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Posts Tagged ‘symptoms’

Huffington Post – What Is ‘Smelly Hair Syndrome?’

Posted by 4love2love on July 6, 2011

Perry Romanowski

Cosmetic chemist, co-creator of BeautyBrains.com

Posted: 07/5/11 08:12 AM ET

Everyone has an occasional “bad hair day,” but for those unfortunate people stricken with a condition known as “Smelly Hair Syndrome,” a bad hair day can mean relationship problems, taunts from coworkers and even expulsion from school. Consider these examples:

“I wash my hair and by the middle of the day it has a sweaty, muggy smell … I’m a sophomore in college, never had a boyfriend, never even kissed a guy, all because of this smelly demon that I have had to cope with since eighth grade.” — Corrin, The Beauty Brains Forum

“I go to work everyday because I have no choice, but my co-workers are very cruel to me because of the bad odor they smell coming from my head. They don’t know how hard I try to take care of this problem.” — Sierra, The Beauty Brains Forum

“An 8-year-old girl said she was removed from her classroom at a Seattle school because of the way her hair smelled. She has now missed a full week at Thurgood Marshall Elementary.” — KIRO TV report

What’s going on here? What is “Smelly Hair Syndrome” and can it really be so socially stigmatizing? After receiving hundreds of questions about this issue we were intrigued to find out more.

The symptoms of smelly hair
We discovered that Smelly Hair Syndrome manifests in one striking symptom: a horrific odor that emanates from the hair and scalp. According to the people who have commented on our blog, the olfactory character of the smell varies from person to person. Some describe it as “… stinks like a diaper.” Others have compared the smell to “sour milk, wet dog, moldy hay, potatoes, an old shoe or dirty socks, a jacket that’s never been to the dry cleaner, and an oily smell mixed with vomit.” The most unusual description we’ve heard was “… sort of a cross between Dorito’s Bold BBQ chips and cinnamon (and not a sweet smell, actually kinda foul) and maybe a hint of cheese.” And, finally, one unfortunate reader told us that “my hair is so smelly that sometimes flies buzz around my head.”

The odor is so strong that other people can easily notice it (“I know my co-workers could smell it and I was so embarrassed.”) Spouses and significant others have also told us that the odor is problematic because it can transfer to towels and pillow cases. For some people the smell is noticeable right after showering; for others it starts a few days after they’ve washed their hair. We received several comments from people who shower before sleep and wake up with a smelly scalp. Interestingly, one person pointed out that their hair starts out with one scent right after washing and changes to a different odor about 12 hours later. In addition to the malodor, some people experience increase in oily hair and scalp. One woman notices a “thick, oily, flour-like substance on my scalp.”

Causes and cures
These secondary symptoms made us wonder if a potential cause of Smelly Hair Syndrome could be seborrheic dermatitis (seb-o-REE-ik der-muh-TI-tis), because it causes an increase in oil production and flaky scalp residue. However, according to Mayo Clinic’s webpage, scalp odors like those described above are not typically associated with seborrheic dermatitis. Furthermore, our readers tell us that in many cases their doctors have not been able to identify a definitive cause. Many said that their doctors didn’t take the problem seriously: “I even went to the dermatologist. Twice! He never heard of such a thing and seemed to not even believe me which made me very angry! Why don’t these doctors have a clue?!” “I went to see a dermatologist. Which was of no help! I got prescriptions and so forth but nothing worked.”

Without a satisfactory medical explanation, people are left to figure out their own cures. Our readers have tried just about everything you can think of, including medicated shampoos like Nizoral, Selsun Blue, Neutrogena T/Gel, Head & Shoulders and Denorex. They’ve used tea tree-based products (like Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat conditioner) because of the alleged anti-fungal properties of tea tree oil (unfortunately, most tea tree oil shampoos contain very little of the actual oil). In desperation, some people have even tried medicated pet shampoos.

Others have forsaken commercial products for home remedies like lemon juice, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, aloe vera, neem oil, chlorophyll supplements and a mixture of honey and cinnamon. One person even uses hand sanitizer on her scalp two or three times a day. Then there’s the most elaborate of all the treatments we’ve heard of: “I go to this salon where they rub a liquid into your hair, wrap it in plastic wrap and steam it. This is followed with something they call ‘frequency treatment’ — it is a glass rod attached to a machine and they deliver something like an electrical impulse.”

What really works to treat Smelly Hair Syndrome? Of all the solutions proposed by our readers, two seemed to provide reasonably consistent results: Dial antibacterial liquid body wash and sulfur-containing soaps. These treatments make sense from a scientific point of view, if the cause is bacterial or fungal. An antibacterial agent (like the Triclosan used in the Dial bodywash) could prevent bacteria from growing, while sulfur could reduce scalp oiliness thereby eliminating the “food” that bacteria or fungi need to grow. For those who haven’t had success with other treatments, these two options maybe worth a try. Of course, you should consult with a dermatologist to ensure your symptoms aren’t caused by psoriasis or some other condition.

Conclusion
From the comments we’ve received, Smelly Hair Syndrome appears to be a real problem that is unresolved for many people. Based on our readers’ input, the medical community has not yet provided a satisfactory solution. According to our understanding of chemistry and hair and scalp biology, shampooing with sulfur and Triclosan-based soaps may offer some relief. We hope that more definitive treatment options are identified by the medical and cosmetic science communities.

 

© 2011 TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc.

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WebMD – Why Some Smokers Have a Harder Time Quitting

Posted by 4love2love on June 25, 2011

Study Shows Variation in Brain May Give Some Smokers More Pleasure From Nicotine
By Denise Mann
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

smoker and double helix overlay

May 16, 2011 — Quitting smoking is never easy, but some smokers have an even harder time kicking the habit, and now new research suggests that they may derive more pleasure form nicotine.

The new study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may also help foster the development of more effective quitting strategies for certain smokers.

Researchers used PET scans to capture images of the number of “mu-opioid receptors” in the brains of smokers. Smokers with greater numbers of these receptors seem to derive more pleasure from nicotine, and as a result may have a harder time quitting.

“The brain’s opioid system plays a role in smoking rewards, and quitting smoking and some of the variability in our ability to quit among smokers is attributable to genetic factors,” says study researcher Caryn Lerman, PhD, director of Tobacco Use Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

“The ability to quit smoking is influenced by a number of psychological, social, and environmental factors, but also genetic factors,” she says. “For some people, genetic variations may make it more difficult to quit than for someone else who smokes the same amount for same amount of time,” Lerman says.

The study findings are more applicable to quitting smoking than becoming addicted in the first place, she says.

New Quitting Strategies/Tools Needed

There may be a role for personalized medicine when it comes to smoking cessation, Lerman says.  Personalized medicine takes the trial and error out of matching treatments by making decisions based on genetic profiles.

“Based on a person’s genetic background, we can select the optimal treatment,” she says. “It is a two-pronged approach of developing new medications and being able to make the best choice for a particular person based on existing options.”

Importantly, even diehard smokers should not take these findings to mean they can’t quit, she says.

“Don’t become fatalistic,” she says. “You may need particular approaches tailored to you,” she says. Going forward, “we hope to study this pathway in more detail to understand whether examining genetic background and the numbers of brain receptors can help us choose the right treatments for the right individual.”

Raymond S. Niaura, PhD, an associate director for science at the Schroeder Institute of the American Legacy Foundation, an antismoking group based in Washington, D.C., says that “there are genetic influences involved in becoming addicted to nicotine and tobacco and on how hard it is to quit smoking.”

The new findings provide “a peek into the genetic and underlying brain processes responsible for nicotine addiction,” he says.

Daniel Seidman, PhD, assistant clinical professor of medical psychology and the director of Smoking Cessation Services at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, agrees.“There are a lot of smokers and everybody gets lumped together, but there are a lot of patterns like with other types of addiction.”

This paper “points to a biological or genetic substrate which predisposes some people to have a hard time,” he says. Quitting smoking can be emotionally charged, he says. Symptoms typically include irritability, anger, and sad mood. “Some people are able to rally more and some may not bounce back as well because they have a harder time finding alternative sources of pleasure,” he says.

Agreeing with Niaura, Seidman says that some smokers seem to need nicotine replacement for longer periods of time. “When they come off nicotine patches or gum, it doesn’t feel right and it may be related to this subtype,” he says. “This is not a problem because nicotine replacement doesn’t cause cancer or go into yourlungs.”

People with this particular genetic variation may benefit from extended treatment, he says. “They may have a certain kind of sensitivity to nicotine, which could explain why they became addicted in the first place and why they may need to use nicotine replacement for a longer time than others.”

 

© 2011 WebMD, LLC.

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Orlando Sentinel – Coffee may protect against Alzheimer’s disease, study finds

Posted by 4love2love on June 24, 2011

Coffee and Alzheimer'sThe USF team is excited that coffee, which is cheap and readily available, might be a safe way for Americans to protect their brains against the disease. (Anacleto Rapping / Los Angeles Times)

 

By Linda Shrieves, Orlando Sentinel12:08 p.m. EDT, June 22, 2011

Coffee lovers, raise your cup to the latest research on the benefits of your favorite beverage. Researchers at the University of South Florida say there’s a mystery ingredient in coffee that could protect coffee drinkers againstAlzheimer’s disease.

Using mice bred with symptoms that mimic Alzheimer’s disease, a team at USF found that caffeinated coffee appeared to protect the mice from the memory-robbing disease.

In a study to be published June 28 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, the researchers say coffee seems to have an unidentified ingredient that combines with caffeine to reduce brain levels of beta-amyloid — the abnormal protein that is thought to cause the disease.

The study was funded by the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the state of Florida.
The USF team’s findings about coffee seem to agree with previous observational studies, which found that people who drink caffeinated coffee in mid-life and older age have a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Armed with their latest study, the USF team is excited that coffee, which is cheap and readily available, might be a safe way for Americans to protect their brains against the disease.

“Because Alzheimer’s starts in the brain several decades before it is diagnosed, any protective therapy would obviously need to be taken for decades,” said Dr. Chuanhai Cao, one of the study’s lead authors. “We believe moderate daily consumption of caffeinated coffee is the best current option for long-term protection against Alzheimer’s memory loss. Coffee is inexpensive, readily available, easily gets into the brain, appears to directly attack the disease process and has few side effects for most of us.”

“No synthetic drugs have yet been developed to treat the underlying Alzheimer’s disease process,” said Dr. Gary Arendash, one of the study’s lead authors. “We see no reason why an inherently natural product such as coffee cannot be more beneficial and safer than medications, especially to protect against a disease that takes decades to become apparent after it starts in the brain.”

In earlier studies with Alzheimer’s mice, USF researchers have indicated that caffeine was probably the ingredient that provides protection — because it decreases brain production of beta-amyloid.

The new study, however, shows that it may not be caffeine itself, but a combination of caffeine and coffee’s compounds that together cause an increase in blood levels of a growth factor called GCSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor). Patients with Alzheimer’s disease have low levels of GCSF — and it can improve memory in Alzheimer’s mice.

Although the current study was done only with mice, the research team says they’ve gathered clinical evidence of caffeinated coffee’s ability to protect humans against Alzheimer’s — and will publish those findings soon.

Coffee seems to work three ways to quash the brain’s production of the beta-amyloid plaque, researchers said. “Together these actions appear to give coffee an amazing potential to protect against Alzheimer’s — but only if you drink moderate amounts of caffeinated coffee,” said Cao, lead author of the study.

One note: The researchers used only coffee prepared in an automatic drip coffeemaker, not instant coffee, so they are unsure if instant coffee would provide the same benefit.

So how much should you drink for this benefit? Although the average American drinks 1.5 to 2 cups of coffee a day, earlier research suggests that it may take 4 to 5 8-ounce cups a day to protect against Alzheimer’s. Yet Cao isn’t sure you need to drink that much coffee to protect your brain from Alzheimers. He says that if you like coffee, keep drinking it — but don’t switch to decaf.

The research team also believes that starting moderate daily coffee intake in middle age — in your 30s, 40s and 50s — is optimal for providing protection against the disease — though increasing your coffee consumption in older age also appears to have some benefit.

“We are not saying that daily moderate coffee consumption will completely protect people from getting Alzheimer’s disease,” Cao said. “However, we do believe that moderate coffee consumption can appreciably reduce your risk of this dreaded disease or delay its onset.”

lshrieves@tribune.com or 407-420-5433.

Copyright © 2011, Orlando Sentinel

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