In early spring I don’t even bother washing my car; I’ve given up on the fight with the yellow-green pine pollen. Although few people are allergic to pine pollen, it’s a visible reminder of other invisible pollen that trigger allergic reactions. Thirty-five million Americans suffer through hay fever each year, but it can be an even tougher time for those with asthma.
If spring allergies increase your asthma symptoms, keep this list of springtime pollinators and allergy tips on hand to help you prepare for the worst.
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How to lessen allergy symptoms:
- Close windows and doors.
- Change clothes and shower at night to keep pollen from lingering indoors.
- Reduce time spent outdoors when pollen counts are high. Pollen counts are highest before sunrise and after sunset.
- Replace indoor air filters at home each month.
- Dry laundry inside so pollen won’t settle on clean clothes.
- See an allergist to determine which allergens affect you.
- Keep antihistamines on hand. Nasal steroid sprays and neti pots can also offer relief.
President Barack Obama signs H.R. 2094, the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, during a signing ceremony in the Oval Office, Nov. 13, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
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On November 13th, President Obama signed into law the School Access of Emergency Epinephrine Act, legislation that helps protect schoolchildren who experience anaphylaxis, a life -threatening allergic reaction. The new law provides funding incentive to states that enact laws allowing schools to stock and administer emergency supplies of epinephrine auto-injectors. Food allergies are prolific in the United States. The potentially life-threatening disease is a growing public health issue, and a concern among those with asthma, as allergies can trigger asthma symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. The first line of treatment for anaphylaxis, epinephrine narrows blood vessels and aids lung passages that are more susceptible to inflammation and swelling, which leads to shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing. The epinephrine auto-injector is used to deliver measured doses of epinephrine by a spring-loaded syringe.
The new legislation will help save lives of children who may experience an anaphylactic reaction for the first time at school or don’t have an epinephrine auto-injector available when anaphylaxis occurs. There are states which have legislation either requiring or allowing schools to stock and administer emergency supplies of epinephrine auto-injectors, North Carolina is among the 22. The state of North Carolina recently made Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s Honor Roll by meeting several of their core policy standards. Of the core standards met, providing emergency protocols for asthma and anaphylaxis are among many standards upheld by the state.
It turns out there may be scientific significance behind the colloquially used phrase “beauty sleep.” Researchers within the Department of Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute in Stochholm, Sweden investigated facial cues and features and how they signal fatigue. Facial expressions can be a very powerful sociological tool humans can use to communicate emotional states, since the face is the primary source of information in social perception.
The study included 23 individuals who were photographed on two separate occasions. Once after eight hours of normal sleep, and then again after 31 hours of sleep deprivation following five hours of sleep the night before. Out of the initial 23, 10 were chosen to have pictures taken. Pictures were taken in well-lit, non-flash conditions and were asked to display a neutral facial expression. Analyzing the pictures were 40 volunteers, both women and men, and with a mean age of 25. The volunteers were asked to rate the pictures based on facial cues, which had been predetermined. Examples of the most used cues are hanging eyelids, red eyes, swollen eyes, dark circles under eyes and pale skin.
Unsurprisingly, individuals were rated as looking more fatigued after a period of sleep deprivation versus a night of normal sleep. Hanging eyelids was the cue most recognized as someone being sleep deprived. The study did find that there was no big difference between men and women in respect to their facial cues when fatigued. Worthy of note, subjects were also perceived to be sad when fatigued. Characteristics such as droopy corners around the mouth and tense lips incited perceptions of sadness.
The face is made up of a very powerful neural network, which also happens to be your first impression when you come into contact with another person. There is belief that facial cues can also hinder interpersonal communication, as someone who is perceived to be sleep deprived may appear to be less inviting and possibly less trustworthy that someone who is well rested.
What did you think of this study? Is your lack of sleep showing on your face or are you well rested?
A season normally filled with joy can turn miserable quickly. Seasonal allergic rhinitis and asthma sufferers can breathe relief as most outdoor allergens disappear until spring, but holiday gatherings and increased time spent indoors means more exposure to different allergen triggers. In an effort to help you avoid the hazards of the holidays, we’ve compiled some tips to keep you from wheezing and sneezing.
Oh, Christmas tree: It’s not just the live trees that can trigger symptoms; the artificial variety can, too! To avoid allergic triggers use a leaf blower to blow any pollen, mold spores or terpene on the tree. You can also wash the tree off with a garden hose. Letting the tree sit to dry in an open place like your garage will definitely help. For artificial trees, we recommend taking them outside and washing also as they, too, can harbor dust and mold.
How do sweat-inducing hot flashes, muffin-top expansion, lethargy and insomnia sound? The aforementioned doesn’t sound too appealing, however, to many women, this is the reality of the oft-abhorred “midlife transition.” But, many of these side effects can be remedied. Many women find this transition to be fulfilling, a chance to start out on a new adventure and seize the day, so to speak. At Sound Sleep Institute, we have a deep-seated passion for sleep. Sleep hygiene, we understand, is considered to be taboo by many in the fast paced world we live in. But there does come a point in all of our lives in which we must assess the importance of our sleep routine, and for those going through menopause, what better time? Don’t let menopause cause upheaval in your life and rob you of the restorative sleep you need.
Hormone fluctuations are the culprit to those pesky hot flashes. Hot flashes and night sweats can wake you out of a peaceful sleep, only to leave you lying there in bed unable to nod back to your slumber. According to a 2007 National Sleep Foundation survey, nearly half of women between the ages of 45 and 64 say they have trouble sleeping. The good news is that those reprehensible hot flashes can be held in check. A mixture of herbs and supplements, exercise and dietary changes can have you sleeping like you did before, if not better than when menopause began.
Asthma is a prevalent disease among children, accounting for numerous emergency room visits, and unfortunately, a significant cause of morbidity. Although asthma incidence has increased over the past few decades, variations between countries, environmental factors and the use of certain medications have created a flurry of research dedicated to the disease and the understanding of its etiology.
Epidemiological studies have suggested that they key time period for childhood allergies and asthma development occurs between conception and early childhood, and prenatal drug use has also been implicated. In a letter to the Editor in The Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, Mulder and colleagues assessed the association between the use of acid-suppressive drugs during pregnancy and the risk of developing childhood asthma using a crossover study. As gastrointestinal symptoms in pregnancy are fairly common, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), histamine 2 receptor antagonists (H2ra) and other antacids have been known to be effective. Understanding that the development of asthma is a complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors, researchers used a general practitioners research database to identify children with a drug-treated asthma diagnosis between the years 2006 and 2010 that were matched with a sibling without asthma. Researchers conducted analyses based on exposure of anti-suppressive drugs, drug class (e.g. PPIs, H2ra) and trimester.
Of the 3,748 children studied, half with asthma and the other used as a control group, 22% of the children with asthma had mothers who were exposed to an acid-suppressive drug during their pregnancy compared to 20% in the control group. This data suggests that exposure to acid-suppressive drugs during pregnancy presents an increased chance in developing childhood asthma. Upon further analyses, mothers who used acid-suppressive drugs during the third trimester increased the odds of their child developing childhood asthma. These findings support evidence that exposure to acid-suppressive drugs during pregnancy is associated with childhood asthma. Although more research is needed to understand the exact mechanisms, one hypothesis suggests that neutralized gastric levels prevent adequate digestion of antigens in the mother’s stomach. The antigens, if not degraded can create sensitization of the immune system and cross the placenta creating likelihood for allergic sensitization of the fetus.