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    Um, A Scary 50% Of SA Women Are Iron Deficient

    It’s the end of the year and you might be feeling a bit run down — totes normal. But if your tiredness is accompanied by heart palpitations, shortness of breath and craving non-food items like baby powder or soil, it might be a sign of iron deficiency (ID). ID is the world’s leading nutrient deficiency, affecting around a whopping 2 billion people worldwide. And in South Africa, it’s estimated that 50% of women may be iron deficient. That’s a huge number and moreover, it surpasses the global average.

    “Iron deficiency occurs when iron reservoirs in the body become depleted,” explains Dr Jarrad van Zuydam, a sports medicine physician with a special interest in the medicine of cycling and other endurance sports. “The most common cause is an inadequate dietary intake of iron.  When your iron levels are low, your cells are receiving less oxygen making it harder for your body to generate energy.

    READ MORE: 11 Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Women That Aren’t Lumps

    Who’s at Risk?

    Anyone is at risk of iron deficiency but women of reproductive age are more likely to be at risk. During menstruation, you lose blood which contains iron, which is one of the reasons you may experience symptoms of low iron during that time of the month. If you aren’t supplementing that loss by eating a diet rich in iron, you could become ID over time. Pregnancy can also cause you to become ID, this is because when you’re expecting you need almost double the normal amount the average woman needs. And once you’ve had your baby, iron levels can remain low due to blood loss during delivery.

    “In my practice, I come across iron deficiency anaemia on a daily basis. Factors such as pregnancy, delivery, miscarriages, heavy menstruation, as well as poor iron intake, are some of the most common attributable causes,” says Dr Claire Godwin, a General Practitioner at Premier Health Centre who specialises in women’s healthcare. “Often, the women I see are so used to running on fumes with young children, busy careers, or being caregivers to others that they don’t even realise how they are feeling is a symptom and not just a consequence of their day-to-day stressors. Education around ID is imperative if we want to help more women function at their best.” The bottom line? If you’re feeling exhausted, get your iron levels checked or start supplementing.

    Biogen Iron + Vitamin C

    Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron better, so this duo packs a punch.


    This gold-standard iron supplement is recommended by doctors.

    Solgar Gentle Iron

    This supplement is easy on the stomach and doesn’t cause constipation.

    READ MORE: Cycle Syncing: How (And Why!) To Tweak Your Workouts, Diet And More Around Your Menstrual Cycle

    Signs of Iron Deficiency


    Unusual tiredness is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency affecting more than half of those who are deficient. Your body needs iron to make the protein haemoglobin, “Haemoglobin in the blood carries oxygen from the lungs around the body, cells use the oxygen delivered to them to generate the energy needed for cellular processes.”, explains Dr Van Zuydam. When your haemoglobin is low, less oxygen is reaching your tissues and muscles, making them feel weaker. Your heart then has to work harder to move more oxygen-rich blood around your body. This tiredness is often accompanied by crankiness, difficulty concentrating and poor productivity.

    Shortness of breath

    Given that iron deficiency causes a lack of haemoglobin, oxygen levels will be low too. This results in your breathing rate increasing as your body will try to make more oxygen.

    Frequent headaches

    The lack of haemoglobin means that not enough oxygen is reaching the brain. This causes the blood vessels in the brain to swell, causing pressure and headaches.

    Dry hair and skin

    When your body lacks oxygen, it will direct the limited oxygen for more important functions like your organs and tissues. This lack of oxygen causes them to become dry and weak. That means your hair, skin, and nails won’t be getting love.

    Strange cravings

    Many people who have low iron, experience something called pica. Pica is a craving for items that aren’t considered edible, like dirt, chalk, paper or ice. Other symptoms include:


    Pale skin

    Cold hands and feet

    inflammation or soreness of your tongue

    Poor appetite

    READ MORE: Millions of Women Struggle With PCOS In South Africa, So Let’s Unpack It

    What you can do to raise your iron levels

    Iron is essential for healthy bodily functions, meaning that you need to ensure that your diet is up to par. There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and nonheme. Heme iron is derived from haemoglobin, so you will find it in meat, fish and poultry. You can find nonheme iron mostly in plants and legumes. A list of heme and nonheme foods include:

    Beef or chicken liver

    Breakfast cereals enriched with iron



    Dark green leafy vegetables

    Pumpkin, sesame, or squash seeds

    Red meat

    Oily fish


    READ MORE: This Is Why You’re Starving After An Intense Day At The Office

    Women’s Health participates in various affiliate marketing programmes, which means we may get commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. More

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    Here’s Why Burnout Among Women Is A Bigger Issue Than You’d Think

    Burnout is incredibly common and even more so the further along the year goes. And women bear the brunt of burnout rates, according to studies. The issue is larger than you’d think and affects women differently than it does men. That’s because women shoulder responsibilities at home and at work, taking on roles that can be emotionally and physically draining.

    What is burnout?

    Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion resulting from prolonged stress. Globally, just over 42% of women report being burned out. Women are delivering performance and business results but at a great personal toll.

    How burnout manifests among women

    International studies have shown that women in senior management roles do more to help their employees navigate work-life challenges relative to their male peers. Women spend more time helping manage workloads and are 60% more likely to be focusing on emotional support. This is important, as it helps employees feel good about themselves. But employees have reported that when they receive additional support, they are happier in their job and less likely to move.

    Women take on work at home, too

    One in three women and 60% of mothers with young children spend five or more hours a day on housework, homework and caregiving. Five hours a day is equivalent to a half-time job.

    “Burnout arises when individuals cannot access enough recovery between stressors,” explains Kerry Rudman from Brain Harmonics, a Neurofeedback organisation specialising in retraining brains.

    “We see this particularly with employed parents who face a higher number of and longer exposure to stressors from the multiple roles they play. This is compared with non-parents. And they have less ability to access periods of recovery as a result. Employed parents report several stressors. In particular, a lack of work-life balance, increased responsibilities at both work and home, greater concern for safety at work and for their kids at school, a loss of social support and isolation.”

    In collective studies conducted around the world, employed parents have reported the following in comparison to non-parents.

    Women are worn-out after work

    The compounded pressure of working while parenting, including remote schooling and working, has left many with feelings of apathy and fatigue. They feel that they are failing to live up to their own expectations across their multiple social roles. There are also indications that parents are not finding support or help from their employees.

    “Of the parents who report burnout – 90% believe their management considers productivity to be more important than mental health,” says Rudman. “Because of this, a lot of people will never discuss any issues that they are experiencing with their management or co-workers. People don’t want to be seen as incompetent or be at risk of being replaced. There is an assumption that people should be glad that they have a job right now and everyone just needs to do the extra work demanded of them as they could easily be replaced.”

    Employed parents report a range of stressors that have deteriorated their mental health. The level of household responsibilities is a particular problem. “In a survey conducted by Brain Harmonics, parents experiencing symptoms of burnout are more often responsible for all household duties. That’s compared with parents not experiencing symptoms of burnout (57 percent versus 41 percent),” says Rudman.

    In fact, the majority of parents responsible for all household duties report symptoms of burnout. These responsibilities, including caring for older adult family members in addition to children, most often fall to women. They have also been more likely to cut back on paid work during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to provide childcare. For these women, reduced paid time at work could also exacerbate the symptoms of burnout, if their responsibilities at work do not also decrease.

    Moms are worried about their kids

    Four in five employed parents say that they feel concerned about their child’s mental health. And more than one-third rate this concern as extreme.

    In a McKinsey and Co survey, parents are more likely than non-parents to report missing days of work because of burnout. They are also more likely to use leaves of absence and supported employment.

    Employed parents are more likely than non-parents to see themselves staying at their employer in two years’ time. But burnout correlates to employed parents’ likelihood of not recommending their place of work to others.

    “What’s more, stress and burnout, are the main reasons that cause people to consider leaving their jobs,” says Rudman.

    Alleviating the symptoms of burnout

    If you think you’re burnt out, or heading in that direction, therapy is a powerful tool. It’s a way to verbalise and let go of stressors while creating lasting, sustainable habits that can support a well-rounded lifestyle. Neurofeedback is another option: a non-invasive tool that can improve mental health and the feelings of physical burnout. It measures brain waves and provides a feedback signal to the brain so that new, healthier neuropathways are formed. For more information about neurofeedback training, check out Brain Harmonics.

    As with anything, burnout is a condition that needs to be treated with expertise. Chat with your doctor and a therapist to get the help you need. More

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    Why You Should Check For High Blood Pressure, Even If You Think You’re Fine

    In 2015, high blood pressure, or hypertension, caused an estimated 10.7 million deaths worldwide. Since then, its prevalence has grown from 25% to greater than 40%. Approximately 8.22 million South African adults with no private health insurance have hypertension, according to a recent study. That’s too high. Your sneaky coffee addiction and having a tipple too many could contribute to higher numbers. Here’s what to know about the risk factors, and when to worry.  

    Hypertension: our silent problem  

    Hypertension is known as ‘the silent killer’, because of the lack of apparent symptoms. Often, patients have no idea their blood pressure is dangerously high. That’s not all. High blood pressure can also be a precursor for dementia and cognitive decline later in life, according to the CDC. Also, hypertensive people are at a higher risk for developing kidney disease.

    While the rates for men in South Africa are lower, the rates for women are worryingly high, with about 40.99% of adult women in South Africa battling high blood pressure, per the World Obesity Federation, pushing our ranking up to 23rd in the world.  

    “Research suggests that cardiovascular disease causes more deaths in South Africa than all the cancers combined – a sobering statistic,” says Dr Adrian Rotunno, a Virgin Active panel expert and Sport and Exercise Medicine physician. “Many reports show that diseases of the circulatory system account for nearly a fifth of all deaths in the country, followed by what is termed “diseases of lifestyle” including diabetes mellitus (high blood sugar), hypertension (high blood pressure), hypercholesterolaemia (high blood cholesterol), and obesity.”

    When to check your blood pressure

    With rates this high, it’s important to keep tabs on your own number. Smartwatches can help, but they don’t always give accurate readings, so get to a clinic or a nurse and have yours checked regularly – at least once a year, if you’re over 40, and once every two years if you’re not at risk or younger than 40.

    Are you at risk for high blood pressure?

    There are several risk factors for high blood pressure that many of us may harbour, and be unaware of. That includes smoking (or that sneaky vaping habit), being sedentary and too much caffeine and alcohol use. Being overweight is also a risk factor.


    Smoking – and even vaping – spikes your blood pressure and increases your heart rate. Whether you smoke regularly or not doesn’t matter, either. The American Heart Association found in a report that “people who used e-cigarettes and people who smoked combustible cigarettes had greater increases in blood pressure, heart rate and blood vessel constriction, immediately after vaping or smoking, compared to people who did not use any nicotine.” Smoking constricts the blood vessels, leading to higher blood pressure readings. If you vape or smoke, try find a way to quit.

    Being sedentary

    Per research in the journal Hypertension, people the world over are moving less and less, despite clear guidelines saying that more movement is the key to mitigating chronic diseases like high blood pressure and more. What you should do? Move more and sit less, says the American Heart Association. 150 minutes of moderate activity (walks, gardening) can lower high blood pressure.   


    Even drinking just a little raises your heart rate, per a study in Cochrane Library. It found that drinking a high dose of alcohol (the equivalent of 30g or more), raised blood pressure more than 13 hours after consumption, even when it temporarily lowered the blood pressure immediately after drinking. For women, guidelines suggest no more than one drink in one sitting – any more and your BP is at risk. Moderate drinking is defined as two drinks, while more than three glasses in means you’re on a binge – and placing yourself at risk.


    Go low and slow on the coffee and energy drinks. Per one study, caffeine spiked BP and this can be prolonged, over several hours. “Typically, blood pressure changes occur within 30 minutes, peak in 1-2 hours, and may persist for more than 4 hours,” the authors note. Per the NHS, try to limit yourself to less than four cups a day.

    How to prevent high blood pressure

    Exercise and a healthy diet are essential to preventing the onset of high blood pressure, but in some cases, seemingly healthy people can have frighteningly high numbers. That’s likely because sneaky habits could get in the way. Steer clear of any that could lead you to the ER, and adopt healthy eating habits (like going steady on salt and booze). And if you’re at risk (with any one of these habits taking over), check your blood pressure – it could save your life.   More

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    6 Ways To Get Rid Of A Stuffy Nose Fast And Breathe Again, According To Doctors

    You know when you blow your nose and nothing comes out? Or when you try to inhale and it feels like a dead end? You’re likely stuck with a stuffy nose, and there are few things more annoying. It’s understandable you’d rush to search for how to get rid of a stuffy nose as soon as it crops up.

    What causes a stuffy nose?

    First, you should know the medical term for a stuffy nose is “rhinitis,” which means inflammation of the mucus membranes (a.k.a. mucosa) inside the nose, says Dr Craig Polinsky, an internal medicine specialist at Amicus Medical Centers. “When a person inhales an allergen into their nasal passage, either from a virus, bacteria, or any allergen, cells known as mast cells release a chemical called histamine, which starts the inflammatory process,” he explains. This is what causes mucus to build up, leading to a stuffy nose, along with other symptoms like sneezing, nasal itching, coughing, sinus pressure, and itchy eyes.

    You may think the mucus is to blame, but the stuffiness is mainly due to vein swelling in your nose, says Dr Steven Alexander, an otolaryngologist at ENT and Allergy Associates. “A lot of people will blow their nose repeatedly trying to get the mucus out, when the real issue is the swelling,” he notes. “Blowing your nose is useful, but if nothing is coming out, it generally means there’s not a lot of mucus.”

    Nose inflammation culprits

    The three common culprits behind inflammation in your nose are infections, allergies, and nonallergic rhinitis, says Dr. Alexander. Infections like COVID-19 and the common cold are caused by viruses or bacteria, while allergies are often seasonal and related to triggers in the environment such as pollen, dust, and animal dander. And nonallergic rhinitis is set off by pollution and temperature changes.

    To find the appropriate remedy, you’ll first need to find out what’s causing your stuffy nose. If you are experiencing itchy or watery eyes along with sneezing and runny nose, it’s likely allergies or nonallergic rhinitis. But if you have discharge from your nose that is thick, yellow, or green, then it’s more likely to be infectious.

    Ready for some much-needed relief and to breathe again? Try one of the following treatments recommended by experts.

    Meet the experts: Dr Craig Polinsky, is an internal medicine physician with 23 years of experience. He practices at Amicus Medical Centers in Palm Beach, Florida.

    Dr Steven Alexander, is an otolaryngologist and a member of the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery and the American Medical Association. He treats all ear, nose, and throat disorders in adults and children.

    1. Use a saline nasal spray.

    A saline nasal spray is a simple, sterile, saltwater solution that is good for congested nasal cavities, says Dr. Alexander. This over-the-counter treatment works by drawing water out of the congested mucosa in your nose, ultimately shrinking the swollen nasal tissue and clearing up the stuffiness, he explains.

    Saline spray is a safe option for all adults and can be used as often as needed to relieve symptoms, but overuse may cause some of the fluid to drip from your nose.

    2. Try nasal saline irrigation.

    Nasal irrigation (also known as sinus irrigation) is a variation of a saline nasal spray. It still uses a saline solution, but is applied with a larger sinus irrigation squeeze bottle, such as a neti pot. The saline gets deeper into the nasal cavity and goes around the back of the nose to come out the other side, says Dr. Alexander. This OTC method may be more effective than a saline spray because the larger volume of solution covers a larger area in the nose, rinsing it clean.

    Nasal irrigation is safe for all ages, but if you are immunocompromised, check in with your doctor before attempting this, as nasal problems could indicate something more serious.

    For a homemade solution, Dr. Alexander recommends adding ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt (so that it does not include iodine) and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda into eight ounces of sterile water (either distilled water or water you boil for 10 minutes and cool.) “Never use tap or bottled water without sterilizing it,” he notes.

    3. Take an antihistamine.

    Antihistamines such as Allergex can also help wipe out any congestion. “These medicines block the production of histamine, which is the primary driver of inflammation and mucus production,” says Dr. Polinsky. And if you also have sneezing and sinus pressure, he recommends using antihistamines along with a nasal spray. While safe for most people, talk to your doctor before taking antihistamines if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.

    4. Reach for a medicated nasal spray.

    If you’re looking for congestion relief stat, the fastest OCT remedy is Afrin (also known as oxymetazoline), says Dr. Alexander. “It works within minutes by constricting the blood vessels in your nasal mucosa, decreasing swelling and opening your nasal airways.”

    While effective, it is extremely important to use it only occasionally and for short periods of time. “When it constricts the blood vessels in your nose, the tissue gets less oxygen, and with prolonged use, it can cause damage to the tissue,” explains Dr. Alexander. The mucosa then responds to the damage by swelling up even more, making you feel worse. “It’s best used no more than twice a day for no more than three days in a row,” he says. “After that, stay away for at least a month.”

    Corticosteroid nasal sprays also work by constricting the mucus membranes in the nose and decreasing inflammation, says Dr. Polinsky. “One of the benefits of corticosteroid nasal sprays is that they are readily available, and the medicine works just in the nasal passage.” In other words, it won’t make you drowsy.

    Dr. Polinsky recommends one or two sprays per day, and while you might have a little blood in the mucus if you blow your nose afterwards, it’s nothing to worry about. If the bleeding becomes severe, stop use and check in with your doctor.

    5. Get some eucalyptus oil.

    If you’re looking for a natural home remedy, Dr. Polinsky suggests eucalyptus oil. Studies showed it can work as a pain reliever. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to decrease mucus production and nasal inflammation. “Eucalyptus oil can be inhaled in a steam through a diffuser to reduce nasal symptoms or by adding a few drops of oil into a bowl of hot water,” says Dr. Polinsky. There are also eucalyptus lozenges and vapor rubs, which can also help to clear the nose.

    While eucalyptus oil is safe to smell and inhale, avoid ingesting or putting it directly on your face. Also, make sure to store it in a cool, dry place. Heat and direct sunlight can change the composition of this essential oil.

    6. Turn on your humidifier.

    Humidifiers can reduce nasal congestion and sinus pain by releasing water vapour into the air and loosening the mucus in your nose, says Dr. Polinsky. Sleeping with a humidifier on also increases moisture and humidity, eliminating dry air that can irritate and inflame the nasal passageways.

    Humidifiers can help ease symptoms, but always use a cool-mist model to avoid burns and keep it several feet away from the bed, according to the National Library of Medicine. Use distilled water in the unit and remember to frequently drain and clean since bacteria can grow in stagnant water.

    This article was first published in More

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    Salt Deficiency: 9 Disturbing Signs You’re Really Not Eating Enough Salt

    Ah salt… The crack cocaine of dinner parties. These health-conscious days, a raised eyebrow as you reach for the shaker is par for the “course”, given that too much salt can be detrimental to otherwise healthy bodies.

    But what if we told you that too little salt can also be bad for you? Yup: Sodium is actually a mineral that’s fairly critical for a number of your bodily functions, including fluid balance, blood pressure management and the nervous system.

    A condition called hyponatraemia results from a low level of sodium in the blood, and it’s caused by… you guessed it: Too little of this maligned condiment. In fact, head’s up Fit Fam: Hyponatraemia may be caused by drinking too much water, for example during strenuous exercise, without proper replacement of sodium, which could lead to a salt deficiency. Electrolyte drinks, on the other hand, replenish sodium stores.

    READ MORE: New Research Shows Where Women Carry Fat Could Protect Them From Brain Disease

    What Causes Low Sodium Levels?

    A string of medical conditions can lead to low sodium levels in the body: kidney failure, congestive heart failure, adrenal insufficiency, hypothyroidism and cirrhosis of the liver. Anorexia and certain meds can also cause a sodium imbalance. But it can also result when sodium is lost during prolonged sweating and severe vomiting or diarrhoea.

    For the majority of us, the only time this would be an issue is if you have a diet severely low on salt, or you’re doing some mega training accompanied by mega sweating. Drinking too much water during exercise may dilute the sodium content in your blood, and dehydration also causes your body to lose fluids and electrolytes, which may cause your sodium level to dip. So you need to get that balance right.

    READ MORE: How To Use Genetic Testing To Improve Your Health

    So, What Should You Watch Out For?

    In long-term (chronic) hyponatraemia, where the blood sodium levels drop gradually over time, symptoms can be very non-specific and can include:


    Confusion or altered mental state


    Decreased consciousness

    But the more subtle symptoms include:


    Muscle spasms or cramps




    All of which can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

    How Is Salt Deficiency Diagnosed?

    The symptoms of hyponatraemia are not specific, so you’d need to pop in on your doc for a blood test to measure your sodium levels.

    READ MORE: 5 Things We ALL Do To Avoid Germs, That Are Actually Useless AF

    And How Is It Treated?

    Mild hyponatraemia may not require treatment other than adjustments in diet, lifestyle or meds. For severe cases, treatment often involves intravenous fluids and electrolytes.

    And If You’re Feeling Daring…

    Believe it or not, there are people out there who swear by downing pickle juice after a particularly heavy workout. This age-old remedy apparently works because pickle juice is made up mostly of water, vinegar and… salt. But, because there’s a bunch of conflicting evidence on its benefits out there, we suggest sticking to your regular electrolyte drink. More

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    Everything You Need To Know About Endometriosis

    Endometriosis: what a bloody mess. It’s a condition as common as asthma and diabetes, but not as often discussed. It’s estimated that one in ten women suffer from endometriosis. The condition can be so debilitating that women often need to stay home, missing work or other important activities. 

    What are the symptoms of endometriosis?

    While ramped-up period pain is often associated with endometriosis, it doesn’t end there. The most common signs are:

    Cramps — Common PMS cramps generally show up right before your period. Pelvic pain caused by endometriosis can show up days (even weeks) earlier than the expected PMS discomfort.

    Gastrointestinal or bladder issues — Sometimes the uterine lining can travel and attach itself to the bladder or bowels and can cause painful issues like constipation, diarrhoea, or the feeling that you’ve got a UTI.

    Painful sex — If you’re feeling pain during deep penetration (as opposed to say, the insertion of the penis) your gynae may suspect endometriosis.

    Backache — endometrial glands can travel along the back or frontal wall of the pelvic cavity, which can cause back pain or stomach aches.

    Fertility issues — When endometriosis is severe, it can damage or block the fallopian tubes or distort the pelvic cavity, lowering your odds of reproductive success. Around 70% of patients with endometriosis will have no fertility issues. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, up to 30% of women with endometriosis struggle to get pregnant, doctors are unsure whether it’s to do with endometrium distorting the pelvic anatomy, altering the chemicals that affect egg quality or the implantation environment of the embryo, or whether another factor affects how sperm move up the fallopian tube.

    If you suspect something’s not right, go see your doctor, stat.

    READ MORE: 10 Tips To Keep Your Vagina Happy And Healthy

    Who’s affected?

    Women and girls of reproductive age, mostly between 15 and 49. There is a hereditary element, but scientists don’t know if one gene or a family of genes predispose women to endometriosis. There isn’t a known equivalent of the BRCA gene (which indicates if someone has a higher risk of developing breast cancer), but scientists are trying to determine if one exists, to then help identify people needing laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis diagnosis.

    How it grows

    Endometriosis is thought to be linked to oestrogen levels, with research indicating that sufferers show resistance to progesterone, the other female sex hormone. This is one possible explanation for associated infertility, as progesterone is necessary to thicken the uterus lining each month. Without it, the uterus may be an unfavourable habitat for an embryo to embed and form a pregnancy.

    READ MORE: 6 Reasons That Explain Why You’re Constantly Tired


    Because scientists believe the growth of endometriosis lesions is driven by oestrogen, patients are prescribed drugs to stop ovaries producing the hormone, which subsequently reduces pain, stops the problem progressing and reduces adhesion size. Typical medication includes the combined pill, progestogens, a progestogen IUD (like the Mirena coil); or a GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) agonist, which causes temporary menopause.


    The aim is to alleviate pain by removing the endometriosis, dividing adhesions or removing cysts. Conservative surgery is usually done via laparoscopy (keyhole surgery). The surgeon will either cut out the adhesions (known as excision) or destroy them using heat or laser (ablation). Complex surgery is required when the endometriosis adhesions are spread across multiple organs, like the bowel or bladder.

    READ MORE: 12 Reasons Why You’re Suddenly Experiencing Painful Sex

    Severe pain

    Chronic pain affects many women with endometriosis. This can lead to central sensitisation, whereby the more exposure a person has to pain, the lower their threshold becomes. Brain imaging studies have shown that chronic pain patients have a reduced volume of grey matter in the area associated with muscle control and sensory perceptions, such as memory and self-control.


    Hysterectomy is a radical surgery for endometriosis and, if guidelines are followed, should only be considered if a patient hasn’t responded to other treatments. Most experts agree that it should only be used in adenomyosis (where adhesions grow into the uterus wall). More

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    Everything You Need To Know About Heat Rash (And How To Prevent It)

    Got itchiness, prickling sensations or red bumps on your body? You might have this skin condition. But don’t fret. We’ve got the low-down on this particularly prickly problem and how you can prevent it this summer.

    What Exactly Is A Heat Rash?

    There are many types of skin rashes, which can be concerning, uncomfortable, or downright painful. One of the common types of rash is heat rash, otherwise known as miliaria.

    In simple terms, a heat rash is a skin condition that affects children and adults in hot, humid weather conditions (hello summer), and it usually develops when your pores become blocked and the sweat can’t escape. Most often, you’ll develop a heat rash on the parts of your body that rub together — think inner thighs or under your arms. Yeah, friction…

    READ MORE: 10 Tips To Keep Your Vagina Happy And Healthy

    What Does It Look Like?

    There are three types of heat rash, which can vary in severity and tend to look a little different:

    1. Miliaria Crysallina

    This is the most common and mildest form of heat rash. You’ll notice small clear or white bumps filled with fluid on the surface of your skin. These bumps are bubbles of sweat and will often burst. This type of heat rash doesn’t itch and shouldn’t be painful, and is more common in young babies than in adults.

    2. Miliaria Rubra

    Also known as “prickly heat”, this one’s more common in adults than in children and babies and causes more discomfort than miliaria crysallina because it occurs deeper in the outer layer of the skin or epidermis.

    It may cause: Itchy or prickly sensations, red bumps on the skin, and a lack of sweat in the affected area. Because your body can’t release sweat through the skin’s surface, you’ll also experience inflammation and soreness. But wait, there’s more: The bumps can progress and fill with pus, which is known as miliaria pustulosa.

    3. Miliaria Profunda

    This one is the least common form of heat rash, but it’s one that can recur often and become chronic. It occurs in the dermis, which is the deeper layer of skin. This type of heat rash typically occurs in adults after a physical activity that produces sweat. You’ll notice larger, tough, flesh-coloured bumps.

    As the heat rash stops sweat from leaving your skin, it may lead to nausea and dizziness.

    READ MORE: How To Use Genetic Testing To Improve Your Health

    The Cause

    A heat-related rash occurs when pores become blocked and can’t expel sweat. This is more likely to happen in warmer months, warmer climates and after intense exercise. Also, wearing certain clothing can trap sweat — boom: itchiness, prickling sensations and red bumps. Beware of using thick lotions and creams too.

    Take note: It is possible to get a heat-related rash in cooler weather if you wear clothes or sleep under covers that lead to overheating. Call a doctor if you begin to experience a fever, chills, increased pain or pus draining from the bumps, but the rash is rarely serious and it often goes away without treatment in a few days.

    READ MORE: Skin Cycling: Here’s How To Do The Viral TikTok Skincare Regime

    Follow these tips to prevent heat rash:

    Avoid wearing tight clothing that doesn’t allow your skin to breathe. Moisture-wicking fabrics help prevent sweat build-up on the skin.

    Don’t use thick lotions or creams that can clog your pores.

    Try not to become overheated, especially in warmer months. Seek out air-conditioning.

    Use a soap that won’t dry your skin and doesn’t contain fragrances or dyes. More

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    Everything You Really Need To Know About Irritable Bowel Syndrome

    For some, IIrritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a chronic disorder that characterises daily living. For others, it is a periodically unwelcome visitor. IBS affects 15 to 20% of the general population and is a complex disorder without definitive answers.

    Defining IBS

    It is rarely one single symptom that qualifies IBS. IBS is a ‘syndrome’, meaning a group of symptoms. Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects predominantly the colon or large bowel. It is the part of the digestive tract that stores stool. It is not a disease but a functional disorder, meaning that the bowel does not work, or function, correctly.

    IBS does not damage the colon or other parts of the digestive system. It is not a precursor to other health problems or diseases such as colon cancer.

    IBS is not synonymous with inflammatory bowel disease. The main forms of which are Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. This involves inflammation of the intestines and is more severe than IBS.

    IBS is often sub-classified as diarrhoea type or constipation type. This depends on the major symptoms experienced by the individual.


    IBS usually begins around age 20 and is more common among women. It is the most common disease diagnosed by gastroenterologists. Also, one of the most common disorders seen by primary care physicians/general practitioners.

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    Common Symptoms

    Symptoms vary from person to person and may even vary for an individual from day to day. It could fluctuate between extremes such as diarrhoea and constipation. The most common symptoms are abdominal cramping (especially in the lower left side of the abdomen), discomfort and bloating.

    Other Symptoms

    Incomplete evacuation

    Mucus in stool


    The sudden need to pass a stool upon waking in the morning or after breakfast or coffee

    Another symptom of IBS is bowel movements that are inconsistent with one’s normal patterns. However, with ‘normal’ bowel movements varying significantly from person to person, it is difficult to establish criteria just on one’s frequency of bowel movements. Signs and symptoms often resemble those of other disorders or diseases, making diagnosis that much more difficult.

    The following are not symptoms of IBS:

    These symptoms could indicate other forms of bowel disease or problems.

    Factors That Make It Worse

    Hormonal changes (during the menstrual cycle, for example)


    Food sensitivity (to wheat or lactose, for example)

    Processed and smoked foods

    Insufficient or excessive fibre

    Abnormal intestinal bacteria

    Gas-forming foods such as pulses and cabbage

    Drinks containing caffeine and/or alcohol as well as carbonated drinks

    Sensitivity to artificial additives, colourants, flavourants etc.


    Certain painkillers, antidepressants and antihistamines

    Stress, anxiety and depression

    It’s clear that IBS is often interlinked with other disorders. This suggests that finding a solution for one ailment (such as stress or hormonal imbalance) could indirectly relieve associated IBS symptoms.

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    IBS and Emotional Stress

    The stomach area has been referred to in some cultures as the ‘seat of our emotions’. Ample research has been done over the past three decades. The results support theories that there is a close link between IBS and emotions. One of the first references to the concept of an “irritable bowel” appeared in the Rocky Mountain Medical Journal in 1950. The term was used to categorise patients who developed symptoms of diarrhoea, abdominal pain or constipation, but where no well-recognised infective cause could be found.

    In 2001, researchers led by Dr Svein Blomhoff of the National Hospital in Oslo, Norway, studied the effects of emotional words on women with IBS. The women’s rectal muscles responded by contracting or relaxing in 70 to 77 percent of cases. The strongest responses were to words that were related to sadness and anxiety. Researchers concluded that when treating IBS, the emotional and mental state of the patient is important in determining a course of treatment.

    This psychosomatic link makes IBS even more difficult, particularly for non-sufferers, to understand.

    The digestive tract is a highly complex and sensitive system involving several different types of nerve pathways that run between the brain and the digestive organs, which interact with other systems in the body, including higher-order functions such as emotional processing. The intestinal lining hosts an entire network of nerves, known as the enteric nervous system.

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    Stress has a strong impact on the gastrointestinal tract of any person, whether a sufferer of gastrointestinal disorders or not. Symptoms such as abdominal pain and inconsistent passage of faeces are common in anxiety-based disorders. Not only can inner conflict or responses to one’s environment precede gastrointestinal symptoms, but these symptoms are also likely to produce further symptoms of anxiety or depression. In addition to the direct effects that stress has on the digestive system, there may be indirect effects, for example compulsive ‘comfort eating’ or smoking during stressful times, which also affects digestion.


    No specific laboratory test exists to diagnose IBS and diagnosis is rarely immediate. Instead, ongoing processes of elimination are employed, such as the elimination of certain foods in the diet. For example, if dairy products are cut out of the diet but IBS symptoms do not improve within that period, lactose intolerance is ruled out and an elimination of wheat may begin. Diagnosis is also made through the exclusion of other ailments. For example, an evaluation of the patient’s stool might reveal that the cause of symptoms is due to a gastrointestinal infection.

    IBS is generally diagnosed on the basis of a complete analysis of medical history that includes a careful description of symptoms and a physical examination. Doctors generally use a set list of specific symptoms, called the Rome criteria and Manning criteria, to make an accurate diagnosis. It is suggested that patients keep a diary to record and supply daily symptoms to their doctor.


    No cure has been found for IBS but many options are available to treat the symptoms. Your doctor will give you the best treatment for your particular symptoms.


    Medication affects people differently, and no one medication or combination of medications will work for everyone with IBS. You will need to work with your doctor to find the best solution for you.

    Antispasmodics are commonly prescribed, which help to control colon muscle spasms and reduce abdominal pain. Probiotics are often recommended to IBS sufferers to restore the natural bacterial balance in the digestive system. Fibre supplements are generally advised for constipation (however, bloatedness and gas can worsen with increased insoluble fibre intake). Dietary and lifestyle changes should always be tried before laxatives or anti-diarrhoea medication is used. Any medication should be used very carefully since some are habit-forming and could impair intestinal functioning even further in the long term.


    As discussed above, fibre may be beneficial to the colon or it may aggravate symptoms. It is suggested that IBS sufferers gradually add foods with fibre to their diet – a sudden influx of fibre can be too harsh on a sensitive digestive system. Large meals can cause cramping and diarrhoea, thus it is best to eat small meals throughout the day. It is also important to keep hydrated and drink between six and eight glasses of water per day. Many IBS sufferers find that spicy foods exacerbate their symptoms.

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    Soluble fibre helps both diarrhoea and constipation. It dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance. Some foods that contain soluble fibre are apples, beans and citrus fruits. Psyllium, a natural vegetable fibre, is also a soluble fibre. Insoluble fibre helps constipation by moving material through your digestive system and adding bulk to your stool. Insoluble fibre is found in wholegrain bread, wheat bran and many vegetables.

    Stress Management

    The colon, like the heart and the lungs, is partly controlled by the autonomic nervous system, which responds to stress. Thus it is no surprise that the digestive system reacts to stressful situations – when one is nervous or upset during times of conflict, for example. Occasionally, antidepressants are prescribed to alleviate stress-related symptoms – certain types of antidepressants are more suited to a diarrhoea-type IBS and others are more suited to a constipation-type IBS. Lifestyle changes and relaxation techniques such as meditation and exercise should, as far as possible, be the primary source of stress management. More