Medical News Today: What to know about potassium deficiency symptoms

Potassium deficiency can occur if a person does not get enough potassium from their diet or loses too much potassium through prolonged diarrhea or vomiting. The symptoms depend on the severity of the deficiency but can include high blood pressure, constipation, kidney problems, muscle weakness, fatigue, and heart issues.

Potassium is an essential nutrient that the body requires for a wide range of functions, including keeping the heart beating. Severe potassium deficiency is called hypokalemia, and it occurs when a person’s potassium levels fall below 3.6 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

Doctors consider a person to have severe hypokalemia — a potentially life-threatening condition — when their potassium levels are less than 2.5 mmol/L.

In this article, we describe some of the possible symptoms of potassium deficiency. We also cover when to see a doctor, diagnosis, treatment, and potassium food sources.

Constipation

Potassium plays an important role in relaying messages from the brain to the muscles and regulating muscle contractions. Low potassium levels can affect the muscles in the intestines, which can slow the passage of food and waste. This effect on the intestines can cause constipation and bloating.

Muscle weakness

Potassium deficiency can affect other muscles in the body, including those in the arms and legs, which can lead to general muscle weakness and cramping.

A person loses small amounts of potassium through sweat, which is why heavy sweating from intense physical activity or being in a hot climate can often lead to muscle weakness or cramping.

Unexplained fatigue

Potassium is an essential nutrient that is present in all of the body’s cells and tissues. When potassium levels fall, this can significantly affect a wide range of bodily functions, which can lead to low energy levels and both physical and mental fatigue.

High blood pressure

Blood pressure monitor being applied to arm of person with potassium deficiency or hypokalemia
A person’s potassium levels can affect their blood pressure.

Low potassium levels can lead to an increase in blood pressure, particularly in people with a high sodium, or salt, intake. Potassium has an important role in relaxing the blood vessels, which helps lower a person’s blood pressure.

Potassium also helps balance sodium levels in the body. A diet high in sodium is a common cause of high blood pressure. Doctors often recommend that people with high blood pressure lower their sodium intake and increase their potassium intake.

Polyuria

The kidneys are responsible for removing waste products and regulating the levels of fluids and electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, in the blood. They do this by passing waste and excess electrolytes out of the body in the urine.

Moderate-to-severe hypokalemia can interfere with the kidneys’ ability to balance fluid and electrolyte levels in the bloodstream, and this can lead to increased urination, which is called polyuria.

Muscle paralysis

People with severe hypokalemia can experience muscle paralysis. When the levels of potassium in the body are very low, the muscles are unable to contract properly and may stop working altogether.

Breathing problems

Severe hypokalemia can also lead to breathing problems. Breathing requires the use of several muscles, particularly the diaphragm. If a person’s potassium levels become very low, these muscles may not work properly. A person may have difficulty taking a deep breath or may feel very short of breath.

Irregular heart rhythms

Doctor listening to patients heartbeat using stethoscope
An irregular heart rhythm is a potential symptom of hypokalemia.

Another symptom of severe hypokalemia is an irregular heart rhythm. Potassium plays an important role in regulating the contractions of all muscles, including the heart muscle.

Very low levels of potassium in the body can lead to irregular heart rhythms, including sinus bradycardia, ventricular tachycardia, and ventricular fibrillation. If a person does not receive treatment, these conditions can be life-threatening.

Doctors can detect irregular heart rhythms using an electrocardiogram (EKG).

When to see a doctor

People with symptoms of hypokalemia should see a doctor.

Hypokalemia is more common in people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and gastrointestinal illnesses that cause severe or persistent diarrhea or vomiting. Certain medications, such as laxatives and diuretics, can also increase the risk of potassium deficiency.

It is important to seek immediate medical attention for symptoms of severe hypokalemia, such as muscle paralysis, breathing problems, or irregular heart rhythms.

Diagnosis

A doctor can perform a simple blood test to determine a person’s potassium levels. The test involves taking a small blood sample from a vein in the hand or arm.

To determine the underlying cause of potassium deficiency, a doctor will also review the person’s medical history and any medications that they are taking.

The doctor may sometimes recommend additional tests, including:

  • further blood tests to check the levels of other electrolytes, such as phosphorous, calcium, and magnesium
  • urine testing to determine how much potassium is passing out of the body

Further tests may be necessary depending on the person’s medical history and symptoms.

Treatment

dried apricots in a bowl
Eating foods rich in potassium, such as dried apricots, can help to treat potassium deficiency.

The type of treatment for potassium deficiency will depend on a person’s symptoms and how low their potassium levels have become.

For people with mild hypokalemia, a doctor may recommend:

  • stopping or reducing the dosages of any medicines that can cause low potassium
  • taking daily potassium supplements
  • eating more foods rich in potassium, such as fruits and vegetables
  • taking medications that can increase potassium levels in the body, such as angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers

People with severe hypokalemia require immediate treatment, and a doctor may recommend intravenous potassium. However, doctors need to be careful when prescribing hypokalemia treatments as it is possible to provide a person with too much potassium, leading to excessive potassium levels in the body, or hyperkalemia.

Severe hyperkalemia can also cause serious muscle and heart problems.

Food sources

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, the recommended daily intake of potassium is:

  • 3,400 milligrams (mg) for adult males
  • 2,600 mg for adult females

Potassium occurs naturally in a wide range of foods, including fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, nuts, and whole grains. The body absorbs around 85 to 90% of the potassium in food sources.

Examples of foods rich in potassium include:

  • dried apricots: 1,101 mg per half cup
  • cooked lentils: 731 mg per cup
  • dried prunes: 699 mg per half cup
  • orange juice: 496 mg per cup
  • banana: 422 mg in a medium-sized banana
  • 1%-fat milk: 366 mg per cup
  • spinach: 334 mg per 2 cups
  • nonfat fruit yogurt: 330 mg per 6 ounces
  • cooked, chopped broccoli: 229 mg per half cup
  • cooked brown rice: 154 mg per cup

The best way for a person to get enough potassium is to eat a varied and healthful diet.

Summary

Potassium deficiency, or hypokalemia, can occur if a person does not get enough potassium from their diet. Severe vomiting or diarrhea, IBD, and certain medications can increase the risk of deficiency.

The symptoms of hypokalemia depend on the severity of the deficiency, but they can include constipation, muscle problems, fatigue, and heart issues. Severe hypokalemia can be life-threatening if a person does not receive treatment.

The best way to get enough potassium is to eat a varied diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Medical News Today: Just how effective is hypnosis at relieving pain?

Could hypnosis relieve pain? The largest meta-analysis to date concludes that it could be a viable, safe, cost-effective option.
Man under hypnosis
Hypnosis might provide an innovative way to treat pain.

Researchers estimate that chronic pain affects more than 1.5 billion individuals globally.

Doctors often prescribe opioid medications to treat this type of pain. However, these drugs are expensive and, of course, highly addictive.

As the opioid crisis unfolds, scientists are increasingly focused on finding alternative ways to tackle pain.

Recently, researchers from the University of Greenwich in London, United Kingdom, assessed whether hypnosis might be useful against certain types of pain. To do this, they collated and analyzed 85 existing studies.

Hypnosis is side-effect free and, if individuals use pre-recorded audio to produce hypnosis, it can be incredibly cost-effective.

The researchers published their meta-analysis in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews.

Hypnosis and pain revisited

Over the years, several studies and reviews have assessed hypnosis as an analgesic — sometimes, researchers refer to this as hypnoanalgesia. For instance, a review published in 2016 looked at pain during childbirth.

The authors concluded that “Hypnosis may reduce the overall use of analgesia during labor, but not epidural use.” The authors also explain that “[f]urther research is needed in the form of large, well‐designed randomized controlled trials.”

Another review, published in 2000, looked at pain more generally. The researchers combined data from 18 studies.

The authors concluded that there was a “moderate to large hypnoanalgesic effect.” Although intriguing, according to the authors of the current review, these findings had “several important limitations,” not least a lack of studies to include in their analysis.

Since 2000, interest in hypnoanalgesia has grown, and the number of new studies has grown in line. In total, the latest analysis includes 85 studies.

All of the studies used experimental pain models, such as extreme cold, shocks, pressure, exercise, and lasers. Also, all of the studies compared the benefits of hypnosis with no treatment (rather than testing them against a placebo or drug), and they all recruited healthy adults.

The researchers only collected studies that used a quantitive assessment of pain, for instance, the use of a 10-point scale. Overall, the analysis included 3,632 participants.

Sensitivity to hypnosis

Because not everyone succumbs to hypnosis to the same extent, the review also took into account each participant’s level of susceptibility.

There are a number of ways that researchers can assess how susceptible someone is to hypnosis. For instance, following a suggestion that the participant’s arm is heavy, they might lower their hand. If they drop it by 6 inches or more, the practitioner might consider them to be more suggestible than someone whose arm moved only 1 inch.

Once the analysis was complete, the results came out in favor of hypnosis as a potentially useful analgesic. Lead author Trevor Thompson, Ph.D., says:

“This is by far the largest review of its kind, examining the effects of hypnosis in over 3,500 people, and presents very compelling evidence. About 15% of the population are highly receptive to hypnosis, and those people saw just over a 40% drop in pain.”

It was not just the people who were most susceptible to hypnosis who saw the benefits. Most people are moderately suggestible, and they experienced a 29% reduction in pain.

The authors also note that evidence indicates that it is possible to increase hypnotic suggestibility in a variety of ways, including training and practice, non-invasive brain stimulation, and by pharmacological agents, such as nitrous oxide.

Based on these findings, most people would experience around a 30% drop in pain or more, which is generally considered to be clinically meaningful pain relief.”

Lead author Trevor Thompson, Ph.D.

Interestingly, the analysis also revealed that the effect size was similar whether the person underwent hypnosis in person or via an audio recording.

If hypnosis truly can reach these levels of analgesia, it could be a game-changer. “In the United States, around 47,000 people died from opioid overdosing in 2017, and around a quarter of people prescribed the drugs for pain misuse them,” explains Thompson.

He continues, “Our findings suggest hypnosis could be a safe and effective alternative. It can be administered quickly, cheaply and easily at home with a 20-minute audio recording.”

The researchers plan to continue their dive into hypnoanalgesia, specifically looking at chronic complaints, such as lower back pain. Currently, however, there are not enough data available to reach definite conclusions.

Reservations and limitations

The authors note certain limitations to the current analysis. First and foremost, it is not possible to compare pain models with chronic pain, which can have very different physical and psychological aspects.

Generally, the pain inductions that researchers used in the studies produced a brief experience of pain. This analysis could not ascertain how the efficacy of hypnosis might change over longer lengths of time, as in chronic conditions.

Another of the authors’ concerns is that the average age of participants was relatively young, at around 24. The authors wonder whether older populations might see the same level of effect.

They conclude that “[a]lthough the role of hypnotic intervention in clinical pain settings is well researched, limited high-quality data with numerous design biases prohibit reliable conclusions […] and further well-controlled clinical studies are needed.”

Finding a safe, low-cost way of reducing pain sounds too good to be true, but if hypnosis can provide this, it is worth testing extensively.

Medical News Today: How might obesity affect the brain?

The link between obesity and the brain is a fascinating topic that scientists have only recently begun to explore. New research adds important pieces to the puzzle.
scientist looking at brain scans
Researchers have used MRI scans to examine the brains of people living with obesity.

From the size and functionality of the brain to specific neuronal circuits, recent studies have brought to light important aspects of the connection between obesity and the brain.

For instance, researchers published a study earlier this year that found a link between obesity around the stomach area and smaller brain size — specifically, lower gray matter volume.

The findings of another recent study showed that the brain’s prefrontal cortex — an area that is important for complex thinking, planning, and self-control — is less active in people who tend to overeat, which may lead to obesity and weight gain.

Finally, research that appeared only last month identified an array of neurons that can curb overeating when they become active.

A new study now adds to this mounting body of evidence, shedding further light on the connection between obesity on the one hand and differences in brain structure and form on the other.

Dr. Ilona A. Dekkers, from the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, led a team of researchers who used cutting-edge MRI scanning technology to understand the link between obesity and brain structure.

Dr. Dekkers and team reported smaller gray matter volumes in people with obesity, thus solidifying previous research findings. They also found connections with the brain’s form and structure, called its morphology.

The researchers published their findings in the journal Radiology.

More body fat, less gray matter volume

Dr. Dekkers and her colleagues decided to investigate how obesity might affect the brain because previous studies had found a higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia among people with obesity.

So, the scientists examined brain scans from over 12,000 people who took part in the United Kingdom Biobank Imaging study. The brain imaging techniques that the team used in the study offered insights into the participants’ gray and white matter.

Describing the brain in very broad terms, this central processing unit consists of an “outer cortex of gray matter and an inner area housing tracts of white matter.”

The gray matter is packed with neurons, whereas white matter primarily consists of nerve projections called axons and glial cells.

In the current study, according to Dr. Dekkers, the team found that “having higher levels of fat distributed over the body is associated with smaller volumes of important structures of the brain, including gray matter structures that are located in the center of the brain.”

“Interestingly, we observed that these associations are different for men and women, suggesting that gender is an important modifier of the link between fat percentage and the size of specific brain structures,” she adds.

Specifically, men with obesity had lower gray matter volume both overall and in certain reward-processing circuits and brain structures that deal with movement.

For women with obesity, an increased amount of body fat only correlated with lower matter volume in a region called the globus pallidus, which is a brain area that plays a role in voluntary movement.

In both men and women, there was a correlation between a larger amount of body fat and the chance of small changes occurring in the brain’s white matter.

Obesity and the brain: Is inflammation key?

“Our study shows that very large data collection of MRI data can lead to improved insight into exactly which brain structures are involved in all sorts of health outcomes, such as obesity,” says Dr. Dekkers.

The scientist ventures some opinions on the possible implications of the study. Less gray matter could mean fewer neurons, she says, and white matter changes could affect the communication between neurons.

Also, previous studies have linked gray matter volume with “food-reward circuitry,” so the changes in gray matter could make it hard for people to control their eating behaviors, she suggests. However, she also cautions that more research is necessary to strengthen this conclusion.

Dr. Dekkers also points out that according to previous studies, obesity-related inflammation can affect brain tissue. This low-grade inflammation could, therefore, explain the study’s recent findings.

“For future research, it would be of great interest whether differences in body fat distribution are related to differences in brain morphological structure, as visceral fat is a known risk factor for metabolic disease and is linked to systemic low-grade inflammation,” says Hildo Lamb, Ph.D., the study’s senior author.

Product Title Keyword Strategies for New Products on Amazon

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Product Title Keyword Strategies for New Products on Amazon

Mastering your Product Title Keywords is essential to any seller who would like to launch a new product on Amazon. In our last two posts we’ve tried to build comprehensive guidelines on the type of ads available on Amazon and how to set them up, as well as an intro into Enhanced Brand Content. We’re closing this series on Amazon PPC with an insight into Product Title Keyword Strategies.

You’ve done your product preparation. You’re confident you have a product that’s going to blow the socks off of your target audience on Amazon. But a few questions still remain.

Things like:

  • What product titles will help your listing get discovered?
  • How should you approach research for title keywords?
  • How should you format your product titles to optimize listings for search?

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about getting started with product titles keywords for an Amazon Private Label product launch. If you master product title keyword optimization for your listings, you can help your products get discovered and purchased more often. Let’s stick to the basics, but learn how to do them well.

Let’s start with some basics around product title keywords for products sold on Amazon.

First, determine which keywords are most important in fetching the right customers for your product. It all starts with your product page’s title.

Put your most relevant keywords first

Nielsen data shows that most online customers scan listings from left to right. If you’re selling oven mitts, don’t create a listing for “Durable Heat-Resistant Kitchen Accessory Oven Mitts.” The customer might end up confused about whether you’re selling generic kitchen accessories or simply oven mitts. Start with the most important keywords first, then elaborate from there.

Include features in the title

Customers often search for distinguishing product features, or at the very least, they scan for them. “Oven Mitts” may tell a user what to expect on your product page, but “X-Brand Oven Mitts – Heat-Resistant Silicone, Extra Long” is far more descriptive and includes more feature-related keywords.

According to Wordstream, you should stick to typing in your titles in the following order:

Brand Name>Product>Key features>Size>Color>Quantity.

Using that format, you might expect to create a product title like “X-Brand Oven Mitts – Silicone Lined, Extra Long, Black/Blue, Set of 2.”

Of course, it also helps to know which features to highlight, and how. For more insights on this specific topic, try our Amazon Private Label Solutions to get a sense of where your product fits in the marketplace, or read our post on Amazon product optimization to get the best possible results.

As you work on optimizing your product title keyword strategy, be sure to also familiarize yourself with Amazon’s A9 algorithm. This is the search engine that drives traffic on Amazon.

Toss aside your preconceptions about what makes good SEO and consider Amazon as a unique platform: it’s focused on generating sales. Amazon’s primary interest is in selling efficiency, AKA connecting a customer with the product they’re most likely to buy.

That means your optimization for Amazon’s search queries should focus on two primary factors: relevance and performance.

You’ll optimize for relevance using the best keyword practices mentioned here. Just keep in mind that performance also matters when Amazon decides which product to place highest for a specific keyword.

That means any improvement you make to the product page itself will also have an impact on whether your product shows up in the search for a particular keyword. This includes:

  • Improvements in the product description
  • Uploading video and high-quality images of the product
  • High-quality reviews

There are also a few direct factors that you might not optimize for via text, but will still impact your results with A9:

  • Whether your item is in stock
  • Price; as undercutting other products by too much can adversely affect quality perception

Keep these factors in mind as you build out your product titles and overall keyword strategy.

Now, some best practices around Amazon keyword optimization.

Optimize with the buyer in mind. If you’re selling a fleece blanket, raw keyword stuffing is going to throw off the buyer experience. Remember our example of “X-Brand Oven Mitts – Silicone Lined, Extra Long, Black/Blue, Set of 2”? That’s simple, to the point, and includes a wide range of unique keywords that are still relevant to what a customer might be searching for. If you were to stuff more keywords in, you would only make it more difficult to read, which decreases click-through rate and potentially hurts your product performance.

Incorporate as many unique keywords as you can. Because Amazon treats the entire field as a coherent set of keywords, it doesn’t matter if one keyword is placed next to another or not. For example, a search for “facial makeup” will still yield results such as “Facial Moisturizer and Makeup Kit,” even though the two words aren’t directly next to each other.

Use the product title as well as the brand name. You won’t get penalized for an overly wordy title, so be sure to include as much relevant detail in your title as possible. Someone searching for your brand or your product should be able to find you on Amazon based on your title construction alone.

Write to your target market. If you find yourself stretching for more detail to include in your title, you might include a few choice keywords from your target market as well. “Shorts for Men,” for example, is an example of a unique key phrase that might draw a larger search audience without disrupting the clarity of your title.

Since you’re competing with other products and vying for a higher purchase rate, one of the best ways to optimize the keywords in your titles is to avoid the same mistakes your competition is making, such as:

  • Repeating keywords. If you’re selling a fleece blanket, don’t stuff the title with repeated keywords. “Green Fleece Blanket, Blue Fleece Blanket, Red Fleece Blanket” might sound like it will cast a wide net on Amazon searches, but it will only hurt your title’s clarity and potentially harm your ability to generate a higher CTR.
  • Lacking detail. Strive for a happy medium. Include the elements we listed, such as brand name, product type, size, and specifics about the product. You may even choose to include more detail like what types of products your product can fit.
  • Utilizing irrelevant keywords. Try a few searches yourself to get a sense of which keywords the top-selling items are using. Don’t just focus on the most important keywords; look at the “long-tail” inclusions that might contribute as well.

It may take some adjusting over time, but eventually, you’ll get a sense of how to build a product listing title that will serve your market and satisfy Amazon’s requirements.

If you stick to some basic principles and best practices around keyword optimization for the titles of your listings, you’ll have Amazon product listings that perform well in search and are discovered (and bought) more often.

What are the roadblocks you’ve encountered when you wanted to launch your Amazon private label product? Leave us a comment below or contact us today and our Private Label Solutions experts will get in touch.

Kaleigh More

Kaleigh Moore is a freelance writer specializing in technology and software.

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Medical News Today: How to recognize and treat an infected wound

A wound infection occurs when germs, such as bacteria, grow within the damaged skin of a wound. Symptoms can include increasing pain, swelling, and redness. More severe infections may cause nausea, chills, or fever.

A person may be able to treat minor wound infections at home. However, people with more severe or persistent wound infections should seek medical attention.

In this article, we describe how to prevent, recognize, and treat an infected wound. We also cover risk factors, complications, when to see a doctor, and medical treatment.

How to recognize a wound infection

girl with bandage on knee wondering how to treat an infected wound
A person with a small wound or infection can usually treat them at home.

People can usually safely treat small wounds, such as minor cuts and scratches, at home. With proper care, most small wounds will gradually get better until they fully heal.

If a wound becomes infected, however, it can get worse instead of better. Any pain, redness, and swelling will typically increase in intensity.

Wound infections can also lead to other symptoms, such as:

  • warm skin around the wound
  • yellow or green discharge coming from the wound
  • the wound giving off an unpleasant odor
  • red streaks on the skin around the wound
  • fever and chills
  • aches and pains
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Treating infected wounds at home

People with a mild infection of a small wound may be able to treat the wound at home. However, more severe wound infections require prompt medical attention, particularly those that occur along with other symptoms, such as fever, feeling unwell, or discharge and red streaks coming from the wound.

To treat an infected wound at home, follow these steps:

  1. Before beginning, ensure that all necessary equipment is clean. For example, if using tweezers, clean them with rubbing alcohol first.
  2. Thoroughly wash the hands with soap and warm water, then rinse and dry them.
  3. Clean the cut or scrape by running warm water over it for several minutes. Use warm, soapy water to clean the surrounding skin, but avoid getting soap in the wound.
  4. Make sure that there is no dirt or debris, such as glass or gravel, in the wound. To remove debris, either use tweezers or carefully and gently rub the wound with a soft, damp cloth.
  5. If desired, apply a thin layer of antiseptic ointment or petroleum jelly to the cut or scrape.
  6. Allow the skin to air-dry before covering it with gauze or a bandage. There is usually no need to cover minor cuts and scrapes.

Other tips for treating wounds at home include:

  • Change the wound dressing at least once a day. Replace it immediately if it gets damp or dirty.
  • Gently wash the wound each day.
  • Avoid using hydrogen peroxide or iodine on the wound as these may cause skin irritation in some people. Stop using other antiseptic ointments if they cause skin irritation.
  • Do not pick at the skin or the scab as this can lead to scarring, slow down healing, and increase the risk of infection.
  • If the wound does not show signs of improvement within 1–2 days, see a doctor.

How to prevent wound infection

man washing wound on his foot with water
A person should wash the wound immediately to prevent infection.

Cleaning and protecting a wound can reduce the risk of infection. After sustaining a minor cut or scratch, a person should:

  1. Wash the wound immediately by running clean water over it for several minutes. Then, clean the skin around the wound with warm, soapy water. If it is not possible to use clean water, treat the wound with alcohol wipes.
  2. Allow the skin to air-dry.
  3. Apply an antiseptic ointment to the wound.
  4. Protect the injury with gauze or another suitable dressing.

People with larger wounds or excessive bleeding will require medical treatment. A healthcare professional can treat the injury to prevent infection and other complications.

People with animal bites or wounds from dirty or rusty objects may be at risk of tetanus and should also seek medical attention. A healthcare professional can clean the wound and give the person a shot to protect against tetanus infection if necessary.

Tetanus is a potentially fatal condition that occurs when certain bacteria enter the body and release toxins that affect the nerves. The symptoms of tetanus can include painful muscle spasms, lockjaw, and fever.

Risk factors

Cuts, grazes, and other breaks in the skin can become infected when bacteria enter the wound and begin to multiply. The bacteria may come from the surrounding skin, the external environment, or the object that caused the injury.

It is important to clean and protect the wound properly to reduce the risk of infection.

The risk of wound infection is higher if:

  • the wound is large, deep, or has a jagged edge
  • dirt or foreign particles entered the wound
  • the cause of the wound was a bite from an animal or another person
  • the cause of the wound was an injury involving a dirty, rusty, or contaminated object

Certain health conditions and environmental factors can also increase the risk of infection. These include:

  • diabetes
  • poor blood circulation
  • a weakened immune system, such as in people living with HIV or those taking immunosuppressant medications
  • lack of mobility, for example, in people who spend most of their time in bed
  • advancing age — older adults are more at risk of wound infection
  • nutrient and vitamin deficiencies

Rarely, incision wounds from surgical procedures can also become infected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2006 and 2008, about 1.9 percent of surgical wounds became infected in people having operations in the United States.

Complications

If a person does not receive treatment for a wound infection, it can spread to other parts of the body, which may lead to serious complications, including:

  • Cellulitis is an infection of the deeper layers and tissues of the skin, and it can cause swelling, redness, and pain in the affected area. Other symptoms can include fever, dizziness, and nausea and vomiting.
  • Osteomyelitis is a bacterial infection of the bone, and symptoms include pain, redness, and swelling around the infected area. Fatigue and fever are other symptoms that may affect those with osteomyelitis.
  • Sepsis is an extreme immune reaction that can sometimes occur when an infection enters the bloodstream. Sepsis can lead to multiple organ failure and is life-threatening. According to the CDC, nearly 270,000 people in the U.S. die each year due to sepsis.
  • Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare condition that occurs when a bacterial infection spreads into a tissue called the fascial lining that lies deep beneath the skin. Necrotizing fasciitis is a medical emergency that causes severe skin damage and pain and can spread throughout the body.

When to see a doctor

A person with a wound should seek medical attention if:

  • the wound is large, deep, or has jagged edges
  • the edges of the wound do not stay together
  • symptoms of infection occur, such as fever, increasing pain or redness, or discharge from the wound
  • it is not possible to clean the wound properly or remove all debris, such as glass or gravel
  • the cause of the wound was a bite or an injury from a dirty, rusty, or contaminated object

Seek urgent medical attention if blood is spurting from the wound or if applying pressure to the wound does not stop the bleeding.

Medical treatment

man taking antibiotics with water
A doctor may treat an infection with antibiotics.

Doctors can treat a bacterial infection with antibiotics. It is important for a person to complete the course of antibiotics to treat the infection fully and to prevent the bacteria from becoming resistant to the drug.

In addition to cleaning, some wounds may require further treatment. If the cut is large or deep, for example, a doctor or nurse may have to use stitches to close it. They can often close smaller cuts with medical glue or strips of tape instead.

If the wound contains dead or contaminated tissue, a doctor may remove this tissue in a procedure called debridement. Debridement should promote healing and prevent the infection from spreading.

A person might require a tetanus shot if the cause of the wound was a bite or an injury from a dirty or rusty object.

The CDC recommend that adults get a tetanus booster shot every 10 years to protect them against tetanus infection. However, for certain types of wound, a doctor may still prescribe a tetanus shot for people who have not had one in the past 5 years.

Summary

A wound infection can occur if bacteria enter and multiply inside the wound. Immediately cleaning and dressing cuts, grazes, and other small wounds is the best way to prevent infections. However, people with larger, deeper, or more serious wounds should have a trained healthcare professional treat the injury.

The signs and symptoms of wound infection can include increasing pain, swelling, and redness around the affected area. A person may be able to treat a mild infection of a small wound at home by recleaning and redressing the wound.

However, more severe wound infections require prompt medical attention, particularly those that occur along with fever, feeling unwell, or discharge and red streaks coming from the wound.

Medical News Today: How ketamine can change the brain to fight depression

New research in mice, which the National Institutes of Health supported, shows how ketamine can alter brain circuits, quickly redressing depression-like symptoms.
researchers looking at brain scans
Ketamine stimulates the regrowth of dendritic spines in the prefrontal cortex, according to a new animal study.

Previous studies have shown that ketamine — an anesthetic — can rapidly reduce severe symptoms of major depressive disorder, particularly the occurrence of suicidal thoughts.

However, researchers are still unsure how this substance acts in the brain to fight off depression or how to maintain its therapeutic effects in the long run.

For this reason, a team of investigators from the University of Tokyo in Japan, Stanford University in California, and Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, NY, recently set out to understand more about how ketamine fights depression in the brain by studying its effect in mouse models.

This research received support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), who describe the work as “basic research” that “is foundational to advancing new and better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease.”

The study authors report their findings in a scientific paper that appears in the journal Science.

Ketamine and brain circuitry

“Ketamine is a potentially transformative treatment for depression, but one of the major challenges associated with this drug is sustaining recovery after the initial treatment,” explains Dr. Conor Liston, one of the researchers behind the study.

To find out how ketamine works in the brain and identify the mechanisms that reduce depression symptoms, the researchers worked with mice that presented behaviors indicative of depression.

More specifically, the team focused on dendritic spines. These are small protrusions on dendrites, which are brain cell extensions that help the neurons “communicate” among themselves. The dendritic spines are the parts that receive the stimuli that other neurons send out.

The researchers studied the dendritic spines in the prefrontal cortex of the mice’s brains both before and after they exposed some of the rodents to a source of stress. They found that the mice demonstrating depression-like behaviors after experiencing the stressor lost dendritic spines more quickly than the control mice. Moreover, these mice had reduced formation of new dendritic spines.

The team also saw that exposing experimental mice to stress led to poorer connectivity and coordination of neural activity in the prefrontal cortex. These changes, the researchers explain, relate to typical behaviors in depression, which occur in response to stress.

When the researchers treated these mice with ketamine, they found that the animals regained functional connectivity and normal neuron activity in the prefrontal cortex, and they no longer displayed behaviors consistent with depression.

At 24 hours after receiving just one dose of ketamine, the rodents that the team had confronted with a source of stress did not show depression-like symptoms. Brain scans also revealed an increase in the formation of fully functional dendritic spines.

The authors make a distinction between these findings. Mice that received ketamine, they explain, showed behavioral improvements within 3 hours of treatment, but they only experienced new dendritic spine formation between 12 and 24 hours after the treatment.

“Our results suggest that interventions aimed at enhancing synapse formation and prolonging their survival could be useful for maintaining the antidepressant effects of ketamine in the days and weeks after treatment,” Dr. Liston notes.

‘Additional insights could guide advances’

Although the researchers admit that they will have to conduct more studies to understand the exact mechanisms at play, they believe, based on their current findings, that the formation of new dendritic spines may occur thanks to the fact that ketamine boosts brain activity in the prefrontal cortex.

The researchers also found that dendritic spines are likely to play an important role in maintaining the remission of depression-like symptoms in mice. When the team tried selectively removing newly grown dendritic spines in the mice’s brains, the rodents started expressing depression-related behaviors once again.

Dr. Janine Simmons, who leads the National Institute of Mental Health’s Social and Affective Neuroscience Program — and who did not contribute to the current study — explains why conducting new research into the workings of ketamine in the brain is important.

“Ketamine,” she notes, “is the first new antidepressant medication with a novel mechanism of action since the 1980s. Its ability to rapidly decrease suicidal thoughts is already a fundamental breakthrough.”

Additional insights into ketamine’s longer-term effects on brain circuits could guide future advances in the management of mood disorders.”

Dr. Janine Simmons

Amazon Ads: Enhanced Brand Content

Reading Time: 4 minutes

EBC

Does advertising on Amazon sound complicated? There are several ways to boost awareness for your brand or product. Let’s have a look at Enhanced Brand Content and how A+ content can improve your image on Amazon and drive traffic.

Last week, we talked about Amazon ads, focusing primarily on PPC campaigns. While we’re on the topic of boosting sales by advertising on Amazon, let’s take a look at how sellers can make products stand out with EBC

Enhanced Brand Content is an Amazon tool launched in 2017. It can only be accessed by merchants who sign up for Brand Registry, Amazon Launchpad, and Amazon Exclusives (sign-in required).

The EBC tool (a.k.a. A+ content) is basically a way to give your product detail page an edge. This maximizes the number of buyers you can engage with on Amazon. In a nutshell, it lets you add these features to your product page:

  • very detailed product descriptions;
  • creative narrative with rich imagery;
  • videos, charts, and other visuals.

From a merchant’s perspective, it’s there to boost sales. But it’s also meant to lower customer hesitation, reduce return rates, and boost brand loyalty. What’s more, Amazon claims it increases sales by 3% to 10%, on average.

The fact is EBC isn’t just about helping customers make informed decisions. It can influence every step of the buying process. Here’s why and how you can use it to your advantage:

1. Engage with Buyers for Free

Most buyers associate a product with Amazon, even if it’s bought from a third party. That’s partly because Amazon handles most of the customer-facing aspects of order fulfillment. But also because all brand advertising other than Sponsored Brands is against the rules.

So, conventional branding on Amazon is virtually nonexistent. EBC is, for all intents and purposes, the only way to boost brand awareness, image, and loyalty on Amazon for free.

2. Impress Buyers with Video

One of the greatest features of EBC is the video uploader. It can be used to showcase the product’s best features, show how it’s used and what effect it has on users, tell the brand or inventor’s story, and build rapport with the buyer.

Video as part of the EBC package

Video as part of the EBC package

3. Re-engage with Scrollers

Having the best offer on the search results page isn’t everything. Conventional wisdom says your product needs to always be above the fold. So, to maximize the likelihood of a sale, you need to make sure that users click “Add to Cart” as soon as they check the images on your page.

If users start scrolling down and you don’t re-engage with them right away, you’ll probably lose them. That’s precisely what EBC does, showing more images under the “Customers … also bought” section.

Except these “hero images” are larger and clearer, and they come with exciting new stories. So, EBC basically gives you more real estate below the fold. Prime real estate.

Hero image and story displayed with EBC tool

Hero image and story displayed with EBC tool

4. Enhance Product Descriptions

EBC content sometimes includes taglines, quotes, buzzwords, and nuggets of wisdom from the creator or a popular public figure. If you want all your hard work to pay off, you’ll also mention some of these features throughout your product page:

  1. Uniqueness – waterproof, heat-resistant, stain-resistant, eco-friendly.
  2. Functionality – how they solve obvious issues and address buyer concerns and questions.
  3. Ease of use – plug-and-play,  self-folding, easy-tear.
  4. Versatility – universal, two-in-one, multiple (ports).
  5. Indirect cost benefit – hardwearing, reusable, rechargeable.
  6. Age and gender groups – for ages ‘x’ and over, unisex, unrestricted.
  7. Desirability – ADA-friendly, curriculum compliant, ‘X’-range compatible.
  8. Awards and nominations –  FDA approved, Stevie award winner, Origins nominee.
  9. Relatability – designed by child, invented by engineer, produced by beekeeper.

Once users see your hero images and banners, they may decide they need more information. So, they’ll probably scroll back up to the top of the page. This is your last chance to impress your buyer, so spare no effort in producing appealing and impactful bullet points.

Bullet points aren’t part of the EBC tool. But it’s important to make them consistent with your enhanced content. So, summarize your product attributes and reinforce the features described below the fold, in case buyers don’t read the text that came with your hero images.  

The benefits of Brand Registry are many, and EBC is as good as any. If you choose to use it, you can set up your EBC page in minutes, as you can see in the (non-audio) video below. 

But don’t rely on EBC alone to maximize conversions. You still need a good feedback score, a great price, and -ideally – the Buy Box.

To learn more about boosting and maintaining sales levels, please follow our blog. You’ll find countless tips here on how to increase the Buy Box percentage, take advantage of Amazon EBC, invest in campaigns, and improve your performance on Amazon.

Melanie

Melanie takes an active interest in all things Amazon. She keeps an eye on the latest developments and keeps Amazon sellers up to speed.

Source

Medical News Today: Study finds that many people diagnosed with MS do not have the condition

Researchers found that nearly 1 in 5 people who had received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis had other unrelated conditions.
Female patient listening to Female doctor
Some conditions, such as stroke or migraine, have similar symptoms to MS.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a widespread disabling neurological condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys the fatty tissue that surrounds the nerves. This leads to nerve damage, which affects communication between the nerves and the brain.

People with MS may experience symptoms, including numbness or weakness in the limbs, tremors, and lack of coordination. However, some of the symptoms have similarities to other debilitating conditions, including stroke and migraine.

MS and stroke are very different conditions, but they both harm the brain. Some of the symptoms they share include attention issues, dizziness, numbness in the limbs, slurring, visual impairment, and difficulty in walking.

MS and migraine attacks also have some symptoms in common, including dizziness and vision impairment. A recent study pooled data on people who had received a wrong diagnosis of MS and found that 72 of the 110 patients had other conditions, including migraine.

Identifying traits in misdiagnosed people

A team of researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Vermont in Burlington analyzed the cases of 241 people who had received an MS diagnosis. Other doctors had previously referred these people to two academic medical centers in Los Angeles.

Dr. Marwa Kaisey and Dr. Nancy Sicotte, both from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA, led the new research.

The symptoms of MS are so similar to the symptoms of some other conditions that it can be difficult for doctors to make the right diagnosis. “The diagnosis of MS is tricky. Both the symptoms and MRI testing results can look like other conditions, such as stroke, migraines, and vitamin B12 deficiency,” Dr. Kaisey said.

The study aimed at determining how many people received a misdiagnosis of MS, and identifying common characteristics in misdiagnosed patients.

The researchers found that of the people misdiagnosed with MS, many received MS treatment for 4 years before receiving the right diagnosis.

The researchers identified that the condition most often correctly diagnosed was migraine, followed by radiologically isolated syndrome — a condition in which the results of MRI scans determined that the people had MS, despite them not experiencing any other symptoms linked to MS.

Risks and costs of incorrect diagnoses

Among people who received a wrong diagnosis, 72 percent had received treatment for MS, and of those, 48 percent had received treatments that can lead to progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), which is a rare viral infection that targets nerve cells and damages the white matter in the brain.

The researchers concluded that the estimated costs of unnecessary treatments that they identified in just this study reached almost $10 million.

“I’ve seen patients suffering side effects from the medication they were taking for a disease they didn’t have. Meanwhile, they weren’t getting treatment for what they did have. The cost to the patient is huge — medically, psychologically, financially,” Dr. Kaisey adds.

May’s issue of Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders will publish the study, and the investigators hope that these findings, along with recently funded research, will help to prevent MS misdiagnoses in the future and help improve diagnosis and treatments for people with the disease.

The first step, which is what we’ve done here, is to identify the problem, so now we’re working on potential solutions.”

Dr. Marwa Kaisey

Medical News Today: Increased muscle power may prolong life

Increasing muscle strength is good, but increasing muscle power may be even better for enjoying a longer life, according to a recent study.
senior man doing squats
Increased muscle power can improve longevity, new research suggests.

Professor Claudio Gil Araújo, who is the director of research and education at Exercise Medicine Clinic — CLINIMEX in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, led the new study.

Muscle power differs from muscle strength in that it relies on generating force and velocity while coordinating movement. For example, lifting a weight one time requires strength, but lifting it several times as quickly as possible requires power.

The study involved 3,878 nonathlete participants who were 41 to 85 years old. Each participant took a maximal muscle power test between 2001 and 2016 using an upright row exercise.

The researchers determined each participant’s maximal muscle power by taking the highest value that they achieved over two or three attempts with increasing weight and then calculating the power exertion per kilogram of body weight.

They then separated the participants into quartiles according to their maximal muscle power, with quartile one being low and quartile four being high. They also analyzed the participants separately based on their sex.

The team followed the participants for an average of 6.5 years after this initial measurement, during which time, 247 men and 75 women died. The researchers found that those who had maximal muscle power above the median for their sex had higher survival rates than those in the lower quartiles.

In fact, the participants in quartile one had a risk of dying that was 10 to 13 times higher than that of those in quartiles three and four, while the risk for those in quartile two was still four to five times higher.

Prof. Araújo explains that earlier studies examined the benefits of increasing muscle strength in relation to life expectancy, but notes that this study is the first to look specifically at muscle power.

“Rising from a chair in old age and kicking a ball depend more on muscle power than muscle strength, yet most weight-bearing exercise focuses on the latter,” he says.

Our study shows for the first time that people with more muscle power tend to live longer.”

Prof. Claudio Gil Araújo

Prof. Araújo presented the study findings last week at the European Society of Cardiology’s EuroPrevent 2019 meeting in Lisbon, Portugal.

Habits that can help increase longevity

Many lifestyle changes can go a long way toward maximizing health and increasing longevity. A factor that has one of the most significant effects on someone’s health is their diet.

It is best to avoid foods that are high in saturated fat, for example, and people should not forget to load up on fiber. Foods to limit include those with added salt and many processed foods, particularly those that have a lot of simple carbohydrates, including sugar.

Physical activity is another important facet of good health. Experts recommend 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days a week to help stave off chronic health issues, including cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes and even some types of cancer.

Reducing or eliminating tobacco products and alcohol consumption can also help lengthen life.

Now, perhaps experts could consider increasing muscle power as another way to better one’s health and increase longevity.

Ways to increase muscle power

Prof. Araújo outlines a few ways to increase muscle power. First, it is important to choose a weight that is neither easy to lift nor so immense that the person cannot lift it at all.

Focus on doing 1 to 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions each while moving the weight as quickly as possible. Slowly return the weight to its initial position each time, and rest between sets.

It is also crucial to choose exercises for both the upper and lower body and to choose different ones each time to avoid boredom and burnout. If a weight becomes too heavy or an exercise becomes too difficult, reduce the repetitions or weight to prevent injury.

Of course, it is best to consult with a doctor before embarking on any exercise routine, and it is essential to pay attention to how it feels. Too much pain is a red flag.

“Power training is carried out by finding the best combination of speed and weight being lifted or moved,” explains Prof. Araújo.

“For strength training at the gym, most people just think about the amount of weight being lifted and the number of repetitions without paying attention to the speed of execution.”

But, for optimal power training results, you should go beyond typical strength training and add speed to your weight lifts.”

Prof. Claudio Gil Araújo

Medical News Today: Through my eyes: My first 48 hours with hearing aids

As an editor and writer for Medical News Today, I am constantly exploring the causes and effects of a range of different diseases and conditions.
Through my eyes hearing aid
At the time of writing, I have been wearing my hearing aids for 2 days, yet their impact is already astounding.

From time to time, I find that a particular article will pop up and alert me to my own health issues. And that is exactly what happened when I looked into deafness and hearing loss around a year ago.

I was going through the questions a doctor might ask during diagnosis, and I was staggered to find that as few as 5 percent of them did not apply to my own ears.

Sure enough, I took these issues to a doctor, and entered the referral process for treatment by an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

After 8 months of waiting, I now have two hearing aids. At the time of writing, I have only been wearing them for 2 days, yet their impact is already significantly greater than I could ever have imagined.

A gradual, creeping impact on your life

To recap, I’m lucky enough to have retained at least half of my hearing in each ear. At present, I can lead a mostly active, healthy life, I don’t need to communicate with sign language, and my work is unaffected.

However, it’s all too easy to dismiss the impact of a gradual, creeping condition such as hearing loss. It can develop suddenly, or, as in my case, take 20 years to reach a diagnosable level.

I will be 30 years old this year, and those 20 years mark a hugely important period in anyone’s life.

Whether you are trying to make an impact as a young professional starting out, rounding off your formal education, building a family, or all of the above, you will undoubtedly be taking account of parts of your life that are becoming increasingly important and complex.

Communication is a huge part of navigating this formative stage. If any element of communication is lacking, it can have a significant impact on the way your personality develops, and the methods you use to connect with the outside world.

The big kicker with gradual-onset hearing loss is that you are not aware of how it’s changing you until the physical symptoms have become moderate to severe.

Socializing becomes too much of a risk

Every pang of guilt or embarrassment after saying “what?” or “huh?” might lead to another night when you don’t risk going out to socialize. You end up distancing softly-spoken colleagues, friends, and even family members, simply because the effort it takes to process their speech can become draining.

I’ve forgotten what it’s like to chat with a friend at a concert or even a bar. Very often, I will have great difficulty separating conversational frequencies from noises in the environment, making it almost impossible to fully focus on what people are saying.

Something as trivial as needing subtitles when watching television programs and movies with other people can create an isolating feeling of being stigmatized.

Even though your friends are probably understanding, and although subtitles exist to significantly improve the viewing experience for people who cannot hear as well as others, it can still be hard to ignore the underlying feeling of being ‘different.’

As a result of these fleeting moments and hang-ups, I developed subtle, invisible coping mechanisms to anchor my social interactions.

For example, I cycle between a set of 10–15 stock phrases that I wheel out based on tone of voice and general context.

“Absolutely!”

“100 percent!”

“I can fully understand that.”

“Tell me about it!”

None of these seem out of place in a conversation. However, once they become a substitute for genuine responses and coherent conversational flow, they develop into a cornerstone of shame and awkwardness in daily encounters.

Until you start looking at hearing loss as a condition, it simply feels like part of your worldview. Even if it hasn’t yet reached the stage of impairing daily function, it can still strip at least 30–50 percent of the human experience from your day.

After writing the MNT article on hearing loss, I followed this journey to hearing aids on my doctor’s recommendation.

Even though I’m missing only one layer of frequencies, the difference is remarkable.

Even food comes alive with hearing aids

My new hearing aids are discreet yet powerful — sometimes, to my underused ears, excessively so.

Through my eyes hearing loss dogs
The hearing aids are discreet yet powerful, sometimes amplifying sounds too much.

A packet of chips opening 20 feet away sounds like it’s crinkling next to my head; I can hear the wheels of a stroller from a balcony five floors up; even the cacophony during bathroom breaks sounds like a National Geographic documentary.

There are unexpected changes, too. My experience of food has completely altered — the additional frequencies adding a lightness of bite and extra crunch that I was previously unaware of.

Using a hearing loop system for the first time at a concert was emotionally overwhelming. My balance and spatial awareness have also greatly improved in these first few days of wearing my hearing aids.

My hearing no longer feels impaired — that is, until I remove the hearing aids. Those few moments in the day without them, such as going to the gym or grabbing a shower, are now pretty draining by comparison.

However, I have heard about 20 birdsongs for the first time in the last 48 hours, and I’ve listened to the phasing hiss of the sea as I’ve never listened before.

And, I was hit by a hailstorm that might genuinely be the single most impressive thing I’ve ever heard, although until 2 days ago, the bar was not all that high.

I have a lot to learn about life with hearing aids, but my first lesson was that no one close to me sees it as a negative life event. Everyone has been congratulating me as if I’ve just become a parent for the first time.

I’ve realized that however self-conscious you might feel about wearing hearing aids, people only see it as a connection with the world, and this is a huge deal. I see my hearing aids as an opportunity, rather than as debilitating or cumbersome devices.

My hearing aids are a game-changer

There’ll be occasional squeals of feedback, and keeping them wedged in my ears can be a challenge, especially while moving around. However, I’m in the early stages of treatment and already connecting with the world more closely.

While my hearing aids are not perfect yet, they remain a genuine game-changer.

If conversations have started to become a struggle for you, or if you’ve passed on getting a hearing aid because of the visual aspect, then I urge you to look into your options. Visit your doctor, speak to your insurer about coverage, and weigh up hearing assistance as a real option.

Sound is 20 percent of your experience as a human. Conversation, music, and background noise are all part of keeping a steady headspace and progressing with your day. Protecting and enhancing that is a life-changing step to take for people who can’t process sound as well as others do.

I cannot wait to stick these bad boys in upon waking up tomorrow and seeing what else I can discover for the first time.