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.

Medical News Today: What are the nutritional benefits of peanuts?

Peanuts have a strong nutritional profile. They are an excellent source of plant-based protein, fiber, and many key vitamins and minerals.

Peanuts come in many forms, including roasted, salted, chocolate-coated, and as peanut butter. Different types have different nutritional profiles and various health benefits.

Along with their healthful nutritional profile, peanuts are a calorie-rich food, so they are most healthful when enjoyed in moderation.

In this article, we provide the nutritional profile of peanuts, their health benefits, and how different types compare.

Nutritional breakdown

Peanuts in a bowl on wooden table top down view.
Peanuts are most healthful when they are in their raw form.

Peanuts are an especially good source of healthful fats, protein, and fiber. They also contain plenty of potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, and B vitamins. Despite being high in calories, peanuts are nutrient-rich and low in carbohydrates.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100 grams of raw peanuts contain 567 calories and the following nutrients in grams (g), milligrams (mg), or micrograms (mcg):

macronutrients protein
carbohydrate
fiber
sugars
25.8 g
16.13 g
8.5 g
4.72 g
fats monounsaturated fats
polyunsaturated fats
saturated fats
24.43 g
15.56 g
6.28 g
minerals potassium
phosphorous
magnesium
calcium
sodium
iron
zinc
705 mg
376 mg
168 mg
92 mg
18 mg
4.58 mg
3.27 mg
vitamins vitamin B-3 (niacin)
vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
vitamin B-1 (thiamine)
vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine)
riboflavin (vitamin B-2)
folate (vitamin B-9)
12.07 mg
8.33 mg
0.64 mg
0.35 mg
0.14 mg
240 mcg

The mixture of healthful fats, protein, and fiber in peanuts means they provide nutritional benefits and make a person feel fuller for longer. This makes peanuts a healthful, go-to snack when people compare them with chips, crackers, and other simple carbohydrate foods.

Below, we discuss the benefits of key nutrients in peanuts.

1. Protein

Peanuts are an excellent source of plant-based protein, offering 25.8 g per 100 g of peanuts, or around half of a person’s daily protein needs.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein in adults is:

  • 46 g for women
  • 56 g for men

Protein is essential for building and repairing body cells. The amount of protein a person needs varies, depending on their age and activity level.

2. Healthful fats

Peanut butter on toast with fruit for breakfast
Peanuts contain healthful fats that are an essential part of a nutritious diet.

Fatty acids are an essential part of every diet. Most of the fats in peanuts are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are a healthful type of fat.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), consuming monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats instead of saturated and trans fats can improve a person’s blood cholesterol levels. This, in turn, lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke.

There is also a small amount of saturated fat in peanuts. Saturated fat is less healthful than unsaturated or polyunsaturated. Doctors link too much saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. As a consequence, it is best to eat peanuts in moderation to get their optimal health benefits.

3. Dietary fiber

Peanuts are a good source of dietary fiber. They contain 8.5 g per 100 g, which around one-quarter of a male’s recommended fiber intake or one-third for females.

The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get the following amounts of fiber per day:

  • 34 g for men
  • 28 g for women

Fiber is a heart-healthful nutrient. The AHA report that eating fiber-rich foods improves blood cholesterol levels and lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

Which types of peanuts are most healthful?

Raw peanuts are the most healthful variety. Peanut butter is a great choice, offering a healthy nutritional profile and a range of health benefits. Learn about the health benefits of peanut butter.

People can also buy roasted, salted peanuts. Eating these types is okay in moderation, though consuming too much sodium is linked with high blood pressure and heart disease.

The AHA recommend an ideal limit of 1,500 mg of sodium per day, and no more than 2,300 mg of sodium — equivalent to 1 teaspoon of salt — especially for people with high blood pressure.

Where possible, choose raw peanuts with the skin attached. Peanut skins contain antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect the body’s cells from damage from free radicals. Producers usually remove the skins from most roasted or salted peanut.

People can enjoy peanuts and peanut butter in moderation as a snack throughout the day. In main meals, peanuts make a great addition to salads or Thai dishes.

Health benefits of peanuts

Woman at desk at work snacking and eating on peanut
Eating peanuts may help with managing blood sugar levels.

Eating peanuts has three main health benefits:

  • supporting heart health
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • managing blood sugar

The following sections discuss these benefits and the science behind them.

1. Supporting heart health

Peanuts contain more healthful monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats than they do saturated fats. This fat ratio makes peanuts better for the heart than fat sources with a higher proportion of saturated fats.

A 2014 study found that eating 46 g of peanuts or peanut butter each day may improve heart health for people with diabetes.

2. Maintaining a healthy weight

Because peanuts are full of healthful fats, protein, and fiber, they make a satisfying snack. Eating them in moderation may help a person maintain a healthy weight.

Research found that women who ate nuts, including peanuts, twice a week had a slightly lower risk of weight gain and obesity over 8 years than those who rarely ate nuts.

A large-scale study found that eating peanuts and other nuts may reduce a person’s risk of obesity over 5 years.

3. Managing blood sugar levels

Peanuts are an excellent food for people with diabetes or a risk of diabetes. Peanuts have a low glycemic index (GI), meaning they do not cause big spikes in blood sugar levels.

Nutritionists see foods with a GI of 55 or lower as low-GI foods, and those with a GI of more than 70 are high-GI foods. Peanuts have a GI score of 23, making them a low-GI food. Learn more about the GI scale here.

Peanuts help control blood sugar levels because they are relatively low in carbohydrates but high in protein, fat, and fiber. Fiber slows down the digestive processes, allowing a steadier release of energy, and protein takes longer to break down than simple carbohydrates.

Research suggests that eating peanut butter or peanuts may help women with obesity and a higher type 2 diabetes risk to manage their blood sugar levels.

Risks and considerations

Peanuts contain proteins called arachin and conarachin. Some people are severely allergic to these proteins. For these people, peanuts can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Because peanuts are high in calories, it is sensible to eat them in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Consuming too many calories may lead to weight gain. This is true regardless of whether the foods those calories come from are nutritious or not.

Roasted, salted peanuts may be less healthful than raw peanuts due to their high sodium content. That said, if people consume them in moderation, they can enjoy them as a part of a healthful, balanced diet.

Summary

Peanuts are a nutrient-rich source of protein, dietary fiber, and healthful fats. Eating them in moderation, as part of a balanced diet, may:

  • support heart health
  • help a person maintain a healthy weight
  • help a person manage their blood sugar levels

Peanuts are a good option for people with diabetes for these reasons. They are also a good snack option for those looking to reduce carbohydrates and increase healthful fat intake.

For their optimal health benefits, choose raw peanuts with the skin on. Raw peanuts with their skin on are high in cell-defending antioxidants.

Roasted, salted peanuts are high in sodium, which health professionals link to heart disease. That said, eating roasted, salted peanuts as part of a balanced diet is okay.

As with most foods, the key to enjoying peanuts is eating them in moderation as part of a healthful, calorie-controlled diet.

Amazon PPC: Types of Ads

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Amazon PPC

Tempted to try Amazon ads to promote your product? You’d better start budgeting for your Amazon campaigns, then. But what exactly are they? Let’s take a look at all the ways you can make your items stand out with Amazon PPC.

When goto.com came up with Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) in 1997, it launched the world’s most successful online advertising model. And here we are, two decades later, applying this model to reap the benefits of selling on Amazon. But what’s so special about Amazon PPC?

Amazon users are “buyers”, not window shoppers. They come to Amazon to search for specific products. Amazon will display certain items based on their search terms, and these unbiased recommendations are called “organic results”. But there is such a thing as a “paid result” too.

Amazon offers both paid and free advertising solutions. ‘Stores’ is an example of the latter, but it’s only available to registered brand owners. As for paid ads, these are the product of several other Amazon advertising solutions:

  • Sponsored Brands
  • Sponsored Products
  • Display Ads (formerly “headline search ads” and “product display ads”)
  • Video Ads
  • Custom Ads
Organic vs Paid

Paid vs. organic search results on Amazon

It’s important to know the difference between PPC and PPM. PPM or pay-per-impression advertising is where you pay for the impressions you get, not the clicks. Display Ads, Video Ads, and Custom Ads are examples of PPM tools on Amazon, where you’re charged for every 1,000 impressions.

So, in the list above, only the first two are examples of Amazon PPC. Sponsored Brands are only available to merchants who have signed up for Brand Registry, such as vendors, Launchpad and Handmade users, and private label sellers. By contrast, Sponsored Products are ads set up mostly by third-party sellers without a registered brand. That’s because when you have competitors (ie you’re not a private label seller), your ad will only run if you have the Buy Box.

Both types of Sponsored Ads are shown in the screen grab above. Notice the word Advertisement underlined in red on the Sponsored Brands banner. Also notice the word Sponsored in small print on the Sponsored Products ads. Unlike the banner, a Sponsored Products ad mingles with organic results and blends in with listings in the center of the screen. So, it’s great value for money.

After incentivized reviews were banned, paid ads became the best way to market your product on Amazon. But PPM solutions like Display Ads call for a minimum spend of $35,000. By contrast, your Amazon PPC budget can be whatever you can afford.

So, most merchants choose between Sponsored Brands and Products. Also, vendors can no longer promote items that “Can’t Realize a Profit” (‘‘CRaP’’), so there’s bound to be a drop in Sponsored Brands soon. It’s safe to assume Sponsored Products ads will pick up the slack.

But if you’re not entirely sure you should invest in Sponsored Products, here’s a tutorial on Amazon PPC from Urban Cowgirl founder Cherie Yvette. Pay close attention to her pie chart at timestamp 15:20, where she compares sales from various sources and tells you what to bid on:

As we mentioned in our post on Sponsored Products, there are a few basic requirements for anyone who wants to set up an Amazon campaign. And the ad placement tips we offered in this post still apply. You’ll need:

  • profitable products with good click-through rate;
  • a good daily budget for your Amazon ads;
  • good keywords with little competition;
  • the highest bids.

There’s no shortage of tutorials on setting up Amazon campaigns. When you do, you can opt for automatic or manual targeting. The latter option enables you to set your own keywords and bids. Here’s a Sellics tutorial that shows you how to find the best keywords for your product with free tools like Sonar.

This Jungle Scout video explains the link between ACoS and break-even point. It also shows you how to use the Sponsored Products Search term report from an automatic campaign. You can use data gathered by Amazon to check customer search terms and fine-tune your keyword selection.

Now that we’ve discussed paid results, please follow our blog for more about Amazon campaigns. In Part 2 of our Amazon Ads series, we’ll talk about promotions, campaigns, and tools that can enhance and promote your product page 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: House dust microbes degrade cancer-causing chemical

New research finds that household dust hosts microbes that can break down cancer-causing environmental chemicals. However, the byproducts of this degradation may also harm health.
man cleaning dust in kitchen
The microbes in our household dust can fight off cancer-causing chemicals, but at what cost?

Our households are riddled with all kinds of microbe, some of which are good and some of which are dangerous. From our dishwashing sponges to our toothbrush holders, there are plenty of places in our homes where these tiny microorganisms can hide.

In particular, the dust that settles on our furniture and other surfaces contains a wide variety of fungi, as well as bacteria from the Staphylococcus and Streptococcus families.

Although such bacteria may harm our health — particularly if we have a weak immune system — new research finds that the microbes present in household dust also have an additional role: They help break down harmful environmental chemicals.

Specifically, a new study found that these dust bacteria can degrade phthalates, which belong to a class of chemicals that research has linked with cancer and other conditions.

Ashleigh Bope, a doctoral researcher in environmental science at The Ohio State University in Columbus, is the first author of the paper, which appears in the journal Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts.

Dust microbes fight off harmful chemicals

The primary purpose of phthalates is to soften plastic and vinyl to make it more flexible. There are phthalates in almost every household and consumer product, from blinds, wallpaper, and shower curtains to plastic toys, detergents, and food packaging.

Researchers do not yet fully understand the health impact of phthalates, but existing studies have suggested that these chemicals disrupt the endocrine system.

Experts believe that one particular phthalate, called Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), causes cancer.

Bope explains the motivation for the new study, saying, “[W]e know that [phthalates] can be degraded in other systems — like aquatic systems and soils — but we have high exposure to them indoors, so it was important for us to see if biodegradation was actually occurring in the indoor environment.”

To find out, the researchers analyzed a piece of carpet from a randomly chosen household in Massachusetts, other pieces of carpet from three households in Ohio, and dust samples that they collected from the vacuum cleaners of the same homes.

Lab analyses revealed phthalates and microbes, as expected. Specifically, the researchers found the cancer-causing DEHP in higher concentrations than other phthalates.

Then, the researchers stored the pieces of carpet at different humidity levels to examine the interaction between the microbes and the phthalates.

They found that higher humidity levels helped the dust microbes multiply, noting that the higher the humidity and the number of microbes, the more phthalates these microbes degraded. However, breaking down the otherwise harmful phthalates may cause more health hazards, explain the researchers.

“We could see that the phthalates were degrading, but the byproducts of that degradation could be even more harmful,” reports study co-author Sarah Haines.

“We really need to look at that more, especially at those elevated relative humidity conditions. It’s not recommended to maintain a high relative humidity in your home due to increased potential for microbial growth.”

The humidity levels that the team used in this research were almost double those of a typical home. When humidity is too high, microbes multiply exponentially, along with fungi and mold.

‘The bigger picture’

Study co-author Karen Dannemiller, who is also the director of the Indoor Environmental Quality Laboratory at The Ohio State University, comments on the significance of the findings.

“Previously, people thought there really wasn’t a lot of microbial activity happening in the indoor environment,” she says. “We knew microbes were shed from human skin or tracked in from outdoors, and we thought they sat there and didn’t do anything. This study shows that is not always the case.”

“The big picture is that understanding these interactions can eventually lead to better building design to prevent exposure to some of these harmful compounds,” adds Dannemiller.

“We know that both chemicals and microbes are there, so how can we create the healthiest buildings that we possibly can?”

Medical News Today: What to know about black earwax

Earwax is a naturally produced yellow substance that helps keep a person’s ears clean and free of debris. Black earwax can sometimes appear, but it is usually the result of an excessive buildup of earwax and is rarely a cause for concern.

Earwax protects the ear canal from things that may enter it, including:

  • water
  • shampoo and conditioner
  • dirt
  • viruses, fungi, and bacteria

Several glands in the outer part of the ear produce earwax, which is sometimes called cerumen. Earwax also includes the old skin cells of the ear canal, which shed into it. In most cases, earwax is a sticky, yellow substance. However, it occasionally has a darker color, such as brown or black.

By knowing some of the potential causes, most of which are benign, a person can take steps to prevent and treat black earwax.

Causes and risk factors

Woman having ear examined by doctor with otoscope
Earwax can build up and become black.

When earwax is in the ear for long periods, its color will start to darken. The longer the wax remains there, the darker it will appear.

Research on the effects of earwax accumulation shows that males and older adults are more likely than other people to experience buildups of earwax.

In general, as a person ages, the earwax becomes drier and does not clear the ear canal as quickly or easily. As a result, earwax can build up and change from yellow to black.

However, black earwax can affect anyone. The following are some of the most common causes of black earwax.

Excessive earwax buildup

In most people, earwax naturally and regularly exits a person’s ears. However, if this does not happen quickly enough or the glands produce too much earwax, it can build up in the ear canal and become darker.

Insertion of foreign objects

People who use earbuds, earplugs, hearing aids, or any other object that they routinely place in the ear have a higher chance of developing black earwax. These foreign objects can both push earwax back into the ear canal and block earwax from exiting the ear.

Compressed earwax

The insertion of foreign objects into the ear can also lead to compressed earwax. People who regularly clean their ears with cotton buds run the risk of pushing the earwax back into the ear and compressing it against the eardrum.

In addition to becoming darker, compressed earwax can cause various symptoms, such as earaches, hearing loss, and dizziness.

Home remedies

Man having ear irrigation performed
Performing ear irrigation can help dislodge black earwax.

In most cases, black earwax does not pose a health concern or risk. However, if it becomes a problem, a person can usually treat it with home remedies. Anyone who experiences additional symptoms may also wish to speak to a doctor.

People can try the following home remedies for black earwax. It is important to note that these treatments are not suitable for those who have a hole in the eardrum, including one that is due to tube placement or a tear.

Ear irrigation

Ear irrigation involves the use of warm water, sometimes with an essential oil or hydrogen peroxide.

To irrigate the ear, a person should:

  • Fill a small, rubber syringe or bulb with warm water or a mixture of warm water and a few drops of an essential oil or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Tilt the head so that the affected ear is facing toward the ceiling and place the head over the sink.
  • Insert the syringe tip just over the opening of the ear canal.
  • Gently squirt the water into the ear and let it drain out.
  • Repeat with the other ear if necessary.

A person may also want to try positioning the ear toward the sink while irrigating it to allow the water and wax to drain with gravity from the ear.

Ear irrigation is generally a safe and effective way to remove a buildup of earwax from the ears.

Ear drops

Ear drops are another at-home treatment option. The most common over-the-counter (OTC) ear drops are:

  • hydrogen peroxide
  • natural oils, such as olive oil, mineral oil, and baby oil
  • ear drop solutions

When a person drops the solution into the opening of the ear, hard and dry wax absorbs it. This absorption should soften the earwax and make it easier to clear from the ear canal. It may help to take a shower a few minutes after applying ear drops to help rinse out the softened earwax.

Earwax removal drops are available to purchase online. Some drops contain peroxide.

Medical treatments

If at-home treatments are not successful or pain accompanies the black earwax, a person should speak to their doctor about potential treatments. A doctor may check for underlying conditions if this is the person’s first visit for this symptom.

Some methods that a doctor may try include:

  • irrigation with a special tool for cleaning out earwax
  • suction using a vacuum tool
  • removing earwax with a specialized tool called a curette

Prevention

Regular showers can help loosen earwax.
Taking regular showers can help loosen earwax.

Often, simply leaving the ears alone may help prevent excess wax from building up. Most of the time, with showers and jaw movement, the ears are self-cleaning and require no interference.

People should avoid cleaning their ears with long objects. Anyone with a history of wax buildups may also want to consider avoiding or limiting the use of earbuds and other devices that require insertion into the ears.

A doctor may prescribe medication to help soften a person’s earwax over time. This medication can help prevent the accumulation of earwax that can lead to black earwax and other side effects.

When to see a doctor

A person should speak to a doctor if this is their first time experiencing black earwax. A doctor may refer a person to an ear, nose, and throat specialist or check for underlying conditions before treatment.

A person should also seek medical attention if they experience any additional symptoms, including:

  • pain in the ear
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • a feeling of fullness in the ear
  • itchiness in the ear
  • a cough
  • discharge from the ear canal
  • ringing in the ears
  • difficulty hearing

Finally, a person should speak to their doctor before they start an at-home treatment and let them know if the treatment does not work.

Takeaway

Black earwax is rarely a cause for concern. Additional symptoms tend to be mild, and people can usually treat them with home remedies.

Most people should leave their ears alone and practice good hygiene, and they will not experience an excessive buildup of earwax.

Anyone experiencing bothersome symptoms alongside black earwax should speak to a doctor.

30 Sentimental Mother’s Day Poems to Show Your Love

The love shared between a mother and a child is a bond like no other. Whether you’re a daughter or a son, your mom holds a special place in your heart. Moms teach us about responsibility, devotion, hard work and, most importantly, unconditional love.

Tell your mom how much she means to you with these Mother’s Day poems. After everything she’s done and all she will do for you, give her something truly meaningful in return. Remember, a sentimental gift often means more than an expensive one.

Show your mom the love she deserves with these poems for Mother’s Day.

Short Mother’s Day Poems

mom pushing kids in basket

  1. “i struggle so deeply / to understand / how someone can / pour their entire soul / …into someone / without wanting / anything in / return” – Excerpt from Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  2. “Of all the special joys in life, / The big ones and the small, / A mother’s love and tenderness / Is the greatest of them all.” – A Mother’s Love by Anonymous
  3. “Put them all together, and they spell ‘Mother,’ / A word that means the world to me.” – M-O-T-H-E-R by Howard Johnson
  4. “I see now it was love, Mom, / That made you come whenever I’d call / Your inexhaustible love, Mom, / And I thank you for it all” – Everything Mom by Joanna Fuchs
  5. “Thank you, Mom / I have always loved you and I always will” – Without You by Joanna Fuchs
  6. “Hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn, / Hundreds of bees in the purple clover, / Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn, / But only one mother the wide world over.” – Only One Mother by George Cooper
  7. “A tender smile to guide my way, / You’re the sunshine to light my day.” – Sunshine by Anonymous
  8. “My mother is the dearest for me. / …She is the soul of our house; / …She is a very kind and loving mother…” – My Mother by Ritwik Sinha
  9. “Thank you, mom, for believing in me. / …Thank you, mom, for loving me unconditionally. / …And I thank you for all the laughs, smiles, and joy that you bring.” – Thank You, Mom by Jennifer J. Hall
  10. “Here’s wishing you a Mother’s Day / That’s filled with every pleasure, / And a future that’s as happy / As the memories you treasure!” – [Untitled] by Anonymous

Funny Mother’s Day Poems

mom and kids laughing

  1. “I bought a box of chocolate hearts, / a present for my mother, / They looked so good I tasted one, / and then I tried another.” – Mother’s Chocolate Valentine by Jack Prelutsky
  2. “I’m glad that you’re my mother, / Kind and caring and strong. / Coz surely no-one else, / Could have put up with me this long!” – Put Up With Me by Holly Giffers
  3. “You know all my most embarrassing moments, / You know that I’m a nut, / So what can I do to repay your love / and make sure you keep your mouth shut?” – You Know Me by Holly Giffers
  4. “…don’t poets know / better than others? / God can’t be always everywhere: and, so, / invented Mothers.” – Mothers by Sir Edwin Arnold
  5. “At times, she drives me crazy, / but my mom she’ll always be. / And even when I’m far away, / I think, what would my mother say…” – My Mom by Terry W. Kraemer

Sweet Mother’s Day Poems

daughter holding flowers

  1. “I love you, Mother, I have woven a wreath / of rhymes wherewith to crown your honored name…” – Sonnets are full of love, and this is my tome by Christina Rossetti
  2. “Your strength and love guided me and gave me wings to fly.” – Mother by Sarah Malin
  3. “No love like mother-love ever has shone; / No other worship abides and endures, — / Faithful, unselfish, and patient like yours” – Rock Me to Sleep by Elizabeth Akers Allen
  4. “A Mother’s love is something / that no one can explain, / It is made of deep devotion / and of sacrifice and pain” – A Mother’s Love by Helen Steiner Rice
  5. “The way I feel I can’t explain / The gratitude inside / For all the days and all the nights / You spent right by my side” – I Love You Mum by Jessica Ashton

Mother’s Day Poems from Daughter

mom and daughter laughing

  1. “Once upon a memory / Someone wiped away a tear / Held me close and loved me, / Thank you, Mother dear.” – Thank You, Mother by Anonymous
  2. “A mother wraps / her love around the heart / of her daughter, / keeping each beat steady / through the rhythm of life, / until wings take shape, / and it’s time for the soul / to take flight.” A mother. By Christy Ann Martine
  3. “Whenever I’m in need of a shoulder, / There’s no one as devoted as my mother.” – To My Dearest Mother by Kirsten Rollander
  4. “Mother and daughter, their hearts as one — a link that can never be undone.” – Mother & Daughter by Unknown
  5. “She’s my guardian angel who’ll always be / A very special part of me” – My Heart by Sharlynn N. Manning

Mother’s Day Poems from Son

mom and son playing

  1. “I’m writing you to tell you that I love you / Something I hardly ever do. / I never tell you enough how much I love you / and it’s something I must do.” – Dear Mother by Herman Vymislicky
  2. “You’ve made my life full of delight / And when I’m with you everything’s all right” – Ode to Mom by Christopher R. Hall
  3. “For I forgot to be your son, / And was blind to the damage done. / But, Ma, you taught me right from wrong, / And now I sing a different song.” – Working in Your Dungarees by Ronald Doe
  4. “Life has difficult decisions and you were my guide. / you taught me how to decide / …and that family should never be put aside.” – When I Was A Small Child by Joao De Leon
  5. “For everything I am today, / My mother’s love showed me the way.” – What “Mother” Means by Karl Fuchs

Hopefully, these Mother’s Day poems encourage you to give your mom a gift from the heart this year. Whether completely original or inspired by another author, she will surely love a heartfelt message — bonus points if it rhymes!

You can even get the whole family together to give your mom a poem from each genre! Moms sacrifice a lot for their children, so the least you can do is put together some poems for Mother’s Day in return.

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The Best Gifts for Admin’s Day

Administrative Professional’s Day, or Admin’s Day, is next Wednesday! While National Secretaries Day was its original name, Admin’s Day began in 1952. At an ad agency, a publicist named Harry Klemfuss observed the great responsibility placed on the company’s secretary. So Harry the public relations manager, championed for more awareness of the value of the job that secretaries do. He created Secretaries Day with the goal of encouraging more women to become secretaries (nowadays, women and men, of course – we think Klemfuss would agree).

Administrative Professional’s Day  – April 24

While the name has evolved with the times, recognizing these vital individuals has grown, too. It may mean different roles and responsibilities in different companies and organizations, but the overarching theme is this: Admins Day is all about appreciating those in administrative roles who keep it all on track, day after day. Here are the perfect gifts to thank your admins on April 24th.

Fresh FlowersFabulously Fresh Flowers A Thousand Thanks Generous Gourmet Gift Baskets
Relaxing Retreat Spa Gift Seriously Serene Spa Gifts Fine Wine Tote Wish-Worthy Wine Gifts

Comment Below

How are you going to thank the Admin at your office on April 24?

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Medical News Today: Does a common pain reliever reduce empathy?

Following on from a series of similar studies, researchers are once again investigating whether acetaminophen can influence our psychology. This time, the focus is on positive empathy.
Older adults empathy
Could acetaminophen reduce our ability to demonstrate empathy?

Acetaminophen is one of the most commonly used drugs globally.

It offers quick relief from mild pain and is readily available over the counter.

Although the medical community considers acetaminophen to be a relatively safe and useful drug, a recent study asks whether it might have an unexpected effect on the population at large.

Researchers from Ohio University in Athens are examining its effect on our ability to empathize with others.

Lead author Dominik Mischkowski has been interested in this unusual topic for some time.

The psychology of pain relievers

Although the idea that a popular analgesic might have a psychological effect seems surprising, Mischkowski is not the only person to have investigated it.

For instance, a 2010 paper concluded that acetaminophen “reduced neural responses to social rejection.” In other words, it appeared to reduce psychological pain.

A study from 2015 concluded that acetaminophen blunted “evaluative and emotional processing,” while a more recent study involving people with borderline personality disorder found that acetaminophen increased their level of trust.

Mischkowski published the findings of a study in 2016, and Medical News Today covered it at the time. In the paper, the researchers explained how acetaminophen seemed to reduce participants’ ability to empathize with those undergoing physical and emotional suffering.

According to Mischkowski, this common pain reliever blunts responsiveness to one’s own pain and also to the pain of others.

I’m still surprised about the striking psychological effects of such a common painkiller.”

Lead author Dominik Mischkowski

Another look at empathy

In his latest study, Mischkowski wanted to expand on his previous work. Specifically, he set out with his colleagues to explore whether acetaminophen might also reduce someone’s ability to experience positive empathy.

To investigate, the researchers recruited 114 participants. They gave half of the group 1,000 milligrams of acetaminophen, while the other half received an inert placebo. The study was double-blind, meaning that neither the researchers nor the participants knew whether they were receiving the active drug or the placebo.

One hour later, the team asked the participants to read short passages about people having positive, uplifting experiences. The researchers measured how positive the participants perceived the events to be and how positive they thought they were for the individuals in the narrative.

Once the scientists had completed their analysis, the results confirmed their expectations:

“[A]cetaminophen reduced positive empathy. When reading scenarios about various protagonists having pleasurable experiences, participants under the influence of acetaminophen experienced less empathic affect compared to participants who had consumed a psychologically inert placebo.”

Importantly, the researchers also found that acetaminophen did not dull the participants’ ability to understand that the situations that they were reading about were positive — they realized the emotional impact, but they did not feel much empathy for the individuals in the narratives.

No solid conclusions

Although these findings contribute to a growing body of similar research, most of the studies are small-scale and generally involve fewer than 100 participants. So, although interest is growing, it is not yet possible to gauge the size of acetaminophen’s effect on empathy, if it does exist.

It may be that this effect is small or that the drug only affects some people, but due to the widespread use of this pain reliever, even a small effect could be significant.

Given that an estimated quarter of all U.S. American adults consume a drug containing acetaminophen every week, this research really matters.”

Dominik Mischkowski

As the authors explain, there is a need for other studies to replicate and build on these results. There are a number of ways in which researchers could strengthen the study. For instance, inducing empathy in real-life situations would be preferable to merely reading emotive texts.

It is also worth noting how difficult it is to quantify empathy or any other human emotion for that matter. In this particular study, the team asked the participants to rate the extent to which they felt, for instance, pleasure, uplifted, or pleased, using a five-point scale from “not at all” to “extremely.”

Using an individual’s self-rating is problematic for several reasons. As an example, it could be that the participant was not experiencing decreased empathy but simply a reduced desire to share their feelings.

That said, even if acetaminophen does not alter empathy, it appears to lead to a measurable change in the way that participants respond to a questionnaire, which is still interesting.

The idea that such a common medication could cause a psychological effect, even if it is subtle, is intriguing. However, few studies have addressed these questions, and scientists will need to do much more detailed work before we can conclude that acetaminophen reduces empathy in a meaningful way.

Medical News Today: ‘Empathetic technology’: Can devices know what you’re feeling?

For some, the word “technology” might evoke cold imagery of steely robots and complex computer algorithms. But a talk on “empathetic technology” at this year’s Wired Health conference did a lot to change this perception.
woman checking her smartphone
Our smart devices may soon know how we are feeling even before we do.

With approximately 39 million people in the United States currently owning a smart speaker, technology that caters to our needs is more and more ubiquitous, taking up ever more of our personal space.

But smart devices can do so much more than merely playing our favorite song or searching the internet when we ask them to. Smart speakers may soon be able to diagnose us or tell how we are feeling.

At Wired Health — an annual conference that brings to the fore the latest developments in health tech — neuroscientist and technologist Poppy Crum, Ph.D., gave a talk aptly titled “Technology that knows what you’re feeling.”

Treading a fine line between ominous and hopeful, the title made a powerful point: soon, consumer technology may know our mental and physical states before we do.

But how, exactly, can technology achieve this? How can we harness its potential to help us elucidate mental and physical conditions, and what role does empathy play in all of this?

These are some of the questions that Crum answered at Wired Health — an event which this year took place at the Francis Crick Institute in London, United Kingdom.

What is empathetic technology?

Crum, who is the chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories in San Francisco, CA, and an adjunct professor at Stanford University in the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, defines empathetic technology as “technology that is using our internal state to decide how it will respond and make decisions.”

So how can technology read our internal states? Crum’s talk at Wired Health featured some interesting examples of neurophysiological “giveaways” that the right type of technology can now pick up easily — a phenomenon the scientist referred to as “the end of the poker face.”

For instance, as Crum showed in her talk, when we’re feeling overwhelmed by a cognitive load — or, in simpler terms, when we’re struggling to understand something — our pupils dilate.

The pupillometry research from the last few decades has shown that we can track multiple cognitive processes, such as memory, attention, or mental load, by examining the behavior and measuring the diameter of our pupils.

In fact, this is an experiment we can all “try at home.” In 1973, renowned psychologist Daniel Kahneman wrote:

Face a mirror, look at your eyes and invent a mathematical problem, such as 81 times 17. Try to solve the problem and watch your pupil at the same time, a rather difficult exercise in divided attention. After a few attempts, almost everyone is able to observe the pupillary dilation that accompanies mental effort.”

Further experiments have shown how skin conductance, also known as galvanic skin response, can be a tool to predict a person’s emotional response when watching a movie or a football match.

How much sweat a person’s skin secretes, as well as the changes in the electrical resistance of the skin, can predictstress, excitement, engagement, frustration, and anger.”

Furthermore, humans exhale chemicals, such as carbon dioxide and isoprene, when they feel lonely or scared. In fact, in the TED talk below, Crum had tracked the carbon dioxide that members of the audience exhaled when they watched suspenseful scenes from a thriller movie.

Although scientists have known about these processes for a while, Crum noted in her Wired Health talk, the devices that researchers now use in their labs to detect these changes are 10 times cheaper than they were decades ago. Also, smart glasses can now detect such changes, as can cameras from very far away.

Practical applications of empathetic tech

“Empathetic” hearing aids could be personalized and attuned to the amount of effort that a person with hearing problems needs to use in order to make out what someone is saying, said Crum in her Wired Health talk.

This would help destigmatize those living with certain disabilities, as well as providing these people with optimal care.

Empathetic technology also has wide implications for our mental wellbeing. “With more capable cameras, microphones, thermal imaging, and exhalant measuring devices, we can capture prolific data,” writes Crum, data that can, in turn, function to alert carers.

On the subject of mental health, it is not only the eyes that offer a window into someone’s “soul,” but also the voice, Crum expounded in her Wired Health talk.

Researchers have applied artificial intelligence (AI) to data they gathered on parameters such as syntactic patterns, pitch-reflex, and use of pronouns to accurately detect the onset of depression, schizophrenia, or Alzheimer’s disease.

For example, less than a year ago, Tuka Alhanai, a researcher at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, led scientists who designed a neural network model that accurately predicted depression by analyzing speech patterns in 142 participants.

The model sees sequences of words or speaking style, and determines that these patterns are more likely to be seen in people who are depressed or not depressed […] Then, if it sees the same sequences in new subjects, it can predict if they’re depressed too.”

Tuka Alhanai

Study co-author James Glass, a senior research scientist in CSAIL, also commented on the findings at the time. “Every patient will talk differently,” he said, “and if the model sees changes, maybe it will be a flag to the doctors […] This is a step forward in seeing if we can do something assistive to help clinicians.”

Other researchers have used computer algorithms to study half-a-million Facebook status updates to detect “depression-associated language markers,” such as emotive cues or greater use of first-person pronouns, like “I” or “me.”

Arthritis gloves and inclusive design

Of course, empathetic technology can enhance not only our understanding of psychological conditions but also that of physical ones.

An experiment that Crum and her team conducted used arthritis simulation gloves to create an empathetic experience for a group of participants. The researchers then asked these participants to design the menu of an app, bearing in mind that its users would have arthritis.

The participants in the arthritis simulation group designed a wholly different user experience from those in the group who could not empathize with their users. People in the former group eliminated features like drop-down menus, for instance, which are hard to engage with for those with digit mobility problems.

The gloves were the result of 10 years of research into “inclusive design,” an effort led by John Clarkson, a professor of engineering design at the University of Cambridge, U.K., and Roger Coleman, a professor emeritus of inclusive design at London’s Royal College of Art.

In the video below, Sam Waller — a researcher with the Inclusive Design Group at the Cambridge Engineering Design Centre — uses the arthritis gloves to show how difficult an action as simple as opening a pack of post-its can be for those living with the condition.

Waller also uses a pair of glasses to simulate vision problems, and other researchers have used immersive technology, such as virtual reality simulators, to recreate the experience of living with “age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, protanopia, and diabetic retinopathy.”

Towards an ‘era of the empath’

We are moving towards “the era of the empath,” as Poppy Crum has dubbed it — an era where “technology will know more about us than we do,” but also an era where we will know more about each other than ever before.

Consumer technology will know more about our mental and physical wellness than many clinical visits.”

Poppy Crum

Combining machine learning with sensing technology and the vast amounts of data it can gather offers great opportunities for physicians, writes the scientist. “Here are just a few other examples of how this might play out,” she notes.

“By combining drug regimens with empathetic technology, doctors gain a closed feedback loop of data from the patient, changing drugs and therapies based on your signals.”

“Or, weeks before you go in for knee surgery, your orthopedic surgeon can gather much more data about your gait and how you use your knees in ways that may benefit from different considerations during your physical therapy rehabilitation post-surgery,” she continues.

At Wired Health, Crum seemed to have convinced her audience that artificial technology, coupled with AI, can drastically improve our lives, rather than hinder them — a point the scientist drives home in many of her previous articles.

[AI] is often feared because people think it will replace who we are. With empathetic technology, AI can make us better, not replace us. It can also assure us and our doctors that the interventions they prescribe are actually solving the problems we have.”

Poppy Crum