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What You Need to Know About Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is one of the most misunderstood conditions, because it is often confused with food allergies, food intolerance or just being picky with food. But this autoimmune disease which affects 1 out of 100 people worldwide is a serious condition that damages the small intestine.

Causes of Celiac Disease

Most people with this condition are undiagnosed and later suffer from other medical conditions, such as intestinal lymphomas and gastrointestinal cancers, nervous system disorders, lactose intolerance, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, and gall bladder malfunction. Studies are still ongoing to determine the cause of the disease, but most doctors point to the genes as a determining factor.

When an individual with celiac disease eats food with gluten, the immune system will react by damaging the villi of the small intestine to prevent the absorption of the nutrients. Celiac, sometimes spelled coeliac, comes from the Greek word “koiliakos,” which means the “suffering in the bowels.”

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

There are over 300 symptoms of celiac disease which can vary among individuals, because these are determined by several factors, such as; the duration of breastfeeding as an infant, amount of gluten consumed and when the person started eating gluten, the age of the person, and the damage to the small intestine.

The most common symptoms include digestive problems such as diarrhea or constipation, bloating, and stomach pain. It is also often accompanied with joint pain. Children with this condition often have delayed puberty, damaged teeth enamel, slow growth, and short stature. The following symptoms might also be present: bone or joint pain, infertility, irregular periods, mouth problems, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, headaches, anxiety or depression, fatigue, and skin problems.

Diagnosis of Celiac Disease

Some of the symptoms of the disease are similar to signs of other medical conditions, so these must be eliminated through physical exams, dental exam, blood tests, intestinal and skin biopsy, and genetic tests. The blood tests will look for celiac disease antibodies, while the genetic test will check for the gene variants or changes that are linked to the disease.

The biopsies will remove samples from the small intestine and skin tissues to check for antibodies. These are necessary because it’s also possible to have other conditions related to the gastrointestinal tract such as irritable bowel syndrome, small intestine bacterial growth, microscopic colitis, lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, and pancreatic dysfunction.

Treatment of Celiac Disease

There is no cure for celiac disease yet, so doctors will recommend a gluten-free diet for the patient. Food made from wheat, barley, rye, and other variants and related species should be avoided to reduce the symptoms and to avoid further damages to the small intestine.

Other hidden sources of gluten such as malt flavoring, preservatives, stabilizers, and modified food starch should also be avoided. Moreover, you will also need to avoid non-food items and medication that possibly contain gluten, so you should never take medication, vitamins, supplements, and herbal products unless prescribed by a doctor.

4 Simple, Easy, and Cheap Ways You Can Treat Yourself

Treating yourself to something once in a while is great, but while you may think that it means splurging on something huge, this doesn’t always have to be the case – you can still enjoy yourself without breaking the bank to do so.

Here are a few simple and easy ways you can treat yourself after a long, hard day, or as a motivation to keep you working hard and achieve your goals without the expense:

1. Give yourself a few minutes to do nothing
When you’ve finally finished a task that’s been the centre of your attention for a long while, there’s always a joy that comes with finally seeing it through. Once you’ve finally seen the task to completion, be sure to give yourself a few minutes to do nothing.

This will not only give you the much-needed breathing room that’s crucial after every major task, but will also let you reboot your mind when you have to plan for something else.

This doesn’t just extend to office tasks, but also for your overall life plans – once you’re finally done filing out certain paperwork to get something you’ve been meaning to, a few deep breaths doing nothing will really help you out.

2. Take a shower and a nap
Once everything on your plate for the day or the week is done, the first thing you want to do is to physically and mentally unwind, and you can do that with a good shower and a nice, long nap.

This is also a good opportunity for you to change your sheets at home – there’s nothing quite like the smell and feel of fresh sheets coupled with a shower after a long day.

You can also choose to have an early night with this, especially if you’ve been working overtime on a particular task, and put off chores and other tasks until the morning after.

3. Do something small that you enjoy
Whether it’s having a go at your favourite bike trail or simply curling up with a good book at home, now’s the time to finally do it – especially when you have stacks of books piling up in your room that you’ve been meaning to read but never found the time.

If you prefer the outdoors, taking up your running shoes or your bike is also a great idea and a welcome break from the monotony of office life.

4. Take the day off
If you work a traditional 9-5 or 8-6 job, taking a vacation day just for yourself might just be what you need to unwind – and sometimes, the best thing that you can give yourself isn’t material possessions, but time.

How to Relieve Your Lower Back Pain after Sitting Too Much

Most people will experience back pain at least once in their life, and it’s essentially a guarantee since almost everyone will find themselves working long hours at a desk job at some point.

Back pain often triggers because of a lot of daily tasks accumulating pressure on your back. Because sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spine, nutrition and toxins don’t get transported properly because of this, which leads to the joints being damaged in the long run.

Here are a few, easy steps you can take to relieve your back pain, especially when you’re at work:

1. Understand the basics of posture.
Posture is how you hold your body, whether you’re standing up, sitting down, or performing different tasks. Correct alignment of vertebra, or spine, means that your posture is good, while a poor alignment of your spine means that your posture is bad.

This poor alignment can either be the result of a poor cervical and lumbar curve (which you get when you slouch), or a sharp and exaggerated spinal curve (which you get when you stand too stiffly).

Ideally, you want to sit straight on a chair with good lumbar (lower back) support, as this will take a lot of the weight and pressure off of your spinal column and vertebral bones.

2. Stand up every now and then.
If your work involves you sitting down for long periods of time, standing up every now and then can work wonders in reducing any discomfort you feel, especially if that pain is in your lower back.

Taking a short walk can also do a lot to not just get your mind off your back pain, but also to improve your mood with fresh air and a change of scenery for a few minutes.

This serves as a way for you to “reboot” your mind before going back to your tasks, even if it’s just going to the water cooler for a drink, or having a cup of coffee at work.

3. Do stretch exercises.
Stretching should also help you a lot, along with a few easy exercises you can do while you’re at your desk:

• Shoulder-blade squeeze – Start by sitting up straight in your chair with your hands rested on your thighs. From a resting position, with your shoulders down and your chin on level with the ground, slowly draw them back.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold while counting slowly to five. Relax and repeat.

• Arm-across-chest stretch – Raise either your right or left arm to shoulder level in front of you, and bend towards you while still staying level to the floor. Use the opposite hand and pull across your chest. Hold for twenty seconds. Do this to each arm in sets of three.

What the Heck are Boils?

You may have noticed a skin growth that looks similar to a pimple, but then it starts to grow bigger and feel more painful. Maybe that growth is a boil, or in medical terms, a furuncle. It’s a bacterial infection of the skin, specifically the hair follicles (hence, folliculitis), that can grow up to the size of a golf ball and looks like an oversized pimple.

How Boils Form
The boil is a deep infection that will look like it has several heads or it could also be a huge pimple with an abscess, which contains pus. They form when the naturally-occurring bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (other bacteria and fungi can also cause boils) enters a hair follicle wall or oil gland when there is an injury to the skin. This bacterium populates the armpits, between the legs, the area between the buttocks, and the nostrils, that’s why most boils also form in these areas. The bacteria will thrive in the hair follicle and that’s when the pus starts to accumulate, and the boil grows bigger within 10 days.

Sometimes a person with boils might experience fever due to the infection of the surrounding tissue called cellulitis. It’s also possible to have more than one boil or to have boils that appear as a group with several heads called carbuncle. These are symptoms of a more serious infection that needs immediate attention.

The boils are not caused by poor hygiene, but boils are also related to other medical conditions such as iron deficiency, anemia, diabetes, eczema, obesity, and immune deficiency. Athletes who share equipment and people who also live in poorly ventilated and tightly-packed areas (such as prisons) are also prone to having boils.

How to Get Rid of Boils
They look disgusting, alright, but before you laugh, you should get them treated to avoid complications such as blood or tissue sepsis, bone/heart/brain/spinal cord infection, abscesses in other organs, and scarring.

Boils are usually treated by drainage or incision and do not need oral medication. But for recurring boils and serious infections, the doctor might prescribe an antibiotic that you need to take for several weeks and an ointment or antiseptic that should be applied on the boils. You will also be advised to observe proper hygiene by using antibacterial or antiseptic soap for a week and to clean the skin with 70% isopropyl alcohol everyday for a week.

If you live with your family, they will also be advised to follow the same cleaning routine to stop the spread of the infection.

Some people will also need special antibiotics such as rifampicin and clindamycin. In severe cases like antibiotic resistance, a culture is recommended.

To prevent the recurrence of the infection, you will need to observe the following practices:

• Reduce weight if you are obese
• Quit or avoid smoking
• Wash your hands thoroughly several times a day
• Bathe everyday
• Avoid sharing of personal items such as towels
• Change your clothes everyday
• Taking iron supplements (if you’re iron-deficient)
• Decrease the sugar in your diet
• Practice proper wound care

Colour of Our Eyes Determine Alcoholism Risk  

 

They say that eyes are the windows of one soul. In the recent studies, it does not only tell one’s soul but possibly one’s diseases or risk. Let it be known that the colour of our eyes may determine alcoholism risk. This study is intriguing but it can be useful in alcohol dependency diagnosis not only here in Singapore but the whole world.

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According to the researchers of University of Vermont’s Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, people with light colour eyes (that is, blue, gray, green and light brown) may have higher risk of alcoholism than those with dark brown eyes.

Many Singaporeans are kind of skeptical about this but the researchers revealed their method. The study included 1, 263 respondents (Americans with European ancestry); the group is composed of 992 people identified with alcohol dependence and 271 who are not alcoholics. At the end of the study, researchers established that the degree of alcohol dependence is 54% higher among people with light coloured eyes than those with dark brown eyes.

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Their study further revealed that the occurrence of alcoholism is the highest for people with blue eyes – the rate is about 80%. Despite the discovery, the researchers still do not know the reasons about the link but they continue to examine it.

Aside from revealing alcohol dependency, the colour of the eyes can also reveal people’s risk of addiction, psychiatric illness and other behavioural problems. For a detailed discussion of the study, it can be read at the July issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics: Neuropsychiatric Generics (Part B).

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