Got a Headache? What's Really Causing It

You assume … You're just destined to keep getting pesky UTIs.
Who knew? Your supermarket chicken may be to blame.
Sounds crazy, but it's true, according to a study published this past January in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. When researchers surveyed chickens from local supermarkets and restaurants, they found that the strains of E. coli bacteria in the poultry were the same as those causing urinary tract infections (UTIs) among women in the area. “E. coli can live in your intestine without making you sick. But when it passes through your digestive system, it ends up in your anal area and can be swept into your urethra during sex, causing the UTI,” explains study author Amee Manges, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at McGill University in Montreal. “Unfortunately, because many chickens are fed antibiotics to prevent disease while alive, the bacteria present may be already resistant to some common antibiotics.”
Your best protection? Avoid ingesting E. coli in the first place. Manges recommends cooking chicken thoroughly to kill bacteria and washing hands, utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with hot soapy water to avoid cross-contamination. You may also want to buy antibiotic-free chicken when possible, to reduce the chance of being exposed to drug-resistant bacteria. And it doesn't hurt to practice a few good hygiene rules for UTI prevention: pee after sex to flush bacteria from your urethra, and wipe from front to back after using the bathroom.

You assume … Summer allergies are making your nose stuffy.
Who knew? Using saline sprays and rinses every day can make it worse.
If you've been stuffed up this summer, chances are good you've reached for an over-the-counter saline product, like a spray or neti pot, to clear your nose. But don't overdo it—a recent study suggests that rinsing too much may do more harm than good. Researchers have found that daily users of these products who laid off the habit reported 62 percent fewer cases of sinusitis. “If you're constantly rinsing your nose, you're getting rid of the good mucus in your nostrils that fights viruses, bacteria, and fungi. And this actually makes you more susceptible to coming down with a cold or having it develop into a sinus infection,” says study author Talal Nsouli, MD, director of the Watergate Allergy and Asthma Center in Washington, D.C. “It's fine to use a saline spray for a week or two to treat a cold or allergies, but if you need to go longer than that, you should see your internist or an allergist to get to the root of the problem.” If allergies are to blame, try an OTC medicated nasal spray such as NasalCrom, a prescription steroid spray such as Rhinocort Aqua, or an OTC antihistamine such as Claritin.

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Lead Writer: Hallie Levine Sklar
Last Updated: June 29, 2010

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