Tag Archives: Food and Drug Administration

What Is Myokymia and Do You Have It?


Myokymia, or involuntary eye twitching, is a condition that many of us are familiar with. And it seems everyone has an opinion on what triggers it: Is it fatigue? Eye-strain? Stress?


“Most of the time, myokymia is idiopathic, which is a fancy way of saying we have no idea why it happens,” says Dr. Andrea Thau, an associate clinical professor at SUNY Optometry and a spokesperson for the American Optometric Association. “It’s such a benign condition, and tends to resolve on its own, so there’s little incentive to research it.”


Essentially, myokymia is a twitch — an involuntary muscle spasm in the upper eyelid muscle that causes a fluttery sensation. The trick to stopping it, according to Thau, is to “break the twitch.” She recommends trying alternating hot and cold compresses, which can soothe the overactive nerve that’s causing the spasm. If that doesn’t work, “try drinking a glass of tonic water,” she recommends. “The quinine helps nerve impulses.”


Some doctors will prescribe antihistamines for particularly stubborn or enduring eye twitches. If eyes are a bit swollen — due to low-grade allergic reaction — that can cause the nervous system to overreact and trigger a twitch.


Huffpost Wellness Editor Patricia Fitzgerald has observed clinically — which is to say, in an observational, rather than a scientifically rigorous research setting — that patients of hers have mentioned fatigue and stress in connection to eyelid twitching. Fitzgerald finds that many of her patients’ twitches are resolved by acupuncture.


In very rare instances, eyelid twitching can indicate a more serious condition, like the beginning stages of multiple sclerosis or a lesion on the brain stem. Those conditions typically begin with a host of symptoms, and in this circumstance the eyelid twitch soon moves to the facial muscles, as well. It’s so rare, in fact, that Thau says she’s never seen it in clinic herself.


There is another condition that affects the eyelid muscles, a rare disorder called blepharospasm, in which the eyelids involuntarily close. This can take the form of brief, excessive blinking or squinting and can progress to full eye closure, according to Mary Smith of the Benign Essential Blepharospasm Research Foundation. Blepharospasm affects about 60,000 Americans, and is more likely to affect women and those over 40, Smith says. “It can be problematic, if you don’t know when your eyes are going to shut, you may walk into things or fall,” she says. “It’s definitely debilitating.”


There’s a genetic component to blepharospasm and also a trigger — sometimes trauma, a secondary condition like dry eye or even external factors like bright or rapidly changing lights. It is most commonly treated with regular Botox injections and, interestingly, blepharospasm was among the conditions listed during Botox’s first FDA approval in 1988, according to Smith.


If you experience occasional eye twitches, chances are it’s a benign. But it’s important to get your eyes checked each year by an ophthalmologist or doctor of optometry to rule out any other problems. Even if it’s simply eye strain or stress causing the twitch, it could indicate a need for glasses.



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Posted by on October 5, 2012 in Health and Science


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Does Your Antibacterial Soap/Gel Have This? not good

(FYI – also found in antibacterial hand gels.)

It turns out antibacterial soaps aren’t so “clean” after all. A common chemical in antibacterial products, triclosan — which can be found soaps, toothpastes and mouthwashes — was found to impair muscle function in lab and animal tests.

Originally, the chemical, developed in the 1960s, was used in hospitals to prevent bacterial infections. Since then, it’s been used in countless household products, and several studies — mostly in animals — have hinted that the effects of triclosan may not be entirely beneficial.

According to a recent Smithsonian article:

Studies have shown that the chemical can disrupt the endocrine systems of several different animals, binding to receptor sites in the body, which prevents the thyroid hormone from functioning normally. Additionally, triclosan penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream more easily than previously thought, and has turned up everywhere from aquatic environments to human breast milk in troubling quantities.

Now, in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the University of California, Davis, found that triclosan also interferes with muscle function. In the lab, they exposed human muscle cells, from the heart and elsewhere, to triclosan and discovered that the chemical interrupted cellular communication necessary for muscle contraction. Then the researchers exposed mice and fathead minnows to the chemical to see what would happen: after a single dose, the exposed mice showed 25% reduced heart muscle function and 18% reduced grip strength. In the fish, which were exposed to as much triclosan as would be expected in a week in the wild, the chemical led to poor performance in swimming tests that simulated escape from a predator.

For its part, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not found the chemical hazardous to humans, but is in the process of reviewing the safety of products containing triclosan; those findings are expected at the end of the year. The FDA notes further that there’s no evidence suggesting that antibacterial soaps containing triclosan offer any additional health benefits over regular soap.

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Posted by on August 17, 2012 in Health and Science


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Are Self-Tanners Really Healthier?

Dihydroxyacetone—that’s DHA to you—which is the active ingredient in self-tanners and spray tans, “has the potential to cause genetic alterations and DNA damage,” according to a panel of scientists in an investigation done by ABC News.

But before you run to the bathroom and ditch yours, let’s take a closer look at what we know so far.

What are the news reports saying? That DHA has the potential to cause genetic alterations, DNA damage, and cancer.

What’s DHA anyway? DHA is a sugar that interacts with amino acids in the top layer of your skin to produce pigment called melanoidins; that’s the brownish tanned look these products achieve. DHA can be manufactured synthetically, or it can be derived from natural things, like beet sugar or cane sugar. It was approved by the FDA for topical use in 1977 (and many orange tans ensued!) and is widely accepted as nontoxic when applied to the skin.

So is it toxic? Some research shows that when it’s applied in the form of a lotion, DHA does not migrate past the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of skin that’s also sometimes called the “dead skin layer.” Which sounds gross, but also sounds like good news—we thought—for your organs if you’re applying it in a cream as opposed inhaling it via a spray tan or a spray-on self tanner.

Up until now, there’s been the most concern about spray tans, due to its application method and the chance you might inhale the stuff. Even the FDA, which is typically mum about all things cosmetics-related, has a warning on its website about them. Which means that for the love of all things good (and good looking) you should not be getting a spray tan!

Fine. But I’m OK with a self-tanner, right? Not so fast. FDA reports dating back to the 1990s, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, cited research that some DHA can migrate to the living layers of the skin after all. How much of it—and where it goes from there—is anybody’s guess.

So what’s the bottom line? As always, it’s up to you. But, if you decide to continue to use self-tanner, some words of advice: Treat it like you treat your favorite going-out lipstick and use it only for special occasions, like a wedding, a job interview, or a hot date.


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Posted by on June 21, 2012 in Health and Science


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