Archive for Health Issues

Understanding Cystitis – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Urinary tract infections (UTIs) such as cystitis are usually easy to treat and more likely to affect women than men. Cystitis is often referred to as a “water infection” and while it is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), it is recognised as being common in women who engage in heterosexual sex.

Understanding Cystitis – Causes and Symptoms

There are several factors which can contribute to suffering from cystitis, such as not drinking enough (such as when on holiday in a hot climate), frequent sex, not wiping from front to back after going to the toilet, tight fitting clothing (such as bodysuits and skinny jeans) and bath cosmetics. In addition, the use of perfumed cosmetics in the genital area may cause further irritation.

In Travel Health, Jones (2004) identifies the main symptoms associated with suffering from a bout of cystitis, being as follows:

  • frequency in passing urine
  • sudden urgency to pass urine
  • burning pain on urinating
  • difficulty initiating urination
  • foul-smelling urine
  • blood-stained urine

There are also some key signs that cystitis may have spread to the kidneys, such as fever, pains in the small of the back and lower abdominal pain. As it is always a possibility that untreated cystitis could develop into more severe kidney infections, always aim to seek treatment earlier rather than later.

How to Treat Cystitis – Natural Methods and Antibiotics

Cystitis is usually diagnosed by reporting symptoms to a doctor, although the only way to be totally sure is to have a urine sample tested. There are a range of treatments available for cystitis, including natural methods and a course of antibiotics. In The Essential Guide to Travel Health, Wilson-Howarth (2009) highlights the following natural remedies for cystitis:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Drink water with a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda.
  • Drink cranberry juice.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing.
  • Avoid sex.

In addition to the above approaches, Jones (2004) recommends drinking blueberry juice, home-made parsley tea, chewing fresh parsley and the homeopathic remedy cantharis. A short course of antibiotics such as trimethropin may be prescribed, or amoxicillin, if signs are indicating the kidneys may be affected. However, trimethropin should not be taken whilst pregnant and amoxicillin is unsuitable for those with an allergy to penicillin.

As highlighted above, cystitis episodes often relate to increased heterosexual activity, with symptoms including pain on urination, blood-stained and foul-smelling urine. While antibiotics may typically be necessary, natural remedies for cystitis involve drinking cranberry juice, parsley tea and plenty of fluids.

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Unmasking Osteoporosis


One of the most important systems in the human body is the skeletal system. It protects important organs and gives the body a shape, making it indispensible. Our bones are designed to support us for an entire lifetime. But today, osteoporosis is on the rise, affecting the young and old alike, age not discriminating, and shortening the life span of our bones.

With any popular medical condition, abundant information breeds abundant myths. Needless to say, myths associated with osteoporosis are also in abundance. The only way to treat or prevent this condition is by debunking these myths, looking at the disease holistically and not in isolation and making amendments to improve bone health.

The Modern Day Definition Of Osteoporosis

Traditionally, osteoporosis has always been linked to a decline in bone mass. But is a decreased bone mass the only indicator of the disease? Maybe not! Research proves that more than 50% of people diagnosed with ‘osteoporotic bone’ never fracture. Statistics have shown that people with less intake of calcium in their diets don’t necessarily develop osteoporosis. This brings us to understand the most applicable definition of osteoporosis in the modern day. Osteoporosis may be defined as a skeletal disorder characterised by decreased bone strength and quality, predisposing a person to an increased risk of fracture. Architectural deterioration and poor self-repair mechanisms make bones very fragile and prone to osteoporosis.

Myths And Facts

Myth 1: Osteoporosis Is An Aging Woman’s Disease

Fact: It is true that bone loss accelerates with menopause, but osteoporosis takes years to develop and often begins at a young age. Bones begin building their density from infancy through early adulthood. Lifestyle preferences like lack of exercise, increased caffeine intake, lack of nourishment and chronic stress impair achieving maximum bone density. Diminished bone density males an individual prone to the disease. It is never too late to implement healthy lifestyle choices to prolong life of bones.

Myth 2: Consumption Of Dairy Products Prevents Osteoporosis

Fact: Calcium is undoubtedly required for bone strengthening. However, effective absorption of calcium depends on intake of bone building nutrients and other factors such as digestive health; rate of consumption of calcium depleting substances such as excess protein, salt, fat, sugar; use of drugs; stress etc. Therefore just adequate calcium intake without presence of other nutrients is not enough to prevent osteoporosis.

Myth 3: Low Bone Density Causes Osteoporosis

Fact: This isn’t always true. In persons undergoing fluoride treatment, the bone matrix often appears dense due to fluoride deposits, but this is hardly ever as strong as a calcium matrix. Medicine today recognises the absence of ‘self-repair’ mechanisms as the strongest indicator of osteoporosis. Bones are constantly undergoing breakdown and repair. Therefore presence of a self-repair mechanism is indispensible for a healthy bone and keeps bone disorders at bay. It is proven today that a woman with low bone density but strong self-repair capacity is not prone to osteoporosis, as one with strong bone density and poor self-repair capacity.

Myth 4: Oestrogen Supplementation Reduces Osteoporosis

Fact: Oestrogen increases calcium absorption in the gut and inhibits loss of calcium from bones. Therefore, women resort to oestrogen replacement to make up for its deficit during menopause and maintain healthy bones. But research has proven that oestrogen replacement only decreases bone loss but does not increase bone density. Moreover, oestrogen replacement increases a woman’s risk of breast and uterine cancer. One needs to understand that our body makes hormones strictly on a need basis. Laying more emphasis on other factors that promote calcium absorption post menopause will also help maintaining bone health.

Myth 5: Osteoporosis Is Hereditary

Fact: While family history does put an individual at a higher risk, not having a history doesn’t make you immune to it. Adopting healthy lifestyle practices at an early age like nutritious diet and exercise is a sure fire way to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.

For women, many factors like being post menopausal, never being pregnant to a full term, premature menopause, amenorrhea, lack of muscle mass when compared to men, makes them more susceptible to osteoporosis. This is perhaps one of the reasons why it is labelled as a ‘woman’s disease’. Whatever the reasons, taking early steps to prevent, halt or reverse osteoporosis by clearing up facts is beneficial.

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When Mom Needs a Break

maternal stress

Mothers today, whether they work or stay at home, are more stressed out than ever before. Due to the rise in nuclear families most mothers, both single and married, perform more domestic duties alone. This along with society’s changing expectations regarding “ideal motherhood” compounds the daily stress mothers face today. This maternal stress, combined with stress faced by working mothers, can be detrimental to one’s health and well-being.

Stressed Mothers More Likely to View Their Children as Being Difficult

A study from the Journal of Pediatric Psychology revealed that maternal stress is more likely to cause mothers to view their children as being temperamentally difficult. The study, led by Stephen J. Sheinkopf, was conducted at Bradley Hospital, Brown Medical School and Women & Infants’ Hospital and consisted of asking a group of mothers, some of whom had indulged in cocaine use during pregnancy, how temperamental they viewed their infants to be.

The result was that extremely stressed out mothers, regardless of whether they engaged in drug use or not, were more likely to view their babies as being temperamental. It also found that low socioeconomic status exacerbated maternal stress. Past studies have revealed that high maternal stress is related to children exhibiting poor behavior. In addition to its negative impact upon children, built up stress can cause long-term health problems for mothers, ranging from ulcers to depression and anxiety.

Some Mothers Rebel Against Standards for Ideal Motherhood

Society’s changing expectations regarding ideal motherhood further aggravate maternal stress. Modern mothers today are expected daily to handle the housework, plan and prepare meals, ferry the kids to and from school/after-school activities, be actively involved in the PTA, entertain kids, help them with homework, break up the kids’ fights, maintain bedtime routines, and/or work outside the home all at the same time primarily on their own.

On top of this today’s mothers are expected to live by the latest trends in childcare and household maintenance, which include things like exclusively breastfeeding, preparing health conscious meals, sustaining an eco-friendly home life, busying kids with lots of kid-friendly outings and activities, and so on. While living by these trends is admirable, it becomes difficult to maintain when mothers are stressed by their more mundane domestic duties.

In response to modern society’s enormous expectations, some mothers have decided to openly rebel against it. French philosopher and feminist Elizabeth Badinter claims that mothers today have become slaves to their children. In her new book Le Conflit, La Femme et la Mere (The Conflict, the Woman, and the Mother), Badinter states that women should value themselves as being women first, mothers second, by ditching the latest mothering trends, engaging in some intermittent freedom away from home, and going back to work if they haven’t already.

In Australia Amanda Cox, mother of three, has formed the Bad Mothers Club, where she and her fellow “bad” mothers commiserate over having given up in the race to become perfect parents.

Some Helpful Tips for Stressed Mothers

Mothers can significantly reduce maternal stress through the following solutions. First, mothers should learn to make a schedule every day listing all the chores they intend to do. Next they should categorize these chores based on discovering which chores need to be done right away, which can be done later, and which don’t need to be done at all. Mothers should then simply perform all the necessary chores they are capable of doing, thereby significantly lowering their daily stress levels.

Secondly, mothers should learn to delegate chores and responsibilities to others. This can mean having both fathers and older children help out more around the house. It can also mean hiring someone to help out, whether around the house like a housekeeper or around the children like a nanny or teenage babysitter. Mothers can also form Mommy Co-ops within their communities and swap services with friends and neighbors facing the same predicament of having too much to do with so little time.

Thirdly, mothers should learn not to take on too many chores and activities at once. If for example the local community group asks a mother to volunteer for them on their upcoming project and she does not have the time and energy for it, politely decline the offer.

Finally mothers should take time out intermittently to relax and unwind, whether through shopping with friends, spending a romantic weekend with one’s spouse, or simply getting a makeover. Regular exercise can also help to significantly reduce one’s stress levels.

Mothers Should Not Stress Themselves Out

In living up to today’s standards for ideal motherhood, mothers face incredible amounts of stress. Such stress can lead mothers to experience long-term health problems and regard their children as being difficult. Some mothers have started defying society’s high expectations; most mothers however can benefit from applying a few simple and effective tips for reducing stress.

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YAZ Potentially Unsafe Drug

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Women have been coming forward in increasing numbers in the last few months to file suit against Yasmin birth control, YAZ birth control, and the generic form Ocella. These contraceptives allegedly cause hyperkalemia and can lead to serious illness or death.

According to legal news sources, YAZ controls roughly 20% of the birth control pill market and is the most popular form of “the pill” in the United States. In the last year Bayer, which manufactures the YAZ and Yasmin pills, collected $1.8 billion in global sales off the products, making YAZ and Yasmin products the company’s highest-selling drug worldwide.

Serious Side Effects of Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella

While YAZ and Yasmin differ in dosage, they contain the same amount of drospirenone (DRSP), which is a synthetic progestin not found in other birth control pills. This compound allegedly elevates potassium, a condition also known as hyperkalemia.

Hyperkalemia can lead to disrupted heart rhythms and blood clots. Other side effects include stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, gallbladder disease, pancreatitis and even sudden death. Because YAZ and Yasmin are contraindicated for women over 35, these medical problems are more likely to occur in young women between the ages of 14 and 34, on whom Bayer has focused its advertising campaigns for YAZ.. The risks for women over the age of 35 are even higher.

FDA Warnings to Bayer

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has sent multiple warnings to Bayer about their promotion and manufacturing practices regarding YAZ.

One such letter, sent in October 2008, warns the company that their advertisements distract the viewer from the side effects of the pill and undermine allowing the viewer to take seriously the dangerous and even life-threatening risk factors in taking YAZ. It also argues that certain YAZ commercials overstated the value of the drug to cure acne, when in fact such results have not been clinically proven.

In August 2009, Bayer received another warning from the FDA regarding a manufacturing plant in Germany that makes the DRSP for YAZ and Yasmin. The company was warned that its laboratory controls were deficient and that impurities had been found in their work. At least eight batches of DRSP were tested with a method unapproved by the FDA and shipped for use into the United States.

What Women Using YAZ Can Do

Women currently taking YAZ, Yasmin or Ocella need to consider strongly whether the risks are worth the cost. Other birth control options do not contain DRSP.

Any woman who is on YAZ, Yasmin or Ocella or has been on it in the past and who is experiencing symptoms of cardiac problems, respiratory illness or any other recently-developed health problems should see a doctor as soon as possible to check for any serious side effects to the drug.

Many personal injury attorneys are prepared to represent women and their families in court who have suffered from the use of these popular contraceptives. Any woman who has been the victim of stroke, heart attack or other illnesses potentially caused by the drug is entitled to speak to an attorney and become aware of her rights. She should seek out a qualified firm that is already prepared to take YAZ-related cases.

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Understanding Perfume Allergies

perfume allergies

The difference between being “attractive” and having an “attractive personality” is that the latter is more than just good looks. Those with an “attractive personality” carry the right dose of confidence and high self-esteem, and are a perfect blend of “looking good” and “feeling good”. Perfumes are known to contribute to the ‘feel good’ factor. Just for this one reason, you find a lot of people dousing themselves in perfumes whether at work, social gatherings or even at home. However, there are some who are sensitive to perfumes and are known to have allergic reactions when exposed to certain fragrances.

What is “Perfume Allergy”?

Perfume allergy refers to the hyperactivity of the immune system due to agents present in certain fragrances which cause respiratory discomfort and eventually manifest as rash, nausea, vomiting, tingling of lips and even muscle and joint pain. Studies have proven that almost 1% of the population suffers from respiratory threats caused by allergens in perfumes and fragrances, sometimes even leading to asthma attack in severe cases. Perfume allergy is not limited to only those who wear it. Being in the presence of others wearing perfumes can also trigger an allergic reaction.

Classification of Perfume Allergy

According to experts, there are broadly three types of perfume allergies that are:

  1. Caused by direct contact with the allergen
  2. Caused by allergens in the air
  3. Caused by air borne particles of the perfume itself

In the first case, an allergic reaction often develops in the areas of application of the perfume. Classically, people with this type of allergy would first notice a skin rash or eczema of the armpits upon using a deodorant. However, this is the easiest to deal with and simply identifying and avoiding the use of certain fragrances can stop allergy.

In the second type, the allergic reaction is usually situational and is caused by allergens present in the scents in the air. For example, being in a confined room with someone else wearing a perfume or walking past the fragrances section in a store triggers allergy. This however is short-lived and can be resolved by simply moving away from the source.

The third type of allergy can be serious as it means extreme sensitivity to airborne particles of the perfume. Such individuals are prone to an allergic attack on a daily basis. Common symptoms of an acute case of perfume allergy are dizziness, vomiting, chest congestion, sore throat, asthma or even passing out.

“Perfume” and “Fragrance”- What’s The Difference?

We often use the words “perfume” and “fragrance” synonymously. The truth is, perfumes are a complex mixture of multiple fragrances that work together to give a characteristic scent. Therefore when we say “perfume allergy”, it refers to an allergy caused by a certain fragrance present in the perfume.

Fragrances are present everywhere starting from cleaning products to soaps, lotions, room fresheners and tissues. It is best if one can identify the fragrance causing the allergy and stay away from it.

What You Can Do to Avoid an Allergic Reaction

It is a must to visit your physician for the slightest of sensitivity experienced due to perfumes or fragrances. Perfume allergy is known to get worse with continuous exposure to allergens, making it necessary to take adequate precaution to avoid complications. A patch test or blood test is mostly done to identify the allergen.

Read labels thoroughly and buy products that are “fragrance or perfume free”. If you are sure of a particular fragrance that bothers you, avoiding just that would be sufficient. Most often, all fragrances are listed by their chemical components and therefore being well versed with them is advisable. The following list of fragrance and its corresponding chemical component could be a handy tool:

  • Odor of Hyacinth- Cinnamic alcohol
  • Warm spicy odor with a taste of cinnamon- Cinnamic aldehyde
  • Powerful spicy odor of clove and a pungent taste- Eugenol
  • Odor of clove weaker than that of eugenol- Isoeugenol
  • Sweet floral odor of rose- Geraniol
  • Intense odor of jasmine- Alpha amyl cinnamic alcohol
  • Sweet fresh odor of lily of the valley- Hydroxycitronellal
  • Earthy, wooden, masculine odor- Oak moss absolute

Create an allergen free zone at your home. Use HPEA filters for your heating and cooling system; get HPEA vacuum cleaners and HPEA air purifiers for your room.

Trade carpeting, drapery and even upholstered furniture for stuff that won’t hold on to allergens in the air.

Some of the compounds listed above are also present in certain foods. Consult your doctor and see if you need to avoid consuming such foods.

It can be extremely challenging to live with perfume allergy. It is possible to take precaution at home, however it can get extremely risky when one ventures out. Taking timely medical advice and changing your lifestyle can effectively help manage the condition.

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Vitamin E Boosts Women’s Heart Health

Researchers have discovered that vitamin E is still a knock-down, steadfast antioxidant that promotes women’s heart health. Antioxidants are the healthy phytonutrients in plants that seek out and neutralize harmful free radicals. Left unfettered, free radicals can damage DNA and lead to early aging.

Vitamin E Supports Heart Health for Women

In 1993 a Harvard Medical School study of about 87,000 healthy, female nurses, ages 34 to 59, concluded that those who took vitamin E supplements for more than two years had a 41% reduced risk of heart disease. The New England Journal of Medicine reported this study on May 20, 1993.

The intriguing Women’s Health Study reported in the July 2005 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), of approximately 40,000 healthy women, found that half the women given 600 IU of natural vitamin E supplements on alternate days for 10 years had a 24% decline in heart disease deaths.

Amazing Results for Women Over 65

The Women’s Health Study, the longest and largest study of vitamin E supplementation, found a 34% reduction in heart attacks for women over 65 who took the natural vitamin E supplements (alpha-tocopherol). That age group also had a striking 49% reduction in heart disease deaths compared to the placebo group.

Vitamin E Supplementation Bias

Incredibly, the researchers noted in JAMA did not recommend vitamin E supplements for healthy, older women. Maret Traber, Ph.D., a vitamin E expert at the Linus Pauling Institute, believes the study result is a significant one for older women over age 65 because heart disease is their number one cause of death. More examples of vitamin E bias (in the treatment of lung cancer) with both food and supplements, and selective media reporting, are here.

Vitamin E Food Choices

Most people do not get enough of this potent vitamin in their diet. Fortified cereals, almonds, sunflower seeds and leafy greens are top choices for vitamin E. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin E is 23 IU (about 15 mg) which is the minimum amount that avoids a deficiency. Many experts suggest a daily maintenance value – 400 IU. Most multivitamins contain varying amounts of vitamin E.

Women, Heart Health and Research

Research backs up vitamin E supplementation support for a 41% decreased risk of heart disease in presently-healthy, middle-aged and older women. Healthy women over 65 had a 34% less risk of heart attacks and a 49% lowered risk of heart disease deaths. The key point to a possible decreased risk of heart disease is to consider taking vitamin E supplements while still healthy. It is important to take charge of your own health, and determine the truth in an era of possible media manipulation and supplementation bias.

Vitamin E can act as a blood thinner; always seek the advice of your health care provider, especially if taking prescription drugs. This article is for educational purposes only.

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The Facts About Lyrica®


Lyrica®, also called pregabalin, is a prescription anti-seizure medication. It may also be called an anticonvulsant or anti-epileptic drug. This medication works by slowing down the brain impulses that cause seizures, and also affects the chemicals the brain produces to send pain signals. While Lyrica® is prescribed to treat patients who have seizures, it is also used to treat Fibromyalgia, and pain caused by diabetic neuropathy and herpes zoster.

Lyrica® Warnings

It is important to note that patients should continue to take Lyrica® even if they feel well. Stopping this medication suddenly may cause an increase in seizure activity, seizures to become worse, and withdrawal symptoms such as headache, sleep problems, and diarrhea. Consult a physician regarding how to safely stop taking Lyrica®.

If a patient is taking Lyrica®, a card or medical ID bracelet stating so should be with the patient at all times. Doctors, emergency medical teams, and any other medical providers need to be made aware that the patient is taking this medication.

Lyrica® has caused suicidal thoughts in some patients. Make sure that regular appointments are kept with the prescribing physician, as the physician will monitor mood and check emotional health during these appointments.

Special dosage or tests may be required for those who have congestive heart failure, diabetes or kidney disease to safely take Lyrica®. The physician needs to be made aware if the patient has any of these conditions.

Lyrica® should not be used when trying to become pregnant or while pregnant. This medication may be harmful to the unborn child, and if the father is taking the medication, the child may have birth defects. A patient that is taking Lyrica® should discuss this and birth control options if there is a risk of pregnancy.

Do not drink alcohol with Lyrica®. Alcohol can potentially increase side effects of the medication.

Lyrica® Side Effects

If signs of an allergic reaction are experienced, get emergency medical attention immediately. These signs include swelling of the face or lips, hives and difficulty breathing.

If the patient feels or exhibits signs of the following symptoms contact the prescribing physician immediately. These signs are:

  • Mood or behavior changes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling agitated, hostile, restless or hyperactive
  • Have thoughts of suicide or hurting oneself

The following serious side effects have been reported with Lyrica®:

  • Muscle pain, weakness, or tenderness
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Swelling of the hands or feet
  • Rapid weight gain

If any of these symptoms are experienced, the physician should be contacted as soon as possible. Do not stop taking Lyrica® without first speaking to a physician.

The following more common side effects have also been reported:

  • Dizziness or drowsiness
  • Mild anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Problems with concentration and memory
  • Dry mouth
  • Skin rash
  • itching
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Increased appetite
  • Joint or muscle pain

Remember that Lyrica® has been prescribed because the physician felt the benefits of the medication outweighed the side effects. If any symptom becomes intolerable, contact the prescribing physician.

Lyrica® Drug Interactions

Taking Lyrica® with cold medicine, allergy medicine, narcotic pain medication, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers or any other seizure medicines will increase drowsiness and dizziness. Do not operate heavy machinery, drive, or perform any task that requires alertness while taking Lyrica® and one of the above types of medications.

No specific drug interactions have been reported by the FDA regarding Lyrica®.

Not all side effects or drug interactions may have been reported. If side effects not mentioned here are experienced or if a drug interaction is suspected, contact the prescribing physician or a pharmacist for assistance.

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What is Osteopenia?


Defined for the first time in 1994 by the World Health Organization (WHO), osteopenia refers to an early state of bone loss where a person’s bone mineral density (BMD)-a measurement that determines bone density and strength-is lower than normal peak BMD, but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis.

A diagnosis of osteopenia means that there is a greater risk for developing osteoporosis later on, but not everyone diagnosed with osteopenia develops osteoporosis. As a result, the medical community does not view osteopenia as a disease, but as a potential marker for further bone loss and fracture.

What Causes Osteopenia?

Several factors lead to a diagnosis of osteopenia, but it is important to note that both men and women naturally lose bone density as they age because the body reabsorbs bone cells faster than it can make new bone. This process makes bones weaker and more susceptible to fracture because it robs them of minerals, mass and structure. All people start losing bone mass after they reach peak bone mineral density at about age 30. The stronger and thicker your bones are by age 30, the better off your long-term prognosis is for healthy bones later in life.

That said, some people are more prone to osteopenia than others. Women are more likely than men to develop osteopenia because they have lower bone densities, and the loss of bone mass speeds up as women reach menopause and experience numerous hormonal changes. Moreover, some people diagnosed with osteopenia may not have bone loss-they may just naturally have a lower bone density.

Aside from the natural aging process and the subsequent loss of bone density, some factors can directly contribute to osteopenia:

  • eating disorders or metabolism problems that rob the body of essential vitamins and minerals
  • chemotherapy or medications such as steroids
  • exposure to radiation
  • family history of osteoporosis
  • being white (Caucasian), or, to a lesser degree, being Asian
  • being thin
  • being bedridden or inactive for a long period of time
  • smoking
  • drinking excessively
  • having a diet low in calcium and vitamin D

How is Osteopenia Diagnosed and Treated?

Osteopenia is diagnosed with the use of a bone mineral density test, typically a DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan. A diagnosis of osteopenia is confirmed when bone density measurements are between one standard deviation and two and a half standard deviations below the bone density of a normal young adult. The standard deviations for osteopenia are generally referred to as “T-scores” between -1 and -2.5. Osteoporosis is defined as a T-score below -2.5.

The World Health Organization recommends that women over the age of 65 and men over the age of 70 be screened for osteopenia and osteoporosis. Men and women who have more than one risk factor (e.g. an eating disorder or alcohol addiction) should be screened earlier.

While treating osteopenia with drugs like bisphosphonates remains controversial, people diagnosed with osteopenia can slow further bone loss with the following lifestyle changes:

  • eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and calcium-enriched foods
  • supplementing diet with calcium and vitamin D
  • performing weigh-bearing exercises such as walking, hiking, jogging and resistance training
  • quitting smoking
  • avoiding excessive use of alcohol and cola

Whether you are over 30 or in your mid-60s, it is never too late to make lifestyle changes. A balanced diet and plenty of exercise today can mean slower bone loss tomorrow.

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What is PCOS?


PCOS is a syndrome, not officially a disease, although some medical professionals consider it a disease and are actively campaigning for it to be recognized as such. Women with PCOS produce increased levels of androgens, or male hormones, and the ovaries contain tiny cysts that don’t go away causing absent periods. While there is no known cause or cure, the syndrome is manageable and millions of women have erased their symptoms with the help of medical research and health professionals.

Women with PCOS are usually misdiagnosed with other diseases or conditions before discovering they have the syndrome; from Hashimoto’s (Thyroid) disease, to pre-diabetes, and on and on. In fact, most doctors will not diagnose PCOS until all other possible conditions have been eliminated, according to an interview with Dr. Vivian Lin, an OB-GYN in California who not only treats patients with PCOS, but who has also been diagnosed with the syndrome.

According to Dr. Lin, she can “almost tell just by looking at a patient that they have PCOS.” Many symptoms are often manifested in physical appearance:

  • quick and substantial weight gain
  • male-pattern hair thinning
  • excessive body hair growth
  • acne
  • skin tags

While these symptoms seem easy to spot, the distinguishing symptom — countless tiny cysts on both ovaries — is often not spotted until an ultrasound is administered. The ultrasound test is commonly used to diagnose women with PCOS since PCOS is also linked to infertility.

Treatments for PCOS

PCOS does not create an immediate and innate health risk on its own, but it can lead to debilitating diseases like type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease, as well as inherently causing infertility, which, for many couples, can be just as tragic. The first thing women can do after being diagnosed is to get their weight under control and back to a healthy level. This will usually restore their menstrual cycle to a normal rhythm and increases their chances of becoming pregnant. Some women gain as much as 40 pounds in a three month period, so this is no small feat, but it can be done through diet, exercise and a little help from your pharmacist.

Recently, PCOS has been linked to insulin resistance, whether one causes the other, or vice-versa, doctors aren’t certain, but they do know that “treating insulin resistance helps control symptoms of PCOS,” explains Dr. Lin. Insulin is a hormone that helps metabolize carbohydrates, lipids (fats), and proteins in the body. When the body becomes resistant to insulin, more and more is needed and produced to keep the same effects. When the body does not produce more insulin, it can’t metabolize the nutrients taken in (usually causing the rapid weight gain characteristic in PCOS patients). Insulin resistance is often treated with Metformin, also a diabetes medication. Dr. Lin, as well as her colleague, Dr. Brian Gray, have been prescribing Metformin to their PCOS patients for the past three years and it has successfully helped them reduce their weight and bring other symptoms to a more manageable level.

“Really, the key here is weight management. With PCOS, managing weight will manage your hormones and, in turn, all of the negative symptoms,” says Dr. Lin. How much weight loss is enough weight loss? Both doctors suggest losing 10% of the patient’s body weight, and Dr. Gray says “once your periods are back and they are at normal intervals, you know you’re on track.”

Living with PCOS

While PCOS can be debilitating with its effects — diabetes, infertility, high cholesterol, to name a few — its diagnosis doesn’t have to mean distress. Finding a doctor who knows about the disease and available treatments can help patients immensely, but plain and simple weight management can reverse the effects of this syndrome.

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Will Metformin Cause Gastrointestinal Problems?


The most common side affect of Metformin is diarrhea. Metformin may also cause nausea, upset stomach and gas. These side effects usually only occur during the first few weeks of taking Metformin. Of course, a few weeks can feel like an eternity to someone suffering from serious diarrhea and may cause many to stop using Metformin before realizing its benefits. If you can make it through these first few uncomfortable weeks, Metformin can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, increase fertility and help women with PCOS and/or insulin resistance lose weight. There are several steps you can take to reduce or eliminate the likelihood that you will suffer from diarrhea when you first begin taking Metformin.

Easy Methods to Prevent or Minimize Diarrhea Sometimes Caused by Metformin

Diarrhea is the most common side effect of Metformin. In one study, diarrhea occurred in 41% of the patients studied and caused 6% of those patients to drop out of the study. If you are one of the people who suffer from diarrhea or gastrointestinal problems related to Metformin, there are ways you can reduce or eliminate those problems. Your health care professional will determine the dosage and timing of Metformin that is right for you. However, the gastrointestinal side effects suffered by many people are shown to be much reduced where Metformin is started at the lowest dose, usually 500 mg a day, and then slowly increased to the recommended dosage. An extended release version of Metformin, Glucophage XR, is also now available and may help reduce gastrointestinal problems through a slow release process.

Diarrhea, nausea and upset stomach are also greatly reduced when Metformin is taken with a meal. This slows the release of the drug into your system.

It is important to reduce the amount of fats and sugars ingested while taking Metformin. In fact, consuming a diet high in fat or carbohydrates while taking Metformin can exacerbate gastrointestinal upset or diarrhea. People who take Metformin in conjunction with a low-carbohydrate diet find that any gastrointestinal upset is minimal. People who take Metformin in conjunction with a low-carbohydrate diet also lose more weight than those taking Metformin with no modifications in their diet.

If stomach upset and diarrhea persist, such symptoms can be treated with over the counter anti-diarrhea medications such as Imodium. Such medications will temporarily resolve these gastrointestinal problems during the time it takes your system to adjust to the Metformin. Fortunately, diarrhea and gastrointestinal upset related to Metformin usually only lasts a few weeks. If these conditions last longer and do not resolve with a modified diet, your health care practitioner may need to lower your dose.

If you are suffering from diarrhea, it is important to take steps to prevent or immediately resolve any resulting dehydration. Dehydration is one risk factor that may lead to a rare but serious side effect of Metformin, a condition called Lactic Acidosis.

Lactic Acidosis is a Rare but Serious Side Effect of Metformin

Lactic Acidosis is a condition resulting from the increase of lactic acid in the blood. This usually only happens to elderly people with kidney problems. For this reason, Metformin is not recommended for anyone over the age of 80 or anyone with kidney problems.

Other conditions also increase the chance of developing Lactic Acidosis including consumption of a large amount of alcohol (binge drinking for a short time or drinking on a regular basis), serious dehydration, liver problems, serious heart conditions including those being treated with heart failure medications, x-ray procedures that require injection of dyes or are scheduled for surgery. If you have any of these conditions or suspect that you might, talk to a health care practitioner about them before you begin taking Metformin.

If you have healthy kidneys and liver, the risk of developing Lactic Acidosis is very low. However, some symptoms of Lactic Acidosis include feeling very weak or tired, unusual muscle pain, difficulty breathing, feeling unusually cold, stomach discomfort, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, slow or irregular heartbeat. If you develop any of these symptoms while taking Metformin, stop taking it and contact your health care practitioner immediately. Lactic Acidosis is rare but potentially fatal and should be taken seriously.

Metformin Is The Miracle Drug For Women With PCOS

Metformin is the only drug currently available shown to address most of the symptoms of PCOS. It helps women lose weight, restore menstruation and ovulation and increase fertility, among other benefits. It has also proven helpful in resolving insulin resistance and preventing the onset of diabetes in women with PCOS. For these reasons, any woman who is struggling with diarrhea or gastrointestinal problems related to Metformin should carefully weigh the pros and cons of discontinuing the medication for this reason alone. This is especially true considering that most patients report that these symptoms resolve within a few weeks of beginning Metformin. Considering the overall benefits provided by Metformin to women with PCOS, a few weeks of gastrointestinal upset might not be such a big price to pay.

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