Category Archives: Health Conditions

10 Most Surprising Findings from Psychological Studies

Psychology has a reputation for being the science of common sense, or a field that simply confirms things we already know about ourselves.

One way of battling this misconception, explains Jeremy Dean — a PhD candidate in psychology and master of ceremonies at the always-awesome PsyBlog — is to think about all the unexpected, surprising, and just plain weird findings that have popped out of psychology studies over the years. Here are ten of his favorite examples.

10. Cognitive dissonance

This is perhaps one of the weirdest and most unsettling findings in psychology. Cognitive dissonance is the idea that we find it hard to hold two contradictory beliefs, so we unconsciously adjust one to make it fit with the other.

In the classic study, students found a boring task more interesting if they were paid less to take part. Our unconscious reasons like this: if I didn’t do it for money, then I must have done it because it was interesting. As if by magic, a boring task becomes more interesting because otherwise I cant explain my behavior.

The reason its unsettling is that our minds are probably performing these sorts of rationalizations all the time, without our conscious knowledge. So how do we know what we really think?

9. Hallucinations are common

Hallucinations are like waking dreams, and we tend to think of them as markers of serious mental illness. In reality, however, they are more common among normal people than we might imagine. One-third of us report having experienced hallucinations, with 20% experiencing hallucinations once a month, and 2% once a week (Ohayon, 2000).

Similarly, normal people often have paranoid thoughts, as in this study I reported previously in which 40% experienced paranoid thoughts on a virtual journey. The gap between people with mental illness and the sane is a lot smaller than wed like to think.

8. The placebo effect

Perhaps you’ve had the experience that a headache improves seconds after you take an aspirin? This cant be the drug because it takes at least 15 minutes to kick in.

That’s the placebo effect: your mind knows you’ve taken a pill, so you feel better. In medicine it seems strongest in the case of pain: some studies suggest a placebo of saline (salty water) can be as powerful as morphine. Some studies even suggest that 80% of the power of Prozac is placebo.

The placebo effect is counter-intuitive because we easily forget that mind and body are not separate.

7. Obedience to authority

Most of us like to think of ourselves as independently-minded people. We feel sure that we wouldn’t harm another human being unless under very serious duress. Certainly something as weak as being ordered to give someone an electric shock by an authority figure in a white coat wouldn’t be enough, would it?

Stanley Milgrams famous study found it was. Sixty-three percent of participants kept giving electric shocks to another human being despite the victim screaming in agony and eventually falling silent. [The test setting is illustrated in the figure shown here, via]

Situations have huge power to control our behavior, and its a power we don’t notice until its dramatically revealed in studies like this.

6. Fantasies reduce motivation

One way people commonly motivate themselves is by using fantasies about the future. The idea is that dreaming about a positive future helps motivate you towards that goal.

Beware, though, psychologists have found that fantasizing about future success is actually bad for motivation. It seems that getting a taste of the future in the here and now reduces the drive to achieve it. Fantasies also fail to flag up the problems were likely to face on the way to our goals.

So whats a better way to commit to goals? Instead of fantasizing, use mental contrasting.

5. Choice blindness

We all know the reasons for our decisions, right? For example, do you know why you’re attracted to someone? Don’t be so sure. In one study, people were easily tricked into justifying choices they didn’t actually make about who they found attractive. Under some circumstances, we exhibit what is known as choice blindness: we seem to have little or no awareness of choices we’ve made and why we’ve made them. We then use rationalizations to try and cover our tracks.

This is just one example of the general idea that we have relatively little access to the inner workings of our minds. [Photo by Pablo Perez]

4. Two (or three, or four) heads are not always better than one

Want to think outside the box? Do some blue sky thinking? Want to [insert your own least-favorite cliché here].

Well, according to psychological research, brainstorming doesn’t work. People in groups tend to be lazy, likely to forget their ideas while others talk, and worry about what others will think (despite the rule that there are no bad ideas).

It turns out its much better to send people off to think up new ideas on their own. Groups then do better at evaluating those ideas.

3. Trying to suppress your thoughts is counterproductive

When youre down or worried about something, people often say: hey, try not to think about it; just put it out of your mind!

This is very bad advice. Trying to suppress your thoughts is counter-productive. Like trying as hard as you can not to think about pink elephants or white bears. What people experience when they try to suppress their thoughts is an ironic rebound effect: the thought comes back stronger than before. Looking for distractions is a much better strategy.

2. Incredible multi-tasking skills

Despite all the minds limitations, we can train it to do incredible things. Take our multitasking abilities, for example — did you know that, with practice, people can actually read and write at the same time?

One study of multitasking trained two volunteers over 16 weeks until they could read a short story and categorize lists of words at the same time. Eventually they could perform as well on both tasks at the same time as they could on each task individually before the study began.

1. In life, its all about the little things

We tend to think that the big events in our lives are the most important: graduation, getting married, or the birth of a child.

But major life events are often not as directly important to our well-being asthe little hassles and uplifts of everyday life; major events, on the other hand, mainly affect us through the daily hassles and uplifts they produce. The same is true at work, where job satisfaction is strongly hit by everyday hassles.

What most affects peoples happiness are things like quality of sleep, little ups and downs at work and relationships with our friends and family. In other words: its the little things that make us happy.

Find the Right Tools to Help Treat Neuropathy

There are four critical mistakes people make when choosing an alternative treatment for neuropathy. Avoiding the following errors will give you the tools necessary to choose the best treatment for your neuropathy.

Related: Foods That Aggravate Peripheral Neuropathy

Mistake No. 1: Patients don’t select a treatment protocol that will increase the blood flow to micro blood vessels (capillaries) in the feet and legs.

One of the causes of neuropathy and the reason it gets worse is because the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) in the feet and legs get damaged. These blood vessels wrap around the nerves and are the nerve’s life source. The blood flow brings oxygen and nutrients to the nerve. If you cut the blood flow off to any part of the body, that part begins to die.

If you want any chance of getting a good result from reducing or ending the pain in your legs or feet, don’t make the mistake of going to a practitioner who uses a hand-held laser to treat neuropathy. Hand-held lasers are designed for deep treatment of joints and muscles.

But with peripheral neuropathy, the problem is over a large area of the feet, hands or legs.

One of the core treatments at Restore Medical Group is ProNeuroLight therapy. This is a LED therapy and is FDA-cleared to increase circulation.

Mistake No. 2: Your treatment doesn’t stimulate damaged nerves. When the sensory nerves in your feet or legs are damaged, they atrophy (shrink).

This technology starts to exercise your nerves (neuro-muscular reeducation), which is critical when you’re trying to rehabilitate damaged nerves. You have to get your nerves working again electrically.

Mistake No. 3: Your doctor isn’t trained in neuropathy nutritional protocols.

Your doctor has to have the specialized knowledge to be able to identify the foods you may be eating that can contribute to your neuropathy and make it worse.

Some foods promote inflammation of the nerves and decrease peripheral circulation at the same time. Some foods can cause an autoimmune reaction in neuropathy sufferers.

There are specialized nutritional supplements that help reduce inflammation and increase peripheral circulation. These supplements are only available through doctors. These are critical to getting optimal results with a comprehensive neuropathy treatment program.

Mistake No. 4: Your doctor is not dedicated to treating neuropathy.

You don’t want to hire a doctor who just dabbles in neuropathy part time. You need a doctor who is dedicated and passionate about helping people with neuropathy.

Foods That Aggravate Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition in which nerve damage triggers a burning, tingling or numb sensation in your hands and feet. The specific cause can be difficult to pinpoint, but contributing factors include vitamin deficiencies, traumatic injuries, diabetes, alcoholism, infections, kidney disease, tumors and exposure to poisons. Treatment may include managing underlying causes, physical therapy, medications and dietary changes. For best results, seek guidance from your dietitian or doctor.

Gluten

Foods affect people with neuropathy differently. If you have a gluten allergy, which is also known as celiac disease, consuming gluten can trigger and worsen your symptoms. Fifty percent of adults with celiac disease experience no gastrointestinal symptoms, according to Peripheral Neuropathy: When the Numbness, Weakness, and Pain Wont Stop by Norman Latov and Lisa M. Shulman. In these cases, tingling and numbness may be your only notable symptoms. Gluten is a storage protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Common sources include most breads, cereals, pasta, crackers, cookies, cakes, pastries and all foods containing white, wheat, cake or baking flour. Suitable alternatives include rice, potatoes and oatmeal, corn and rice-based cereals and breads clearly labeled gluten-free.

Refined Grains

Refined grains are high-glycemic, meaning they have a dramatic impact on your blood sugar. According to the Neuropathy Association, glycemic control is the No. 1 strategy for preventing the progression of neuropathy associated with diabetes, which is one of the most common causes. To improve the glycemic impact of your diet, replace refined grains and products including white and wheat bread, enriched pasta, white and instant rice, low-fiber cereals and processed snack foods, such as pretzels, potato chips and crackers with whole grains. Nutritious options include oats, barley, brown rice, quinoa and air-popped popcorn.

Added Sugars

Added sugars, such as cane sugar, corn syrup and honey, add sweet flavor, but few nutrients, to foods. Similar to refined grains, they are high-glycemic and may interfere with blood sugar control. In addition, diets rich in added sugars are associated with poor nutrient intake. To guard against nutrient deficiencies, which can lead to neuropathy symptoms, choose nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, instead of sugary fare most often. Common sources of added sugars include regular soft drinks, candy, milk chocolate, sugary cereals, pancake syrup, jellies, frozen desserts and commercially baked cakes, cookies, pastries and pies.

Saturated Fat

Saturated fat is a fat form prevalent in fatty meats and dairy products that can cause inflammation and an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease. To lower your risk for neuropathy the University of Virginia Health System recommends a nutritious diet low in saturated fat. Top sources of saturated fat include organ meats, beef, lamb, pork, dark-meat poultry, fried foods, butter, whole milk, heavy cream and full-fat ice cream and cheeses. For enhanced wellness, replace fatty protein sources with lean alternatives, such as fish, soy and lentils, and eat moderate amounts of healthy fat sources, such as nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.

10 Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

Watch out for these 10 problems, and call your doctor if you spot them.

No. 1. Fever

Some RA drugs, such as biologics, affect the immune system, your body’s defense against germs. You may not be able to fight off illnesses as easily as you used to.

That’s why you need to be on the lookout for a fever. It could signal something serious, “either very active disease or an infection,” says Catherine MacLean, MD, PhD, a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Infections can get worse quickly if you’re taking medication that keeps your immune system from working, she says, so it’s important to get treatment quickly.

No. 2. Breathing Trouble

If you have RA you’re at a higher risk for scarring of the tissues in the lungs. So see your doctor right away if you have a cough that won’t go away or you’re short of breath during normal activities.

No. 3. Stomach Pain or Digestive Problems

Rheumatoid arthritis raises your chances of ulcers, stomach bleeding, and conditions such as colitis and diverticulitis. This may be because of inflammation from RA or because of side effects from medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids.

You’re also more likely to have constipation or diarrhea, which could be a warning sign that the amount of good and bad bacteria in your intestine is out of balance.

No. 4. Numbness

Your swollen joints can push against nerves, which can make you feel tingling in different parts of your body. Common spots for this to happen include your elbows, ankles, and wrists.

Inflammation of blood vessels, called vasculitis, can happen with RA and also cause numbness.

No. 5. Eye Problems

The inflammation that comes with your disease can damage parts of your eyes, including the sclera (the “whites” of your eyes) and the cornea (a thin protective layer).

“Eye pain or new eye redness that is getting worse should be evaluated immediately,” MacLean says. Talk to your doctor about any vision changes that happen over a matter of days or weeks, too.

No. 6. Broken Bones

Some RA medications can trigger bone loss, which raises your risk of fractures. Your bones may also become weaker if you avoid exercise and physical activity.

A broken bone may be a clue that you’re developing osteoporosis, a disease that causes your bones to get thinner. It can be treated once you’re tested and diagnosed.

No. 7. Dry Mouth and Eyes

Some people with RA also get Sjögren’s syndrome, another inflammatory condition. If you have it, you may have trouble chewing and swallowing, or it may feel like something gritty is in your eyes. Women can also have vaginal dryness and pain during sex.

There’s no cure for Sjögren’s syndrome, but medications or lifestyle changes may help you manage your symptoms.

No. 8. Mood Changes

Depression or anxiety sometimes go along with RA. It happens to about one-third of people with arthritis, according to a CDC study.

Talk to you doctor if you notice any changes in your mood. He can suggest therapy or medicine to help treat it.

No. 9. Hearing Loss

Some research suggests that RA or the drugs used to treat it may cause hearing problems. If you or your family notice a change in your ability to hear, your doctor may be able to adjust your medications or recommend a hearing aid.

No. 10. Chest Pains

A 2015 study by Jeffrey Sparks, MD, a rheumatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and his colleagues, found that people with RA are more likely to die from heart-related problems than those without the disease. “Chest pain, especially with activity, should be monitored by a physician,” he says. “Our hope is that we can turn back the clock before patients develop these full-blown conditions.”

Overall, about 40% of people with rheumatoid arthritis have symptoms in areas on their body besides joints, MacLean says, like their skin, muscles, bones, eyes, and lungs. If you have mild symptoms that have developed slowly, tell your doctor about them during your next visit. Make an appointment right away if you’ve had any sudden or serious changes in the way you feel or how you respond to treatment.

14 Unexpected Symptoms Of Crohn’s Disease In Children

Does your little one suffer from constant stomach upsets? Does he suffer from blood in the stool? Are you worried about his condition? If you nodded along, you might want to read our post here. Crohn’s disease affects many children. Here, we look at the causes, symptoms, and treatments for the disease.

What Is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease, in which the child’s intestinal tract becomes inflamed. Though the disease is chronic, it is manageable. It is important to recognize the disease and take your child to a health care specialist. Crohn’s disease mostly affects the end of the small intestine, but sometimes it can happen in any place on the digestive tract from mouth to anus. Since, the disease is chronic the child has to deal with it all his life.

It is possible that the child has a long period of remission, and can experience no symptoms for months to years, but the disease can return at any stage in life. There is no cure for the disease, but it can be controlled with the help of treatment.

Causes Of Crohn’s Disease In Children

Research suggests that the main cause of Crohn’s can be one of the three factors:

  • Genetics: Through a close family member who was diagnosed with the same disease.
  • Immune system: Sometimes, even the good cells in the body get affected by mistake.
  • Environment: Food and other habits.

Symptoms Of Crohn’s Disease In Children:

As a parent, it is important to keep a check on the child’s digestive system and on any abnormality that is frequent but not common. Some of the crohn’s disease symptoms in children include:

  • Stomach ache and cramps
  • Frequent diarrhea
  • Blood in the child’s stool
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Skin, eye or joint irritation.
  • Dehydration due to loss of fluid.
  • Sores in the intestine, which can also cause bleeding.
  • Tears in the anus or rectum that can cause bleeding.
  • Short-term constipation, due to swelling in the intestine.
  • Delayed puberty, weight loss, and slow growth.
  • Arthritis or joint pain
  • Skin problems
  • Weak bones (1)

Diagnosing Crohn’s Disease In Children

The Pediatrician might suggest one of the following:

  • Blood tests can be done to check anemia, poor nutrition absorption, high while blood test count and whether the treatment is working on the child.
  • A stool sample can help in checking the bacteria that causes inflammation, blood in stool if any, and also show areas of swelling in the intestine.
  • X-Ray can decide whether the child has Crohn’s disease, to detect the exact location of the disease and also show areas of narrowing in the small intestine.
  • Endoscopy elaborates on the child’s digestive tract; it is also considered one of the best ways to detect the disease (2).

Health Problems Due to Crohn’s Disease

Lack of Growth is one of the major concerns of Crohn’s disease. As childhood is when nutrients and calories play an important role in the development and growth, the earlier the disease is detected; the better the treatment works.

Treating Crohn’s Disease In Kids

The Purpose of Treatment is to control inflammation. Correct and improve nutritional deficiencies, control and relieve symptoms of crohn disease in children. The effectiveness of any of the above treatment depends on how early the disease was detected and what are the complications that the child encounters. It is also important that the child responds to the treatment.

As a parent, it is important to support the child both mentally and emotionally. Children might get irritable and frustrated as they are unable to keep up with friends. Your child might also experience difficulty to concentrate on school work, be supportive and keep him motivated.

If you have any other information on this disease or want to share tips with the other parents – Please do write to us.

10 Early Warning Symptoms of Fibromyalgia You Must Know

1. Pain

Pain is the definitive symptom of fibromyalgia, but it can present itself in different ways, and in different parts of the body. Some people complain of constant stabbing pain throughout their entire body, while others experience a duller form of continuous aching. Alternately, fibromyalgia pain can be localized to one or more areas of the body, or it can seem to cluster around multiple “pain centers.”

2. Sensitivity to Touch

There are two medical terms which cover the increased sensitivity to touch that most fibromyalgia patients experience: hyperesthesia and hyperalgesia. Hyperesthesia describes an increased sensitivity to the sensory input of touch; for example, being under a light blanket may make you feel as though you’re trapped under a heavy lead weight. Hyperalgesia, on the other hand, describes an increase in pain sensation; for instance, you might stub your toe on a table leg, only to feel an excrutiating and throbbing pain for hours or days afterwards.

3. Environmental Sensitivity

People with fibromyalgia typically experience sensory abnormalities that go beyond sensitivity to touch. They are often strongly affected by environmental influences – even ones that seem minor to most other people. Such symptoms usually involve the patient’s senses of smell, sound and sight.

4. Muscle & Joint Stiffness

Fibromyalgia can also cause feelings of stiffness in muscles and joints. While it’s normal to experience these types of sensations after periods of strenuous physical activity, people with fibromyalgia develop muscle and joint stiffness for no immediately apparent reason. Like fibromyalgia pain, this stiffness can be generalized throughout the body, or it might affect one or more localized muscle or joint groups.

5. Muscle Spasms

Minor muscle spasms are something most people experience from time to time. However, fibromyalgia patients tend to experience extreme spasms, even after medical investigations uncover no root physical cause of the problem. Muscles seem to go into spasms spontaneously; sometimes, one or more specific muscles is affected again and again. In other cases, the patient finds it impossible to predict where the next spasm will strike, since it could happen almost anywhere and at just about any time.

6. Exhaustion

Chronic fatigue and exhaustion also occur in a large percentage of fibromyalgia patients. Doctors believe it has two root causes. First, the fibromyalgia syndrome itself seems to drain patients of energy, even if they aren’t overexerting themselves physically or mentally. In other words, fatigue and exhaustion are core symptoms of the condition, and occur for no other reason.

7. Trouble Concentrating

Memory and concentration also seem to be affected by fibromyalgia, though researchers aren’t quite sure whether this is part of the condition’s chronic fatigue and exhaustion syndrome, or whether it has different causes altogether. What is known is that the patient’s short-term memory can be noticeably compromised. Patients have a hard time retaining information, recalling newly learned facts and skills, and tend to find it very difficult to sustain concentration for an extended period of time.

8. Chronic Headaches

Many fibromyalgia patients report experiencing persistent headaches or migraines, which can be very severe and debilitating. Headache pain usually presents as a feeling of constant pressure or throbbing affecting the cranium and/or the temples. It is also common for headache pain to seem to extend further down the body, into the neck, shoulders and even the upper back.

9. Bowel Troubles

Fibromyalgia can also cause bowel disturbances, putting the patient at risk of developing a condition known as irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. In fact, fibromyalgia and IBS have very high comorbidity rates, suggesting that there is indeed a definitive link between the two. From a general standpoint, the muscle stiffness and generalized pain caused by fibromyalgia often cause patients difficulty in passing bowel movements. Over time, impacted fecal matter becomes even more difficult to clear, which can lead to reliance on and overuse of laxatives, which itself can cause further complications.

10. Depression

From an emotional and psychological standpoint, people with fibromyalgia are at increased risk of developing chronic depression. In all likelihood, this depression results from having to deal with constant pain, loss of sleep, lack of energy, and being forced to give up activities the patient once enjoyed. As with fibromyalgia headaches, researchers aren’t sure whether the proverbial chicken or the proverbial egg comes first; depression may not be the result of a patient’s will wearing down over time, but rather, they could be caused independently, through changes in brain chemistry.