The Top 10 Most Googled Health Questions That Aren't About Coronavirus

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Taking a peek at the most Googled health-related questions from the last year gives us a window into the health questions of interest. So without further ado, here are each of these questions and some answers.

1. How to lower blood pressure?

Answer: Your blood pressure can fluctuate throughout the day. For example, it may go up monetarily if you see your idol. Or go down, depending on your situation and point of view.

However, having elevated blood pressure over longer periods of time puts you at higher risk for all kinds of problems including heart attacks and stroke. Your first option should never be medications, unless it is an emergency situation. Lifestyle modification should come first such as reducing your sodium intake, losing weight, getting more exercise, limiting alcohol intake, reducing stress, meditating, and listening to some relaxing music. Don’t try to manage your blood pressure on your own. Get help from one of our doctors who really knows what he or she is doing.

Be wary of any physician who want to slap you on medications before really getting to know you and trying other non-pharmaceutical options. High blood pressure is quite common, affecting around one in three adults. Yet, only 54% have their high blood pressure under control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

2. What is keto?

Answer:  The “Keto” Diet is short for ketogenic. The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, higher fat diet with fat consisting of as much as 90% of the caloric intake. Yes, you heard that correctly, after years of people recommending low fat diets, a high-fat diet is now being pushed. What’s the theory behind this? Well, depriving your body of carbohydrates is supposed to switch your body from relying on sugar from carbs for fuel to relying on ketone bodies that result when your liver burns fat that is stored in your body. Burning fat in theory sounds good. The relative simplicity of this explanation and the observation that people can lose weight in the short term from this diet has led to a business boom, with many pushing keto products like books, seminars, and foods.

But is keto just a fad or is there some meat (and bacon and cheese) to it? Well, the jury is still out on the keto diet as not enough longer-term scientific studies have been done to determine if it is an effective and healthy way of losing weight and maintaining weight loss. The diet certainly has some potential risks such as not getting enough of the nutrients that you would normally get from fruits, vegetables, and grains, overtaxing your liver and kidneys, constipation, and your constantly telling other people that you are on the keto diet. Plus, some may find the diet tough to maintain. Again, this is a case of the science needing to catch up to the hype.

3. How to get rid of hiccups?

Answer: Altering your breathing cycle, which may calm your diaphragm down. Possibilities include breathing into a paper bag, pulling your knees to your chest and leaning forward, drinking water from the opposite side of a glass while bending over, or holding your breath. If you do hold your breath, make sure that you don’t do this indefinitely.

  • Gargling with ice water or sipping cold water. If you do gargle, make sure that you don’t have so much ice in your mouth that you start spreading it around the room like a geyser.
  • Pulling on your tongue. But don’t pull so hard that your tongue comes out, which will lead to bigger problems.
  • Rubbing the back of your neck. It’s unclear whether adding the words, “there, there,” makes a difference.
  • Getting scared. A sudden scare may help, such as someone suddenly jumping in front of you or being told that there is a sequel to the 2016 movie Dirty Grandpa.
  • Laughing spontaneously. They say laughter is the best medicine. Maybe someone else hiccuping can get you laughing.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that breathing into a paper bag may help stop hiccups.

4. How long does the flu last?

Answer: If you are wondering about how long you are contagious, you actually start becoming contagious one day before you even have symptoms. In fact, one third of people infected with the flu virus don’t ever develop symptoms. But they can still shed flu viruses like some people bedazzle. So that person whom you stood so close to for so long may have given you more than his or her number.

This makes it very tough to completely avoid flu viruses. That’s why getting vaccinated is the only way to really protect yourself and others.

5. What causes hiccups?

Answer: Looks like lots of people are getting hiccups or at least laughing at people who are getting the hiccups this year. This is the second appearance on this list for hiccups.

It’s not completely clear what may cause temporary hiccups. It may be having too much stuff in your stomach such as food, air, or bacon. It may be sudden changes in temperature. It may be stress or excitement such as seeing Justin Bieber. In most cases, you just don’t know what started them. Chronic or frequently repeated episodes of hiccups are a different story, This can be a sign that something like a mass or inflammation is irritating your diaphragm or the nerves that control and extend to your diaphragm. Certain medication or serious medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney failure, and encephalitis can lead to hiccups as well. Therefore, if hiccups continue to be an issue, call you doctor.

6. What causes kidney stones?

Answer: Kidney stones, otherwise known as renal lithiasis or nephrolithiasis if you want words harder to pronounce, form when some type of mineral or salt clusters together inside your kidneys. Stones can form when you have too much of certain mineral or salt or if you are not hydrated enough. Calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate stones can form when you get high doses of vitamin D, undergo bypass surgery, or have metabolic issues.

Uric acid stones can result when you eat too much protein or have gout. Certain types of urinary tract infection can lead to struvite stones.

7. What is HPV?

Answer: The “human papilloma virus”, or HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world. HPV is a highly contagious virus which affects the skin and moist membranes of the body such as the cervix, anus, mouth and throat

HPV is spread primarily through skin-to-skin contact. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection, and it is estimated that 80% of people will have at least one type of HPV at some point in their lifetime. You do not have to have sexual intercourse to catch HPV. The virus can be transmitted through touching or genital to genital contact, oral or anal sex. There is even evidence to suggest that deep kissing can spread HPV.

HPV does not have any symptoms, so you may not know if you have it. It will likely only become apparent following a diagnosis with a HPV-related cancer, or genital warts.

8. How to lower cholesterol?

Answer: If you are asking this for yourself, you may not want to try the keto diet. Cutting your intake of saturated fats and trans-fats is an important step. So is increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.

Getting more physical activity and losing weight may help. If you are smoking, stop. Also, limit your alcohol consumption. High cholesterol can increase your risk of stroke and various types of cardiovascular diseases.

9. How many calories should I eat a day?

Answer: You need calories to survive. However, people probably are wondering how many calories they should eat based on whether they want to gain weight, lose weight, or do neither. The frequently cited threshold is 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 calories for men per day to maintain the same body weight.

However, this greatly oversimplifies the complexities of your body. The calories that you need depend heavily, no pun intended, on many factors, including your body size, your age, and your activity level. The Mifflin-St. Jeor equation does take into account differences in sex, age, weight, height, and activity level and serves as the basis for some for some online calorie recommendation calculators. But even these are just approximations and do not account for every factor that may affect your weight. Plus, all calories are not equal.

Getting 2,000 calories from just eating sticks of butter or drinking soda is very different from getting the same number from a more balanced diet. Highly-processed foods may have different effects on your metabolism compared to natural foods.

The best thing to do is to see one of our doctors or a real registered dietitian, who can then personalise their recommendations for you.

10. How long does alcohol stay in your system?

Answer: This is another tough question that doesn’t have a single set answer for everyone. On average, you are probably able to metabolise about half-a-drink per hour. But the speed at which you break down alcohol depends on a whole lot of things.

First of all, how big are you? What is your age? What is your metabolism and general health like? How much food did you have in your stomach to soak up the alcohol so that it didn’t get absorbed into your bloodstream? What kinds of drinks did you have and what was their alcohol content?

Keep in mind that even if your body can clear alcohol from your bloodstream at an average rate of 0.015 per hour, a breathalyser or blood test can still detect alcohol for up to 12 hours, a urine test for up to 3 to 5 days, and a hair test for up to 90 days. If you are going to drive, operate a combine harvester, or do anything that requires good concentration and coordination, the best thing to do is not drink at all. Even if it means, heaven forbid, revealing your real sober personality at a party or on a date, it is not worth the risk to try to time your personal alcohol clearance exactly.

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