Kidney Stones: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

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inflamed-sie_REV_web_105987101What ís a kidney stone? A kidney stone is small pebble-like formation that is brought about by minerals and salts found in the urine sticking together. These pebbles usually vary in size and may be as small as a sand grain or as big as a golf ball. These stones may either stay in your kidney or could travel out of the body via the urinary tract- the system that is responsible for making urine and carrying it out of the body. The urinary tract is made up of: the ureters, which are tubes that connect your kidneys to your bladder; the urethra, which is the tube that leads urine from the bladder and out of your body; the kidneys themselves; and the bladder.When a kidney stones passes through a ureter it may or may not cause pain. In the event it does, the accompanying symptoms and pain could excruciating.

How are kidney stones formed?

Kidney stones are formed when there is a change in the normal balancing of water, minerals, salts and other substances found in our urine. The greatest cause of kidney stones is when one does not drink enough water. It is important that you drink lots of water; enough to turn your urine light yellow or clear just like water. The recommended amount is about 8-10 glasses every day. However, there are people who are likely to ail from kidney stones because of underlying medical conditions like gout.

At the same time, this condition could be inherited. If there are people in your family who have suffered this disease, then there is a high likelihood that you may too.

Symptoms

Often, kidney stones cause no pain while still in the kidney. However, they could cause sudden and excruciating pain as they start making their way from your kidneys to your bladder. It is important that you consult with your doctor if you think or feel like you have kidney stones. Keep an eye out for severe pain in your belly, groin or side. Also, be keen on the color of your urine when passing it out. If it looks red or pink then it may be a sign that somethingís wrong. You also may feel nauseated.

How are they diagnosed?

You may get to know that you are suffering from this condition when you first consult with your doctor or visit the emergency room with agonizing pain in your side or belly. The doctor may ask you questions about the pain you are feeling and your lifestyle. He/she will then examine you and may go ahead and do a couple of imaging tests like ultrasound or a CT scan in order to have a look at the condition of your urinary tract and kidneys.

In the event that you have more than one kidney stone or your family as a history with these stones, then more tests will have to be done. In order to find out the main cause of your kidney stones, the doctor may request for a blood test and may ask you to collect urine for 24 hours. This will make it easier for your doctor to find out whether or not you are likely to grow more stones as time passes by.

These stones may not necessarily have to painful. If, in your case, there is no pain, you may get to learn that you have them as your doctor conducts tests for other diseases.

Treatment

In most cases, your doctor may suggest that you go pass the stones in the comfort of your home. However, you may need to have pain medication by your side. You will be required to drink lots of water plus other fluids; this is important to ensure that you stay well hydrated. Often, the doctor will give you medicine that will help speed up the passing of these stones.

However, if one of the stones is too big to pass all on its own, or in the event it gets stuck in one of your urinary tracts, there will be need for more treatment. About 2 of every 10 kidney stone cases usually require specialized treatment.

For such a case, the most commonly used treatment option is ESWL or Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy. Under this option, shock waves are used to break down the stones into smaller pieces. This way, they can be passed out naturally through the urine. In other cases, the doctor will have to remove them or will place a small tube known as a stent in the ureter to ensure that it stays open while the stones pass.

Ways Of Preventing Kidney Stones

Once you have had kidney stones, it is very likely that you may have them again. To keep this from happening again, drink lots of water daily. Take enough water (8-10 glasses every day) that your urine turns clear or light yellow. You may or will have to avoid certain foods or eat them less. Once you have been treated, it is likely that your doctor will or may give you medication to help prevent them from forming again.

Introducing The Pain Free Flu Vaccine

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girl_shotIf your main reason for skipping a flu shot is a fear of needles, there is good news for you. Last year the FDA approved a new vaccine technology that does away with the long needle and the sore arm.

One of the two technologies that have been approved for use with the influenza vaccine is called Fluzone. How Does It Work?
The technology works by forcing the vaccine through the skin using tiny microneedles that puncture the skin very slightly. The technology is Fluzone is manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and as pediatrician, Erin Giudice, MD from the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital explains, it is not completely free of pain. However, the spokesman for the product, actor, Chris O’Donnell (who has suffered from a lifelong fear of needles) say that it is virtually painless. He explains that the sensation is literally just a little prick on the arm and that you almost do not realize it’s been done.

According to FDA clinical trials, although it causes less pain, there may be more irritation at the site of the injection because it injects at the skin surface rather than the muscle. Fluzone is currently only approved for use in adults; however, the FDA is now conducting clinical trials in under-18s. It is available nationwide and you can find out where you can receive the injections in your area by visiting the company’s website and entering your ZIP code.

Along with FluMist, Fluzone is one of the only pain free influenza vaccine technologies available. Having said that, according to Giudice, additional topical and oral vaccines have been approved for immunization against rotovirus and other diseases.

FluMist is a nose spray that is administered in a single dose. It has been approved for children as well as adults, but the FDA has warned that people with asthma and children who suffer from recurring wheezing may have problems with wheezing following inhalation of the vaccine. Having been on the market since 2003, FluMist is available for the 2014-2015 dose of the flu vaccine.

For those who are concerned about whether these painless alternatives will be as effective as the original vaccine option, according to Giudice there is no need for concern.

She explains that since the flu infects a person through the nose and mouth, when the nasal passages are squirted with the vaccine, it simulates the virus without causing the symptoms; and this helps the body fight off the infection.

Giudice stresses that whether you choose to receive your annual flu shot through an injection or through the nose spray option, the most important thing is to get one. The American Academy of Pediatrics updated its guidelines in order to urge the parents of all children over 6 months to have them vaccinated. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that as soon as this year’s dose is available, all healthy adults get vaccinated.

Healthy Aging

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shutterstock_109710029-e1347460255680As you grow older, you go through many changes either positive or negative or positive. You can enjoy it however, if you are aware of what is going on with your body and take initiative in maintaining your health. With increase in your age, many things can happen to your body. Your bones, skin and probably even your brain, might start to behave differently. You ought not to allow these changes to catch you by surprise. 

Some of the common changes may be in your bones. They can become thinner and much more brittle as you grow in age. This is especially true in women and results in a condition defined by fragile bones referred to as Osteoporosis. Decrease in the mass of your bones can result in risk of falling which may bring about breaking of bones. You should have a talk with your doctor about what to do to prevent this condition.
Your heart will also be affected. Even with a healthy diet and consistent exercise keeping your heart healthy, it might become slightly enlarged. This may result in your heart rate becoming lower and thickening of the walls of your heart.
Age affects your brain and nervous system. Your reflexes and senses can be affected. You may also develop dementia as it is a common for you to experience slight forgetfulness as you grow older. Your brain cells and nerves may end up being damaged by formation of tangles and plaques which are the abnormalities that lead to dementia.
Another part of your body age affects is your digestive system. With advancement in age, your digestive gut starts to become more firm and rigid making it contract less often. This can lead to problems such as stomach pains, feelings of nausea and constipation. Only a better diet can help with this.
You might find that your vision or hearing capabilities have become less sharp than how they were originally. You may also find that your sense of taste is escaping you and flavors do not seem as distinct to you as they were before. Your touch and smell senses might also become weak. Your body starts to take a longer time to react the surroundings.
The teeth are also affected adversely. The tough enamel which protects your teeth from decay starts to wear away over the years. This leaves you susceptible to cavities and tooth decay. Gum disease has been known to be a great concern for senior citizens. You may also be affected by dry mouth, which is a common side effect of many of the medications that are given to seniors.
Your skin is a part of your body that is greatly affected by old age. Your skin lose its elasticity and may as a result sag and wrinkle. However, if you protected yourself from smoking and sun damage while you were younger your skin is much more likely to look better even with old age. Protect your skin as early as now to prevent any further damage or skin cancer in the future.
Your sex life changes too. After menopause, when menstruation, ceases many women go through various physical changes. These include loss of vaginal lubrication. Men might go through erectile dysfunction. Luckily, these two problems can be easily treated.
Most of these problems are nothing but a part of aging. They do not however have to slow you down. Moreover, there are a lot of things that you can do to protect your body and make sure it is as healthy as possible. Some of these things are;
Maintaining your physical health. It is very important that you maintain your health and energy. You get better through the experience that you gain with advancement in your years. You should also practice healthy habits throughout your life time. It is however, never too late to start taking care of your body even with your advanced age.
You can choose to remain physically active throughout your lifetime by means consistent exercises. These helps to maintain the strength of your body in the long run. You can also resolve to eat diets that are healthy and well balanced. Let go junk food at all costs. Taking care of your body is imperative, but tending to your emotional health is also very important. If you are willing to enjoy your long life enjoy each day of your life.

6 Factors That Contribute To Depression In Women

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Woman-with-Depression-1The number of women suffering from depression is twice that of men. Statistics reveal that at least 12 million women suffer from depression at one point in their lives. In the United States, reports reveal that 30% of all women suffer from symptoms of depression. Despite the fact the number of men and women suffering from bipolar disorder is equal, women are prone to more depressive episodes. This has been attributed to the hormonal reproduction and changes in women. Some of the factors that contribute to depression in women include the following: 

1. Hormonal Fluctuations
Women experience different hormonal fluctuations during different stages of their lives. These changes may occur during puberty, menstrual periods, pregnancy, menopause etc. Hormonal changes might result in production of different chemicals in the brain. This may result in changes in emotions or mood swings which might trigger depression.
2. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Women experience PMS every month during menstrual periods. In some cases, women go through PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) where women become depressed right before their periods. The reason behind this has not been discovered yet but most women are usually more sensitive during their menstrual period.
3. Pregnancy Or Childbirth
After giving birth, most women experience postpartum depression. This may occur due to pregnancy hormonal changes and physical changes after giving birth which results in overwhelming responsibility of taking care of a newborn.
4. Reaction To Traumatic Events
After losing a loved one, a tough breakup or traumatic situation in a womanís life, itís likely to experience a depressive episode. Women are more susceptible to stress after such events which may trigger depression.
5. Ruminative Thinking
Most women go into detail thinking about their current distressful situation and the causes which is referred to as ruminative thinking which may cause depression.
6. Birth Control Pills
Women often try out different birth control methods which increase the progesterone levels in the body. With high levels of progesterone in the body, the individual is more susceptible to depression.
There are the leading causes of depression in women which is different from men. In some cases, such as postpartum depression, women require companionship and help during the depressive episodes.

10 ways to Boost the Mental and Overall Health of Seniors

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seniors-lifting-weightsBrain that finds a way to stay busy is always a happy one. Hence, it will bring some sense of depression when the kids are not causing you sleepless nights, and you have nothing to ponder about that might keep your brain that busy.

Do not, for one second, think you are sailing in that boat alone. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 6.5 million seniors in America suffer from depression. The U. S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that an estimated 1% to 5% of the 6.5 million are a lower risk cases, and these are mostly non-dependent seniors. On the flip side, 13.5% of in-home dependent and 11.5% of the hospitalized seniors experience cases of depression.

The numbers should raise an alarm yet, depression, in most cases is overlooked, and this is according to Jazz Marina. Jazz, and MD and geriatrician with Kaiser Permanente in Georgia associated this to many viewing the origins of depression to be from something else. Dr. Marina gives an example of poor appetite and weight loss that look similar to gastrointestinal problem or daily function problems that look similar to cases of arthritis.

RELATED: How to Live a Purposeful Life after Retirement

Mustafa M. Husain, an MD and professor of psychiatry and behavioral science, says physical health struggles may lead to mental health problems in seniors. Dr. Husain, who is also the director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Division at Duke University Medical Center, Durham North Carolina adds that physical illness can also play a contributory role in cases of depression and that the opposite of the same is also possible.
So what should be done?

The answer to boosting the mental health of seniors lies in leading a healthy active life where social connections are also evident as they age. Here are good examples touching on this subject.

1. Just keep moving.
Exercising is good for both the mind and the body. Dr. Marian suggests daily walks or taking part in daily senior workout and fitness sessions in a good gym or seniorsí health center. Fun exercises such as dance classes are also a good option. Those with physical limitations can do chair exercises. A one-hour dance class a week led to significant improvements in depression symptoms in seniors; this is according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.

2. Socialize at your senior center.
Senior centers are a good place for the seniors to keep their minds engaged as they socialize and take part in various activities such as board games. Some of the centers even offer transport for the seniors who need such services.

3. Stay involved in family gatherings
It is important to stay involved in the family issues as one ages, especially if there are grandchildren. Frequent visits will do a lot of good; they can be short if the senior feels tired. Dr. Husain says the company of family will have a positive impact on their health.

4. Call on friends
Stay connected with your peers. Get your hair done together, go on a shopping trip even if it’s just to the grocery store, or have them over for dinner. The social stimulation will do you all good, Marina says.

5. Turn to technology to stay in touch.
Technology offers more avenues through which people can stay in touch. A phone call is a simple, quick, and effective way of catching up with family and friends. Sharing photos, cards, and emails is also a good option. Creating a memory book is also a fun active that the senior can do with the grandchildren. Skyping and FaceTime are a good way of having one-on-one talk time.

6. Go back to school
One can never be too old to get some reading; it is a healthy way of challenging the brain. Seniors can enroll in the local community colleges that can either be free or offering learning at a low cost. It can be language classes or on an interesting field of studies.

7. Getting a pet.
A pet is always a good and lovable companion. It is also a good way of keeping someone busy since one needs to take care of the pet. According to an online publish on animal therapy posted by Current Gerontology Geriatrics Research in November of 2014, animals make seniors more social, less agitated, and less depressed.

8. Play games.
Board games such as cheese, scrabble, puzzles, word games, Sudoku and other games that stimulate the mind to think are a good pass time active for seniors. It is good for seniors to start or be part of a bridge club where they can also socialize as they play.

9. Growing spiritually
It is healthy to have a religious connection; a thing that is common in any social setting. People will convene in a place of worship, which is a great way for not only growing spiritually, but also building social bonds and support structures.

10. Make a difference
Taking up some volunteer work is a good way of giving back to the community. A senior that volunteer is many ways. For instance, the UN has volunteer’s programs posted online for people to register across the world. These activities are a blessing for both the giver and receiver. Dr. Husain gives an example of a 98 year old man who volunteers at a popcorn stand in a childrenís hospital stating no medication he would have given him would equate to the pleasure he gets from volunteering at the stand.

Stay Home To Limit Flu Spread, Research Suggests

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influenza-virusA recently released research study examining the 2009 swine flu outbreak indicates that one of the best ways of limited the spread of such illnesses is to remain home and indulge in a bit of television.The authors of the study oversaw an analysis of the television habits of residents of central Mexico occurring in the spring of 2009, the beginning of the H1N1 epidemic.

During that time period, government officials based in Mexico City imposed restrictions intended to limit individuals’ contact with each other in a strategy known as “social distancing” in public health circles. Public school facilities were closed and large-scale public events were cancelled. Television viewing statistics during the time period were used a measure of social contact among those affected by the government’s measures. This was the metric chosen because when people are watching television, they tend to be in their homes engaging in little contact with the outside.

During the first week after the social distancing initiative was launched, Mexico City television watching went up 20% over the norm, according to the study. The boost in viewership was most significant among children and individuals with higher household incomes as compared with other demographic groups.

The study also attempted to model what the outcome might have been if individuals had refused to adjust their behavior in the midst of the epidemic and did not acquiesce to the social distancing measures. Researchers found that new cases of flu would likely have quadrupled over the course of approximately five weeks. However, Mexico City flu cases actually stabilized and ultimately decreased within the same period of time.

University of California Davis economist Michael Springborn has stated that Mexico City’s 2009 swine flu outbreak could easily have been much more devastating without the positive effects of social distancing efforts among the population.

It is worth noting, however, that there is likely a ceiling on just how long individuals will display a willingness to remain segregated in their homes away from others, even if a dangerous epidemic is raging. In the second week of school closures in Mexico City, television viewership began to decline, ultimately reaching normal levels once schools reopened.

Springborn uses this fact to support his assertion that social distancing initiatives as a means to halt the spread of illness likely have a circumscribed lifespan. Eventually, individuals will give in to their impulses and seek outside interactions.

Researchers did not preclude the possibility, however, that Mexico City residents included in the study may have simply stopped watching increased amounts of television but still remained indoors doing alternative activities.