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    What causes ulcers?

    Those unfortunate enough to have had stomach ulcers will know full well just how uncomfortable and painful they are.

     

    But how do you know if you actually have one, and how do they develop?

     

    MedicineNet.com contributor Jay Marks MD says stomach ulcers are sores in the lining of the stomach. “A peptic ulcer is a break in the inner lining of the esophagus, stomach or small intestine (duodenum). A peptic ulcer of the stomach is called a gastric ulcer. Peptic ulcers occur when the lining of these organs is corroded by the acidic digestive (peptic) juices which are secreted by the cells of the stomach.

     

    “A peptic ulcer differs from an erosion because it extends deeper into the lining of the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum and excites more of an inflammatory reaction from the tissues that are involved.”

     

    What causes ulcers?

     

    There is a clear medical consensus that, contrary to popular belief, stomach ulcers are not primarily caused by stress or bad eating habits. “Stomach ulcers aren’t necessarily caused by one single factor,” says Steven Kim MD, contributor to Healthline.com.

     

    He elaborates on this statement by asserting that they could have one of several causes and genes, medicine and infections all have a role to play. The first is infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori). In fact, according to the National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse, more than half of ulcers occur as a result of an infection with H.pylori.

     

    Secondly, long-term use of nonsteroidal drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen, could also have a deleterious effect. The third factor is that of excess acid (hyperacidity) in the stomach, which may be connected to lifestyle factors such as smoking and drinking as well as genetics. Zollinger-Ellison syndrome may also be a cause. It is a rare disease that makes the body produce excess stomach acid.

     

    Dr. Melinda Ratini, WebMD contributor, adds radiation treatment and serious illnesses to this list. Older people (50+) are also at bigger risk of developing ulcers.

     

    This is not to say that certain foods, especially those loaded with fat and spice, do not aggravate ulcers.

     

    What are the symptoms?

     

    According to the UK National Health Service (NHS), stomach pain is the foremost symptom when it comes to ulcers. The pain caused by an ulcer can radiate from the middle of your stomach up to your neck, down to your belly button, or even through your back. It can last between a few minutes and several hours. It is likely to occur within a few hours of eating and also during the night.

     

    Other symptoms include indigestion, heartburn, loss of appetite and weight loss. Kim adds nausea, vomiting, bloating and pain whilst eating to this list.

     

    Sources

     

    Marks, J. 2016. “Peptic ulcer disease”. http://www.medicinenet.com/peptic_ulcer/article.htm.

     

    Ratini, M. 2014. “What causes ulcers?” http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-peptic-ulcer-disease#1

     

    NHS. 2015. “Symptoms of stomach ulcer”. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Peptic-ulcer/Pages/Symptoms.aspx.

     

    Chandler, S. 2013. “What to eat & not to eat when you have an ulcer”. http://www.livestrong.com/article/347146-what-to-eat-not-to-eat-when-you-have-an-ulcer/.

     

     

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    What causes ulcers?

    Those unfortunate enough to have had stomach ulcers will know full well just how uncomfortable and painful they are.

    But how do you know if you actually have one, and how do they develop?

    MedicineNet.com contributor Jay Marks MD says stomach ulcers are sores in the lining of the stomach. “A peptic ulcer is a break in the inner lining of the esophagus, stomach or small intestine (duodenum). A peptic ulcer of the stomach is called a gastric ulcer. Peptic ulcers occur when the lining of these organs is corroded by the acidic digestive (peptic) juices which are secreted by the cells of the stomach.

    “A peptic ulcer differs from an erosion because it extends deeper into the lining of the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum and excites more of an inflammatory reaction from the tissues that are involved.”

     

    What causes ulcers?

    There is a clear medical consensus that, contrary to popular belief, stomach ulcers are not primarily caused by stress or bad eating habits. “Stomach ulcers aren’t necessarily caused by one single factor,” says Steven Kim MD, contributor to Healthline.com.

    He elaborates on this statement by asserting that they could have one of several causes and genes, medicine and infections all have a role to play. The first is infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori). In fact, according to the National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse, more than half of ulcers occur as a result of an infection with H.pylori.

    Secondly, long-term use of nonsteroidal drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen, could also have a deleterious effect. The third factor is that of excess acid (hyperacidity) in the stomach, which may be connected to lifestyle factors such as smoking and drinking as well as genetics. Zollinger-Ellison syndrome may also be a cause. It is a rare disease that makes the body produce excess stomach acid.

    Dr. Melinda Ratini, WebMD contributor, adds radiation treatment and serious illnesses to this list. Older people (50+) are also at bigger risk of developing ulcers.

    This is not to say that certain foods, especially those loaded with fat and spice, do not aggravate ulcers.

     

    What are the symptoms?

    According to the UK National Health Service (NHS), stomach pain is the foremost symptom when it comes to ulcers. The pain caused by an ulcer can radiate from the middle of your stomach up to your neck, down to your belly button, or even through your back. It can last between a few minutes and several hours. It is likely to occur within a few hours of eating and also during the night.

    Other symptoms include indigestion, heartburn, loss of appetite and weight loss. Kim adds nausea, vomiting, bloating and pain whilst eating to this list.

     

    Sources

    Marks, J. 2016. “Peptic ulcer disease”. http://www.medicinenet.com/peptic_ulcer/article.htm.

    Ratini, M. 2014. “What causes ulcers?” http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-peptic-ulcer-disease#1

    NHS.  2015. “Symptoms of stomach ulcer”. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Peptic-ulcer/Pages/Symptoms.aspx.

    Chandler, S. 2013. “What to eat & not to eat when you have an ulcer”. http://www.livestrong.com/article/347146-what-to-eat-not-to-eat-when-you-have-an-ulcer/.

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    Smoking: How to quit (with success)

    You desperately want to quit smoking and you’ve tried before, but it truly is one of the toughest habits to break. This could be the year to do so as the economy will leave us with less extra cash to blow on luxury goodies such as cigarettes.

    What exactly is the perfect method for breaking the habit? This is a question millions and millions of people across the world have been asking themselves for decades.

    Whilst there are no easy or completely painless options (or else millions of people would quit today), there are numerous good and effective ways to quit smoking. You’ll also have to keep the sundry physical, logistical and mental challenges in mind. From cold turkey to more gradual methods, let’s take a look at the process that will steer your life in a new direction:

     

    Set a date

    Choose an appropriate date within the next two weeks and then start preparing before losing your motivation. If you mainly smoke at work, rather quit on the weekend so that you have some time to adapt.

     

    Tell everyone

    Inform the people in your life that you intend to quit and ask them to encourage and assist you in the process. Look for a quit-buddy, such as a close friend or trusted colleague who also wants to dump the habit. You mutual encouragement and discipline will ease the process even further.

     

    Anticipate and remove

    Bet on enticements coming your way during this period. Most people who start smoking again do so within the first three months after quitting. Therefore, remove the challenges and temptation traps beforehand by getting rid of all cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays. Get the smell of smoke out of your house and car.

    Very importantly, stay away from smokers until you’re out of the red zone. Avoid alcohol as it could be a major trigger and try to switch to non-alcoholic beverages instead.

    Most smokers want to have a cigarette as a dessert of sorts after a meal. The American Cancer Society contends that you should thwart this urge by opting for a piece of sweet fruit of a small slice of cake.

     

    Exercise, eat healthy and drink lots of water

    Exercise will distract you from a craving and drinking water has inherent benefits but will also make smoke taste terrible (like ash, in fact). Eating healthy foods such as fruits and (plain) popcorn will not only keep your mouth busy, but are suitable replacements for more fatty foods that smokers are tempted to consume  as a “comfort food” reward.

     

    Medicines and other methods

    It is sometimes necessary to consult your doctor or pharmacist. A variety of medicine and non-natural methods is available to smokers who want to gradually ease the habit. One of them is e-cigarettes, which are electronic cigarettes meant to lower your dependence on nicotine while addressing the mental part of smoking. Then there is Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), which is aimed at alleviating the physical withdrawal symptoms.

     

    Form new habits

    This is probably one of the most essential parts of dropping the smoking habit. Many people smoke because it becomes a habit and they smoke when feeling bored. It is thus vital that you start a new hobby or find other forms of instant gratification – such as playing video games, reading or going for a swim – to replace the habit of smoking.

     

    Sources:

    American Cancer Society. 2014. “Getting help with mental part of the addiction”., http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/guidetoquittingsmoking/guide-to-quitting-smoking-help-mental

    American Cancer Society. 2014. “Getting help with physical part of the addiction”. http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/guidetoquittingsmoking/guide-to-quitting-smoking-help-phys-nrt

    HelpGuide.org.  n.d. “How to quit smoking”. http://www.helpguide.org/articles/addiction/how-to-quit-smoking.htm

    Smokefree.gov. n.d. “How to manage cravings”. http://smokefree.gov/cravings

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    Top 6 winter weight loss rules

    Glynis Horning

     

     

    Shorter, colder days can make it feel impossible to get out and exercise (oh, the excuses we all come up with!), and it’s tempting to indulge in sweet, stodgy foods to warm up and feel comforted. But with these indulgences comes the unfortunate weight gain. Make this winter the one where you’re able to put your health before your comfortable excuses.

    Registered dietitian Dr. Suna Kassier, a senior lecturer in the Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, shares her rules for keeping that winter bulge at bay.

     

    Rule #1: Don’t blame the weather for not getting out and about!

    Do not get stuck indoors during winter. Moderate exercise outdoors like brisk walking not only burns kilojoules, it curbs your appetite. By venturing out into the brisk winter chill, you aren’t close to temptation such as the grocery cupboard or fridge. Plus, it gets you away from all the winter germs, while building your immune system through regular exercise.

    Invest in a warm jacket and recruit a walking buddy or even better, buddies. If you’re tempted to stay in, they can motivate you to get going.

     

    Rule #2: Control the winter snack fests!

    When you snuggle up indoors to watch a movie or read a book, be careful that this extra winter leisure time isn’t accompanied by a snack fest. If you feel the urge to nibble, have fruit at hand, or vegetable sticks you can dip into low-kilojoule salad dressing.

    Never take a bag of chips to the TV thinking you will only have a few and save the rest for later. Popcorn is a filling low-energy snack alternative, but it must be air-popped in your microwave. The commercially-available sachets contain fat and a lot of salt.

     

    Rule #3: Weigh yourself when winter sets in

    This can be followed by weekly weigh-ins to prevent the weight creeping up on you. If you weighed more last year when the temperature started to drop, be aware of this when wearing loose-fitting clothing – it’s not a licence to tuck into food just because your pants don’t fit snuggly.

     

    Rule #4: Don’t skip breakfast because of a winter morning lie-in

    On work days, don’t lie in bed for a few minutes longer because it’s cold. This could result in you having to skip breakfast because you run out of time. Those who eat breakfast regularly are less likely to have cravings or overindulge at subsequent meal times, because their blood sugar levels are kept on an even keel.

     

    Rule #5: Regulate your comfort-food consumption

    When preparing “comfort food”, keep an eye on what goes into the pot or pan. Extra cheese, rich gravies and sauces can increase the kilojoule content of a meal significantly. If you’re tempted to have a second helping, have a glass of water before you take the plunge. This will help you to determine if you’re still hungry, or are simply having an extra portion because the food tastes so good.

     

    Rule #6: Think nutritious food options

    Comfort foods like soups and stews can be tasty, nutritious and satisfying without expanding your waistline if you add lots of vegetables to them. Use legumes like beans as a meat substitute, and limit the use of oil in the cooking process.

    If you enjoy meat, make sure that you keep your intake moderate and trim off visible fat (and chicken skin) before use.

     

    Source: Clicks

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    What type of mattress is best for low-back pain?

    Back pain is one of the top reasons why people begin to lose mobility in middle age. Pain can keep people from engaging in physical activity, making it more difficult for them to maintain a healthy weight and keep up their strength, stamina, and balance as they age. Treating and managing back pain that results from injuries or health problems is therefore crucial for living a healthy and active life.

    Considering that most people spend roughly one-third of their lives lying in bed, choosing the right mattress is essential for managing low-back pain. It can make the difference in whether you can sleep at night and function the next day.

    In the past, doctors often recommended very firm mattresses, but one survey of 268 people with low-back pain found that those who slept on orthopaedic (very hard) mattresses had the poorest sleep quality. There was no difference in sleep quality between those who used medium-firm and firm mattresses.

    Soft mattresses, on the other hand, can also be problematic. While a soft mattress that conforms to your body’s natural curves may help the joints align favourably, you could also sink in so deeply that your joints twist and become painful during the night.

    If you want to find out whether a firmer mattress would feel better than the one you’re currently using, try putting a plywood board under your mattress to dampen the movement from the bedsprings, or try placing your mattress on the floor.

    Of course, you can also go to a mattress showroom and test a variety of models, but keep in mind that what feels comfortable for a few minutes in a store may not translate into a good night’s sleep. A more reliable test is to observe how you feel after sleeping on different types of mattresses while away from home — for example, at a hotel or a friend’s or relative’s house.

     

    Source: Harvard Medical School

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