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Know your triggers
Know your triggers
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Do you find that your head spends more time in your hands than upright on your shoulders? If your head often feels like a battleground, you’re not alone. More than eight million Brits suffer with migraines[i], and almost everyone can relate to the inconvenience of a headache.

At best, head pains can leave us feeling foggy and confused, at worse they can be debilitating migraines. Migraines not only feel very painful, but can also cause symptoms such as sickness, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light or noise[ii]. Other symptoms can include visual disturbances, dizziness and vertigo[iii].

The good news is that both headaches and migraines are often triggered by factors we can control, such as stress and the food we eat[iv].

Here are some of my simple tips to help keep you clear headed, and avoid the common migraine and headache triggers.
-    Dr Sarah Jarvis, practising GP, media medic and women’s health spokesperson

Eat for an easy life    

You may enjoy a cuppa and a chocolate bar come 3pm, but these can do more harm than good. Certain foods and drinks are well known headache and migraine triggers.  As well as chocolate, other foods such as ice-cream, cheese and citrus fruits are famed for their unforgiving headache-inducing qualities. Drinks to watch out for include alcohol and anything caffeinated[v]. At the other end of the spectrum, not eating regularly can also bring on migraines[vi].

One of the best ways to discover what’s causing your migraine or headache is to keep a migraine diary. This will help you spot patterns and deduce what might be your trigger. There are plenty of migraine diary templates available online, however you can find one available in both Excel and PDF format here:

Forecast your future

Sudden changes in weather can commonly trigger migraines and headaches[vii], and many people can experience some form of discomfort such as a ‘stuffy head’. You might find that high humidity, rapid changes in temperature or thunderstorms can bring them on.

Although we’d all love to be able to change the weather at will, it’s never going to be an option! But, you can be prepared. If troublesome looking weather is forecast make sure you have some treatment with you in advance [viii] . Beware of continually popping painkillers though, as if you take them more than twice a week, they can actually make your headaches worse[ix]. Opt for preventative treatments which treat the cause, rather than treating just the symptoms.

For migraine suffers, Imigran Recovery treats the cause of migraines, as it contains sumatriptan, which is a specific drug that constricts the blood vessels to stop the pain of migraine attacks [x]. You can get it over the counter at your pharmacy (after consulting with your pharmacist), so you can keep it in your bag just in case!

Don’t strain about it

Although almost all forms of exercise are good, and can help lessen the frequency or painfulness of headaches and migraines, strenuous exercise (including sex) can be a trigger.

To avoid this, stick to a regular exercise routine and keep away from exercises, such as lifting weights, which can cause strain[xi]. Yoga can be particularly helpful as it helps the body release tension and relax.

Find your Zen

Sudden changes in stress hormones cause rapid releases of neurotransmitters, causing blood vessels to constrict and dilate. This may be why you can get a tension headache, or migraine, when you are stressed, or when you quickly relax for the weekend[xii]!

Everyone has their own stress reliever, whether that’s meditation, a jog round the block or a relaxing bath (scented candles optional!). Stress levels can build up rapidly, so make sure you regularly relieve your tension throughout the week to help keep your mind calm and your moods steady. If you start feeling anxious, try taking a few deep breaths or a short walk[xiii].

Sit up straight

Hunching over your desk or a poor standing posture can cause even more tension to build up in the back, neck and shoulders. Not only is this a major culprit in causing back pain, but it could also trigger throbbing head pains. Always make sure you sit up straight, using a back support if necessary. Your chair should be adjusted so that your feet are flat on the floor, your back is supported, your screen is eye level and your wrists and forearms are straight, with your elbows to the side of your body[xiv]. Make sure you take regular breaks from your desk, even if it is just to get a glass of water!

For more serious problems with your posture, you could consider seeing a physiotherapist or Alexander technique practitioner.

Smell a rat

Certain smells or particularly heavy fragrances can trigger a headache or migraine.  If you start suffering shortly after doing housework, wearing a certain perfume or washing your hair, it could be the scent that is the problem. Avoid strong perfumes and use fragrance-free products as much as possible. Ensure that you have a good flow of air in a room, using a fan if you can’t open the windows.[xv]

Sleep well

Burning the candle at both ends, doesn’t just leave you a bit groggy, it can cause a headache or migraine attack. But it’s not just too little sleep that can be the problem, too much sleep also breaks a routine[xvi].

Try maintaining a regular sleeping pattern, even at weekends. If you have trouble with sleeping, avoid caffeine or exercising just before going to bed and try some simply relaxation techniques, such as conscious deep breathing.[xvii]

See the solution

Eye strain can commonly cause headaches, particularly if you spend a long time looking at computer screens. Other symptoms also include eye discomfort, headaches, itchy eyes and difficulty in focusing[xviii].

Make sure you regularly get your eyes tested and take regular breaks from computer screens. While thinking, try looking into the distance or out of a window.

[vi] Kelman L. Cephalalgia. 2007;27:394-402

Allergies And Asthma

Could Colds During Pregnancy Lead To Child As...
Studies suggest that mothers who catch a cold during pregnancy could be more likely to have children who develop asthma, as the bacteria and viruses affect the in-utero environment. Babies who are exposed to the allergens are more likely to become sensitive to them and this could affect them later in life, according to researchers. The new study, which examined the risk of the common cold to unborn children, shows that women who are pregnant should take extra precautions around people who have colds and are sneezing, as it could lead to problems for their children later in life. The mothers infections and bacterial exposure during the pregnancy leads to the environment in the womb being altered. Allergist Dr Mitch Grayson stated that in addition to this, the same children in the study who had early exposure to allergens, including house dust and pet hair, also had increased odds of becoming sensitive by the age of five. When dust mites from the mother and the child’s mattresses were analysed, children with high dust mite exposure yet low bacteria exposure were more likely to develop allergies to dust mites than those with low dust mite exposure and high bacteria exposure.   Researchers looked at 513 pregnant women in Germany, and their 526 children. The women completed questionnaires during the pregnancy, when the children were 3 and 12 months old, and then every year up until the children reached five years old. Of the families, 61 per cent of them had a parent with asthma, hay fever or atopic dermatitis. According to the ACAAI, asthma and allergies can be hereditary; if both parents have allergies, the child is as much as 75 per cent more likely to be allergic. If just one parent is allergic, or if a close relative has allergies, then the child has a 30 to 40 per cent chance of developing some form of allergy. This drops to just 10 to 15 per cent if neither parent has an allergy. Researchers claim that they now know for certain that allergies and asthma can develop in the womb, as genetics play an important factor in both diseases. However, this study sheds light on how the environment a mother creates during pregnancy can begin to affect the child before it’s even been born. Asthma is the most common potentially serious medical condition to complicate pregnancy, according to the ACAAI.   Asthma affects around 1 in 12 women during their childbearing years, and when women with asthma become pregnant, one third of the patients improve, one third get worse, and one third remain unchanged. Asthma is a serious condition which affects a number of people and has numerous triggers, including house mites, dust, pollen and pollution. As pollution and toxins in the air have increased over the years, the risk of developing respiratory diseases has also increased. There are ways to treat asthma and, depending on the severity of the condition, your child may require medication to maintain it. If you're concerned about the risk colds and asthma have to your baby, or think your child is developing symptoms of asthma, you should seek advice from your GP as soon as possible. As with any pregnancy, it's important to stay as healthy as possible, maintain a balanced diet which includes all the nutrients both you and your baby need, and get enough exercise; you should also avoid alcohol and smoking, to maintain good health for both you and your baby.
Could Second-Hand Smoke Be Damaging Your Chil...
A new study has found that the health concerns associated with the wellness and wellbeing of children who live with smokers could be more serious than previously thought. A shocking report shows that children who are exposed to cigarette smoke at home do not respond as well to asthma treatment as those who live with non-smoking parents in a non-smoking household.   Children who are regularly exposed to cigarette smoke had lower levels of an enzyme that helps them to respond to the main asthma treatments. This report was published in a journal called Chest recently.   This is bad news, as the number of children in the UK who have asthma is on the increase. Over a million children in this country are believed to be suffering from asthma, and they are most commonly treated by steroids and inhalers. For some patients, however, these treatments are not totally effective, leaving them unprotected from harm in the event of an attack.   It is now known that passive smoke can not only worsen the symptoms of asthma in children, but can actually impair their response to treatments in the form of inhaled steroids. It is not yet known how or why this effect occurs.   Researchers into the subject have found that children who have severe asthma, and parents who smoke at home, have a lower level of an enzyme called HDAC2, especially when compared like for like with children who do not have smoking parents.   This enzyme – HDAC2 – is required in the human body to help it benefit from steroids, and to allow them to exert their anti-inflammatory type effects over the symptoms of asthma.   To come to this conclusion, researchers looked at a group of 19 children who were suffering from severe asthma. Nine of the children in the group had a parent who smoked whilst ten of the children had parents who were non smokers.


Biomarker and microenvironmental strategies f...
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The use of noble metal particles to stain tumors and achieve optical contrast for biomedical applications has taken on a clinical dimension,1, 2 with applications that include optical hyperthermia to ablate cells and photoacoustic imaging of cancer. Obtaining plasmonic bands in the near-IR window to penetrate deeply into biological tissue is now possible by tailoring the shape and size of the particles used.3 As an example, gold nanorods exhibit excellent optical absorbance and stability4 and have a surface that can be modified with functional moieties that alter their biological profiles. When grafted with polyethylene glycol (that is, PEGylated), these nanorods are nontoxic to cells (noncytotoxic), have few interactions with blood plasma components and macrophages, and are, therefore, cleared slowly from the blood.5 This feature enables their passive accumulation in tumors that exhibit enhanced permeability and retention because of a ‘leaky’ vascular network and poor lymphatic drainage. In addition, using suitable ligands might strengthen this effect and enable active recognition of certain targets.     Choosing the right targets is critical. A common approach is to identify ‘fingerprints’ of the high metabolic activity of malignant cells, such as the overexpression of growth factor and folate receptors. However, these molecules are also broadly distributed in healthy tissue, making discrimination difficult. Instead, we have focused on antigens that are specific to certain diseases,6 such as CA125, which is a mucin (protein) recurring in ovarian, endometrial, fallopian tube, lung, breast, and gastrointestinal cancers. CA125 is also a standard biomarker for ovarian cancers; patients have an excessive amount of it in their blood serum. We showed that PEGylated gold nanorods modified with anti-CA125 antibodies exhibit high specificity for cells overexpressing CA125: see Figure 1(a,b). In addition, these particles are compatible with intravenous injection owing to their minimal interaction with blood plasma components, erythrocytes (red bood cells), and macrophages. Most of their ability to detect cells overexpressing CA125 is retained even in environments that might saturate the ligand, such as the blood plasma and ascites of mice with ovarian cancers.
Figure 1. (a–e) Cells exposed to different kinds of particles and then treated with silver enhancement to highlight their accumulation. (a) Colorectal carcinoma cells (not overexpressing the antigen CA125). (b) Ovarian cancer cells (overexpressing CA125). Both are exposed to particles conjugated with anti-CA125 antibodies. Breast cancer cells grown in (c) normal and (d) reduced oxygen conditions. These were exposed to particles modified with sulfonamides. (e) Macrophages treated with cationic particles. (f) Number of cationic particles (part.) per macrophage versus dosage of cationic particles. Au: Gold. μM: Micrometers.
    In most cases, identification of the correct targets is complicated both by the dissimilarities among malignant lesions and similarities between normal and malignant cells. Rather than consider individual cells, we looked at the differences between healthy and tumor microenvironments. The incoherent vascularization and high oxygen consumption of solid tumors often generates hypoxia (an environment of reduced oxygen levels). Hypoxic cells operate a metabolic switch to anaerobic glycolysis, which requires the expression of specific enzymes such as transmembrane isoforms of carbonic anhydrases.6 To recognize these enzymes, we terminated PEGylated gold nanorods with carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, including sulfonamide moieties.7 We found that these particles localized to carbonic anhydrase-expressing cells and delivered the sulfonamide treatment effectively, treating hypoxic cells both by alkalinization of their extracellular environment and by making the cells sensitive to optical excitation: see Figure 1(c,d). Moreover, we speculate that it might be possible to exploit heat diffusion to extend the hyperthermic effect from hypoxic to normoxic areas (those with normal oxygen levels) in a solid tumor.     With hyperthermic treatment potentially going beyond the lengthscale of the individual cells, it is possible to suggest alternatives for the delivery of contrast agents. One example is to transfer the pursuit of specificity from a molecular ligand to a cellular vehicle.7 A broad pool of growth factors, cytokines, and chemokines in the tumor microenvironment attract so-called tumor-associated macrophages that are often conditioned to support the malignant cells. We can recruit these macrophages to carry the particles to the tumor as a Trojan horse, which can infiltrate compartments normally protected from the bloodstream, such as the brain. To achieve this, we modified PEGylated gold nanorods with quaternary amines—producing a cationic profile—that imparted high affinity for plasmatic membranes and efficiency of cellular uptake. We found that these particles underwent massive accumulation in macrophages by endocytic pathways—see Figure 1(e,f)—without immediate effects on their viability and function. At present, we are investigating the preservation of the macrophages' motility and readiness to infiltrate malignant lesions.     In summary, we are exploring complementary pathways to deliver particles to tumors by the interplay of passive and active strategies. In pursuit of ideal targets and ligands, we have drawn biological inspiration, moving from the individual cells with their intrinsic anomalies to the cellular response, and finally the bodily response to the tumor microenvironment. At present, all these strategies show promise and the preference for one or the other might require a case-by-case decision. Our future work will focus on comparing all these opportunities in vivo and addressing ways to combine them.     This work is supported in part by the Project of the Health Board of the Tuscan Region NANOTREAT.
How to improve your life...
Go to Source   Allow me to share with you these wonderful insights by Randy Pausch, a 47 yrs old computer science lecturer from Mellon University. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2008.   Before he died he wrote a best-selling book entitled “The last lecture”.   In a letter to his wife and children, he wrote this beautiful “guide to a better life” for them to follow. May you be blessed by his insight.   Points on how to improve your life:   Personality:   1. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.   2. Avoid negative thoughts of things you cannot control, instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.   3. Don’t overdo; keep your limits.   4. Don’t take yourself so seriously; no one else does.   5. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.   6. Dream more while you are awake.   7. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.   8. Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner of his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.   9. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.   10. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.   11. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.   12. Realise that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.   13. Smile and laugh more.   14. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.   15. Call your family often.   16. Each day give something good to others.   17. Forgive everyone for everything.   18. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.   19. Try to make at least three people smile each day.   20. What other people think of you is none of your business.   21. Call your family often.   22. Each day give something good to others.   23. Forgive everyone for everything.   24. Put God first in anything and everything that you think, say and do.   25. God heals everything.   26. Do the right things.   27. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.   28. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.   29. The best is yet to come.   30. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.   31. You awake alive in the morning, thank God for it.   32. If you know God you will always be happy. So, be happy.   While you practice all of the above, share this knowledge with the people you love, people you school with, people you work with and people you live with. Not only will it enrich YOUR life, but also that of those around you.  


Can Yoghurt Be Connected To Lower Diabetes Ri...
The media is always claiming that certain ingredients can help us to maintain a healthy lifestyle and improve our wellbeing. The latest headlines state that yoghurt is key to beating diabetes; a claim based on a study which associates dairy with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The study found that the risk of diabetes was significantly lowered by as much as 28 per cent in people who ate large amounts of low-fat yoghurt, compared to people who ate none at all. The results were similar in people who ate more of all low-fat fermented products, including cottage cheese and fromage frais. The study was based on people using food diaries to report their dairy intake around the time of eating, which is one of the best ways to gauge the success of a trial rather than asking people to recall what they’ve eaten throughout the day - it tends to be more accurate. The diaries were only used over a seven-day period (which isn’t a long enough to provide an accurate assessment of whether yoghurt can help with diabetes risks). It’s not currently clear whether fermented low-fat dairy products can help to prevent diabetes, but it is a theory researchers are keen to investigate. There are a number of steps you can take to lower your risk of developing diabetes though, such as regular exercise, eating a balanced healthy diet, quitting smoking and lowering your alcohol intake. It’s also important to note the sugar levels in the foods you eat, as these can contribute towards developing not just diabetes but also obesity. If you're concerned about your diet or weight, it's important to seek advice as this can contribute to a number of health concerns, in addition to diabetes, such as heart problems and certain cancers.   The study was carried out by the University of Cambridge, as part of a larger study funded by the Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK. Researchers discovered that people who ate the most low-fat fermented products were 24 per cent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who ate the least. The total dairy, high fat dairy, milk and cheese were not associated to the development of diabetes, nor was low-fat dairy. There are several limitations to this study which have led researchers to question whether or not yoghurt can actually help lower the risk of diabetes. Firstly, people’s reported dairy intake was only collected once, at baseline, over a seven-day period, so it’s possible that people’s diets didn’t stay the same during the 11 year follow-up period. Furthermore, the information was self-reported which could affect the reliability. Lastly, researchers didn’t take into account the dairy products included in cooking composite dishes. While there were attempts to take account of other factors, it is always possible that measured and unmeasured factors had an influence on the results. Further studies need to take place in order to know for certain whether fermented products can help to lower the risk of diabetes. The results do suggest that switching sugary snacks and meals for low-fat dairy products could help your overall health, as well as improving your diabetes prospects. Just be sure to choose low sugar varieties and to balance your diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, grains and lean protein to ensure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
The Foot Problems Associated With Diabetes...
Diabetes is a well-known health concern. It’s growing too – type 2 diabetes is one of the fastest growing conditions in the western world, and that’s thought to be due to increasingly bad diets that people have. The increased levels of fat and sugar are very bad for our blood and diabetes is the end result of this. Diabetes famously causes a number of serious health problems and many people worry a lot about it. It is common knowledge that diabetes puts you at risk of having other serious problems, but you may not know that it can be a real burden for your feet. Here is a breakdown of why diabetes can be bad for your feet.   One of the major problems with your feet when you have diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy. What happens when you have this is that you’ll begin to feel a lack of sensation in your feet and your legs. This is often accompanied by a tingling or burning sensation as well as pain and completely numbness in the affected area. The cause of this problem is actually nerve damage that has come about due to the effects of uncontrolled diabetes. The problem is that it leads to a whole range of other issues with your feet such as the inability to move it properly and this can clearly lead to problems walking or doing anything that involves your feet.   There is also another serious condition of the feet that manifests itself due to diabetes. It is called peripheral vascular disease, and it causes poor blood flow that affects the ability of sores or cuts on your feet to heal themselves. Your feet are actually very prone to this kind of problem due to the general wear and tear that daily life places upon them – and unfortunately the lack of ability to heal puts you at very serious risk of gangrene and ulcers.   Apart from these very serious issues with your feet, it’s true that diabetes can be a tertiary cause of other problems with your feet. While these will not be a very dangerous problem on their own, with the threats of diabetes that can develop, these less serious issues become something that could potentially cause you to require surgery or even amputation.   One major issue that you may not think to worry about is athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that can cause itchiness and the break of skin, as we have already seen that diabetic neuropathy is a huge problem with regards to broken skin, it’s easy to see how athlete’s foot can become a very problematic condition.   Aside from conditions like athlete’s foot there are many other smaller problems that we usually wouldn’t worry about that can be a serious issue if you have diabetes and the foot conditions associated with it. Even things as seemingly meaningless as corns, hard skin, dry skin, bunions and blisters can develop into quite horrible concerns for your health.   So how can you avoid these problems and retain a healthy and happy lifestyle despite your diabetes? The first point is that you should always remember to take care of your healthy generally and stay in control of your diabetes. Problems associated with diabetes can only become a concern when you neglect your health. It’s also important that you take care of your feet and check them every day for any potential problems. If you find any then it is essential that you visit your doctor as soon as possible so that you can be prescribed a treatment that will be effective.