Posted in Employment, Health, news

Stand-Up Desks Help You Poop

Image from Officesupply.com

Most of us who work standing up or use a stand-up desk can attest to the fact that we seem to get a thumbs up from our colon.  In fact some of us will even admit we suffer from less constipation than our 90 degree angle sitt’n brethren.

Why?

Sitting may impede flow, flow that occurs hours before one needs to empty his bowels.  And not only do angles play a part in this but when one sits, their abdominal cavity shrinks, as opposed to stretching when standing up.  An individual who is standing allows more volume of abdominal room for the colon to work.

Additionally, pressure from sitting and the chair may cause undue pressure on the lower colon.  If you think back to high school physics, pressure has to be less at the destination of flow.  True, mass and density can vary based on poop amount but even NASA gets it (see below).

 

nasa.gif

….where “choke” is the act of sitting.

Even in basic terms, our caveman forefathers and mothers realized that standing made an easier bowel evacuation, (standing and squatting even easier).  So 2019 humans may need to go old school, doing less sitting and more standing.

 

Stools Help You Stool

 

A study from Ohio State University reinforces the theory that putting your feet up when you poop helps passage.

Studies have long suggested that standing or squatting when we poop is more natural and easier on our bowels.  When we sit angled with our legs at a 90 degree angle to our torso, we may worsen constipation.  (you see why we needed to learn geometry in school…)

 

squatty potty.jpg

 

Dr. Peter Stanich and colleagues used a sample size of 52 people and of those who used a stool when they pottied, 71% reported faster bowel movements and 90% reported less straining.

They cite these “defecation posture modification devices” are a natural way to help one evacuate their bowels without relying always on medication.

 

So how do we define constipation?

Constipation is a decrease in frequency of bowel movements or difficulty passing stool that persists longer than one’s normal bowel movement cycle.  In general, less than three bowel movements a week could be considered constipation.20-30% of the US population suffers from constipation and this percentage increases in those who are elderly or confined to medical facilities. Some people have hard stools that are difficult to pass with normal motility, whereas others have soft stool but poor motility.

 

What causes constipation?

A variety of factors could be the culprit. These include:

  • Lack of water
  • Lack of fiber in one’s diet
  • Certain foods in one’s diet such as cheese, diary, fat, gluten, those high in meat
  • Caffeine
  • Hypothyroid
  • Stress
  • Lack of exercise
  • Pregnancy
  • Hormone fluctuations
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Cancer
  • Laxative abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Medications such as narcotics, antidepressants, iron supplements
  • Constipation should never be ignored………

 

What should our stool look like?

When someone is constipated, the stool is not moving through the colon as quickly as it should.  The more hours and days it sits in the colon, the more water is absorbed. So the stool churns and churns becoming dryer, smaller and harder.  So pebbles or rock-like stool is a sign of constipation.  Conversely, as in diarrhea, stool has not been processed by the colon properly, water has not been absorbed and thus it appears very soft or liquid-like. This puts one at risk of dehydration. Therefore healthy stool is a happy medium.

Using the Bristol Stool Chart, the ideal stool would be in the shapes of Type 4 and 5.

 

bristol

 

What should I do if I’m constipated?

First drink more water. Secondly look at your diet and see if you have any offending agents such as dairy or fried foods.  Thirdly visit your medical provider for an evaluation.  Finally, try and relax.  Many of us have difficulty pooping because we are stressed or on a time crunch.  Your body doesn’t care if you have a meeting in 5 minutes.  The body likes to relax when it relieves itself so grab a magazine, or my blog, and take some time out of your day to poop.  Sometimes we need to stop and smell the roses……

 

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Education, Health, Millennials, news, sex

Today is College Student Health Awareness Day

Millions of students are working overtime to become the next generation of wage earners.  But in the process, unfortunately, all too many let their health slip down the priority list.  And when they do, a vicious cycle ensues where grades start going down, forcing a student to further turn to less healthy behaviors such as getting less sleep, eating the wrong foods for energy, or engage in risky behavior.

 

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College Student Health Awareness Day hopes to highlight the multiple health issues incurred by many our students.  These include:

  • Depression, stress and anxiety
  • Frequent colds, illness
  • Poor flu vaccination rates
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Sexual Assault
  • Poor eating, sleeping and exercise habits
  • Poor study habits
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Drug use

and more.

Burnout_lady

 

College Student Health Awareness Day will happen this Fall. In Nevada it falls on September 16, 2019 and is sponsored by UNLV’s American Medical Student Association and Silver State Health Centers.

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This year’s theme is STI Prevention.

Free condoms will be dispensed as well as information on various sexually transmitted illnesses at UNLV from 10:30 am – 3 pm.

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

 

Posted in Health, news

A Man’s Beard Found to Be Dirtier Than Dog Fur

For those of us who find beards sexy, this study might sway us a tad.

A recent study published in European Radiology found human hair to be dirtier than a dog’s.

Study authors looked at 18 men and 30 dogs and compared the bacterial load in CFUs (colony forming units) from both beards and dog fur.  Then they examined MRI scanners used for both dogs and humans and compared the bacterial load to those only used for humans.

The results were:

Our study shows a significantly higher bacterial load in specimens taken from men’s beards compared with dogs’ fur (p = 0.036). All of the men (18/18) showed high microbial counts, whereas only 23/30 dogs had high microbial counts and 7 dogs moderate microbial counts. Furthermore, human-pathogenic microorganisms were more frequently found in human beards (7/18) than in dog fur (4/30), although this difference did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.074). More microbes were found in human oral cavities than in dog oral cavities (p < 0.001). After MRI of dogs, routine scanner disinfection was undertaken and the CFU found in specimens isolated from the MRI scanning table and receiver coils showed significantly lower bacteria count compared with “human” MRI scanners (p < 0.05).
Hence bearded men harbor “significantly higher burden of microbes and more human-pathogenic strains than dogs.”

Last summer researchers out of Manchester University found 47% of beards tested contained fecal matter that contained deadly pathogens.

This study was also coauthored by Fragrance Direct, and found despite cleaning habits of study participants, enterococcus was found on 47% of beards swabbed and cultured.

Enterococcus is a bacteria commonly found in the colon and feces and has over 17 types, the most common being E. faecalis and E. faecium. These may cause infections in the urinary tract, abdomen, pelvis, wound and even blood (sepsis).

 

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This study followed one done in 2015 by Quest Diagnostics in New Mexico, in which a microbiologist swabbed beards and grew out cultures finding bacteria that commonly colonize our colon.

Bacteria like to hide on the skin but need cover, and beard hair offers a nice warm, moist shelter.  Oral sex increases one’s chance of being “contaminated” with pelvic and rectal bacteria.

A spokesman for Fragrance Direct states, “Caring for your beard is essential for its health, helping it stay fresh to keep the bacteria at bay.  Everyone knows to shampoo their hair, but beards need some attention too. Men should use beard shampoo when they shower, along with conditioner afterwards.”

So the next time you run your fingers through a man’s beard, sanitize them afterwards….

 

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Posted in Health, medications, news

Fourth Recall Ordered for Popular Blood Pressure Medication

36 lots of losartan potassium and losartan potassium/hydrochlorothiazide have been initiated by Torrent Ltd Pharmaceuticals due to a detection of N-Nitroso-N-methyl-4-aminobutyric acid (NMBA).

There have been no reports of users becoming ill and the recall is being done out of precaution.

N-Nitroso-N-methyl-4-aminobutyric acid (NMBA) was the third chemical detected resulting in the latest two recalls of losartan, an angiotensin receptor blocker commonly used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure).  It is believed to have been created during the manufacturing process of the generic drug.

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The FDA reports:

Torrent Pharmaceuticals Limited is further expanding its voluntary recall to include 104 additional lots of losartan potassium and losartan potassium/hydrochlorothiazide combination tablets. This recall is due to unacceptable amounts of N-Nitroso-N-methyl-4-aminobutyric acid (NMBA) in the losartan active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufactured by Hetero Labs Limited.
The agency updated the list of losartan products under recall accordingly.
FDA reminds patients taking recalled angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) to continue taking their current medicine until their pharmacist provides a replacement or their doctor prescribes a different medication that treats the same condition.
FDA is also posting new testing methods which can help manufacturers and international regulators detect and identify multiple nitrosamine impurities. FDA and international regulators have identified N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), N-Nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) and NMBA in ARBs.

NMBA, according to Toronto Research Chemicals, is a known carcinogen in a wide range of animal species.

Earlier this Fall, ScieGen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. recalled certain lots of irbesartan, a similar angiotensin receptor blocker used in blood pressure management.

The recalls initially began last summer when FDA recalled a number of lots of valsartan due to an “impurity”, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) that is known to cause cancer in animals.  Weeks later they additionally found traces of N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA).

According to Reuters, earlier last summer, the MHRA, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, located in the UK, said the appearance of the impurity, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), came after a change in the process for making valsartan at one facility owned by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals, a company in Linhai, China.

In animals, NDMA is known to cause liver and lung cancer.  In humans its carcinogenic risk is unknown, however the CDC states it may cause liver function impairment and cirrhosis.

With NDEA, data is limited, but due to its classification as a nitrosamine and its prevalence in tobacco smoke it is classified as a probable human carcinogen.

According to New Jersey Department of Health’s website, NDEA has been linked to liver, lung and gastrointestinal tract cancer in animals.

Losartan, valsartan and irbesartan are medications in the class of angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) used for high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.

Those taking either tablet for their blood pressure are urged to not abruptly stop their medication but rather check with their medical provider and pharmacy to see if their particular prescription is involved in the recall.

I suspect more recalls will follow as processes may be similar across multiple pharmaceutical facilities and NMBA, NDMA and NDEA are byproducts that may not be individually unique to just one “brand” of medication manufacturing.

 

 

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Posted in Health, Holidays, news

The 10 Plagues: Bible and Science Mesh

On Passover, we read from the Book of Exodus in the Torah explaining the Hebrews’ years of enslavement and the struggle it took to free them.  G-d sent Moses to ask Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II to “Let my people go.”  When the Pharaoh refused, the Lord sent down 10 plagues:

  1. Blood
  2. Frogs
  3. Lice/Gnats/Fleas
  4. Flies
  5. Pestilence
  6. Boils
  7. Hail
  8. Locusts
  9. Darkness
  10. Killing of the firstborn

Scholars have debated how these occurred and scientists have interestingly found scientific explanations for each. This is what they found:

Blood

The water of the Nile turned to “blood”.  It was undrinkable.  One theory is the red clay could have been washed into the river and tributaries, or “Red Tide”, an algae bloom of Oscillatoria rubescens, for example, turned the water red.  Moreover the algae can release toxins that kill nearby fish.  Once the water is unlivable……

 

sydney-beach-algae.jpg

IMAGE FROM INVESTMENTWATCH

 

Frogs

Frogs swarmed into the towns and homes.  One theory suggests that since frogs like to live near the water, the toxicity and smell caused them to move from the waterways to the towns.  The quantity of frogs still needs an explanation but how many of us see one spider in our house and claim the whole residence is “infested”……

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IMAGE FROM CNN

Lice/Gnats/Fleas

Infestations occurred as the next plague and could be explained by the above two.  The frogs eat insects and keep the populations in control when they hang out by the marshes and rivers.  The drought and unlivable water conditions cause the frogs to leave and eventually die, so insects go unchecked.

9902051f-b298-4db6-9d49-d85054b108d2.png                             Female_black_fungus_gnat

                IMAGE FROM EMAZE                                                         IMAGE FROM WIKIPEDIA

 

Flies

Swarms of flies encompassed the fourth plague.  Scientists explain this from the lack of competing insects and frogs not around to eat them.  They, in turn, fed on the dead frogs.

 

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Death of Livestock

One would think the Pharaoh would have given in by now but he didn’t.  The fifth plague caused death of Egyptian livestock.  Insects carry disease and swarms of them could have caused the livestock to become diseased. Moreover, water sources were becoming scarce as well.

drought.jpg

IMAGE FROM SOTT

 

Boils

Egyptians became infected with boils on their skin.  Insects carry disease, lack of clean water and food could make one susceptible and pathogens can enter into societies and cause epidemics.   One theory suggested a smallpox outbreak occurred.  Researchers found small pox scars on recovered mummies and postulated that 3000 years ago an epidemic could have occurred.

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Hail

The plague of hail and fire must have been a scary one.  Many have postulated that hail and fire raining from the sky could have occurred from a nearby volcano.  If that’s the case why not make “volcano” the plague.  But interestingly, 3500 years ago the Santorini volcano north of Crete in the Aegean Sea, erupted.  And for those of us who saw Dante’s Peak, there was ash falling everywhere.

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IMAGE FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE

 

Locusts

Locusts swarmed the landscape.  If a volcano was nearby, I’d head south too.

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Darkness

The ninth plague was darkness. Without light, temperatures drop, work can’t be done, crops won’t grow.  Scientists suggest this could have occurred from an eclipse, dust storm, or the plume of smoke from the volcano.

darkness.jpg

IMAGE FROM RELIGIOUS HISTORICAL RESEARCH

 

Death of the first-born

The tenth and final plague was the death of every Egyptian first-born.  Scientists have some difficulty explaining this one except for many first born were out the fields helping the adults when the pestilence, boils, etc. ensued.  Another theory suggests the grain stores became contaminated and the first born might have had first pick of the grain, becoming sick first.

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IMAGE FROM LIVE SCIENCE

 

The Bible is rich with history and lessons and such a work needs no explaining.  But there are those who like to mesh science with the Bible.  So for all of us celebrating our ancestors’ exodus and freedom from slavery, Happy Passover.

 

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

Posted in Health, news, teens

“Shell On”, the Latest Challenge, Involves Eating Plastic

The latest challenge sweeping social media is the “Shell On” challenge in which teens Snapchat videos of themselves eating through fruit skin, cardboard boxes and plastic bags containing their food.

Although this appears to not be as dangerous as the Tide Pod or Boiling Water Challenge, it can cause choking and asphyxiation.

 

 

In the video above the teen takes bites out of fruit with their peel and a cereal box.

What other dangerous challenges are out there?

Last year we learned of the “Boiling Water Challenge” in which kids drink boiling water from a straw or have it poured all over their body. Then they topped it off with a more dangerous challenge, the “Fire Challenge.”

The Fire Challenge is executed by pouring rubbing alcohol on one’s body and then setting oneself on fire.  A video records the victim running into a tub or shower to wash it off, and this trend has gone viral.

Unfortunately it’s one of the most dangerous.  A 12 year-old girl from Detroit who participated in this challenge is undergoing multiple surgeries to repair burns afflicting close to 50% of her body.

Multiple cases of the “Fire Challenge” have been reported over the years, including a 12 year-old boy from Georgia.

One would think children, especially teens, innately know that fire is dangerous but maybe the younger generation has been so protected that they haven’t experienced the basic concepts of danger and inadvertently underestimate its force.

 

fire-challenge

Challenges that involve dangerous stunts have been around for some time.  The Choking Challenge induced children to suffocate themselves for the high of feeling asphyxiated.  The Tide Pod Challenge tempted kids to put colorful cleaning packets in their mouths, hoping they wouldn’t burst.

 

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The Cinnamon Challenge sparked thousands to inhale the common kitchen spice and cough till they puked.  Then the Condom Challenge offered two options where one dropped a condom filled with water on a friends face, or snorted one through the nose.

 

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We adults can’t for the life of us figure out what the reward is in performing these challenges, but presume its fame and awe among friends and social media followers.  But these challenges prove dangerous and in some cases deadly.  Unfortunately the YouTube Clips never show the after effects of these pranks…maybe they should.

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

Posted in Health, news

We’re Applying Hand Sanitizer Incorrectly

Most of us squirt one pump of hand sanitizer, slap it together in our palms and then dry the rest off on our pants.  But researchers say there is a protocol and choreography that must be performed in order to prevent the spread of millions of pathogens that could be lurking on our hands.

The World Health Organization recommends the following steps to be taken when using hand sanitizer:

  1. Fill entire palm with hand sanitizer
  2. Rub both palms together
  3. Put right hand over left and interlace fingers
  4. Put left hand over right and interlace fingers
  5. Interlock fingers to get under the nails
  6. Rotation rubbing to clean the thumb
  7. Hands are clean once alcohol has dried

 

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The process takes about 30 seconds.  However, in a study released this week, researchers from the University Hospital Basel found that if all steps were taken but performed in 15 seconds, the same results will be obtained.  However, if fewer steps were taken, more bacteria/viruses/pathogens will remain on the hands.

For those who have eczema or sensitive skin, they may not tolerate the alcohol based hand sanitizers and should use soap and water instead.

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

 

Posted in Entertainment, Health, news

Game of Thrones Star Survived Two Brain Aneurysms While Filming

Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen, in an essay published by the The New Yorker,  revealed she suffered two potentially fatal attacks while filming the popular series, Game of Thrones.

In 2011, she reports that while she was exercising, she felt a severe headache and then began vomiting violently. An ambulance took her to the hospital and her MRI showed she had a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH).  She describes the ordeal here.  She underwent surgery and suffered another one in 2013, that was found on repeat brain scan.

She in detail describes the painful recovery but fortunately survived and was able to film one the most successful series in TV history and become one of the most beloved characters on the show.

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Image from John Hopkins Medicine

What is a brain aneurysm?

An aneurysm is a “ballooning” or swelling of an artery.  Theses may occur where the artery junction weakens.   High blood pressure can contribute to aneurysm formation as can smoking.  Some aneurysms may have no symptoms at all but others could rupture, causing a hemorrhage in the brain, stroke.  Elevated blood pressure, heaving lifting, and trauma could cause these to rupture.

According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, 15% of people with a ruptured brain aneurysm die before they reach the hospital. 40% can be fatal.

Surgery or endovascular coiling is done to prevent further blood flow to the aneurysm.

 

clip.jpgClipping and coiling                                         coiling.jpg

 

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Posted in Health, Measles, news

Millions May Be Undervaccinated for MMR

Those of us vaccinated for MMR between 1963 and 1989 may need a booster.

The two dose vaccine wasn’t given until it was recommended by the CDC in 1989. Since then a child receives their MMR at age 12-15 months and then again at 4-6 years of age.  However, prior to this, children many times only received one vaccine.

Those who were vaccinated pre 1963, who were afflicted with measles and survived, have life long immunity.

Currently there are over 465 cases of measles being reported in over 19 states. It is unclear how many of these cases have occurred in those who were vaccinated against the virus.

Most cases appear to be in those who weren’t vaccinated but some may be occurring in those who received an MMR vaccine, but are not necessarily immune.

We must also consider that this recent outbreak of measles could be viral strain that is more virulent than previous ones, protected by the MMR vaccine.

 

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What is “measles”?

Measles is caused by the rubeola virus. It is spread by respiratory droplets and is highly contagious.  Symptoms appear 10-14 days after exposure and include:

  • fever
  • rash (red, flat and confluent as above)
  • dry cough
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • Koplik spots – white spots with red backgrounds within the inner cheek in the mouth

Most cases are self-limiting and resolve without sequelae, but some may experience worsening infections, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and even death.

The 2 dose MMR vaccine has been estimated to provide 97% protection against the measles virus.

 

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Posted in allergies, Health, news

Allergy Season is Stronger than Ever

While we’re still grappling with harsh weather, winter colds and an extended flu season, allergy season is now in full force.

Sneezing, itchy eyes, coughing, asthma flare ups, are just a few of the symptoms that can severely impede our work day and sleep.

Each year the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of  America publish their list of the hardest hit cities in terms of allergies. They base these rankings on “seasonal (Spring) pollen score, medication use (allergy) and number of allergy specialists.”

  1. McAllen, TX
  2. Jackson, MS
  3. Providence, RI
  4. Memphis, TN
  5. Springfield, MA
  6. Louisville, KY
  7. New Orleans, LA
  8. Scranton, PA
  9. Baton Rouge, LA
  10. Richmond, VA
  11. Toledo, OH
  12. Syracuse, NY
  13. Dayton, OH
  14. San Antonio, TX
  15. Little Rock, AR
  16. Buffalo, NY
  17. El Paso, TX
  18. Oklahoma City, OK
  19. Columbia, SC
  20. Knoxville, TN
  21. New York, NY
  22. Hartford, CT
  23. New Haven, CT
  24. Greenville, SC
  25. Philadelphia, PA
  26. Detroit, MI
  27. Akron, OH
  28. Wichita, KS
  29. Albany, NY
  30. Charleston, SC
  31. Fresno, CA
  32. Cleveland, OH
  33. Birmingham, AL
  34. Las Vegas, NV
  35. Greensboro, NC
  36. Winston-Salem, NC
  37. Miami, FL
  38. Augusta, GA
  39. Modesto, CA
  40. Bridgeport, CT
  41. Pittsburgh, PA
  42. Charlotte, NC
  43. Chattanooga, TN
  44. Grand Rapids, MI
  45. Dallas, TX
  46. Columbus, OH
  47. Allentown, PA
  48. Jacksonville, FL
  49. Cape Coral, FL
  50. Virginia Beach, VA
  51. St. Louis, MO
  52. Riverside, CA
  53. Tulsa, OK
  54. Orlando, FL
  55. Albuquerque, NM
  56. Houston, TX
  57. Lakeland, FL
  58. Durham, NC
  59. Tampa, FL
  60. Madison, WI
  61. Tucson, AZ
  62. Los Angeles, CA
  63. Nashville, TN
  64. Worcester, MA
  65. Stockton, CA
  66. Omaha, NE
  67. Atlanta, GA
  68. Bakersfield, CA
  69. Austin, TX
  70. Cincinnati, OH
  71. Baltimore, MD
  72. Chicago, IL
  73. Boston, MA
  74. Oxnard, CA
  75. Rochester, NY
  76. Indianapolis, IN
  77. Minneapolis, MN
  78. Harrisburg, PA
  79. Phoenix, AZ
  80. Sacramento, CA
  81. Washington, DC
  82. Palm Bay, FL
  83. Kansas City, MO
  84. Daytona Beach, FL
  85. Milwaukee, WI
  86. Sarasota, FL
  87. Des Moines, IA
  88. San Diego, CA
  89. Spokane, WA
  90. San Francisco, CA
  91. Raleigh, NC
  92. San Jose, CA
  93. Seattle, WA
  94. Portland, OR
  95. Colorado Springs, CO
  96. Salt Lake City, UT
  97. Ogden, UT
  98. Boise, ID
  99. Provo, UT
  100. Denver, CO

Strong winds, a wet winter and early bloom can accelerate a severe allergy season as well as illnesses that result from excessive allergies.

 

Allergies: Your Questions Answered

Allergy season usually begins with the start of Spring in March.  Yet many may start their symptoms as early as February if they are allergic to what’s blooming.

Tree pollens start first in January and then taper off in April.  Grass pollen starts to rise in February and March.   Finally weed pollens join the party by the Spring and extend through the Summer and Fall.

Here are your questions answered:

What are allergies?

Allergies are the result of the immune response to a foreign particulate that our body senses.  One could be allergic to pollen, dust, dander, food, insects, mold, metals, transfused blood, grafts, medicine and anything the body senses as a foreign intruder.  Even though these may be individually harmless, a hypersensitivity reaction occurs as a result of their intrusion into the body.  IgE antibodies find the allergen (intruder) and activate mast cells in the tissue and basophils in the blood.  When these cells get activated, they release substances to help protect the body, including histamines, leukotrienes, and cytokines. These help the body attempt to sneeze and cough the allergen out, wall off the antigen, signal more antibodies, or produce tears and nasal secretions to flush it out.

What are symptoms of seasonal allergies?

Symptoms of allergies could include any or a combination of the following:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Runny nose
  • Eye watering
  • Red Eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Rash
  • Itchy throat
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion….. to name a few.

How do they differ from a cold?

Colds may have very similar symptoms to allergies.  However they are different.

The common cold is caused by a virus.  When one gets infected by the virus they may feel malaise, fever, and achy.  This does not occur with allergies.

Moreover, nasal secretions from allergies are usually clear.  In a cold, the mucous could be thicker and with color.

The same holds true with sputum.  During an allergy the cough may have little to no mucous and if so, be light-colored.  Thick mucus could be a sign of an infection.

An allergic sore throat will seem more dry and scratchy.  A sore throat from a cold is more uncomfortable and less easy to soothe.

Allergies may persist or be cyclical.  Cold symptoms will usually subside after a few days and rarely persist longer than 10 days.

Can allergies lead to a cold?

Yes and no.  Allergies should not in and of themselves cause an infection. However they may make one more vulnerable for a virus or bacteria to take over.    Hence a bronchitis, sinus infection, or pneumonia could uncommonly follow an asthma attack.

Are seasonal allergies dangerous?

As stated previously, if one is susceptible to colds, an allergic attack could make them vulnerable. Moreover if one suffers from asthma, an allergy attack could incite an asthma attack.  Very rarely would we see a life threatening anaphylaxis to an allergen such as pollen.

Allergy season is here: What are the worst offenders?

 

How can we prevent and treat allergies?

Avoiding, or decreasing exposure to the allergen is key.   We suggest the following:

  1.  Be aware of your local weather and pollen counts.  If the weather begins to warm and regional vegetation is blooming, allergy season may be upon you sooner than you know.
  2. Avoid outside pollen from coming into your house.  Avoid the urge to open all the windows during Springtime as wind will bring the pollen in.
  3. Clean your air filters.  Replace air filters frequently and consider using HEPA Filters
  4. Wash off pollen from your hair and clothes before you sit on the couch or jump into bed.
  5. Close your car windows when you park.
  6. “Recirculate” the air in your car
  7. Discuss with your medical provider if you are a candidate for medications such as antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids or leukotriene antagonists.  
  8. If you suffer from respiratory illnesses or a chronic medical condition, discuss with your medical provider if you need to start your allergy medication before allergy season hits. Some of these medications may take a couple of weeks to reach therapeutic levels.

How can I find my local pollen counts?

Local tree, ragweed and grass pollen counts can be obtained here.

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician