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    Housecall: Understanding pain

a young woman taking a break from working on a laptop computer, grimacing and holding her neckTHIS WEEK'S TOP STORIES
Understanding pain
You may know what it's like to feel pain. What you might not be aware of is the science behind why you hurt. Pain is both physical and emotional. It involves learning and memory. How you feel and react to pain depends on what's causing it, as well as many personal, psychological, emotional and social factors. Fortunately, treatments are available for both acute and chronic pain. Here's what you need to know.

Stress and high blood pressure: What's the connection?
Your body produces a surge of hormones when you're in a stressful situation. These hormones temporarily increase your blood pressure by causing your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to narrow. There's no proof that stress by itself causes long-term high blood pressure. But reacting to stress in unhealthy ways can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. Here are some self-care and stress management techniques that can lead to healthy behavior changes, including those that reduce your blood pressure.

Does weight-loss hypnosis work?
When you're under hypnosis, your attention is highly focused and you're more responsive to suggestions, including behavior changes that can help you lose weight. Weight-loss hypnosis may help you shed a few extra pounds when it's part of a weight-loss plan that includes diet, exercise and counseling. Learn more from Dr. Brent Bauer, director of Mayo Clinic's Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program.

How does HPV cause cervical cancer?
When women are exposed to genital HPV, their immune systems usually prevent the virus from doing serious harm. But in a small number of women, the virus survives for years. Eventually, the virus can lead to the conversion of normal cells on the surface of the cervix into cancerous cells. Learn more from Dr. Shannon Laughlin-Tommaso, a Mayo Clinic gynecologist.

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Is antibacterial soap a do or a don't?
Antibacterial soaps, such as those containing triclosan, don't kill germs any more effectively than regular soap. However, using antibacterial soap might lead to the development of bacteria that are resistant to the product's antimicrobial agents — making it harder to kill these germs in the future.

Need practical advice on diet and exercise? Want creative solutions for stress and other lifestyle issues? Discover more healthy lifestyle topics at mayoclinic.org.

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