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Kidney stones: causes, treatment and prevention

Kidney stones are also known as urolithiasis  or  nephrolithiasis. It is caused by the presence of stones  inside the kidneys or urinary tract which are the ureters or bladder. The  kidney stones  are composed of normal components in the urine. However, due to several reasons, the urine components become concentrated and solidified into fragments to form stones. The name of the stone is dependent on where the stones are formed and located (Kidney or bladder). Hence, it can be called either a kidney stone or bladder stone.

CAUSES 

Kidney stones can occur if  the urine is saturated with salts that can likely produce them, or because of the absence of the natural inhibitors of stone formation in the urine. 

Some other factors that causes formation of kidney stones are:

  • Dehydration or a decrease in urinary volume.
  • An rise in the urinary excretion of chemicals that hinders the dissolution of salts in the urine.

SYMPTOMS 

The symptoms that come with kidney stones depend on the size, composition and location of the stones in the urinary system. However, the presence of some stones show no symptoms and may go unnoticed.

Stones that do not cause symptoms can be discovered during a routine microscopic urine test. Contrarily, stones that cause pain are generally diagnosed by the symptoms of renal colic ,  discomfort in the lower back and groin or pain in the genital area, for no apparent reason.

Additionally, the microscopic urine analysis can reveal the presence of blood or pus, as well as small crystals in the urine.

Some of the visible symptoms are:

 1. Nephritic colic : Pain in the lumbar region or lower back that radiates towards the anterior abdomen and towards the genitals; It occurs as a result of  the blockage of the urine outlet from the kidney.

It is a periodic pain that could be associated with  nausea , vomiting , sweating and abdominal bloating .

2.  Hematuria : It occurs as a result of the damage caused by the stone in its passage through the urinary tract. It is characterized by blood in the urine. The blood in the urine ranges from very obvious to not visible at all.

3. Urine infections : Kidney stones could also cause frequent urinary infections or  cystitis .

PREVENTION 

One of the ways to prevent this condition is to avoid  excessive intake of phosphate, calcium, oxalate and purines .

In addition, there are other nutritional measures that can prevent this condition. such as

  •  increasing the intake of fluids , preferably water. Drinking enough water is one of the best ways to prevent kidney stones.
  • It is necessary to follow a low calorie diet with little salt, reducing animal proteins, sugar and alcohol . Chocolate, spinach,  tea, and most nuts are rich in oxalate, which can increase the risk of kidney stones. Hence, small quantities  should be consumed.

TYPES  OF KIDNEY STONES 

There are different types of stones depending on the composition of the stones. These most common types are:

Kidney stones.

1.Kidney stones formed by calcium oxalate : They are the most common forms of stones. They are made of calcium and organic acid. 

2.Kidney stones  made up of calcium phosphate:This form of kidney stone is mainly composed of calcium phosphate. This type of salt combines calcium and phosphorus .

3. Kidney stones made of  uric acid: Uric acid is a compound formed when the body breaks down substances called purines in the digestive system. These are found in some foods and drinks. Some food substances with high purine content include seafood, sweetened beverages, alcohol and organ meat. 

4. Kidney stones derived from protein breakdown  : These types of stones are the most common in childhood.

TREATMENTS 

95% of stones found in the ureter area of the kidney pass easily in about four weeks, depending on their size and position. 

Stones that could not be evacuated in about months require medical attention. The specialist will determine the most suitable treatment considering some factors, such as the frequency of colic episodes, impact on the urinary tract, etc.

Currently, between 90 and 95 percent of stones can be removed by simple procedures, such as  extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy , which consists of breaking the stones into small fragments that can pass out easily. Furthermore, endoscopic removal of stones by  ureteroscopy  (through the urinary ducts , urethra, bladder, etc.) is also very common.In special circumstances, larger stones causing an obstruction may require surgery to be removed.

CONCLUSION 

Kidney stones could be painful, but predominantly, they can be eliminated from the body without causing any symptom or damage to the body. However,  these stones may reappear  if the cause that led to their appearance is not treated.

In addition, the patient may be at risk of urinary tract infections or kidney damage, in the most severe cases if not treated properly. 

Who do kidney stones affect? Let’s discuss 

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health

meditation- a technique to improve the quality of sleep and reduce stress

Are you looking for ways to improve the quality of your sleep or reduce stress? Try meditation. Meditation has several health benefits. Meditation not only helps to recharge the batteries during the day, but also reduces stress.

What happens in sleep?

Quality sleep can be a real challenge, most especially as a result of ageing. Relaxation and recreation is very crucial for a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, sleep and meditation are two completely different states of consciousness . Hence, sleep cannot replace meditation and vice versa.  Sleep usually occurs when you are really tired. Whereas while meditating, you can intentionally give yourself a targeted and conscious break at any time  to reduce your stress levels.

After a busy day, the body uses a lot of energy to perform daily tasks. The energy needs to be replenished. Hence, we get tired and hungry so that we can refill our energy tank. Additionally, the body needs rest, this triggers the release of the sleep hormone known as melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced and secreted by the pineal gland. The pineal gland is located just above the middle of your brain. Melatonin is responsible for making us sleep deeply. During this deep sleep phase, also called the NREM sleep phase (non rapid eye movement), growth hormones are secreted from the anterior pituitary gland into the bloodstream, which stimulates the growth of body cells. 

The next phase is the REM phase (Rapid Eye Movement). The eyes move quickly while it is closed back and forth, during this phase.  Hence, its name-id eye movement phase. Body functions are mobilized and activated in the NEM phase, compared to the NREM  phase, where the body is immobilized. The brain works maximally and we are semi conscious during the REM phase. Furthermore, there is a high tendency to have dreams In the REM phase .The non-REM and REM phases of sleep alternate approximately every 90 minutes. We undergo these sleep cycles during sleep.we These sleep phases are necessary for us to have a restful sleep and feel refreshed.

Very little or no sleep causes body weakness,  restlessness,  bad mood and inability to concentrate. In extreme cases, lack of sleep can even lead to hallucinations. 

 

Importance of good Sleep

  • Regeneration of body cells occurs  during sleep. The growth of new cells and repair of damaged cells occurs during sleep. has been discovered that we spend around a third of our lives in bed due to sleep. 
  • Information recorded in the brain during the day is transferred from short term  memory to the long-term memory during sleep. 
  • Sleep energises the body system generally,  and also keeps us very active to function optimally during the day. 
  • Quality sleep also lowers blood pressure, strengthens the immune system, regulates the body system metabolism and ensures balance of hormonal secretions.

What is meditation?

Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity so as to achieve a mentally clear, calm and stable state of mind.

 Several types of meditation are practiced in many cultures and religions around the world such as spiritual meditation,  mindfulness meditation, movement meditation, visualization meditation  etc.

Moreover, pulse and blood pressure drops and the breath is deepened during meditation. This causes a calming effect on our nervous system. 

In a research study, a positive influence of meditation on the quality of sleep could be determined. 49 adults over 54 years of age were examined. The test subjects who meditated regularly showed fewer signs of insomnia, depression and fatigue than the control group after only six weeks. Additionally, researchers found that meditation can be as effective as psychotherapy or sleeping pills. Meditation also has several health benefits, some of which are;

The Health benefits of meditating

  • Meditation is a basic requirement for restful sleep. It  enables you to find peace within. 
  •  Meditation lowers  body stress, 
  • Meditation relieves the mind from emotional baggage and worrisome thoughts. This makes your sleep deeper and calmer.
  • Meditation reduces the risk of anxiety, depression or chronic fatigue, These are complaints that can arise from a lack of sleep.

How to meditate

 Meditation is very easy to learn . There are a number of different meditation techniques. Meditation basically has to do with mindfulness. It involves being totally with yourself and in the moment, no matter the thoughts and emotional state of your mind.

 A good starting point for meditation, especially for beginners, is to focus on your own breathing. If you feel your mind deviates from your breathing pattern, try and return your attention to your breath and focus on it.

5 Steps to meditation 

  • Choose a quiet place where you can meditate.
  • Choose a place where you can relax and sit down comfortably. You can choose to leave your eyes open or close.
  • Focus on your breath. Breathe in consciously and out again continuously. 
  • Concentrate on the flow of the thoughts running through your mind without judging or acting upon those thoughts.
  • A few minutes are enough for meditation daily, especially for starters. Gradually, You can increase the duration for meditation .

Furthermore, meditation does not improve sleep as quickly as a sleeping pill does, most especially at the onset of the meditation exercise. It takes a while to begin to see the result that comes with meditation. However, meditation is worth it as it is essential for our wellbeing. 

CONCLUSION

The health benefits of meditation, makes it highly beneficial for all individuals, regardless of their age, gender or ethnicity . A daily meditation routine is recommended regularly. Choose a convenient day and time for meditation  and be consistent  with it. This would help improve the quality of your sleep and reduce stress overtime as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

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health

EFFECTS OF ALCOHOLIC DRINKS ON YOUR BODY

 

Alcohol is an organic substance which is the intoxicating constituent of beer, spirits,  wine and other drinks. It is usually a colourless, flammable and volatile liquid. It is derived from fermenting sugar with yeast. Fermentation is a chemical process whereby the yeast acts on the sugar in the food substance to produce alcohol. There are different types of alcohol. However,  ethyl alcohol (ethanol) is used in beverages or alcoholic drinks. The effect of alcohol on the body begins few seconds  after you take the first sip of alcohol.

Alcohol also has its positive use. Moderate consumption of alcohol has the following benefits:

  • Taking alcoholic drinks ( Particularly red wine) in small amounts may reduce heart failure. Wine is rich in antioxidants which helps the body combat free radicals.
  • Moderate alcohol consumption can help prevent common cold
  • consumption of alcoholic drinks moderately also helps to reduce the chances of dementia. 
  •  It actually has a few nutritional benefits. Moreover, beer contains small amounts of some vitamins, minerals (iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, fluoride) .Meanwhile, wine has iron in it and is rich in antioxidants.

Below are the effects of alcohol on the body:

Negative effects of alcohol on the body 

1.Shrinking of the brain:

Long term exposure to alcohol causes the frontal lobes of the brain to shrink. It causes the cells of the brain to get smaller hence, shrinking the brain. The frontal lobe area of the brain is responsible for short term memory,  emotional control and other important roles of the brain. Shrinking of this area could result in forgetfulness, emotional instability and the inability to think clearly and make decisions. Additionally, a study revealed that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with decreased brain volume. 

  1. Slurred Speech 

Slurred speech is one of the first signs observed in an individual that has taken alcohol excessively. Moreover, alcohol reduces the transmission of signals between the brain and the body. Hence, production of speech, balancing and cordination of body movements becomes difficult.

  1. Inflammatory damage

Drinking alcohol excessively can cause the digestive enzymes produced from the pancreas,  to be activated abnormally. Usually, the pancreas produces insulin and other digestive enzymes, that helps the intestines digest food substances. However, excessive intake of alcohol alters this process. The build up of these enzymes and toxins  causes inflammation of the pancreas. Inflammation of the pancreas is known as pancreatitis. Over time, this causes the pancreas to produce insufficient amount of insulin, which could lead to diabetes eventually. 

Additionally, the liver is an organ in the body that helps to break down harmful substances and detoxify toxins in the body. Alcohol is one of the harmful substances that the liver breaks down. Heavy drinking makes the liver fatty and causes thicker, fibrous tissue build up overtime. This reduces blood flow to the liver .Hence, the liver cells begin to die off. Long term intake of alcohol increases the risk for liver inflammation and liver disease. Hence, making it difficult to detoxify toxins in the body. Therefore, toxins begin to accumulate in the body,  which is life threatening. Furthermore, The body of a woman is more likely to absorb alcohol and require time to process it compared to men. Hence, women are at a higher risk of developing alcoholic liver disease compared to men. A study also showed that chronic alcohol use leads to inflammation and organ damage eventually. 

  1. A weaker immune system

Alcohol weakens the immune system by reducing the number of white blood cells that the body should produce normally. Long term heavy drinkers are prone to several illnesses.

  1. Hormonal imbalance

Long term alcohol use could also throw your hormones off balance. In women,  it can alter your menstrual cycle which could cause problems getting pregnant. In men, it can make getting an erection difficult, lower sperm count and breast development. A review study had shown the effect of alcohol on the endocrine system. 

 

6.Thin bones and reduced muscle mass

Excessive intake of alcohol can throw off your calcium levels. Along with the hormone changes that alcohol triggers, that can keep your body from building new bones. Hence, the bones get thinner and more fragile, a condition called osteoporosis. Alcoholic drinks also reduces blood flow to your muscles and gets in the way of the proteins that build them up.This results in lower muscle mass and less strength over time. A research study revealed the negative effects of alcohol on the bone density. 

  1. Diarrhoea and heartburn

Alcohol irritates your small intestine and colon. Alcohol alters the normal speed that food moves through them. Hence, resulting in diarrhea. It also causes heartburn  – it relaxes the muscle that keeps acid out of your esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth and stomach. Heavy drinking also leads to bloating and gassiness.

  1. Increased stomach acid

Alcohol irritates the lining of your stomach and increases the secretion of your digestive juices . The build up of acid and alcohol causes you to get nauseated and you may throw up eventually. Moreover, Long term heavy drinking could result in painful sores called ulcers in your stomach. 

  1. Circulatory system

Alcoholic drinks affects your heart and lungs negatively. Heavy drinkers of alcohol have a higher risk of heart related diseases compared to non alcoholic individuals.  Alcohol causes heart muscles to droop and stretch over time. Hence, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood properly.

Furthermore, women who consume alcohol have the tendency to develop heart disease compared to men who consume alcohol. 

Circulatory system complications caused by alcohol include:

  • Heart disease 
  • Stroke 
  • Heart failure 
  • High blood pressure.

Conclusion

Alcohol should be consumed moderately. Drinking small amounts of alcohol may have positive effects on the health. However  excessive consumption of alcohol and alcohol addiction have several negative effects on both physical and mental health of the individual. Therefore, it’s  best to avoid it as much as possible or taken in little amount when necessary. 

 

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health

Natural antibiotics that aid the treatment of infections.

natural antibiotics

 

Natural antibiotics that aid the treatment of infections.

Antibiotics are group of medicines, used for the treatment of infections caused by bacteria and some parasites. Additionally, antibiotics do not treat infections caused by viruses. Moreover, the use of natural antibiotics to treat infections, could also provide solution for the increasing rate of antibiotic resistance in individuals. Taking synthetic antibiotics too often or for the wrong reasons could cause negative side effects and antibiotics resistance eventually. Many individuals overlook this side effect. Hence, it could be detrimental to your health.

The World Health organisation (WHO) recorded antibiotics resistance as one of the top ten threats to global health. Moreover, The consumption of antibiotics globally, is increasing at an alarming rate on a daily basis. A systematic evaluation of antibiotic consumption according to the WHO AWARE Classification Database, across 76 countries from 2000 to 2015 was carried out. Additionally, the study showed that antibiotics were classified as Access (first-line or second-line therapies), Watch (for use only with specific indications due to higher resistance potentials), or Reserve (for use as a last resort). The study revealed that overall use per person, increased by 26·2% in Access antibiotics and 90·9% in Watch antibiotics (Klein etc. al ,2020).

Furthermore, antibiotics drugs has become so popular that many individuals tend to neglect natural antibiotics. for treatment of infections. Synthetic antibiotics (drugs) has many negative side effects such as diarrhoea, vomiting, headache and many more. In addition, these side effect is a huge disadvantage, whereas natural antibiotics does not come with these side effects (Tanu, 2017).The continuous increase in resistance to synthetic antibiotics, makes it necessary to concentrate towards the use of natural antibiotics for the treatment of infections. These natural antibiotics has been shown in various studies to provide potent therapeutic effects. Its ability to make microorganisms unable to imitate them to create resistance has also been observed in some studies . Below are some natural antibiotics that can be used to treat infections:


Natural  Antibiotics

1.Garlic

It is no longer new that garlic can be used to treat several infections. Its use has been a tradition in many cultures. Morover, these compound can easily eliminate bacteria by resisting the production of the specific enzymes that are responsible for keeping the bacteria active and alive. Some of the  vital roles the enzymes play on the bacteria includes formation of cell structures and energy production. In the absence of these enzymes, energy and structure formation would not take place. Hence, the bacteria will die off in a short while. Additionally, a study shows how  garlic was used to treat patients with staphylococus aureus and escherichea coli infection. 

Garlic as an antibiotic

2. Red Pepper 

Red pepper is also called capsicum. There are many types of red Pepper including chilli, Jalapenos, cayenne. Moreover, the antibiotic properties of pepper causes microbes to disappear from the site of infection. It is highly effective in treating skin infections as well as athlete’s foot.

Red pepper as a natural antibiotic

3.Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is mostly misunderstood as the oil gotten from tea plants from which edible tea leaves are planted. However,  the truth is that tea tree oil is derived from the leaves of the tea tree. Furthermore, the tea tree is also known as melaleuca alternifolia. It is found in the continent of Australia and New Zealand. Tea tree oil is highly toxic and potentially fatal. Hence, it should never be ingested internally. It is rich in compounds such as monoterpenes. Monoterpenes are very effective in getting rid of  bacteria. Some studies has shown that tea tree oil can be used for the treatment of some infections

Tea tree oil as a natural antibiotic

4. Ginger 

Ginger is obtained from the root of ginger plant. It also has strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. Hence, its effectiveness in the treatment  of several infections.

Garlic as a natural antibiotic

5. Cinamon 

Cinamon is a popular spice mostly used for baking cakes, cookies and desserts. It also has a strong antimicrobial properties,which makes it extremely useful for the treatment of several infection. A study was carried out on the antibacterial activity, against Gram-negative bacteria of cinnamon bark essential oil, obtained via hydro-steam distillation. The sample showed good antibacterial activity against the Gram-negative bacteria (E. coli O157:H7, Yersinia enterocolitica O9, Proteus spp. and Klebsiella pneumonia) (Al-Mariri, 2014). It is also very helpful in treating stomach ulcers and skin conditions such as candidiasis.

Cinamon as a natural antibiotic

 

6.Tumeric

Tumeric is sometimes called golden spice or Indian saffron. Owing to its flavor and bright yellow color, it is popularly used to prepare several dishes.. The strong antimicrobial and anti inflammatory properties of tumeric makes it beneficial in treating infections and inflammation. Moreover, curcumin is the active component in tumeric. Curcumin is also responsible for the yellow color of tumeric. Furthermore, Curcumin is effective in treating urinary tract infection (UTI). Curcumin effectively reduces the microbes that causes infection. Also, a study showed some anti infective properties of tumeric.

Tumeric as a natural antibiotic

7. Cloves

Cloves are the dried buds from the clove tree. It is a famous spice used for preparing sauces,soups, rice and stew dishes. Furthermore, Cloves are rich in a chemical compound called eugenol. Eugenol is responsible for the antimicrobial properties of cloves. It also inhibits the production of protein and DNA in the bacteria cells, by damaging the layers of the bacteria cells. Hence, its effectiveness in the treatment of bacterial infections. In addition, a study revealed the antimicrobial properties of cloves.

Cloves as a natural antibiotic

8.  Lemon Grass

Lemon grass is a popular natural additive worldwide. Its unique aroma makes it commonly used for making most washing soaps and other hygienic products. Moreover, It has great antibacterial,  antifungal and antiviral properties. It was shown in a study that lemon grass has strong antibiotics properties.

Lemon grass as a natural antibiotic

 

9. Rosemary

Rosemary is a well known herb used to prepare several dishes. It also has excellent antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Hence, It is highly beneficial for human consumption. It is also used for treatment of several infections such as salmonella and staph infections.

In addition, a research study showed the antimicrobial effects of rosemary.

Rosemary as a Natural antibiotics

10. Manuka Honey 

Manuka honey is extracted from bees that extract nectar from the flowers found on the Manuka tree.  The Manuka tree grows in New Zealand and Australia. There are different types of honey that come from different  plant nectars. However, manuka honey has stronger antibacterial properties compared to other types of honey.  Also, a study revealed the antimicrobial effects of manuka honey

Manuka honey as a natural antibiotic

 

Conclusion 

Generally, consumption of these natural foods provides relief for several infections. It also boosts immunity to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, these natural antibiotics are easily accessible and affordable.

Finally, natural antibiotics do not cause negative side effects and antibiotics resistance compared to the synthetic antibiotics.

References 

1.WHO

Ten threats to global health in 2019.

https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/ten-threats-to-global-health-in-2019.

Date: 2019

Date accessed: April 17, 2020

 

2.Klein EY Milkowska-Shibata M Tseng KK et al.

Assessment of WHO antibiotic consumption and access targets in 76 countries, 2000–15: an analysis of pharmaceutical sales data.

Lancet Infect Dis. 2020; (published online July 24.).

https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30332-7

3.Tanu Ganguly (Sep 2017). NDTV advantages of natural antibiotics.

4.Al-Mariri A., Safi M. In vitro Antibacterial Activity of Several Plant Extracts and Oils against Some Gram-Negative Bacteria. Iran J. Med. Sci. 2014;39:36–43.

 

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health

The effects of Video games on the brain

The researches done on the effects of video games on the brain is still in infancy and needs to be explored for more facts. Moreover, Playing video games is an increasingly common form of fun and entertainment for many kids, teens, including adults globally. Most committed gamers play video  games on their desktop computers  or consoles. However,  advanced  technology  has created  the  opportunity  for casual gamers, to have access to video  games on their smartphones and tablets during  their free time. 

Video game is an electronic game that involves the use of an input device, which transmits and controls signals into the computer  to produce a visual display for the player. Examples  of such  devices  include keyboard,  mouse, joystick, microphone  etc. A video  display device such as TV, monitor, touch screen etc is required to display the video.

 

 

Forms of Video games

1.Action Video games

It includes fighting, shooting, jumping or climbing games.

2. Survival games

It involves an environment with minimal resources. The player is required to  collect shelter, weapons or food to survive. 

3. Adventure games

This category requires players to solve puzzles by interacting with people or the environment.

4. Sport games 

It includes car racing,  football, wrestling, boxing, volleyball, basketball, hockey games and many  other sport inclined games.

5. Board or card games.

It includes chess, checkers etc.

 

Effect of video games on the brain

Playing video games consistently has both positive and negative effects on the brain in the long run. Some evidence  has shown that  video gaming may cause changes in some regions of the brain.

 

Positive effects of video games on the brain 

1.Boosts memory

It is no more news that memory declines with age. However, studies have shown that video gaming improves memory. In the course of playing video games,  you are exercising a region in the brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is responsible for converting short term memory  into long term memory.

2. Improves mood

Playing video games helps to improve  your  mood and reduce depression. A research study has shown that the frequent gamers have much larger ventral striatum than those who are casual gamers. The ventral striatum is an area of the brain located at the center, directly behind  and above the ears. ventral striatum is linked to emotional and motivational aspects of behavior. Dopamine  is a chemical messenger used to transmit information between nerve cells in the nervous system. It is  produced in the brain. This chemical messenger is one of the feel good hormones that plays a vital role in improving your mood. It also makes you feel happy and reduces depression. The ventral striatum relies absolutely on dopamine. Larger ventral striatum of frequent gamers,  could mean production of more dopamine in the frequent gamers compared to the casual or non gamers.

3. Increased spatial  awareness and hand-eye co-ordination

study  showed that playing video games frequently, also causes a part of the brain responsible for hand- eye co-ordination and spatial awareness to increase in size.This results in an increase in spatial awareness and hand- eye co-ordination of most of the frequent gamers.

4. Improves brain function

It has been shown that playing video games may improve brain function in older adults. This  could provide protection against dementia and alheziemer disease. 

Negative effects of video games on the brain. 

1. Addiction to video games 

Frequent gaming could  cause addiction eventually. 

Evidence from a study has shown that video gaming could be addictive. The phenomenon of video gaming addiction is known as ” internet gaming disorder “. Video gaming addiction could be as a result  of larger ventral striatum in frequent gamers. The larger ventral striatum results in production of more dopamine in frequent gamers compared to casual or non gamers. The feel good effect of dopamine causes the frequent gamers to chase after the feeling  of playing more video games regularly. Furthermore, over time the brain gets used to the increase in supply  of dopamine, and this prevents you from enjoying anything that is not as stimulating as video gaming. Hence resulting in addiction. Long term addiction could cause obesity and poor academic or work performance .This is due to spending long hours playing video games daily .

2. Social disconnection

Social disconnection is common among frequent gamers. This is because they spend most of their spare time playing games indoors.There is hardly time to connect with people and  build relationships with friends, family and loved ones. Long term isolation could be harmful to your mental health. Additionally, a study carried out on students discovered that individuals who are addicted to video games had lower social skills compared to those who were not.

3. Repetitive stress injuries (RSI)

Video  gaming requires a vigorous repetitive  movement of the hands, fingers, wrist, elbow. The repetitive movement of these body part, may result in inflammation and injury. Hence, repetitive  stress injuries are common among frequent gamers. Commonly seen the addicted gamers that play for long hours regularly. 

Below are some of the repetitive stress injuries that can occur from gaming:

  • Carpal tunnel Syndrome- This is a RSI condition that can be caused by playing video games excessively. Moreover, It occurs when high pressure is applied on the median nerve.The median nerve runs from the forearm to the hand through an area of the wrist called the carpal tunnel. Hence, its name as the carpal tunnel syndrome.The characteristic symptoms are tingling, numbness and weakness of the hand.

 

  • Tennis elbow- It is a type of RSI that could occur by gaming excessively. The medical name is called Lateral  epicondylitis. Moreover, It is caused by strenuous overuse of the muscles and tendons around the elbow region. It is characterized by pain around the elbow area.

 

  • Gamer’s thumbs-  This is a condition caused by inflammation of the tendons that aid movement of the thumb.It is also called De Quervain tenosynovitis. It is a painful condition that occurs as a result of too much gaming or typing.

Some other Physical health conditions that could occur from frequent gaming include:

  • Eye strain
  • Posture problems- The video gamer stays on a spot for a long time. This could result in postural problems in the long run such as curved lower back, back and neck problem, rounded shoulder etc.

 

Conclusion 

Obviously, it is evident that most of the negative effects of video games on the brain is as a result of gaming excessively.

Therefore, moderation is vital in video gaming. This helps to reduce the negative effects of video games on the brain. Additionally, it is necessary to  maintain  a good posture while playing  video games. This helps to prevent postural problems eventually. 

Tips for a good posture during video gaming:

  • The chair used during gaming should allow the  gamers feet rest comfortably on the floor. 
  • The face of the gamer is positioned directly in front of the monitor. This prevents the gamer from looking upwards or downwards during gameplay. Hence reducing headache and neck pain.
  • The backrest of the chair should be at about 90- 135 degree  angle. This keeps the back in an upright position during gaming.
  • The game pad or the controller  should  be positioned in such that the hands are resting on the players laps, with a 90 degree bend at the elbow. This prevents slumping over and pushing up on the shoulders.
  • The monitor distance should never be closer than 20 inches to the gamers face. This prevents eye strain and backward positioning of the neck and head.
  • The gamers should sit with their hip all the way back in the chair, with the thighs flat on the chair and legs bent at a 90 degree angle. This helps to reduce pain and ensures  proper blood flow within the lower extremity. 

References

Virtual Environmental Enrichment through Video Games Improves Hippocampal-Associated Memory.

Gregory D. Clemenson and Craig E.L. Stark

Journal of Neuroscience 9 December 2015, 35 (49) 16116-16125; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2580-15.2015.

 

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health

Active Communication of individuals in two or more languages may lower the risk of Cognitive Impairment

Active Communication of individuals in two or more languages may lower the risk of Cognitive Impairment

What is Language?

There are many benefits of being bilingual on the cognitive functions of which are unknown to many persons. It has been revealed that active Communication of individuals in two or more languages may lower the risk of Cognitive Impairment. Language is a tool used for  communication, either in spoken or written form. It is used to convey our thoughts,  knowledge, identity, values and opinion to others.

Cognitive impairment  is when a person  has trouble  concentrating,recalling, learning new things or making  decisions that affect  daily activities.

Learning to speak  more than one languages and actively using them, has some neurological benefits. It also lowers the risk of cognitive impairment linked with ageing. A study revealed that  speaking two languages actively, may protect against cognitive decline.

The prevalence of dementia in countries where more than one language is spoken is 50% lower than in those regions, where only one language is used to communicate,” said researcher Marco Calabria, professor at the UOC Faculty of Health Sciences and member of the University’s Cognitive NeuroLab research group and the Speech Production and Bilingualism research group.

 

How does  speaking two or more  languages  lower the  risk of cognitive  impairment?

It is unsurprising that the mechanism via which bilingualism improves the brain’s resistance to neuropathology is not understood. However, recent research  has uncovered several potentially fruitful avenues concerning how bilingualism might have reduced cognitive impairment. 

The increasing brain activity through bilingualism may contribute to adult neurogenesis in the brain.

 language learning could be a solution to promote cognitive reserve. This is as result  of the wide range of brain networks that is affected while learning  a language

Cognitive reserve refers to the brain’s ability to cope with a challenge by finding alternative ways to complete a task.

Researchers found that bilingualism provides the brain with greater cognitive reserve, delaying cognitive impairment. 

A study revealed aging bilinguals outperformed monolinguals on the Flanker task. It also showed increased gray matter in the anterior cingulate cortex of biliguals. Whereas, monolinguals showed decreased gray matter in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (Abutalebi et al., 2015b).

A study by Alladi et al. (2016) comparing monolingual and bilingual stroke patients found that bilinguals had a significantly lower frequency of post-stroke dementia and mild cognitive impairment. It also revealed  the same frequency of post-stroke aphasia in monolingual and bilingual individuals.

Furthermore, another benefits of being bilingual is the increase in attention and execute function of such individuals. A research suggested that bilingualism may contribute to the development of certain brain areas that control executive function and attention.

 

What are the other benefits  of  speaking two or more  languages?

The process of becoming bilingual exercises your brain and increases concentration. It also enhances your problem-solving skills. Another benefit of being bilingual, is how opens the mind in a very fundamental way. Therefore, knowledge of languages has positive benefits on the brain irrespective of your age and profession. 

Obviously, we can’t completely prevent a decline in memory that comes with ageing. However, it is essential to keep the brain in good working order and expanding your knowledge through learning a new language. One of the core benefits of being bilingual is its effect on the  delay of the progression of dementia and some other cognitive impairment later in life.

 

References

 

1.Abutalebi J., Guidi L., Borsa V., Canini M., Della Rosa P. A., Parris B. A., et al. (2015b). Bilingualism provides a neural reserve for aging populations. Neuropsychologia 69 201–210.

2.Alladi S., Bak T. H., Mekala S., Rajan A., Chaudhuri J. R., Mioshi E., et al. (2016). Impact of bilingualism on cognitive outcome after stroke. Stroke 47 258–261. 10.1161/STROKEAHA.115.010418.

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health

WHAT CAUSES HICCUPS?

Hiccups are recurroluntary contractions of the diaphra The diaphragm muscle is located between the chest from the abdomen region. The diaphragm muscle aids breathing. During inspiration, the diaphragm contracts to allow oxygen into the lungs while during expiration it relaxes to release carbon oxide out of the lungs. Hiccups occur when the diaphragm contracts out of rhythm. Each contraction of the diaphragm causes sudden closure of the vocal cords and larynx. This brings about an abrupt rush of air into the lungs. Due to this, the body reacts with a gasp producing the sound of a hiccup. The medical name for hiccups is called synchronous diaphragmatic flutter or singultus. CAUSES The most common causes of short-term hiccups include: 1. Drinking Carbonated beverages Carbonated beverages cause the stomach to expand. The expansion of the stomach can irritate the diaphragm. This causes involuntary contraction of the diaphragm thereby resulting in hiccups. Alcohol causes stomach acid to rise up in the esophagus. This irritates the nerve that controls the diaphragm (known as phrenic nerve). This causes the diaphragm to contract out of rhythm hence, hiccups. 2. Overeating Overeating causes stomach distention and may irritate the esophagus. This puts external pressure on the diaphragm. Thus, this effect irritates the nerve that controls the diaphragm and causes it to contract. Therefore, it triggers hiccups. 3 Consuming alcohol. Most alcoholic beverages are carbonated (Infused with carbon dioxide). This irritates the diaphragm and expands the stomach. For this reason, results in hiccups. 4. Chewing gum. Chewing gum can cause a person to swallow air. Thereby causing hiccups. 5.Excitement or emotional stress Anxiety or emotional stress causes may stimulate the nerve that controls the diaphragm. This could lead to hiccups. 6.Sudden change in air temperature This can occur as a result of drinking hot or cold beverages.This sudden change can irritate the esophagus and cause hiccups. 7.Consuming spicy food Spicy foods contain a chemical compound called capsaicin. Capsaicin is an irritant that activates neurons in the diaphragm, which contracts and results in hiccups. Hiccups that last longer than 48 hours can be caused by several factors which include: 1. Irritation of the nerves of the diaphragm. Gastroesophageal reflux, ulcers of the stomach or duodenum. 2. Diseases of the central nervous system- Stroke, multiple sclerosis 3. Diabetes 4.Electrolyte imbalance 5. Medicines: Anesthetics used in general anesthesia, corticosteroids, tranquilizers. 6. Cancer 7.Kidney failure 8.Parkinson’s disease TREATMENT Hiccups are not something serious to worry about. However, persistent prolonged hiccups could make us quite uncomfortable and may hinder our daily activities as well as speech and sleep. Short term hiccup would eventually stop on its own. Furthermore, contact your doctor if hiccups become prolonged and persistent for proper treatment.

 

HICCUPS

Hiccups are recurring, involuntary contractions of the diaphragm muscle. There are lots of myths associated with what causes hiccups. The diaphragm muscle is located between the chest from the abdomen region. The diaphragm muscle aids breathing. During inspiration, the diaphragm contracts to allow oxygen into the lungs while during expiration it relaxes to release carbon oxide out of the lungs. Hiccups occur when the diaphragm contracts out of rhythm. Moreover, each contraction of the diaphragm causes sudden closure of the vocal cords and larynx. This causes an abrupt rush of air into the lungs. Due to this, the body reacts with a gasp producing the sound of a hiccup. The medical name for hiccups is called synchronous diaphragmatic flutter or singultus.

HICCUPS 3

HICCUPS CAUSES

The most common causes of short-term hiccups include:

 

  1. Drinking Carbonated beverages

Carbonated beverages cause the stomach to expand. This irritates the diaphragm and results in involuntary contraction of the diaphragm that triggers hiccups. Alcohol causes stomach acid to rise up in the esophagus. This irritates the nerve that controls the diaphragm (known as phrenic nerve). This causes the diaphragm to contract out of rhythm hence, hiccups. 

 

  1. Overeating

Overeating causes stomach distention and may irritate the esophagus. This puts external pressure on the diaphragm. Thus, this effect irritates the nerve that controls the diaphragm and causes it to contract. Therefore, it triggers hiccups.

 

3 Consuming alcohol.

Most alcoholic beverages are carbonated (Infused with carbon dioxide). This irritates the diaphragm and expands the stomach. Hence, hiccups occur.

 

  1. Chewing gum.

Chewing gum can cause a person to swallow air. Thereby causing hiccups.

 

5.Excitement or emotional stress

Anxiety or emotional stress may stimulate the nerve that controls the diaphragm. Due to this, hiccups occur.

 

6.Sudden change in air temperature

This occurs as a result of drinking hot or cold beverages. This sudden change can irritate the esophagus and cause hiccups.

 

7.Consuming spicy food

Spicy foods contain a chemical compound called capsaicin. Additionally, Capsaicin is an irritant that activates neurons in the diaphragm. As a result of this, the diaphragm contracts hence hiccups occur. 

Hiccups that last longer than 48 hours can be caused by  several factors which include:

  1. Irritation of the nerves of the diaphragm- Gastroesophageal reflux, ulcers of the stomach or duodenum.
  1. Diseases of the central nervous system- Stroke, multiple sclerosis
  2. Diabetes

     4.Electrolyte imbalance

  1. Medicines: Anesthetics used in general anesthesia, corticosteroids, tranquilizers.
  2. Cancer

     7.Kidney failure

     8.Parkinson’s disease

TREATMENT

Hiccups are not something serious to worry about. However, persistent prolonged hiccups could make us quite uncomfortable and may hinder our daily activities as well as speech and sleep. Short term hiccup would eventually stop on its own. Furthermore, contact your doctor if hiccups become prolonged and persistent for proper treatment.

 

 

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health

Things everyone should know about COVID 19

Things everyone should know about COVID 19

CORONA VIRUS

There are certain things everyone should know about COVID 19. The transmission rate can be reduced and prevented by becoming well informed and aware of things pertaining to COVID 19. It was initially identified in December 2019 in Wuhan China and has resulted in an ongoing pandemic. Corona Virus (COVID 19) is a contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome SARS Cov-2. Furthermore, The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 10.7 million people globally and claimed the lives of more than 520,000 people around the world. However, Some reports trace the earliest cases SARS-CoV-2 back to a seafood and animal market in Wuhan.

THINGS EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT COVID 19

 

1.Some Facts about COVID 19

  •  Covid-19 and SARS-CoV-2 are not the same thing. Moreover, Covid-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus. SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the virus itself.
  •  CoV is short for CoronaVirus. This is the name of the family of viruses.
  • At the initial stage of infection, the new coronavirus actively replicates itself in the throat and upper respiratory tract. Hence the infection moves downwards and can reach the lungs, resulting in inflammation. For this reason, the first symptom of infection experienced is usually a cough.
  • Many people who become infected do not even have a cough and show no symptoms at all. The asymptomatic patient is still an active carrier of infection and can eventually infect others.
  • Contrary to General belief, pets can not spread the coronavirus. No cases of human infection from a dog or cat have yet been reported.
  •  On plastic and steel surfaces, SARS-CoV-2 remains dangerous for up to three days, on paper and cardboard – about a day, and also on copper – about four hours.
  • Antibiotics against coronavirus are futile. Antibiotics work against bacteria and not viruses.

 

  1. How COVID 19 spreads

Coronavirus spreads when an infected person sneezes coughs or speaks. The tiny droplets from the infected person contain the virus and can spread from person to person.

 

3.Symptoms of COVID 19

 COVID-19 symptoms include respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Sometimes people may experience chills and shaking, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or loss of sense of taste or smell.  Additionally, Severe cases of COVID-19 may result in pneumonia and well as a severe acute respiratory syndrome. People with chronic health conditions and the elderly are more likely than others to have a severe case of the disease.

 

4. Prevention

According to the world health organization, there are recommendations for the general public to reduce the transmission of coronavirus:

  •  clean your hands frequently by using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water.
  • Practice physical distancing
  • by limiting your time in public places to essential trips, staying at least 6 feet from other people. Also, not greeting others with a handshake or other touch.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue. Then throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands.
  • If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, then seek medical care early. Ensure you share your travel history with your healthcare provider.
  • Avoid the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products. Handle raw meat, milk, and animal organs with care to avoid contamination with uncooked foods.
  • Wear a Face mask to prevent spreading the others.

 

Finally, there are basic information everyone needs to know about COVID 19 so as to reduce the spread of the virus. According to the world health organization, clinical trials for the cure and vaccine for the virus is still ongoing. However, western or traditional remedies have been used to relieve symptoms.

 

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health

7 BRAIN DAMAGING HABITS

BRAIN DAMAGING HABITS
BRAIN DAMAGING HABITS

 

The brain is a vital and complex organ in the body. It comprises of billions of nerves that carry information in and out of the brain. The brain controls all body functions and maintains homeostasis in the body. Many of us are engaged in daily habits that could damage the brain. Usually, we don’t realize the effect of these habits. Thus, to keep our brain healthy and prevent brain damage, we should avoid the following habits;
  • Missing breakfast.
The first meal of the day is essential for our wellbeing and should contain all the necessary nutrients in the right proportion. T to keep the body healthy and for optimum performance in our daily activities.  The brain requires adequate nutrients at the right time to function properly. As a result of our busy lifestyle, most of us skip breakfast to save time. This reduces nutrient supply to the brain and long term effects may damage the brain cells.
  • Lack of sleep.
Sleep is vital for the normal function of the brain and body system. Healthy adults require about 7 -9 hours of sleep per night to function normally. Furthermore, Children and babies require even more, of about 10-17 hours of sleep daily depending on their age. Also, sleep deprivation results in daytime drowsiness, tiredness, depression, and loss of memory. Prolonged deprivation of sleep speeds up the death of brain cells.
  • High sugar consumption.
The brain requires adequate nutrients to function optimally. The research revealed that added sugars may deplete nutrients from the food that has been consumed. However, excessive sugar intake reduces the absorption of crucial nutrients in the food we consume resulting to malnourishment eventually and brain problems such as learning disorder and poor memory.
  • Dehydration.
Dehydration occurs when you lose or use more fluid than you take in. In addition, the body lacks enough water to perform normal functions in dehydration. Similarly to dried plant leaves without water, the brain cells dry out and shrink during dehydration.
5. Eating meals while watching TV or Computer
 The brain is distracted when eating and watching TV. This causes the brain to transmit wrong signals and does not process the taste or satisfaction of the palette hence, leads to overeating. Prolonged overheating may decrease brain function. A 2012 study suggested that high caloric intake over time may actually raise a person’s odds of developing memory loss later in life, says a report in  Harvard Health.
6. Wearing a cap or scarfs while sleeping.
Sleeping with the head covered has been shown to increase carbon dioxide consumption and decrease oxygen consumption. This is as a result of the fall in oxygen concentration in the blood. This can lead to damage of the brain cells. 
  1. Playing loud music with earphones or headphones.
Do you know that long term usage of earphones/headphones can cause brain damage?. The higher the volume the higher the risk of eardrum damage. Hearing loss causes the brain to allocate most of its resources to help with hearing at the expense of cognitive function. This excessive pressure can have a harmful effect on the brain.
 Which of these habits are u fond of? And how do you intend to do away with it? Let’s discuss
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