Medical-Reference - A Pioneer in Medical Blogging

Medical-Reference - A Pioneer in Medical Blogging


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Substance abuse

The Facts and Figures on Substance Abuse in the United States

Substance abuse is a serious issue all over the world. In the United States, an estimated 23.5 million people are either affected or involved in substance misuse. ......
calcium supplements

When to Take Vitamin and Mineral Supplements?

Vitamin and mineral plays an essential role to the human body. Although, you can easily get these minimum required substances from your daily food intakes ......
obstructive sleep apnea

How to Stop Snoring: Causes, Cures, and Remedies

Snoring is often an indicator for serious health issues, and it may even lead a snorer to severe respiratory tract, lung, heart, kidney, and brain diseases. However, these are not all. ....

Recent Posts

What are the Symptoms of Asthma?

Asthma, a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways, causes breathing difficulty in affected people. There is no cure for asthma; the only thing you can do is keeping it under control.

While the root cause of asthma isn't revealed yet, several recent studies have come up with some new findings. These studies demonstrate that a number of environmental and biological factors are associated for developing asthma.

Image of an asthma inhaler

Signs and Symptoms of Asthma

Asthma symptoms range from mild to severe. Although the disease affects people of all ages but is very common among newborns and children -- especially those who are born with a low birth weight, have exposed to cigarette smoke, are black, and are grown up in a poor environment. Learn why children develop asthma.

Symptoms of asthma usually vary from person to person. You may experience completely different symptoms than others. One of the major reasons for that is our biological differences, as every human being is different in his/her biological set-up and lifestyle. Therefore, some people may experience an asthma attack with one or more symptoms while some others may experience it without any identified symptoms.

While not all people with the disease experience the same symptoms, but in most cases the early signs appear just before an asthma attack.

Common Signs and Symptoms of asthma include:
  • Frequent nighttime cough,
  • Shortness of breath,
  • Restless sleep or breathing difficulty during sleep,
  • Quick tiredness with any kind of physical work,
  • Chest tightness or pain,
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic,
  • Decreased flow rate in Peak Expiratory Test of lung, and
  • Hypersensitivity to common cold and allergies - inflamed skin, dark circles under the eyes, persistent runny nose, sneezing, wheezing, and coughing.
Mild asthma attacks are usually most common in patients with asthma. But with preventive measures, an asthmatic can easily keep the symptoms under control. On the other hand, severe asthma attacks are less common and can be life threatening. They can create an emergency where the asthmatic may need an immediate medical attention.

Mild asthma often doesn't come up with severe signs and symptoms, so you may not find any difficulty continuing your daily activities. However, the severity of an asthma attack can worsen drastically. Therefore, it is necessary for you to recognize these signs and symptoms and take preventive measures before your asthma worsen.

Asthma Triggers

Allergens, airborne irritants, viral infection, changes in the weather, sulfites in foods and drinks, some medicines, unhealthy lifestyle, and physical exercise have been identified as potential triggers for an asthma attack. Learn more about asthma triggers.

When to See a Doctor

If you are having breathing difficulty and experiencing any of the asthma symptoms mentioned above, consider consulting with your GP or an asthma specialist. Your GP may prescribe some medications and may suggest an action plan to control and prevent further asthma attacks.

Image source: NIAID, CC-BY-2.0, via Flickr
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Is It Fair to Regulate E-Cigarettes?

electronic cigarette smoking

Just by reading the title, it may seem to you that this article is biased -- and written to encourage the use of e-cigarettes. Well, it is not! I've written this article to discuss why this smokeless non-tobacco cigarette should be regulated like an usual cigarette.

I assume most of you have ample understanding about what an e-cigarette is and how it works. But I'm touching your knowledge base again, so that I could explain things in a better way.

E-cigarettes are an electronic -- battery-operated -- device that is intended to produce a sensation of smoking. They are smokeless and tobacco-free; don't deliver carbon monoxide or tars by burning tobacco leaves like usual cigarettes. Instead, they deliver smokers a hit of chemicals in vapor form. This vapor is a mixture of nicotine, propylene glycol, water, flavors, and other chemicals.

Over the past decade, e-cigarettes have rushed from a niche product to a booming market of nearly $2 billion a year. The manufacturers of e-cigarettes say or imply that they are far safer than conventional cigarettes and can be used as quit-smoking aids. Even many health experts agreed that they might be helpful for those who want to quit smoking. However, not enough scientific studies are done to evaluate the potential dangers of e-cigarettes, thus experts are still not sure what harm these might do to smokers.

As a result, there isn't any restriction on e- cigarettes from regulatory authorities as far, although FDA and EU recently proposed to regulate them. Yet, the makers can promote their products using catchy TV commercials as well as social media marketing. And, the users can use them in public places.

Many experts believe the use of e-cigarettes have been increased overtime among smokers due to no restriction of using them in places where tobacco smoking is banned or frowned upon. However, it is not evident that in public places, an e-cigarette smoker may not cause any harm to someone standing near him/her. But it has been suggested that the nonsmoker might have a strong possibility of getting a measurable nicotine level as well as formaldehyde and heavy metals ingestion.

Last December, a study published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health reported that e-cigarettes impaired indoor air quality and increased airway inflammation. Moreover, because of finding high concentrations of PM2.5 during vaping sessions, and substantial amounts of propylene glycol, glycerin, and nicotine in the gas-phase, the researchers urged that e-cigarettes and nicotine liquids should be authoritatively regulated and labeled with proper warnings.

On the other hand, there is a growing fear among parents that their children will be more appealed to e-cigarettes -- and will eventually get addicted to nicotine, as they appear more safer than the conventional cigarettes. No doubt, this fear is obvious, because about 90 percent of smokers start smoking before age 16.

Furthermore, as there is no regulatory restriction, e-cigarettes have less oversight than any other consumer products in the market. Shockingly, they are often manufactured and/or imported from countries that are reported to taint pharmaceutical and food products.


I don't know whether it is really fair to regulate e-cigarettes or not. But, I believe if a fractional chance of health risk could arise from them, then they must be officially regulated.

Journal Reference

Schober, W., Szendrei, K., Matzen, W., Osiander-Fuchs, H., Heitmann, D., Schettgen, T., Jörres, R., & Fromme, H. (2014). Use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) impairs indoor air quality and increases FeNO levels of e-cigarette consumers International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 217 (6), 628-637 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2013.11.003

Image Sources: Electronic Cigarette Smoking | By Michael Dorausch, CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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Natural Remedies for Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety and stress often come with an uncomfortable condition or a problem that anyone can find it difficult to deal with, but they usually go away when the individual manages the situation or solves the problem. If you are a human, it's natural that you'll time to time feel anxious, nervous, or worried depending on itchy situations and problems you face; you don't need to continue any medications or remedies for that. However, if you are feeling anxious without reasons and your worries persist, then you may probably have a type of anxiety disorder; as a pharmacist, I believe it's best for you to consult with a psychiatrist immediately, because you may need medications as well.

As psychiatric drugs often cause severe side effects, such as personality changes, decreased sexual desire, sleep disorders, drug dependence, mode sewing, and depression, many people who seek help for anxiety often consider antipsychotic medications as a last option. However, if you are looking for healthier, natural, and safer alternatives, here are a few natural remedies for you to fight against anxiety and stress.

Herbal Remedies

Ingredients that Help Fight Mental Disorders

Catnip

Catnip (also known as catmint), a native herb in Europe and Asia, is a species of the mint family. Catnip has a history of medicinal use in many ancient cultures; today, many traditional medicine practitioners still use this ingredient to treat a variety of conditions including indigestion, gas, stomach cramps, fever, worms, insomnia, anxiety, and headache. Catnip has been thought to have a calming effect on mind and body, and this unique property makes it a popular ingredient to relieve anxiety and stress.

Side effects and availability: Although limited studies have done to evaluate the efficacy and adverse effects of catnip but seems to be safe for most adults. This natural ingredient is available in market as dietary supplements, extracts, teas, juices, and tinctures. Some people also smoke catnip to calm their anxiety, but many herbal practitioners believe it is unsafe when smoked.

Lemon balm

Lemon balm (also known as Melissa) is another member of the mint family that possesses strong anti-anxiety property; since the ancient times, it is reputed for its calming effect on mind and body. In clinical studies, lemon balm has been reported to effectively ease anxiety and promote sleep. However, the calming effect of lemon balm mostly reported when combined with other anti-anxiety herbs (e.g. chamomile, valerian, and hops). Lemon balm is also found effective in several other diseases and conditions including alzheimer's disease, cold sores, dyspepsia, colic, stomach discomfort, restlessness, and headache.

Side effects and availability: This natural ingredient is available in market as dietary supplements, teas, tinctures, and oil. Studies haven't yet reported any significant side effects of lemon balm, but researchers recommended that it must be taken for a short duration and in appropriate amount.

Passionflower

Passionflower (also known as Passion vine) is one of the popular herbal remedies for anxiety and stress. It also has a long history of using as a folk remedy. In clinical studies, passionflower has proven its efficacy in reducing the symptoms of mild to moderate level anxiety. A study done by the researchers of The Cochrane Collaboration reported that passionflower showed nearly similar efficacy compared to several drugs of benzodiazepine class.

Side effects and availability: Several studies suggest that the effects of passionflower is milder than Kava Kava (another potential natural remedy for anxiety), however, unlike Kava Kava, passionflower has fewer side effects. According to medlineplus, this ingredient is safe when taken short-term as medicine. It is available in the market as dietary supplements, teas, infusions, liquid extracts, and tinctures.

Disclosure: If you want to buy any of the ingredients mentioned above, don't think they are safe and harmless. As a health care professional, I am requesting you to consult with your doctor or pharmacist before purchasing any herbal products containing any of the ingredient I mentioned above. You may have an underlying condition that you are not concerned of; hence, any medicinal substance either herbal or pharmaceutical can worsen your condition.
In addition, whenever you're about to buy any medicinal products, always ask your pharmacist the following questions:
  • What are the side effects of the product?
  • How many studies have done to evaluate the product?
  • What is the reputation of the manufacturer when it comes to quality?
  • Which quality guideline does the manufacturer ensured?
  • How many regulatory authorities have approved the product (if the product is distributed to overseas countries)?
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Five Practical Tips to Cope with Back Pain

The fear factor is that with the greatest advance of science, we, humans, are becoming increasingly lazy and futile. Our physical activities have been reduced by 40% - 50% than our ancestors. As a result, today common health issues, like obesity and back pain, have become the utmost medical challenges.
Besides the belly popping out, another major problem from sitting in front of your computer -- at work or at home -- can arise is the back pain, a common medical problem that affects 8 out of 10 persons at some point during their lives. However, sitting for long hours isn't the only cause of back pain; health experts affirm several other factors behind this problem.

My Back Pain Story

Lumbar region in human skeleton I was a back pain sufferer for nearly a year. Initially, I continued ketorolac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, for two weeks, but it didn't make any significant change. The pain was always there and the drug was just temporarily relieving my pain. A few days after continuing the drug, I found that the usual dose was not working anymore. The option I had was either to increase the dose of ketorolac or to try an alternative pain medication.

Well, it was a kind of wakeup call for me, though I was a bit confused and disappointed with ketorolac. But I then realized that this problem could worse with drugs, because they aren't a permanent solution for pain.

For your information: Most pain medications -- either narcotic or nonnarcotic -- work by binding to receptors in the brain and blocking the effects of special enzymes. Depending on the half-life, these drugs help alleviate pain for a certain duration (e.g. 4 hrs, 6hrs, 8hrs, 12 hrs, etc.). However, they also come up with some serious side effects.

For more information, read Climbing the Pain Ladder: Understanding Pain Medications.

After becoming conscious about the consequences of continuing an analgesic, I came to a decision that I must quit ketorolac and should dig dipper and cure the problem from the root. The lines below are some tips that helped me deal with my back pain. Hope it would help you, as well.

Stand Proud

Naval Tradition Stand ProudThe way you stand has been identified as one of the important reasons behind the back pain. Moreover, if it is not the reason, it can still amplify your back pain caused by some other reason. When you stand, you need to keep your shoulders pushed back with the chest out so that the back remains straight.

Moreover, you also need to adjust the position of your head between the shoulders and keep it straight. Thus, if you stand with a posture where your shoulders are in a circle, all the pressure is placed one leg, and the shoulders and hips balance is uneven, then you are at a higher risk of either experiencing or amplifying back pain. Therefore, when standing, keep your body straight as if you are proud of it.

Sit Properly

Without any argument, sitting improperly for long hours is the major cause of back pain. Sitting in front of a computer in an improper way takes the force out of the core thus causing back pain. Health experts recommend using a Fit ball of an extended size to be used for the purpose of sitting.

However, experts recommend abstaining from long hour’s use of Fit ball, rather it should be used only for a few hours spent in front of the computer. Like, you can mix it up by sitting half an hour on the ball and the other half hour on the chair. This way you ensure that the core remains strong and the back pain does not occur.

Stretch

The common solution for relief from back pain is to lie down on bed and stay there until the pain goes off. This is a wrong approach, as when you lie with pain, the muscles atrophy, as a result of which the connective muscles and tissues shorten, thus causing more pain instead of relief.

However, the counter measure that is effective for back pain is stretching. When you stretch, you elongate the connective tissues thus faster recovery from the pain. Therefore, when you experience prolonged back pain, then don’t just keep on laying down, rather stretch a little, it surely will help.

Sleep Correctly

Lying on your side with your legs supported is one of highly appreciated sleep position by experts. The key benefit with this position is that you're keeping your spine in a neutral, naturally curved position. Watch the video for more information.

Eat Right

The other major factor causing back pain and which because of its intrinsic value is often undermined is proper nutrition. You can use the foods rich in protein and vitamin D to make your bones strong or consume the best natural energy supplements available in the market that give you vitality to fight all kinds of pain. Thus, don’t take your nutrition lightly, rather eat the best only.

Conclusion

Back pain is one of the major culprits that does not let you be physical active, or in severe cases hinders in your performing of daily activities. In short, back pain is one of the serious and increasingly growing problems. Thus, nobody wants to be a victim of this apparently simple problem. However, by adjusting the way we sit, stand, and sleep, anyone can fight with his/her back pain in a better way to keep it away.
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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and Home Remedies

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common causes of woman's infertility. It is a problem results from an imbalance of female sex hormones. It may cause irregular menstruation, difficulties in getting pregnant, and cysts in the ovaries. If it's not treated, overtime it can lead to diabetes and several other troubling health conditions.

According to womenshealth.gov, as many as 5 million U.S. women may be affected by PCOS. More shockingly, today between 1 in 10 and 1 in 20 women of reproductive age has this endocrine disorder. And not only that, it can affect girls as young as 11 years old.

So, if you're suspecting you have probably developed PCOS, read on to know about what are the causes and symptoms of PCOS and what lifestyle approaches can help cope your PCOS.

Causes of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

The exact cause of PCOS remains a mystery. But based on a number study results, researchers believe several factors could play a big role. These include:

Heredity. It is thought to be one of the important factors behind PCOS, as many studies concluded a genetic linking with it. (1) If your mother or sister has PCOS, there is a strong possibility that you might also develop it.

Low-grade inflammation. In response to inflammation, our body's white blood cells produce substances that can defend and fight against infection. However, for women who are very likely to have PCOS, eating certain foods can trigger an inflammatory response inappropriately. When this happens, substances produced by the white blood cells cause the immune system to react on its own tissues and cells.

Many researchers believe this abnormal inflammatory response can lead to insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease like atherosclerosis, a disease in which cholesterol is accumulated in blood vessels. (2) In addition, researchers in a study published, October 2006, in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation reported that they found presence of low-grade inflammation in young women with PCOS. (3)

Insulin resistance. Insulin is an essential hormone for human body. It is produced in the pancreas of your body and helps the cells to convert sugar (glucose), starches, and other food into energy. Researchers believe most women with PCOS develop insulin resistance in their body. This means that the ability to use insulin effectively is impaired, so these women need to produce more insulin to make glucose available to cells. Studies suggest that excess insulin may cause the ovaries to make more male hormones, androgens. (4) In addition, excess insulin in the body is also associated with obesity, another important reason for developing PCOS.

Hormone imbalance. As stated above, PCOS results from an imbalance of female hormones. Women with PCOS tend to make more androgens than normal. Androgens are male sex hormones that females also make. However, why these hormonal changes happen in these women is still unknown. Researchers think this imbalance may start in the ovary itself, in glands responsible for producing these hormones, or part of the nervous system that regulates their production. The resistance to insulin is also identified as a possible cause for the hormone imbalance. (5)

High levels of insulin and androgen production affect the normal development of follicles in the ovaries. As a result, many follicles likely to develop but often fail to mature properly. This interferes with the release of eggs during ovulation - hence, irregular menstruation and reduced fertility occurs.
image of normal ovary and polycystic ovary
Normal ovary and polycystic ovary. Source: womenshealth.gov, public domain

Symptoms at a Glance

The signs and symptoms of PCOS can vary from person to person. Common symptoms that may become apparent include:
  • Menstrual abnormality -- irregular periods or no periods
  • Infertility (problems in getting pregnant)
  • Increased hair growth on the chest, belly, face, and around the nipples
  • Weight gain
  • Thinning of the hair on the head
  • Oily skin or acne

Lifestyle Approaches that can Help Treat PCOS

Lifestyle modification is the key approach in treating PCOS. Physicians mostly recommend weight loss, healthy diet, and regular exercise to help restore a normal period.

Weight loss. Overweight or obesity is a common issue in women with PCOS. If you're having extra weight, losing weight can help treat your hormone imbalances and health conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.

According to MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, losing just about 5% of your body weight can help get your hormones in balance and regulate your menstrual cycle. So, make it your first priority that you need to lose weight in order to manage PCOS.

Healthy diet. Physicians often recommend a heart-healthy diet for women with POCS. So, if you have PCOS, consider a low-carbohydrate diet. But this doesn't mean you need to severely restrict carbohydrates. Instead, to get the maximum benefit, choose complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber.

As high-fiber foods are more slowly digested in the stomach, eating a diet rich in fiber will provide you with numerous benefits. This means you will have less hunger than usual, so ultimately it will also help restrict your blood sugar levels.

In general, a diet with high-fiber carbohydrates should include more whole-grain products, vegetables, fruits, nuts, rice, beans, and lean meats. Limit consuming foods with added sugars and foods that are high in saturated fat, including soda, candy, ice cream, pies, processed fruit juice, cake, cookies, red meats, cheeses, and fried foods. Overall, you need to have an anti-inflammatory/alkaline approach in your diet. (6) For more suggestion, consult with a dietician who can offer specific diet advice for you.

Regular exercise. This is a key step in managing PCOS. Exercise helps lower blood glucose and cholesterol and reduces the risk of more than hundreds of diseases. If you have PCOS, increase your regular physical activity or participate in a regular exercise program. This can not only help you keep your weight under control but may treat or even prevent insulin resistance.

Quit smoking. If you smoke, consider quitting it as early as possible. Smoking triggers an inflammatory response in the heart and lungs. Smokers are at higher risk for diseases that affect the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Smoking is also a contributing factor for PCOS symptoms, as women who smoke have higher androgen levels. (7)

The above lifestyle approaches are highly recommended approaches for women with PCOS. But these are not all. If you have developed PCOS, you need to make more lifestyle changes to help get your hormones in balance and regulate your menstrual cycle. Consider consulting with your GP for more suggestions.
Polycystic ovary
Transvaginal ultrasound scan of polycystic ovary

References

  1. Ehrmann D.A. (2005). Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, New England Journal of Medicine, 352 (12) 1223-1236. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMra041536.
  2. Samy N., Hashim M., Sayed M. and Said M. (2009). Clinical Significance of Inflammatory Markers in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Their Relationship to Insulin Resistance and Body Mass Index, Disease Markers, 26 (4) 163-170. DOI: 10.1155/2009/465203.
  3. Diamanti-Kandarakis E., Alexandraki K., Piperi C., Protogerou A., Katsikis I., Paterakis T., Lekakis J. & Panidis D. (2006). Inflammatory and endothelial markers in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 36 (10) 691-697. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2362.2006.01712.x.
  4. González F. (2012). Inflammation in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Underpinning of insulin resistance and ovarian dysfunction, Steroids, 77 (4) 300-305. DOI:10.1016/j.steroids.2011.12.003.
  5. Saikumar P. (2013). Anti Mullerian Hormone: A Potential Marker for Recruited Non Growing Follicle of Ovarian Pool in Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, JOURNAL OF CLINICAL AND DIAGNOSTIC RESEARCH, DOI: 10.7860/JCDR/2013/5530.3337.
  6. Marsh K.A., Steinbeck K.S., Atkinson F.S., Petocz P. & Brand-Miller J.C. (2010). Effect of a low glycemic index compared with a conventional healthy diet on polycystic ovary syndrome, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 92 (1) 83-92. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.2010.29261.
  7. Pau CT, Keefe CC, & Welt CK (2013). Cigarette smoking, nicotine levels and increased risk for metabolic syndrome in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Gynecological endocrinology : the official journal of the International Society of Gynecological Endocrinology, 29 (6), 551-5 PMID: 23656383
A Confession for Writing This Article

Well, I think I need to confess a bit for writing this article. I know many of you would have a question that why I, being a pharmacist, have written a post on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, as it doesn't fall under my core expertise. Yes, I agree! I'm not an expert on PCOS. And, honestly, I do appreciate your thought: a gynecologist could have written a more better post than this one!

But, I've some reasonable skills in my back for writing this article! First of all, I'm a pharmacist and pharmacology is the subject where my primary expertise lies in. Secondly, it's part of our responsibility to have an adequate knowledge over different diseases and conditions, though clinical diagnosis isn't part of our concern. Thirdly, I'm also a professional medical writer. If you've read a few of my previous posts, I'm sure you already know I don't write medical articles from my thoughts -- they're based on either respected journals and scientific magazines or authority websites.
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Freckles: Why They Occur and Ways of Concealing Them

What are Freckles?

Freckle Freckles are benign (non-cancerous) skin lesions, the old standard type of hyperpigmentation, that many people think cannot be helped.

Genetic predisposition is often a reason behind freckle formation, but these skin spots can occur naturally or develop because of overexposure to sun. It is often assumed that there’s no stopping these brown or red spots from forming.

However, as freckles are essentially just small regions of heavier pigmentation - much likes other types of hyperpigmentation - they can easily be removed or reduced using the right techniques. Remember, the triggers for the freckles may be different. For one person it may be sun exposure, for another person it might be purely genetic.

Whatever the underlying cause is, many of these brown spots share something in common with other forms of hyperpigmentation- they all are deposits of the body’s melanin. As a result, it doesn’t matter whether you are coping with freckles or liver spots; you will find easy treatment options that you can use to get rid of these brown spots.

Why Do Freckles Form?

As mentioned earlier, freckles maybe the darkening of an area of skin. However, why is it that these regions of skin become noticeably darker to begin with? Well, it is all about the way the body uses melanin.

A cute girl with freckles
Freckles | Source: Loren Kerns, CC-BY-2.0, via Flickr
We all have melanin coursing through our systems. However, when an injury occurs (or possibly a health problem, like vitiligo) the body adds or removes melanin from the affected area.

Let’s say that you've had a serious acne outbreak. After some time when the pimples are cleared, you notice some lingering brown spots where the acne had once been. You've these dark spots since your body added extra melanin to the area that was once impacted by acne. In cases of vitiligo, the opposite can happen. Melanin is actually moved from certain areas of skin.

There are lots of complex things that go on behind the scenes, but for now it's enough to know that injuries, outbreaks or any other health conditions can cause an excessive amount of melanin to deposit in a particular area of skin. All sorts of freckles are indicative of hyperpigmentation.

Some Home Remedies and Treatment Options to Deal with Freckles

The Oatmeal Mask

If you are like millions of people, I believe you eat oatmeal at least one time a week for breakfast. It’s healthy for you and very affordable. However, you can make some more use of these standard oats by using them as skin mask. It is super easy to do, and is highly effective at reducing the appearance of freckles on your skin.

Milk and Honey

Milk and honey have been renowned for their nutritional and curative properties for centuries. One of the greatest uses for a milk/honey combination is reducing the appearance of freckles and other kind of pigmentation on the skin.

E vitamin

If you pay attention to what health gurus and nutritional experts say, you most likely know that Vitamin E is recognized for being a great nutrient for overall skin health. If you buy the soft gel E vitamin tablets, you can puncture them and massage the E vitamin directly into your skin. In the event that sounds like too much of an inconvenience, most supermarkets and nutrition stores also sell E vitamin oil that you can use.

Baking Soda

Mix one part of baking soda to two parts purified water. Use the mixture on your brown spots. Leave the paste on your face for 10-20 minutes. Rinse the paste off the face with plenty of warm water. Do that every day for a month, and you will see your freckles disappearing in no time.

Creams and Lotions

The market is currently flooded with a large number of creams, lotions along with other home bleaching products. These items are all designed to remove brown spots from your skin. These products are made out of healthy ingredients that are safe for use. Some of these products are especially designed to be used as makeup. This makeup will help conceal any freckles.

Laser treatments

facial laser rejuvenation
Image courtesy of Cosmos Clinic
Laser treatments are the skin lightening treatments used by some high-end salons and doctors to get rid of the signs of freckles and other pigmentation. Laser treatments are used in cases of chronic pigmentation and have long-term effects.

Professional Skin Bleaching

Some salons and dermatologists offer bleaching treatments. After doing plenty of research on these treatments, I have found these to be very mild and easy on the skin. The experts that do these treatments know just what is required for your skin.

Although some people don’t mind their freckles, others are extremely bothered and require professional help in order to decrease their visibility. Should this be your case, remember to speak to your doctor first. This way you will be able to make sure that your skin pigmentation is not an indication of a more serious, underlying condition. Knowing what you’re up against, you will have the ability to formulate the right strategy to deal with your skin issues.

A Guest Post by
Author Bio: Lana Wilde is a passionate animal lover with a keen interest in healthy living. In her free time, she prepares vegetarian food for her family and occasionally blogs about the topics that she takes interest in. This article was inspired by Cosmos Clinic.
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Pros and Cons of Online Doctor Consultations

Doctors stethoscopeIn these days of Dr. Google, it's not surprising that scores of sites often invite you to ask unseen medical professionals a question, though little is known about what occurs on these sites.

I don't know whether you've used these services yet or not, but today many patients are seeking advice online from doctors they have never met. However, many are still out there who strongly believe these services are jam-packed with scam activities. So, the questions you may ask:
  • Are these online consultation services worth your time and money?
  • Are these doctors providing helpful advice?
To help you in getting the best possible answers, in this post, I would like to discuss the pros and cons of online medical consultations.

Some of the Pros of Online Health Consultation

Seeking online health advice isn't illegal, it's an effective means of getting professional medical advice. Although I believe strict regulatory guidance and administration is required to help patients avoid online frauds, but there are some clear advantages of online doctor consultations. These include:
  • No Location Boundaries. I believe this is the most important advantage of these services. You can gain access to reputed doctors that otherwise would not be available to you. Not only that, you can also get medical advice in places where it's not possible. Therefore, I think these services could provide remarkable benefits to you, if you're homebound, in rural areas, or in other settings that limit your access to conventional treatment options.
  • Better than Self-Diagnosis. How many times you've used Dr. Google to search symptoms of diseases or conditions? Maybe, countless times! But, believe me or not, relying on health and medical information provided by medical sites to self-diagnose your condition is as dangerous as misleading.

    Reading health and medical articles using the internet can give you some ideas about your current health condition, but it can never be a substitute for consulting a doctor. Because, without an expert advice (and a proper diagnosis), you won't be able to identify what underlying causes are behind your condition.

    Moreover, today thousands of online sites provide information on health and medical issues. And, chances are high that the information could be scams or dodgy.
  • Cost Effective. In these days of hefty medical bills, the appeal for low-cost healthcare is strong among patients. While an average doctor visit costs around $120 - $150 without insurance, online medical consultations range from $25 to $80 without insurance.
  • Secured Privacy. I'm not sure this point really fits in here or not, but there is a certain reason for putting it here. Unlike many, some people seek online contact with doctors they have never met because they value the confidentiality for sensitive medical topics or conditions.
  • Slightly Better than Telemedicine Services. Online doctor consultations have a slight advantage than telemedicine. You can take your time to write a detailed description of your condition. Also, you can submit your previous and current medical reports.
  • 24/7 Health Support. Most online health service providers offer twenty-four-hour access to doctor consultation and the convenience of receiving care at home.

Cons of Online Medical Consultations

A recent study, published this year in the Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, concluded that the quality of the information and cost-effectiveness of online doctor consultation are uncertain and need to be evaluated carefully. Briefly, the study noted that although these online services might answer your request for advice, and the potential for multiple answers from different physicians creates the likelihood for better balance and breadth of opinions, but the quality of the medical care by these providers are still unclear.
Despite the service has a number of pros, but it also has some cons. As more and more scammers and spammers are occupying internet, online consultation between patient and doctor also brings some potential risks. These include:
  • Lack of Confidentiality. As I've mentioned above, some patients choose online health advice from an unknown medical professional so that they can talk about sensitive health issues. But privacy violation is a very common issue in cyber space: Even big companies like facebook, google, and yahoo are reported to violate consumers privacy.
  • A New Door for Drug Abusers. There is no doubt that online medical consultation can diminish the location boundaries. But it also opens a new door for selling prescription drugs unethically. For this reason, still many people think the service is a totally fraud or illegal business. They also believe this consultation service is provided for abusers who are willing to risk it all and try to get away with getting medications online.

    However, they are not wrong at all. Thousands of con websites are out there that indeed perform scam operations targeting on selling cheap prescription medications online.
  • Limited Options to Evaluate the Quality. Unlike the traditional doctor consultation, the online service provides limited options for patients to evaluate the quality of care and professional associations of providers.

    During an online session, patients can only select doctors in person, practice context. In addition, reputation of the site offers some negligible guideposts to evaluate the quality. So, I believe there are some transparency issues with the service, as you need to seek health advice without even the basic signs of the doctor's degree on the wall, the office space, or face-to-face contact. Finally, the secrecy of doctors on many sites also challenges liability and continuity of the online medical care.
  • Confined Doctor Advice. I believe this is one of the important disadvantages of online health advice. Today patients' physical appearance is less important than their diagnostic reports and doctors evaluate patients' condition primarily based on those reports. Also, it doesn't matter what the qualification of the online doctor is. Because, if you need an advice in serious condition, he/she couldn't be able to suggest anything definitely without your current diagnostic reports.

    Moreover, when reputed doctors are consulting with patients online, they can never give suggestions as openly as they can in their official settings. So, no doubt, if you ask an advice, your online doctor would only give you some ideas about your present health condition. In addition, if the doctor is a qualified one, he/she must advice you to have a visit with your regular GP and perform some diagnosis.

    Not surprisingly, in the end of an online session, you might even feel that you've just wasted your money or you could have saved the money for a regular doctor visit.
Finally, I want to thank you for having patience in reading this article. I've written the above pros and cons of online medical consultation based on my personal thoughts and a review published in the Health Affairs, which I've cited below as a reference of this article.

online doctor consultation

Some Online Doctor Sites You can try

Here is a list of five online health consultation sites that you can use in your quest for medical information and understanding. However, I need to mention I've listed these sites based on their reputation, alexa traffic rank, and google page rank. But, definitely, there is a possibility that I might be wrong in evaluating them. So, I'm requesting you to make a comment in my comment section if I've misjudged any of the sites below.
  1. Justanswer
    Google Page Rank: 06
    Alexa Traffic Rank: 1,865
    Reputation by McAfee SiteAdvisor and Norton Safeweb: Safe
  2. My.Clevelandclinic.org
    Google Page Rank: 07
    Alexa Traffic Rank: 14,974
    Reputation by McAfee SiteAdvisor and Norton Safeweb: Safe
  3. Healthcaremagic
    Google Page Rank: 04
    Alexa Traffic Rank: 18,311
    Reputation by McAfee SiteAdvisor and Norton Safeweb: Safe
  4. Consult A Doctor
    Google Page Rank: 04
    Alexa Traffic Rank: 683,433
    Reputation by McAfee SiteAdvisor and Norton Safeweb: Safe

Medical References

Miller TE, & Derse AR (2002). Between strangers: the practice of medicine online. Health affairs (Project Hope), 21 (4), 168-79 PMID: 12117127

Briet JP, Hageman MG, Blok R, & Ring D (2014). When Do Patients With Hand Illness Seek Online Health Consultations and What Do They Ask? Clinical orthopaedics and related research PMID: 24442841
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