Friday, January 21, 2011

Something I saw on "The Doctors"

There is a popular TV show you may have heard of, and I have referred to previously in posts, it is called The Doctors and in many areas it airs on CBS.

On the episode that aired on January 19th, 2011, they were talking about sleep which is a very important part of everyone's life, poor sleep begets poor health. Time when you are sleeping is time when your body and mind can be refreshed. It is important for everyone to get plenty restful sleep without many interruptions, I can do a whole post on sleep, let me know if you are interested.

The show presented a number of ways to improve your sleep, but one stood out to me:
"2. Bathroom Break: Stop drinking liquids two hours before sleep and urinate immediately before bed. Failing to empty your bladder entirely causes bacteria to multiply and increases your chance of developing a urinary tract infection."
Their rationale being that urine collects and sits in your bladder while you sleep which can make your bladder a "breeding ground" for bacteria. While you are more likely to sleep through the night if you urinate shortly before bed, thereby giving you more uninterrupted sleep, this advice is not sound.

First, in a healthy individual Human Urine is Sterile, and therefore should contain no bacteria at all.

Second, urine sitting in your bladder is not how a Urinary Tract Infection begins, it begins when bacteria attach to the opening of the urethra and begin growing; the NKUDIC has a very thorough description of UTI's and what causes them.

Most importantly, failing to properly hydrate your body during any part of the day can cause much worse health problems than Urinary Tract Infections. While someone who is specifically susceptible to bladder infections (a condition that is more severe than urinary tract infections) or someone who is currently battling a UTI may consider reducing their nighttime fluid intake, this is not a significant concern for most. For those of us with healthy bladders, holding a little extra liquid for a few extra hours, even on a nightly basis is not typically a problem, and people should not risk becoming dehydrated just because the doctors scared them into thinking they might get an infection. 
Dehydration can cause all sorts of health issues, throwing-off your Fluid and Electrolyte Balance can affect your kidneys primarily, however if severe enough it can effect the entire body. Lack of sufficient water causes your cells to shrink and decreases their function, this goes for skin cells, muscle cells, and all internal organs including your brain. Even slight dehydration can become problematic if it is persistent, say for 8 hours, the amount of time it is recommended that humans sleep. Dehydration can quickly begin to affect your immune system which may leave you more susceptible to all sorts of infections. On the other hand, Urinary Tract Infections can be easily prevented with a few glasses of cranberry juice, this simple fix can even treat mild infections.

You probably already experience some extent of dehydration while you sleep. When you wake up in the morning your urine is most likely darker and a bit brown as compared to during the day, this is because you are slightly dehydrated. Urine color is a very direct indicator of hydration level, the lighter and more yellow the more hydrated a person is, the darker and more brown the less hydrated the person is. When you see darker urine it is a good idea to have an extra glass of water.
I always drink a little extra before bed, and sleep with a full glass on my nightstand, I typically also drink a glass when I wake up regardless of the color of my urine. This may be something you could do, but keep in mind over-hydration can be just as serious as dehydration so don't overdo it. The Mayo Clinic recommends 1.5 litres (6.3 cups) each day, and this increases dramatically with exercise.

Take home message: YOU NEED WATER! do not intentionally dehydrate yourself with the belief that you are preventing urinary tract infections, since you are likely doing much more harm than good. Pee before bed, always have some water available, and if your urine is a bit dark, drink an extra glass.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Myths and Misconceptions #1: Daddy Long Legs

I thought is would be cool to theme some posts, theme number 1: Myths and Misconceptions.
The first in this series is a relatively simple one: daddy long legs.

So I bet you have heard the statement “The daddy long leg spider has the most poisonous venom in the world but it can’t bite through your skin because its fangs are too short” or some variation on that.

This is a common myth that is incorrect on several counts. While it is true that daddy long legs cannot hurt you is it not because they are incapable of injecting poisonous venom into your skin.

First, the North American “Daddy Long Leg” is actually the harvestmen which is not a spider at all, though it is an arachnid. It is important to note that there are 2 other animals that can also be referred to as the daddy long leg; the cellar spider and the crane fly, both of which are also harmless.

Second, the Harvestmen has no venom glands and is therefore not poisonous. The cellar spider and crane fly do have venom but are unable to deliver a dose large enough to affect humans.

Third, they have no fangs, so I guess the total lack of fangs would mean that they cannot penetrate human skin, since they don’t even exist.

I hope this was informative and I hope that you will send me any myths and misconceptions you are interested in learning more about.