What health questions do you type into Google? As today is World Health Day, we bring you the top 10 most Googled health questions, with some expert advice from our pharmacists — so you know exactly what to do about them!
We’ve all been guilty of using Dr. Google at times. But if like us, you’re just a little intrigued to know what other health issues are causing the rest of the Google community concern, here are a few insights.
These are the 10 most Googled health-related questions, along with all the answers.
1. How to lower blood pressure?
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is generally diagnosed when blood pressure increases to unhealthy levels — this is usually when a person has a blood pressure reading that’s higher than 130/80. Your blood pressure measurement takes into account how much blood is passing through your blood vessels and the amount of resistance the blood meets while the heart is pumping.
Hypertension typically develops over the course of several years, and as there aren’t very many symptoms, it can often go unnoticed. Although it’s a very common illness — more than one third of Australians over the age of 18 have been diagnosed with high blood pressure — if left untreated, the risks can include heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, eye disease, and even dementia in later life.
Although this sounds pretty scary, the good news is that it’s easy to treat. In fact, most of the treatment for high blood pressure involves making simple, healthy lifestyle changes, so early detection of the illness is key.
Here are a few tips to keep your blood pressure healthy.
As your body weight increases, your blood pressure can rise. Being overweight can actually put you more at risk of developing high blood pressure than if you were at your desirable weight.
The easiest way to lose weight is to start becoming more aware of the foods that you eat. You don’t necessarily have to start crash dieting, just make sure you follow a healthy, balanced diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins like fish.
Need a helping hand? Try VITAL Slim & Trim Protein Formula Cocoa to help curb your food cravings.
Or BioCeuticals Acetyl-L-Carnitine — it helps your body turn fatty acids into energy.
You’ll soon know which calorie-rich floods are the culprits causing you to pile on the kilos. Sodium (salt) is also a common cause of high blood pressure, so try and eat less sodium and more potassium like bananas, oranges, apricots, grapefruit, some dried fruits, cooked spinach, broccoli, potatoes, mushrooms and peas.
Cut back on sodium.
People tend to eat a lot of sodium-rich foods without even realising — think white bread, cured meats, pizza, frozen foods, fish, poultry, soup and sandwiches. It’s recommended for adults to eat no more than 2,000 mg of sodium per day (equivalent to about 5,000 mg or 5 g of salt or 1 teaspoon), so check the labels to make sure you’re not overdoing it.
Reduce your alcohol intake.
Be sure to cut back on alcohol, too. Try to limit your alcohol intake to one drink per day. Drinking too much, too often, can increase your blood pressure, and cause weight gain, so practice moderation where you can.
And lastly, make sure you exercise! Try and do some form of exercise, even if you start off with a walk or gentle jog, for at least 30 minutes, five days per week.
Want to keep your blood pressure on track? Try the Omron HEM7121 Standard Upper-Arm Blood Pressure Monitor. It's super easy to use and gives fast, accurate measurements, alerts if your blood pressure is too high or if you have an irregular heartbeat.
2. What is Keto?
One of the most highly searched diets, the Ketogenic (or “Keto” for short) diet is high in fats, moderate in proteins and very low in carbs. The concept is to drastically reduce your carbohydrate intake and replace it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. Ketosis causes the body to break down ingested and stored body fat into molecules called ketones, which are then used as energy. This is essentially what helps you lose weight, and very quickly too.
Whilst the diet has proven successful with many weight loss efforts, the jury is still out on whether it’s an effective and healthy way of losing weight and keeping the weight off. It might be a good for a quick fix, but many people find it difficult to sustain the diet long-term, as it’s incredibly restrictive.
It’s also a problematic diet for those with type 2 diabetes. Whilst some studies have shown that this diet can help regulate insulin levels, there’s concern that the saturated fat in the diet may drive up LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol levels, and further increase the risk of heart problems.
If you’re considering trying the Keto diet, consult your doctor for further advice before you begin.
3. How to get rid of hiccups?
Hiccups seem to start and stop for no obvious reason, although the science behind it is when the diaphragm begins to spasm involuntarily. This is usually when something irritates your diaphragm, such as eating too quickly, drinking alcohol, feeling nervous or excited or taking certain medicines.
Your diaphragm is a large muscle that helps you breathe in and out. When it spasms, you inhale suddenly and your vocal cords snap shut, which causes a distinctive sound — your hiccup! Most of the time, hiccups come and go in short periods. They usually go away on their own after a few minutes. But if you’re struggling to get rid of them, here are some helpful tricks you can try.
1. Breathe in slowly for a count of five, and then breathe out for a count of five.
2. Hold your breath. Take a large gulp of air and hold it for about 10 to 20 seconds, then breathe out slowly. Repeat as necessary.
3. Breathe into a paper bag. Place a paper lunch bag over your mouth and nose. Slowly breathe in and out, deflating and inflating the bag until your hiccups stop. Never use a plastic bag.
4. Hug your knees. Sit somewhere comfortable and bring your knees to your chest. Hold them there for two minutes and try slow, controlled breathing.
5. Compress your chest. Lean or bend forward to compress your chest — this puts pressure on your diaphragm and will hopefully cause your hiccups to stop!
6. Pop your ears. Try to exhale with your mouth closed while pinching your nose. Research suggests that this manoeuvre can interrupt the hiccup reflex.
4. How long does the flu last?
Anyone who has had the flu before will know all too well how miserable it can make you feel — days of being bed bound with body aches, fever and chills. The flu is far from fun. In fact it can be life-threatening for those with suppressed immune systems, respiratory problems, pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, liver disease or HIV/AIDS.
The flu, or “influenza” in its full form, is an extremely contagious and common virus that causes widespread illness every year. For the majority of healthy people, flu can last between five and seven days. Some experience symptoms, while others do not. Although the virus can still be passed from person to person, even if you don’t suffer with any symptoms.
The only real way to protect yourself and others around you, is to get vaccinated. This significantly lowers your chances of contracting the virus or passing it to anyone else, particularly those who are considered vulnerable and “high-risk”.
Flu medications like Codral PE Day & Night can help to relieve many of the symptoms. But this is generally what you can expect with any bout of flu:
- Days 1–3: Sudden appearance of fever, headache, muscle pain and weakness, dry cough, sore throat and sometimes a stuffy nose.
- Day 4: Fever and muscle aches decrease. Hoarse, dry or sore throat, cough and possible mild chest discomfort become more noticeable. You may feel tired or flat.
- Day 8: Symptoms decrease. Cough and tiredness may last one to two weeks or more.
SUDAFED Nasal Decongestant
Difflam Plus Sore Throat
5. What causes hiccups?
We’ve already covered how to get rid of hiccups above (so make sure you jot these tips down and keep them handy for your next hiccup outbreak!). But another top search term is what causes hiccups in the first place.
Generally, hiccups occur because of an unplanned, spontaneous contraction of your diaphragm. It’s usually something that aggravates your diaphragm, like being nervous or excited, or even having too much stuff in your stomach like food, air, beer, wine (and lots more). Changes in temperature can also bring them on.
Hiccups are considered somewhat of a medical mystery as it’s not known exactly what causes them, unlike chronic hiccups (frequent, repeated bouts of hiccups) which could indicate something more sinister like a mass or inflammation is irritating your diaphragm or the nerves that control and extend to your diaphragm. If your hiccups continue to be an issue, consult your doctor for further advice.
For the majority of us, these are considered common causes:
• eating too much or too quickly
• carbonated drinks
• spicy foods
• being stressed or emotionally excited
• drinking alcohol
• being exposed to quick changes in temperature
6. What causes kidney stones?
Kidney stones (also called renal calculi, nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis) are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys. They form when substances in the urine become concentrated and harden.
The primary cause of kidney stones is dehydration. If someone is not properly hydrated, the body's fluids become more concentrated with dietary minerals, such as calcium. Being dehydrated increases the risk that the minerals will harden into jagged-edged little crystals. But diet, excess body weight, some medical conditions, and certain supplements and medications are also among the many causes of kidney stones.
Kidney stones can affect any part of your urinary tract — from your kidneys to your bladder. They can be as small as a grain of sand, or as large as a golf ball, making them extremely painful. They’re also extremely common; 1 in 10 people will experience kidney stones in their lifetime.
Some key symptoms to watch out for include:
- a gripping pain in the back (also known as ‘renal colic’) – usually just below the ribs on one side, radiating around to the front and sometimes towards the groin. The pain may be severe enough to cause nausea and vomiting
- blood in the urine
- cloudy or bad smelling urine
- shivers, sweating and fever – if the urine becomes infected
- small stones, like gravel, passing out in the urine, often caused by uric acid stones
- an urgent feeling of needing to urinate
One of the best ways to prevent kidney stones is to drink plenty of fluids. Women should have about two litres (eight cups) of fluids a day, and men about 2.6 litres (10 cups).
7. What is HPV?
HPV, or human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world. It usually shows no symptoms and goes away by itself, but can sometimes cause serious illness — HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer, anal cancer and is linked to rising rates of mouth and throat cancer.
There are many different types of HPV virus; some are considered 'low risk' while others are 'high risk'. Low-risk HPV types can cause genital warts and don't cause cancer.
Most sexually active adults in their 20s have been exposed to it, but for most, the infection clears up on its own, without causing further harm.
The virus is spread through intimate contact with genital skin and can infect both men and women. Wearing condoms offer some but not total protection from HPV, as they do not cover all of the genital skin.
You can be exposed to HPV the first time sexual activity occurs or from only one sexual partner. The HPV Gardasil vaccine protects against the two high-risk HPV types (types 16 and 18), which cause 70% of cervical cancers in women and 90% of all HPV-related cancers in men. It also protects against two low-risk types (types 6 and 11), which cause 90% of genital warts. It’s advised that all boys and girls aged 12-13 should have this vaccine before sexual activity commences.
Anyone who has not had the vaccine can have a screening test with their doctor.
8. How to lower cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s necessary to make hormones and vitamin D, and to help digest food. Your body produces cholesterol, and it’s also found in some foods that contain animal fat, including full-fat dairy products such as butter, cheese and whole milk, in addition to fatty meats, bacon and foods that are made with trans fats (processed baked goods, fries etc.). Foods that come from plants are cholesterol free.
The human body uses cholesterol to build cells, but too much can put you at risk of heart disease.
Cholesterol is considered either “good” or “bad”, with the the two most common types of cholesterol:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – the ‘bad’ cholesterol.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – the ‘good’ cholesterol.
If you have high cholesterol, you can develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels. This makes it difficult for blood to flow through the arteries. If these deposits break apart, they can form a clot which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
So how do you lower your cholesterol?
Cutting your intake of saturated fats and trans-fats is an important step. As is increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids and fibre. Getting more exercise and losing weight may also help. Other ways to lower cholesterol include stopping smoking and limiting your alcohol consumption.
Try these supplements to boost your cardiovascular health:
BioCeuticals Ubiquinol BioActive
Arborvitae Health & Wellbeing
9. How many calories should I eat a day?
We all need calories to survive. Calories are a measure of how much energy food or drink contains, and also an indication of the amount of energy you need to burn those calories off. To maintain a healthy weight, you need to balance the amount of calories you consume with the amount of calories you burn through exercise.
Whilst you can lose weight by cutting calories, it’s not considered to be the most effective form of weight control, it’s better to focus on the quality of food consumed, rather than cutting calories altogether. Instead, fill up on lots of healthy whole grains, unprocessed foods, fish, vegetables and fruits. Having said that, it’s essential to understand how many calories you should be aiming for each day, so you don’t overdo it, or deprive yourself of essential nutrients that your body needs.
The recommended daily calorie intake is generally 2,000 calories a day for women and 2,500 for men. Although the calories that you need depends heavily on a variety of factors, including your body size, your age, and your activity level, as well as hormones and certain medications that can also affect how much energy you burn. So calorie intake can vary from person to person.
Certain foods also affect your body in different ways. Highly-processed foods will have a different effect on your metabolism than natural foods — i.e. your body needs more energy to burn them off. The best advice is to see your doctor or a dietitian, who will be able to make personal dietary recommendations to suit you.
10. How long does alcohol stay in your system?
This is another tricky question, as it doesn’t have a single set answer for everyone. It really depends on how much you drink. But not only that, it also depends on how quickly your body metabolises (breaks down) the alcohol, and that can also depend on your size, weight, age, your general health, the medications you’re taking, and how much food you’ve eaten, as this helps to soak up the alcohol, rather than it being absorbed into your bloodstream.
It also entirely depends on the alcohol that you’ve consumed — whiskey and wine have completely different alcohol volumes! (*note to self*)
Generally speaking, our liver can only process around one drink an hour, with the rest of the alcohol staying in the body, affecting every organ, including the brain, but it can take more than 18 hours for your blood alcohol concentration to reset back to zero.
A standard drink in Australia is any drink containing 10 grams of alcohol, regardless of container size or alcohol type. For example, a 375ml full-strength beer at 4.8% alcohol volume is the equivalent of 1.4 standard drinks, and 1 150ml glass of red wine is 1.6 standard drinks. Refer to this list if you are unsure.
It’s best to steer clear of alcohol altogether if you are driving.
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