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Friday, September 30, 2016

Don't Hold Your Pee!

     The kidneys have a number of important functions one of which includes regulating blood pressure. Taiwanese researchers studied 40 people with early heart disease found that the stress of having a full bladder increases the heart rate by an average of 9 beats per minute. When your bladder expands, it increases activity in the sympathetic nervous system which may cause coronary vessels to constrict, increasing the heart rate which might boost the risk of heart-attack. 
     Sometimes in an attempt to curb the frequent bathroom trips, one might try to hold their pee, but it's a bad idea. Ignoring that distended bladder can do some serious damage. 
     One former Army doctor told the story of a soldier who had gotten drunk and passed out the night before and his bladder was holding the equivalent of about three bottles of wine and it became over distended. The result? After that, he was never able to urinate normally again and had to use a catheter four to six times a day. 
     That's an extreme case and it's not likely that holding your pee for an hour or two will lead to permanent damage like that, but the body’s urge to pee for long periods of time can cause bladder problems. For example, long-term urinary tract symptoms like frequent and painful urination could develop. 
     That said, mad dashes to urinate multiple times a day could indicate a more serious health problem. Peeing 2 to 3 times a night can be a red flag since most people can get through the night without a head call. 
     When your bladder fills up nerve signals are sent to the brain saying you need to take a leak. But if you have an overactive bladder those signals fire even when you’re low on urine. Doctors aren’t sure what causes an overactive bladder and it's nit really serious, but it can be annoying. One in six Americans suffer from this condition, but as you get older, your risk increases. 
     Other potential causes of frequent urination include diabetes, urinary tract infections, and an enlarged prostate. The old prostate pushes on the urethra which makes the bladder work harder to push the urine out. This extra activity inflames the nerves and can cause a weak flow, which prevents the complete emptying of the bladder which in turn makes frequent bathroom trips more likely. 
     If one is peeing frequently, but the flow is not much more than a dribble, it could be an enlarged prostate or it could be something called a stricture, which is a buildup of scar tissue in the urethra. A stricture is painful and can cause urinary retention. Left untreated, it can result in kidney damage, so surgical treatment is often recommended. 
     Of course, frequent trips to the can could also be the result of nothing more than the result of drinking diuretics like caffeinated tea, coffee, or alcohol or Gatorade. Drinking these beverages too late at night can also cause waking to pee at night. Anxiety can also spark the need to pee, even if you just peed a little bit ago. 
     If frequent trips are starting to seriously impact your day, see a doctor to discover the cause. They will likely do a blood test to check for any medical conditions, like diabetes and check for an infection. Be prepared to suffer through a rectal exam to check for an enlarged prostate. These aren't a lot of fun, but remember, they aren't the highlight of the doctor's day either. They will also probably do an ultrasound to check for urinary retention. Treatment depends on the problem: antibiotics, pelvic exercises or medication. 

See article on Science Alert

Monday, September 19, 2016

Hostess Powdered Mini-donuts

     Sunday my wife purchased a bag of Hostess mini-donuts coated with powdered sugar and when I popped one in my mouth I immediately spit it out because it had a strong metallic taste that even Listerine wouldn't get rid of.
     Powdered sugar, also called confectioner's sugar, is a finely ground sugar made by milling granulated sugar into a powdered state. It also contains a small (3-5 percent) amount of anti-caking agent—usually cornstarch in North America or tricalcium phosphate in other regions—to prevent clumping and improve flow. It is available in different degrees of fineness, most commonly XXX, XXXX, and 10X, with more Xs indicating finer grains. 
     In industrial food production it is used where a quick dissolving sugar is required.  Domestically, it is principally used to make icing or frosting and other cake decorations. It is often lightly dusted onto baked goods to add a light sweetness and subtle decoration.
     While cane sugar has an indefinite shelf life the addition of corn starch can result in the corn starch oxidizing which can add a metallic or soapy taste to the powdered sugar.  Powdered sugar is also susceptible to absorbing odors if not stored properly sealed. Thus, it is generally a good idea to purchase powdered sugar only in a quantity that you expect to use and throw away any unused portion. 
     Back in 2013 Hostess launched "the sweetest comeback in the history of ever" and about a  year later their white powdered Donettes generated consumer complaints who said when they opened the Donettes they were moldy and smelled like chemicals. Hostess did nothing about the problem and continued to keep the product on the shelf. A Hostess spokesperson acknowledged they had received complaints of the smell and taste but denied the donuts were harmful. 
     Three years later and this problem appears to be ongoing so it's a good idea to avoid this product.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Cincinnati, Ohio's Train to Nowhere

     How Cincinnati tried, and failed, to build one of America’s first subway's article in The Verge
      Abandoned tunnels are often the object of urban legend, but Cincinnati is the site of the country's largest abandoned subway tunnel.  
     The Cincinnati Subway is a set of incomplete, derelict tunnels and stations for a rapid transit system beneath the streets of Cincinnati, Ohio. It is recognized as the largest abandoned subway tunnel in the United States. It was built in the early twentieth century as an upgrade to the Cincinnati streetcar system, but was abandoned due to escalating costs, the collapse of funding amidst political bickering, and the Great Depression during the 1920s and 1930s. In 1928, the construction of the subway system in Cincinnati was indefinitely canceled.