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Natural Remedies for Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety and stress often come with an uncomfortable condition or a problem that anyone may find it difficult to deal with, but they usually go away when the...
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Is Aspirin Really Beneficial to the Heart?

A heart attack is not something that starts and ends within minutes; rather it is an ongoing event. The damage to your heart and body can be...
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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...

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13 Best Superfoods that will Make You Amazingly Healthier

superfoods

Even if you are not a diehard foodie, you have probably heard a thing or two about superfoods by now. Although the official definition of superfood is still lacking, the buzzword is mostly used to denote dietary ingredients with a high content of essential nutrients, including proteins, essential amino acids, minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.

These nutrients not just nourish the body but also help prevent a range of diseases. The additional advantage is that they don't contain synthetic fats, food additives, and added sugars.

However, not all superfoods are equally beneficial for health. Certain superfoods are more healthier than others are.

We’ve compiled a list of 13 best superfoods that can amazingly boost your health and wellbeing. Check them out!

1. Acai

Native to Central and South American rainforests, acai berry touts higher antioxidant content than any other berry out there, and to human benefit, no less. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that the consumption of acai pulp and juice can significantly boost antioxidant activity in the blood [1]. Full of anthocyanin and oleic acid, unsweetened fresh or frozen acai has anti-aging and immune boosting properties. It can also promote weight loss and cognitive function and ward off heart disease, gut glitches, and some types of cancer.

2. Barley

A portion of barley a day can keep cholesterol away from your blood system. According to a 2010 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, regular intake of beta-glucans found in barley can reduce total and LDL cholesterol concentrations [2]. If you are suffering from (or just wish to prevent) hypercholesterolemia, add this grain to your delicious breakfast servings and hack cholesterol control like a super-foodie.

3. Blueberries

Blueberries are not just a mouthful of yum: they also pack tons of vitamins, phytochemicals, soluble fiber, and antioxidants which counteract colon cancer, skin aging, heart disease, and late-life memory problems. A 2012 study showed that women who ate three or more portions of blueberries and strawberries stood a 32% lower risk of heart attack compared to the ladies in the control group that berried up the menu once a month or less [3].

4. Cacao

Rich in flavonoids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants and low on calories, raw and nonalkalized cacao powder can slash the risk of cardiovascular problems, cancer, and heart disease. A 2012 study by the American Heart Association has shown that regular intake of dark cacao can lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the heart and brain, and boost blood vessel elasticity and cognitive function in the elderly population with mild cognitive impairment [4].

5. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are laden with fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, niacin, potassium, thiamine, and Vitamin B2 fiber. Alongside all this micronutrient goodness, chia seeds also have a minimal calorie count, which makes them ideal for weight watchers. In addition to that, studies have shown that regular chia seed consumption can lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, thus slicing the risk of diabetes type 2 and heart disease.

6. Garlic

Garlic may not smell like a bed of roses, but it sure packs a hefty portion of Vitamins C and B6, selenium, manganese, and antioxidants. A 2012 review showed that garlic is efficient against colds, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and high cholesterol [5].

7. Goji berries

Native to Central Mongolia and Tiber, goji berries are a traditional Chinese remedy for poor circulation, immune system glitches, and eyesight problems. A 2008 study found that frequent intake of goji berry promotes overall wellbeing, brain activity, and digestion [6]. Apart from this, a well-known 1994 Chinese study also demonstrated that goji polysaccharides combined with immunotherapy could not only prevent, but also regress cancer [7]. Rich in Vitamin A, B2, and C, iron, selenium, and antioxidants, both dried and fresh forms of goji berries can be used with ease.

8. Green tea

Native to China, green tea is a cupful of antioxidants, B vitamin complex, folate, magnesium, manganese, and potassium, and the list of its health benefits includes weight loss, cholesterol reduction, and Alzheimer’s disease and cancer prevention. A 2013 review of 11 studies found that the daily intake of green and black tea could lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease [8].

9. Hemp seed

Extremely rich in polyunsaturated and essential fatty acids, protein, Vitamin E, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, and zinc, hemp seeds are good for tummy, skin, nervous system, and cardiovascular health. Hemp seed is rich in the amino acid arginine, and a 2005 study shows that arginine intake impacts nitric oxide production, contributing to blood pressure reduction and a lower risk of heart disease [9].

10. Kale

One of the world’s healthiest dark leafy green foods, kale has been found to diminish the risk of cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, and asthma, and it has also been linked to improved bone health and blood glucose control in diabetics. Kale is also low in calories and contains micronutrients important for healthy skin and hair, so it definitely deserves a place on everyone’s plate.

11. Maca powder

Grown in the Andes, maca root functions as an adaptogen and can boost endurance, stabilize energy, and enhance the regeneration of damaged cells and tissue. Several studies found that maca powder could boost male fertility and libido and alleviate hormonal swings in menopause, as well as counteract the negative effects of stress.

12. Pomegranate

A go-to for fiber, Vitamins A and E, iron, and antioxidants, pomegranate is an effective remedy for high blood pressure, heart disease, inflammation, and some types of cancer. A 2006 study established that a single glass of pomegranate juice a day could slow down prostate cancer development in men with recurring prostate cancer [10].

13. Quinoa

Quinoa is the native Peruvian seed that has gained a lot of buzz over the past few years. It is gluten-free and full of fiber, iron, B-vitamins, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, folate, antioxidants, and vitamin E. Ranking low on the glycemic index, quinoa is one of few plant foods which packs complete protein and all essential amino acids. Moreover, studies have shown that it can be extremely efficient in lowering blood pressure, blood sugar, and triglycerides [11].

So, should you tweak your menu to make room for an extra superfood ration? You by all means should!! And for better outcomes, you should pick your super-servings based on our short list of superfoods which deserve a place on everyone’s plate.

This is a guest post contributed by Samantha Olivier. Samantha has a B.Sc. in nutrition, and has spent two years working as a personal trainer. Since then, she has embarked on a mission to conquer the blogosphere. When not in the gym or on the track, you can find her on Twitter, or in a tea shop.

References

  1. Mertens-Talcott SU, Rios J, Jilma-Stohlawetz P, Pacheco-Palencia LA, Meibohm B, Talcott ST, Derendorf H. Pharmacokinetics of anthocyanins and antioxidant effects after the consumption of anthocyanin-rich acai juice and pulp (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) in human healthy volunteers. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. 2008 Aug 12;56(17):7796-802.
  2. AbuMweis SS, Jew S, Ames NP. β-glucan from barley and its lipid-lowering capacity: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. European journal of clinical nutrition. 2010 Dec 1;64(12):1472-80.
  3. Cassidy A, Mukamal KJ, Liu L, Franz M, Eliassen AH, Rimm EB. High anthocyanin intake is associated with a reduced risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle-aged women. Circulation. 2013 Jan 15;127(2):188-96.
  4. Desideri G, Kwik-Uribe C, Grassi D, Necozione S, Ghiadoni L, Mastroiacovo D, Raffaele A, Ferri L, Bocale R, Lechiara MC, Marini C. Benefits in Cognitive Function, Blood Pressure, and Insulin Resistance Through Cocoa Flavanol Consumption in Elderly Subjects With Mild Cognitive Impairment The Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) Study. Hypertension. 2012 Sep 1;60(3):794-801.
  5. Stabler SN, Tejani AM, Huynh F, Fowkes C. Garlic for the prevention of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in hypertensive patients. The Cochrane Library. 2012 Jan 1.
  6. Amagase H, Nance DM. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical study of the general effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum (goji) juice, GoChi™. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2008 May 1;14(4):403-12.
  7. Cao GW, Yang WG, Du P. [Observation of the effects of LAK/IL-2 therapy combining with Lycium barbarum polysaccharides in the treatment of 75 cancer patients]. Zhonghua zhong liu za zhi [Chinese journal of oncology]. 1994 Nov;16(6):428-31.
  8. Hartley L, Flowers N, Holmes J, Clarke A, Stranges S, Hooper L, Rees K. Green and black tea for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. The Cochrane Library. 2013 Jun 18.
  9. Wells BJ, Mainous AG, Everett CJ. Association between dietary arginine and C-reactive protein. Nutrition. 2005 Feb 28;21(2):125-30.
  10. Pantuck AJ, Leppert JT, Zomorodian N, Aronson W, Hong J, Barnard RJ, Seeram N, Liker H, Wang H, Elashoff R, Heber D. Phase II study of pomegranate juice for men with rising prostate-specific antigen following surgery or radiation for prostate cancer. Clinical Cancer Research. 2006 Jul 1;12(13):4018-26.
  11. Vega‐Gálvez A, Miranda M, Vergara J, Uribe E, Puente L, Martínez EA. Nutrition facts and functional potential of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa willd.), an ancient Andean grain: a review. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 2010 Dec 1;90(15):2541-7.
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Helpful Medications to Treat Allergy Symptoms

crimson pills

Allergic symptoms are your body’s reactions to something, such as food or drug, which causes little or no problem to most other people. So, because allergic sensitivity vary from person to person, there are many different types of medicine to treat allergies. A doctor or board certified allergist often makes the best suggestion about the most appropriate medicine to treat allergies.

The most common medications used to treat allergy symptoms are antihistamines and decongestants, which are often used in combination. However, sometimes multiple medications are used, depending on the patient’s symptoms. Following are some of the classes of medications that are often used to treat allergies.

Antihistamines

Histamine is a chemical the body releases during an allergic reaction, causing symptoms such as runny nose, swollen nasal passages, sneezing, running eyes and nasal stuffiness. Antihistamines cannot cure allergy symptoms, but they block the effect of histamine and provide relief from allergy symptoms.

Antihistamines that are from the first generation of these medicines, such as diphenhydramine, can cause side effects like drowsiness and sedation. The newer antihistamines, such as cetirizine, and levocetirizine, are less likely to cause drowsiness and are safer for daytime use.

Antihistamines work best if they are taken before the symptoms arise. In doing so, they will have a chance to build up in the system before exposure. For example, if you need to travel to a place, taking an antihistamine pill before the journey begins will help you to cope with mild allergic reactions.

Leukotriene Inhibitors

These are a novel class of medications to ease the symptoms of asthma and allergic rhinitis. They work by blocking the activity of leukotrienes, inflammatory chemicals that are released when the body is exposed to an allergen or allergy trigger. The release of Leukotrienes leads to airway muscles tightening, excess mucus and fluid production, and inflammation and swelling in the lungs.

Bronchodilators

Bronchodilators are medications that widen the bronchial tubes by relaxing the tight lungs muscles and dilating the respiratory airways. They increase airflow to the lungs and make breathing easier.

Bronchodilators are often used for the treatment of chronic or long-term breathing problems. In particular, conditions in which the airways become narrowed and inflamed, for example asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Allergies and asthma are closely interlinked and often occur together. If you have asthma and are highly sensitive to allergens such as pollen, dust mites and pet dander, a bronchodilator can be helpful to alleviate your symptoms.

Decongestants

Decongestants are over-the-counter (OTC) medications that are used to relieve nasal congestion (blocked or stuffy nose) caused by allergies. They primarily work by constricting the blood vessels of the nose, throat and sinuses and decreasing the fluid that leaks out of the nose. Decongestants come in several different dosage forms, such as pill, syrup, nasal spray and nasal drop.

Nasal Steroids

Nasal steroids, also called corticosteroids, are cortisone-like medications. They alleviate allergy symptoms by reducing swelling and congestion in the nose. Unlike oral steroids that are taken by mouth, nasal steroids are delivered directly to the nose, throat and lungs. These medicines also have very few side effects. Flovent and Pulmicort are two the most effective medications to decrease inflammation in the airways.

Disclaimer: Information in this article is not intended as medical advice. Consult with your GP about the purported effects and adverse effects of these medications.

Image source: psyberartist, CC-BY-2.0, via Flickr
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Myths and Facts You Need to Know about Herbal Remedies

Herbal Medical Shop

Many devotees of herbs often have a common misconception that herbal remedies are safe and don't cause any side effects. But the truth is they carry as same health risks as the conventional treatment and can cause you considerable harm.

In fact, the pitfalls of using herbal remedies are many, and there are a lot of myths to beware of! So if you wish to try alternatives to modern medicines, it’s important that you know all the facts.

Accordingly, in this article, I want to discuss some of the common misconceptions about herbal medicines.

Herbal medicines are natural so can’t be harmful.

Well, it’s true they’re from nature, but that doesn't simply mean they are all harmless and safe. All the fruits and vegetables we eat are obtained from nature, but does this mean they can’t cause troubles to our body. Of course, they certainly can! Even an onion can upset your stomach if you eat more of it.

Many of our modern drugs are derived from medicinal plants. If herbal medicine can’t cause any harm because of having natural substances, isn’t it strange that those same substances when isolated and/or synthesized are becoming harmful.

Herbs have no side effects.

No offence, but it’s a blatant lie that manufacturers of these remedies publicize to promote their products. Of course, herbs can cause serious side effects. In fact, a majority of experienced practitioners are concerned about some of the serious adverse effects (e.g. contact dermatitis, colon perforation, hepatotoxicity, coma and death) of herbal preparations [1].

Check out the below table to see a list of common herbs with known side effects.

Table 1. Some Common Herbs with Known Adverse Effects

Common Name Side Effects
Aloe vera Potentially carcinogenic; may cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and severe allergic reactions
Ginseng Most commonly, trouble sleeping and headache; less commonly, vaginal bleeding, breast pain, allergic reactions and other side effects
Ginkgo biloba Severe side effect: bleeding; minor side effects: stomach upset, constipation, dizziness, headache, increased heart rate and allergic reactions
St. John's wort Photosensitivity or severe sunburn (if taken in in large doses); other common side effects include trouble sleeping, dry mouth, gastrointestinal disturbances, fatigue, anxiety, headache, dizziness and allergic reactions
Kava Liver damage, sedation, symptoms of tardive dyskinesia, acute dystonic reaction and severe allergic reactions
Ephedra Hypertension, abnormal heart rhythm, heart attack, trouble sleeping, headache, anxiety, palpitations and seizure

The reason why you don’t know about these side effects is regulatory incompetence! The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other major regulatory authorities worldwide, do not require any disclosure of adverse effects on the monograph of herbal products. Thus, manufacturers have no obligation to inform consumers about the possible side effects associated with their products [1, 2].

Furthermore, herbal remedies are not regulated with the same scientific rigor required of modern medicines. The FDA does not regulate these products for purity and potency [2]. Hence, there is no guarantee that the product you’ve bought contains exactly what’s listed on the label. It can be tainted with impurities (e.g. pesticides, germs or toxic metals), or made of substances that aren’t written on the label at all.

Herbal products aren’t drugs.

Well, I believe it’s a big regulatory flaw that the FDA and other agencies still consider herbal products as dietary supplements rather than drugs. This means manufacturers don’t need to provide any evidence of safety and efficacy before putting their products on the market, as they are not subjected to the approval process by the regulatory authorities. They only need to prove that their products are safe for human consumption. Thus, manufacturers have no liability to show any proof in support for what they claim [3, 4].

Manufacturers are also allowed to make any statement they wish about the purported effect and health benefits of a certain herb as long as they add the disclaimer, "These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease" [2].

This is mindboggling. While a number of herbal products are known to cause drug-like effects and have serious adverse reactions, they are allowed over-the-counter (OTC) to consumers without being regulated or having drug status. In fact, if an herb is found to be toxic, it doesn’t ensure that the herb will be removed from the market, because the FDA often issues only a warning [3]. This means the OTC sale of that herb will not be restricted.

Herbal remedies do not interact with modern medicine.

This is a scary myth. There are some really serious interactions to watch out for. Numerous studies have shown that a number of herbal products can interact with other drugs, herbs or foods [4, 5, 6]. It is also reported that the herb-drug interactions can alter the efficacy and bioavailability of the prescription drugs [2, 4].

I want to give you one good example on this. Are you familiar with statins? Some of the names you may recognize are lipitor and crestor. In the herbal world, red yeast rice is also considered a statin.

The interaction comes through goldenseal, an herb often used as an immune stimulant. It's not best for that purpose, but is often bundled with Echinacea, which is also used to help boost the immune system. If statins and goldenseal are taken together, some serious muscle damage is likely to occur and renal failure is possible. This may be due to the berberine found in goldenseal.

Now don't get me wrong. This post isn't written to demotivate people about herbal remedies, rather it is to dispel some of the common myths surrounding the medical system.

I'm not an herb hater; personally, I believe herbs can be a wonderful alternative to our mainstream medical treatments, as they have clearly been used for thousands of years.

However, my point is there must be some validity to their safety, potency and efficacy. Consumers must be informed about the possible side effects of the product they’re buying. In addition, herbs that are known to be toxic should be restricted for OTC sales.

References

  1. Thornfeldt C. Cosmeceuticals containing herbs: fact, fiction, and future. Dermatologic Surgery. 2005 Jul 1;31(s1):873-81.
  2. Cupp MJ. Herbal remedies: adverse effects and drug interactions. American family physician. 1999 Mar 1;59(5):1239.
  3. Barrett S. The herbal minefield. Quackwatch Web Site. 2000 Jun 22.
  4. Elvin-Lewis M. Should we be concerned about herbal remedies. Journal of ethnopharmacology. 2001 May 31;75(2):141-64.
  5. Posadzki P, Watson LK, Ernst E. Adverse effects of herbal medicines: an overview of systematic reviews. Clinical medicine. 2013 Feb 1;13(1):7-12.
  6. Messina BA. Herbal supplements: facts and myths—talking to your patients about herbal supplements. Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing. 2006 Aug 31;21(4):268-78.
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Everything You Need to Know about Botox

Over the past decades, Botox has been one of the most appreciated interventions in the beauty industry. It has been a popular aesthetic treatment, especially among the rich and famous. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Simon Cowell and many more have used it to improve their appearance.

These days Botox has become a household name; no doubt, the celebrity factor has played a big part in this. However, despite everyone knowing what it is, most people have no idea about what is it made of and how it actually works. This is especially true of those considering the procedure for the first time.

The confusion in the prospective patients about the benefits and risks of Botox is not just because of the media hype, but also due to the glut of misinformation that can be found on the Internet.

The purpose of this article is, therefore, to provide evidence based information on Botox ― and at the same time dispel some myths surrounding the procedure.

Table of Contents

What is Botox?


Botox is actually the trade name of a neurotoxin (botulinum toxin), which is made from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Injections containing this toxin mostly work by relaxing or paralyzing certain muscles or by obstructing activity of certain nerves.

The mechanism of action of botulinum neurotoxin is complex. When Botox is injected into a target area of the skin, a series of events occur within the body. As a result, a neuromuscular blocking effect is produced and the release of acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in activating muscles) is inhibited. These actions ultimately result in temporary paralysis of the targeted muscle.

Botox Injection

What does Botox do?

Botox injections are efficient in minimizing unwanted facial lines such as wrinkles caused by the aging process. These injections are typically used to correct cosmetic issues such as forehead wrinkles, frown lines, and crow’s feet. They can also be used to make the jaw line appear slimmer, combat excessive sweating in the palms, feet, and underarms, and treat migraines and cervical dystonia.

Does it hurt?

Most patients compare Botox injections to acupuncture, rating it as much less painful as a traditional injection. However, there can be some mild discomfort if the procedure is applied directly to frown lines. In this case, your specialist can recommend and apply a topical anaesthetic.

Is there an age limit for Botox?

There isn't any specific age limits for those who want to take Botox injections. However, qualified professionals generally will not treat anyone under the age of 18, unless it is to treat a specific medical condition.

Wrinkles or other facial issues are major problems for older adults, as it starts to show up with ages. Individuals under 18 years of age are too young, so there is little or no chance for having facial issues like wrinkles.

There’s also not an upper age limit either. In most cases, the only difference in age is how the treatment is applied, or the amount of Botox needed for a specific condition. Outside of that, age is rarely a consideration. In fact, Botox tends to have more dramatic and visible effects on older people.

Difference between Botox treatment in men and women

  • Physiological difference. To achieve desired results, men require higher dosage of Botox as compared to women, especially around the eyes and the forehead. The main reason behind this is that there is a physiological difference between the facial muscle strength and skin thickness of men and women.
  • Aesthetic difference. Cosmetic treatments for men and women differ aesthetically. For example, most females want a pronounced arch in their eyebrow to enhance their looks. Botox treatment is more subtle in males and most of them just want to erase obvious signs of aging without giving up their distinguished appearances. Hence, different techniques of injecting Botox are employed to maintain gender specificity.

How many units of Botox are needed?

Every person is different in his/her biological setup. Depending on the individual skin characteristics, some may require more of the neurotoxin while some will need less.

If you want to take the shots, it is important for you to discuss the treatment with a qualified cosmetic surgeon. Your surgeon can best advise you of any associated risks with the treatment. Following up as required by your doctor will allow them to assess and better measure future Botox applications to achieve your desired look.

How long does it last?

In general, The results of Botox injections can take five to fourteen days to show the effects. Your eyes and forehead furrows will become noticeably reduced within a couple of days after the procedure.

Patients are advised to follow up with their doctors two to three weeks after the shot. This will allow the doctor to check results and note the effects for future treatments.

The effects of Botox injections are not permanent; hence, recipients require repeated shots to retain the effects. By about the third month only 50% of the treatment effects will still be visible. Within 4 months that will drop to 20%, and by 6 months, there will be no visible changes.

To maintain the effects, you may require to take the shots at least 2-3 times a year.

The downtime and appearance right after treatment

For most patients, how they will look immediately after the procedure is their primary concern.

Right after a shot, the muscles around the injected area will be temporarily paralyzed. This temporary paralyzing effect will make you unable to frown, squint your eyes or raise your eyebrows. Hence, makeup should not be worn for at least three hours following a Botox treatment.

Some people may notice tiny red spots around the injected area, but these quickly fade away. In most cases, they’re gone by the time you get home.

Botox and fillers: Is there a difference?

Many people just assume that all outpatient cosmetic procedures are more or less the same, when in fact they are quite different. The most common two are Botox and Dermal Fillers, and both of which are used for aesthetic purposes on an outpatient basis.

Botox is a small injection that removes wrinkles, while Dermal Fillers are a more invasive procedure that involves injecting artificial fillers under the skin. The differences, however, not end there. Botox has many uses over and above the aesthetic ones. Also, new research is being carried out with regards to using Botox for headaches and migraines, asthma and even weight loss.

Dermal Fillers, while also used for cosmetic procedures, are completely different. They’re a gel-like substance that is injected under the skin, either filling it in and stretching it tight, or reshaping it altogether. The most common procedure is lip injections, which women around the world use to increase the size of their lips.

Side effects of Botox

The most common side effect of Botox injections is a 24-hour headache. About 10% of first time patients will experience this. Other side effects include mild bruising, and less commonly, a slightly droopy appearance. These are mild side effects, and generally short term. If you have any concerns, simply contact your specialist. That’s what they’re there for.

Is there anything to worry about?

Botox and Dermal Fillers are usually considered risk free, although there are considerations unique to each individual, which should be discussed with a qualified medical professional.

For Botox injections, improper treatment can cause undesirable facial expressions. In particular, the eyelids and eyebrows can droop. While this is rare, and clears up relatively quickly in most cases, no one wants to walk down the aisle looking like they’re asleep.

Because of this, if you’re considering Botox for a special event such as an engagement, wedding, or business meeting, it should be done at least two weeks before the big date. In fact, the more advance time you plan, the better it will be.

As for Dermal Fillers, generally speaking, the worst that can happen is an infection. In this case, antibiotics are used. Obviously the desired change in appearance won’t likely be achieved.

A more serious concern, though rare, is that the fillers may interfere with blood vessels in the skin, possibly causing scans, or scarring. These are rare occurrences, but they are considerations when looking into cosmetic procedures.

Does Botox work

Yes, 90% of the time, it is successful in treating wrinkles and facial creases! However, the efficacy of Botox depends on a number factors, including the recipient’s unique anatomy, recipient’s goals, the dosage given and choice of cosmetic surgeon.
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Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

IBS symptomIrritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that you can’t diagnose with conventional diagnosis. It is a condition that is often identified only by the symptoms you’re experiencing. The symptoms you may experience include prolonged abdominal pain or uneasiness associated with rectal evacuation, an uncomfortable feeling of fullness (bloating), symptoms of gas, changes in bowel habits (constipation, diarrhea, or alternating), and features of disordered defecation.

IBS can greatly upset the function of your GI tract. However, unlike ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, it doesn't cause any structural abnormalities. For this reason, it does not pose a significant physical danger to your body and does not harm the bowel tissues or increase the risk of developing cancer.

Signs and Symptoms

IBS has no organic cause. It can affect anyone at any age, but women are more likely to have it than men are. It is more common in individuals younger than 45 years.

IBS causes various symptoms, which vary from person to person. Symptoms are most often attributable to the functional problems of the intestines. That means symptoms will result from a problem with how the intestine function or work. Some people with IBS are more severely affected than others. However, only a small number of individuals have severe symptoms.
symptom of IBS

Common symptoms of IBS include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping in the lower belly, which may be relieved by passing stools (feces) or wind. The pain may come and go in episodes and may worse after eating. In addition, the pain may be linked to a change in bowel movements.
  • Bloating and swelling of the stomach may occur infrequently. Sometimes, a crampy abdominal pain may come with the feeling of abdominal distension. An unusually excessive gas may be passed.
  • Abnormal stool frequency and appearance may occur from time to time. Some people may have bowel movements more often (diarrhea with greater than three pass out per day) than usual, and some may have less often (constipation with less than three defecations per week) than usual. The stool forms may vary in size or consistency. Sometimes the stools may appear less solid and more watery, and sometimes they may be harder, smaller, and lumpier. At times, mucus may also pass with stools.
  • Abnormal bowel movement patterns may also accompany with the above symptoms. Occasionally, people with IBS may feel an urgent need to go to the toilet, or feel that they haven't fully emptied their bowels.

Diagnosis

There are no definite tests to diagnose IBS. Doctors often check for specific symptom criteria that are typical for the condition. When they are met, it is considered that IBS is present in the diagnosed person. The criteria include:
  • The patient has had persistent abdominal pain or uneasiness for at least 3 days a month in the last 3 months associated with a change in bowel movements and in stool frequency and appearance.
  • The patient has recurrent bloating, tension or hardness in the stomach.
  • The patient has no other diseases or injuries that could cause same type of symptoms.
  • The patient's overall quality of life is impaired.
In addition, the doctors will take a complete medical history of the patient and may run some tests to exclude the possibility of other diseases. A stool test is often performed to check the evidence of bleeding. Additional testing is not usually required. However, the doctor may include some other tests if certain findings during the evaluation lead to alarming signs of other medical conditions. The doctor may also run other diagnostic procedures such as blood tests, x-rays, and colonoscopy to screen for other problems.

Conventional Treatment

IBS is a chronic condition that needs long-term care. The economic impact of IBS is also significant. Studies suggest that it accounts for high medical costs and indirect expenses, including excessive absenteeism from work/school and increased rates of physician visits. Treatment of IBS includes lifestyle and food style changes, medications, and counseling.

As the causes of irritable bowel syndrome are still unidentified, conventional treatment of IBS usually focuses on the relief of symptoms using medications. A number of different medicines can help prevent the predominant set of symptoms from interfering with a patient's daily activities. These include:

1. Antispasmodics, such as dicyclomine (Bentyl), hyoscyamine (Levsin), and mebeverine (Colofac), help ease colon muscle spasms and relieve abdominal (stomach) pain. However, these medications are often prescribed for IBS patients have bouts of diarrhea, but not for people coping with constipation. Studies suggest antispasmodics may worsen symptoms of constipation and may cause other complications.

2. Antimotility agents, such as diphenoxylate (Lomotil) and loperamide (Imodium), can help relieve diarrhea. Although a number of antimotility medicines are available in the market, but, for IBS, loperamide is the highly recommended of all due to its low side effects. Loperamide works by slowing the bowel movements through the large intestine. This action slackens the frequency of stool passing and allows more time to improve stool consistency.

3. Fiber supplements, such as methylcellulose (Citrucel) or psyllium (Metamucil), help relieve constipation if associated with IBS symptoms. They help move stools through the intestines and improve bowel movement. Physicians often recommend them when increasing dietary fiber is unsuccessful.

4. Osmotic laxatives, such as lactulose, polyethylene glycol, or milk of magnesia, may be prescribed if fiber supplements don't help lessen constipation associated with IBS symptoms. Laxatives work in different ways. They make the stools softer by increasing intestinal fluid, so that stools can pass out more easily. However, it is reported that laxatives may cause an obstruction in the GI tract. Therefore, people with IBS-related constipation should consume plenty of fluids while taking an osmotic laxative.

5. Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), have been reported to relieve stomach pain and cramping with low doses. Although a higher incidence of psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety, is often found in people with IBS, but these medications can be used in IBS patients without mental illnesses, as they can provide pharmacological effects independent of any antidepressant effect. Antidepressants are often prescribed if persistent IBS symptoms have not been relieved by other medications.

Low doses of TCAs, such as imipramine and amitriptyline, have shown to work best when abdominal pain and diarrhea are the main symptoms. However, TCAs are not advised for IBS patients who have bouts of constipation, because they may worsen constipation. SSRIs, such as fluoxetine and paroxetine, are occasionally used for IBS. They can help reduce pain and bloating sensations as well as facilitate intestinal transport and secretions. Studies suggest SSRIs are better for patients with IBS associated constipation and depression.

6. Rifaximin, a semisynthetic antibiotic derived from rifamycin, is occasionally prescribed for IBS patients to eliminate intestinal bacteria and reduce abdominal bloating. This drug is used in IBS treatment because of its poor oral bioavailability. After oral intake, only a little of the drug is absorbed into the blood and most of the drug stays in the gut. Experts believe rifaximin may help relieve symptoms of diarrhea in an IBS patient if there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the intestine.
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Exposure Risk: Is Mercury in Dental Amalgam Actually Safe?

Dental Amalgam Filling
amalgam filling

About This Article
First of all, I need to apologize for writing this article, because I'm not a dentist! But I've a good reason behind writing this! A few days back, I had an appointment with my dentist, and after examining my wisdom teeth, he suggested amalgam fillings. Curiously, I later googled about dental amalgam and found many controversial comments about its safety. So, I decided to dig dipper! After researching in Pubmed about its side effects, I found that some very vital information are missing in the Wikipedia and other trusted sources. So, I finally took the decision to write up an article.
In normal conditions, when patients are told about a treatment option, the first thing they ask is whether it is safe. In the same way, if your dentist is suggesting a dental amalgam, you are probably wondering if it is safe or not. Accordingly, this article is written to answer this question, and other concerns that you might have about amalgam fillings.

What is Dental Amalgam?

Dental amalgam is a type of dental filling that seals the cavity resulted from tooth decay. An amalgam usually includes a combination of metals, but it is mainly made of four components: silver, mercury, copper and tin. However, some amalgam fillings also contain a small amount of zinc, indium or palladium. Liquid (elemental) mercury accounts roughly 50% of an amalgam filling; it helps bind other ingredients together.

Read: Four Wisdom Tooth Impactions and What They Mean

Potential Risks

Like any other product, it is the ingredients that determine whether a certain product is safe or not. Before you decide to get amalgam fillings, it is essential that you have a basic understanding about their ingredients, particularly the mercury that is contained in them.

According to experts, mercury is one of the most toxic, harmful substances to health and the environment. It is a very powerful neurotoxin and if used in large quantities, it has been known to cause neurological issues and kidney failure. It is linked to conditions like mental disorders, auto immune diseases and chronic illnesses among others. As a result, many experts and dentists are not willing to use these elements to their patients.

Dental Amalgam Controversy

The safety of dental amalgam is a bit controversial. And, the biggest question and controversy over amalgam fillings revolve around the fact that they contain mercury. While supporters claim them to be safe and effective, critics argue that they're risky because they may result mercury poisoning. The regulatory bodies in different countries also have mixed views about amalgam fillings. For example, while the FDA still considers dental amalgam safe for adults and children (age six years and above), in countries like Sweden, Denmark and Norway, the use of amalgam fillings has already been banned.

Therefore, despite the controversy and debate about mercury use, the real question that you should be asking is whether the mercury in amalgam fillings is that harmful. In other words, are the quantities of mercury in the fillings enough to cause such serious side effects and conditions?

Experimental studies done to answer this question have found that dental amalgam releases mercury in the form of a vapor. Although it is not confirmed that whether this vapor can cause serious side effects, but there is no doubt that your lungs can inhale and absorb it. In addition, studies done on animals have indicated that amalgam fillings in pregnant and lactating women may lead the fetus and neonates to unwanted risk of mercury exposure.
An Interesting Fact
It was revealed in 2006 that over 76% of people in the United States of America did not know of the dangers or contents of amalgam fillings. This goes to show that not many people are concerned about what their health professionals are giving them. Many people are not even bothered to know what is contained in the fillings in their teeth.

Conclusion

The debate over the safety of dental amalgam can be traced all the way back to when the fillings were first introduced. You should, therefore, take comfort in the fact that you are not the first person to question the safety of amalgam fillings and will probably not be the last. However, I think the best way to answer this question is by asking another.

Are you willing to take the chance?

If there is a slightest chance that you could be exposed to mercury, there is no reason why you should take the risk. Remember that when the fillings are placed, they are supposed to stay in your teeth for some time, which means increased and prolonged exposure to mercury!

Image Source: By Kauzio (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
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Helpful Medicines That You Should Carry While Traveling

A typical drug store
pharmacist explaining prescription

Sudden sicknesses are very common to human life. You may be completely healthy and fit with a full-functioning immune system, but you may feel sick all of a sudden, because a disease or condition often doesn't attack with easily identifiable symptoms. So, if you are traveling to a place far from your home, you should keep a few medications for some common conditions, so that you can avoid unwanted discomforts. These include:

Motion Sickness

Motion sickness is one of the common conditions that you may experience while travelling in a car, train, airplane or boat. It is a disturbance of the balance-sensing system (inner ear, eyes and sensory nerves) that is caused by repeated motion. It usually develops with a feeling of unwell, sweating, headache and/or dizziness, and is quickly followed by nausea and/or vomiting. Children between 5 and 12 years of age, women, older adults and people with a migraine problem are mostly affected by motion sickness.

To avoid the discomforts of a sudden motion sickness, you should keep an antiemetic drug, such as prochlorperazine maleate (Stemetil) or ondansetron (Zofran), and a general pain killer, such as paracetamol, in your bag.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is another common but very distressing problem that you may get while travelling. It is often caused by eating contaminated food, and its symptoms include nausea, vomiting, intestinal discomfort and/or diarrhea. The symptoms either can start within a few hours after eating the contaminated food or may delay from a few days to several weeks.

To cope with food poisoning while travelling, you should keep zinc tablets and some sachets of oral rehydration solution (ORS), so that you can maintain the fluid and electrolyte balance. However, if your condition gets more severe, you may need to take antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro), and anti-emetics to reduce the length of time you are sick.

Allergic Reaction

Allergic reactions are common. If you have moderate to high allergic sensitivity, you may suddenly caught up with sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, red eyes and sinus pressures while travelling. And this can make your journey worse. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, it is better to carry an antihistamine, such as ketotifen (Zaditor) or cetirizine (Zyrtec), in the bag to cope with a mild reaction.

General Acidity

Acidity is a very common problem that can occur at anytime, anywhere. You never know when your stomach will produce excess acid and you'll feel gastric inflammation. So, as a preventive measure, you should keep either antacids (e.g. aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide gel/suspension) or a proton pump inhibitor, such as omeprazole (Prilosec), while travelling.

Disclaimer

Being a pharmacist, it is my responsibility to inform you that you must consult with a GP or pharmacist before keeping any of the medicines I have mentioned in the above post. You never know in which medication you may be hypersensitive to. In addition, I have no idea or knowledge about your medical history, so please consult with your doctor first.

Image Source: Rhoda Baer, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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About Me



Welcome to Medical-Reference. My name is Imtiaz Ibne Alam. I'm a pharmacist and a freelance medical writer with 7+ years of experience in the health care industry.

I started this blog back in 2011 with an aim of making inaccessible medical information more accessible to general people. I don't know how far I'm successful in doing so, but I always give my best to debunk complex medical or scientific data and shearing those in a clear, concise way with my words.

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