There is a class of drugs used to treat high blood pressure. These drugs are called diuretics. But how much is known about these drugs? This article is all about diuretics.
What are Diuretics?
A diuretic is any substance that advances diuresis, which is the increased production of urine. This definition includes forced diuresis. A diuretic pill is occasionally informally called a water tablet. There are several categories of diuretics. However, all diuretics increase the excretion of water from the body through the kidneys.
What are Diuretics For?
The most widespread incident treated with diuretics is high blood pressure. The drugs lessen the amount of fluid in the blood vessels, and this assists in lowering blood pressure.
Another condition treated with diuretics is congestive heart failure, which keeps the heart pumping blood effectively throughout the body. This condition leads to a buildup of fluids in the body, which is called edema. Diuretics can assist in reducing this fluid buildup.
Additionally, diuretics can treat liver disease and several kinds of kidney disease. The use of several diuretics is also used in cases of overdose or poisoning to aid with the increase of the excretion of certain substances from a patient’s body.
Types of Diuretics
The three (3) categories of diuretic medications are called thiazide, loop, and potassium-sparing diuretics. All of which causes the body to excrete more fluids as urine.
Thiazide diuretics – Thiazides are the most usually prescribed diuretics. They are most frequently used to treat high blood pressure. These drugs not only decrease fluids but also cause the blood vessels to relax.
Thiazides are occasionally in use with other medications used to lower blood pressure. Examples of thiazides include:
Loop diuretics – Loop diuretics are frequently used in the treatment of heart failure. Examples of these drugs include:
Potassium-sparing diuretics – Potassium-sparing diuretics decrease fluid levels in the body without causing the loss of potassium, an essential nutrient.
The other categories of diuretics cause the loss of potassium, which can lead to additional health problems such as arrhythmia. Potassium-sparing diuretics can be prescribed for individuals at risk of low potassium levels, for example, those who take other medications that diminish potassium.
However, potassium-sparing diuretics do not reduce blood pressure as well as the other categories of diuretics. Therefore, a physician may prescribe a potassium-sparing diuretic with an additional medication that also lowers blood pressure.
Examples of potassium-sparing diuretics include:
Side Effects of Diuretics
When taken as prescribed, diuretics are usually well received by the body. However, they can still cause a few side effects.
More common side effects
The more common side effects of diuretics include:
elevated blood sugar
excessive potassium in the blood (for potassium-sparing diuretics)
insufficient potassium in the blood
minimum sodium levels
Serious side effects
In exceptional instances, diuretics can cause serious side effects. These may include:
If individuals have side effects that bother them while consuming diuretics, they should talk to their doctor. He or she may prescribe a different medication or combination of drugs to reduce the side effects.
It is essential to mention that whether or not an individual has side effects, it is crucial not to stop taking their diuretic without first talking to their doctor.
Diuretics are safe in general, but there are some risks if other medical conditions exist or certain medications are taken.
Conditions of concern
Before an individual takes a prescribed diuretic, they should be sure to tell their doctor if they have any of the following medical situations or issues:
When starting a new medication, individuals must make sure to tell their doctor about any other medicines, supplements, or herbs they are taking. Some drugs that might interact with a diuretic include:
antidepressants, for example, fluoxetine (Prozac) and venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
other drugs for high blood pressure
Some herbs and dietary supplements may help excrete water (diuretic) and help with sodium and water retention. Examples consist of dandelion, ginger, parsley, hawthorn, and juniper. However, again, one must proceed with caution before engaging with any products with a diuretic effect and speak with their doctor, especially if they are on other medications.
Below are more details on some common herbs and supplements that act as natural diuretics.
Dandelion – To a few, the dandelion is merely a weed. However, research has discovered that one of the plant’s compounds enhances kidney activity and increases the frequency of urination. The recommended method of consumption is to try dandelion in tea. shop for dandelion tea online. [affiliate link]
Hawthorn – This family member of the rose family is a potent diuretic. It can decrease fluid buildup, which means it can additionally improve symptoms of congestive heart failure. Research has exposed that the plant’s nutrients amplify urinary excretion and flow.
Hawthorn berries can additionally work as diuretics and may aid in the treatment of kidney problems. Hawthorn is also available as a tea. shop for hawthorne tea online. [affiliate link]
Horsetail – A 2014 study discovered that horsetail extract contained the same diuretic effects as prescription medications but with fewer side effects. Horsetail may be an excellent alternative to prescription diuretics, especially for individuals who have had problems with side effects. Horsetail is also available as a tea. shop for horsetail tea online. [affiliate link]
Juniper – The juniper plant has been used as a diuretic ever since medieval times. Few modern-day studies have verified its benefits, but the evergreen has been shown to have a significant effect on urine volume in animals.
Like many natural diuretics, juniper does not seem to lower potassium levels as some drugs. It is a good idea to try adding juniper to flavor meat and game dishes.
Parsley – Although parsley is mainly used as a garnish, it can be helpful for individuals who are having problems tolerating diuretic drugs. A 2002 study found that it might assist with urinary volume. More recent research has also confirmed its diuretic properties. shop for parsley online. [affiliate link]
Hibiscus – This flower contains more than its looks. Roselle, a species of hibiscus, demonstrated substantial diuretic effects in one 2012 study. A different study from that same year also observed that hibiscus assisted with increasing kidney filtration. Hibiscus is available as a tea. shop for Hibiscus tea online. [affiliate link]
Diuretic foods – Besides the above natural diuretics, cutting back on sodium and exercising more can additionally aid in reducing fluid buildup. Consuming more fruits and vegetables that act as diuretics may be an additional beneficial solution. These foods include:
Other Ways to Reduce Fluid Retention
There are other ways to reduce fluid retention either in lieu of or in addition to diuretics. These include:
Exercise – Physical activity can aid in getting rid of extra fluid by enhancing blood flow to the tissues and causing perspiration.
Boost magnesium intake – Magnesium is an electrolyte that aids in regulating fluid balance. MAGNESIUM SUPPLEMENTS have been shown to help in the reduction of fluid retention in women with premenstrual syndrome.
Consume potassium-rich foods – Eating potassium-rich foods can boost urine production, decrease sodium levels, and reduce fluid retention.
Keep hydrated – Some individuals believe that dehydration can increase the risk of water retention.
Consume less sodium (salt) – A high-salt diet can promote fluid retention.
If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or if you would like to share your experience with diuretics, please leave them below.
Rheumatoid arthritis, also known as RA, is a disease that affects about 1.3 million Americans. For every 100,000 individuals, 41 are diagnosed with RA every year. Approximately 1.3 million Americans have RA. This article contains info about rheumatoid arthritis.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Arthritis is irritation and inflammation of one or more joints, producing pain and stiffness that increases with age.
Various types of arthritis exist, each with different triggers consisting of wear and tear, infections, and underlying diseases.
Arthritis is a widely used term used to convey inflammation of the joints. On the other hand, Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune inflammatory condition that causes swelling in the joints. It may additionally lead to fever and other symptoms. An autoimmune disease is when the body’s defense system affects healthy tissues by attacking itself. Therefore, rheumatoid arthritis causes the immune system to attack joints and additional areas of the body.
The inflammation connected with rheumatoid arthritis is what can cause damage to other parts of the body as well.
Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis), rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of the joints, which causes painful swelling that can ultimately result in bone erosion and joint deformity.
What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease. When the body detects a threat from a virus or infection, the immune system engages and attacks it. This action is known as an immune response. Occasionally, healthy cells and tissues become caught up in this response because it does not terminate when it should, resulting in autoimmune disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common autoimmune disease.
Physicians do not know what initiates this process, although there appears to be a probable genetic component. While genes do not essentially cause rheumatoid arthritis, they can make an individual more likely to react to environmental factors — for example, infection with certain viruses and bacteria — that may trigger the disease.
Factors that may increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis involve:
Sex. Women are more prone than men to be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
Age. Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, but it most generally begins in middle age. However, vulnerability increases with age, and advancing age is an additional factor, with most cases commencing when a person is in their 60s.
Family history. If a member of an individual’s family has rheumatoid arthritis, they may have an increased risk of the disease.
Smoking. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, particularly if an individual has a genetic predisposition for developing the disease. Smoking additionally appears to be associated with greater severity of the disease.
Excess weight. Individuals who are overweight seem to be at a relatively increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The symptoms and signs of rheumatoid arthritis can include:
Warm, tender, swollen joints
Joint stiffness is usually worse in the mornings and post inactivity
Fatigue, fever, and loss of appetite
Early rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect the smaller joints first,
predominantly the joints that attach the fingers to the hands and the toes to the feet.
As the disease advances, the symptoms frequently spread to the knees, ankles, wrists, elbows, hips, and shoulders. In a majority of cases, symptoms take place in the same joints on both sides of the body.
About 40% of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis additionally experience signs and symptoms that do not involve the joints. Areas that can be affected include:
Rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms can vary in harshness and may arrive and depart. Phases of elevated disease activity, known as flares, alternate with periods of relative remission, when the swelling and pain fade or disappear. In due course, rheumatoid arthritis can cause joints to deform and shift out of place.
Complications of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis has numerous physical and social consequences and can lower the quality of life. In addition, it can cause pain, disability, and premature death.
Rheumatoid arthritis amplifies the probability of developing the following conditions:
Osteoporosis. Rheumatoid arthritis itself and some medications used for treating rheumatoid arthritis can increase the risk of osteoporosis. This circumstance weakens the bones and makes them more susceptible to fracture.
Rheumatoid nodules. These firm lumps of tissue most commonly form around pressure points,
for example, the elbows. However, these nodules can develop anywhere in the body, including the heart and lungs.
Dry eyes and mouth. Individuals who have rheumatoid arthritis are much more probable to develop Sjogren’s syndrome, a disorder that decreases the quantity of moisture in the eyes and mouth.
Infections. Rheumatoid arthritis itself and several medications used to battle it can impair the immune system, leading to increased infections. Individuals should protect themselves with vaccinations to avert diseases such as influenza, pneumonia, shingles, and COVID-19.
Abnormal body composition. The proportion of fat to lean mass is often higher in people with rheumatoid arthritis, even in those individuals with an average body mass index (BMI).
Carpal tunnel syndrome. If RA affects the wrists, the inflammation can squeeze the nerve that serves most of the hand and fingers.
Heart problems. Rheumatoid arthritis can increase the risk of hardened and blocked arteries, in addition to inflammation of the sac that encloses the heart.
Lung disease. Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis have an amplified risk of inflammation and scarring of the lung tissues, leading to advancing shortness of breath.
Lymphoma. Rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of lymphoma, which is a cluster of blood cancers that develop in the lymph system.
How to Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis affects many aspects of daily living, including social activities, leisure, and work. Beneficially, multiple low-cost strategies in the community are proven to increase the quality of life.
Get physically active. Experts recommend that, ideally, adults be moderately physically active for 150 minutes per week, like swimming, walking, or biking thirty minutes a day for five days a week. These thirty minutes can be broken into three separate ten-minute sessions during the day. Regular physical activity can additionally decrease the risk of budding other chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Learn more about physical activity for arthritis.
Go to good physical activity programs. If individuals are concerned about making arthritis worse or unsure how to safely exercise, involvement in physical activity programs can assist in reducing pain and disabilities linked to RA and improve mood and the ability to move. Classes occur at local Y’s, parks, and community centers. These classes can assist individuals with RA to feel better. Find out more about the proven physical activity programs that CDC recommends.
Join a self-management education class. Participating individuals with arthritis (including RA) gain confidence in learning how to control their symptoms, live well with arthritis, and how arthritis affects their lives. In addition, learn more about the proven self-management education programs that the CDC recommends.
Stop Smoking. Cigarette smoking causes the disease to worsen and can cause other medical problems. Smoking can additionally make it more difficult to stay physically active, which is an integral part of managing RA. Get assistance to stop smoking by visiting I’m Ready to Quit on CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers website.
Maintain a Healthy Weight. Obesity can cause numerous problems for people with RA, so it is crucial to maintain a healthy weight. For more on maintaining a healthy weight, visit the CDC Healthy Weight website.
Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Unfortunately, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. While there’s no cure for this disease, physiotherapy and medication can aid in slowing the disease’s progression. Most cases can be controlled with a class of drugs called anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS).
Recently, advances in treatment tactics have resulted in ever-improving results and quality of life for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Treat to Target Rheumatoid Arthritis is a treatment value that rheumatologists use to manage this disease effectively.
The treat-to-target method has resulted in fewer symptoms and higher remission rates for people with RA. The treatment strategy involves:
setting an exact testing goal that points to either remission or low disease state
testing critical phase reactants and performing monthly monitoring to assess the progress of treatment and management plan
switching a medication regimen quickly if progress isn’t made.
Treatments for RA can aid in controlling the pain and the inflammatory response that can, in many cases, result in remission. Decreasing the inflammation can additionally aid in preventing further joint and organ damage.
Treatments can include:
alternative or home remedies
specific types of exercise
A healthcare provider will work to determine the best treatment plan for an individual’s medical needs.
These treatments will help them to live an active life and reduce the risk of long-term complications for many individuals.
There are several types of medication for RA. Some of these medications can aid in reducing the pain and inflammation of RA. Some assist in minimizing the flares and limit the damage that RA does to the joints.
The over-the-counter medications below and assist to reduce the pain and inflammation during RA flares:
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
The following drugs work to slow the damage that RA can cause to the body:
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) work by thwarting the body’s immune system response. This action helps to slow down the progression of RA.
Biologics – These new-generation biologic DMARDs supply a directed response to inflammation rather than blocking the body’s entire immune system response. They can be an effective treatment for individuals who do not act in response to more traditional DMARDs.
Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors – These are a new subcategory of DMARDs that stop specific immune responses. These are drugs that a healthcare provider may use to assist with the prevention of inflammation and prevent damage to your joints when DMARDs and biologic DMARDs do not work.
Home Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Specific home remedies and lifestyle adjustments may help to improve the quality of life with RA. This includes exercise, rest, and assistive devices.
Exercise – Low-impact exercises can help to improve the range of motion in the joints and increase mobility. Exercise can additionally strengthen muscles, which can aid in relieving some of the pressure from the joints.
It may also be wise to try gentle yoga, which can help to regain strength and flexibility.
Get the proper rest – An individual may require more rest during flare-ups and less during remission. Getting enough sleep will aid in reducing inflammation and pain as well as fatigue.
Apply heat or cold – Ice packs or cold compresses can aid in minimizing inflammation and pain. They may additionally be effective against muscle spasms.
One can alternate cold with hot treatments such as warm showers and hot compresses. This treatment can help to reduce stiffness.
Try assistive devices – Specific devices such as splints and braces can hold the joints in a resting position. This action can help to reduce inflammation.
Canes and crutches can also help to maintain mobility, even during flares. One can additionally install household devices, such as grab bars and handrails in bathrooms and alongside staircases.
How to Avoid Rheumatoid Arthritis
Unfortunately, advancing age cannot be put off, but there are precautions that will assist with avoiding rheumatoid arthritis. A couple of them are the same as managing the disease.
Quit Smoking – Smoking, and susceptibility to cigarette smoke is a significant risk factor for RA. One study found that the probability of developing RA was nearly twice as high for smokers as it is for non-smokers.
Smoking can affect the immune system by escalating oxidative stress on the body, initiating inflammation, and promoting apoptosis (cell death).1 Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke might help prevent the development of RA.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers several resources that can help an individual to quit smoking. These include a free smartphone app, text messages, medications, live quitlines, support groups, and assistance with making a quit plan.
Constrain Alcohol Consumption – Alcohol consumption doesn’t have to be terminated for individuals with RA, but it’s best to limit alcohol intake. Long-term restraint in alcohol drinking has been connected to lower RA risk in women.
When an individual has RA, the principal concern with alcohol is its potential interaction with medications one may be taking to treat the condition. Some medicines used to treat RA, such as methotrexate, can be harmful to the liver. Alcohol use, which can additionally hurt the liver, may increase that risk.
Individuals should talk to their physician about how much alcohol they can consume and determine whether any medications they are taking make drinking alcohol inadvisable.
Minimize Bone Loss – RA is linked with bone loss and osteoporosis. Pain and joint stiffness caused by RA can lead to inactivity, which increases the risk for osteoporosis. The glucocorticoid medications frequently prescribed for the treatment of RA can play a role in significant bone loss.
Bone loss associated with RA can be prevented or at least slowed down by:
Making sure a diet is rich in calcium or vitamin D
Consuming bone health supplements if these nutrients aren’t part of a diet
Getting guidance from a physician to avoid the progression of RA
Avoiding long term use of glucocorticoids
Maintain Good Oral Health – Inflammation can be a factor in the development of RA. To aid with preventing inflammation, teeth and gums must be in good shape, and regular visits to the dentist to avoid chronic oral health problems or infections are required.
A 2017 study at Johns Hopkins University found that some types of bacteria that cause gum disease, such as Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, release toxins that trigger specific antibody production types. These antibodies were found in 62% of people with chronic periodontitis and 43% of people with RA, suggesting that the same bacterial process may trigger both conditions.
Consume Fish – Fish is rich in many nutrients, particularly omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and D. Eating fish on a regular basis is a good idea for anyone. Still, fish oil is especially beneficial for people with inflammatory diseases and various types of arthritis, including RA.
Research indicates that consuming fish several times each week may be protective against RA.
Sustain a Healthy Weight – A healthy diet can be beneficial when it comes to preventing RA. Obesity has been connected to the condition, and sustain a healthy weight can reduce the risk of RA. Additionally, several vitamins and minerals—like vitamin D and calcium—can help keep RA and osteoporosis from progressing.
There is additionally specific evidence that anti-inflammatory diets can aid in fighting RA and other inflammatory diseases. These diets usually rely on the fundamentals of vegetarian, gluten-free, and Mediterranean diets.
While these diets do not significantly affect disease development or progression, eating or avoiding certain foods seems to help some patients with RA when combined with other therapies.
Critical aspects of these diets include:
Fish—mostly salmon—three to four times each week
Vegetarian meals with legumes one to two times each week
Five or more servings of fruit and vegetables each day
Superfoods for an anti-inflammatory diet include:
Foods best avoided or limited include:
Refined carbohydrates, like white bread
No more than three (3) servings of meat per week
Stay Active – Regular exercise, including low-impact exercise, can aid with chronic disease prevention. Exercise improves heart health, mental health, bone health, and more.
All categories of exercise: aerobic, weight training, stretching, and yoga—can additionally be protective against diseases like RA and may aid in slowing the progression and relieve symptoms of the disease. Yoga, particularly, can reduce pain, inflammation, and stress and improve mental health, balance, and strength.
The best examples of exercises for people with RA include:
Yoga and Tai Chi
When an individual has RA, it is vital to listen to their body. They need to be mindful of pain and not push to discomfort.
The right equipment, such as supportive shoes, can aid in keeping safe and receive the most significant benefit from the effort.
Reduce Exposure to Environmental Pollutants – Environmental pollutants such as chemicals used in cleaning and manufacturing have been shown to initiate a host of health problems, particularly in individuals with specific genes.
The HLA gene has been tied to RA development. Studies have found that pollutants such as dioxin and cigarette smoke are associated with disease development in individuals with this gene. New medications are being examined to block these actions, but avoiding harmful chemicals is best when possible.
Commence Action Early – Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic, progressive disease that can lead to disabling joint damage. Early symptoms may include stiffness in the morning that settles down in approximately an hour.
Anyone who thinks they have Rheumatoid Arthritis or are at risk of developing the condition should consult their doctor. Early and vigorous treatment with medications that help terminate inflammation is crucial to preventing severe joint damage or damage to other organs.
Questions, comments, and concerns are welcomed below, including any experience you have had with RA that you would like to share.
Previously, we published an article entitled Facts about the Kidneys. This article focuses on the facts about kidney stones. Kidney stones are on the rise for a number of reasons that will be highlighted as well.
What are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones (aka renal calculi, nephrolithiasis, or urolithiasis) are solid deposits composed of minerals and salts that develop inside the kidneys and stick together in concentrated urine.
There are various types of kidney stones depending on how they are produced and the substances that form them. Typical forms of kidney stones include uric acid stones, calcium stones, struvite stones, and cystine stones.
What Causes Kidney Stones
Kidney stones can have an effect on any part of the urinary tract, including the area from the kidneys to the bladder. Frequently, stones appear when the urine becomes concentrated, which allows minerals to crystallize and stick together.
Diet, additional body weight, certain medical conditions, and certain supplements and medications are among the various causes of kidney stones. These causes are explained in detail below.
Inadequate Hydration – Poor hydration is one of the most common causes of kidney stones. The crystallization progression that forms kidney stones is more likely to take place if the body suffers from persistent low hydration. Poor hydration can be the consequence of inadequate water intake or excess sweating during physical activity.
Drinking adequate amounts of water daily can keep the body hydrated and therefore reducing the risk of developing kidney stones. If an individual sweats too much for any reason, exercises intensely, or carries out physical activity over long periods, that person should make an effort to sip water throughout the day.
Foods With Excessive Oxalates – Even though leafy green vegetables have positive benefits, eating them in excess is a potential cause of kidney stones. This is because foods like spinach, rhubarb, and beets contain high
amounts of oxalates, which are compounds that combine with calcium to form a majority of kidney stones.
When foods high in oxalates are consumed in moderate quantities, the oxalates are usually excreted in the urine. However, when an individual frequently consumes large amounts of foods high in oxalates, the quantity of oxalates becomes too elevated for excretion. Therefore, when the oxalates combine with calcium, calcium stones form. Because of this, It is best to avoid being over-enthusiastic while eating foods high in oxalates. Additionally, there are leafy green vegetables that are low in oxalates, like kale.
Excessive Sodium (Salt) Intake – Excessive sodium intake is another probable cause of kidney stones. High sodium ingestion leads to increased calcium levels and exhausted citrate levels in urine. Citrate is known to hinder stone formation. These two factors increase the risk of kidney stone formation.
Studies indicate that reducing salt intake to no more than 1,200 mg per day and limiting protein intake cut down recurrent kidney stone formation by half among people who suffer from chronic kidney stones. According to the study, reduction in salt intake has significantly better results than reducing calcium intake.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recommends that the general population consume no more than 2,300 mg of table salt per day. In addition, those individuals with high blood pressure and who are middle-aged or older should limit their intake to no more than 1,500 mg a day.
Protein From Animals – Animal protein can lead to high urine acidity, for example, beef and shellfish. The digestion of animal protein creates uric acid, which is known to bring about gout. Uric acid can also gather in the kidneys and result in kidney stones. Animal protein can additionally increase calcium levels in urine as well as reduce the amount of citrate in the body. Both these factors increase the risk of kidney stone formation.
However, this does not mean that animal protein should be avoided altogether. In contrast, consuming animal protein in moderate amounts and monitoring other known dietary causes of kidney stones can reduce the risk considerably.
Insufficient Calcium Intake – While extra calcium can unite with oxalates to form calcium stones, low calcium intake can also lead to kidney stone development. Calcium readily binds to oxalates, which works completely when there is the right amount of calcium in the diet.
Dietary calcium combines with oxalates in the small intestine. This combination enables the oxalates to be expelled in the stool instead of being absorbed into the bloodstream. However, when calcium intake is insufficient, the oxalates are soaked up into the bloodstream. Once they arrive at the kidneys, they combine with the available calcium to form calcium stones. Shop for calcium online [affiliate link]
Digestive Issues – Some gut problems are potential causes of kidney stones. Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, can bring about diarrhea, which results in severe fluid loss. Fluid loss, in turn, reduces the amount of water accessible for urine production.
Low hydration additionally directs to a high concentration of minerals and acids in the body, particularly in the kidneys and the urinary tract. Large amounts of minerals and acids in the urinary system and the subsequent low urine volume increase the risk of kidney stones.
Excess Weight-Obesity – Obesity, which is identified as a body mass index (BMI) bigger than 30, has been connected to the development of kidney stones. Additionally, being overweight or obese causes numerous other health problems, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
According to some research, obesity directs to insulin resistance. Consequently, this lessens the urinary secretion of ammonium compounds from the body. This reduction increases urine acidity and leads to the buildup of uric acid in the kidneys and the urinary tract. These increased uric acid levels in the urinary system can cause uric acid stones to form.
Excessive Sugar – Excessive sugar ingestion may lead to the formation of kidney stones. A large number of foods, mainly processed foods, either contain sugar or are broken down into sugar. Therefore, when individuals consume products such as soda, french fries, bread, and cakes, the body can be inundated with a lot of sugar. These large amounts of sugar interfere with the absorption of minerals, for instance, magnesium and calcium, which increases the risk of developing kidney stones.
Researchers connect the increasing number of young children with kidney stones to the increased ingesting of sugary foods. Additionally, studies have found that reducing sugar intake reduces the risk of recurrent kidney stones.
Medications – Individuals taking medications such as diuretics and high-calcium antacids have a higher risk of developing kidney stones. Diuretics decrease the quantity of water in the body. This decrease in water raises the level of minerals in the kidneys and the urinary tract, making kidney stones more likely. In addition, the long-term use of high-calcium antacids increases the amount of calcium in the urine.
These medications increase the risk of developing calcium stones in the kidneys and the entire urinary system. In addition, taking large amounts of vitamin A and vitamin D or drugs such as indinavir, phenytoin, and antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin and ceftriaxone may additionally amplify the risk of getting kidney stones.
Heredity – Individuals are more susceptible to getting kidney stones if other family members have had them. Hypercalciuria, or continually high calcium levels in the urine, is a basis for hereditary kidney stones. In a majority of cases, kidney stones consist of calcium. The condition can be passed down from generation to generation and is a predisposing factor for kidney stones.
Hereditary diseases that affect people’s capability to process compounds like oxalate, uric acid, and the amino acid cysteine additionally increase kidney stones risk. Renal tubular acidosis is an additional genetic condition in which kidney stones are more likely to transpire.
Symptoms of Kidney Stones
Depending on the size and location of the stone, it can cause different signs and symptoms. Usually, kidney stones cause no symptoms if they are small enough to leave the body through the urine. The majority of the symptoms linked to this condition are due to stones that have become trapped in some areas of the urinary tract. These are usually the ureters, which are the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder.
Abdominal Pain – Abdominal pain is an ambiguous indicator linked with many conditions. The location and characteristics of the pain can assist in distinguishing between different diseases and conditions, and it can be beneficial information to the clinicians to provide an accurate diagnosis.
When a kidney stone becomes lodged in the urinary tract, it can cause a tremendous amount of pain. Once a stone has become trapped, the ureter will spasm, causing the classic renal colic. Renal colic is described by sharp and sudden pain in the affected side of the abdomen. Generally, the pain comes and goes as the ureter spasms repetitively. This pain is known to be extremely rigorous and may last a few hours until it starts to calm down. The pain has been equated with childbirth labor pains.
Back Pain – Pain in the lower portion of the back is one of the most common medical complaints worldwide, next to pain in the neck. It is also a non-specific symptom associated with numerous conditions. It can have a severe start that is usually seen in conditions affecting the musculature of the back. However, sometimes, it can have a subtle onset that makes it difficult to diagnose.
Depending on where the stone is located, it can cause different signs and symptoms. For example, kidney stones that become lodged in the lower portion of the ureter, where the ureter and bladder meet, cause lower back pain. It is additionally possible for the back to be tender to the touch if the affected kidney is struggling to push urine out due to the blockage in the urinary tract.
Pain in the Groin – Groin pain is yet another non-specific symptom associated with numerous conditions. Given the many muscles located in this region, it is usual to experience groin pain due to muscle cramps, tears, and strains. Muscle injuries generally have a sharp and sudden start right after the causing trauma takes place. Other conditions such as hernias and even nephrolithiasis are also known to cause pain in the groin.
Kidney stones that become trapped in the lower portion of the ureter can cause groin pain. Individuals with stones have also reported testicular pain in males and pain in the labia majora for females. This is called referred pain (pain felt at a location different from the injured or diseased organ or body part).
Dark or Red Urine – Hematuria is the medical name used to explain the blood in the urine. When an individual sees blood in their urine, this is called macroscopic hematuria. On the other hand, some patients may have blood in their urine, and the amount is so minuscule that it is only visible during a urine analysis, which is called microscopic hematuria.
More than half of the individuals in distress from kidney stones have either macroscopic or microscopic hematuria. As the stone travels through the urinary tract, it can damage it, causing blood to be seen in the urine.
Urinating Pain – Dysuria is the medical term used to express the presence of pain in the course of urination. It is an imprecise indicator linked with numerous conditions such as urinary tract infections (UTI), kidney stones, and sexually transmitted infections (STI), to name a few. This symptom is frequently depicted as a burning sensation during urination, and it can be an extremely painful experience.
This symptom can be seen in patients with kidney stones lodged at the point where the ureter joins with the bladder. It may additionally be a sign that an underlying urinary tract infection might be at hand as well.
Other possible symptoms include:
Increased heart rate
Treating Kidney Stones
The treatment for kidney stones differs, depending on the kind of stone and the origin.
Most small kidney stones do not require invasive treatment involving surgery. An individual may be able to pass a small stone by:
Drinking water. Drinking as much as 2 to 3 quarts (1.8 to 3.6 liters) a day will keep the urine diluted and may avert stones from forming. Unless a doctor indicates otherwise, drink enough fluid, ideally water mostly, to produce clear or nearly clear urine.
Pain relievers. Passing even a tiny stone can cause some distress. To relieve mild pain, a physician may suggest pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB Profen, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).
Medical therapy. A physician may give an individual a medication to help pass the kidney stone. This kind of medication, known as an alpha-blocker, relaxes the muscles in the ureter, helping to pass the kidney stone faster and with less pain. Illustrations of alpha-blockers include tamsulosin (Flomax) and the drug combination dutasteride and tamsulosin (Jalyn).
On the other hand, kidney stones that are too excessive in size to pass on their own or initiate bleeding, kidney injury, or constant urinary tract infections may necessitate more extensive treatment. Procedures can include:
Using sound waves to crumble stones. For specific kidney stones, based on size and location, a physician may advise a method called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL).
ESWL uses sound waves to create strong vibrations (shock waves) that
shatter the stones into tiny pieces that are passed in the urine. The process lasts about 45 to 60 minutes and may cause moderate pain. Therefore, an individual may be under sedation or light anesthesia to make them comfortable.
ESWL can bring about blood in the urine, bruising on the back or abdomen, bleeding around the kidney area and other neighboring organs, and irritation as the stone fragments passes through the urinary tract.
Surgery to eliminate the large stones in the kidney. A procedure known as percutaneous nephrolithotomy (nef-row-lih-THOT-uh-me) involves surgically removing a kidney stone using small telescopes and instruments placed through a small incision in the back.
The patient will receive general anesthesia during the surgery and will remain in the hospital for one to two days to recover. The physician may advise this surgery if ESWL is not successful.
Using a scope to eliminate stones. To remove a smaller stone in the ureter or kidney, a physician may insert a thin, lighted tube (ureteroscope) equipped with a camera through the urethra and bladder to the ureter.
Once the stone is sited, special tools can ensnare the stone or break it into pieces that will pass in the urine. A physician may then place a small tube (stent) in the ureter to relieve swelling and promote healing. General or local anesthesia is administered during this procedure.
Parathyroid gland surgery. Some calcium phosphate stones are caused by overactive parathyroid glands located on the four corners of your thyroid gland, just below the Adam’s apple. When these glands produce excess amounts of the parathyroid hormone (hyperparathyroidism), calcium levels can become too high, and kidney stones can form as a result.
Hyperparathyroidism occasionally occurs when a small, benign tumor forms in one of the parathyroid glands or an individual develop another condition that leads these glands to produce more parathyroid hormone. Removing the tumor from the gland terminates the formation of kidney stones. On the other hand, the doctor may recommend handling the condition that is causing the parathyroid gland to overproduce the hormone.
How to Prevent Kidney Stones
Prevention is better than cure. To prevent kidney stones, one may want to
include a combination of lifestyle changes and medications.
An individual may reduce the risk of kidney stones if he or she:
Consumes water throughout the day. Doctors usually recommend drinking enough fluids to pass about 2.1 quarts (2 liters) of urine for people with a history of kidney stones a day. A doctor may ask a patient to measure their urine output to ensure they are drinking enough water.
Individuals who live in a hot, dry climate or exercise frequently may need to consume even more water to produce enough urine. On the other hand, if urine is clear or light in color, enough water is being consumed in all probability.
Consumes fewer oxalate-rich foods. For individuals that tend to form calcium oxalate stones, a doctor may recommend limiting foods that are rich in oxalates. These include spinach, beets, sweet potatoes, nuts, tea, chocolate, black pepper, rhubarb, okra, Swiss chard, and soy products.
Chose a diet light in salt and animal protein. Reduce the amount of salt consumed and choose non-animal protein sources, such as legumes. Contemplate using a salt substitute.
Consumes calcium-rich foods, but use discretion with calcium supplements. Calcium in food does not affect the risk of kidney stones. Therefore, continue consuming calcium-rich foods unless a doctor advises otherwise.
It is best to consult with a doctor before taking calcium supplements, as these have been linked to an increased risk of kidney stones. An individual may reduce the risk by taking supplements with meals. In addition, diets low in calcium can escalate kidney stone formation in some individuals.
One can also ask a doctor for a referral to a dietitian who can help develop an eating plan that reduces the risk of kidney stones.
Medications can control the number of minerals and salts in the urine and may be helpful in individuals who form certain kinds of stones. The type of medication a doctor prescribes will depend on the type of kidney stones an individual may have.
Kidney stones are on the rise. One of the reasons is poor diet choices. Fast and processed foods contain large amounts of sodium. As you read earlier, excess sodium can lead to stones.
Kidney stones are also more apparent in the summer. The reason for this also due to calcium. Studies have shown that the body produces more calcium in the urine during the winter months, leading to hypercalciuria.
Kidney stones can be a severe condition. However, in most cases, they are preventable.
If you have a comment, question, or concern, or if you have had experience with kidney stones you’d like to share, please do so below.
Cortisol, ever heard of it? Cortisol is a hormone that plays an essential role in the functioning of our bodies. So, what is the cortisol hormone? Read on to find out.
What is the Cortisol Hormone?
Cortisol is the body’s principal stress hormone. It is more like nature’s integrated distress signal system. It works with specific segments of the brain to control an individual’s mood, motivation, and fear.
Cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands, which are triangle-shaped organs at the top of the kidneys.
What does the Cortisol Hormone do?
The cortisol hormone plays a vital role in several functions the body performs. For instance, it:
Boosts energy, which enables the body to handle stress and restores balance afterward
Controls how the body makes use of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
Regulates blood pressure
How Does Cortisol Work?
The hypothalamus and pituitary glands, both located in the brain, can detect if an individual’s blood contains the correct level of cortisol. If the level is too low, the brain adjusts the amount of hormones it produces. The adrenal glands react to these signals. At that point, they fine-tune the quantity of cortisol they release.
Cortisol receptors contained in most cells in the body receive and use the hormone in various ways. An individual’s requirements will differ from day to day. For example, when the body is on high alert, cortisol is able to alter or shut down functions that may get in the way. These can include the digestive or reproductive systems, the immune system, or even the growth processes.
Occasionally, the cortisol levels can get out of balance. After the pressure or danger has ceased, the level of cortisol should adjust to normal. At that time, the heart, blood pressure, and other body systems will get back to normal.
If an individual is under constant stress and the alarm button stays on, it can disrupt the body’s most crucial functions. It can also lead to numerous health issues that include:
Anxiety and depression
Memory and concentration problems
Problems with digestion
Weight gain (mainly in the middle)
A nodule or mass in the adrenal gland or a tumor in the brain’s pituitary gland can trigger the body to produce excess cortisol. This situation can result in a condition called Cushing syndrome. This condition can lead to skin that bruises easily, rapid weight gain, diabetes, muscle weakness, and a host of other health problems.
If the wrong foods are chosen or certain foods are consumed at the wrong times, cortisol can be increased. The list below indicates which foods to avoid to prevent elevated cortisol.
Trans Fats – Trans fats are dangerous because they’re associated with a host of diseases, and there is evidence from animal studies that they raise cortisol.
In addition, human studies have shown a higher intake of trans fats is coupled with aggressive behavior and a greater risk of depression. Both of which are likely linked to unrestrained hormones.
It is best to avoid trans fats by preferencing whole foods over packaged “junk food” and reading all labels for “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils.
Vegetable & Seed Oils – Vegetable and seed oils, like corn, canola, sunflower, and, soy are highly processed oils that are washed, heated, and treated with the chemical hexane before placing them in chips, cookies, cereal, or bottling as a “heart” healthy oil.
This over-processing depletes these oils of nutrition and contaminates them with toxins. Subsequently, these oils are also easily destroyed by oxidation (free radicals), activating the immune system, causing inflammation, altering stress hormone balance, and damaging the body.
Also, most individuals consume excessive amounts of the omega-6 fats that vegetable and seed oils contain, making it wise to avoid these oils in favor of various reduced processed fats such as olive oil, butter, and coconut oil. If an individual has a skewed ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats, disease risk and obesity are increased significantly.
Fruit Juice – Consuming fruit juice often is associated with an increased risk for diabetes and poor metabolic health. It is a situation that often leads to a changed cortisol curve and elevated inflammation.
Consuming fruit has the reverse effect, decreasing diabetes risk. The cause is that juice generally does not contain the fiber that naturally occurs in fruit. Lack of fiber causes a surge of events that involve increased cortisol.
The sugar contained in the juice results in a rapid spike in blood sugar and too much insulin released into the bloodstream, which leads to low blood sugar as insulin quickly shuttles all the energy from the blood into cells. As a result, cortisol is released, and we feel hungry again, often causing us to overeat.
Foods a person are Sensitive or Intolerant To – Food sensitivity is when individuals negatively react to eating a specific food because their immune system is triggered, causing cortisol to be elevated. It is much milder than an allergic response, so much so that most do not realize why they may feel lousy; they just know that they feel out of sorts
Individuals can develop a food intolerance to any food, especially if they live a high-stress lifestyle and have elevated cortisol. However, the most common ones are casein protein, beef, eggs, shellfish, tree nuts, and gluten grains.
Chocolate Cake – there are undoubtedly many varieties of chocolate cake, but the majority will have antioxidant-poor chocolate and a lot of refined sugar. Foods higher in refined sugar lead to a greater release of cortisol, adrenaline, and epinephrine—a combination that will make an individual feel great for a few minutes until he or she crashes and the so-called “sugar high” is over and, they just desire more.
For example, in one study, women who suffered more significant life stresses and had imbalanced cortisol levels consumed more chocolate cake and fewer vegetables at a lunch buffet. This indicates a mutual effect where altered cortisol drives the desire for sweet foods, which in turn elevates cortisol.
Factory Farm (processed) Beef – Regularly consuming factory-farmed beef is a wrong choice if the goal is to balance cortisol. Conventional beef derives from animals raised on combinations of antibiotics, hormones, genetically modified corn, chicken manure, and ground-up parts of other animals.
This beef additionally contains fewer omega-3 fats and additional omega-6 fats that are pro-inflammatory when not balanced with omega-3 fats. Factory-farmed beef additionally has more of the type of saturated fat that is detrimental to cholesterol (called myristic and palmitic acid). In contrast, grass-beef has more stearic acid, which is neutral for cholesterol.
Flavored Yogurts Fat-Free – High-quality yogurt that contains live probiotic bacteria has been found to lower cortisol. However, fat-free and low-fat flavored yogurts are merely junk foods masking as health food. In addition, they have a poor taste because all of the fat has been removed and substituted with sugar or artificial sweeteners, as well as fake flavorings and dyes.
These yogurts are not likely to retain any live probiotic bacteria because they tend to go through extensive industrial processing. Therefore, they will not benefit the gut, nor do the cortisols level any good.
Alcohol – Alcohol brings about oxidative stress in the liver, depresses mood, and has been found to raise cortisol levels, especially when consumed after intense exercise.
For example, a recent study found that when trained men consumed alcohol after a workout, they had elevated cortisol and a poorer free testosterone to cortisol ratio than a placebo group. Long-term use could be even more detrimental because it is associated with even more significant hormone imbalances.
Low-Fiber Carbs –Carbohydrates that do not contain fiber can lead to elevated cortisol because they are quickly digested, leading to a more significant spike in blood sugar and insulin. This action is followed by cortisol release once blood sugar plummets. In addition, low fiber diets can lead to poor gastrointestinal function and inflammation, changing cortisol balance.
Carbs lacking fiber are likely to be refined or processed foods such as white bread, cereal, cookies, or crackers. Unprocessed fibrous carbs include practically all veggies and fruits.
Caffeine – Although it is viable to have healthy cortisol levels with caffeine use, individuals who bear the effects of high-stress lives may benefit from avoiding caffeine. For instance, new caffeine users encounter a significant cortisol spike that lasts throughout the day. Even long-term users who consume it in the morning and then again at lunchtime experience a big afternoon spike in cortisol. The effect is worsened if an individual is anxious or mentally stressed.
It is best to be wise about caffeine use and realize that having hormone imbalances or adrenal exhaustion reduces the ability to metabolize caffeine. In addition, specific genotypes have the same problem.
On the other hand, if the body does not produce enough of this cortisol hormone, the result is a condition known as Addison’s disease.
The symptoms usually appear over time. They generally include:
Changes in the skin, such as darkening on scars and in the skin folds
Nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
Decrease of appetite and weight
Low blood pressure
Muscle weakness that increasingly grows worse
If the body is not producing enough cortisol, a physician may prescribe dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, or prednisone tablets.
Nutrition is a potent means to balance cortisol and improve the secretion of related metabolic and performance-boosting hormones. By planning a diet wisely, individuals can help lower cortisol post-workout or in the evening before bed. This will allow one to avoid food cravings, reduce stress, and get better fat loss results when improving body composition.
Balancing Cortisol Naturally
A natural approach is always the best way to prevent health issues. Below are some suggestions for balancing cortisol naturally.
Retire for bed each night at the same regular time, wake up at the same time, and move out into the sunshine. This practice will create a good circadian rhythm, which optimizes hormone balance naturally.
Limit alcohol consumption. An individual may think it relaxes them, but alcohol, in fact, increases cortisol.
Limit or avoid caffeine, sugar, and processed food. Better-eating guru Michael Pollen’s quote “Eat foods from a plant, not made in a plant,” is an excellent cue to consume food that is natural and whole.
Exercise. However, understand that running hard and overtraining without adequate rest can increase cortisol. In addition, the constant requirement for glucose to the muscles can produce a form of chronic stress. An individual may find pilates, yoga, or walking in nature to relax their mind while exercising the body.
Get a massage to reduce stress and relax muscles.
Consider talking to a physician or pharmacist about consuming dietary supplements such as vitamin B complex, vitamin C, and fish oil, as intake levels vary.
Try meditation to slow the mind down, diminish anxiety, and reduce cortisol levels. Deep breathing can also assist. For those who have never tried meditation, here is a guide to help you get started.
With regular exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet, individuals can be better prepared to manage stressful situations and prevent stress from aggravating their health.
Please leave questions, comments, and concerns below.