Ask the Expert: Allergy Q & A with Dr. Harold Kim
by: News Canada
(NC)- What is an allergy?
An allergy is a super-sensitivity to a substance that is not harmful to most other people. These substances are called allergens. The common allergens include pollen, mould, dust mites, cockroaches and pet dander. Some people also have food allergies. Some people have symptoms with strong chemical fumes, odours (including perfumes, fragrances in household cleaners and detergents), smoke and air pollution. These compounds are chemical irritants and not true allergens. The common symptoms of allergy include hay fever, asthma, eczema or food reactions.
How do I know if I have allergies?
Hay fever is the most common allergy problem in Canada. The typical symptoms of hay fever are sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose, watery eyes, a dry cough and itching. Asthma is a lung condition which can lead to shortness of breath, wheezing or coughing. Eczema is a skin condition which often involves a dry itchy rash. True food allergy reactions can include hives, itchiness, shortness of breath, throat tightness, lightheadedness or stomach pain after eating the food allergen. Allergies can be a serious medical condition and you should consult your doctor if you suspect you have them. A doctor may recommend allergy scratch tests (a type of skin testing in which suspected allergens are applied to the skin, scratched and observed for a reaction in 15 minutes). Skin tests should always be done under the supervision of a qualified physician with an expertise in allergy.
How are allergies treated?
The first step in an effective allergy treatment plan is to make some simple lifestyle changes that will limit your exposure to allergens. I would suggest having allergy scratch tests done before any major lifestyle changes are made. After the allergy scratch tests you will know the likely causes of the allergy symptoms. One can avoid pollen by keeping windows closed and air conditioning on during the high-pollen seasons. Most of the mould that causes allergies is from the outdoors. Therefore, keeping the windows closed is helpful. If you notice mould in the house it should be cleaned with diluted bleach. The best ways of avoiding dust mites are to purchase proper dust mite proof pillows and mattress covers, remove carpet from the bedroom, wash the bedding in hot water and to keep the humidity around 40 percent. Vacuuming and duct cleaning are actually not very effective at removing dust mites. The only way to remove pet allergens completely from the home is to keep the pet outdoors or to give the pet away. By keeping pets out of the bedroom, washing pets weekly and removing carpets from the bedroom, you can decrease your total pet allergen exposure. If you have a true food allergy, that food should be completely avoided.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist about which medications would help you manage your allergy symptoms. Antihistamines are the most common medications used to treat hay fever. Antihistamines block the action of histamine released by the immune system and are effective at reducing sneezing, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. They are particularly effective at relieving the symptoms of seasonal hay fever and should be taken as soon as an allergy attack develops. You may also need a decongestant to reduce nasal congestion. Some antihistamines can cause side effects such as drowsiness and they should be avoided if you have to drive, work or perform tasks that require you to be alert. There are several websites offering good information on allergies, for example, visit www.claritin.ca.
Dr. Harold Kim is an allergy specialist based in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.
Monday, January 2, 2012
Ask the Expert: Allergy Q & A with Dr. Harold Kim
Posted by N.J at 11:12 AM
What Causes Mental Illness?
by: News Canada
(NC)-Lots of myths surround mental illness. For instance, many still think that it's something that can be cured simply by 'toughening up' or by adopting a better outlook on life. In fact, mental illness is not caused by 'moral' weakness, and it's clearly not something that people 'choose' to have. Mental illness is a diagnosable illness that requires treatment, just like diabetes.
While the causes of mental illness are not well understood, most research suggests that it results from a chemical disturbance in the brain. Many factors may contribute to this: heredity, genetics, stress, recreational drug use may all contribute to the onset of mental illness.
Although research is still in its infancy, there now exist many effective treatments for those who suffer from mental health disorders. In most cases these treatments make a significant, positive contribution to quality of life, and the earlier a condition is identified the better the treatment outcome.
More information on mental illness and how a new book called "Catch a Falling Star: A Tale from the Iris the Dragon Series" is helping parents identify and understand early onset mental illness visit www.iristhedragon.com.
Posted by N.J at 11:12 AM
Say 'Goodbye' To Sagging Skin
by: News Canada
Dear Epi Dermis,
I use a day cream religiously - yet I've heard that I should also be using a night cream. What's the difference?
- Curious in Calgary
As the largest organ in the body - skin protects our bodies from the outside world during the day, and at night it repairs and renews itself. Nighttime is an opportunity to undo the day's damage. During the night, skin experiences high levels of water loss. Night creams work to prevent this water loss and provide the skin's surface with active ingredients that can be absorbed throughout the night. You could try, RoC® Protient™ Lift Night Firming Cream, which is specially designed to penetrate into the skin's surface overnight to improve skin density and tighten the weave of the skin. In addition to moisturizing, this nightcream increases facial definition and contours and lifts sagging skin.
Dear Epi Dermis,
As I'm aging, the skin under my arms is becoming droopy. During the summer, I love to wear T-shirts, but am somewhat uncomfortable because of this loose skin. Is there anything I can do to stop this from happening?
- Drooping in Deerhurst
While loose skin can be problematic for the whole body, key areas of concern tend to be the thighs, under the arms and bust areas. To firm under the arms, incorporate exercises that target the triceps into a daily routine. You can also try a firming cream that can assist your body in appearing toned and firm. A good product to try is RoC® Protient™ Lift Firming Body Lotion, a firming cream that enhances flexibility, improves feel and increases the surface tension of the skin.
Posted by N.J at 11:07 AM
Menopause Manners For Men
by: Valerie Otto
Menopause Manners for Men
If over 30 million women are going through menopause, think of what the men are going through!
By Valerie Otto
Menopause is not what it used to be. Women are approaching this time of life differently – the new outlook is energized as most women are healthy and become free of many past identities and responsibilities. There are natural options I know many women find valuable in dealing with the bothersome symptoms at this time and I'm hoping to see more women incorporate another valuable and natural ally crucial in making this next stage truly exciting -- our men! But we can't do it alone. So based on our completely unscientific research, here are tips I hope our better half will find useful.
1. Be ready for emergencies. This doesn't require dialing 911, but you still have to move fast. Sometimes the symptoms of menopause may require your loved one to exit quickly. Don't ask questions at the time, there is nothing worse than having to explain yourself in these situations--she'll be sure to tell you later. Just do what she says and move out of the way.
2. Put yourself in her heels. Imagine what it would be like to potentially go through times of sleepless nights, hot flashes, sweats, memory loss. Are you going to be in a great mood all the time? I don't think so. Think of what this would do to any one's psyche. And yes, there are options available to her to help with this, including natural ones like Oona and flowers (no carnations).
3. Your marriage is not falling apart. Although you should be ready for a fundamental change. For a period of time, your spouse may seem, well, "not like herself". This may be demonstrated in any number of ways. She may seem more needy, more vocal, more stubborn, and more emotional. Do not discount this experience. Big tip, men, embrace her, understand that this roller coaster "shall pass" and use it as an opportunity to bring you closer. If you listen, you will be able to sort through what is important to your relationship and open up a healthy discussion.
4. Sex? It still exists. Just don't panic. While her sex drive may dip a bit, it doesn't have to be dormant. Now there are many ways to deal with it. Be resourceful, be creative, keep it fun, and don't be judgmental or rush to conclusions.
5. Men-O-Pause---men just pause, stop—look at your life. Just like she is doing. Menopause is a time where a woman really takes a look at her life and her health – not only because she feels her body changing. It isn't a bad idea for you either. Use it as an incentive to add some "newness" to your life -- like getting in shape for a long bike trip or make a habit of taking long morning or evening walks.
6. Don't be a smart ass…Educate yourself, do some research, read some books, go on line. Impress her with the new lingo. Just think how impressed your partner would be if you knew that the reason she was having hot flashes is most likely because her LH levels are high. Her mood swings can be managed. But can yours? For her, there's natural products out there but for you…find some!
7. The Big "M"—do men go through menopause too? In a way, YES! Actually it's called "andropause", and while it happens more gradually than it does with women it is defined as a decrease in male hormones. In his book, "Male Menopause," author, Jed Diamond said the phase "begins with hormonal, physiological and chemical changes that occur in all men generally between the ages of 40 and 55, though it can occur as early as 35 or as late as 65. Common symptoms of male menopause, according to Diamond, include needing longer to recover from injuries and illness, less endurance for physical activity, weight gain, thinning hair, sleep disturbances, irritability, and reduced interest in sex.. SO don't be so judgmental!
8. Feeling alone? The kids, we hope have moved out. It all seems to be happening at the same time. And while most of us, both men and women, look forward to our freedoms sans kids; it's still an enormous adjustment. Can our kids survive without us? Can I survive Menopause? The answer is to pull it together and turn this into a time to experience a new beginning.
9. Duck and Cover! That means pass her off to her friends. This is a great time to encourage her to seek out women's groups, new relationships and old friends going through the same thing. Let them take over the kitchen, the couch and the TV. You'll be much happier in the morning.
10. Keep your sense of humor It's not nice to say but a lot of the experiences in menopause can be funny… if not at the moment, certainly a week or a month later. If you can make her laugh and see the lighter side, know you are doing your part in setting the course for a beautiful sunset together. She won't laugh if it's insincere. Enough said.
About The Author
Valerie Otto has long been involved in issues of women's health and well-being. In 1995, she founded Becoming, Inc., a mail order fashion house that answers the specific needs of women who've undergone cancer treatment. Becoming, Inc. is now the largest mail order company of its kind in America. Oцna her new venture offers a natural alternative to hormonal replacement therapy for women experiencing menopause.
Posted by N.J at 11:06 AM
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