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Top 10 health questions Americans searched on Google in 2019

Google's "Year in Search 2019" report offers intriguing insight into what people want to know about their bodies.
/ Source: TODAY

Consulting "Dr. Google" about health symptoms is an important part of staying well for many people.

The search engine giant has released it's annual "Year in Search" report and it offers some intriguing insights into what Americans want to know about their bodies.

The most searched health questions this year in the U.S. were:

1. How to lower blood pressure

One in three adults have high blood pressure, but only about half have it under control. Natural ways to lower high blood pressure include losing weight, eating less salt, quitting smoking and starting a regular exercise program. Getting daily stress under control is also important. If these strategies don't work well enough, you might need medication to get it under control since high blood pressure increases your risk of a heart attack and stroke. Lifestyle changes are the first approach doctors try in patients with hypertension and they can be very effective. You can also add certain foods to your diet to lower blood pressure.

2. What is keto?

The ketogenic diet allows to body to enter a state of ketosis when stored body fat becomes its primary energy source. The diet is heavy on the proteins and fats and very lean on carbohydrates. The keto diet has helped some lose weight, but has been tough to do long-term for others.

3. How to get rid of hiccups

Most of the time, hiccups go away pretty quickly. But if they hang on, try breathing into a paper bag, gargling with ice water, holding your breath and even getting scared.

Dr. John Torres, NBC News medical correspondent, has a special technique for getting rid of hiccups — drink from the backside of the cup. It works because the water hits the roof of the mouth and stimulates nerves and contracts the diaphragm. Torres explains the trick in a tweet.

4. How long does the flu last?

Just about anyone that's gotten the flu tells the same story: feeling miserable with body aches, fever and chills and not able to get out of bed for days. For most of us, the flu lasts around five to seven days. If you've had the flu shot, it'll be less intense and not last as long. Taking flu medications like Tamiflu or Xofluza within 48 hours of the symptoms starting can also lessen its length of time.

5. What causes hiccups?

Hiccups happen because of an unplanned spontaneous contraction of your diaphragm and can strike most anytime, as most of us can testify to. Being nervous or excited, eating too much or drinking too much alcohol, even chewing gum can bring them on.

6. What causes kidney stones?

One in 10 of us will develop kidney stones at some point in our lives.

Kidney stones, known medically as renal calculus or nephrolith, are common and extremely painful. A kidney stone can be as small as a grain of sand, but as large as a golf ball.

They form when substances in the urine become concentrated and harden. The primary cause of kidney stones is dehydration. If someone is not properly hydrated, the body's fluids become more concentrated with dietary minerals, such as calcium. Being dehydrated increases the risk that the minerals will harden into jagged-edged little crystals.

And if you've had one kidney stone, it's likely you'll have another.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, symptoms include:

  • Extreme pain on either side of your lower back
  • A vague and persistent pain or stomach ache
  • Blood in the urine
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Urine that smells or looks cloudy
  • Fever and chills

One of the best ways to prevent kidney stones is to drink plenty of fluids. Make sure you’re drinking enough water. There’s no medically definitive rule on how many glasses of plain water someone needs each day, but the Institute of Medicine has recommended that men need approximately 13 cups of fluid a day and women approximately 9 cups daily.

7. What is HPV?

The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is sexually transmitted virus that is the main cause of cervical cancer, anal cancer and is linked to rising rates of mouth and throat cancer. Most sexually active adults in their 20s have been exposed to it, but for most, the infections clear up without causing harm.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses. It’s very common: 80% of people will get an HPV infection at some point in their lives. Some types of HPV can cause genital warts and are low risk. Other types cause cancer in different parts of the body.

The vaccine to protect against HPV is very effective and is recommended for both men and women up to age 26. In 2018, the Food & Drug Administration approved expanded use of the HPV vaccine to include individuals ages 27 to 45 years old.

8. How to lower cholesterol

More than 100 million American adults have a cholesterol level that puts them at risk for heart disease.

What is cholesterol ?

The liver combines substances from natural compounds found in the body to produce cholesterol. Cholesterol in the body also comes from foods that contain animal fat, including full-fat dairy products such as butter, cheese and whole milk, in addition to fatty meats, bacon and foods that are made with trans fats (processed baked goods, fries and onion rings). Foods that come from plants are cholesterol free.

Cholesterol is considered either “good” or “bad.”

High-density lipoproteins, or HDLs, carry cholesterol out of the blood to the liver, so it doesn’t stick to blood vessel walls and clog them. HDL is referred to as “good cholesterol” (think H for healthy). Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL (think lousy), on the other hand, is the “bad” cholesterol. LDL cholesterol can build up in blood vessel walls, contributing to heart disease.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins have been shown to protect against heart disease caused by high levels of LDL in the blood. Statins, including Lipitor, Mevacor, Crestor and Zocor, are extremely popular. About 28 percent of Americans over 40 take a cholesterol-lowering drug and more than 90 percent of these take a statin.

But if a statin medication isn’t right because of side effects or other issues, some foods can helpful in lowering cholesterol.

9. How many calories should I eat a day?

Counting calories is not the best way to lose or maintain weight, many nutritionists say. It’s better to focus on the quality of food consumed – whole grains, unprocessed foods, fish, vegetables and fruits.

However, there is a recommended number of calories that should be consumed every day, according to the U.S. dietary guidelines. To maintain current weight, for example, a 40-year-old, sedentary woman should aim for 1,800 calories a day, compared to a 25-year-old, sedentary male should consume about 2,400 calories a day, the guidelines recommend.

A pound is equal to 3,500 calories so people on weight-loss plans often try to restrict consumption to 1,200 calories a day.

10. How long does alcohol stay in your system?

It depends on how much you drink. A standard drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of an 80-proof liquor.

In general our liver can only process around one drink an hour, with the rest of the alcohol staying in the body, affecting every organ, including the brain.

So if you’ve had two drinks than it will take about two hours to process that amount. Three drinks, three hours. But everyone is different and your age, weight and gender are among the factors that can cause you to break down alcohol slower or faster than the average, but it’s never that much slower or faster.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association say that men can safely drink up to two alcoholic drinks a day and women up to a drink a day. People who reported drinking more had higher rates of stroke, heart disease, deadly high blood pressure and cancer. Women who quit alcohol showed improvements in mental well-being, a recent study found.

Also, hangovers really do get worse as we age.