unusual pain in her pelvis she should check in with a healthcare professional. The doctor will be able to perform a pelvic exam or order additional diagnostic tests to help figure out the source of the pain.

Complications associated with ovarian pain depend on what is causing the discomfort.

For example, there are no health complications or long-term problems associated with Mittelschmerz, but a ruptured appendix can be life-threatening if not treated quickly.

Untreated ovarian torsion can lead to the death of the ovary, loss of fertility, and even severe infection or death. The pain associated with ovarian torsion is usually very severe and prompts a woman to call for emergency medical help.

Endometriosis or infections, such as PID, require treatment so that they do not cause other long-term health problems, such as infertility.

Appendicitis or a ruptured ovarian cyst can cause infection or scarring in the pelvis, and can even be life-threatening if left untreated.

It is especially important to seek immediate medical care if the pain is suddenly very severe, or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • vaginal bleeding

Very severe pain should be evaluated quickly, which may mean going to the emergency department.


Ovarian pain may or may not have a serious cause. Even if the pain is not severe, it is important to mention the discomfort to a doctor so that it can be evaluated.

There may be a simple way to relieve the pain, or it may be more serious and require treatment. In either case, it is better to get checked out to be sure.

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Medical News Today: What is methemoglobinemia?

Methemoglobinemia is a blood disorder that occurs when too little oxygen is delivered to the cells of the body. There are two kinds of methemoglobinemia — congenital and acquired.

Methemoglobinemia (MetHb) is pronounced met-he-mo-glo-bi-ne-mia.

Babies can inherit it from their parents; this is called congenital MetHb. Sometimes it is called blue baby syndrome, as one of the symptoms can be a blue tinge to the skin.

People can develop acquired MetHb after exposure to certain drugs or chemicals. Acquired MetHb is also rare, but it is usually mild and resolves after the person has identified and removed the cause.

How is it treated?

Methylene blue in centrifuge.
Methylene blue is sometimes used to treat serious cases of MetHb.

Some people with congenital MetHb do not have any symptoms, meaning they may not need treatment.

Mild cases of acquired MetHb do not usually require treatment either. A doctor will advise the person to avoid the substance that caused the problem.

Methylene blue is used to treat severe cases of MetHb, and doctors may prescribe ascorbic acid to reduce the level of methemoglobin in the blood.

In severe cases, a person may require a blood transfusion or exchange transfusion. Oxygen therapy will also be provided, if required.

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How is it diagnosed?

A doctor will diagnose the condition using a blood test that checks the level of functional hemoglobin in the blood.

A doctor may carry out pulse oximetry, which checks the oxygen level of the blood, and a blood test that checks the concentration of gases in the blood.

Types of methemoglobinemia

The condition occurs when the blood protein hemoglobin in a person’s body converts into methemoglobin.

Hemoglobin is present in red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body, distributing it to all the tissues and organs that need it to survive.

When a person has MetHb, the oxygen is still carried around the body but is not released effectively.

Inherited MetHb

MetHb can be passed down if one or both parents carry a faulty gene that causes problems with the enzyme cytochrome b5 reductase.

  • Type 1 inherited MetHB: This is also called erythrocyte reductase deficiency and occurs when the red blood cells do not have cytochrome b5 reductase.
  • Type 2 inherited MetHB: is also called generalized reductase deficiency, and this occurs when many cells in the body do not have the enzyme.
  • Hemoglobin M disease: This occurs when the hemoglobin protein itself is defective.

Acquired MetHB:

Acquired MetHb is more common than the inherited forms and is caused by exposure to:

  • anesthetics, such as benzocaine
  • nitrobenzene
  • some antibiotics, including dapsone and chloroquine
  • nitrites, which are used as additives to prevent meat from spoiling
  • some foods, such as spinach, beets, or carrots, contain natural nitrates which can cause MetHb if consumed in large amounts

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What are the symptoms?

Cyanosis, or blue skin, on person's foot. Symptom of methemoglobinemia and argyria.
Cyanosis, or blue skin, is a potential symptom of methemoglobinemia.

A baby born with the condition may have a bluish tinge to their skin, which is called cyanosis. This color might be apparent at birth or shortly afterward.

They may show signs of:

  • blueness around the mouth
  • blueness around the hands
  • blueness around the and feet
  • have difficulties breathing
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

In severe cases, they may be:

  • extremely lethargic
  • salivate excessively
  • lose consciousness.

Symptoms vary according to the amount of methemoglobin in the blood, which is measured on a scale called the MetHb concentration.

The normal level of MetHb concentration in a person’s blood is between 0 and 3 percent. If MetHb reaches a concentration of 3 to 10 percent, a person’s skin may take on a blue-grey appearance of cyanosis.

MetHb levels of 15 to 30 percent lead to cyanosis, where blood starts to look chocolate brown.

Concentrations of 30 to 50 percent start to cause more severe symptoms. These symptoms may include a headache, fatigue dizziness, anxiety, and confusion, as well as temporary loss of consciousness, rapid heartbeat, and weakness.

When levels reach 50 to 70 percent, the person may experience seizures, kidney problems, or an abnormal heartbeat.

MetHb concentrations of 70 percent and over can be fatal.

Typical symptoms of the different types of MetHb are:

Type 1 MetHb:

  • bluish coloring of the skin

Type 2 MetHb:

  • developmental delay
  • learning difficulties
  • seizures

Hemoglobin M disease

  • bluish coloring of the skin

Acquired MetHB:

  • bluish coloring of the skin
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • lack of energy

What causes MetHb?

Doctor speaking to couple to help with family planning.
MetHb can be inherited, so people with a family history of the condition should seek professional medical advice when planning a family.

The cause of MetHb is dependent on what type it is. MetHb can be congenital, meaning it is inherited or acquired, which means it is caused by exposure to certain drugs, chemicals or foods.

What are the possible complications?

Methylene blue, which is used to treat severe forms of MetHb, can be unsafe for people who have or are at risk of developing a disease called G6PD deficiency.

Cases of severe MetHb can lead to shock, seizures, and even death.

Can it be prevented?

Congenital MetHb cannot be prevented. People with a family history of the blood disorder are advised to request genetic counseling from a healthcare professional before starting a family.

To prevent acquired MethHb, people should avoid known causes, such as benzocaine, which is one of the most common initiators. Benzocaine is present in many over-the-counter medications, but the topical sprays containing the anesthetic benzocaine cause most of the severe cases.

Children under 6 months should not eat foods containing nitrates, such as spinach, beets or carrots.

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Congenital type 2 MetHb can be serious and often leads to death in the first few years of life. As such, people with a family history of the condition are advised to speak to a healthcare professional before having children.

People with type 1 MetHb and hemoglobin disease tend to do well. Acquired MetHb can be fatal, but once the cause of the problem has been identified and removed, outcomes are good. Most cases will not even require treatment.

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Medical News Today: Urosepsis: What to know about UTI complications

Urosepsis is a term used to describe a type of sepsis that is caused by an infection in the urinary tract. It is a complication often caused by urinary tract infections that are not treated quickly or properly.

Urosepsis is a serious complication of a urinary tract infection (UTI) that requires immediate medical care to avoid a possible life-threatening event. Anyone experiencing the symptoms of urosepsis should seek emergency medical attention.


Urosepsis Kidney pain
Symptoms of urosepsis include pain near the kidneys on the lower sides of the back.

Because urosepsis is a complication of a UTI, most people with the condition are likely to have symptoms of a UTI already.

The most common UTIs are bladder infections, and symptoms include:

  • frequent urges to urinate
  • a burning or itching sensation while urinating
  • feeling that the bladder is full, even after urinating
  • cloudy urine
  • blood in the urine
  • foul-smelling urine
  • pain during sex
  • pressure in the lower back or lower abdomen
  • malaise, or a feeling of being generally unwell

If the infection spreads beyond the bladder, it can reach the higher parts of the urinary system, such as the kidneys and ureters. When the infection reaches these areas, urosepsis is one possible complication.

In addition to UTI symptoms, people with urosepsis may also display more serious symptoms common to other forms of sepsis. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical care.

Symptoms of urosepsis include:

  • pain near the kidneys, on the lower sides of the back
  • nausea with or without vomiting
  • extreme fatigue
  • reduced urine volume or no urine
  • trouble breathing or rapid breathing
  • confusion or brain fog
  • unusual anxiety levels
  • changes in heart rate, such as palpitations or a rapid heartbeat
  • weak pulse
  • high fever or low body temperature
  • profuse sweating

In some serious cases, urosepsis may progress to severe sepsis, septic shock, or multi-organ failure.

People with severe sepsis produce little to no urine. They may have difficulty breathing, and their heart may have difficulty functioning.

During septic shock, a person’s blood pressure drops to extremely low levels, and their organs may shut down. These symptoms are life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.

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A UTI can occur if bacteria enter through the urethra, which is the tube that urine travels through to exit the body. These bacteria may reach the urethra in a variety of different ways, including through sexual contact, inadequate personal hygiene, or a pre-existing bladder condition. Women are more prone to UTIs than men because their urethras are shorter than a man’s.

The bacteria can spread from the urethra into the bladder, where they can multiply, causing an infection. If a UTI is left untreated, it can lead to complications, such as urosepsis.

Sometimes, UTIs develop because bacteria that are already present in the bladder have multiplied to an unhealthy level.

Risk factors

Some people, including women and older adults, are at greater risk of developing urosepsis. Also, people with open wounds or devices, such as catheters or breathing tubes, may also be more at risk of getting infections and UTIs, which can increase the risk for urosepsis.

Other risk factors for urosepsis include:

  • diabetes
  • being over 65 years old
  • a compromised immune system from autoimmune disorders such as HIV or AIDS
  • immunosuppression from certain drugs, organ transplant, or chemotherapy
  • corticosteroid treatment
  • history of urinary conditions
  • catheter use


patient being rushed through hospital
Emergency medical attention is needed for the symptoms of urosepsis.

Not everyone treated for urosepsis will have complications, especially if the condition is treated promptly and effectively.

Possible complications of urosepsis include:

  • collections of pus near the kidneys or prostate
  • organ failure
  • kidney damage
  • scar tissue in the urinary tract
  • septic shock

Treating urosepsis early and following the doctor’s treatment plan are crucial steps to avoid complications.

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A doctor may diagnose urosepsis after confirming that the person has a UTI, which is done through a simple urine sample. If a UTI has been left untreated or the doctor thinks the infection may have spread, they may order immediate blood tests to help diagnose urosepsis.

The doctor may also look for another source of infection that is causing sepsis by using a chest X-ray to look at the lungs, or a blood culture to look for bacteria in the bloodstream. Sometimes, a doctor may examine the skin for rashes or ulcerations.

Doctors may also perform other imaging tests. A computerized tomography (CT) scan of the abdomen and kidney can help form a complete picture of the kidney. An ultrasound scan may also help doctors see into the urinary tract to diagnose urosepsis.


If caught early, UTIs are easy to treat with antibiotics. A person with a UTI also needs to drink plenty of fluids to help flush the urinary tract.

However, treating urosepsis is not as simple, because it may not respond to antibiotics alone. A doctor will likely start the treatment with antibiotics because it is essential to treat the bacteria that caused the original UTI.

Doctors will monitor a person closely to see how well they respond to the antibiotics. If a person has severe sepsis or septic shock, they may require oxygen.

Some people will need surgery to get rid of the source of an untreated infection completely.

Doctors may prescribe vasopressors, which constrict the blood vessels and increase a person’s blood pressure to keep their organs from shutting down due to septic shock.

If urosepsis is not treated quickly, the person may require emergency hospitalization in the intensive care unit (ICU). If urosepsis progresses and the person develops septic shock, they will need emergency medical treatment.

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person washing hands in a sink
Washing the hands before and after using the toilet is recommended to help prevent UTIs.

As urosepsis is often the result of an untreated UTI, it is essential to prevent UTIs wherever possible.

There are a variety of steps a person can take to help prevent UTIs, including:

  • wiping from front to back after using the toilet
  • washing the hands before and after using the toilet
  • wearing cotton underwear
  • drinking plenty of water daily
  • urinating immediately after sexual activity
  • not waiting longer than necessary to urinate

Anyone experiencing signs of a UTI should visit their doctor for diagnosis and treatment. A prompt diagnosis and treatment is key to avoiding complications.


Urosepsis is a serious, potentially deadly complication of a UTI. Knowing about the signs and symptoms may help people understand the importance of getting prompt treatment for infections.

Anyone who thinks they have a UTI or other problem with their urinary tract should seek medical care.

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Medical News Today: Vitamin K deficiency: What you need to know

Vitamin K deficiency in adults is rare but does occur in infants. The main symptom of a vitamin K deficiency is excessive bleeding caused by an inability to form blood clots.

In this article, we look at the function of vitamin K in the body, as well as the symptoms and treatments for a vitamin K deficiency.

What is vitamin K?

Vitamin K supplements
Vitamin K is found in some plant foods, such as leafy green vegetables, and is also produced by the body.

Vitamin K comes in two forms.

The first type is known as vitamin K-1 or phylloquinone and can be found in plants, such as spinach and kale.

The second is known as vitamin K-2 or menaquinone and is found in the body and created naturally in the intestinal tract.

Both vitamin K-1 and vitamin K-2 produce proteins that help the blood to clot. Blood clotting or coagulation prevents excessive bleeding internally and externally.

While vitamin K deficiency is rare, it means a person’s body cannot produce enough of these proteins, increasing the risk of excessive bleeding.

Most adults obtain an adequate supply of vitamin K through the foods they eat and through what their body naturally produces.

Certain medications and medical conditions can reduce vitamin K production and inhibit absorption, meaning adults can become deficient.

However, vitamin K deficiency is much more likely to occur in infants. When it does, it is known as vitamin K deficiency bleeding or VKDB.

Causes and risk factors

Adults are at an increased risk of vitamin K deficiency and the associated symptoms if they:

  • take anticoagulants that prevent blood clots but inhibit vitamin K activation
  • take antibiotics that interfere with vitamin K production and absorption
  • do not get enough vitamin K from the foods they eat
  • take extremely high doses of vitamin A or E

Other people who may be diagnosed with vitamin K deficiency have a condition that results in the body being unable to absorb fat properly. This is known as fat malabsorption.

People who have problems absorbing fat may have an associated condition, such as:

There are several reasons why newborn babies are more prone to vitamin K deficiency. These are:

  • drinking breast milk that is low in vitamin K
  • vitamin K does not transfer well from a mother’s placenta to her baby
  • a newborn baby’s liver is unable to use vitamin K efficiently
  • a newborn’s gut cannot produce vitamin K-2 in the first few days of life

Dieticians and nutrition experts recommend that adult males consume at least 120 milligrams (mg) per day of vitamin K and women consume 90 mg per day.

Foods that are high in vitamin K include green, leafy vegetables, prunes, and fermented dairy products.

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Bruise on persons arm inside elbow.
A person with vitamin K deficiency may bruise easily.

There are several symptoms associated with vitamin K deficiency, but the main one is excessive bleeding. Excessive bleeding may not be immediately evident, as it may only occur if a person is cut or wounded.

Additional signs of excessive bleeding can also include:

  • bruising easily
  • small blood clots appearing under the nails
  • bleeds in mucous membranes that line areas inside the body
  • stool that is dark black, tar-like, or contains blood

When looking for signs of vitamin K deficiency in newborn babies and infants, doctors will also look for:

  • bleeding from the area where the umbilical cord has been removed
  • bleeding in the skin, nose, gastrointestinal tract, or other areas
  • bleeding at the penis if the baby has been circumcised
  • sudden brain bleeds, which are deemed severe and potentially life-threatening


To diagnose a vitamin K deficiency, a doctor will ask about a person’s medical history to see if they have any risk factors.

The doctor may use a coagulation test called the prothrombin time or PT test. This test draws blood using a small needle. Chemicals are added to the blood, which is then observed to see how long it takes to clot.

If a person’s blood takes longer than 13.5 seconds to clot, the doctor may suspect a vitamin K deficiency.

Certain foods have high levels of vitamin K and should not be eaten before a test. These include some liver products, cauliflower, broccoli, chickpeas, kale, green tea, and soybeans.


If a person is diagnosed with vitamin K deficiency, they will be given a vitamin K supplement called phytonadione.

Phytonadione is usually taken orally, though it can also be given as an injection if a person has difficulty absorbing the oral supplement.

The dosage given depends on the age and health of the individual. The usual dose of phytonadione for adults ranges from 1 to 25 mg.

A doctor will also consider whether a person is taking anticoagulants, as these can interact with vitamin K.

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Vitamin K and newborns

newborn baby.
Newborn babies may need a vitamin K supplement.

Vitamin K administered at birth can prevent a deficiency occurring in newborn babies. It is usually given as a shot.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that newborns receive a single shot of 0.5 to 1 mg of vitamin K-1 at birth.

A vitamin K shot is especially important for newborns under certain conditions. Risk factors for vitamin K deficiency bleeding include:

  • babies that are born prematurely
  • babies with mothers taking anti-seizure drugs, anticoagulants, or drugs for tuberculosis
  • babies who have fat malabsorption due to gastrointestinal or liver disease
  • newborns not given vitamin K at birth, breast-fed exclusively and exposed to antibiotics

It is up to the parents to decide whether or not their baby receives a vitamin K injection, although it is usually recommended.


Vitamin K deficiency in adults is very rare. However, if a deficiency is left untreated, it may result in excessive bleeding.

In infants, it is essential to administer vitamin K at birth to prevent poor outcomes from excessive bleeding, such as intracranial hemorrhage, brain damage, and infant death.

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Medical News Today: Diet is the key to kids’ health and happiness

A new analysis finds that children who eat healthfully are more likely to be happy, and those who are happy are more likely to eat healthfully. Interestingly, these links were independent of weight.
Child eating unhealthful foods
Childhood weight and well-being appear to be linked.

Childhood overweight and obesity is a growing problem in the United States and elsewhere.

Around 1 in 3 U.S. children and teenagers are overweight or obese. Levels have, worryingly, tripled since the 1970s.

Being overweight often goes with a number of health problems, but it also has psychological effects. Children who are overweight are more prone to low self-esteem, negative body image, and depression.

Due to the size of this issue, much research is focused on trying to understand the psychology behind becoming overweight, as well as on the impact of being overweight on children’s psychological well-being.

One such study is the Identification and Prevention of Dietary- and Lifestyle-Induced Health Effects in Children and Infants Study. This prospective cohort study was set up with the aim of preventing obesity in children and understanding the factors that contribute to it.

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Investigating children’s diets and well-being

Recently, a team from the Sahlgrenska Academy of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden used data from this study to look at the links between psychological well-being and weight in children.

The study included 7,675 children aged 2–9 from eight European countries. These were Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and Sweden.

At the start of the study, parents completed a questionnaire that detailed how often specific foods were eaten each week. There were 43 food items to choose from in total.

From all of this information, every child was assigned a Healthy Dietary Adherence Score (HDAS). The HDAS score captures information about the child’s adherence to a healthful diet. It takes into account behaviors such as avoiding sugary and fatty foods and eating fresh vegetables and fruit.

Also, the children’s well-being was assessed at the start and end of the 2-year trial period. This included information regarding self-esteem, emotional problems, and relationships with parents and peers. Height and weight were also captured at the start and end of the study.

Once the data had been analyzed, a clear pattern emerged, linking diet to psychological well-being. The findings were recently published in the journal BMC Public Health.

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“We found that in young children aged 2–9 years, there is an association between adherence to healthy dietary guidelines and better psychological well-being, which includes fewer emotional problems, better relationships with other children, and higher self-esteem, 2 years later,” says corresponding study author Dr. Louise Arvidsson.

Our findings suggest that a healthy diet can improve well-being in children.”

Dr. Louise Arvidsson

The authors report that higher levels of self-esteem at the start of the study were associated with a higher HDAS after 2 years, and that the associations between HDAS and well-being were not affected by the child’s weight, which was unexpected.

Dr. Arvidsson says, “It was somewhat surprising to find that the association between baseline diet and better well-being 2 years later was independent of children’s socioeconomic position and their body weight.”

The current study is the first to have examined links between HDAS scores and well-being.

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Other findings and next steps

They also found that eating 2–3 portions of fish per week was associated with better self-esteem, as well as no emotional problems or issues with peers. Consuming wholemeal products was also linked with an absence of peer problems.

Interestingly, the associations went in both directions. For instance, children with a better sense of well-being ate fruits, fats, and sugars in line with recommendations, and those with better self-esteem had lower sugar intakes.

As other researchers have suggested, emotions can regulate eating and eating can regulate emotions.

The findings are interesting, but, as ever, the researchers mention some limitations. The study was observational and relied on self-reported data, for example, meaning that cause and effect cannot be ascertained.

Also, the children with poorer diets and lower self-esteem were more likely to drop out of the study, making conclusions a little less easy to draw.

More work needs to be done. As Dr. Arvidsson says, “The associations we identified here need to be confirmed in experimental studies including children with clinical diagnosis of depression, anxiety, or other behavioral disorders rather than well-being as reported by parents.”

Because obesity in children is such an urgent issue, no doubt further studies will be waiting in the wings.

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