Chicken allergies

Chicken allergies

People with a chicken allergy may have an allergic reaction after eating chicken meat, or, sometimes, after their skin comes into contact with chicken feathers.

While fish and seafood are often the primary sources of food allergies, allergies to other types of meat are less common.

Most people with an allergy to chicken will notice mild symptoms and discomfort after eating or touching it. However, some people may develop severe reactions that require medical attention.

Chicken allergies and intolerances

People can have an allergy or intolerance to chicken meat or other chicken products, including feathers or eggs.

An allergy usually involves more generalized symptoms, such as swelling and rashes, while an intolerance involves digestive issues, such as diarrhea.

Another uncommon condition, known as bird-egg syndrome, occurs when a person eats undercooked or raw egg yolks or inhales feathers or particles from a chicken.

Are chicken allergies common?

Allergic reactions to chicken meat are rare. They can affect both adults and children. They are most often seen in adolescents, though may begin around preschool age.An allergy to chicken meat may occur as a primary allergy (a true allergy), or as a secondary allergy caused by cross-reactivity with another allergy, such as an allergy to eggs, though this is rare.

Symptoms of a chicken allergy

A chicken allergy can cause symptoms that range in severity. Since it is a rare condition, it is difficult to say what the most common reactions are.

However, people with chicken meat allergies or intolerance may experience the following symptoms after eating or coming into contact with chicken meat:

  • coughing or wheezing
  • red, irritated skin
  • hives
  • an inflamed or swollen throat
  • swollen tongue or lips
  • sneezing
  • nausea or vomiting
  • stomach cramps
  • diarrhea
  • a sore throat
  • swollen, watery eyes

In more severe cases, people may experience a dangerous allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • trouble breathing
  • heart palpitations
  • a racing heart
  • drop in blood pressure
  • loss of consciousness
  • wheezing

If a person experiences any of the above symptoms after eating cooked chicken or handling raw chicken, they should get medical attention immediately as anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition.

Can you be allergic to chicken but not eggs?

If a person has a primary allergy to chicken meat, it does not mean they will have an allergy to chicken eggs. In other cases, people may develop a secondary sensitivity to chicken meat as a result of other allergies, such as in bird-egg syndrome.

There are only a few reports of people with a chicken egg allergy and also a chicken meat allergy.

Doctors do not consider people with bird-egg syndrome to have a primary or true chicken meat allergy. These people experience an allergic reaction to a specific protein found in both egg yolks and chickens.

Managing chicken allergies

People with a chicken meat allergy should avoid any contact with raw or cooked chicken meat and unless told otherwise by their doctor, chicken products.

Although not always the case, some people may also need to avoid chicken eggs, especially raw or undercooked eggs. These are present in many products, such as raw cookie dough or batter. Always check the label.

In cases of accidental exposure, people can try over-the-counter antihistamines. Antihistamines can help stop the immune system from overreacting to the chicken.

Anyone experiencing a severe reaction should get medical attention immediately, and use an injectable epinephrine shot, often known by the brand name EpiPen.

Risk factors

A person with a chicken meat allergy may be allergic to other related substances.

People with chicken meat allergies may need to avoid eating some or all of the following:

  • chicken broth
  • other chicken products
  • geese
  • turkey
  • fish and shrimp
  • duck
  • partridge
  • pheasant
  • eggs

They may also need to avoid exposure to chicken feathers and other poultry, including domestic birds.

Some people may choose to avoid certain domestic products, such as feathered-filled pillows.

Some vaccinations, such as yellow fever, contain chicken protein. This can cause an allergic reaction if injected.

People with any food allergy should talk with their doctor about which specific things they need to avoid.

When to see a doctor

People should see their doctor if they experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction up to a couple of hours after eating chicken meat.

Even if the reaction is mild, a doctor can help a person figure out the cause of their symptoms, treat reactions, and plan ways to avoid future contact with allergens.

If a person experiences any of the signs of anaphylaxis, they will require immediate medical attention. After recovering, the person should make a follow-up appointment with their doctor. When a person experiences a severe reaction for the first time, a doctor will prescribe an EpiPen or similar injector.

Home remedies to clean your ears

How to clean your ears Methods to avoid Symptoms of earwax blockage? When to See a doctor? Takeaway tips

Earwax is how the body lubricates and protects the ear. People do not usually need to clean out their ears, but sometimes earwax and other debris can build up.

Earwax, or cerumen, leaves the body slowly. Chewing and moving the jaw pushes the earwax from the canal to the outer ear. When the earwax and dead skin it collects reaches the outer ear, it dries up and flakes off.

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (AAO–HNS), earwax has natural antibacterial properties that may help protect the ear from infections.

Cleaning the ear too often can lead to dry, itchy ears. Using an object, such as a cotton swab, for cleaning the earwax may actually push it back into the ear. Cleaning out earwax that is not causing any symptoms is not usually needed or recommended.

Still, there are times when a person may need to clean their ears if wax or debris has built up to the point that it causes symptoms, such as muffled hearing. In this article, learn how to clean your ears at home.

How to clean your ears

A person can use an irrigation kit to safely clean the ears.

The safest approach to cleaning ears is to visit a doctor or other healthcare professional, as they can use specialized instruments to remove any excessive earwax or debris safely.

These instruments may include:

  • a suction device
  • a spoon-like tool
  • forceps

A doctor can also help determine if other underlying health conditions may require attention.

If a person still wishes to clean their ears at home, they can try one of the following methods:

Using a damp cloth

A person can wet a cloth or paper towel with lukewarm water. After wringing out the excess, they can use the cloth to clean the outer areas of the ear.

It is never a good idea to insert an object into the ear.

Mineral oil or traditional ear drops

People can buy ear drops to use at home over the counter or online.

Alternatively, there are several solutions people can use as ear drops to loosen an earwax buildup and make it easier to remove.

Solution include:

  • baby oil
  • mineral oil
  • glycerin
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • carbamide peroxide

Irrigation

A person can buy an irrigation kit that uses plain water or a combination of water and saline solution, or they can visit a doctor for professional irrigation. They may want to use ear drops before irrigation. A variety of irrigation kits are available for purchase online.

To start the procedure, a person should warm up the water and ear drops to about body temperature before they apply them to avoid side effects, such as dizziness. However, people should take care not to make the solution too hot, as it may lead to a burn.

To irrigate the ear, a person uses a syringe and squirts the water or saline solution into the ear canal. They should let any ear drops applied before irrigation sit in the ear for about 15 to 30 minutes by keeping their head tilted to one side.

The AAO–HNS warn against certain individuals using irrigation. People should not use irrigation to clean their ears if they have:

  • holes in their eardrum
  • diabetes
  • eczema or other skin conditions in or near the ear
  • a weakened immune system
  • a tube in their eardrum

Methods to avoid

Avoid using cotton swabs to remove earwax.

One of the most common methods people use at home to clean their ears is cotton swabs. The risks of using cotton swabs include:

  • pushing earwax deeper into the ear
  • slowing down the natural process of earwax removal
  • injuring the eardrum
  • getting the swab stuck in the ear

Doctors and the United States Food and Drug Association (FDA) also warn against using earwax candles.

Cleaning the ear with earwax candles involves inserting a conical wax-coated cloth into the ear canal. The individual then lights the exposed end of the fabric so that it burns. This method can result in:

  • burns to the skin
  • a blockage of candle wax in the ear
  • fires in the home
  • holes in the membrane between the ear canal and middle ear
  • bleeding
  • a punctured eardrum

It is never a good idea to insert any object directly into the ear, as doing this can cause injuries and push earwax further down.

Cleaning the ears too often can remove wax that serves to protect them from bacteria and other debris.

Symptoms of earwax blockage

When earwax builds up in the ear, a person may experience some minor hearing loss and irritation in the ear.

People can also experience a sensation of fullness in the ear. In some cases, this may occur alongside an earache.

When to see a doctor

A doctor can diagnose ear infections and remove earwax blockages.

A person should see their doctor if they are experiencing an earwax blockage and do not feel comfortable using an at-home cleaning solution.

A person should also see their doctor if they have signs of an ear infection, such as:

  • pain in or around the ear
  • fluid draining from the ear
  • difficulty hearing

In addition to acute infections, a person should consult their doctor if they experience repeated blockages. The doctor can discuss ways to try to prevent this from happening. A person can schedule regular cleanings with their doctor to help keep their ears clean and free of any blockages.

Takeaway

Earwax serves an essential function by keeping the ears clean of debris and bacteria. In most cases, earwax will naturally leave the body without interference.

Having a doctor or another medical professional remove the excess wax is the safest and best way to clear a blockage.

For those interested in at-home solutions, there are several safe methods that do not involve the risk of inserting objects into the ears.

13 Habits to avoid during pregnancy

Most women can continue with their everyday activities during pregnancy and only need to make some minor lifestyle changes. The health and well-being of both the woman and the developing fetus are of primary concern during pregnancy, so it is best to avoid consuming certain foods and doing potentially risky activities.

1)Drinking alcohol

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, the alcohol crosses the placenta and can affect the fetus. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy may cause fetal alcohol syndrome.

A fetus that gets exposure to alcohol in the womb may develop a wide range of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. These disorders can cause the following health issues:

  • physical abnormalities
  • intellectual disabilities
  • behavioral problems
  • seizures
  • poor growth
  • developmental delays
  • reduced coordination and fine motor skills

2)Eating certain foods

It is common for pregnant women to avoid certain foods during pregnancy, either due to a change in their sense of smell or because the food makes them feel ill. However, there are some foods that all pregnant women should avoid eating. These include:

  • Lunch meat and deli salads: Deli meats and foods, such as premade chicken salad, may contain listeria. Listeria is a bacteria that can cross the placenta and may be deadly for the fetus.
  • Unpasteurized juice and dairy: As with deli meats, unpasteurized dairy products and juices can contain listeria and other bacteria that may cause food poisoning.
  • Some soft cheeses: Certain soft cheese may contain unpasteurized dairy, particularly imported soft cheeses, such as brie, feta, and queso blanco.
  • Fish high in mercury: Swordfish, shark, and mackerel are among the fish that contain high levels of mercury. According to March of Dimes, exposing the fetus to mercury may cause brain damage or hearing and vision problems.
  • Raw meat and fish: Raw meat and fish, including sushi and raw oysters, can contain both salmonella and toxoplasmosis. Pregnant women have an increased risk of getting foodborne illness from these pathogens. Foodborne illness may cause dehydration, fever, and intrauterine sepsis, a blood infection that can be deadly to the fetus.
  • Raw eggs: Raw eggs can also contain salmonella. Pregnant women should avoid any foods that may contain raw eggs, such as unbaked cookie dough or homemade Caesar salad dressing.

3)Too much caffeine

In the same way as alcohol, caffeine can cross the placenta and affect the fetus.

While much of the data regarding pregnancy and caffeine consumption is inconclusive, research suggests that it is best to limit the intake of caffeine to 300 milligrams (mg) per day. Some experts believe that quantities greater than this can be harmful to the fetus and may increase the risk of pregnancy loss and low birth weight.

March of Dimes recommend that pregnant women consume no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day. This amounts to about 1.5 cups of coffee per day.

4)Hot tubs, saunas, and overheating

While relaxing in hot water may sound like an effective way to ease pregnancy discomfort, experts recommend avoiding hot tubs and saunas.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, hot tubs can cause hyperthermia, or abnormally high body temperature, which may lead to congenital abnormalities.

Additional activities that may cause the body temperature to rise too high include:

  • hot yoga or Pilates
  • sunbathing for too long
  • exposure to extreme heat
  • strenuous exercise
  • dehydration

5)Contact sports

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that pregnant women avoid contact sports, such as football or boxing.

Contact sports increase the risk of placental abruption, which is the premature separation of the placenta from the uterine wall. Placental abruption is a severe condition that can cause preterm birth, pregnancy loss, or stillbirth.

Pregnant women are also more prone to injury as hormonal changes in the body cause the ligaments to become looser.

6)Activities with a fall risk

After the first trimester, pregnant women should avoid any activity which carries the risk of falling, including skiing, ice-skating, and rock climbing.

During pregnancy, the center of gravity shifts as the belly expands, so even a minor fall may result in injuries.

7)Amusement park rides

Many amusement parks do not allow pregnant women on some rides, including roller coasters or any rides that may start or stop suddenly.

The jarring motion of these rides can cause placental abruption.

8)Changing a litter box

Pregnant women should avoid changing a litter box. Cleaning dirty litter boxes can put a person at risk of toxoplasmosis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if a pregnant woman passes toxoplasmosis to the fetus, the baby may develop severe symptoms, including:

  • blindness
  • intellectual disabilities
  • brain damage
  • eye damage

9)Heavy lifting

According to the American Pregnancy Association, pregnant women should avoid heavy lifting. For some women, lifting heavy objects can increase the risk of:

  • pulled muscles
  • hernias
  • low birth weight
  • preterm labor

10)Smoking

Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy can cause harm to both the woman and the baby. Aside from an increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer, smoking when pregnant can also cause the following problems during and after pregnancy:

  • premature birth
  • congenital abnormalities, such as cleft lip or cleft palate
  • sudden infant death syndrome
  • issues with the placenta

Women should stop smoking as soon as they know that they are pregnant and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Women who are struggling to quit smoking can talk to a doctor about the help and additional resources that are available.

11)Drugs

While illegal drug use is always dangerous, it can be even more harmful during pregnancy.

Using illegal drugs or misusing certain prescription drugs can cause a newborn to go through neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). A baby with NAS will go through substance withdrawal at birth.

Additionally, drug use can increase the risk of stillbirth, pregnancy loss, and congenital abnormalities.

12)Taking certain medications

Pregnant women should avoid some over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications while pregnant, as these can harm the fetus.

Doctors recommend avoiding the following medications while pregnant:

  • ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs 
  • most herbal remedies
  • ACE inhibitors
  • some cold medications during the first trimester
  • cold and flu medications that contain specific ingredients
  • some acne medications

A doctor or pharmacist can provide advice on which medications are safe to use and can often recommend alternatives if women can no longer take their regular medicines.

13)Some types of exercise

Although doctors recommend that most pregnant women exercise, certain types of exercise are not suitable during pregnancy.

Pregnant women should try to avoid exercise that involves:

  • bouncing, leaping, and jumping
  • sudden changes in direction
  • jarring or jerky movements
  • abdominal exercises on the back, such as situps, after the first trimester

Many exercises, such as walking, swimming, and squats, can be beneficial during pregnancy. It is best to speak to a doctor about any existing or new exercise routines.

 

Which fruits should you eat during pregnancy?

Making healthful food choices is crucial for women when they are pregnant. Their diet will provide the fetus with the nutrients essential for growth and development.

A nutritious diet plays an essential role in a person’s overall health, helping the body to function effectively and reducing the risk of some diseases.

Most people are aware that a healthful diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthful fats. However, they may not realize that specific fruits are particularly beneficial during pregnancy.

In this article, we explain why it is important to eat fruit during pregnancy. We also cover which fruits are best to eat during this time, and which types of fruit pregnant women may wish to avoid.

What are the benefits of eating fruit during pregnancy?

Fruits provide vitamins and nutrients that are essential during pregnancy.

Eating a healthful, varied diet is particularly important during pregnancy as the right nutrients can help the fetus to develop and grow as it should.

In addition to supporting the growing baby, an increased intake of vitamins and minerals can help a pregnant woman keep her own body in the best condition possible.

Eating plenty of fresh fruit during pregnancy can help to ensure that both the woman and baby remain healthy. Fresh fruit contains lots of essential vitamins and nutrients and is a good source of fiber too.

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The best fruits to eat during pregnancy

Snacking on fruit can be a great way to boost vitamin intake in addition to curbing sugar cravings.

1. Apricots

Apricots contain:

  • vitamins A, C, and E
  • calcium
  • iron
  • potassium
  • beta carotene
  • phosphorus
  • silicon

All of these nutrients help with the baby’s development and growth. Iron can prevent anemia and calcium helps bones and teeth grow strong.

2. Oranges

Oranges are an excellent source of:

  • folate
  • vitamin C
  • water

Oranges are great for keeping a person hydrated and healthy. Vitamin C can help prevent cell damage and assist with iron absorption.

Folate can help prevent neural tube defects, which can cause brain and spinal cord abnormalities in a baby. Neural tube defects can cause conditions such as spina bifida, where the spinal cord does not develop properly, and anencephaly, in which a large part of the brain and skull is missing.

3. Mangoes

Mangoes are rich in vitamins A and C.

One cup of chopped mango provides 100 percent of a person’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C and more than a third of their RDA of vitamin A.

A baby born with vitamin A deficiency may have lower immunity and a higher risk of postnatal complications, such as respiratory infections.

4. Pears

Pears provide lots of the following nutrients:

  • fiber
  • potassium
  • folate

Getting plenty of fiber in a pregnancy diet can help ease constipation, a common pregnancy symptom.

Potassium can benefit heart health for both the woman and baby. It also stimulates cell regeneration.

5. Pomegranates

Pomegranates can provide pregnant women with plenty of:

  • vitamin K
  • calcium
  • folate
  • iron
  • protein
  • fiber

Nutrient-dense pomegranates are also a good source of energy, and their high iron content helps prevent iron-deficiency.

Vitamin K is also essential for maintaining healthy bones.

Research suggests that drinking pomegranate juice may help to decrease the risk of injury to the placenta.

6. Avocados

Avocados are an excellent source of:

  • vitamins C, E, and K
  • monounsaturated fatty acids
  • fiber
  • B vitamins
  • potassium
  • copper

Avocados contain healthful fats that provide energy and help to prevent neural tube defects. They also boost the cells responsible for building the skin and brain tissues of the developing baby.

The potassium in avocados can provide relief from leg cramps, another symptom that is common during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester.

7. Guava

Guava contains vitamin E and folate, making it an ideal fruit to eat during pregnancy.

Guava is an excellent choice of fruit for people wanting more of the following nutrients:

  • vitamins C and E
  • polyphenols
  • carotenoids
  • isoflavonoids
  • folate

Guava contains a varied combination of nutrients, making it ideal for pregnant women. Eating guava during pregnancy can help to relax muscles, aid digestion, and reduce constipation.

8. Bananas

Bananas contain high levels of:

  • vitamin C
  • potassium
  • vitamin B-6
  • fiber

The high fiber content of bananas can help with pregnancy-related constipation, and there is some evidence to suggest that vitamin B-6 can help relieve nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy.

9. Grapes

Eating plenty of grapes can boost people’s intake of:

  • vitamins C and K
  • folate
  • antioxidants
  • fiber
  • organic acids
  • pectin

The nutrients in grapes can help to aid the biological changes that occur during pregnancy.

They contain immune-boosting antioxidants, such as flavonol, tannin, linalool, anthocyanins, and geraniol, which also help prevent infections.

10. Berries

Berries are a good source of:

  • vitamin C
  • healthy carbohydrates
  • antioxidants
  • fiber

Berries also contain lots of water, so they are an excellent source of hydration. Vitamin C helps with iron absorption and boosts the body’s immune system.

11. Apples

Apples are packed with nutrients to help a growing fetus, including:

  • vitamins A and C
  • fiber
  • potassium

One study found that eating apples while pregnant may reduce the likelihood of the baby developing asthma and allergies over time.

12. Dried Fruit

The following nutrients occur in dried fruit:

  • fiber
  • vitamins and minerals
  • energy

Dried fruit contains all the same nutrients as fresh fruit. Therefore, pregnant women can get their RDA of vitamins and minerals by eating portions of dried fruits that are smaller than the equivalent amount of fresh fruits.

However, it is important to remember that dried fruit can be high in sugar and does not contain the water content that fresh fruit does. This means that it does not aid digestion. Pregnant women should only eat dried fruits in moderation and should avoid candied fruits altogether.

It is best to eat dried fruits in addition to fresh fruits, rather than instead of them.

How much fruit should someone eat during pregnancy?

The advice for pregnant women is to eat at least five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables each day and to vary these as much as possible. Fruit can be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried.

As a general rule, a serving of fruit is:

  • one piece of fruit, for fruits that are larger than the size of a tennis ball
  • one cup of chopped fruit

Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables during pregnancy provides pregnant women with adequate nutrition to support their developing baby. It should also minimize the risk of certain diseases and defects and help to nourish the woman’s body.

Are there any fruits a person should avoid during pregnancy?

Fruit juice has a high sugar content.

There is no particular fruit that pregnant women should avoid. However, it is essential for women to be aware of portion size. Some fruits have a high sugar content, and certain forms of fruit, such as juices and dried fruits, are often significantly higher in sugar and calories than their fresh counterparts.

Buying organic fruit will ensure that it has not come into contact with fertilizers and pesticides that could damage its quality. However, if organic fruit is not an option, non-organic fruit is still better than eliminating fruit from the diet altogether.

It is important to remove any pesticides and bacteria that might be present on fruit by washing it thoroughly before eating it. People should take other safety precautions by:

  • removing areas of bruised fruit, which are more likely to contain bacteria
  • storing fruit in a separate area of the fridge to any raw meat products
  • avoiding precut melons
  • only drinking pasteurized or boiled fruit juice

Takeaway

Fruit is an excellent source of nutrients that are essential during pregnancy. Fruits can provide vitamins, folate, fiber, and more, which all help to keep the woman and baby healthy. These nutrients can also help to relieve some of the common symptoms of pregnancy.

Pregnant women should aim to consume at least five different portions of fruit and vegetables each day. The 12 fruits listed in this article are particularly good choices during pregnancy. Pregnant women should also limit their intake of dried fruits and fruit juices as these can be high in sugar and calories than fresh types.

What is juvenile psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis usually occurs in people who already have psoriasis. People with psoriatic arthritis experience symptoms of both the skin condition and arthritis.

When children and adolescents develop the condition, doctors diagnose them with juvenile psoriatic arthritis (JPsA).

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is an autoimmune disorder.

Medical experts believe that it develops when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells, causing them to grow too quickly. The cells then build up to form red patches of flaky, crusty skin.

The immune system can also attack a person’s joints and cause pain and inflammation.

Psoriasis affects up to 7.5 million people in the United States. Every year, doctors diagnose around 20,000 children aged under 10 years with the condition.

Research suggests that around one-third of the children or adolescents with psoriasis also develop arthritis.

Symptoms

Symptoms of JPsA can vary considerably among individuals, but they may include:

  • stiffness, pain, and swelling of one or more joints, often located in the fingers or toes
  • pitted nails
  • stiffness in the morning and reduced range of movement
  • fatigue
  • swelling, redness, and pain in the eyes
  • a red and sometimes itchy rash on the joints, scalp, face, and trunk

Causes and risk factors

The medical community does not fully understand what causes JPsA, but it believes that a combination of genetics and environmental triggers may be responsible.

However, a parent may not always pass on the condition to their child, and some people develop JPsA without having a family history of the condition.

Also, environmental factors may trigger the onset of JPsA or cause existing symptoms to flare up.

Possible triggers of psoriasis may include:

  • emotional stress
  • skin damage or injury
  • certain medications
  • some infections, such as strep throat and respiratory infections
  • dietary factors
  • allergies
  • certain types of weather

JPsA most often appears between the ages of 11 and 12. Girls are more likely to develop it when they are younger and boys when they are older.

Some research suggests that young people who are overweight or obese may have an increased risk of developing JPsA.

Diagnosis

Early diagnosis improves the chances of successful treatment and the prevention of joint damage and other complications.

A doctor specializing in pediatrics, a dermatologist, or a rheumatologist will begin by performing a physical examination.

They will also ask the parent or caregiver if there is a family history of psoriasis or arthritis.

If the young person has characteristic symptoms of psoriasis, such as the telltale rash, the diagnosis is usually straightforward.

Otherwise, the doctor can perform several diagnostic tests, such as:

  • Antinuclear antibody blood test. The presence of certain antibodies in the blood can point to autoimmune disorders, including JPsA.
  • MRI or X-ray. These imaging tests can detect damage to the bones or joints.
  • Uric acid test. A raised level of uric acid in the urine can indicate JPsA.
  • Eye exam. The doctor may perform a more detailed examination of the child’s eyes to look for signs of inflammation that can point to JPsA.

Treatment

Treatment for JPsA aims to relieve pain, reduce swelling, and prevent further damage to the joints.

Medications, dietary changes, and physical therapy can help.

A doctor may recommend:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). These include over-the-counter painkillers, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, and some prescription medications. NSAIDS can reduce inflammation, joint pain, and stiffness.
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). A doctor may prescribe these to relieve more severe symptoms. Corticosteroids and immunosuppressive drugs are some examples.
  • Biologics. A doctor prescribes these if a person with PsA has not responded to other drug therapies. Biologics are a protein-based drug that targets specific parts of the immune system.

Due to a lack of safety data, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved most DMARDs and biologics for use in children.

However, some doctors may still prescribe these drugs when JPsA is severe or difficult to treat.

Dietary changes can also help some people with JPsA. A doctor may recommend:

  • Nutritional supplementation. Adjusting the diet or taking supplements to boost the intake of vitamin D and calcium can help. These nutrients strengthen and otherwise support the health of the bones.
  • Trigger avoidance. Some foods may trigger symptoms, and avoiding them may help to prevent flare-ups. However, there is limited research in this area.

Physical therapies may include:

  • Exercise. Exercise can strengthen joints and increase flexibility, and it also supports overall health and well-being. A physiotherapist can advise about the best exercise plan for each child.
  • Occupational therapy. An occupational therapist can help to address any issues a child may have when performing everyday tasks.
  • Hydrotherapy. This involves exercising in a warm pool, and it can be a gentle way to strengthen joints and improve flexibility. A physiotherapist usually supervises these sessions.

If a psoriatic rash is present, the doctor may recommend topical treatments, such as moisturizers and steroid creams or ointments.

Light therapy, or phototherapy, can also help to treat this type of rash. Sessions involve exposing the skin to ultraviolet light. A dermatologist will usually carry out these sessions in a clinic or hospital.

The following lifestyle changes can also help to reduce symptoms of JPsA:

  • avoiding smoke from cigarettes and other tobacco products, as secondhand smoke can trigger flare-ups in some children
  • eating a healthful and balanced diet
  • maintaining a healthy weight

Neck Pain & Causes

Neck pain

It is common for people to experience pain in the right side of the neck. In most cases, the pain occurs due to a muscle strain or another benign cause. People can often treat their pain using home remedies and medications. However, for severe or prolonged neck pain, it is best to see a doctor.

The neck is a vital part of the human body, comprising spinal bones, muscles, and other tissue. Unlike some other crucial parts of the body, the neck is exposed and at risk of injury. The neck is also prone to straining because people move it constantly throughout the day.

It is also common for a person to experience pain in connected areas, such as the shoulders, back, jaw, and head.

In this article, we discuss nine common causes of pain in the right side of the neck, as well as treatment options and when to see a doctor.

Causes of pain in the right side of the neck

Some of the most common causes of pain in the right side of the neck include the following:

1. Degeneration or wear and tear

Gradual wear and tear may cause pain on the right side of the neck.

The vertebrae and discs in the neck will wear down with age. As they degenerate, a person may experience chronic, or persistent, pain in the neck.

Some medical conditions can also cause the vertebrae, discs, and other parts of the neck to break down.

These conditions may include:

  • inflammation
  • pinched nerves
  • cervical fractures
  • arthritis
  • cervical disc degeneration

2. Bad sleeping position

It is common to wake up feeling stiffness or pain in the shoulders, back, or neck.The sleeping position that people adopt, the number of pillows that they use, and the firmness of the mattress can all affect how they feel waking up in the morning.

Falling asleep with either a lack of support for the head or the neck out of alignment increases the likelihood of waking up with a sore neck.

3. Non-specific neck pain

In some cases, it is difficult to identify the exact cause of neck pain.

Neck pain without an apparent cause often results from a minor sprain or tear to the muscle tissue. This type of pain is the most common neck pain.

The pain can sometimes be due to poor posture. Holding the neck out of alignment for extended periods can strain the muscles.

This is particularly true when a person is bent forward over their work for several hours during the day.

4. Stress and anxiety

Stress may cause the muscles to tighten. People often talk about holding tension in their neck and back, and they may feel pain from the excess strain.

5. Sudden-onset or acute torticollis

Torticollis is a medical condition in which the head becomes twisted to one side. It can be very painful to try to straighten out the head. The cause of torticollis is not always known.

Doctors suspect that most cases are due to minor ligament or muscle sprains in the neck, although exposing the neck to cold temperatures for an extended period could also be a cause.

Torticollis often occurs overnight, meaning that a person will have no symptoms when they go to bed but will wake up unable to move their neck. In most cases, the pain will subside after a few days and movement will return to normal.

Occasionally, torticollis may be a symptom of a more severe health issue. Some potential underlying causes of torticollis include tumors, infections, and side effects from taking medications.

6. Brachial plexus injury

If the nerves connecting the spinal cord to the hands are damaged, it may cause neck pain.

The American Society for Surgery of the Hand define the brachial plexus as a collection of nerves that connect the spinal cord in the neck to the hands.

If an injury to the neck affects the brachial plexus, pain may also occur in the hand.

A common cause of injury to the brachial plexus is blunt force trauma, which can happen as a result of a sporting injury or car accident.

7. Whiplash or a sudden jolt to the neck

Whiplash describes an injury to the neck where the head jolts forward and then back into place very quickly.

The movement resembles the crack of a whip. People tend to think of whiplash in relation to car accidents, but it can also occur as a result of sporting activities and other sudden movements.

8. Cervical radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy, which people often refer to as a pinched nerve, occurs when irritation of the nerves originating in the spinal cord in the neck causes pain to radiate down the arm.

Although this can result in pain in the neck, the primary symptoms include:

  • numbness in the arms
  • pins and needles in the arms
  • pain or weakness in part of the arms

The two most common causes of cervical radiculopathy are cervical spondylosis, or neck arthritis, and a prolapsed disc.

9. Rare causes of right side neck pain

There are less common causes of neck pain that may be more severe. These may include:

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • cancer
  • serious injury
  • damage to the nerves, vertebrae, or spinal cord
  • infections
  • bone disorders

12 natural cough remedies tips 

Coughs play a role in clearing irritants and infections from the body, but persistent coughing can be annoying. The best treatment for a cough will depend on its underlying cause. There are many possible causes of coughs, including allergies, infections, and acid reflux.

Some natural remedies may help to relieve a cough. However, it is important to remember that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not monitor herbs and supplements, so people who use them may be at risk of using low-quality products and impurities.

You should also be aware that some herbs and supplements can interfere with medications, which may result in unwanted side effects.

If a cough is severe or persists for more than a few weeks, it is essential to seek medical advice.

1. Honey tea

A popular home remedy for coughs is mixing honey with warm water.

According to some research, honey may relieve coughs.

A study on treatments for nighttime coughing in children compared dark honey with the cough-suppressing medication dextromethorphan and with no treatment.

The researchers reported that honey provided the most significant relief from coughing, followed by dextromethorphan.

Although the benefits of honey over dextromethorphan were small, parents rated honey most favorably of all three interventions.

To use honey to treat a cough, mix 2 teaspoons (tsp) with warm water or an herbal tea. Drink this mixture once or twice a day. Do not give honey to children under 1 year of age.

2. Ginger

Ginger may ease a dry or asthmatic cough, as it has anti-inflammatory properties. It may also relieve nausea and pain. One study suggests that some anti-inflammatory compounds in ginger can relax membranes in the airways, which could reduce coughing. The researchers mainly studied the effects of ginger on human cells and animals, so more research is necessary.Brew up a soothing ginger tea by adding 20–40 grams (g) of fresh ginger slices to a cup of hot water. Allow to steep for a few minutes before drinking. Add honey or lemon juice to improve the taste and further soothe a cough.

Be aware that, in some cases, ginger tea can cause stomach upset or heartburn.

3. Fluids

Staying hydrated is vital for those with a cough or cold. Research indicates that drinking liquids at room temperature can alleviate a cough, runny nose, and sneezing.

However, people with additional symptoms of a cold or flu may benefit from warming up their beverages. The same study reports that hot beverages alleviate even more symptoms, including a sore throat, chills, and fatigue.

The symptom relief was immediate and remained for a continued period after finishing the hot beverage.

Hot beverages that may be comforting include:

  • clear broths
  • herbal teas
  • decaffeinated black tea
  • warm water
  • warm fruit juices

4. Steam

A wet cough, which is one that produces mucus or phlegm, may improve with steam. Take a hot shower or bath and allow the bathroom to fill with steam. Stay in this steam for a few minutes until symptoms subside. Drink a glass of water afterward to cool down and prevent dehydration.

Alternatively, make a steam bowl. To do this, fill a large bowl with hot water. Add herbs or essential oils, such as eucalyptus or rosemary, which may also relieve decongestion. Lean over the bowl and place a towel over the head. This traps the steam. Inhale the vapors for 5 minutes. If the steam feels hot on the skin, discontinue until the skin cools down.

5. Marshmallow root

Marshmallow root is an herb that has a long history of use as a treatment for coughs and sore throats. The herb can ease irritation resulting from coughing because of its high mucilage content. Mucilage is a thick, gluey substance that coats the throat.

One small study revealed that an herbal cough syrup containing marshmallow root, along with thyme and ivy, effectively relieved coughs resulting from common colds and respiratory tract infections. After 12 days of taking the syrup, 90 percent of the participants rated its effectiveness as good or very good.

Marshmallow root is also available as a dried herb or a bagged tea. Add hot water to either and then drink it immediately or allow it to cool first. The longer the marshmallow root steeps in the water, the more mucilage will be in the drink.

Side effects can include stomach upset, but it may be possible to counter this by drinking extra fluids.

6. Salt-water gargle

This simple remedy is one of the most effective for treating a sore throat and wet cough. Salt water reduces phlegm and mucus in the back of the throat which can lessen the need to cough.

Stir half a teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water until it dissolves. Allow the solution to cool slightly before using it to gargle. Let the mixture sit at the back of the throat for a few moments before spitting it out. Gargle with salt water several times each day until the cough improves.

Avoid giving salt water to younger children as they may not be able to gargle properly, and swallowing salt water can be dangerous.

7. Bromelain

Pineapples contain bromelain, which may help to treat a cough.

Bromelain is an enzyme that comes from pineapples. It is most plentiful in the core of the fruit.

Bromelain has anti-inflammatory properties and may also have mucolytic properties, which means that it can break down mucus and remove it from the body.

Some people drink pineapple juice daily to reduce mucus in the throat and suppress coughing. However, there may not be enough bromelain in the juice to relieve symptoms.

Bromelain supplements are available and may be more effective at relieving a cough. However, it is best to speak with a doctor before trying any new supplements.

It is possible to be allergic to bromelain, and this herb can also cause side effects and interact with medications. People who take blood thinners or specific antibiotics should not take bromelain.

8. Thyme

Thyme has both culinary and medicinal uses and is a common remedy for a cough, a sore throat, bronchitis, and digestive issues.

One study found that a cough syrup consisting of thyme and ivy leaves relieved coughing more effectively and more rapidly than a placebo syrup in people with acute bronchitis. Antioxidants in the plant may be responsible for its benefits.

To treat coughs using thyme, look for a cough syrup that contains this herb. Alternatively, make thyme tea by adding 2 tsp of dried thyme to a cup of hot water. Steep for 10 minutes before straining and drinking.

9. Dietary changes for acid reflux

Acid reflux is a common cause of a cough. Avoiding foods that can trigger acid reflux is one of the best ways to manage this condition and reduce the cough that accompanies it.

Every individual may have different reflux triggers that they need to avoid. People who are unsure of what causes their reflux can begin by eliminating the most common triggers from their diet and monitoring their symptoms.

The foods and beverages that most commonly trigger acid reflux include:

  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • chocolate
  • citrus foods
  • fried and fatty foods
  • garlic and onions
  • mint
  • spices and spicy foods
  • tomatoes and tomato-based products

10. Slippery elm

Native Americans traditionally used slippery elm bark to treat coughing and digestive issues. Slippery elm is similar to marshmallow root as it contains a high level of mucilage, which helps to soothe a sore throat and cough.

Make slippery elm tea by adding 1 tsp of the dried herb to a cup of hot water. Steep for at least 10 minutes before drinking. It is important to note that slippery elm can interfere with the absorption of medications.

11. N-acetylcysteine (NAC)

NAC is a supplement that comes from the amino acid L-cysteine. Taking a daily dose may lessen the frequency and severity of a wet cough by reducing mucus in the airways.

A meta-analysis of 13 studies suggests that NAC can significantly and consistently reduce symptoms in people with chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is a prolonged inflammation of the airways that causes mucus build-up, a cough, and other symptoms.

The researchers suggest a daily dose of 600 milligrams (mg) of NAC for people without airway obstruction, and up to 1,200 mg where there is an obstruction.

NAC can have severe side effects, including hives, swelling, fever, and difficulty breathing. Anyone considering this approach should speak to a doctor first.

12. Probiotics

Miso soup is rich in probiotics.

Probiotics do not directly relieve a cough, but they may boost the immune system by balancing the bacteria in the gut.

A superior immune system can help to fight off infections or allergens that may be causing the cough.

One type of probiotic, a bacteria called Lactobacillus, provides a modest benefit in preventing the common cold, according to research.

Supplements containing Lactobacillus and other probiotics are available at health stores and drug stores.

Some foods are also naturally rich in probiotics, including:

  • miso soup
  • natural yogurt
  • kimchi
  • sauerkraut

However, the number and diversity of probiotic units in foods can vary greatly. It may be best to take probiotic supplements in addition to eating probiotic-rich foods.

Tips to help prevent a cold

It is not always possible to avoid getting a cough, but the following tips can reduce the risk:

  • Avoiding contact with people who are sick: Maintain a safe distance from people who have a head cold, flu, or a cough.
  • Washing hands regularly: Use soap and warm water to remove bacteria and viruses from the skin. Teach children how to wash their hands properly. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer outside the home when necessary.
  • Using disinfectant: When a family member is ill, clean the kitchen and bathroom regularly with a disinfectant. Wash bedding, towels, and soft toys on a hot wash.
  • Staying hydrated: Drink enough water, herbal teas, and other beverages to avoid dehydration.
  • Reducing stress: Stress affects the immune system and increases the risk of getting sick. To alleviate stress, a person can exercise regularly, meditate, do deep breathing, and try progressive muscle relaxation techniques.
  • Getting enough sleep: Aim to sleep for 7–9 hours each night to stay fit and healthy.
  • Taking immune-boosting supplements: Consider taking zinc, vitamin C, and probiotics during cold and flu season to keep illness at bay.

Allergy symptoms can sometimes mimic those of a cold. Reduce allergy flare-ups by avoiding triggers such as pollen, dust mites, animal dander, and mold. See a doctor about getting allergy shots or medications.

When to see a doctor

See a doctor if the following symptoms accompany a cough:

  • foul-smelling green or yellow phlegm
  • chills
  • dehydration
  • fever over 102°F
  • fever that lasts for more than 3 days
  • weakness

Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department if a cough:

  • brings up blood
  • causes breathing difficulties

Symptoms of heart disease in men

Heart disease is one of the most common health problems that men face. By knowing some of the signs and symptoms of heart disease, they may be able to reduce their risk of developing serious complications, such as a heart attack.

Heart disease is a term referring to a range of heart health issues. These include:

  • coronary artery disease
  • arrhythmias
  • heart failure
  • angina
  • other heart-related irregularities, infections, and birth abnormalities

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease affects more than 1 in 3 men in the United States.

In some cases, a person may have evident signs of heart disease that are easily recognizable. It is possible, however, to develop heart disease without experiencing any noticeable symptoms.

Are symptoms different in men and women?

Men and women share many of the same symptoms for heart disease and heart attacks.

However, men are more likely to experience the well-known heart attack symptoms such as:

  • crushing chest pain
  • squeezing, discomfort, or fullness in the chest
  • pain in the arm, jaw, or back
  • shortness of breath
  • cold sweat
  • nausea

Women are less likely to experience crushing chest pain. They have a higher chance of having the following symptoms instead:

  • pain in the jaw, neck, or chest
  • feeling faint or lightheaded
  • squeezing on the upper back
  • fullness, pressure, or squeezing in the center of the chest

As a result, women are more likely to ignore their cardiac symptoms as it is less obvious that they relate specifically to the heart.

Signs of heart disease in men

In some cases, a heart attack or another severe heart-related event may be one of the earliest signs of heart disease that a man notices.

However, there are often some earlier symptoms and signs that they can look for, which may help to prevent a heart attack, stroke, or other complications of heart disease.

These include the following:

Symptoms of heart arrhythmias

Heart arrhythmias occur when the heart beats irregularly, or too quickly or slowly. Some symptoms to look for include:

  • fainting or dizziness
  • a sensation of the heart racing, or beating too slowly or irregularly
  • discomfort or pressure in the chest that can last for up to 30 minutes
  • difficulty catching the breath after moderate exercise such as walking up stairs
  • unexplained pain in the jaw, neck, or torso

Symptoms of blood vessel problems

Blood vessels can constrict or narrow over time. When this occurs, it is more difficult for blood to pass through the veins and arteries and this puts greater strain on the heart when it pumps.

Some early symptoms of narrowing blood vessels include:

  • shortness of breath
  • extreme fatigue
  • an irregular heartbeat
  • chest pain or angina
  • a feeling of pain, numbness, swelling, tingling, coldness, or weakness in the outer extremities

Diagnosis

Diagnosing heart disease often begins with a physical examination.

At “Vistasol Medical Group” during the examination, our doctor will discuss any symptoms that a person is experiencing and any risk factors they may have for developing heart disease.

After assessing a patient’s physical health, symptoms, and risk factors, a doctor may run several diagnostic tests to determine if a person has any form of heart disease.

Many doctors will order a stress test that looks at how the person and heart respond to moderate exercise. A doctor will monitor a person as they walk or run on a treadmill to gauge whether or not they are likely to have narrowing of the blood vessels.

A doctor may also use an MRI scan to check for blockages that could be causing a restriction in blood flow.

If they confirm a blockage, the doctor will need to determine its exact location. The method for this is invasive but should not be painful.

A cardiologist will use a long, thin tube to insert a dye into the blood vessels of the heart, in a procedure called cardiac catheterization. A radiologist will then take a series of X-ray images of the heart and arteries, called an angiogram.

9 Home remedies for Shingles

When adults have extremely itchy or painful lesions across their torso or face, the diagnosis may be shingles. It is essential that people with this condition visit a doctor for treatment, but some home remedies can help to relieve symptoms.

In the United States, there are up to one million estimated cases of shingles every year. Shingles refers to the reactivation of the dormant herpes varicella zoster virus after childhood. Aging, trauma, stress, or another illness can all activate the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend seeking medical advice as soon as any symptoms appear.

Natural remedies

Some of these remedies may relieve pain and itchiness and improve healing:

1. Essential oils

People have used essential oils as herbal remedies for many years, often for skin conditions.

Some essential oils have properties that may help with skin irritation and healing These oils include:

Chamomile oil, which has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and can improve ulcers and pressure sores by aiding skin-cell regeneration.

Eucalyptus oil, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can increase the speed at which cancer patients sores heal.

Tea tree oil, which has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and can promote wound healing.

2. Cold compresses

Holding cool cloths or compresses against the rash site may assist in relieving itchiness and reducing inflammation.

People can lightly soak a natural cotton cloth or towel with cool water and wring it out before placing it on sore, itchy areas. They can then repeat this as necessary.

It is also best not to expose the skin to extreme temperatures, so people should avoid using ice baths or very hot water. Hot water will increase blood flow and potentially slow down the healing of sores, whereas ice will increase skin sensitivity.

3. Witch hazel

Researchers believe that witch hazel is more effective than chamomile for reducing inflammation and itchiness in some individuals.

It is possible to purchase witch hazel in a variety of forms, the most common of which are creams or witch hazel water. Many witch hazel creams are available online (visit Vivoderm.com).

People can apply witch hazel topically to areas of irritation and inflammation to achieve relief.

4. Cool baths

Taking cool baths or showers every day, with minimal scrubbing, will help to keep sores and blisters clean and reduce the risk of infection.

Cool water should also relieve sore and itchy spots, helping to prevent scratching, which could cause scarring.

5. Oat baths

Some studies suggest that oat extract may moisten dry skin and soothe sensitive and inflamed skin.

The FDA have approved colloidal oatmeal as a safe and effective treatment. Colloidal oat products usually exclude oat protein to prevent allergic reactions.

The active ingredients that help reduce inflammation include flavonoids and saponins. People can use oat products in a cool bath to help relieve pain and itchiness.

6. Gentiana scabra

Researchers have found that Gentiana scabra, a blue or purple flower occurring throughout North America, has a positive effect on pain relief in shingles and decreases the likelihood of postherpetic neuralgia.

By reducing inflammation in the skin, Gentiana scabra minimizes pain and promotes healing. A reputable Chinese medicine practitioner can prepare the herbal formula by boiling the plant in water. People can then take the remedy orally

7. Diet

A healthful diet is vital for preventing and fighting illness.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating a varied diet comprising many vegetables, fruits, and whole-grains as well as legumes, nuts, and lean meats.

People should aim to include orange, red, and green foods that contain the carotenoids lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and provitamin A in their diet. Carotenoids are very important for immune function, and occur in the following foods:

  • orange foods: carrot, pumpkin, and apricot
  • red foods: watermelon, red pepper, grapefruit, and cherry
  • green foods: kale, parsley, spinach, melon, lettuce, and endive

Limiting trans and saturated fats, and avoiding added sugar and salt where possible can also reduce inflammation and improve immune function.

8. Vitamin supplements

Healthy individuals should not need to take supplements. However, individuals who are immune-compromised and over the age of 50 should consider supplementation to maintain good health and strong immunity.

There is a link between vitamin D and immune function. Many older people are at risk of low vitamin D levels, so they must ensure that they get sufficient sun exposure or take supplements to protect their immunity.

Taking vitamin C, zinc, and selenium supplements can also improve immunity in older adults.

However, taking high doses of vitamins and minerals can do more harm than good. Multivitamins, which contain lower and safer levels of many vitamins and minerals, are usually a better option.

9. Quit smoking

Smoking offers no health benefits and is always harmful. It is vital to quit smoking as it increases the risk of many cancers and diseases.

Smoking lowers immunity against infection, especially in older people, and can delay recovery and healing.

Edwin Smith surgical papyrus

7 things you didn’t know about your brain

The brain — the central “control unit” of our bodies, repository of memories and emotions. Throughout history, philosophers have believed that the brain may even house that intangible essence that makes us human: the soul. What should we know about our brains?

The main organ of the human nervous system, the brain manages most of our bodies activities and processes information received from both outside and inside the body and is the very seat of our emotions and cognitive abilities, including thought, long- and short-term memory, and decision-making.

The first mention of this organ was recorded in an Ancient Egyptian medical treatise known as the “Edwin Smith surgical papyrus,” after the man who discovered this document in the 1800s.

Since then, our understanding of the brain has expanded immeasurably, although still we contend with many mysteries surrounding this key organ.

In this Spotlight, we look at some of the most important facts we have uncovered about the brain — and some aspects that remain to be understood.

1. How big are our brains?

Brain size varies widely, depending largely on age, sex, and overall body mass. However, studies have suggested that the adult male brain weighs, on average, about 1,336 grams, whereas the adult female brain weighs around 1,198 grams.

In terms of dimensions, the human brain isn’t the largest. Of all mammals, the sperm whale — an underwater denizen weighing an impressive 35–45 tons — is known to have the biggest brain. But, of all the animals on Earth, human brains have the largest number of neurons, which are specialized cells that store and transmit information by electrical and chemical signals.Traditionally, it has been said that the human brain contains approximately 100 billion neurons, but recent investigations have questioned the veracity of that number. Instead, Brazilian neuroscientist has discovered that the number is closer to 86 billion neurons.

2. What makes a brain?

The human brain makes up, alongside the spinal chord, the central nervous system. The brain itself has three main parts:

The brain is globular in shape and made of soft tissue.

  • the brainstem, which, like a plant’s shoot, is elongated, and which connects the rest of the brain with the spinal chord
  • the cerebellum, which is located at the back of the brain and which is deeply involved in regulating movement, motor learning, and maintaining equilibrium
  • the cerebrum, which is the largest part of our brains and fills up most of the skull; it houses the cerebral cortex (that has a left and a right hemisphere separated by a long groove) and other, smaller structures, all of which are variously responsible for conscious thought, decision-making, memory and learning processes, communication, and perception of external and internal stimuli

Brains are made of soft tissue, which includes gray and white matter, containing the nerve cells, non-neuronal cells (which help to maintain neurons and brain health), and small blood vessels.

They have a high water content as well as a large amount (nearly 60 percent) of fat.

The brain of the modern-day human — Homo sapiens sapiens — is globular, unlike the brains of other early hominids, which were slightly elongated at the back. This shape, research suggests, may have developed in Homo sapiens about 40,000–50,000 years ago. 

3. How ‘hungry’ are our brains?

Despite the fact that the human brain is not a very large organ, its functioning requires a whole lot of energy.

“Although the [human] brain weighs only 2 percent of the body [mass], it alone uses 25 percent of all the energy that your body requires to run per day,” Herculano-Houzel explained in a presentation.

And why does the brain need so much “fuel?” Based on studies of rat models, some scientists have hypothesized that, while most of this energy is expended on maintaining ongoing thought and bodily processes, some of it is probably invested in the upkeep of brain cells’ health.

But, according to some researchers, at first sight, the brain, seemingly inexplicably, uses up a lot of energy during what is known as the “resting state,” when it is not involved in any specific, targeted activities.

According to James Kozloski, “Inactivity correlated networks appear even under anesthesia, and these areas have very high metabolic rates, tipping the brain’s energy budget toward a large investment in the organism’s doing nothing,” he writes.

But Kozloski’s hypothesis is that no large amount of energy is spent for no reason — so why does the brain seem to do it? In fact, he says, it doesn’t.

Energy spent “doing nothing,” he says, is actually put toward assembling a “map” of accumulating information and experiences that we can fall back on when making decisions in our day-to-day lives.

4. How much of our brains do we use?

One long-circulating myth has it that humans typically use only 10 percent of their brain capacity, suggesting that, if only we knew how to “hack into” the other 90 percent, we might be able to unlock amazing abilities.

The idea that we only use 10 percent of our brains is a myth. Actually, we use most of our brains pretty much all of the time.

While it remains unclear exactly where this myth originated and how it spread so speedily, the idea that we could somehow tap into as yet unclaimed brain power is certainly a very attractive one.

Still, nothing could be farther from the truth than this piece of urban lore. Just consider what we discussed above: even in a resting state, the brain is still active and requires energy.

Brain scans have shown that we use pretty much all of our brains all of the time, even when we’re asleep — though patterns of activity, and the intensity of that activity, might differ depending on what we’re doing and what state of wakefulness or sleep we’re in.

“Even when you’re engaged in a task and some neurons are engaged in that task, the rest of your brain is occupied doing other things, which is why, for example, the solution to a problem can emerge after you haven’t been thinking about it for a while, or after a night’s sleep, and that’s because your brain’s constantly active,” said neurologist Krish Sathian, who works at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

“If it were true that we only use 10 percent of the brain, then we could presumably sustain damage to 90 percent of our brain, with a stroke […] or something like that, and not [experience] any effects, and that’s clearly not true.”

Krish Sathian

5. Right- or left-brained?

Are you right-brained or left-brained? Any number of Internet quizzes will claim to be able to assess whether you predominantly use the right or left hemisphere of your brain.

And this has implications about your personality: allegedly, left-brained people are supposed to be more mathematically inclined and analytical, while right-brained people are more creative.

But how true is this? Once more the answer, I’m afraid, leans toward “not at all.” While it is true that each of our hemispheres has slightly different roles, individuals do not actually have a “dominant” brain side that governs their personality and abilities.

Instead, research has revealed that people use both of the brain hemispheres pretty much in equal measure.

However, what is true is that the left hemisphere of the brain is more concerned with the use of language, while the right hemisphere is applied more to the intricacies of nonverbal communication.

6. How do brains change with age?

As we age, parts of our brain begin to shrink naturally and we begin to gradually lose neurons. The frontal lobe and the hippocampus — two key brain regions in regulating cognitive processes, including memory formation and recall — start shrinking when we hit 60 or 70.

As we age, we begin to lose neurons. But new research suggests that adult brains can also generate new cells.

This means that we could naturally begin to find learning new things, or performing several tasks at the same time, more challenging than before.

There is some good news, as well, however. Till not too long ago, scientists used to believe that once we started to lose neurons, that would be it — we would be unable to create new brain cells and had to resign ourselves to that.

However, it turns out that this isn’t true. Researcher Sandrine Thuret, from King’s College London in the United Kingdom, has explained that the hippocampus is a crucial part in the adult brain in terms of generating new cells.

(And this makes sense if you consider that it plays an important role in processes of learning and memory.)

The process in which new nerve cells are created in the adult brain is called neurogenesis, and, according to Thuret, estimates suggest that an average adult human will produce “700 new neurons per day in the hippocampus.”

This, she suggests, means that when we reach middle age, we will have replaced all the neurons that we had in this brain region in the beginning of our lives with ones that we produced during adulthood.

7. Is perception ‘a controlled hallucination?’

A great mystery of the human brain is linked with consciousness and our perception of reality. The workings of consciousness have fascinated scientists and philosophers alike, and though we are slowly inching closer to an understanding of this phenomenon, much more still remains to be learned.

Anil Seth, a professor of cognitive and computational neuroscience from the University of Sussex in the U.K., who specializes in the study of consciousness, has suggested that this intriguing process is based on a sort of “controlled hallucination,” which our brains generate to make sense of the world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=17&v=lyu7v7nWzfo