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10 hours ago · Home Remedies: Help with itchy hives

a woman scratching her itchy skin rash, hives

If your symptoms are mild, you may not need treatment. Many cases of hives and angioedema clear up on their own. But treatment can offer relief for intense itching, serious discomfort or symptoms that persist.

If you’re experiencing mild hives or angioedema, these tips may help relieve your symptoms:

  • Avoid triggers. These can include foods, medications, pollen, pet dander, latex and insect stings.
  • Use an over-the-counter anti-itch drug. A nonprescription oral antihistamine, such as loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl Allergy, others), may help relieve itching.
  • Apply cool, wet compresses. Covering the affected area with cool, moist bandages or dressings can help soothe the skin and prevent scratching.
  • Take a comfortably cool bath. To relieve itching, sprinkle the bath water with baking soda, uncooked oatmeal or colloidal oatmeal — a finely ground oatmeal made for bathing (Aveeno, others).
  • Wear loose, smooth-textured cotton clothing. Avoid wearing clothing that’s rough, tight, scratchy or made from wool. This will help you avoid skin irritation.

Medications

Treatments for hives and angioedema may include prescription drugs:

  • Anti-itch drugs. The standard treatment for hives and angioedema is antihistamines, medications that reduce itching, swelling and other allergy symptoms.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs. For severe hives or angioedema, doctors may sometimes prescribe an oral corticosteroid drug — such as prednisone — to reduce swelling, redness and itching.
  • Drugs that suppress the immune system. If antihistamines and corticosteroids are ineffective, your doctor might prescribe a drug capable of calming an overactive immune system.
  • Drugs that reduce pain and swelling. Chronic hives and angioedema may be treated with a type of nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory medication called leukotriene antagonists.
  • Blood protein controllers. If you have hereditary angioedema, a variety of medications can regulate levels of certain blood proteins and relieve your signs and symptoms.

Emergency situations

For a severe attack of hives or angioedema, you may need a trip to the emergency department and an emergency injection of epinephrine — a type of adrenaline. If you have had a serious attack or your attacks recur, despite treatment, your health care provider may have you carry a pen-like device that will allow you to self-inject epinephrine in emergencies.

This article is written by Mayo Clinic staff. Find more health and medical information on mayoclinic.org.

Related post:
Mayo Clinic Q and A: Chronic hives come and go with no clear pattern

13 hours ago · Mayo Mindfulness: Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Is your glass half-full or half-empty? How you answer this age-old question about positive thinking may reflect your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself, and whether you’re optimistic or pessimistic — and it may even affect your health.

Indeed, some studies show that personality traits such as optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. The positive thinking that usually comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management. And effective stress management is associated with many health benefits. If you tend to be pessimistic, don’t despair — you can learn positive thinking skills.

Understanding positive thinking and self-talk

Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life’s less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.

Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information.

If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you’re likely an optimist — someone who practices positive thinking.

The health benefits of positive thinking

Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

It’s unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits. One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.

It’s also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don’t smoke or drink alcohol in excess.

Identifying negative thinking

Not sure if your self-talk is positive or negative? Some common forms of negative self-talk include:

Filtering.
You magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all of the positive ones. For example, you had a great day at work. You completed your tasks ahead of time and were complimented for doing a speedy and thorough job. That evening, you focus only on your plan to do even more tasks and forget about the compliments you received.
Personalizing. 
When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself. For example, you hear that an evening out with friends is canceled, and you assume that the change in plans is because no one wanted to be around you.
Catastrophizing.
You automatically anticipate the worst. The drive-through coffee shop gets your order wrong and you automatically think that the rest of your day will be a disaster.
Polarizing. 
You see things only as either good or bad. There is no middle ground. You feel that you have to be perfect or you’re a total failure.

Focusing on positive thinking

You can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is simple, but it does take time and practice — you’re creating a new habit, after all. Here are some ways to think and behave in a more positive and optimistic way:

Identify areas to change. If you want to become more optimistic and engage in more positive thinking, first identify areas of your life that you usually think negatively about, whether it’s work, your daily commute or a relationship. You can start small by focusing on one area to approach in a more positive way.

  • Periodically during the day, stop and evaluate what you’re thinking. If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them.
  • Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Seek humor in everyday happenings. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed.
  • Aim to exercise for about 30 minutes on most days of the week. You can also break it up into 10-minute chunks of time during the day.
  • Exercise can positively affect mood and reduce stress. Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body. And learn techniques to manage stress.
  • Make sure those in your life are positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people may increase your stress level and make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.
  • Start practicing positive self-talk by following one simple rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you. Think about things you’re thankful for in your life.

Here are some examples of negative self-talk and how you can apply a positive thinking twist to them:

  • Putting positive thinking into practice
  • Negative self-talk
  • Positive thinking
  • I’ve never done it before.
  • It’s an opportunity to learn something new.
  • It’s too complicated.
  • I’ll tackle it from a different angle.
  • I don’t have the resources.
  • Necessity is the mother of invention.
  • I’m too lazy to get this done.
  • I wasn’t able to fit it into my schedule, but I can re-examine some priorities.
  • There’s no way it will work.
  • I can try to make it work.
  • It’s too radical a change.
  • Let’s take a chance.
  • No one bothers to communicate with me.
  • I’ll see if I can open the channels of communication.
  • I’m not going to get any better at this.
  • I’ll give it another try.
  • Practicing positive thinking every day

If you tend to have a negative outlook, don’t expect to become an optimist overnight. But with practice, eventually your self-talk will contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance. You may also become less critical of the world around you.

When your state of mind is generally optimistic, you’re better able to handle everyday stress in a more constructive way. That ability may contribute to the widely observed health benefits of positive thinking.

Written by Mayo Clinic staff. Find more health and medical information on mayoclinic.org.

1 day ago · Tips to avoid heatstroke, exhaustion this summer

a young boy playing in a water fountain on a hot day with water spraying everywhere

While summer is halfway over, it’s never too late to heed reminders about the dangers of high temperatures that can lead to heatstroke and exhaustion.

“Heatstroke is usually due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures or physical exertion in high temperatures,” says Dr. Brian Bartlett, an emergency medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato. “Heatstroke occurs when the body reaches a temperature of 104 degrees or higher, and symptoms can include confusion, altered speech, nausea or vomiting, rapid breathing and a racing heartbeat, among other symptoms.”

Heatstroke is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. The good news is that it’s often predictable and preventable.

Take these steps to prevent heatstroke during hot weather:

  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Wearing excess clothing or clothing that fits tightly won’t allow your body to cool properly.
  • Protect against sunburn. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself, so protect yourself outdoors with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor, or SPF, of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you’re swimming or sweating.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated will help your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature.
  • Take extra precautions with certain medications. Be on the lookout for heat-related problems if you take medications that can affect your body’s ability to stay hydrated and dissipate heat.
  • Never leave anyone in a parked car. This is a common cause of heat-related deaths in children. When parked in the sun, the temperature in your car can rise 20 degrees Fahrenheit, or more than 6.7 degrees, in 10 minutes. It’s not safe to leave a person in a parked car in warm or hot weather, even if the windows are cracked or the car is in shade. When your car is parked, keep it locked to prevent a child from getting inside.
  • Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day. If you can’t avoid strenuous activity in hot weather, drink fluids and rest frequently in a cool spot. Try to schedule exercise or physical labor for cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening.
  • Get acclimated. Limit time spent working or exercising in heat until you’re conditioned to it. People who are not used to hot weather are especially susceptible to heat-related illness. It can take several weeks for your body to adjust to hot weather.
  • Be cautious if you’re at increased risk. If you take medications or have a condition that increases your risk of heat-related problems, avoid the heat and act quickly if you notice symptoms of overheating. If you participate in a strenuous sporting event or activity in hot weather, make sure there are medical services available in case of a heat emergency.

If heatstroke occurs, emergency treatment is required. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles.

The damage worsens the
longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or
death.

Seek medical treatment immediately
if you experience these symptoms:

  • High body temperature 
  • Altered mental state or behavior 
    Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma can all result from heatstroke.
  • Alteration in sweating 
    In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel dry or slightly moist.
  • Nausea and vomiting 
    You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
  • Flushed skin
    Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
  • Rapid breathing 
    Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
  • Racing heart rate 
    Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
  • Headache Your head may throb.

Related posts
Keeping cool in blistering hot weather
Heat and exercise: Keeping cool in hot weather

1 day ago · Tuesday Tips: Outwitting the most common running injuries

legs and feet of a large group of runners in a marathon race on pavement or a road

You may be well into the outdoor running season, but you should still be thinking about how to prevent injuries. As many as half of all runners suffer some form of an injury every year. Learn the steps you can take to stay strong and pain-free mile after mile.

Watch: 11 ways to outwit most common running injuries.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video (1:48) is in the downloads at the end of the post. Please “Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network.”

3 days ago · Sharing Mayo Clinic: Finding a less invasive treatment for esophageal cancer

Mike DiGennaro knew he needed surgery. But he thought he would have a procedure to correct an umbilical hernia, and that would be the end of it. After the surgery and recovery, however, Mike’s surgeon revisited Mike’s medical history and suggested some additional procedures.

“I have a history of acid reflux, so he said I was probably due for an endoscopy and maybe a colonoscopy, too,” Mike says. “But I joked around with him and said: ‘You’re just looking to make more money! I’m as healthy as a horse!'”

After a month of additional prodding by his doctors and his wife, Sue, Mike relented, agreeing to go in for what he assumed would be routine examinations. They weren’t.

“The endoscopy is when they found the cancer,” he says. “They did a biopsy, and I honestly didn’t understand the seriousness of it until I started doing my own research and discovered esophageal cancer isn’t a very good thing to have.”

Following the diagnosis, Mike had his cancer staged. “They determined it to be stage 1,” Mike says. “After staging, they did a PET (positron emission tomography) scan that, thankfully, didn’t find additional cancer throughout my body.”

With the cancer contained to his esophagus, Mike’s care team in Wisconsin was swift and direct in their proposed treatment plan. “They said: ‘We need to get an esophagectomy done right away. We’ll cure you. You have to do it,'” Mike says. “And I said, ‘OK, but let me do some of my own research first.'”

Mike was concerned about the extent of the surgery. He was told the esophagectomy — a procedure that would involve removing part, or possibly all, of his esophagus — required a prolonged hospital stay. “I really didn’t want to go through all of that if I didn’t have to,” he says.

Mike began researching other treatments. That’s when he discovered a less-invasive surgery for esophageal cancer was being done at Mayo Clinic called gastrointestinal endoscopic mucosal resection.

Read the rest of Mike’s story.
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This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.

4 days ago · Science Saturday: Biomarkers could help early diagnosis of Alzheimer's

Early diagnosis will ultimately be essential in the management and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Examination of Alzheimer’s biomarkers can improve the prediction of short-term memory decline in middle-age and elderly individuals, according to new research from Mayo Clinic.

A new diagnostic framework developed in collaboration with the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association, paired with new tools at Mayo Clinic, is showing promise in diagnosing Alzheimer’s earlier and more accurately, researchers write in “Associations of Amyloid, Tau, and Neurodegeneration Biomarker Profiles With Rates of Memory Decline Among Individuals Without Dementia” in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

In exploring associations between beta-amyloid, tau and neurodegeneration, or AT(N), biomarkers and memory decline in a population-based cohort, Clifford Jack Jr., M.D., and colleagues write, “This study illustrates the potential clinical utility of AT(N) biomarkers to improve prediction of short-term memory decline over commonly available clinical and genetic information.”

AT(N) is the classification of the major existing Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers into three categories: A, the beta-amyloid biomarker; T, the tau biomarker; and (N), the biomarkers of neurodegeneration or neuronal injury, Dr. Jack writes.

The study consisted of 480 Mayo Clinic Study of Aging participants without dementia age 60 or older in Olmsted County, Minnesota, with 99 percent self-reporting as white. Using the Rochester Epidemiology Project enumeration, participants for the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging are randomly selected by 10-year age and sex strata to equally represent both males and females. Read the rest of the article on Advancing the Science.
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Other Mayo Clinic medical research websites:

6 days ago · Women's Wellness: Chronic pelvic pain can have multiple causes

Chronic pelvic pain is pain in the area below your bellybutton and between your hips that lasts six months or longer.

Chronic pelvic pain can have multiple causes. It can be a symptom of another disease, or it can be a condition in its own right.

If your chronic pelvic pain appears to be caused by another medical problem, treating that problem may be enough to eliminate your pain.

However, in many cases it’s not possible to identify a single cause for chronic pelvic pain. In that case, the goal of treatment is to reduce your pain and other symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Symptoms

When asked to locate your pain, you might sweep your hand over your entire pelvic area rather than point to a single spot. You might describe your chronic pelvic pain in one or more of the following ways:

  • Severe and steady pain
  • Pain that comes and goes (intermittent)
  • Dull aching
  • Sharp pains or cramping
  • Pressure or heaviness deep within your pelvis

In addition, you may experience:

  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pain while having a bowel movement or urinating
  • Pain when you sit for long periods of time

Your discomfort may intensify after standing for long periods and may be relieved when you lie down. The pain may be mild and annoying, or it may be so severe that you miss work, can’t sleep and can’t exercise.

For more information checkout this Symptom checker.

When to see a health care provider

With any chronic pain problem, it can be difficult to know when you should see a health care provider. In general, make an appointment if your pelvic pain disrupts your daily life or if your symptoms seem to be getting worse.

Causes

Chronic pelvic pain is a complex condition that can have multiple causes. Sometimes, a single disorder may be identified as the cause. In other cases, however, pain may be the result of several medical conditions. For example, a woman might have endometriosis and interstitial cystitis, both of which contribute to chronic pelvic pain.

Some causes of chronic pelvic pain include:

  • Endometriosis. This is a condition in which tissue from the lining of your womb (uterus) grows outside your uterus. These deposits of tissue respond to your menstrual cycle, just as your uterine lining does — thickening, breaking down and bleeding each month as your hormone levels rise and fall. Because it’s happening outside your uterus, the blood and tissue can’t exit your body through your vagina. Instead, they remain in your abdomen, where they may lead to painful cysts and fibrous bands of scar tissue (adhesions).
  • Musculoskeletal problems. Conditions affecting your bones, joints and connective tissues (musculoskeletal system) — such as fibromyalgia, pelvic floor muscle tension, inflammation of the pubic joint (pubic symphysis) or hernia — can lead to recurring pelvic pain.
  • Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease. This can occur if a long-term infection, often sexually transmitted, causes scarring that involves your pelvic organs.
  • Ovarian remnant. After surgical removal of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes, a small piece of ovary may accidentally be left inside and later develop painful cysts.
  • Fibroids. These noncancerous uterine growths may cause pressure or a feeling of heaviness in your lower abdomen. They rarely cause sharp pain unless they become deprived of a blood supply and begin to die (degenerate).
  • Irritable bowel syndrome. Symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome — bloating, constipation or diarrhea — can be a source of pelvic pain and pressure.
  • Painful bladder syndrome (interstitial cystitis). This condition is associated with recurring pain in your bladder and a frequent need to urinate. You may experience pelvic pain as your bladder fills, which may improve temporarily after you empty your bladder.
  • Pelvic congestion syndrome. Some health care provider believe enlarged, varicose-type veins around your uterus and ovaries may result in pelvic pain. However, others are much less certain that pelvic congestion syndrome is a cause of pelvic pain because most women with enlarged veins in the pelvis have no associated pain.
  • Psychological factors. Depression, chronic stress or a history of sexual or physical abuse may increase your risk of chronic pelvic pain. Emotional distress makes pain worse, and living with chronic pain contributes to emotional distress. These two factors often become a vicious cycle.

This article is written by Mayo Clinic staff. Find more health and medical information on mayoclinic.org.

By Mayo Clinic Staff