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Asthma Sufferers Could Find Relief in Obama’s Energy Plan


President Barack Obama announced a plan earlier this month Read more

Asthma Management: There’s an App for That!


I’m convinced there’s a smartphone app for just about Read more

Asthma Sufferers Could Find Relief in Obama’s Energy Plan

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health Leave a comment   ,
Obama's energy plan could improve air quality and reduce asthma attacks in children.

Obama’s energy plan could improve air quality and reduce asthma attacks in children.

President Barack Obama announced a plan earlier this month to reduce power plant emissions, a move that could improve air quality and greatly benefit asthma sufferers. The energy plan requires a reduction of power plant emissions in the U.S. by 32% by 2030. Obama said that these changes would help reduce 90,000 asthma attacks in children by 2030. The effect of air quality on asthma sufferers hits close to home for Obama—earlier this year he spoke about the fear he felt when his daughter Malia had an asthma attack when she was 4 years old.

Older coal-fired power plants that lack pollution control can emit sulfur dioxide, a known asthma trigger. Ground level ozone, considered “bad ozone,” is caused when pollutants from sources like cars and power plants chemically react with sunlight. High ground level zone levels can trigger asthma symptoms and are usually more of an issue in the summer because of high temperatures, high humidity and lighter winds. Urban areas can be even more problematic for asthma sufferers because of higher pollution levels.

In North Carolina, the ozone forecast season extends from April 1 to October 31. Asthma sufferers can monitor ozone levels by signing up for the Environmental Protection Agency’s EnviroFlash daily air quality forecasts. The forecast rates ozone and particle pollution levels on a scale from Code Green (Good) to Code Purple (Hazardous) as a way to help individuals sensitive to air quality, like asthma sufferers, decide if it’s safe to participate in outdoor activities.


Asthma Management: There’s an App for That!

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ Leave a comment   , ,
Asthma sufferers now have a lot of apps available to them.

Asthma sufferers now have a lot of apps available to them.

I’m convinced there’s a smartphone app for just about anything you could imagine. One unusual but clever app is called “Fake me out of here.” If you’re stuck in an awkward situation, simply shake your phone and it will ring so you can pretend you just got an important phone call that requires your immediate attention. Apps aren’t just for playing pranks or games anymore, and I’ve noticed a growing number of apps that monitor a variety of health conditions. Asthma sufferers now have a lot of apps available to them–from tracking daily asthma management to monitoring pollen counts, there’s an app for that!

5 Free Asthma Apps:

  1. Asthma Health–The Asthma Health app was developed in collaboration with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. App users can utilize the technology to get a better understanding of their asthma, but by using the app, they can also participate in what the developers say “may become the largest study of asthma management ever performed.” The app helps patients stick to treatment plans by tracking symptoms and medication usage, avoiding triggers, and viewing reminders to take their medication.
  2. Asthma 360–Asthmatics can setup a dashboard with the Asthma 360 app and track personal statistics like their last peak flow reading. They can also add an asthma action plan for emergencies, setup medication and doctor’s appointment reminders, and create a personalized quick add menu to log their symptoms and triggers.
  3. AsthmaCheck–In addition to keeping track of peak flow meter readings, medication use and symptoms, asthma sufferers can also export their data to share it with their doctor.
  4. EPA’s AIRNOW–This app provides useful information like the Air Quality Index for the user’s location, pollution levels, and explanations about what level of outdoor activity is safe for that day.
  5. Allergy Alert–This is another air quality app, but it focuses more on local pollens counts and allergen levels. App users can access 5-day weather and allergy forecasts, and keep an allergy diary.

Keeping a log of medication use and staying informed about allergens and pollution forecasts can help asthma sufferers better adhere to their asthma management plan, and help them to identify potential triggers.


Most Americans in Favor of Raising the Minimum Age for Tobacco Purchases

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ Leave a comment   ,
Most Americans are on board with increased restrictions on cigarettes.

Most Americans are on board with increased restrictions on cigarettes.

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed more restrictions on where smokers can have a cigarette. That’s good news for asthma sufferers that are more likely to experience an increase in asthma symptoms and even an asthma attack when exposed to cigarette smoke. Asthma attack symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, pain or tightness in the chest, and coughing. More Americans are on board with increased restrictions on cigarettes, and surprisingly enough, so are smokers. The majority of American adults support increasing the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21, according to an article the CDC published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Among American adults, 75% supported increasing the minimum age, and 70% of adult smokers also supported raising the age of sale. Only 11% of adults were in strong opposition to raising the minimum age of sale.

In most states, the current minimum age of sale for tobacco products is 18, but in Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah, the minimum age is 19. Hawaii’s minimum age of sale is the highest at 21. In a press release issued by the CDC, Brian King, Ph.D., acting Deputy Director for Research Translation in CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, explained that raising the minimum age of sale could reduce the likelihood that first time smokers become regular smokers. This policy change could also benefit asthma sufferers, since tobacco smoke is one of the most common asthma triggers.

“Raising the minimum age of sale to 21 could benefit the health of Americans in several ways,” said Dr. King. “It could delay the age of first experimenting with tobacco, reducing the likelihood of transitioning to regular use and increasing the likelihood that those who do become regular users can quit.”

Smokers that try their first cigarette before age 21 are more likely to continue smoking as an adult. A 2012 Surgeon General report revealed that 96% of adult smokers had their first smoke before age 21. Tobacco distributers are familiar with this trend, and aggressively market to younger consumers. A 2015 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) showed that raising the minimum age of sale for tobacco products in all 50 states would reduce the amount of cigarette smoking by 12% by 2100.

Those with asthma that experience worsened symptoms when exposed to tobacco smoke can take a few measures to reduce the likelihood of an asthma attack. If you have asthma, ask smokers to smoke outside your home and car. Also look for tobacco-free campus policies at day cares and schools. Choose no-smoking rooms at hotels and pick restaurants that don’t allow smoking since restaurants with no-smoking and smoking sections don’t provide enough protection against second-hand smoke. Discuss an asthma action plan with your doctor to insure that you have the right medication on hand at all times.


Chronic Inflammation Increases Diabetes Risk

Lisa Feierstein Diabetes Leave a comment   , , ,
Chronic inflammation raises the risk of diabetes, and damages body tissue.

Chronic inflammation raises the risk of diabetes, and damages body tissue.

When we get hurt or have an infection, the body’s natural response is to trigger inflammation. Short-term inflammation helps the body heal as white blood cells fight off bacteria and viruses. Normal inflammation manifests as pain, swelling, redness, and a sensation of heat. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can occur in conjunction with some diseases, like arthritis, and it can also raise the risk of developing diabetes. In these cases, inflammation continues for years and damages body tissue. Individuals suffering from chronic sleep deprivation, gum disease, poor diet or obesity are among those at risk for long-term inflammation.

Researchers have found that chronic inflammation raises the risk of developing diabetes because it interferes with insulin’s ability to regulate glucose, which can cause high blood sugar. Inflammation damages beta cells that produce insulin in the pancreas, and inflammation is also a result of the main diabetes risk factors – obesity, smoking, and diets high in fat and sugar. High-carb, low protein diets are inflammatory for many people, but low-carb diets and diets higher in fruits and vegetables have been known to reduce inflammation. In observational studies, participants on the Mediterranean diet – high in fish, whole grains, beans, nuts and vegetables – have reported low inflammatory markers.

Gum disease, air pollution and cigarette smoke, and lack of exercise are all threats that can lead to chronic inflammation. These risk factors can be reduced through good dental hygiene, the use of indoor HEPA filters and by avoiding cigarette smoke, and with regular exercise. There are also some foods, spices and teas that can help to reduce inflammation. One of my favorite anti-inflammatory foods is dark chocolate! One square of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) a day can help reduce inflammation. You can also reduce inflammation by drinking a few cups of rose hip tea a day, and by adding the spice turmeric to food. If you would prefer to take a rose hip or turmeric supplement, talk to your doctor to make sure these supplements don’t conflict with any medication you’re taking. Your doctor can also test for inflammation and work with you to develop a treatment plan.


Diabetes Drug Maker Owes Billions in Settlement

Lisa Feierstein Diabetes Leave a comment  
Actos, a drug for type 2 diabetes, has been linked to bladder cancer.

Actos, a drug for type 2 diabetes, has been linked to bladder cancer.

Type 2 diabetes patients should check with their doctor if they’re taking Actos – the medication has been linked to bladder cancer in several medical studies. Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Actos, didn’t admit liability but settled around 9,000 lawsuits related to the drug and owes $2.37 billion as part of the settlement. Patients taking Actos filed lawsuits for a number of reasons including Takeda’s failure to warn the public and health care providers that taking Actos could increase bladder cancer risk if taken for longer than a year, failing to properly test the drug, distributing the drug despite knowledge of dangerous side effects, and withholding research data on Actos from the public.

Actos has been banned in France, Germany and India, but is still on the market in the U.S. with a Food and Drug Administration warning about bladder cancer. Symptoms of bladder cancer include abdominal pain, frequent or painful urination, and blood in urine. Bladder cancer usually occurs in individuals over the age of 55, and the average age of diagnosis is 73. In 2015, 74,000 new cases of bladder cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. and men have 3 to 4 times the risk of developing bladder cancer to women. If you take Actos, talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have after reading this blog.

 


Introducing the Smart and Painless Insulin Patch

Lisa Feierstein Diabetes Leave a comment  
Photo credit: Zhen Gu, PhD.

Photo credit: Zhen Gu, PhD.

Imagine having to self-administer medication with a needle multiple times a day. This is a reality for diabetics that have to regularly inject insulin. Diabetes currently affects over 387 million people worldwide, and that number is projected to reach 592 million by 2035. Researchers recently made some headway that could create a break in the insulin injection cycle. Scientists at the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University developed a “smart” insulin patch that could make painful injections a thing of the past. The tiny penny-sized patch contains over 100 needles, but the needles are each the size of an eyelash and can painlessly deliver insulin. The needles also contain glucose-sensing enzymes that are released when blood sugar levels spike.

The patch worked well in a study of mice with type 1 diabetes, and researchers hope to mirror those positive results in human trials. The patch lowered blood glucose levels in mice for up to nine hours, but since humans are more sensitive to insulin than mice, the patch could last longer for humans.

The patch is “smart” because it can be personalized to the patient based on their weight and sensitivity to insulin. Injecting the wrong amount of medication can cause serious problems anywhere from limb amputation to comas to death. The “smart” patch could reduce the risk of human error and improve the accuracy of medication delivery. Researchers can also customize the patch to only alter blood glucose levels within a certain range. When administered too frequently, insulin injections can cause blood sugar levels to lower at a dangerous rate, so the customized patches would alleviate this problem.

Additional Resources:

Smart insulin patch could replace painful injections for diabetes, by Mark Derewicz, UNC Health Care and UNC School of Medicine


Mystery Solved! The Truth About Common Asthma Myths

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ Leave a comment   ,
One in 12 people (25 million) have asthma.

One in 12 people (25 million) have asthma.

The number of Americans with asthma grows steadily each year; about 1 in 12 people (25 million) have asthma. Although it’s a relatively common condition, there are many misconceptions about asthma. Here are a few common asthma myths, and the reality behind those misconceptions:

  1. Save your asthma medication for when you are having an asthma attack
    If you have mild persistent, moderate persistent, or severe persistent asthma, you will likely need to take a daily medication and have a fast-acting inhaler on hand for asthma attacks.
  2. Asthma symptoms improve in dry climates
    This is true for some individuals with asthma, but others do better in a wetter climate. If moisture helps ease your symptoms, consider purchasing a humidifier for your home. Regularly replace your indoor air filters and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to improve indoor air quality and lessen your asthma symptoms.
  3. If you have asthma, you should avoid intense exercise
    Believe it or not, there are quite a few professional athletes with asthma, and regular exercise can improve lung function. Your doctor can help you determine if you should take medication before working out. Check out this article on exercise-induced asthma for advice on how to safely exercise if you have asthma.
  4. Diet has little impact on asthma
    Fatty foods, like fries or red meat, can cause increased inflammation in the airways that can worsen asthma symptoms. The Mediterranean diet is the go-to diet for gaining more control over your asthma symptoms. Healthier fats, like olive oil, are allowed in this diet and the Mediterranean diet also reduces the risk of heart disease.
  5. You can get addicted to your asthma medication
    Asthma medication isn’t habit forming, but asthma is a chronic condition so long-term use of medication is to be expected. Your asthma treatment plan should explain which medications you should use regularly, and which ones you should use in the event of an asthma attack.

Sources:
Are you being fooled by asthma myths? by Allergies & Asthma, Winter 2014/2015
Common Asthma Myths and Facts by remedy’s health.com communities


Taking Vitamin C Reduces Symptoms of Exercise-Induced Asthma

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma Leave a comment   ,
Individuals with exercise-induced asthma could benefit from taking vitamin C.

Individuals with exercise-induced asthma could benefit from taking vitamin C.

Starting a new exercise routine can be so challenging. Sometimes I put on workout clothes in the hopes that at some point during the day, I’ll build up the motivation to hit the gym and will already be dressed and ready to go. Finding the will to workout can be an even greater struggle for those with exercise-induced asthma. Individuals with exercise-induced asthma experience chest pain, fatigue, wheezing, coughing, and other breathing problems while exercising. About 70 to 90% of asthmatics are also affected by exercise-induced asthma, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Researchers recently discovered that something as simple as taking a daily vitamin could greatly reduce symptoms of exercise-induced asthma. A new study in the British Medical Journal explained that those with exercise-induced asthma could benefit from taking vitamin C.

Researchers compared the results of 40 study participants that took 500 mg to 2 grams of vitamin C each day versus participants who took a placebo. Scientists looked at changes in FEV1 or “forced expiratory volume,” an indicator of the amount of air that can be forcibly exhaled in one second. Individuals that took vitamin C showed a 50% reduction in the drop of post-exercise FEV1 when compared to those that took the placebo. This result represents a vast improvement in lung function. Lead study author Dr. Harri Hemila suggests trying vitamin C if you have exercise-induced asthma since it could be an inexpensive way to help treat symptoms.

If you have exercise-induced asthma, talk to your doctor about how to develop an asthma treatment plan that will reduce your symptoms. Asthma inhalers, bronchodilators, and medication like albuterol have been known to help when taken about 10 minutes before exercising. Cold air and allergies can worsen symptoms, so you may benefit from moving your exercises indoors during the winter and peak allergy seasons. Take time to warm up and cool down so your lungs have time to adjust before and after you exercise. Exercises requiring short bursts of energy are often easier for those with exercise-induced asthma, so volleyball or walking are preferable to sports like running, soccer and basketball, which require more endurance. Swimming, another endurance sport, is an exception since the warm, damp air can make it easier to breathe.

Additional Resource:


Allergy and Asthma Safety at Summer Camp

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health Leave a comment   ,
Children with insect or food allergies should bring their EpiPen to camp.

Children with insect or food allergies should bring their EpiPen to camp.

Camp memories last a lifetime – swimming in the lake, making crafts, having S’mores by the campfire, and making new friends. In order to keep these memories positive ones, parents should make sure children with insect or food allergies have an EpiPen (epinephrine auto-injector) available at camp. Anyone with a food allergy is at risk for anaphylaxis, and those with food allergies and asthma are at an even higher risk, which is why it’s so important to have epinephrine on hand.

Children should pack at least one EpiPen in case of an emergency, preferably two – one to keep with them at all times and one to leave with the camp nurse or a trained counselor. Campers that plan on canoeing or kayaking should pack their EpiPen in a Ziploc bag or a “dry bag” to keep it dry and secure since the epinephrine carrier tube isn’t waterproof.

Hot temperatures can reduce the effectiveness of EpiPens, but it can be hard to avoid the heat while at summer camp. Ideally, EpiPens are stored at room temperature (68-77 degrees), but they can be exposed to up to 86 degrees for short periods of time. On especially hot days, campers with EpiPens should try to find shade periodically and take breaks indoors. It’s not a good idea to use an ice pack in an attempt to keep an EpiPen cooler because extreme cold can also reduce the medicine’s effectiveness.

Campers with food or insect allergies that are exposed to these allergens should use an EpiPen immediately and go to the hospital for monitoring. It’s important to use an EpiPen right away, even if the affected individual doesn’t immediately exhibit symptoms.

Additional Resources:


Children’s Lives Saved by 3-D Printer Technology

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health Leave a comment  
The 3-D printed device supports pediatric patients’ airways long enough so that eventually their airways strengthen on their own.

The 3-D printed device supports pediatric patients’ airways long enough so that eventually their airways strengthen on their own.

3-D printers are a unique type of technology since organizations are constantly finding new uses for the devices. What started as an almost novelty item has morphed into a useful tool to progress medical treatment – like these prosthetic limbs for a disabled dog. I recently learned about a wonderful way 3-D printers have been used to create splints in airways of children with tracheobronchomalacia (TBM). Children with TBM are often misdiagnosed as having treatment-resistant asthma, but TBM actually affects breathing by softening the windpipe, which eventually causes the airway to collapse, and leads to breathing failure. The condition is rare – affecting 1 in 2,200 babies, but most grow out of it by age 3. With pediatric TBM, the cartilage supporting the airway strengthens as children age, but in some severe cases, TBM can be life-threatening.

Researchers at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital created a 3-D printed splint to support the airways of children with TBM; three children participated in the study and are doing quite well with no complications from the treatment. Previously, the only way to treat severe cases of tracheobronchomalacia was through high-risk surgeries that often resulted in cardiac and respiratory arrest.

The 3-D printed device supports pediatric patients’ airways long enough so that eventually their airways strengthen on their own. The device is made of biodegradable polyester called polycaprolactone, and the body reabsorbs the device after about three years. Children using the device no longer needed ventilators; paralytic, narcotic and sedating drugs; and no longer had to be fed intravenously. Researchers are awaiting approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to move forward with establishing the 3-D splint as the go-to treatment for TBM.

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Pregnant Mothers of Boys Have Greater Risk of Gestational Diabetes

Lisa Feierstein Children's Health, Diabetes, Women's Health Leave a comment  
Nearly 9.2% of mothers develop gestational diabetes.

Nearly 9.2% of mothers develop gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes can be a real source of stress and concern for mothers. On top of stocking up on supplies for the baby and pouring over parenting books, mothers with gestational diabetes also have to regularly check their blood sugar and be extra careful about their diet.

A new study found that a mother’s risk of developing gestational diabetes is actually affected by the baby’s gender. Dr. Baiju Shah, one of the authors of the study, said that a “male fetus leads to greater pregnancy-associated metabolic changes than a female fetus does.” In the study, researchers collected data from insurance records on about 643,000 women who had their first child between April 2000 and March 2010. Although the risk of developing gestational diabetes is greater with a boy, the study also showed that mothers with gestational diabetes carrying a girl had an increased risk of type 2 diabetes post-pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs as a result of combined underlying metabolic abnormalities that the mother has plus the metabolic changes that happen during pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes generally develops during the 24th week of pregnancy, according to the Amercian Diabetes Association. As many as 9.2% of mothers develop gestational diabetes, and the condition develops when a mother’s body is unable to create and use all the insulin needed for pregnancy. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can be dangerous to the baby, increasing their risk of conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and breathing problems. By working with a doctor to develop a treatment plan, mothers with gestational diabetes can greatly improve their health and the health of the baby.

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Top 5 Worst Cities for Spring Allergies

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Breathe EZ Leave a comment  
Over 45 million Americans have seasonal nasal allergies.

Over 45 million Americans have seasonal nasal allergies.

During the spring and fall, many of us (over 45 million!) are no stranger to the struggle with seasonal allergies. This biannual battle is even harder for those of us in southern states. The following cities are the top five most challenging places to live with spring allergies, according to a 2015 report by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA):

  1. Jackson, MS
  2. Louisville, KY
  3. Oklahoma City, OK
  4. Memphis, TN
  5. Knoxville, TN

Each year, the AAFA analyzes data on pollen scores and allergy medication use for the annual Allergy Capitals report. This report identifies the 100 most challenging places to live with spring allergies in the U.S., and is designed as an educational resource to help allergy sufferers better understand their symptoms and make more informed decisions about allergy treatments.

“Even though it seems like you can get all the answers at the drug store, you really can’t manage allergies alone, you need to work with a doctor. Allergy sufferers who wish to avoid allergy misery need to know their allergic triggers by visiting an allergist and having the proper testing done,” says Dr. Clifford W. Bassett, Medical Director of Allergy and Asthma Care of NY and an Ambassador for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). “This will enable patients to have a specific, proactive treatment plan in place before symptoms hit,” says Bassett.

An allergist can help you determine whether combination therapies, mono-therapies or long-term therapies are best to treat your allergy symptoms. Once you and your allergist determine the best treatment plan, you’re on your way to a more enjoyable spring with less sneezing.


Scientists Identify Gene that could Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Lisa Feierstein Diabetes Leave a comment  
Researchers have linked a gene mutation to reduced risk of diabetes.

Researchers have linked a gene mutation to reduced risk of diabetes.

The media often focuses on the rising risk of type 2 diabetes on a regular basis, and the importance of diet and exercise as ways to prevent against the disease. A new study took a different route in investigating the causes of type 2 diabetes by looking at genetic factors.

Researchers compared the genes of 81,000 individuals without type 2 diabetes and compared their genetic information to individuals with type 2 diabetes. The study found that individuals with a mutation in the gene for the glucagon-like peptide-2 receptor (GLP1R) are 14% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

The gene mutation is also linked to lower fasting glucose levels, which could also be a contributing factor in reducing the risk of diabetes for individuals with the gene mutation. For the rest of us, it’s still important to focus on the three pillars of health – sleep, diet and exercise – as the best way to prevent against type 2 diabetes.


Marijuana Allergies on the Rise

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ Leave a comment   ,
Marijuana smoke can agitate asthma symptoms, and cause conjunctivitis and allergic rhinitis.

Marijuana smoke can agitate asthma symptoms, and cause conjunctivitis and allergic rhinitis.

Allergists have noticed a rise in the number of people reacting to an allergy to marijuana as the use of marijuana becomes legal in more states. Marijuana smoke can agitate asthma symptoms, and cause conjunctivitis and allergic rhinitis. Symptoms from a reaction to smoke inhalation can include inflammation of the eyes, coughing and wheezing, sneezing, nasal congestion, and even anaphylaxis. Pollen from cannabis can also trigger allergies; the pollen usually spreads later in the summer into the fall and can travel miles from the plant.

Not many cases of allergies to marijuana have historically been reported, probably since its use was largely illegal. Cases of patients with marijuana allergies are still rare, but allergists have noticed an increase in the number of patients exhibiting marijuana allergies. However, testing for the allergy can be difficult, depending on where you live. In Texas, for example, where marijuana is illegal, allergist Dr. David Engler was denied a request for a small sample of cannabis extract he needed for an allergy test for a patient with a potential marijuana allergy. In this case, Dr. Engler investigated the patient’s historical reaction to marijuana exposure to determine that she did have a marijuana allergy. Getting treatment coverage is also problematic since insurance companies don’t recognize marijuana allergies. If legalization of marijuana spreads to more states, we may see an even greater increase in cases of patients having marijuana allergies, but that will hopefully make it easier for allergists to test for it.

 

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Childhood Trauma Linked to Increased Risk of Diabetes

Lisa Feierstein Children's Health, Diabetes Leave a comment  
A new study shows that childhood trauma is linked to an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

A new study shows that childhood trauma is linked to an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Doctors don’t know the exact cause of type 1 diabetes, but a new study shows that childhood trauma is linked to an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes. Researchers polled over 10,000 Swedish families and discovered that children who had experienced a trauma were nearly three times more likely to develop type 1 diabetes. Scientists questioned families about the occurrence of childhood stressors like divorce, illness or a death in the family. Researchers questioned families in southeast Sweden with children born between October 1997 and September 1999.

Dr. Johnny Ludvigsson, coauthor of the study, said that he’s not surprised by the results because of the “connections between the brain and immune system.” Doctors believe type 1 diabetes could be caused by genetics or environmental factors, like exposure to a virus. Type 1 diabetes develops when the body’s immune system starts destroying insulin-producing (islet) cells in the pancreas. After many islet cells are destroys, the body produces little to no insulin.

Although this study shows a link between a stressful childhood event and an increased risk of type 1 diabetes, it doesn’t prove that those events cause type 1 diabetes. Dr. David Marrero, president of health care and education at the American Diabetes Association, says that although you can’t say a childhood trauma was the direct result of your child developing diabetes, it’s worth making an effort to avoid exposing children to high stress events. Encouraging children to eat right and exercise frequently is also an important step in preventing type 2 diabetes.

Additional Resources:


Popular Nasal Sprays Now Available Over-the-Counter

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma Leave a comment  
Nasal sprays maximize allergy relief since the medicine is delivered directly to the nasal passage.

Nasal sprays maximize allergy relief since the medicine is delivered directly to the nasal passage.

Many asthma and allergy sufferers, especially those with hay fever, have been happy to learn that Flonase® Allergy Relief, a corticosteroid nasal spray, is now available over-the-counter (OTC). Nasal sprays maximize allergy relief since the medicine is delivered directly to the nasal passage instead of through the blood stream, which is how allergy pills deliver medicine. They also won’t make you sleepy, which can be a common setback to taking allergy pills.

With any medication, nasal sprays do have side effects, so talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which allergy medication will work best for you. If you use a nasal spray, talk to your pharmacist about proper care – you may need to periodically clean the applicator, for example. When using a nasal spray, spray away from your septum (the tissue at the center of your nose) to avoid irritation or damage to the sensitive nasal tissue.

Saline nasal sprays can also offer allergy relief by moisturizing dry nasal passages and reducing inflammation of mucous membranes. This natural nasal spray option can clear mucus obstructing your nasal passage, and if used long-term, can decrease postnasal drip and reduce bacteria in your nose. Saline nasal sprays come in a variety of forms, from the Neti pot to squirt bottles to battery-powered sprays. Talk to your doctor about whether or not a saline nasal spray will sufficiently provide you with allergy relief, or if you should consider a corticosteroid nasal spray like Flonase or Nasacort® Allergy 24 HR.

Additional Resources:


All About Asthma Month

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ Leave a comment  
This year’s theme for World Asthma Day is “You can control your asthma.”

This year’s theme for World Asthma Day is “You can control your asthma.”

Every May, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unites organizations across the U.S. in raising asthma awareness, working to get asthma under control, and improving asthmatics’ quality of life. Over 300 million people worldwide have asthma, and 15 million die each year from asthma-related complications or early death, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Asthma Month also reminds us to be aware of common asthma triggers and to be conscientious of how our behavior can affect asthmatics. Tobacco smoke is a well-known trigger, but irritants like strong perfumes and cleaning chemicals can even trigger an asthma attack. NIH-supported scientists are researching and developing a better understanding of how asthma is affected by exposure to allergens (asthma triggers), pollution and microbes. This type of research will help asthmatics better understand which triggers affect them, and how to improve their asthma management plans.

Many communities are also hosting Asthma Month events, like World Asthma Day and Happy Food Allergy Awareness Week. This year’s theme for World Asthma Day is “You can control your asthma,” and organizations are participating in the event by hosting Twitter chats with doctors, promoting educational materials about asthma triggers and management plans, and providing tools to share information about asthma.

Interested in local Asthma Month information and activities? Check out the North Carolina Asthma Program for resources about asthma triggers in residential environments, information for coaches about how asthma affects athletic performance, and more.

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This Musician Can Soothe Your Asthma Blues

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health Leave a comment  
Al Keith sings about important components of an asthma management plan

Al Keith sings about important components of an asthma management plan

Al Keith doesn’t want you down and out with the “asthma blues.” In fact, he’s so concerned about respiratory health, he produced a jazz and blues CD called “Asthma Blues” to educate asthmatics, their families and caregivers about how to have a successful asthma management plan. Al is a respiratory therapist based out of Chicago who understands that music is a powerful educational tool. He created CTK Clinical Consultants, LLC in 2002 as a way to build an “educational bridge between patients and physicians.”

Al’s songs were written based on the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) guidelines. He sings about important components of an asthma management plan like how to identify asthma triggers, how to use a peak flow meter, and why it’s important to have a written asthma action plan. You can download Al’s album on iTunes, or on the Asthma Blues website, and enjoy songs like “Breathin’ Right,” Get Your Peak Flow On,” and “You Need an Action Plan.”

Additional Resources:

 


More Cases of Diabetes Diagnosed Since Expansion of Medicaid Program

Lisa Feierstein Diabetes Leave a comment  

diabetes checkMedicaid access expanded in 26 states in January 2014 and diagnosed cases of diabetes have also increased significantly in those states. Diagnosed diabetes cases among Medicaid recipients grew 23% in the states that increased their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act. In the 24 states that didn’t expand Medicaid programs, the increase was only 0.4%.

Early detection of diabetes decreases the risk of complications related to the condition; undiagnosed diabetes can result in major medical problems like kidney failure, stroke, heart disease, blindness, and leg and feet amputations. The financial cost of diabetes is also high; total medical costs and the price of lost work and wages amounted to $245 billion in 2014, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Quest Diagnostics funded the research on the increase of diabetes cases related to Medicaid expansion, and found a greater uptick in diagnoses among men and older individuals aged 50 to 64.

At least one in three people will develop diabetes, according to the CDC. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can develop at any age, but unlike type 1, most cases of type 2 can be prevented. Combining medication with proper diet and exercise can make a big difference in the success of diabetes management plans. For more information on how to manage your diabetes, check out this infographic, “A Snapshot: Diabetes in the United States” by the CDC.


The Striking Truth about Thunderstorm Asthma

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ Leave a comment  

thunderstormThunder doesn’t just signal that lightning is coming—it can also trigger asthma attacks. We usually think the rain will help our allergies by washing away pollen, but on rare occasions, thunderstorms can actually make allergies worse. During thunderstorms, the low barometric pressure can stir up mold and pollen that can be an irritant to individuals with allergies and asthma. Some researchers believe the thunderstorm’s electrical charge can make mold and pollen particles more likely to stick to the lungs, and asthma-related emergency room visits actually increase during and after some thunderstorms.

Researchers have had a difficult time fully understanding thunderstorm asthma since it is a rare, localized occurrence. Thunderstorms generally don’t last very long, so it can be hard to determine if an asthma attack was caused by the thunderstorm or something else. Plus, different asthma sufferers have different sensitivities, so not everyone with asthma is at risk of experiencing a thunderstorm-related asthma attack. However, researchers believe the increase in ER visits due to thunderstorm asthma could be because individuals with mild asthma might not have a rescue inhaler on hand. Scientists are concerned that cases of thunderstorm asthma could increase due to climate change that would increase the amount of pollen in the air and lead to stronger thunderstorms. If you have asthma, make sure you have rescue inhalers on hand in case you are susceptible to thunderstorm asthma.

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