Kidney Stones: What You Need To Know

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Submitted by the Baylor College of Medicine…..

BaylorCollegeRoughly half a million people – both men and women – will head to the emergency room this year for issues related to kidney stones. A Baylor College of Medicine expert discusses symptoms, treatments and prevention of kidney stones.

 What are Kidney Stones?

“Kidney stones are hard crystalline deposits that are made from the chemicals in urine, and the size can range from a grain of sand to a golf ball,” said Dr. Wesley Mayer, assistant professor of urology at Baylor. He explains that urolithiasis, or kidney stones, is a catchall term used to indicate stones that may be located anywhere in the urinary tract, including the kidney, bladder or ureter.

 Symptoms

One of the most common signs of kidney stones is pain, ranging from mild to extreme. Areas of pain can be variable and can include the front and side of your lower torso, your back, beneath or below your ribs, groin, pelvis, and reproductive organs. The most common pattern, however, is pain that radiates from the back to the groin.

 Other symptoms of kidney stones include:

  • Painful urination, urgency, frequency and pelvic pressure
  • Blood in your urine
  • Fever (see your doctor or an emergency room immediately if fever is accompanied by urinary tract obstruction)
  • Nausea or vomiting

Tests and Treatments

doctorIf you are experiencing the symptoms above, consult your doctor. Imaging methods to test for kidney stones include CT scan, ultrasound and X-ray.

Some urine and blood tests can be used to determine whether you have too much of a particular substance, such as calcium or uric acid in your blood or urine, which can cause kidney stones.

 There are multiple treatment options. One is passing the stone through urination, but there are a few points you must ensure before attempting this:

Good renal function

No infections

Well-controlled pain

Reasonable likelihood of spontaneous stone passage

Able to keep down liquids without vomiting

If you do not pass the checkpoints, you may need surgery to remove the stone. If you have a small stone (less than 1.5 to 2 centimeters), there is shockwave or laser lithotripsy, which breaks up the stone with shockwaves or lasers so the pieces can then be removed. If you have a bigger stone (more than 1.5 to 2 centimeters), there is PCNL (percutaneous lithotomy), a minimally-invasive procedure that allows access to the kidney directly through a small incision in the back and breaks the stone into smaller pieces to be vacuumed out.

Causes and Prevention

According to Dr. Mayer, some medicines can increase the risk of stone formation, including high-dose Vitamin C, Airborne, Emergen-C and Topomax (migraine relief medicine), among others. There also are common dietary causes such as an excessive amount of salt and animal protein consumption, processed foods, underconsumption of fruits and vegetables, and being dehydrated. Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking at least 80-100 fluid ounces of water a day.

Other important tips regarding prevention include:

  • Drink lemon water to help reduce the risk of developing kidney stones.
  • Don’t cut out calcium-rich foods but talk to your doctor before taking a calcium supplement.
  • Consume salt, animal protein and processed food in moderation; target less than 3,000 milligrams of sodium per day. Read food labels to help stay on track.

Sleepless Nights Linked To High Blood Pressure

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Submitted by the University of Arizona News Service…..

mansleepingatdeskA bad night’s sleep may result in a spike in blood pressure that night and the following day, according to new research led by the University of Arizona.

The study, to be published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, offers one possible explanation for why sleep problems have been shown to increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and even death from cardiovascular disease.

The link between poor sleep and cardiovascular health problems is increasingly well-established in scientific literature, but the reason for the relationship is less understood.

Researchers set out to learn more about the connection in a study of 300 men and women, ages 21 to 70, with no history of heart problems. Participants wore portable blood pressure cuffs for two consecutive days. The cuffs randomly took participants’ blood pressure during 45-minute intervals throughout each day and also overnight.

At night, participants wore actigraphy monitors – wristwatch-like devices that measure movement – to help determine their “sleep efficiency,” or the amount of time in bed spent sleeping soundly.

Overall, those who had lower sleep efficiency showed an increase in blood pressure during that restless night. They also had higher systolic blood pressure – the top number in a patient’s blood pressure reading – the next day.

More research is needed to understand why poor sleep raises blood pressure and what it could mean long-term for people with chronic sleep issues. Yet, these latest findings may be an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding the pathway through which sleep impacts overall cardiovascular health.

“Blood pressure is one of the best predictors of cardiovascular health,” said lead study author Caroline Doyle, a graduate student in the UA Department of Psychology. “There is a lot of literature out there that shows sleep has some kind of impact on mortality and on cardiovascular disease, which is the No. 1 killer of people in the country. We wanted to see if we could try to get a piece of that story – how sleep might be impacting disease through blood pressure.”

The study reinforces just how important a good night’s sleep can be. It’s not just the amount of time you spend in bed, but the quality of sleep you’re getting, said study co-author John Ruiz, UA associate professor of psychology.

Improving sleep quality can start with making simple changes and being proactive, Ruiz said.

“Keep the phone in a different room,” he suggested. “If your bedroom window faces the east, pull the shades. For anything that’s going to cause you to waken, think ahead about what you can do to mitigate those effects.”

For those with chronic sleep troubles, Doyle advocates cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBTI, which focuses on making behavioral changes to improve sleep health. CBTI is slowly gaining traction in the medical field and is recommended by both the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine as the first line of treatment for insomnia.

Doyle and Ruiz say they hope their findings – showing the impact even one fitful night’s rest can have on the body – will help illuminate just how critical sleep is for heart health.

“This study stands on the shoulders of a broad literature looking at sleep and cardiovascular health,” Doyle said. “This is one more study that shows something is going on with sleep and our heart health. Sleep is important, so whatever you can do to improve your sleep, it’s worth prioritizing.”

The Top Places You May Forget To Apply Sunscreen

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Submitted by the Baylor College of Medicine…..

sunYou may always wear sunscreen while spending time in the sun, but when it comes to protecting every part of your skin there are certain places that people commonly forget about. Baylor College of Medicine’s Dr. Carina Wasko, associate professor of dermatology, shares the top places people miss when putting on sunscreen and ways to prevent skin cancer and aging.

Tops of ears

When applying sunscreen to the face, people often overlook adding it to their ears as well. This is a common area on which to find precancerous abrasions as well as skin cancers during routine skin cancer screenings, Wasko said. 

“As far as places where people miss their sunscreen on a daily basis, the tops of the ears really come to mind,” Wasko said. “Women who have longer hair and cover them are a little less worrisome, but it is more worrisome for individuals with shorter hair who often forget the tops of their ears.”

Scalp

The scalp is another one of the most frequently missed places to apply sunscreen. While putting sunscreen on your scalp may not always be an option, Wasko recommends wearing a wide brimmed hat whenever you plan on being outside for an extended period of time or keeping your scalp away from direct sunlight.

“Maybe people will wear sunscreen when going out for a run, but on a daily basis it’s hard because people aren’t going to be spraying sunscreen in their hair and also don’t want to necessarily wear a hat,” she said. “You can get a lot of sun damage on the top of your head so that can be a little tricky.”

Hands

It is important to remember your hands when applying sunscreen to your arms or face. Wasko addresses that you should not only apply it while outside, but also when driving because the car windows do not fully block out the sun’s ultraviolet rays. She adds that this is one of the first places people begin to notice signs of aging.

“It’s important to apply it for skin cancer risks but also for photo aging and photo damage,” Wasko said. “A lot of people later on look at their hands and are very disappointed about how much freckling and wrinkling they have – much of that has to do with time spent driving in your car. The top of your hands are getting of sun exposure even if you’re not spending a lot of time outside.”

Forearms

It may be common knowledge to wear sunscreen on your forearms while at the pool or beach, but Wasko explains that this is an area where skin cancers often are found. Like the top of the hands, your forearms are also exposed to the sun while driving or during day-to-day activities. She recommends wearing sunscreen on your hands and forearms whenever you spend anytime outside or even simply driving to work.

“People think, ‘I’m at work and just in my office all day,’ but when you drive a lot of sun comes through the windows,” Wasko said. “Windows do not filter out all UV light, so we get a lot of sun damage, especially on the left side of the body where we drive”

Upper chest

twokidsunAlthough it is relatively common to apply sunscreen to the upper chest, Wasko explains how people tend to forget it on a daily basis. She said it is a frequent area where dermatologists find all types of skin cancers, including melanomas.

Wasko addresses that even when you are not spending time in the sun, it is important to apply sunscreen on those common places that could be exposed during the day, such as the chest, arms and legs.

“We try to really emphasize the importance of wearing sunscreen every day for exposed areas even if you’re just going to work, but if you’re going to be out it’s a different story – you must reapply,” Wasko said.

Since dermatologists check the entire body from head to toe during skin cancer screenings, Wasko stresses the importance of remembering to wear sunscreen every day and thinking about the areas that could be missed. She adds that it is also possible for melanomas and skin cancers to grow on areas of the skin that are not as exposed to the sun.

“Generally, skin cancer screening is from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet,” Wasko said. “People will often think if they don’t get sun exposure they can’t get skin cancer in that area, such as a part of their leg that’s usually covered up or the bottom of their feet, but skin cancers can occur anywhere, even in the areas that don’t get sun.”

Wasko recommends wearing a SPF 30 or above sunscreen even during cloudy or rainy days to prevent skin cancer and aging. If you are outside on a sunny day, it is essential to reapply about every two hours or when you towel off after swimming. For skin cancer screenings, she recommends the average adult visit their dermatologist at least once a year for a routine check.