Getting High: beware of Acute Altitude Sickness

The skiing season is about to start, and many of our readers may be preparing for a trip to slopes above 7000 feet (2500 m). In order to avoid altitude sickness that can spoil the vacation and even cause death, read our tips! Image Credit: Khomulo Anna / shutterstock.com What is AMS Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a set of symptoms experienced by many people at high altitudes. Most people “feel the altitude” above 3000 meters, but some get really sick. The main symptoms include: Headache Shortness of ...

Why Am I So Swollen? Water Retention Explained

Have your feet ever get swollen on an airplane? Have you heard about diets that help you shed ‘water weight’? Though our body is 70% water, the accumulation of water in tissues can have nasty consequences. Let’s explore how and why it happens. Image Credit: saje via / Getty Images Introduction to edema Fluid retention, or edema, is the accumulation of water in various body tissues. Where does that water come from? It turns out that our blood vessels are full of so-called interstitial fluid, which leeks through ...

It’s not All in Your Head: What Really Causes Migraine

Migraine affects 1 in 5 women and over ten percent of the population overall. Those who don’t have it cannot imagine the suffering it brings. And though it has long been considered a neurotic disorder, new research shows that its causes are quite physical. Image Credit: PhotoAlto / Michele Constantini / Getty Images Much worse than a headache Migraine is very different from a normal headache: while the latter is caused by constriction of blood vessels in the head, the former is caused by their dilation. A migrai...

Twitching Feet? You May Have Restless Leg Syndrome

We all fidget sometimes – chew on a pen, play with a piece of jewelry or – as millions of kids today – with a spinner. It can be hard to remain still, but for some people the unbearable urge to move their legs can turn life into a torment. Image Credit: Levente Gyori / shutterstock.com The unscratchable itch People suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) describe their symptoms as twitching, itching, or aching in their legs, “pins and needles”, as insects crawling inside their muscles, or as an electrical curr...

The Gut-Brain Axis: Meet your Second Brain

We are used to think of our gut as a lowly organ where the less pretty bodily functions take place. And yet, the gut has been called the second brain: it turns out that bacteria in our belly influence our mood, and antibiotics may even be used to treat depression. Image Credit: psicologiapsicosomatica.com Has it ever happened to you to suddenly get scared or really nervous and instantly get an urge to go to the bathroom? It is long been known that our mood and stress level influence our digestion. However, the c...

Breath into the Tube: a Medical Revolution is Coming

We all know a breathalyzer as a tube that a policeman asks you to breath into to check if you have been drinking before driving. But our breath can reveal much more: turns out that diseases have their own breathprints, and very soon we may be able to use portable devices to diagnose them. Image Credit: medtechdirectory.com Recreating a dog’s nose If you have a dog, you may have noticed that it “feels” when you are sad, or angry, or happy; and many stories tell of dogs warning their owners of an impending heart ...

New Shingles Vaccine to Help Older Adults, Shows 90% Effectiveness Rate

Shingles is a tricky thing which affects a number of older adults. Nowadays there is only one shingles vaccine available: it’s called Zostavax, and its effectiveness is rather unimpressive, because it proves to prevent about 50% of shingles cases in patients who are older than sixty years old, with even worse performance among the elderly. Yet a new vaccine, which has recently been approved by the FDA, challenges its predecessor and shows a 90% effectiveness rate among older adults. Image Credit: Sherry Yates Young...

Yoga Classes for Chronic Back Pain: a Miracle or a Reality?

We’ve been observing growing popularity of yoga classes worldwide for a few years. Most of us stay rather skeptical as it seems like a new tendency enjoyed by celebrities. What makes this ancient practice interesting indeed is scientists’ points of view and numerous researches. They tell us that yoga can be a key point in treating really bad states of health. Let us examine how just doing yoga is able to improve your not so optimistically looking problems with back. Image Credit: da-kuk/Istock.com A great numbe...

What does It Mean “to Die”

What is happening with us when we are claimed to be dead? People of all the times desperately wanted to find an answer for this question. But what we have now? Do we know what waits us when we step over a threshold of death? We’ll try to figure it out. Image Credit: Vinoth Chandar/flickr.com At first, it is important to understand the meaning of the term “death”. According to the dictionary death is “the end of all functions in an organism”. So, it means death starts after our brain activity is stopped, our blood ...

Crohn’s Disease – Severe, Painful, and Misunderstood

Severe cramps, having to run to the bathroom every few minutes, fatigue - these are classic symptoms of a food poisoning. However, if you experience them for more than a few days, run to the doctor - it may be the first sign of Crohn's disease. Image Credit: gotoptens.com The signs Some very serious digestive conditions masquerade as banal diarrhea and are often misdiagnosed. A mysterious disease that affects over 500 thousand people in the US, Crohn's can be debilitating and even life-threatening. It usuall...

Take Control of Your Gut: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

We often write about rare conditions affecting one in a thousand. However, one of the most common chronic disorders - IBS - strikes as many as 20% of the population, and yet we rarely hear about it. It's time to shed some light on irritable bowel syndrome. Image Credit: istockphoto.com/kr IBS is elusive. It shares symptoms with many other diseases, its causes are debated, and there is no proven cure. It is incredibly common and yet surrounded by myths. Of course, we have all experienced constipation, abdomin...

Simply Tired or Chronically Ill?

Do you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning? Feel the lack of energy? Can barely stay awake? It may be symptoms of chronic fatigue. Image Credit: Xavier Sotomayor / unsplash.com Ignored Danger Chronic fatigue syndrome is not something simple, and it cannot be cured with caffeine or sleep. Unfortunately, society and even doctors do not take it seriously. For some reason, the medical community has long been ignoring the dangers of chronic fatigue syndrome and diminishing the importance of its further inve...

The Silent Struggle: Hair Pulling Disorder

The anxiety of preparing for an exam or a project deadline drawing near can put any of us on edge and make us do strange things: chew on a pen, eat compulsively, or fidget with one's hair. However, some people struggle for their whole life with a condition called trichotillomania, which makes them compulsively pull out their hair. Image Credit: depositphotos.com A disorder kept secret Trichotillomania, just like its close relative dermatillomania (skin-picking), often first manifests in teenage years (kid...

Cigarette Smoke Leads to Brain, Lung and Liver Destruction

Clothes, furniture, carpets, drapes, curtains, bedding, walls… cigarette smoke can be absorbed by everything. Any surfaces become toxic under the influence of tobacco smoke, creating a dangerous threat to nonsmokers. Image Credit: pinterest.com What is Thirdhand Smoke? Thirdhand smoke (THS) is the term introduced by a research team from the Dana–Farber/Harvard Cancer Center and refers to tobacco contamination of various surfaces. In recent years a number of studies concerning this topic have been conducted. Wh...

New Study Reveals Cat Parasite Link to Neurological Disorders

You may hang around cats all your life and never realize that you might be at certain risk of developing a pretty wide range of unpleasant ailments. But there is more to it. Here is what most recent study reveals about the link between parasite Toxoplasma gondii and neurological disorders. Image Credit: Tookapic / pexels.com Breaking News Scientific Reports has recently published most interesting and, undoubtedly, significant research showing the link between Toxoplasma gondii, a brain parasite (that is often ref...

How to Get Rid of Headache

Headache is a kind of thing everyone has to experience one day. However, no matter how common it is, persistent headache can be very distressing. People use as many ways to deal with it as there are factors that cause it, many of which are not well studied so far. Image Credit: Istockphoto.com Headache is a kind of thing everyone has to experience one day. However, no matter how common it is, persistent headache can be very distressing. People use as many ways to deal with it as there are factors that cause it, ma...

Chew your Way to Good Digestion

Your mum must have told you when you were little, "Don't eat so fast, chew better!" But you were too eager to leave the table and go play. Your mum was right, though: digestion does begin in the mouth, and proper chewing can make a difference. Alas, most of us are used to eating fast and swallowing on the go, thus missing out on many benefits. Image Credit: saludpasion.com We don't just chew in order to break down the food. Nature has designed all parts of our digestive system - including the mouth ...

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: You May Have It, Too

Who has never sprained an ankle? Sharp pain, swelling and discomfort for a few days... and then you are back to normal. But do you know that some people have to live with unstable joints, spraining their ankles repeatedly, getting bruised for no reason, unable to heal wounds properly? Meet Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The many-faced condition Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a genetic condition that affects the formation of collagen, the most abundant protein in the body. Collagen is the main building material for o...

Tiny Ticks, Big Danger: What You Need to Know about Tick Bites

Don't you like to get out of the city in summer, go camping, hiking, or picking mushrooms in the woods? We all do, but those tiny, nasty, blood-sucking ticks are also out in force, waiting to gorge on our blood and even infect us with dangerous diseases. So be prepared! Know your enemy Ticks are related to spiders, so they have eight legs, and they are notoriously tiny - you may easily mistake a tick stuck on your skin for a bit of dirt or a plant seed. Ticks do not jump out of the grass (they cannot jump...

A Little Tick Fact Sheet

When we go on a hiking trip or indulge in divine natural environments, we feel an onrush of fine mood, and danger is the last thing that comes to our mind. However, there is one must-think-about bad thing – ticks. This is a kind of danger, from which there is no hundred-percent reliable barrier: the little blood suckers wait in the grass to cling to you and suck your blood! It is not the blood sucking that is the worst thing about it. What’s really bad is that ticks may transmit some debilitating and even deadly ...