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Medical News Today: What to know about alcohol and depression

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Medical News Today: What to know about alcohol and depression

Alcohol can make a person feel depressed and may even trigger or worsen depression. Depression is also a risk factor for using alcohol, since people who feel depressed may use alcohol to ease their symptoms.

Several studies, including a 2013 study that used a nationally representative sample, have found that people who drink to manage a psychiatric condition are more likely to abuse alcohol.

In this article, learn more about the links between alcohol and depression, as well as when to see a doctor.

Alcohol and depression interact with one another in several harmful ways:

Alcohol may cause or worsen depression

Drinking too much alcohol is a risk factor for new and worsening depression.

A 2012 study found that 63.8% of people who are dependent on alcohol are also depressed. The study did not test whether alcohol use causes depression, however.

Research from 2011 found that having an alcohol use disorder significantly increased a person’s risk of having depression.

Alcohol may even increase the risk of depression in babies exposed to alcohol in the womb. Children born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are more likely to develop depression later, according to an earlier study from 2010.

Alcohol is a depressant, which means that it slows activity in the central nervous system. This can temporarily make a person feel sleepy, tired, or sad.

Chronic alcohol use may change brain chemistry in a way that increases the risk of depression.

Alcohol can increase the risk of dangerous symptoms

Alcohol use in a person with depression may intensify the symptoms of depression and increase the risk of adverse and life-threatening outcomes.

A 2011 study of adolescents seeking treatment for mental health conditions such as depression found that at the 1-year follow-up, teens who drank alcohol were more likely to attempt suicide or engage in other forms of self-harm.

A 2011 analysis found a correlation between using alcohol before the age of 13 and later engaging in self-harm.

Research from 2013 also supports the link between alcohol use and self-harm. The study found that teenagers with depression who drank alcohol were significantly more likely to act on suicidal feelings.

Suicide prevention

  • If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

Depression may increase alcohol use

Some people with depression drink alcohol to ease their symptoms. Over time, this can lead to alcohol dependence and abuse.

People who drink to cope with psychological distress may drink more over time, especially when they wake up feeling anxious or depressed. Chronic drinking significantly increases the risk of alcohol abuse.

For many people, feeling sad or unhappy is a prominent symptom of depression. Depression is more than just sadness, however. It can affect many aspects of a person’s life and can even be debilitating. Depression is the leading worldwide cause of disability.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • getting no joy from hobbies or activities previously enjoyed
  • feeling that there is nothing to look forward to or no hope for the future
  • unexplained health issues, such as headaches, muscle pain, or stomach problems
  • changes in sleep habits, such as sleeping much more or less than usual
  • unintentionally losing or gaining weight
  • having feelings of worthlessness
  • having a hard time making decisions
  • having trouble concentrating on work or school
  • experiencing thoughts of death
  • contemplating suicide or other forms of self-harm

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that excessive drinking claims 88,000 lives per year. The CDC defines excessive alcohol use as:

  • binge drinking, which is when females consume four or more drinks in a single session or males consume five or more drinks in a single session
  • any alcohol use during pregnancy or by people under the age of 21
  • heavy drinking, defined as eight or more drinks per week for females or 15 or more drinks per week for males

Other signs that a person may have an alcohol use disorder include:

  • needing to drink to feel “normal”
  • being unable to stop drinking despite trying
  • concealing drinking from others
  • doing things that harm oneself or others when drinking
  • being distracted by cravings for alcohol
  • needing to drink progressively more to get the same effects

Many doctors recommend avoiding alcohol while taking antidepressants.

Both substances may make a person feel less alert, so they may be dangerous if a person takes them together. This is especially true for those who use other medications or have a chronic medical condition.

Some doctors advise drinking in moderation if a person must drink, which means no more than one drink per day for females or two drinks per day for males. According to the CDC, a single drink means:

  • 12 ounces (oz) of beer
  • 5 oz of wine
  • 8 oz of malt liquor
  • 1.5 oz of hard liquor

The specific effects of alcohol on antidepressants depend on the antidepressant a person takes. It is vital to discuss the risks and possible interactions of every medication with a doctor.

A person should also monitor their reaction to alcohol when using antidepressants. Some people who take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may become severely intoxicated when they use antidepressants.

People using other drugs or who use nontraditional antidepressants should be especially mindful of drinking.

Benzodiazepines, a class of anti-anxiety drugs that some people with depression may use, may help with alcohol withdrawal. When combined with alcohol, however, they can cause life-threatening intoxication.

Both depression and alcohol use disorder are treatable medical conditions. Some people may feel unsure about seeing a doctor, but the right treatment can ease symptoms and help a person live a better, happier life.

Anyone who suspects they have depression or who would like to reduce their alcohol intake but are having trouble should see a doctor.

Go to the emergency room for signs of alcohol overdose, such as loss of consciousness, serious confusion, or problems breathing.

People undergoing treatment should tell their doctor if:

  • their symptoms get worse after starting treatment
  • their symptoms do not improve within a few weeks of beginning treatment
  • they have other symptoms, such as anxiety or mood swings
  • they have thoughts of suicide

A combination of alcohol use and depression can create difficulties in treatment. A person who uses alcohol and who has depression may not be able to tell which symptoms are due to which issue until they seek treatment.

While quitting alcohol is crucial for people with alcohol use disorder and depression, avoiding alcohol will not cure depression. People may wish to seek quality psychological care from a doctor, therapist, or both.

Published at Fri, 10 Jan 2020 20:00:00 +0000

Medical News Today: What to do if bleach gets on the skin

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Medical News Today: What to do if bleach gets on the skin

Bleach is a common household product that many people use for cleaning and disinfecting. It can kill most types of viruses, bacteria, molds, mildew, and algae. Bleach also whitens or lightens the color of certain materials.

Household bleach tends to contain 3–8% sodium hypochlorite. It is not usually toxic to the skin itself, but it can irritate the skin, eyes, and other parts of the body. It can be more harmful if mixed with other household chemicals, such as toilet cleaner, or if someone inhales it.

This article looks at what to do if bleach comes into direct contact with the skin or eyes. It will also discuss when to see a doctor and provide tips on how to use bleach safely.

a woman washing her hands with soap because she has bleach on her skinShare on Pinterest
If a person gets bleach on their skin, they can try washing the area with mild soap and water.

Household bleach is corrosive but not usually dangerous if a person uses it according to the label.

The effects of exposure to bleach will vary depending on the part of the body it affects, the concentration of the bleach, the duration of the exposure, and the amount.

Exposure to bleach can affect these body areas in the following ways:

  • Eyes: Exposure to bleach can make the eyes look red and feel irritated. The affected eye may tear up, and the person may experience blurry vision.
  • Mouth and throat: The mouth and throat may feel irritated, but the bleach will not usually cause any severe damage.
  • Skin: The skin may be irritated and look red.
  • Stomach and gastrointestinal (GI) tract: It is unusual for bleach to damage the stomach or GI tract because they are very resilient to such substances.
  • Lungs: Breathing in bleach fumes can irritate the lungs. For example, a person may experience bronchospasm. Bronchospasm causes the chest to feel tight and makes it hard for the person to catch their breath.

Exposure to bleach can be dangerous or even fatal if it mixes with other household chemicals. Bleach manufactured in countries outside of the United States may be even more dangerous due to the increased concentration.

For example, when combined with ammonia, bleach will create a toxic gas called chloramine. People can inhale the gas or absorb it through the skin. High levels of exposure to chloramine gas can be fatal.

Exposure to chloramine gas can cause many symptoms, including:

In most cases, diluting the bleach with water will be enough to ease the skin irritation it causes. However, if someone gets bleach in their eyes or lungs, they should seek immediate medical attention. If a person ingests bleach, they should call Poison Control on 1-800-222-1222 immediately.

First aid advice for bleach exposure, depending on the area of the body it affects, is as follows:

  • Eyes: Flush the eyes with tap water. Then, see a doctor immediately.
  • Skin: Wash the exposed skin with mild soap and water.
  • Mouth or throat: If a person has swallowed a lot of bleach or an unknown amount, they should call Poison Control. They should also drink plenty of water. Drinking milk may ease the irritation. However, people should never force themselves to vomit, as it will cause more damage.
  • Lungs: Anyone who has inhaled bleach and is having trouble breathing should see a doctor, especially if they have asthma.

Anyone who gets bleach in their eyes should, after flushing the area with tap water, seek medical attention straight away.

People with asthma who inhale bleach should speak to a doctor straight away, especially if they start to experience any breathing difficulties.

Getting bleach on the skin is not usually dangerous when it is only for a short duration. However, it is important to speak to a doctor if the irritation does not pass within a few days or becomes severe.

When someone mixes bleach with other household chemicals, especially those that contain ammonia or acid, exposure can be very harmful. If someone has exposure to chloramine gas, for example, they should seek medical attention right away.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that it is critical to read and follow the safety instructions on any household cleaning product to avoid accidental exposure.

The most important things to remember when using bleach are as follows:

  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleaner.
  • Always wear rubber gloves to protect the skin on the hands.
  • Wear goggles or another form of eye protection.
  • Do not breathe in product fumes.
  • Keep the windows and doors open to ventilate the area.
  • Store it away from children.

The environmental protection organization Beyond Toxics warn of the environmental impact of bleach. They state that the bleach manufacturing process produces a highly toxic chemical called dioxin.

In large quantities, dioxin may:

  • lead to reproductive and developmental issues
  • damage the immune system
  • interfere with hormones
  • give rise to cancer

Discarded bleach may also mix with ammonia- or acid-based products in sewers and create dangerous chloramine gas.

Some alternatives to bleach for cleaning and whitening materials include:

  • hydrogen peroxide
  • lemon juice
  • washing soda or borax
  • vinegar

Household bleach is not usually toxic, though exposure can cause irritation.

If someone gets bleach on their skin, they should clean the affected area with soap and water.

If bleach gets into the eyes, the person should first flush the eyes with water and then seek medical attention.

When mixed with other chemicals in household cleaning products, bleach can produce a toxic gas called chloramine. Chloramine gas can be hazardous and even fatal. Anyone who has exposure to chloramine should therefore speak to a doctor.

Published at Fri, 10 Jan 2020 19:00:00 +0000

Medical News Today: Cardiomyopathy: What to know

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Medical News Today: Cardiomyopathy: What to know

Cardiomyopathy is a disease that involves a weakened heart muscle. The condition makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood throughout the body.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cardiomyopathy may occur in as many as 1 in 500 people, but it frequently goes undiagnosed. Cardiomyopathy can develop over time, or a person may have the disease from birth.

Keep reading to learn more about cardiomyopathy, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

There are a few types of cardiomyopathy, including the following:

Dilated

a female runner experiencing shortness of breath because of cardiomyopathyShare on Pinterest
A person with cardiomyopathy may experience shortness of breath and heart palpitations.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common form of the disease. It typically occurs in adults between the ages of 20 and 60 years.

The disease often starts in the left ventricle, but it can eventually also affect the right ventricle.

Dilated cardiomyopathy can affect the structure and function of the atria, too.

Hypertrophic

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a genetic condition in which abnormal growth of the heart muscle fibers occurs, leading to the thickening or “hypertrophy” of these fibers. The thickening makes the chambers of the heart stiff and affects blood flow. It can also increase the risk of electrical disturbances, called arrhythmias.

According to the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation, it is the second most common form of cardiomyopathy in children. In about one-third of affected children, diagnosis occurs before the age of 1 year.

Restrictive

Restrictive cardiomyopathy occurs when the tissues of the ventricles become rigid and cannot fill with blood properly. Eventually, it may lead to heart failure. It is more common in older adults and can result from infiltrative conditions — those involving the accumulation of abnormal substances in bodily tissues — such as amyloidosis.

Arrhythmogenic

In arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy, fibrotic and fatty tissue replaces the healthy tissues of the right ventricle, which may cause irregular heart rhythms. In some cases, this process can also occur in the left ventricle.

According to research in the journal Circulation Research, arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy increases the risk of sudden cardiac death, especially in young people and athletes. It is a hereditary genetic condition.

Learn more about some other types of heart disease here.

In some cases, usually mild ones, there are no symptoms of cardiomyopathy.

However, as the condition progresses, a person may experience the following symptoms with varying degrees of severity:

  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • swelling of the legs and ankles
  • heart palpitations
  • dizziness
  • fainting

The cause of cardiomyopathy is not always clear, but there are some known risk factors.

For example, conditions that lead to inflammation or damage of the heart can increase a person’s risk of cardiomyopathy.

Heart failure, which can occur as a result of a heart attack or other conditions, can also cause cardiomyopathy.

Additional risk factors include:

Doctors will carry out a physical exam and diagnostic tests to confirm cardiomyopathy.

They are likely to use one or more of the following diagnostic tests:

  • Chest X-ray: A chest X-ray helps determine whether the heart has become enlarged, which is a sign of certain health conditions.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG): An EKG measures the electrical activity of the heart, including how fast it is beating. It also shows whether the heart rhythm is regular or abnormal.
  • Echocardiogram: An echo uses sound waves to create a moving image of the heart. It shows the shape and size of the heart.
  • Cardiac catheterization: A catheterization checks the flow of blood through the heart’s chambers.

The intention of cardiomyopathy treatment is to control symptoms, slow the progression of the condition, and prevent sudden cardiac death. The type of treatment may depend on the severity of the symptoms and the form of cardiomyopathy.

Usually, treatment includes a combination of the following:

Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes can help reduce the severity of conditions that may have led to cardiomyopathy. More healthful lifestyle habits may also slow the progression of the disease.

Lifestyle changes may include following a healthful diet, which involves limiting the intake of trans fats, saturated fats, added sugar, and salt.

Read about 16 foods for a healthy heart here.

Managing stress, quitting smoking, and staying physically active are also beneficial for people with cardiomyopathy.

The quantity and intensity of beneficial physical activity may vary. It is essential to discuss exercise programs with a doctor or another healthcare professional before starting one.

Medications

Usually, medications are part of a cardiomyopathy treatment plan. Some types of drugs that doctors may prescribe include:

  • Beta-blockers: Beta-blockers slow the heart rate, meaning that the heart has to work less hard.
  • Blood thinners: Blood thinners help decrease the risk of blood clots developing.
  • Diuretics: Diuretics remove excess fluid from the body. This fluid may accumulate when the heart does not pump efficiently.
  • Blood pressure drugs: Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, and angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitors help lower blood pressure and interrupt the stress receptors that become activated in people with cardiomyopathy.
  • Antiarrhythmics: Antiarrhythmics are medications that prevent abnormal heart rhythms.

Implanted devices

Treatment may also include different types of implanted devices. The specific device depends on the symptoms. Implanted devices include:

  • Pacemaker: After its surgical implantation beneath the skin near the chest, a pacemaker delivers electrical impulses to the heart, causing it to beat at a normal rate.
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator: This device also delivers an electric shock to the heart when it detects an abnormal, potentially unstable heart rhythm. The electrical impulse returns the heart rhythm to normal.
  • Left ventricle assist device (LVAD): The LVAD assists the heart in pumping blood throughout the body. When cardiomyopathy has severely weakened the heart, this device is helpful while a person is waiting for a heart transplant.
  • Cardiac resynchronization device: This implanted device helps coordinate the contractions of the left and right ventricles of the heart to improve heart function.

Surgery

When symptoms are severe, surgery might be an option. Some possible surgical procedures for cardiomyopathy include:

Septal myectomy

This surgery treats hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with obstruction of blood flow. It involves removing part of the septum that is protruding into the left ventricle. Removing the thickened tissue improves blood flow out of the heart.

Heart transplant

People with certain forms of cardiomyopathy with advanced heart failure might be eligible for heart transplantation. However, a heart transplant is an extensive process for which not everyone qualifies.

Cardiomyopathy is a serious medical condition that requires treatment.

Without treatment, the disease may progress and become life threatening.

Anyone who has a strong family history of cardiomyopathy or experiences one or more of the symptoms of this disease should see a doctor. An earlier diagnosis may improve a person’s outlook.

Cardiomyopathy is a disease that involves the weakening of the heart muscle.

There are various forms of cardiomyopathy, including dilated cardiomyopathy, which is the most common.

Treatment for cardiomyopathy depends on the extent of the symptoms, as well as the form of the disease.

Treatment usually consists of lifestyle changes and medications. Additional treatment in more severe cases may include implanted devices or surgery.

Published at Fri, 10 Jan 2020 21:00:00 +0000