In 2023, people turned to Dr. Google to find answers to their burning health questions. From strep throat to cholesterol levels and bloating remedies, these top-trending inquiries shed light on the health concerns of the year. Let’s take a closer look at the 10 most searched health questions in 2023 and explore the answers to each:
- 1. How Contagious is Strep Throat?
- 2. How to Lower Cholesterol Levels?
- 3. What Helps with Bloating?
- 4. How Long is Pink Eye Contagious For?
- 5. How to Get Rid of Cold Sores Fast?
- 6. Can You Get Pregnant on Birth Control?
- 7. What Causes Yeast Infections?
- 8. How Long Does Zika Last?
- 9. What is Cupping?
- 10. What is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
1. How Contagious is Strep Throat?
Strep throat, caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria, was a major health concern in 2023. Many people wanted to know how contagious this infection is and for how long it can be transmitted. Strep throat is highly contagious, especially during the early stages of the illness. It spreads through respiratory droplets, such as sneezing or coughing, and can also be transmitted through direct contact or sharing contaminated items. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an infected person can spread the bacteria to others through their respiratory droplets when talking, coughing, or sneezing.
To prevent the spread of strep throat, it is important to practice good hygiene, such as washing hands regularly and covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. People with strep throat should also avoid sharing utensils, cups, or towels. It usually takes about two to five days for someone who has been exposed to group A strep bacteria to become ill with strep throat. Antibiotics can help reduce the contagiousness of strep throat, and individuals should be cautious and take proper measures to prevent transmission to others.
2. How to Lower Cholesterol Levels?
High cholesterol levels are a common health concern, and in 2023, people sought ways to lower their cholesterol naturally. Research suggests that adopting a plant-based, vegetarian, or vegan diet can help reduce cholesterol levels. A study published in the European Heart Journal found that adults following a plant-based diet experienced a 10% reduction in LDL cholesterol (often referred to as “bad” cholesterol) and a 7% decrease in total cholesterol compared to those who consumed both meat and plants.
In addition to dietary changes, lifestyle modifications can also help in lowering cholesterol levels. Limiting the intake of saturated and trans fats found in red meat, full-fat dairy products, and processed foods can have a positive impact on cholesterol levels. Consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and flaxseeds, and incorporating soluble fiber from sources like oatmeal, apples, and Brussels sprouts can also aid in reducing cholesterol absorption.
Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and moderating alcohol consumption are key factors in improving cholesterol levels. Consulting with a healthcare professional can provide personalized guidance on managing cholesterol levels effectively.
3. What Helps with Bloating?
Bloating is a common gastrointestinal issue that many people experience, and in 2023, individuals sought ways to alleviate this discomfort. There are several potential causes of bloating, including constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, overeating, and certain medications. To address bloating at home, some steps can be taken to provide relief.
According to the National Library of Medicine, avoiding chewing gum, carbonated drinks, and gas-producing foods like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, beans, and lentils may help reduce bloating. Slowing down while eating, not rushing through meals, and avoiding excessive air swallowing can also alleviate symptoms. It is important to note that fiber supplements, such as psyllium or bran, may worsen bloating for some individuals, while medications like simethicone can provide relief.
If bloating is accompanied by severe abdominal pain, blood in the stool, diarrhea, worsening heartburn, vomiting, or weight loss, it is crucial to seek medical attention. These symptoms may indicate underlying conditions that require evaluation and treatment by a healthcare professional.
4. How Long is Pink Eye Contagious For?
Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is a common eye infection that can be highly contagious. In 2023, people were curious about the contagious period of pink eye and how to prevent its spread. The contagiousness of pink eye depends on the underlying cause.
According to the CDC, viral conjunctivitis, which is the most common form, can be contagious for up to two weeks or until symptoms resolve. Bacterial conjunctivitis, on the other hand, is typically contagious until 24 to 48 hours after starting antibiotic treatment. Allergic conjunctivitis, caused by allergens rather than infectious agents, is not contagious.
To prevent the spread of pink eye, it is essential to practice good hygiene, such as washing hands frequently, avoiding touching the eyes, and refraining from sharing personal items like towels or pillowcases. Individuals with pink eye should also avoid close contact with others, especially in settings where transmission is more likely, such as schools or workplaces.
5. How to Get Rid of Cold Sores Fast?
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) and can be both physically and emotionally uncomfortable. People sought ways to expedite the healing process of cold sores in 2023. While there is no cure for the herpes virus, there are steps individuals can take to promote faster healing and alleviate discomfort.
Applying over-the-counter antiviral creams or ointments, such as docosanol or acyclovir, at the first sign of a cold sore can help reduce its duration. Keeping the affected area clean and moisturized can also aid in the healing process. It is important to avoid picking or popping cold sores, as this can prolong healing and increase the risk of secondary infections.
To prevent the spread of cold sores, it is crucial to avoid direct contact with the sores and refrain from sharing personal items like lip balm, towels, or utensils. Maintaining a strong immune system through a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition, regular exercise, and stress management, can also help reduce the frequency and severity of cold sore outbreaks.
6. Can You Get Pregnant on Birth Control?
Birth control methods are essential for family planning, and in 2023, individuals sought clarity on the effectiveness of various contraceptive options. While birth control methods are designed to prevent pregnancy, no method is 100% foolproof. It is possible to become pregnant while using birth control, although the chances vary depending on the method used and individual factors.
Hormonal methods such as birth control pills, patches, and injections are highly effective when used correctly, with a failure rate of less than 1%. However, factors like missed doses, interactions with other medications, or medical conditions that affect hormone metabolism can reduce their effectiveness. Barrier methods like condoms, when used consistently and correctly, also have a low failure rate but are less effective than hormonal methods.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants are among the most effective forms of birth control, with failure rates of less than 1%. However, they do not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate birth control method based on individual needs and preferences.
7. What Causes Yeast Infections?
Yeast infections, also known as candidiasis, are a common concern for many individuals, particularly women. In 2023, people wanted to understand the causes of yeast infections and how to prevent them. Yeast infections are primarily caused by an overgrowth of Candida, a type of fungus that naturally resides in the body. Factors that can contribute to yeast infections include:
- Hormonal changes, such as those during pregnancy or menopause
- Antibiotic use, which can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the body
- Diabetes or other conditions that weaken the immune system
- Poor personal hygiene
- Sexual activity, although yeast infections are not considered sexually transmitted infections
To prevent yeast infections, maintaining good hygiene, avoiding excessive moisture in the genital area, and wearing breathable underwear made of natural fabrics like cotton can be helpful. It is also advisable to avoid douching or using irritating feminine hygiene products, as these can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria and increase the risk of yeast overgrowth. If experiencing recurrent yeast infections, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.
8. How Long Does Zika Last?
Zika, a mosquito-borne virus, caused widespread concern in 2023, and people wanted to know how long the infection could last. Zika virus symptoms typically last for a few days to a week. Common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, muscle pain, red eyes, and headache. However, it is important to note that some individuals infected with Zika may exhibit no symptoms at all.
While the symptoms of Zika are usually mild and self-limiting, the virus can pose significant risks, especially for pregnant women. Zika infection during pregnancy can lead to serious birth defects, such as microcephaly, where the baby’s head is smaller than expected, and other neurological conditions. It is crucial for pregnant women or those planning to become pregnant to take precautions to avoid Zika exposure, including avoiding travel to areas with ongoing Zika transmission.
Preventing mosquito bites, using barrier methods during sexual activity, and taking measures to eliminate mosquito breeding sites are important strategies to reduce the risk of Zika infection. It is advisable to stay informed about travel advisories and follow the guidelines provided by health authorities.
9. What is Cupping?
Cupping gained significant attention in 2023, thanks to its visibility during the Summer Olympics. People were curious about this ancient therapeutic practice and its potential benefits. Cupping involves placing heated glass suction cups on specific areas of the body to create a partial vacuum. This technique is believed to promote blood flow, relieve muscle soreness, and alleviate pain.
During the 2016 Summer Olympics, athletes like Michael Phelps and Alex Naddour showcased the circular marks left by cupping therapy, sparking curiosity and questions. While cupping has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, its scientific evidence and effectiveness are still subject to ongoing research.
It is important to note that cupping should be performed by trained professionals to ensure safety and proper technique. Individuals considering cupping therapy should consult with healthcare providers or licensed practitioners who have experience in this modality.
10. What is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) was a significant concern in 2023, as people sought to understand the condition and its implications. TBI occurs when a blow or jolt to the head causes damage to the brain. It can range from mild to severe, with symptoms varying depending on the extent of the injury.
Common causes of TBI include sports injuries, combat injuries, accidents, falls, or physical violence. Symptoms of TBI can include headache, loss of coordination, loss of consciousness, seizures, slurred speech, weakness or numbness, dilated pupils, or difficulty awakening from sleep. It is important to note that symptoms may appear immediately or develop over time.
Proper diagnosis and management of TBI require medical evaluation and monitoring by healthcare professionals. Treatment options may include rest, medication, rehabilitation, and therapy, depending on the severity of the injury. Preventive measures, such as using protective headgear during sports activities and practicing safe behavior to minimize the risk of accidents, can also help reduce the incidence of TBI.
These 10 top-trending health questions of 2023 reflect the concerns and curiosity of individuals seeking knowledge and understanding about various health topics. While the answers provided here offer guidance, it is important to consult with healthcare professionals for personalized advice and treatment options. Staying informed and making informed decisions about health and wellness is crucial for leading a healthy and fulfilling life.
Remember, Dr. Google can provide some insights, but it is always best to seek professional medical advice for accurate diagnosis and treatment. Take charge of your health and well-being by staying informed and engaging in open and honest conversations with healthcare providers.