Cramps

March 25, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

tufail

Cramps are unpleasant, often painful sensations caused by muscle contraction or overshortening. The common causes of skeletal muscle cramps are muscle fatigue and a sodium imbalance.

Causes of cramping include hyperflexion, hypoxia, exposure to large changes in temperature, dehydration, or low blood salt. Muscle cramps may also be a symptom or complication of pregnancy, kidney disease, thyroid disease, hypokalemia, or hypocalcemia (as conditions), restless-leg syndrome, varicose veins, and multiple sclerosis. Nocturnal leg cramps are involuntary muscle contractions that occur in the calves, soles of the feet, or other muscles in the body during the night or (less commonly) while resting. Only a few fibers of a muscle may be activated. The duration of nocturnal leg cramps is variable with cramps lasting anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Muscle soreness may remain endure after the cramp ends. These cramps are erroneously believed to be more common in older people. They happen quite frequently in teenagers and in some people while exercising at night. Usually, putting some pressure on the affected leg by walking some distance will end the cramp.

The precise cause of these cramps is unclear. Potential contributing factors include dehydration, low levels of certain minerals (magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium), and reduced blood flow through muscles attendant in prolonged sitting or lying down. Less common causes include more serious conditions or drug use.

Nocturnal leg cramps may sometimes be relieved by stretching the affected leg and pointing the toes upward. Quickly standing up and walking a few steps may also shorten the duration of a cramp.

Nocturnal leg cramps (almost exclusively calf cramps) are considered to be ‘normal’ during the late stages of pregnancy. They can, however, vary in intensity from mild to incredibly painful.

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Sodium Bicarbonate

January 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

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Sodium bicarbonate or sodium hydrogen carbonate is the chemical compound with the formula NaHCO3. Sodium bicarbonate is a white solid that is crystalline but often appears as a fine powder. It can be used to experiment and is not very dangerous. It has a slight alkaline taste resembling that of washing soda (sodium carbonate). It is a component of the mineral natron and is found dissolved in many mineral springs. The natural mineral form is known as nahcolite. It is found in its dissolved form in bile, where it serves to neutralize the acidity of the hydrochloric acid produced by the stomach, and is excreted into the duodenum of the small intestine via the bile duct. It is also produced artificially.

Since it has long been known and is widely used, the salt has many related names such as baking soda, bread soda, cooking soda, bicarbonate of soda. Colloquially, its name is shortened to sodium bicarb, bicarb soda, or simply bicarb. The word saleratus, from Latin sal æratus meaning “aerated salt”, was widely used in the 19th century for both sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate. The term has now fallen out of common usage.

The ancient Egyptians used natural deposits of natron, a mixture consisting mostly of sodium carbonate decahydrate and sodium bicarbonate. The natron was used as a cleansing agent like soap.

In 1791, a French chemist, Nicolas Leblanc, produced sodium bicarbonate as we know it today. In 1846 two New York bakers, John Dwight and Austin Church, established the first factory to develop baking soda from sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide.

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